A law for the prevention of accidents arising from steam toiler explosions on vessels propelled by steam, was passed by our last Congress ; it contains many excellent provisions, but we have very little hopes of its proving of any benefit to our country, because we do not believe its requirements will be enforced. We have laws which are a credit to those who made them, and perhaps there is no nation on the globe that can boast of their equal in respect to their just requirements, simplicity, and moral bearing, but at the same time, there is no country which allows so many of its laws to be so feebly executed, or so often evaded and broken with impunity. In our own city of New York, we have evidences of the truth of this assertion on every hand.— The rights, the lives, the liberties of the good, quiet, industrious, and moral portion of our citizens are daily in jeopardy, or trampled upon, despised, and wrenched from them. The streets of New York are pent-up volcanoes; huge high pressure steam boilers are in continual blast beneath our pavements, in the cellars of public buildings, c, and these boilers are of such a character that explosions may be often apprehended. Last week we saw a huge high pressure steam boiler of about eight feet in diameter, and twenty five feet long, taken into the cellar ol one of our printing establishments. We could not but feel a sort of shuddering as the huge mass was lowered down into its subterranean abode, where, from carelessness or some other cause, it might suddenly burst its iroT sides, and lift up the large building of five stories high from its foundation, and scatter fire, death, and destruction abroad. Two years ago an accident ol this kind took place in this city, and the very thought of the deaths and sufferings of so many of our fellow mortals, which were caused by it, makes the cheek still grow white and the breath come fast. Did that terrific explosion, as it should have done, lead our city authorities to adopt and enforce measures for the prevention of like calamities in future ? No, it did not; there are hundreds of such boilers in our city; they are in the cellars of alnfost every establishment that requires steam power to drive machinery. These boilers are all high pressure, no low pressure boilers with condensing engines are employed, except in a few of our large manufacturing and engineering establishments. There should be no high-pressure steam boilers allowed in a public building or lactory in our city; they should be as prescriptive, by law, as gunpowder, unless kept in buildings apart by themselves. We know how valuable land is in New York City, but this should be no excuse ; it should not be allowed to form a single argument in favor of subterranean bombshells, and panting steam volcanoes. But will anything be done to remedy the evil ? We can scarcely expect it, if the past conduct of our citizens is worth anything at all, to assist in forming an opinion. Whoever heard of any person being punished for blowing up and burning, by reckless conduct, scores of our fellow citizens ? who can point to a single case? Who talks about the Henry Clay disaster now ? and what has been done, or is doing to insure greater safety of life for the future ? Nothing; the same terrific evils which in other times have swept hundreds of our lellow mortals into eternity by explosions, are still suffered to exist. How long these dangerous evils will be permitted to stand, we cannot tell; the signs of the time, afford us no ground for hope of their speedy removal, but we must do our duty; having faith in the promise, " he who goeth forth with weeping, bearing precious seed, will return rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
This article was originally published with the title "Steam Boilers in Cities"