Will it be possible to keep up the fight long? In order that one may get some idea of this for himself, let us rapidly describe an entirely peaceful contest that took place recently upon the coast of Italy. Two rival plates, one of them English and the other French, were placed in the presence of the Spezia gun, which weighs 100 tons. These plates were strongly braced with planks and old armor plate. Three shots were to be fired at each of the plates.
In the first shot the ball was of hardened cast iron, and weighed 1,990 pounds. The English plate was filled with fissures, while the Creusot did not show a single one. The ball penetrated it about seven inches, and was broken into small pieces.
In the second shot the projectile was the same, but the charge was greater. The shot may be calculated from the velocity, which was 1,530 feet. It was equal to what the great hammer would give were it to fall from a height of a hundred yards. The English plate was completely shivered, while the French exhibited but six very fine fissures radiating from the point struck. The ball entered 8 inches, and was broken as in the first experiment.
The third shot fired was with a steel ball, against the French plate, the English being hors de combat. The penetration was the same; the ball was not broken, but was flattened at the point like the head of a bolt.
We should like to speak of those magnificent workshops in which the immense naval pieces are adjusted, where the shafts of helixes 60 feet in length are turned, and of the boiler works, where one may see generators that have a heating surface exceeding 2,000 square feet, for it requires no less than that to supply 8,000 H.P., and thus triumph over the force of inertia and those colossal iron-clads. But how describe in a magazine article what the eye cannot take in in a day?
Despite all our regrets, we have to pass over some things, but our duty will not have been performed if we omit the history of the works.
Creusot, which to-day is a regularly-built city with a population of 28,000 souls, was in 1782 but a poor hamlet called Charbonniere. The existence there of a coal bed had long been known, and iron ore had been found not far off. But how establish works in a locality deprived of a water course, and distant from the large ways of communication?
In 1782 the steam engine, which Watt had just finally improved, removed the first difficulty, and the second was soon to disappear, thanks to a projected canal. An iron foundry was then established there under the patronage of Louis XIV., while the Queen had glassworks erected.
As long as the war lasted the foundry supported itself through casting cannons and balls, but after the year 1815 it became necessary either to transform the works or sell them. It was decided to do the latter. The Messrs. Chagot, who became purchasers in the sum of $180,000, were in turn obliged to sell out in 1826. Creusot was then ceded to Messrs. Manby & Wilson, who already had works at Charenton. At the end of seven years of efforts this firm made a failure, and, finally, in 1836, after six million dollars had been swallowed up, Creusot was bought for $536,000, by Messrs. Adolphe & Eugene Schneider & Co. The period of reverses was at an end, and one of continued success was begun.
The new managers had seen that carriage by steam was soon to follow, and open up to metallurgy an entirely new horizon. The works were quickly transformed and enlarged, and in 1838, the first French locomotive was turned out of them. After locomotives came steamboats. It was then that the necessity of forging large pieces gave the idea of a steam hammer.
By a coincidence that can only be explained by the needs of the epoch, the English came upon the same discovery almost at the same time, and the Creusot patent antedated the English one by only two months.
Two years afterward, frigates such as the Labrador, Orenoque, Albatros, etc., of 450 H.P., were rivaling English vessels on the ocean.
After the death of Mr. Adolphe Schneider, on the 3d of August, 1845, his brother Eugene, left sole manager, displayed an activity that it would be difficult to exceed. He made himself familiar with the resources and productions of foreign countries and of France, and then made up his mind what to do. He desired to make his works the finest in the world, and it has been seen from what precedes that, after twenty years of effort, his aim has been attained. What a rapid progress for so short a time! In 1838, the first locomotive that was not of English origin appeared to us like a true phenomenon; a few years afterward the Creusot locomotives were crossing the Channel in order to roll proudly over the railways of a rival nation.
A general, no matter how skillful, could not conquer with an undisciplined army, so the education of the workmen's children was one of the things that the founder of this great industrial center had constantly in mind. Mr. H. Schneider has continued the work of his father, and has considerably extended it, at Creusot as well as in the annexed establishments. The number of pupils who frequent the schools exceeded 6,000 in 1878.
The work is not confined to educating the children, but a retreat is afforded the parents, without putting them under any restraint.
After twenty-five years' service a workman receives an income of $100 if he is a bachelor, and $150 if married, but upon one condition, however, and that is that he is a Frenchman. For $1.20 a month he is lodged in a pretty little house surrounded with a garden, and, if he is sick, he is attended gratuitously.
These benefits are not addressed to ingrates, as was proved by the profound sorrow that reigned in the little city when the death of the benefactor of Creusot was learned. - Science et Nature.