Mr Punch at the Launch
Steamships, Engineering, Display, Experiment, Amusement, Superstition, Heroism
Describes Mr Punch's recent visit to John S Russell's shipyard at Millwall, where he witnessed the troubled launch of Russell's 'gigantic baby'—the SS Great Eastern—from 'its cradle to the bed of the Thames'. Notes the 'honest artisans of the neighbourhood' who 'had gone with laudable curiosity to see what they could of the great experiment', and 'the perfectly helpless air with which the majority of spectators' at the Isle of Dogs 'regarded the launching machinery' and the 'insane explanations' that 'others were giving of it'. Goes on to describe Mr Punch's participation in the christening of the ship and the subsequent collapse of machinery as the ship only managed to get 'a little nearer the water'. Although the 'mighty experiment' was then 'brought to a stand-still', the article points out that it will be continued in early December. Concludes by noting that as Mr Punch travelled away from the scene, he sang a song which praised Isambard K Brunel as a 'brick', Russell as a 'bean', and their ship as 'the grandest that ever was seen', which would still have the 'protection of Punch'.
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