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from disaster. In the first place, the Company have always insisted on having their vessels built of the best possible materials, whether wood or iron; they have enjoined the most thorough and effective workmanship; they have kept their vessels under such careful supervision as to insure the slightest defect in strength or seaworthiness being discovered; and they have never allowed a steamer to start on a voyage unless they have been satisfied of its being complete, perfect, and efficient. In the next place, they have chalked out separate routes for outward-bound and homewardbound steamers, somewhat apart from the most direct course; and although by adopting this plan they may have lengthened their voyages by a few hours, this has been more than atoned for by the increased sense of security which has been induced. The outwardbound steamers cross the meridian of 50° at 43° lat., or nothing to the north of 43°; while the homeward-bound vessels cross the same meridian at 42° lat., or nothing to the north of 42°. The care and skill exercised in the navigation of this line of steamers have been amply rewarded by the prosperity and success which have resulted therefrom. The original proprietors were men of remarkable administrative ability and foresight, and the principles which they laid down at the beginning of their undertaking, and so strictly adhered to during the early years of their management, have been as rigidly followed by their successors with the Cunard Company, thorough efficiency, costly as it may have been to keep it up, has proved the truest economy, and the fortunes that have been gained by their enterprise have been the result of unbending firmness of purpose, thorough integrity, and
an ever-present anxiety to serve the public well.
Free as the Cunard steamers have been from serious mishaps, it must not be imagined that they have been deprived of their share of exciting incidents. Calm, dead, unbroken monotony would be worse to bear than the presence of danger. Luxurious as the saloons and state-rooms of these fine vessels are, excellent as is the Cunard cuisine, rich as every voyage must be in the employment it gives to the student of character, entertaining as the evening concerts are, and romantic as the nightpacings on deck must prove amidst the cheery sound of the sailors' voices, the plash and roar of the waves, and the mysterious deeptoned rumblings of the ponderous machinery, something more than these is expected in the way of excitement during an ocean voyage. A fire, a mutiny, or a collision with another ship might be too much; but the passenger who retains his health and vigour, and succumbs not to sea-sickness, will certainly be disappointed if something out of the ordinary run should not occur while he is passing from the Old World to the New, or vice versa. It will be comforting to such individuals, therefore, to be told of one or two of the incidents which the Cunarders have had to relate from time to time. Mr. Eliot Warburton tells in his Hochelaga how, while he was a passenger, in 1846, from America to England on board the Cunard steamer Cambria, commander Captain Judkins, Frederick Douglas, the well-known abolition lecturer, himself a man of colour, was the means of causing a serious disturbance by denouncing slavery and its upholders in a lecture he got up to deliver on the quarter-deck. A New Orleans man,' wrote Mr. Warburton, the
master of a ship in the China trade, and who had been during the greater part of the voyage, and was more particularly on this occasion, very much intoxicated, poked himself into the circle, walked up to the speaker with his hands in his pockets and a "quid" of tobacco in his mouth, looked at him steadily for a minute, and then said, "I guess you're a liar!" The negro replied with something equally complimentary, and a loud altercation ensued between them. Two of the gentlemen in the circle stood forth at the same time to restore order, both beginning very mildly, but unfortunately suggesting different means of accomplishing the desired object.' After this matters grew quickly worse, other friends of the disputants interfered, and a series of quarrels immediately broke out, and for upwards of an hour the deck was the scene of the utmost tumult and disorder. In the end, through the intervention of the officers of the ship, and the better class of the passengers of both countries, the storm was quelled. Such an exceptional incident as this, however, has never happened since; it resulted in the company issuing certain orders to their officers which have effectually prevented the recurrence of anything of the kind.
Mr. W. Fraser Rae tells an exciting little story in connection with a voyage by the Cunard steamer Atlas a few winters ago. The vessel had reached midocean, and one night, while the passengers were amusing themselves in the saloon by reading or playing cards, chess, or draughts, the weather being too rough to admit of their walking the deck, the boatswain came down and whispered the ominous words, 'The ship is on fire, sir,' in the captain's ear. The captain at once
went on deck, and was followed by others to whom he had communicated the intelligence. There they saw a thick volume of dense smoke rising from the forward hatch. One of them returned to the saloon and told the horrible news. Anxiety was manifested as to how soon the fire would be extinguished; but there was little excitement, and no sign of panic, most of the players resuming their games, and the readers returning to their books. Confidence was evidently felt that everything which mortals could do to avert a dread calamity would be performed. In the steerage, on the contrary, there was ignorance without self-possession; women shrieked, men rushed about in aimless despair. The first-class passengers, who wished to make themselves useful, and offered to aid the crew, were asked to help in carrying the terror-stricken men, women, and children from the steerage, where they were in the way, to the poop, where they would give less trouble. These passengers refused to be comforted or to be quiet; their groans and lamentations alone disturbed the apparent harmony of the hour. The crew and the officers were as cool and reticent as if nothing unusual had happened. The officer on duty walked the bridge, giving his entire attention to navigating the ship; the men on the look-out were at their posts; the engineers were in their places in the engine-room; the stewards were at their usual work; indeed, the business of the ship went on like clockwork, while a fire was raging in the hold, and all on board were in jeopardy. At the end of half an hour from the alarm being given the boatswain said the ladies might be informed that the danger was nearly over; in truth, the fire had been thoroughly mas
tered, and all the danger was at an end.' It was ascertained that the fire had been caused by the ignition of some combustibles which had been shipped contrary to the company's regulations. As an instance of the excellent discipline which prevails on these steamers, and the readiness with which any emergency can be met, this story is well worth remembering.
On another occasion, while the Russia was steaming nobly along at the rate of fourteen knots an hour, with a good breeze blowing, the cry went forth that a man had leaped overboard. The next instant a second splash was heard. A sailor had jumped after his misguided shipmate in the hope of saving him. The ship was stopped and put back with amazing promptitude, and it was found that the gallant attempt at rescue had failed; the brave fellow who had made the endeavour, however, and who was none other than the hardy swimmer who has since won so much renown Captain Webb, was taken up, and the passengers subscribed a purse of one hundred sovereigns as a reward for his brave conduct.
Whales are often seen in the course of a voyage across the Atlantic, and are objects of much interest to passengers. Usually they do not come very near to a large steamer; but a year or two ago one of these monsters was accidentally run into by the Scythia; and the force of the collision was so great that the vessel's screw propeller was broken, and she had to put back into Liverpool to get the damage remedied. As for the whale, it was utterly done for, its body being found shortly afterwards floating upon the water; and a memento of the occurrence, in the shape of a plate
made from its whalebone, is pre
served in the Liverpool office of the company.
The steamers of this line have often been styled 'floating palaces,' and well do they deserve the title. It would be difficult to meet with anything more beautifully fitted up, or more luxurious as to comfort and convenience, than these vessels. The Russia does not carry steerage-passengers at all, but is throughout fitted up for first-class passengers. The Bothnia, the Scythia, and the Gallia are the largest of the Cunard Company's steamers. The two first-named ships are twin vessels, with 420 feet length of keel, 42 feet 6 inches breadth of beam, and an unbroken deck promenade of 425 feet; and the Gallia is still larger, and possesses greatly increased power of speed. One of these immense vessels carries a crew of 150 officers and men, and each man is obliged to be a member of the crew of one or other of the boats, of which the ship has ten, a number sufficient for the accommodation of the full complement of passengers and crew. In engaging their men the Cunard Company only contract with them for a single voyage out and home again. It is open to any of the men to offer themselves for reëngagement, and the majority of them do; but the plan of short engagements has been found to work beneficially both for the men and the company. It is a pleasing sight to witness the assembling of one of these crews on board their ship in the Mersey when all is ready for the reception of the passengers. The commanding officer, the marine superintendent, and some principal member of the company make a full inspection of ship, boats, and crew; and all the boats are manned, lowered, and replaced, in proof that they are
in complete working order. The firemen are put through their drill, the pumps are manned and tested, the rockets and signals are seen to, the steering apparatus is tried, the store-rooms are inspected, and every part and feature of the vessel is thoroughly examined. This being done, the steamer is reported upon; and if everything is satisfactory the passengers come aboard at the time announced for them, and away the vessel goes on its outward voyage, every possible precaution having been taken to insure the safety of the passengers. The Cunard steamers almost invariably leave the Mersey in the morning, the latter part of the day being avoided because of the risk there would be in navigating the river in semidarkness.
The Cunard Company employ one way and another from 10,000 to 12,000 men. Upwards of 1500 will be constantly engaged in the work of loading and unloading, and nearly that number in fitting and repairing vessels. They will always have 7000 or 8000 sailors employed, and these men may be regarded as amongst the finest men to be found in the whole merchant service. Mr. MacIver formed a volunteer artillery regiment in 1861, composed entirely of the Company's servants. Mr. MacIver was the colonel, and the regiment (the 11th Lancashire) was at one time about five hundred strong. The proposal to mobilise the Volunteers in 1867 led the Company to disband this corps, seeing that they would have thereby lost the services of 500 of their best men. Although the proposal was not carried out, the possibility of such a movement being at some future time put into operation decided Colonel MacIver not to reorganise the Cunard volunteers. The drill
shed came in useful, however, that same year, when, in apprehension of a Fenian outbreak, a body of troops, to the number of 1200, were despatched to Liverpool; and Colonel MacIver placed at their disposal, free of charge, for upwards of a month, not only the drill-shed, but the two large steamers the Africa and the Australasian.
Until the year 1868 the management of the Cunard Company was carried on, as it were, in three divisions. There were the Messrs. MacIver at Liverpool, the Messrs. Burns at Glasgow, and the Messrs. Cunard in America; together they constituted the Cunard Company, but they conducted the business as three distinct undertakings. In 1868, however, a fresh deed of partnership was executed, by which Messrs. Cunard, Burns, & MacIver became the sole partners as well as joint managers. This arrangement continued in force until May 1878, when the concern was turned into a Limited Liability Company, with a capital of 2,000,000l. this capital 1,200,000l. was taken by Messrs. Cunard, Burns, & MacIver as part-payment for the property and business which they transferred to the new company. No shares whatever were offered to the public. By a rule of the London Stock Exchange, however, two-thirds of the capital of any undertaking quoted in their official list must be allotted to the public; accordingly, to meet this requirement, Messrs. Cunard, Burns, & MacIver consented to relinquish 533,3401. of their capital for the benefit of the public in the usual way. This was done in March last, and the demand for the shares thus thrown open was enormously in excess of what was available. On this last reorganisation taking place the
Company's fleet was valued at
In the eight years from July 1866 to July 1874 they paid 189,351. for tonnage dues, or an average of 23,6681. per annum, which was about one-thirteenth of the total tonnage dues, and about one-seventh of the total steam tonnage dues paid in the port of Liverpool during that time.
Having thus sketched in brief the rise and progress of one of the most powerful steamship companies in the world, it will be interesting to notice, still more briefly, the other lines of steamers which have since 1840 traded between the port of Liverpool and the leading ports of North America. One curious fact connected with the Atlantic steamship rivalry has been that the Americans have never succeeded in establishing a line of steamers which can be said to have been a thorough success. This has caused a good deal of bitterness of feeling amongst the capitalists of the United States, and has led to the most desperate endeavours being made to wrest the supremacy of the Atlantic traffic from English hands. Sir Samuel Cunard, it is
true, belonged to the other side of the Atlantic, but he had to come over to England and secure English coöperation before he could establish his undertaking. The New York merchants combined in 1847 to establish a line of steamers, intended to run Southampton and Bremen, and to Washington, left New York in the first ship of this line, the June 1847, on the same day that the Cunard steamer Britannia left for Liverpool. The Americans were confident that their vessel, which had been built at a great supplied with many improvecost, and was supposed to be quicker than the Britannia, and ments,' would make the passage their astonishment and disappointlearned the Cunarder had touchment were very great when they ed the shores of England two days earlier than the Washington. A still more energetic attempt to found an American steamship line was made a year or two later, when Mr. E. K. Collins, the wellknown ship-owner and proprietor of a line of sailing-ships plying between New York and Liverpool, projected the Collins line of steamers. The United States Congress voted him a subsidy of 175,750., and at the beginning of ships completed and running, and 1852 he had four splendid steamfor a time they were very successful. In that year the Collins steamers conveyed across Atlantic a considerably larger the number of passengers than the Cunard steamers, and the Ameriprise had been properly rewarded, cans considered that their enterand that England would no longer be able to boast of her maritime accomplished the Atlantic voyage superiority. The Collins steamers in a day and a half less time than was occupied by the Cunard steamers in making the trip. This