Travels in France and Italy


The French Minister of Marine at Paris ,
Rouen ,
Bayeux ,
Cherbourg ,
Brest ,
Rochefort ,
Indret ,
M. Rosine ,
Architecture of Nismes ,
Marseilles ,
Toulon ,
Voyage to Naples ,
Genoa ,
Pisa ,
Bay of Naples ,
The National Museum ,
Visit to Vesuvius ,
The edge of the crater ,
Volcanic commotion ,
Overflows of burning lava ,
Wine- shop at Rosina ,
Return ride to Naples

I HAVE already referred to my visit to Creuzot, in France. I must explain how it was that I was induced to travel abroad. The French Government had ordered from our firm some powerful machine tools, which were manufactured, delivered, and found to give every satisfaction. Shortly after, I received a letter from M. Bouchier, the Minister of Marine, inviting me to make a personal visit to the French naval arsenals for the purpose of conferring with the directing officials as to the mechanical equipments of their respective workshops.

I accordingly proceeded to Paris, and was received most cordially by the Minister of Marine. After conferring with him, I was furnished with letters of introduction to the directing officers at Cherbourg, Brest, Rochefort, Indret, and Toulon. While in Paris I visited some of the principal manufacturing establishments, the proprietors of which had done business with our firm. I also visited Arago at the Observatory, and saw his fine array of astronomical instruments. The magnificent collections of antiquities at the Louvre and Hotel Cluny occupied two days out of the four I spent in Paris; after which I proceeded on my mission. Rouen lay in my way, and I could not fail to stay there and indulge my love for Gothic architecture. I visited the magnificent Cathedral and the Church of St. Ouen, so exquisite in its beauty, together with the refined Gothic architectural remains scattered about in that interesting and picturesque city. I was delighted beyond measure with all that I saw. With an eye to business, however, I paid a visit to the works which had been established by the late Joseph Locke in the neighbourhood of Rouen for the supply of locomotives to the Havre, Rouen, and Paris Railway. The works were then under the direction of Mr. Buddicom. I went onward through Caen to Bayeux. There I rested for a few hours for the purpose of visiting the superb Norman Cathedral, and also to inspect the celebrated Bayeux tapestry. I saw the needlework of Queen Matilda and her handmaidens, which so graphically commemorates the history of the Norman Conquest. In the evening I reached Cherbourg. I was cordially received by the directing officer of the dockyard, which is of very large extent and surrounded by fortifications. My business was with the smithy or atelier des forges, and the workshops or ateliers des machiness. There I recognised many of the machine-tools manufactured at the Bridgewater Foundry, doing excellent work.

My next visit was to Brest, the chief naval arsenal of France. It combines a dockyard, arsenal, and fortress of the first class. Everything has been done to make the place impregnable. The harbour is situated on the north side of one of the finest havens in the world, and is almost land-locked. Around the harbour run quays of great extent, alongside of which the largest ships can lie -- five artificial basins being excavated out of the solid rock. The whole of the harbour is defended by tier above tier of batteries. Foreigners are not permitted to enter the dockyard without special permission; but as I was armed with my letter of introduction from the Minister of Marine, I was admitted and cordially received, as at Cherbourg. I went through the Government foundry and steam-factory, for which I had supplied many of my machine tools. I found the establishment to be the largest and most complete that I had seen. From Brest I went to Rochefort, an excellent naval arsenal, though much smaller than those at Cherbourg and Brest. Next to Indret on the Loire. Here is the large factory where marine engines are made for the royal steamers. The works were superintended by M. Rosine, a most able man.[note: The only man I ever met, to whom I might compare Rosine, was my lamented friend Francis Humphries, engineer of the Great Western Steamship Company. Both were men of the same type, though Rosine was several octaves-higher in the compass and vividness of his intellect.]

I was so much pleased with him that I spent two days in his society. I have rarely met with a more perfect union of the sound practical mechanic, of strong common-sense, and yet with a vivid imagination, which threw a light upon every subject that he touched. It was delightful to see the perfect manner in which he had arranged all the details of the engine factory under his superintendence, and to observe the pride

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