« PredošláPokračovať »
delayed. Though this involved cutting a canal through seven miles of ice, ranging from two to seven feet in thickness, at a cost of 20,000 dollars, they declined to be reimbursed by the Post Office,
These early Cunarders were built of wood and propelled by paddles, and they carried first-class passengers only, of whom one hundred and fifteen could be accommodated, though there were seldom so many as one hundred on
a trip. Poorer emigrants, and many people of moderate means as well, had still to travel by the sailing clippers ; for the steamship faresabout thirty to thirty-four guineas-ranged higher than they do now on the finest 'greyhounds' on the service. The time occupied in the passages varied much more widely than it does at present. The average was about fourteen days, or one half that generally occupied by the sailing vessels. were made even then in eleven days and a few hours, while others occupied sixteen and even seventeen days.
The early vessels of the Cunard line maintained a steady lead which has never been permanently lost by the Company during the sixty years of its history. Year by year additions were made to the fleet, with increase in capacity and power, but with retention nevertheless for a long time of the old models—the wooden hulls, the paddles, and Napier's famous side-lever engines. The initiative of 1840 was a bold one, but when success seemed assured rivals entered into the field. The proprietors of the Great Western built Brunel's historic Great Britain, a vessel which but for a mishap might have proved a formidable competitor. She was much larger and more powerful than any other steamer then afloat, being 322 feet long, and of 3270 tons, was constructed of iron, eleven years before that material was adopted by the Cunard Company, and was the first vessel of that class fitted with a screw. But like the Great Eastern subsequently, she was born before her time. Placed on the Atlantic service in 1845, she ended her connexion with it fourteen months later by being wrecked in Dundrum Bay. Floated at the end of a year, she subsequently had a chequered career, and was a few years since a coal hulk at the Falkland Islands. With her wreck, all serious competition from the port of Bristol ceased.
The first great rivalry with the Cunarders came from the American Collins line, which commenced its career in 1849. Then followed for a few years a race of giants. Advantage had been taken, in building the Collins' vessels, of the experience of their rivals. The company was moreover subsidised by Congress. Their ships gained in speed over the Cunarders
Vol. 191.-No. 381.
by a few hours on the passage, and freights also were cut down by nearly one-half. The Americans lost heavily in their endeavour to regain the prestige which had been wrested by steam from their Baltimore clippers. The Cunard Company, with a position financially strong, soon built more powerful vessels—the Arabia and the Persia—the latter bringing the passage down to between nine and ten days. At last, in 1858, the unequal contest came to an end through the withdrawal of the Collins line. Besides having sunk large sums of money, they had most unfortunately lost two of their vessels—the Arctic, which was run down by the Vesta in 1854, with terrible loss of life; and the Pacific, of which nothing was ever heard after she sailed from Liverpool on June 29th, 1856, with two hundred and forty souls on board. From these losses and disasters the Company never recovered, and their rivals retained their leading position in the Atlantic trade. The Collins line left one permanent legacy—the barber's shop—which was unknown on Atlantic liners until introduced on their vessels.
In 1850, some time before the disappearance of this ill-fated company, the Inman-now the American and Red Star- line commenced its career. It is singular that, though a regular Atlantic steam service had then existed for ten years, Mr. Inman was the first to perceive the value of the emigrant service, and his vessels were the first which were built to accommodate second-class and steerage passengers, for which no provision bad yet been made in the other lines. The experiment proved so remunerative that three years later it was followed by the Cunard Company. At the present time, all liners, with a few exceptions, carry more third-class emigrants than saloon passengers. Iron as a building-material, and the screw in place of paddles, were also first successfully employed on the Atlantic by the Inman line; for the unfortunate Great Britain, it must be remembered, had fallen early out of the running. Steam stearing gear was first adopted by the Inman Company on the City of Brussels in 1869, and this too was the first vessel which reduced the Atlantic passage to less than eight days.
This line proved a more formidable rival to the Cunard steamers than the Collins had been. But the rivalry between the Cunard and Inman vessels was never so bitter as that with the Collins line, and there was, moreover, ample room for each company, in view of the rapidly increasing volume of Atlantic trade. The Ocean “tramps,' designed solely for slow transit of cargo, now became enormously developed in capacity; and as a result of their competition for freights the passenger-carrying
companies turned their attention more and more to the improvement of that branch of the traffic.
To the rivalry between the Cunard and Inman lines was added, in 1871, that of the present White Star Company, then termed the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. The appearance of this line marked an important epoch in the Atlantic service. The first Oceanic, though not so large as some of her rivals, was differently modelled—being narrower in proportion to length a feature which, though in opposition to the practice of the period, has since been adhered to. The saloon too, for the first time, was placed amidships, instead of astern over the screw, an arrangement most conducive to the comfort of passengers. It extended also right across the entire width of the vessel. The state-rooms were placed fore and aft of the saloon, and the side-lights were made about twice as large as on previous vessels. The Oceanic and her sister ships broke previous records, as early as 1872. In 1874 and 1875 the Britannic and the Germanic of the same fleet followed, and reduced the passage to less than seven and a half days.
The Teutonic and the Majestic (1891) were the largest steamers built for this line until the present Occanic, and they were the first designed to fulfil the requirements of the British Admiralty as armed cruisers.
The most rapid development of the Atlantic service dates from the period when the White Star vessels entered the lists. In 1870 the Cunard Company first fitted one of their vessels, the Parthia-with compound engines. In 1881 came the Servia, which commenced the express Transatlantic service, intended chiefly for passengers. She was the first steel vessel in this service. The electric light was not introduced until 1879, on the Inman Company's City of Berlin. The Arizona, of the Guion line, was a noteworthy vessel, eclipsing previous records in 1879 and 1880. Her best advertisement, however, was the fact of her running full tilt into an iceberg in November 1879, and yet coming safely into port, with thirty feet of her bows smashed in, her water-tight bulk-heads having proved her salvation,
The decade from 1879 to 1889 was also a period of great emulation. The Alaska, of the Guion fleet, starting her career in 1882, was the first vessel that reduced the
below seven days, in June of that year; and she was also the first to which the title of Atlantic greyhound' was applied. The Oregon, bought from the Guion line afterwards by the Cunard Company, reduced the passage in 1884 to less than six and a half days. Following the Arizona and the Alaska, came the America, of the National line, and the famous Cunarders Etruria
and Umbria, The Inman line owned the first vessel which crossed the Atlantic in less than six days, the feat being accomplished in 1889 by the City of Paris. Ten years have achieved scarcely any advance upon this speed. The City of Paris and her sister craft, the City of New York, marked a great advance on previous designs. Twin screws were introduced, each driven by its own set of engines. Water-tight compartments were more minutely subdivided. Water chambers were introduced, and breadth of beam was increased, to diminish rolling. The rudder was placed entirely below the water line. It was on the City of Paris in 1890 that the value of the watertight bulkheads was abundantly demonstrated. One of the engines became completely wrecked, and caused the water to flow into and fill both engine rooms—an absolutely unique experience of the sea. Yet the vessel easily remained afloat until help came.
How the water-tight compartments again saved the Paris from total wreck on the Manacles in 1899, will be fresh in everyone's memory.
The present decade has been one of steady good work, without any advances of importance. Its chief developments have been, not in increased speed, but in greater comfort and carrying power. Several of the older seven- and eight-day passage steamers are still in the service, and, as their rates are lower than those of the big new ships, they are favourites with many travellers, who have no objection to prolonging a pleasant voyage. One of these older boats is the Germanic, which sank at her moorings in New York harbour early in 1899, owing to the weight of ice upon her. This vessel has made more than five hundred trips across the Atlantic. She and her sister ship, the Britannic, built in 1874, have each travelled considerably over two millions of miles, a distance equal to eight and threequarter times that between the earth and the moon. Between them they have carried considerably over one hundred thousand saloon and two hundred and sixty thousand steerage passengers across the Atlantic.
The principal additions of the past ten years are the Teutonic and the Majestic, the Campania and the Lucania, the Kaiser Wilhelm and her sister ships, and last of all, the White Star Oceanic, which made her first trip a few months ago. The latter is a 'record’ vessel, not on account of her speed—which will not exceed that of vessels already in the service--but because of her dimensions, capacity, and splendid accommodation, some account of which will be offered later. In an age in which business and commerce have been too often dragged and soiled in the mire of dishonesty, it is pleasing to be able to record
that all the White Star fleet have been built by Messrs. Harland and Wolff, to the orders of Ismay, Imrie, and Co., without a legal contract. As the late Sir Edward Harland once said in an after-dinner speech, specially in relation to the Teutonic: • His firm had been put not upon their mettle, but upon their honour, for they had received absolute carte blanche as to cost.'
Until within about ten years ago, little attempt had been made in Germany to emulate the English-built liners. But during this period the North German Lloyd SS. Company and the Hamburg-American line bave been building their large vessels chiefly in German yards. The first-named company has built during the past seven years twenty-four firstclass ocean steamships, and has now ten more in course of construction. Before the launch of the Oceanic, the honour of having the largest liner afloat was last held by Germany. The Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, of the North German Lloyd, which made her first trip from Bremen to New York in September 1897, was built at Stettin. She is 625 feet long25 feet longer than the Campania--and but 60 feet less in length than the Oceanic, which is 5 feet longer than the Great Eastern.
The North German Lloyd has five distinct services between Europe and America-two between Bremen and New York, the headquarters of the Company, and calling at Southampton; one between Bremen and Baltimore; another between Bremen, Texas, and Galveston; and a fifth between New York and Genoa, touching at Gibraltar and Naples. This last route, one of the newest, is also one of the most popular with Americans, many of whom enter Europe from the south, visit the Continental cities, and return home by the same line of steamships from Bremen or Southampton. The HamburgAmerican line, with its fleet of seventy-five steamers, covers the whole of the American routes from Hamburg and Southampton to New York, Mexico, and Brazil. The Normannia, the Fürst Bismarck, and other vessels of this service are equal in all respects to the best Liverpool liners.
It is not necessary to pursue the story of the North Atlantic lines farther. The history of their development would be mostly a recapitulation of that of the great pioneers. The initiative of the Atlantic has been followed in the great lines all over the routes of the globe, and the rivalries of the great steamship companies have contributed to make one passenger vessel very much like others in respect of equipment and the safety and comfort of the passengers. We now therefore quit the North Atlantic, to course rapidly over the other great ocean