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Engineers and Mechanics Encyclopedia 1839: Railways: James C. Anderson

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On the 2d August, 1831, a patent was granted to Sir James C. Anderson, Bart. of Buttevant Castle, Ireland, for a very judicious arrangement of mechanism for propelling carriages by manual labour.

This gentleman designed a carriage, in which as many as twenty-four men were arranged on seats, in the manner of rowers in a boat, but in two tiers, one above the other; the action was nearly the same as the pulling of oars, the only difference being, that by Sir James's plan, all the men sitting on one seat pulled at one horizontal cross bar, each extremity of which was furnished with an anti-friction roller, that ran between guide rails on the opposite sides of the carriage. The ends of each of these horizontal bars were connected to reciprocating rods, that gave motion to a crank shaft, on which were mounted spur gear, that actuated similar gear on the axis of the running wheels of the carriage; so that by sliding the gear on the axis of the latter, any required velocity could be communicated to the carriage, or a sudden stop made.

A carriage of this kind it was proposed to employ as a drag, to draw one or more carriages containing passengers after it. The worthy Baronet informed us, that he had chiefly in view the movement of troops by this method, which would enable them to effect their marches with greater facility and despatch; hence he justly considered that there might be a great diminution of the peace establishment, without detriment to the .service.

Alexander Gordon, in his Treatise before referred to, disapproves of all attempts at "homo-locomotion," except the use of his legs, experience having proved, in his opinion, the utter vanity, if not impiety, of all propositions of the kind. He instances the Velocipede as the most promising of all, yet a failure! Hence he deduces, that "the inexplicable vital principle bestowed by the omnipotent God upon his creatures cannot be superseded by man's utmost knowledge in mechanical science."

In our simple opinion of the matter, Mr. Gordon has entirely overlooked the obvious fact, that whatever mechanical improvement may be effected by the "creature," it must necessarily proceed from the Creator. Admitting, however, for mere argument's sake, that the Velocipede was a failure upon the common road, does it not follow that upon a railway, where the resistance to motion is only a fifteenth part of the former, that the effect would be vastly increased by the exertion of the same motive force? And although the railway is one of the results of our increased knowledge, We are far from believing that Messrs. Stephenson and Booth have yet attained the "utmost knowledge in mechanical science" that man is capable of; or that the Omnipotent may not vouchsafe to man such an increase of his capabilities, as will cause the present age to be hereafter regarded as one of comparative darkness.

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