lieutenant, and four seamen) rowed away quickly in a boat. The infernal monster did not produce quite the kind of mischief intended; the explosion was one of the most tremendous ever heard; but the enemy's ships were rather too far away to be materially damaged, while Cochrane lost some of his gallant little crew by over-fatigue and drowning by tumultuous waves.
During the short war between England and the United States in 1812-13, many submarine boats were suggested and partially tried, but with no great result.
The Crimean War (1854-56) brought to the Admiralty a deluge of inventors and projectors, each armed with some new scheme of a 'diabolical' kind. The Earl of Dundonald (the Lord Cochrane of 1809) sounded the government concerning a plan which he had matured long before; but there was hesitation in the matter; and the public learned little more than that the scheme related to a kind of fire-ship. Captain Warner's 'long range' was another crotchet, by which an enemy's vessel was to be destroyed at an immense distance by something being hurled against it; this something, whatever it may have been, did not find favour with the government. Then there was a talk also about Captain Disney's war-projectile, consisting of a metal cylinder having a bursting charge at one end, and at the other a highly combustible liquid; the liquid, when exposed to the air, set fire to almost everything with which it came in contact. This pleasant kind of plaything was to be propelled against ships, buildings, or masses of troops. Captain Disney had another mode of employing what he frankly called his 'infernal fluid,' which would 'cause blindness for several hours to all troops coming within a quarter of a mile of it.' The real nature of the liquid was his peculiar secret, which, so far as we are aware, the government did not think proper to purchase.
While discoverers and inventors were directing their attention to these intentionally destructive contrivances, the principal governments were cautiously testing some of them as opportunity offered. The Russians studded the Baltic with submerged torpedoes in 1854-55; iron cases containing combustibles, sulphuric acid, and chlorate of potash, so placed that a sudden concussion would make the whole explode. Very few British ships were really hit by them; but a good deal of uneasiness was felt by the crews of Admiral Sir Charles Napier's fleet, who would much rather have encountered an open enemy than a concealed submarine foe, the whereabouts of which could not be determined beforehand. In 1866 the Austrians in their brief war with Italy used torpedoes in which gun-cotton was fired off by an electric current. During the American Civil War, 1861 to 1865, nearly forty vessels were destroyed by torpedoes. (We may here mention that this name, first given to these contrivances by the Americans, was derived from one designation of the torpedo or electrical fish.) Three-fourths of the destruction was wrought by the Confederates against Federal vessels, but the remainder blew up or disabled the Confederates' own ships. The torpedoes employed were of various kinds and sizes, some exploding by mechanical concussion, some by chemical action, some by electric discharge. One of them was a complete submarine boat, which could be lowered to several feet below the surface of the water, and there propelled with hand-paddles at the rate of four miles an hour, by men shut up in a water-tight compartment, and provided with half an hour's compressed fresh air. This submarine boat dragged a floating torpedo, allowed it to come under the bottom of an enemy's ship, paddled away to a safe distance, and then fired the torpedo by an electric fuse. Such at least was the theory; but it proved to be a case of the engineer 'hoist by his own petard;' for although the torpedo really did destroy a Federal ship, the submarine boat and its crew were never afterwards seen or heard of.[A]
Some of the contrivances to which naval engineers are directing their attention are called outrigger torpedoes. A small swift steamer has an outrigger or pole projecting twenty or twenty-five feet from one side; a torpedo case is fastened to the outer end of the pole, and a concussion-fuse is fitted to it, or an electric-wire extends along the pole. When the steamer has cautiously and silently brought the torpedo (which may be either a little above or a little below the surface of the water) under the bottom of an enemy's ship, the composition within it is fired by the fuse or current, and the explosion left to do its destructive work. It is supposed and intended that the distance of twenty or twenty-five feet between the steamer and the torpedo will keep the former free from peril. Some torpedoes are self-explosive on touching the enemy's ship. One variety is a hollow iron cone, kept at a certain depth under water by a mooring chain; the cone contains from one to three hundred pounds of powder; above this is an air-space to give buoyancy, over this a small apparatus of chemicals, and at the top of all a projecting rod. If the bottom or lower part of the hull of a passing ship happens to strike against this rod, a kind of trigger explodes the chemicals and then the powder—with what result the evil fates are left to determine. Another kind, not self-explosive, is ignited from the shore. The torpedo-cone is moored as in the former case, and electric wires extend from it to a battery on shore. When an enemy's ship is seen to be passing just over the torpedo, a shock is sent from shore, and the demon of mischief explodes. A self-exploding torpedo has the disadvantage of destroying one's own ships occasionally, by a mishap; while the others are with difficulty coaxed to explode just at the desired instant.
Six or eight years ago, the public were a good deal mystified about Captain Harvey's torpedo, what it was and what it was intended to accomplish. It was described as an oblong box, to be towed beside a steamer by means of a long rope. It was charged with a powerful explosive composition; it had projecting levers at the top, a tube containing a detonating compound, and a bolt that could be pressed down upon the detonator by the levers. Towed out to its place by a steamer of great speed, it is brought close to the side of a hostile ship, the tow-rope is then slightly slackened, the torpedo sinks a little, and as the rope tightens again, it comes with a violent blow against the ship's bottom, exploding and making (theoretically at anyrate) a big hole in the ship's hull: a short process, but by no means a merry one. (The English authorities are said to be manufacturing Harvey's torpedoes at Woolwich Arsenal at the time we write, June 1877.)
Rather more recently, Captain Ericsson's torpedo attracted the attention of the American government. It had one feature of a remarkable character—a hempen cable utilised as a tube or pipe by making the centre hollow. The torpedo, a cylinder of light galvanised iron, was about ten feet long by nineteen inches in diameter, and was charged with nearly four hundred pounds of nitro-glycerine. It was towed by a steamer, with a tubular cable or rope half a mile long. When brought into a desired position, the torpedo was propelled swiftly in any direction by compressed air driven through the tubular rope. The torpedo could be wound in so as to be any less distance than half a mile from the steamer. One rather fails, however, to see how the commander of the steamer is to send the explosive matter against an enemy's ship exactly at the right time and in the right direction.
The Whitehead or fish torpedo, one of the kinds now being experimented upon by the English government, appears to be a very elaborate contrivance. It is a sort of submarine rocket, a cigar-shaped iron case five or six yards long by about half a yard in diameter at