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these conflagrations. The carelessness manisested on this point is in fact appalling. It is not enough, that the piles of dry wood are placed in such dangerous proximity to the furnaces, that, every time the fires are stirred, showers of sparks are poured into the inflammable mass; but crates of earthenware, every description of household furniture, and carriages wrapped in straw, are placed, without any covering, in the most exposed situations. And, in the cotton boats,” bales of cotton are piled over the guards and whole outside of the boat, even littering and obstructing the engine-room to such an extent as to interfere with the motions of the engineers and crew in the discharge of their duty. The burning-off of the tiller ropes, one of the first consequences of a boat's taking fire, frequently prevents a landing even in places where it could otherwise be effected. And in order, it would seem, to preclude all possibility of escape under these circumstances, steam vessels have been known to leave port without any small boat attached to them.*

Though the bursting of boilers is generally more dreaded by the inexperienced Western traveller, than any other accident, yet its consequences can be more easily avoided by the passengers in the cabin than those that ensue from most of the others. It is the deck passengers and crew, who in this case are the principal sufferers. From the greater frequency, however, with which it happens, and the excruciating agonies suffered by the victims, it is entitled to a prominent place on the list of casualties. It is sometimes contended, that the frequency of these explosions is in no way attributable to the use of high steam, which is universal in the Western boats. The only plausible argument in favor of this theory is drawn from the circumstance, that, in order to meet the increased pressure, boilers are made proportionally strong, the smallness of their diameter, even when constructed of materials of no greater strength, affording a greater power of resistance.

The fallacy of this argument hardly needs pointing out. For in the first place, granting that there is no greater liability to explosion in the one case, than in the other ; yet when an explosion does occur with a high-steam boiler, it must be productive of a wider extent of mischief, exactly in proportion to the strength of the boiler to be overcome before it gives way. But the truth is, the whole position is a false one. Steam is now currently used, at the West, with a pressure of one hundred pounds to the square inch ; and boilers are constantly, - we believe universally, --submitted to this strain, without any previous trial whatever. There is no law requiring such trial

*" March 2d, 1838. The Tangipaho took fire about four miles from Bri. ton Island. She had no boats attached to her. The master, pilot, and a passenger, lest the vessel on hatches, and were drowned. The mate, with the assistance of some negroes, extinguished the fire, and ran the boat ashore by means of temporary sails." Report of J. C. La to the Secretary of ihe Treasury, p. 310. We have made a passage in a steamboat, unprovided with any small boat whatever.

, and none of the engine-builders, we believe, ever think of proving them. Whatever weak points there may be, that a few pounds of additional pressure might show, it is left for an excited and reckless engineer to discover, when a crowded boat and heedless passengers may make most disastrous an explosion, that in the engine-shop would have been harmless. Moreover, the peculiar construction, now universal in boilers applied to the propelling of boats, renders them liable to an accident much more common than exploding, or bursting, strictly so called. It requires no knowledge of mechanics to convince any one, upon a glance at the construction of the flue boiler, of its being much more insecure than the simple cylinder. The danger to the boiler in question arises from the water getting low, and leaving the flues bare, and liable to become red-hot from exposure to the fire, the result of which is the collapsing or forcing in of the flues, and the escape of the hot water and steam through the orifice to the destruction of every thing within their range ; an accident liable to happen from a variety of causes, (such as a defect in the forcing pump, and the rolling of the boat to one side, thus allowing the water to run from the upper boilers into the lower,) all of which are only to be guarded against by the most unremitting vigilance.

The facility with which steam can be generated with a . small quantity of fuel, and the less weight of water that they carry, are the advantages which have recommended these boilers to such general use. The expense of the lowpressure engine will ever prevent its introduction in these boats, as long as they are constructed with so strict a view to economy. Its complication and the consequent difficulty of repairing any derangement, and its liability to be disordered by the deposit from the muddy water, are serious objections, while long voyages have to be performed through a wilderness, where no mechanical aid is within reach, occasionally,

for hundreds of miles. And the greater weight of this description of engine, where every pound added to the machinery is grudged, as so much deducted from the ability of the boat to carry freight, adds one other and a formidable objection to its use.

Passengers themselves often cause the collapsing of a flue, by rushing simultaneously to one guard of the boat, when any thing on that side attracts their attention. An explosion on the Mississippi several years ago, one of the most destructive which, up to that time, had ever happened, was occasioned by the passengers crowding to one side, in their anxiety to witness a chase on the river, after some fugitive negroes. The same heedlessness manifests itself in the zeal with which the passengers will most generally participate in the excitement produced by a trial of speed. Among the many singular phases in which the human character presents itself, few have appeared to us more unaccountable than this frantic desire to get ahead, no matter at what risk, or for what object, or haply for no object at all. A few hours gained in the time of arrival at the place of destination may not signify a sixpence to any one on board ; yet to gain these few hours a great majority of those concerned will sacrifice every consideration of prudence. When to this all-pervading spirit is added the excitement of rivalry, there is no longer any controlling of the mania, and a rash or an ambitious captain will be stimulated by the frantic eagerness of his excited passengers to put additional weights upon the safety-valve, and to raise the steam by the application of any light combustible that may be at hand; while they will wantonly expose themselves, and crowd about the place of danger, regardless of the warning given by the quivering throes of the over-worked boat, or by the whizzing of the steam from the straining boilers beneath their feet. We are not disposed to deny that speed is desirable, and should be a consideration in the constructing of a boat ; nor are we ignorant, that it is to this quality, as much as to any other, that our boats are indebted for their superiority over those of other nations. And, so long as boats excel in speed, by their superior model, and strength of engine, without extra strain or effort, the preference given to them is legitimate and reasonable. But the danger lies in the rivalry created in boats whose

structure and power do not make the same rate of speed easily and constantly attainable.

The character of the people who form the majority of the passengers on board of these boats, may in part account for the disregard of danger manifested by them upon this, as well as upon most other occasions. Emigrants of slender means, Western merchants going to or returning from the markets of the East, young men sent out by their friends to seek their fortunes, traders who have been disposing of their produce down the river, range themselves evidently somewhat lower in the scale of civilization and refinement, than the tourists in pursuit of health, or pleasure, who, with their wives and families cover the decks, and regulate the tone, of the Eastern steamboats. And the lower we descend in this scale, the less is the estimate we find put upon human life, and the less is the horror felt at its violent or wanton destruction. The nourishing of the sensibilities into more active operation, is as evidently one of the results of the refinements of education, as is the improvement of the intellectual faculties. This descent is obvious, at a glance, to the Eastern traveller. He not only perceives it in the rude character of many of his fellow passengers, but it strikes him in the filthy condition of the engine-room, as he contrasts it, floating with water, and redolent of grease, with the punctilious cleanliness of the same parts in the Eastern boats. He sees it in the slouching look of the dirty cabin boys, in the “unwashed and unkempt ” condition of the officers, and in the squalid raggedness that characterizes the crew.

In the spring of 1838, it was our lot to embark at St. Louis, in a new and very splendid steamboat bound for Pittsburg. Her captain was a young man of some experience on the river, and of a very ambitious and energetic character. The boat was evidently built with a view of embracing all the accommodations and improvements then known; and our party were congratulating themselves upon the comfort and cleanliness of the cabin, and the order and neatness apparent throughout. Before casting off her fasts from the shore, steam was got up beyond the limits of safety, and the boat shot up the strong current of the Mississippi, and, turning above the town, dashed by the wharves with a velocity frightful to behold, but which seemed peculiarly exhilarating to both crew and passengers. As this, however, was no more than the usual practice for crack boats on leaving port, we thought nothing of it; but the haste, with which her necessary landings for wood and other purposes were managed, and the excited condition of her crew, soon made manisest (what was afterwards confirmed by the express declaration of the captain), that it was intended to make a brag trip. Now there were, no doubt, some few among the passengers, whom a knowledge of this really alarming fact rendered uneasy and apprehensive; but upon a large majority it produced no other feelings than those of pleasing excitement, and the watching of her rapid progress, and estimating from time to time her rate of speed, seemed to form an agreeable relief from the usual monotony of a steamboat voyage. No boat was for some time encountered whose speed was equal to our own, and one after another was easily passed ; till, between Louisville and Cincinnati, a vessel was discovered in our wake, whose two escape pipes and double engine showed her to be one of the mail-boats that ply between the two places, and reputed to be one of the fastest boats on the Western waters. As each bend of the river occasionally disclosed her to view, it was evident, that she was gaining on us. The excitement on board of our boat now became tremendous. Captain and passengers vied with each other in stimulating the exertions of the firemen. Rosin was freely thrown into the furnaces, and the thundering of her paddles, and the quivering of the boat, told of the increased action of the steam upon gine ; while no warning voice was heard from the passengers, those who felt alarm contenting themselves with keeping astern, as far as possible from the scene of danger. These efforts, as it proved, were unavailing. and speed of the mail-boat carried her by us; while our captain concealed his mortification as best he could, swearing a deep oath, that the next time he encountered this rival, he would pass her, or blow his own boat out of the water. Fearfully was the pledge redeemed. His time, however, had not yet come.

We landed in safety, and all tongues were loud in applause of our captain and his fast boat. The newspapers recorded the trip just accomplished as the quickest ever performed ; and the challenge was thus in effect thrown out to all other captains, to emulate this despatch.

A few days afterwards, in Philadelphia, a friend, aghast with horror, informed us, that news had just arrived, of the

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