Corresponence with Lord Stanhope, Bude Canal, Leaves for France.

	SHORTLY after getting ready for the press his Treatise  on Canal
Navigation, Fulton left for the North. Why he returned is not stated. It
could hardly have been to see Robert Owen, or the latter would have
mentioned it. It is most likely that it was to show his fellow-countryman,
Joshua Gilpin, the canals in the neighbourhood. Another suggestion is that
Fulton had some hope of obtaining employment there. Some colour is lent to
this suggestion by the statement, founded only on hearsay however, that
"the Duke of Bridgewater employed Fulton to construct an inclined plane for
the underground canal at Walkden, near Manchester, which enabled boats full
of coal to descend to a lower level canal by means of windlass and ropes:
their weight caused the empty return boats to be drawn up to the canal on a
higher level." 
	The statement is not inconsistent with other facts, although
confirmation from the papers of the Bridgewater Trustees is not forthcoming.
The work is stated to have been done in 1794 but could not have been till
1796 only a slight discrepancy, however.  
	Fulton kept up his correspondence with Lord Stanhope, and, though
the whole of it has not been preserved, enough remains to show that the
latter was taking a very keen interest in the Bude Canal, both in the route
to be followed and in the method to be adopted in working it. 
	As already explained, the country to be traversed was hilly, but
water was scarce. Since the bulk of the trade expected sand, manure, and
coal would be an ascending one, it was evident that enough water was not to
be found for ordinary locks. Early in 1796 Lord Stanhope had schemed a
method of getting over this difliculty by an invention which he called the
"pendanter." Briefly, this consisted of two caissons or boat-carriers worked
up and down vertically; they were to be about 50 feet apart, and be
connected so as to counterbalance by a set of chains passing over pulleys.
To allow for the weight of the chain, which would disturb the equilibrium
except when the pendanters were in the mean position, other chains were to
be hung from the under-sides of the pendanters, to be picked up from the
ground, just as in the Koepe system now so commonly adopted when winding
from deep mines. In the extreme position, one caisson was to be level with
the lower reach of the canal, and the other caisson was to be at the higher
level, where it was to make a junction with the upper reach.  
	Obviously, unless a perpendicular cliff were available to which to
bring the two reaches of the canal, two pendanter pits or shafts would have
to be sunk, and the lower reach of the canal brought to the bottom of the
pit by a level or tunnel.  Lord Stanhope, with his usual broad-mindedness,
hastened to make known his ideas to all those who had become interested in
the Bude Canal, among whom were John Rennie, the celebrated civil engineer,
and Fulton. The latter replied in the following letter,l which is reproduced
in its entirety in order that the reader may get an idea of the voluminous
nature of his communications: 
			At Mr. Washington's STOCKPORT, April 24th, '96.  

	MY LORD, Being in an obscure part of the Country for a few days, I
did not Receive your three letters till Last evening, Or they should each
have been emediately Answered. I have now perused them three times, And I
believe become sensable of the Various designs, Which gives me great
pleasure to find your Lordship's mind so Intent on Improving navigation by
Canals. And as I know it of Infinite Importance that the system should be
improved By Constructing a Canal which may Act as Model to Convey
Conviction, and Remove the Ignorance of the present practice, I shall feel
particularly happy in the assistance of your Lordship's experience, in order
to Minutely Investigate any Ideas which may arise In me. And on the other
hand, I will Remark on your plans According to the best of my Judgement,
hoping by this means a System of real benefit may be produced. In this I
Conceive Canals should be Considered generally not Locally. I will therefore
View the plans as to General use. And afterwards Consider the application to
the particular trade of the Bude Canal. 
	First the pendanter Balanced by Weights.  
        This idea is new to me, As to the mode of Working But in the Course
of my experiments I once made use of a similar Carriage or Boat Carrier,
with two Gates In the Carriage and one in upper and lower pond of Canal
which I Relinquished for the following Reasons:
	1st. That all water leaking from the upper Canal Gate would descend
the pit, keep it continually disagreeably Wet and Injure the goods in the
Boats. 2d. It would be Impossible to keep the gates of the pendanter from
leaking particularly after some wear. 3d. The dispatch was not sufficient
And the expense much greater, then the Inclined plane. The size of the pit,
whzch to admit a Carrier that would Receive 12 Boats, must be 60 feet long
of an oval shape that the sides might stand, And a tunnel of sufficient
width for two Boats to pass with the expence of the materials to support
heavy Weights Will be very Costly, And Attended with much difiiculty In
working. Tunnels and deep pits are usually wet added to which the leakage of
the gates or even the dripings from the Bottom of the Pendanter would be an
awkward Circumstance, And to Avoid this I adopted a Cage to Receive the Boat
as in my Ioth and IIth Plates with a Carriage to pass under the Cage in
order to transfer the Boat into the upper Canal; thus I had but one gate In
the whole Apparatus placed in the upper Level And even that was extremely
troublesome. The Pendanter must also have Balance Chains thus to preserve
the Equal poize in passing through the space.
	2d. The double pendanter as per your last, Is an improvement on the
single as one is a Balance to the other. But here are double the gates,
double the leakage, nearly double the expense. Though double the quantity of
trade may be performed yet the above difficulties appear to me to operate
Against a general trade and I Believe a much better Will be devised by your
Lordship. This last machine if I Recollect Right is similar to one for which
Dr. Anderson has a patent as explained in the Repertory of Arts.
     4th. The Cassoon. As your Lordship seems to have abandoned it for the
Pendanter I will not say much on its formation. It has all the objections as
to leakage, tunnel, and pit, And is much more expensive In Consequence of
the great depth of Pit And framing which must be in hight equal to the
Ascent, nor do I see how the poize is preserved in passing, particularly In
descending as the more wood Immersed the greater pressure it will Require to
make the Boat descend to the Lower dry locks. This Apparatus I believe is
the subject of a patent to Messrs. Rowland and Pickering explained in the
Repertory of Arts.
	Having stated my objection to these three engenious thoughts as to
expence, time, and the very disagreeable circumstances of Continual Wet,
Each of Which I hope your Lordship will be so good As to deliberately
      	I now come to your Inclined plane With Rollers And this mode I
Consider as Infinately the Best. As far as my experiments have extended or
what I have seen of others I prefer the Inclined plane to perpendicular
Ascents the plane fits every kind of ground And at much less expence than
driving tunnels; The Boats will ascend the plane In near ads] little time as
they Could enter the tunnel, They are free from all wet or damp, there is no
leakage, and it is pleasant to work above ground.  
	It therefore appears to me that the object is to Render the
operation of the plane Perfect, and that mode which on Weighing the Various
Circumstances will do the most work with the greatest safety for the Least
Money will be the Best.  
	We Agree perfectly as to the size of the Boats, the Business is to
mount the Various Levels. And Mr. Leech's Idea of taking water into the
descending Boat I Conceve very Imperfect.  
	First, Because the Boat would not contain Water sufficient to weigh
up the Loaded Boat, the force of the descending Body is diminished In
proportion as the Angle is small, for Instance on a Plane of 25 degrees it
would Require 4 tons of Water at least to Raise 2 of Cargo, for which the
Capacity of the Boat is not sufficient.  
	Second, the Boat on entering the Lower Canal would be full of Water,
In discharging of Which there would be much time lost. But, as a power must
be obtained to Raise the Loaded Boat I do not as yet see any mode so good as
the tub passing through the pit, Because by this means there is a Certain
Power, And you will find In my estimates that this method is not expensive,
yet the Operation is easy.  
	In this, perhaps, I am like a fond father who is pleased with the
genious of his friends Children, yet his affections adhear to his own But I
will endeavour to be open to Conviction should a better mode of obtaining
Power Appear.  
	However, At present this appears to me to be the Best, And the only
Question on which I hesitate is Whether Rollers to the Plane or Wheels to
the Boats are preferable. On this there has been a Civil War in my Ideas
ever since I had the pleasure of seeing your Lordship. At length Rollers
have gained some part of the teretory, and I think may be Applied to great
Advantage on the Bude Canal, where your Boats are only 12 feet long. Nothing
I think, Can surpass Rollers for Boats of that length as to Simplicity,
Cheapness, and dispatch, And for your land trade where the Boats may have
divisions to give them strength, thus Because in Passing the Bridge such
Boat will not be Injured when at one point It must rest on one Roller. 
     	It gives me great pleasure to see your Lorship disposed to give up
the use of horses And give In to my original Ideas, which I think I
explained In some of my first Letters from devon, of gaining the Power by
Reservoirs And Windmills. On the Application of Windmills I have made some
drawings Within this few days. Supposing the Mill on an eminence at some
distance from the pumps, showing how to extend the Power And Render the Mill
perpetual without Attendance. This in Canal works Is indeed extremely Simple
And in such works Wind mills Appear particularly Applicable for as on high
levels Water is scarce, Wind is powerful and much more Constant; the Canal
being the Reservoir to run the water from the Pumps or Buckets, Equal motion
is not Required. A Hurrican Could do no harm and the least Breeze would be
of service. 
	Thus Night or Day Without Attendance the mill performs, while the
Wind Blows and Deposits a power to be used at pleasure. Hence my Ideas of
the Bude Canal At present stand thus: 

12 feet Boats 2 tons, Inclined planes and rollers Tub pit ana Sough,
Reservoir and Windmills where necessary.

     	These Juditiously aranged I Conceve will produce a model Canal which
will Carry Conviction and exhibit the Superiority of the small scale.
	With Regard to fording the Canal Perhaps there may be some
difficulty. As it Cannot be less than two feet deep In many Instances,
People will not like to wade through to fetch their Sheep, Cows, produce,
etc., particularly in Winter or in Case of Ice. To Avoid this Inconvenience
I have Constructed a Weigh Bridge which on those narrow Canals may be made
for about 14z, And the paving would probably Cost half that Sum.
	The Bridge thus: The handels A and B being Weighted have a tendency
to keep it open, But may be so balanced as to open and shut with facility
and from either Side by a Small Cord or String. 
	But these are parts for after Consideration.  
	Yet previous to your trip to Devon I Conceive it advisable to have
the plan which you mean to Adopt well digested, As the Survey should be made
Accordingly. To Return to the Inclined plane I see nothing in Mr. Rennie's
objection to the Length of Chain, and even if Chain is objectionable Rope
may be used. On the Shropshire Inclined plane, they work a rope 600 Ids Song
with the greatest ease and this is a Case in point. On the small Canal
principle I think the greatest possible Rise should be obtained at one time
In order that there may be but few operations; the expence is also less.  
	I therefore hope the mode will be fully Investigated And that your
Lordship will Weigh deliberately the Cassoons and Inclined plane on all
points In which you will honour me by further Observations.  
	If Mr. Rennie is to be of your Party In September, your Lordship
will see the necessity of his being at home in the apparatus for transfer or
he or any other man except as a Surveyor Can be of no use As the Line must
In A great measure bend to the apparatus, and Incline plane or Small Canals
by System is as Novel to the Lock engineer as Machine Spinning was new and
Wonderful to the old Women In Sir Richard Arckright's Day.
I hope ere this Your Lordship's Eyes are perfectly well.
     And Return my thanks for the high opinion you are pleased to entertain
of my Conduct and exertions. When time will per[mit] your Lordship to Read
my Letter to Genl. Mifflin you will much oblige me by your opinion of my
plans for facilitating Conveyances In America by Canals, Also your thoughts
on the General System As to Crossing Rivers without aqueducts, etc., etc.
With all possible Respect,
						I Remain
						Your Lordship's most obedient

     P.S. As I shall Remain In this Country about 3 Weeks any further
Communication within that time please to direct to Mr. Washington,

        We think that it will easily be gathered from this letter that
Fulton was in hopes that through Lord Stanhope he would have the long wished
for opportunity of putting into practice his ideas on canal construction,
and obtain salaried employment in so doing. Unfortunately for Fulton, Lord
Stanhope's "pendanter" was designed to overcome exactly the difficulty that
the inclined plane had been schemed for. Fulton, therefore, set out to show,
conclusively too, how much better the inclined plane is than the pendanter.
An interesting suggestion is that of incorporating bulkheads in the boat
structure to resist "hogging" stresses; another is that of a bascule bridge
for crossing from one side of a canal to the other. The reference to the
inclined planes on the Shropshire Canal goes to show that he had been there.
	Lord Stanhope replied to this on April 27, 1796} in a long letter,
in which he shows that while Fulton's plan only saves one half of the water
used in locking, his plan of the pendanter will save it all, on the
assumption that the ascending trade in both cases is equal to the
descending. Lord Stanhope asks him to furnish an Estimate of the cost of
inclined planes to raise a given freight 400 feet high, while he (Lord
Stanhope) will get out another estimate to do the same work on the pendanter
plan. Further, he suggests a method to catch the inevitable leakage of
	Fulton replied on May 4th, in a letter longer even than the last,
and full of sketches, but not sufficiently interesting to be inserted in
full here. He is brimming over with enthusiasm for canals, particularly for
his own country, and he discusses the pros and cons of the pendanter and
inclined plane in great detail. Perhaps the most interesting thing in the
letter is a sketch and description of an arrangement for regulating
automatically the area of the sails of a windmill to suit the force of the
wind by means of the wind itself. This is the first record, as far as we are
aware, of this plan, now well known in connection with pumping windmills.
This sketch shows also a tail for moving the sails into the wind; this,
although in use at that time, was far from common.  
	Lord Stanhope replied to this on May 8, 1796 by a letter, in which
he announces that he has altered his plan so as to require a sluice-gate on
one end of each pendanter only, and also says that he has schemed a method
for adjusting the pendanter at its juncture with the canal to within
one-hundredth of an inch.  
	To this Fulton replied in a characteristic letter, again from
Stockport, dated May 12th, pointing out the difficulty which would be sure
to occur, with seasonal differences, in the level of the upper or of the
lower reach of a canal. The most interesting part of the letter is the
postscipt, which runs:
     P.S. Has your Lordship heard of a Gentm at Mr. Roundtree's factory,
Blackfryar's Road, who has constructed an engine acting by the expansion of
air, or Inflamible air Created by Spirits of tar. The AmbiNavigator has just
put me in mind of it.  
	As I leave this on Monday next, Any Communication with which I may
be honoured will find me at H. Clarke's Esqr Askham, near York.
	The reference in the postscript to " an engine acting by . . .
Inflamible air Created by Spirits of Tar," is most probably to the alcohol
engine, patented in the following year, of Dr. Edmund Cartwright, D.D., the
inventor of the powerloom and an indefatigable experimenter, whose
acquaintance Fulton made about this date, possibly in consequence of having
gone to look at the engine.
        Lord Stanhope, in his reply, dated from Chevening, May 17 1796
explains how he proposes to allow for possible variations in the canal
levels and at the same time how he would guard against possible danger from
the acceleration of the moving pendanter. This was to attach to the
under-side of each pendanter by a chain, a weight considerably in excess of
the difference in weight between two pendanters which would be necessary to
enable them to be set in motion. This weight comes to rest on an iron stop a
short time before the level is reached at which it is desired to stop the
whole system. The pendanter, although still descending, is now lighter than
the counterbalancing pendanter., and therefore comes to rest, then slowly
rises again until equilibrium is established. The length of the chain and
consequently the level at which the system stops are to be regulated by a
screw. Lord Stanhope instances an experiment he had made at Chevening House
to prove the truth of this scheme. 
	He followed up this letter quickly by another, dated May 24, 1796
" On board the Ambi-Navigator Ship." 
	In this he informs Fulton of a method he has just schemed for
anti-friction rollers for inclined planes. On the ascending plane the
carriage supporting the boat is to be on rollers which roll upwards with the
boat and then roll back by gravity to a fixed stop. On the descending plane
each roller is attached by a cord over a pulley to a weight moving
vertically. After being rolled down by the passage of the boat, the weight
causes it to roll up again.  
	He also discusses the application of these to the Bude Canal, and at
the end he says, "Your Book abt Canals has set me you see on fire;
particularly the Part about America and your note about the enormous expence
of Horses. So I hope that at last I shall burn to some purpose; provided you
keep on blowing the fire, as you have done." If Fulton replied to this, the
letter has not been preserved; but it was fairly obvious that he could
expect little from the Bude Canal, for Lord Stanhope would naturally
endeavour to have one or more of his own inventions tried to the exclusion
of others. As we hear no more of the Bude Canal in connection with Fulton,
it may be interesting to note that the canal was actually constructed, but
not till after Fulton's death i.e. between the years 1819 and 1826. It is
still in existence, but is now partly disused. The canal commences by a
tidal dock or basin at Bude Haven, and passes by Marhamchurch to Red Post
Inn, where it divides one branch going to within II miles of Holsworthy,
with a "feeder " from Virworthy reservoir, and the other branch going to
within a mile of Launceston, following very closely the course of the river
Tamar, a total length, including branches, of 34 miles. From Launceston the
river is navigable to the Hamoaze and Plymouth Sound, thus giving a route
from the Bristol to the English Channel.  
	The chief point of interest in the canal, from our point of view, is
that differences of level are surmounted by inclined planes to the number of
seven, and also that a modification of Fulton's endless chain of buckets,
described in his letter of May 4th, is made use of. The inclined planes are
usually worked by water-wheels, but that at Habbacott Down, 2 miles from
Bude, is unique. This plane is 900 feet in length, with two lines of rails
dipping into the canal at each end. The barges are provided with small
wheels, and are drawn up or lowered down the plane by an endless chain, to
which they can be hooked. At the top of the incline this chain winds and
unwinds on a drum which is set in motion by the weight of one of two
buckets, 8 feet diameter full of water, descending alternately in wells 225
feet deep. As soon as the full bucket reaches the bottom of the well, it
strikes a stop which raises a plug in the bottom and allows the water to run
out, an operation taking one minute only. The waste water is delivered by an
adit level to the canal below. In case of accident, the plug can be actuated
by a chain which winds and unwinds on the same barrel as the buckets so as
to be always of the proper length. A steam-engine is also held in reserve in
case of emergency. The principal traffic on the canal is in the sand from
the haven, which, as also at Padstow, is peculiarly rich in carbonate of
lime, and is used as manure on the fields. The amount taken up is 50 to 200
tons a day. 
	For the next few months practically nothing is known of Fulton's
movements, but it is almost certain that he was trying to arouse interest in
his " system of creative canals " by means of his book. He sent copies to
prominent men, among them being General John F. Mifflin, Governor of
Pennsylvania, the letter to whom is printed in the book. On September I2,
I796, Fulton presented a copy " to His Excellency George Washington,
President of the United States." In the covering letter l he enumerates the
advantages of canals, and hopes " that your Excellencie's Sanction will
awaken Public Attention to the Sub j ect." 
	This elicited an acknowledgment on the 14th December 1796 from
George Washington, in which he says: "As the Book came to me in the midst of
busy preparatory scenes for Congress, I have not had liesure yet to give it
the perusal which the importance such a work would merit." 
	Nothing, however, was done officially; the State of Pennsylvania
continued to adhere to its plan of turnpike roads, probably more generally
useful than, although as costly, as small canals would have been.  
	To come back now to England, we find Fulton writing to Owen on
September 19, 1796, regretting his inability to pay any part of the debt he
owed, but informing Owen that "his new speculations were beginning to be
successful in some tanning improvements, in addition to his canal contracts,
which continued to give him prospect of ultimate success." What this
improvement in tanning was we have been unable to discover; but the
optimistic tone was hardly borne out by actual facts, for a letter addressed
to Lord Stanhope a few months later reveals the fact that at this period
Fulton was in dire straits without doubt he was at the very lowest ebb of
his fortunes. The letter is a human document of pathetic interest, and
reading between the lines we can only gather that Fulton had spent anything
but a merry Christmas in fact, that he was in actual want.  
						LONDON, December 28th, '96

     MY LORD, Your Lordship's Goodwill towards men, and your Public Spirit I
See extend itself even to America, for your Lordship appears to have taken
in the Idea, that I am about to Sacrifice Public Good to private Gain; And
In doing this that I am deviating from my first principles of small and
Creative Canals. But as I should be extremely sorry that your Lordship
should Receive such an Impression, I must beg Leave to Explain And to Assure
your Lordship that I do not deviate from the Creative Washington papers
Canals. On the Contrary It Shall be one of my Principle exertions to get it
Introduced and I hope I shall Live Long enough to Set them In Motion; they
will then move onward, Stretch Into distant Regions, And Bending their
Branches Round Each hill, Millions of Intelectual Beings Will Glide on their
Smooth Surface and Draw Comfort from the System When Fulton shall be Long,
Long Lost to the memory of man. No, my Lord, that System is sacred, By me it
shall not be Violated, nor will I tamely stand by and see it mutilated or
frittered away by others. Yet others may Improve it, hence how Applicable
your Lordship's Inclined Plane and of how much Importance in facilitating
the Plan. Relative to which plane I hope I shall be Able to make some
Contract with your Lordship. Now, My Lord, having I hope Assured you of my
Care Over the Creative System Still there Are some few Situations which I
formerly Aluded to Which do not Come within the Creative System; Because
there is not Room for Extension, the short Cut for Instance from New York to
Philad and again from Philad to Baltimore the one About 30 the other 5 miles
which will prevent about 500 miles of a coasting voyage: As to the Size of
those Canals, that would depend upon circumstances but from what I Recollect
of the Country? I think it is flat, with few difficulties. Land is Cheap,
Water plenty And Cutting would be the principle Expence; hence those things
would be Compared with the Transfer of Cargo. Now my Lord I plainly See that
these and a few other Similar points will never be Brought Into the Creative
System. I also see that those points will ear long be Laid hold of by some
of our enterprising Americans Who Perhaps would not give the public such
good terms As I propose, for In my Calculations I have Charged only one
penny halfpenny per ton per Mile yet I Can make it appear that the
Projectors would Receive 4,000 per Annum for the expenditure of 1000 pounds
which is 400 per cent; yet the Subscribers would receive 20 per cent: Now my
Lord Am I not Right to endeavour to obtain these advantages which would
otherwise fall Into the hands of other Individuals And on these Just and
Lucrative points, And In Contemplating your Lordship's great talents for
such Works I Wished a union with your Lordship. My personal emolument is
Also a Weighty Consideration; for unless I can acquire a Comfortable
Mentainance and am Rather Independent, It will be almost Impossible for me
to devote sufficient time to Combatt prejudices And introduce the Creative
System. Works of this kind Require much time, Patience and application. And
till they are Brought About, Penury frequently Presses hard on the
Projector; And this My Lord is so much my Case at this Moment, That I am now
Sitting Reduced to half a Crown? Without knowing Where to obtain a shilling
for some months. This my Lord is an awkward sensation to a feeling Mind,
which would devote every minuet to Increase the Comforts of Mankind, And Who
on Looking Round Sees thousands nursed in the Lap of fortune, grown to
maturity, And now Spending their time In the endless Maze of Idle
dissipation. Thus Circumstanced My Lord, would it be an Intrusion on your
goodness and Philanthrophy to Request the Loan of 20 guineas Which I will
Return as Soon as possible, And the favour shall ever be greetfully
Acknowledged By your lordship's 
						Most obliged 

P.S. On Reading over this Letter I See that much may be gained by obtaining
the Situations Aluded to; your Lordship will therefore be so good as to
Reconsider the plan.
     I have also pondered much on the Liberty of Requesting a favour of your
Lordship Which Realy gives me pain but my Lord Men of fortune Can have no
Idea of the Cries of necessity And I must Rely on your Lordship's Goodness. 
     The age in which this letter was written must be taken into account,
and the earlier portion, which we might now term bombastic, was then in the
most approved style. Lord Stanhope's usual practice was to make his
inventions public property, but Fulton makes it clear that he could not
afford to be so generous, but must "acquire a comfortable mentainance " out
of any work he undertook. The request for the loan of money is so delicately
made that we need not doubt that it was successful. There seems to be some
suggestion that he was trying to float a company to undertake operations in
the United States. His calculations are quite as optimistic as those of the
company promoter of to-day.  
	This idea of forming incorporated bodies to carry out canal
navigations in the several American States seems to have been revolving in
Fulton's mind during the next few months, for the scheme is elaborated with
further calculations in a letters which he addressed to President
Washington, in reply to the latter's acknowledgment of the receipt of his
Treatise on Canal Navigation. We give it in full: 

				LONDON, February 5th, 1797.

     	SIR, Last evening Mr. King presented me with your Letter acquainting
me of the Receipt of my publication on Small Canals, which I hope you will
soon have time to Peruse in a tranquil retirement from the Buisy operations
of a Public Life. Therefore looking forward to that period when the whole
force of your Mind will Act upon the Internal improvement of our Country, by
Promoting Agriculture and Manufactures: I have little doubt but easy
Conveyance, the Great agent to other improvements will have its due weight
And meet your patronage.
     	For the mode of giving easy Communication to every part of the
American States, I beg leave to draw your Particular attention to the Last
Chapter on Creative Canals; and the expanded mind will trace down the time
when they will penetrate into every district Carrying with them the means of
facilitating Manual Labour and rendering it productive. But how to Raise a
Sum in the different States has been my greatest difficulty. I first
Considered them as National Works. But perhaps an Incorporated Company of
Subscribers, who should be bound to apply half or a part of their profits to
extension would be the best mode. As it would then be their interest to
Promote the work: and guard their emoluments.  
	That such a Work would answer to Subscribers appears from such
Informations as I have Collected, Reletive to the Carriage from the
neighbourhood of Lancaster, to Philadelphia. To me it appears that a Canal
on the Small Scale might have been made to Lancaster for 120 thousand z and
that the carriage at 20 shillings per ton would pay 14 thousand per annum of
which 7000 to Subscribers and 7000 to extension. By this means in about IO
years they would touch the Susquehanna, and the trad would then so much
increase as to produce 30,000 per annum, of which  15,000 to Subscribers,
the Remainder to extension; Continuing this till in about 20 years the Canal
would run into Lake Erie, Yielding a produce of 100,000 per annum or 50
thousand pounds to Subscribers which is 40 per cent.; hence the Inducement to
subscribe to such undertakings. 
	 Proceeding in this manner I find that In about 60 or 70 years
Pensilvania would have 9360 miles of Canal equal to Bringing Water Carriage
within the easy Reach of every house, nor would any house be more than IO or
I4 miles from a Canal. By this time the whole Carriage of the country would
Come on Water even to Passengers and following the present Rate of Carriage
on the Lancaster Road, it appears that the tolls would amount to 4,000,000
per year. Yet no one would pay more than 21 shillings and 8d per ton
whatever might be the distance Conveyed; the whole would also be Pond Canal
on which there is an equal facility of conveyance each way. Having made this
Calculation to Show that the Creative System, would be productive of Great
emolument, to Subscribers, it is only further to be observed that if each
State was to Commence a Creative System It would fill the whole Country, and
in Less than a Century bring Water Carriage within the easy Cartage of every
Acre of the American States, conveying the Surplus Labours of one hundred
Millions of Men.  
	Hence Seeing that by System this must be the Result, I feel anxious
that the Public mind may be awakened to their true Interest: And Instead of
directing Turnpike Roads towards the Interior Country or expending Large
Sums in River Navigations Which must ever be precarious and lead [no where]
I could wish to See the Labour, and funds applied to Such a System As would
penetrate the Interior Country And bind the Whole In the bonds of Social
	The Importance of this Subject I hope will plead my excuse for
troubeling you with So long a Letter, And in expectation of being Favoured
with your thoughts on the System and mode of Carrying it into effect, I
remain with the utmost Esteem and Sincere Respect, 
						Your most obedient
						Servant ROBT. FULTON.


     The idea here thrown out by Fulton of applying profits, in excess of a
certain percentage, from a work of public utility, to extending its
operations what we may designate 5 per cent. philanthropy is decidedly in
advance of his time, and is only feebly exemplified so far in municipal
	The most interesting suggestion contained in the letter is that of
constructing a canal between Philadelphia and Lake Erie, and is the first
record that we have of such a project. The canal was actually carried out,
with some assistance from Fulton himself,l and is the well-known Erie Canal.
Fulton shows clearly that he realises that improved means of transit are the
key to progress and the greatest leveller of international dissensions.
	On the day of his first writing to George Washington, he wrote also
to his brother-in-law, David Morris, explaining that he had given up
painting some time ago on account of his new pursuits: " Seeing the
necessity of an Easy Communication with the Marts of trade I have devoted
much time in order to Contrive a means of effecting it; which I believe I
have Accomplished and having Published a Book on the Subject, I have sent
you one by Dr. Edwards. On this publication I will not Remark but hope it
will give you some pleasure to peruse it. Also Some Satisfaction to my
mother to see that I have made an exertion to Serve my Country by the
[book]. In Consequence of this new pursuit in the Canal enterprise, I have
laid aside my panels, and have not painted a picture for more than two years
As I have little doubt but Canals will answer my purpose much better and of
which you will Judge."
     	How Fulton managed to exist during the next few months we do not
know. Fortunately the negotiations hinted at in his letters to Lord Stanhope
and George Washington appear to have borne fruit, for in the April following
he wrote the following enthusiastic letters to Owen, announcing a great
change in his fortunes: 
				LONDON, April 28th, 1797.

     	DEAR SIR, Yesterday Mr. Atheson presented me with your kind letter,
and I beg you together with all my old companions, to accept my most sincere
thanks for all the friendly sentiments and good wishes they entertain In my
	It was my intention to write to you about the 18th of next month, at
which time I shall have a bill due and I hope to be in possession of cash. 
	The agreement I have now made, I hope will crown my wishes; having
sold one fourth of my canal prospects for 1,500 pounds to a gentleman of
large fortune, who is going to reside at New York. Of this 1,500 pounds I
shall receive 500 pounds on the v7th of next month, 500 pounds in six months
and 500 pounds on my arrival in America which I hope will be about June '98. 
Now my friend, this being the state of my money prospects, it becomes
necessary that I should deal equal with all my creditors whose patience in
waiting the result of my enterprise I shall long remember with the most
heartfelt satisfaction in which Thank Heaven (some men would say Please the
pigs) I have succeeded.  
	In the appropriation of the first 500 it is stipulated between my
partner and me, that I should go to Paris and obtain patents for the small
canal system this I calculate will cost me about 200 pounds. Of the
remaining 300, I will send 60 as your portion and pay you the remainder
in six months which I hope will answer your purpose. I shall also be happy
to pay any loss you may sustain by paying interest.
     	In about 3 weeks I mean to set out for Paris, and hope to return in
time to be with you at Christmas; and about this time next year I expect to
sail for America, where I have the most flattering field of invention before
me, having already converted the first characters in that country to my
small system of canals. My sensatzons in the business are consequently
pleasing and I hope it will please all my friends; to whom remember me
kindly. To the Mr. and Mrs. Marsland, Moulston, Clarke, Jolly, and the whole
assembly of Worthies remember me good Ozven. Adieu my friend for this time,
				believe me, sincerely yours, 	
    The only " canal prospects " that he could possibly have to sell, one
would suppose? were shares in his patent for his inclined plane. How anyone
"going to reside al New York" could consider that one fourth in this was
worth 1500 pounds passes comprehension. We can only make the suggestion that
Fulton had persuaded his client tha his invention was one that would be
found indispensable everywhere. Now in France, following on the Revolution
the constitution of 15 Jan. 1790, among other things swep away the old
division of the country into provinces ant brought into the public domain
all waterways previously belonging to them; this was followed in 1791 by the
con fiscation of nearly all the canals in private hands. S period of
progress in public works ensued, and as a paten law had been brought into
operation in 1791, Fulton ma have thought it advisable to reap whatever
benefits France might afford before going to the United States, when there
were several canal projects afoot and where also Federal patent law was in
     	It would be interesting to know who "the gentleman of large fortune"
was. If we may hazard a guess, we should say it was Joshua Gilpin l of
Philadelphia. Hi father's great scheme was to cut a canal between Chesa
peake Bay and Delaware Bay, but he did not live to se its inception. His son
took up the scheme with enthusiasts and in fact devoted his life to its
furtherance. As a never sary preliminary, he came to England in 1795 to
study th canal system, remaining till 1801. Fulton and he were withi a few
days of the same age. They were engaged on th same business, and Gilpin's
evidence, given in his Memoir is conclusive on this point: ". . . having
imbibed an interest in this work from the labours of my father, and a local
knowledge of the country almost from my infancy I availed myself of seven
years' residence in Europe, to obtain correct practical information of works
of this kind, by visiting most of the existing canals, and collecting such a
mass of documents as is not often done, even by professional men. A large
part of my investigations were pursued in concert with the late Col. Tatham
and Mr. Fulton, particularly with the last, both in England and on the
	This, however, is only circumstantial evidence. The fact that locks,
and not inclined planes, were adopted on the canal in question, might be
considered presumptive evidence that Fulton's statement that he had
"converted the first characters in that country " to his " small system of
canals" could not have referred to Gilpin. We have, however, the decision
that the Directors of the canal arrived at quoted in the Memoir,l and it is
to the effect that: "to have adopted plans, however ingenious, were untried,
and might have failed in execution, was to subject this great work to a
hazard that would have been an unpardonable dereliction of their duty." This
surely refers to Fulton's schemes.  
	Robert Owen had one more letter from Fulton, dated London, May 6th,
wherein he enclosed the 60 pounds which he had promised, and said also that
he would send the remainder in five months. This, however, he did not do,
nor did he even send the money when leaving England for the last time, when
he could well have afforded to have done so. Owen, however, took the refill
for the deed, for he says: " I consider the little aid and assistance which
I gave to enable him to bestow so great advantage on his country and the
world as money most fortunately expended." A broad-minded and charitable
view !
	Towards the latter part of Fulton's stay in London he made the
acquaintance' of the celebrated Dr. Edmund Cartwright, M.A., D.D., F.R.S.,
whom we have already mentioned. He had invented a power loom and the first
woolcombing machine. Just at this present moment he was engaged in
perfecting a closed cycle alcohol engine. These two men, although in such
different walks of life, were kindred spirits in all that related to
mechanical invention. 
	Dr. Cartwright's daughter says "Amongst other ingenious characters
who frequented Mr. Cartwright's house may be noticed one who was then deeply
engaged in pursuits similar to his own, but whose claims to originality of
invention have not been very willingly admitted on this side of the
Atlantic. This person was Robert Fulton.... The coincidence of their
respective views produced, instead of rivalship, intimacy and friendship
between the two projectors, and Mr. Fulton's vivacity and original way of
thinking rendered him a welcome guest at Mr. Cartwright's house.... The
practicability of steam navigation, with the most feasible mode of effecting
it became a frequent subject of discourse."

Go on to Chapter V

Back to Table of Contents