Page images

less powder. The remainder are either recovery of the sulphur from the alkali too sensitive to allow of safe transport, wastes, with the result that ninetyor are too local in their action ; and eight per cent. of the element present are entirely unfit to take the place in the waste may now be recovered by occupied so long by the oldest of all modern processes. Scarcity of sulexplosives — gunpowder. Assuming, phur, therefore, need not be apprethen, that for naval and military pur- bended. But our production of nitre poses a supply of either cordite or gun. is absolutely nil; and it is to this conpowder is indispensable, the question stituent of gunpowder that attention arises — and it is one of considerable would have to be devoted. importance - Supposing our ports were Coming to cordite, and taking its blockaded for any lengthened period, constituents separately : the gun-cotton and our supplies thus cut off, should is made from cotton waste by the acwe be able to maintain the necessary lion of nitric acid in the presence of stock of explosives ?

concentrated sulphuric acid.

In case At present, we are entirely depen- of extremity, cotton rags of any dedent upon foreign materials for the scription, or even libres of wood, could manufacture of these bodies. Of the be used instead of the cotton waste. ingredients used in making gunpowder The sulphuric acid is made from our

- pamely, charcoal, sulphur, and nitre own natural productions. The nitric (potassium nitrate), the first-named is acid — made from foreign sodium the only one obtained in this country, nitrate — would be the ingredient for both the sulphur and nitre being im- the production of which efforts would ported. Similarly in the case of cor- have to be directed. So with nitrodite, which is a mixture of gun-cotton, glycerine, which is made by acting nitro-glycerine, and vaseline, we again upon glycerine with nitric acid and rely upon foreign sources for the nec- strong sulphuric acid. Our soap-works essary materials. Thus the nitric acid could supply an abundance of glyceused in making the nitro-glycerine and rine ; but we should agaiu be faced gun-cotton is all manufactured from with the necessity of making the nitric sodium nitrate imported from Chili and acid. The third body used in making Peru ; the vaseline is obtained from cordite — namely, vaseline - could be the United States. It is well worth replaced if necessary by some of the considering, then, what we should do if heavy oils obtained by distilling coalthrown by invasion upon our own re- tar or shale. So that in the case of our sources, in order that the requisite smokeless powder, as in that of gunsubstances might be produced in suffi- powder, the difficulty would be found cient quantity.

in obtaining the nitrogen compound. On examining in detail the materials Even if some of the more feasible of required to manufacture these explo- the other explosives known could be sives, it will be found that the chief pressed into service for use in our orddifficulty would be to obtain a supply of nance, the same contingency would the nitrogen compounds used — nitre still confront us, as nitric acid is essenin the case of gunpowder, and nitric tial to the manufacture of almost all of acid in that of cordite. Taking gun- these. Thus, picric acid — variously powder: the charcoal would always be kuown as melinite, lyddite, etc. — is forthcoming ; sulphur of which there made by acting upou phenol with nitric are vast quantities locked up in our acid ; nitro-benzene by treating benminerals — could be procured in abun- zene with nitric acid ; and so on. dance by resorting to chemical proc- These two nitrogen compounds esses. Indeed, at the present time nitre and nitric acid — without which sulphur is one of the most important none of our explosives could be made, by-products at all alkali works where are easily convertible one into the the Leblanc method is practised. Great other. Given either, the second could attention has been bestowed upon the l be readily produced ; aud if any means

were known by which one of them | any appreciable and useful quantity of could be obtained, the question would the necessary nitrogen compounds be solved. It would be interesting, could be produced by their means. therefore, to consider the possible ways The first of these depends on the fact, by which this end could be secured. that when a hydrogen flame is burnt

In spite of the advances made in in a mixture of oxygen and air, some chemical science, we are as yet ac- nitric acid is formed during the comquainted with only one process by bustion. If this were performed on a which nitre may be made directly in large scale, there is little doubt that useful quantities. It was adopted by considerable quantities of nitric acid the French during the Revolution, could be obtained, and from it the nitre when their coasts were blockaded, and could be made. But at the best, this their supply of nitre for making powder process is cumbersome and expensive, ran short. No improvement or devel- and the quantity of nitric acid produced opment has yet been made upon the is very small in proportion to the simple though tedious method then amount of hydrogen consumed. It used, which is as follows: Heaps of would certainly be the last method remanure were allowed to rot in the dark sorted to, unless it could be vastly for some months, after which the ashes improved. Recently, however, an inof plants were scattered over the fer- teresting means of producing nitric mented heap, which was moistened acid has been discovered by Crookes. occasionally with stable runnings. The It is undoubtedly capable of great exwbite crust which appeared on the tension, and if properly worked out, mass after a time — consisting chiefly would in all probability supersede the of nitrates of calcium and magnesium present methods for making this acid.

was removed, and boiled with pot- Crookes found that when a powerful, ash lyes, upon which it decomposed, rapidly alternating current of electricity yielding an impure nitre, which was

was passed through a Tesla induction purified by recrystallizing. Recently, coil, the poles of which were placed Pasteur and Warington have investi- beyond sparking distance, the air begated the formation of nitrates in ma- tween the poles could be lighted like pure-heaps, and have found that the ordinary coal-gas, clouds of nitric acid nitrogen contained in the organic mat- vapor being produced by the burning. ter is converted into nitric acid by This discovery is of the greatest imsmall organisms. When plant-ashes are portance; and if the process were explaced on the mass, this nitric acid tended so as to work on a very large combines with the lime and magnesia scale, there is no reason why a large present in tlie ashes, forming their re- supply of nitric acid could not be spective nitrates.

readily and cheaply obtained in this Having regard, however, to the slow- manner. ness of the method and the greater Such, then, are the methods, at presexpenditure of explosives in modern ent imperfect, upon which we should warfare, it is doubtful whether suffi- be compelled to rely in the event of a cient material could be thus provided ; sustained invasion of our islauds. It and we should in all probability have is to be hoped that in the near future to bring in the aid of other processes either they will be made more expedito serve as auxiliaries to the foregoing. tious, or some better means of producOf these, notwithstanding the fact that ing the requisite uitrogen compounds the elements contained in nitric acid will be devised, and so furnish these are present in limitless quantities in ingredients in such quantity that no air and water, only two have been dis- drawback could possibly be experienced covered, and each of these would re- through lack of explosive materials quire considerable development before under any circumstances.

Sixth Series,
Volume VII.


No. 2673. - September 28, 1895.


From Beginning,

Vol. OOVI.

[ocr errors]


Edinburgh Review, II. AN OUT-OF-DATE REFORMER,

Cornhill Magazine, .
III. POETIC PRIDE. By H. M. Sanders, Gentleman's Magazine,

Macmillan's Magazine,

Temple Bar,

Title and Index to Volume CCVI.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]







TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION. For Eight DOLLARS remitted directly to the Publishers, the LIVING AGE will be punctually forwarded for a year, free of postage.

Remittances should be made by bank draft or check, or by post-office money-order, if possible. If neither of these can be procured, the money should be sent in a registered letter. All postmasters are obliged to register letters when requested to do so. Drafts, checks, and money-orders should be made payable to the order of LITTELL & CO.

Single copies of the LIVING AGE, 18 cents.


You will bear with you thus DEEP in far Devon's heart it lies,

Remembrances of us ; Beside a rippling brambled stream

And, writing now and then Once mirrored in my waking eyes

Of stranger lands and men, It comes to me again in dream.

Your tidings from afar shall reach us here A quiet corner, green and cool,

As from another sphere :
Beneath a hedge of tangled bloom ;

Just as if you, at last,
The swirl of a romantic pool,
Where alders weave a tender gloom.

That greater sea had passed

Whose winds and waters yearn Behind, a lovely azure maze,

Outwards, and never turn,
Fair bluebell squadrons guard the wold ; And, looking through the waste of silence
Beyond them on the raptured gaze

The rough gorse flashes back its gold ; You called from the unknown.
Birds dimly seen amid the screen
Of lisping leaves that dance above,

Even death is nothing more
Whilst arrowy sunbeams slide between

Than opening of a door
To kiss the summer flowers they love. Through which men pass away

As stars into the day,
In the grey hush of dawn, whilst still

And we, who see not, blinded by the light, Rich June advances to her prime,

Cry, " They are lost in night !”
Only the music of the rill
Will break the silence of the time.

Thus ever, near or far,
At drowsy noon the trout will swim

Life seems but where we are ; Unseen in watery glooms beneath,

Yet those we bid good-bye And draw below the dimpled brim

Find death is not to die, The gaudy insects to their death.

As you, departing from our daily strife,

Go hence from life to life.
This picture ever hangs for me
In memory's halls, serenely fair ;

Clasp hands and now farewell !
Untarnished is the gold I see,

The word's a passing knell, The bluebells bloom forever there.

But ripening year by year In a charmed slumber seems to lie

Life triumphs there as here, This sylvan haunt where none intrude,

Nor dark nor silent would the distance be Screened from the burning summer sky- Could we but hear and see. A deep, unbroken solitude !




I count the mercifullest part of all
So, with a last good-bye,

God's mercies, in this coil of eighty
In this grey hour you die

To us, as we to you ;

Is that no sense of being disappears
Parting is dying too,

Or fails - I see the signal, hear the call — And distance, heart to heart despairing Can calmly estimate the rise and fall saith,

Of moth-like mortals in the “ vale of Is but a name for death.


And all His glorious works, the heavenly To-morrow we shall say,

spheres, “Our thoughts reflect to-day

The ocean, and the earth's unyielding wall, His quiet room up-stairs,

Remain for thought and wonder ! MarvelThe lonely look it wears ;

lous For all the house seems desolate and dim

Is God's creation, with its endless space, With want of only him.”

And those inhabited, bright walls, by What household things shall stand

Hallowed, because your hand

Divinely govern'd, as they shine on us,
Has touched them! We shall miss Still keeping through all time their or-
Your help in that or this,

dered place ; And treasure even trivial words you said I bow my head in rapture and in awe! As memories of the dead.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

From The Edinburgh Review. ing known to us the man. Thus it ADAM SMITH AND HIS FRIENDS.

happens that oue hundred and five MORE than a century has elapsed years after his death Mr. Rae presents since the death of Adam Smith, but as the public with the tirst complete biogyet the world at large has had little raphy.of. Adam Smith that has seen opportunity of making itself acquainted the light. with the personality of au individual It seems a long time since the year who has left upon it such deep and en- 1740, when Adam Smith began his unduring marks. The great economist dergraduate life at Oxford. Yet before kept no journal at any period of his his death he became intimate with the life. He was little addicted to writing poet Samuel Rogers, who was himself letters. He insisted, only a week be- intimately known to many of our own fore his death, upon his friends de contemporaries the bridge of a single stroying the whole of the manuscripts life thus connecting two periods suffiwhich he had left in an untiuished con- ciently remote from each other iu much dition. Hence, for many long years besides length of years. there were but few materials out of

Mr. Rae in the preparation of his which it would have been possible to work has shown both industry, and construct with any kind of fulness the judgment; and we believe he has story of his life. As time has gone on, been able to collect and weld together biographies of his contemporaries, and all the published information which memoirs and letters in great number, exists having any important bearing have been published in which some upon Adam Smith's career. In his mention, more or less incidental, of undertaking, however, he has not conAdam Smith has been made, and it has tented himself with searching works become possible by piecing them to already published; he has made congether and by making full use of the siderable use of the Hume correspondearlier biographical sketches, to pre-ence iu the possession of the Royal sent the public with a connected ac- Society of Edinburgh ; of the Carlyle count of his whole career, from the correspondence, and the David Laing time when he attended as a little lad manuscripts in the library of the Unithe burgh school at Kirkaldy, to the versity of Edinburgh ; he has examday of his death in Edinburgh, one of ined every mention of Adam Smith in the most renowned literary personages the records of the University of Glasof Europe. No complete life, then, of gow and the buttery books of Balliol. Adam Smith has ever yet been pub- He has had access to many private lished. The fullest account of his letters, and information bearing upon career is still to be found in the essay Adam Smith's career, in the possession which Dugald Stewart read on his life of Professor Cunningham of Belfast, and works to the Royal Society of of Mr. Alfred Morrison, aud others, Edinburgh only a couple of years after and he shows himself to be well acSmith's death. Mr. McCulloch and quainted with the memoirs and biogMr. Thorold Rogers, in publishing new raphies, English and foreign, dealing editions of the “ Wealth of Nations,' with the second half of the eighteenth have pretixed to that epoch-making century, where many incidental referwork some account of the author's life, ences and allusions to the philosophier but they were able to add little to the are to be found. The result of his particulars given by Dugald Stewart. labors is now before us in the very Lord Brougham, whose “ Lives of Men complete picture he has drawn of Adam of Letters was published in 1846, in Smith and his social surroundings in his chapter on “ Adam Smith,” devoted the latter half of the last century. himself rather to the discussion of the Adam Smith was born at Kirkaldy in works of the philosopher than to mak- June, 1723. His father, Adam Smith, 1 The Life of Adam Smith. By John Rae.

had been trained as a writer to the sigLondon : 1895.

net, and had been appointed immedi

« PreviousContinue »