The Breathing Ship

Source : New York National Democrat
Title: The Breathing Ship
Date: Wednesday morning, January 12, 1853.

The Evening Mirror has the credit of giving the above appropriate name to the first ship put in motion by the new motor, developed by the genius and perseverance of the Americanized Swede, Capt. Ericsson.

This ship, the Ericsson, made its second experimental trip yesterday, having on board representatives of the leading journals of this city, as also editors from Buffalo, Boston, and Cincinnati. Among the party, we noticed Freeman Hunt, of the Merchants’ Magazine; Messrs. Raymond and Maverick, of the Times; Mr. Dana, of the Tribune; Bigelow, of the Post; White, of the Courier and Enquirer; Erastus Brooks, of the Express; West, of the Commercial; M. S. Beach, of the Sun; Young, of the Albion; Col. Fuller, of the Mirror; Seaver, of the Buffalo Courier; Hale, of the Boston Advertiser, and editors of the Sunday courier, Dispatch, 4c. Many other persons, eminent in (lie walks of science, commerce, and the arts, were also on board.

The Ericsson hoisted anchor at a little past nine, a.m., and was going down the bay in fine style, as the Baltic came up. A cannon salute and cheers from the latter vessel as she passed, were answered by a corresponding salute from the “breathing ship.” Capt. Ericsson was on board, the observed of all.

The vessel was under command of Capt. Lowber, a veteran commander, too well known to the New York press and the American public to require eulogy at our hands. The party on board, after an hour’s examination of the noble ship - than which a stronger and finer in model was never built - and its machinery, partook of a handsomely served breakfast.

After breakfast and a further inspection of the ship, the party assembled in the after cabin, and listened to a brief, but clear and simple explanation, of the Principle of the caloric engine, by Capt. Ericsson, during which he answered every sort of objection that could be raised or suggested, (and there were skeptics on board,) and alluded somewhat to his trials in the course of perfecting an idea which first occupied his mind some twenty-seven years ago.

We have neither space nor time this morning to report his explanations, (illustrated by a hastily constructed model,) but he triumphantly demonstrated the perfection of his idea, in so far as machinists had been able to answer his wants, and utterly upset every objection raised. By the time he had concluded, the vessel had returned to the city and anchored, having made an average of 9 miles per hour, against wind and tide on the downward passage.

Every one on board, so far as we could learn, was thoroughly satisfied with the complete SUCCESS of the Ericsson, and a unanimous expression of that satisfaction was moved by Mr. Dana, of the Tribune, and carried. Upon suggestion, the numerous party was resolved into a formal meeting, to give more definite expression to the sense of those who had so fully witnessed the triumph of the greatest development of modern times.

During the absence of the committee to draft the above resolutions, eloquent speeches were made by Mr. Stoughton, the legal counsel of the “Breathing Ship” company, Mr. Raymond and others, in which the doubts, ridicule, &c., which Capt. Ericsson has had to combat, were well set forth. After this unanimous acceptance of the committee’s report, the company sat down to a cold collation, at which wit, eloquence, and champagne flowed freely. At three o’clock, the party broke up and went on shore, proud, we are certain, that the genius of man had been able to walk the ocean in a vast ship, propelled with the air on which we all depend for daily life.

Compelled to be brief, we can only add, that the Ericsson measures 260 feet in length of deck, and 40 feet in breadth of beam; her depth of hold is 27 feet, and her burthen 2,200 tons. Like the Arabia, of the Cunard line, she has but two masts; and like our swiftest clippers, she is extremely sharp in the prow. She has no figure-head. Her stern presents the device of two figures, allegorical representations of the United States and Great Britain placing a wreath around the brow of the inventor.

She requires but 6 tons of coal in 24 hours, and but one day and one night engineer and fireman. The work of her engineer, in fact, is mainly greasing machinery, and small at that. The Ericsson has cost about $320,000, and considering her saving, in every respect, she may, as a type of her class, be set down as at least one-third cheaper than a steam vessel of the same power and capacity.

Accidents from explosion, &c., are out of the question. The Ericsson is furnished simply, but neatly throughout, and has as pure air, owing to her capital ventilation, as that of the open sky. She was built by Perrine, Patterson & Stack, and the chief capitalists engaged in her construction were John B. Kitching, esq., Mr. Lamar, president of the Bank of the Republic, and others whose names we did not learn.

These gentlemen, with Mr. Stoughton, Capt. Lowber, and others who have, from their first examination of a working caloric engine, entered freely and nobly into the support of Capt. Ericsson in building this magnificent trial ship, deserve the warmest praise. They have ample reward in living to see the “humbug air ship thus proudly triumphant.

It is a little curious that one of those “blue-eyed nations of the North,” that were erst the freebooters and pirates of commerce, should finally contribute, through Ericsson, the greatest need to peaceful, civilized commerce, the world has yet dreamed of. Ericsson has done this. He has built a ship that can breathe itself over the ocean, and his principle only needs slight extension in portions of machinery, heretofore not possible, but now easy of access, to render the caloric ship not only the cheapest, and the only safe from explosions, but also the fastest vessel on the great waters.

We feel proud that the United States has had the honor of sending forth the trial “breathing ship,” and that Captain Ericsson, a Swede by birth, is an American citizen by adoption. The New World has accepted his grand idea, and will reap the harvest of it, giving him a fortune and a fame the world can neither rob him of nor refuse to endorse. Sweden, with her Linnaeus, Brahe, Swedenborg, Ericsson, Tegner, Berzelius, and Lind, may well exult over her record of genius, her illustrious names. In ten years, we predict, steam will be only a venerable remembrance.