MESSRS. EDITORS—On page 368 of the Scientific American (three weeks ago) the decision of the jury in the case of Thomas Reily was published, which decision you characterized as an " outrageous " one—not creditable to coroner or jury. At that time I had read the account of the investigation in the daily papers, and thought you were rather severe in language and not correct in opinion. Since then, Thomas Service, the engineer, has died from injuries he received by the explosion, and having again read over the proceedings of the coroner's investigation in the Reily case, my opinions have undergone a change, and I now believe you were right. With that faculty of detecting error which justly characterizes the Scientific American, your remarks were not too severe—the decision was an " outrageous " one. R. M. Aug. 11th, 1853. A Mechanic. [Only that our attention has been painfully directed to this case again, by the death of .anqthei-jvi"''"; "oM u*5lira'"ndTT5iTe added a brief word to the brief remarks referred to by our correspondent. Murder has stalked and now stalks through our city and land so brazen-faced, in the form of steam boiler explosions, and we have so often in vain directed the attention of lawful authorities, and " the people," to such cases, that we almost consider it labor lost to say a single word when a new case is presented before us ; indeed, were it not a matter of duty with us, we would not do it; but, as it is a matter of conscience, we will do oui duty " whether men will hear or forbear." The case referred to was one of a very aggravating and melancholy character. A poor man, Thomas Reily, when within but a short distance of his own door in Ridge street, while quietly walking home, smoking his pipe, in the broad blaze of the noon-tide sun, was suddenly struck down upon the pavement by a piece of metal from a boiler which had exploded in another street (Attorney) in Pratt's foundry ; his skull was fractured, and in two days afterwards he died in the Hospital. His wife was standing at the door, and saw him coming home ; she turned her back to enter, then heard the explosion, looked out, and beheld her poor husband lying insensible on the pavement. The Coroner's Jury, in investigating the cause of his death, hastily decided that some man in Canada was the cause of it,—who the man was they did not know ; the Coroner charged them to this effect and so they decided. The direct cause of the explosion was an over-pressure of steam in a miserable boiler, and the man in Canada, as alleged, who built it, had no more to do with the explosion than the shade of Peter Stuyvesaut. The owner of the boiler, J. R. Pratt, testified that he bought the boiler for $400, and that its first cost was $1,600; had been made in Canadaand had been used seven months ; it was a locomotive boiler. We have no strictures to make on buying it for such a low price—a man has a right to buy as cheap as he can; but at the same time the boiler was not a good one, as it had to be braced afterwards, and was defective in strength for the pressure it had to carry. Now the maker of a boiler is not to be held responsible for making a cheap boiler, if he only warrants it to carry a low pressure. Is the maker of a tea-kettle to be held responsible for not making it strong enough, if it bursts to pieces and scalds five or six persons, because its lid was tied down by the person who was using it ? Surely not. We therefore believe that the maker of Pratt's boiler, this Mr. Nobody, was not the least to blame tor its explosion, but those who were using it. Mr. Pratt bought it cheap, and assumed all the responsibilities of using it, for the safety or danger of those around it. At the present moment there are hundreds of these powder magazine boilers in our city, to the great danger of the lives of our citizens. There should be boiler inspectors to examine and watch the condition and workings of steam boilers in every city, so as to check unscrupulous men from carrying dan-gerous high pressure steam in inefficient boilers. Of one thing we are sure, however, if a hundred boiler explosions were to take place in a single day in our city, and a thousand lives sacrificed, nobody would be to blame, if all the Coroner's juries were composed of the same materials, and were guided by the same principles, as the jury in the case of the death of Thomas Reily, by the explosion of "Pratt's Boiler.”
This article was originally published with the title "Pratt's Steam Boiler Explosion"