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A THOROUGH knowledge of the Art of Weaving, in all its varieties, is the gradual result of indefatigable exertion, and cannot be acquired, except by a long course of practical application in those parts of the world where it is best understood.
Many of our American weavers already possess sufficient skill and dexterity in several branches of this, the most complex of all arts, to prove dangerous rivals to those similarly engaged in other parts of the globe; but the field for improvement is still very extensive. In erery quarter of this vast country men of scientific genius are busy in applying those elementary and speculative principles, which were formerly confined to the closet of the philosopher, to the grand purpose of social improvement. The great chain which connects theory with the useful arts, is rapidly extending, and it is impossible to anticipate what may be the result.
The fabrication of almost every species of cloth appears to have been carried on to a surprising extent in the ancient world; and a knowledge of the processes by which it was accomplished, together with the improvements made on many of them since their introduction into Europe, are objects of the first national importance, and no apology is necessary for our attempting a collection of facts on the subject, embodying them with our own experience as a practical weaver and manufacturer, in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, Prussia, &c., for nearly a quarter of a century.
Although the art of weaving the more common fabrics is extensively known in this country, nevertheless, the intricate and ornamental textures are not well understood ; neither have they been explained by any one thoroughly versed in the business; which precludes the necessity of further observation from us on this head.
A variety of publications relative to this branch of industry, designed for the use of weavers of common fabrics, have, indeed, appeared, at different tiines, by such authors as O'Doherty, Diogenes, Murphy, Greenougli, Pedlie, O'Westinan, Yates and Ure; but, that these writers were wholly, or in a great measure, ignorant of the subject, we have demonstrative proofs in their own works. The books of these men contain merely such scraps and sketches as were furnished for them, by persons who required instruction themselves, as the marter there presente:l, abundantly testifies. Such compilations are nearly filled with tables and useless repetitions, “ for the purpose of fucilitating calculation," as they are termed. These tables appear rather to have been intended for the use of the plain cloth manufacturer of the twelfth century, than for the fancy warper, or figure wearer of our own day. To the mechanical part of the business, sucli 13 tlic co!-truction of thic loons and other apparatus requisite for the production of the more intricate kinds of textures, and the necessary practical instructions, they have scarcely alluded in their treatises. They only speak of the art in its imperfect state, as it existed in England, Ireland, and Scotland in times long past; and hence such books are not calculated for the present age of improvement. Indeed, it seems to us, that these authors were, (in the words of Pollok)
"Resolved in spite of fate) before they died,
To make some grand discovery, by which
They should be known to all posterity.” The great majority of mankind are ever prone to limit their desire of information, to that which seems at the time most necessary to their subsistence. The wearer wlio is accustomed to be employed at one kind of work, seldom troubles himself to enquire by what means other kinds are now, or were produced ; and although by this constant application to one branch, he increases his practical dexterity in it; yet, such a course, at the same time, tends to impede bis progress in the attainment of a complete knowledge of his vocation. Indeed, many of the different species of weaving have already become nearly local. In Great Britain, for example, the Manchester weaver is, in general, as ignorant of the mode of mounting a gauze spider net, as he of Paisley or Glasgow, is of a Pekin brocade, or an Egyptian shebetz. The division of labour, however, is carried still further : the mounting of a loom in the figured department is frequently the business of several persons, and the working of it that of from one to six others. Some figured looms have as many as eiglit Jacquards, of 400, 600, 900, and even 1300 needles each ; and from one to four pulley-boxes, each of which has a tail, simple, and drawboy to operate upon it. These complicated looms contain from one to twelve cumber boards (sometimes called harness boards) which are often made stationary ; but at other times one, or more are elevated or depressed, at every 2d, 3d, 4th, or 6th, passage of the shuttle. In weaving Marseilles quilting and petticoat robes, on this plan, only two shifting harness boards in connection with two, or more leaves of leadles, are used. But these subjects will be more fully treated of in another place.
The study of the art of weaving will at least allrd to an inquisitire mind, a source of rational and innocent ammusement. Besides this consideration, many circumstances concur, to render records of the state of every art, peculiarly desirable. It is well ascertained by the researches of antiquarians and liierologi-15, that many useful branches of art, which were known and practised by the ancients, have been almost entirely lo-t, for wont of such records. Perhaps two-thirds, or more of them have this sink into oblivion; take for example, that of weaving six and surron ply carpeting, (known to the ancients under the cognomen of Tymolus matting,)* by the power of compressed air.
* The eminent German hierologist, Dr. Lepsius. now employed in Egypt by the Prussian government, in a recent letter, after mentioning the
discoveries he had made of ancient ruins, tombs, &c., writes as follows:
“ With the exception of about twelve, which belong to a later period, all these tombs were erected contemporaneously with, or soon after, the building of the great pyramid, and consequently their dates throw an invaluable light on the study of human civilization in the most remote period of antiquity.The sculptures in relief are surprisingly numerous, and represent whole figures, some the size of life, and others of various dimensions. The paintings are on back grounds of the finest chalk. They are numerous and beautiful beyond conception-as fresh and perfect as if finishul yesterday! The pictures and sculptures on the walls of the tombs represent, for the most part, scenes in the lives of the deceased persons, whose wealth in cattle, fish boats, servants, &c., is ostentatiously displayed before the eye of the spectator. All this gives an insight into the details of private lise among the ancient Egyptians. By the help of these inscriptions I think I could, without difficulty, make a Court Calendar of the reign of King Cheops. But, my friends, let no monument give you or me hopes, since not a pinch of dust is left unturned, by us, of the mortal remains of old King Cheops! In foine instances I have traced the graves of father, son, grandson, and even yreat grandson-all that now remains of the distinguished families, which five thousand years ago, formed the nobility of the land. I now employ daily fifty or sixty men, in digging and other kinds of labour, and a large excavation has been made in front of the great Sphynx."
Another writer has condensed from Rosellini, and other hierologists, the following remarks:
“Philologists, astronomers, chemists, painters, architects, physicians, must return to Egypt to learn the origin of language and writing—of the calendar
The ornamental arts are so much regulated by the prevailing fashion, and caprice of mankind, that many species of fancy manufactures lie neglected for years, and, in many instances, they could and solar motion of the art of cutting granite with a copper chisel, and of giving elasticity to a copper sword-of making glass with the variegated hues of the rainbow-of moving single blocks of polished syenite, nine hundred tons in weight, for any distance by land and water-of building arches round, and pointed with masonic precision, unsurpassed at the present day, and antecedent, by two thousand years before the Dorians are known in history-of fresco painting in imperishable colours—and of practical knowledge of an. atomy.
“ Erery craftsman can behold, in Egyptian monuments, the progress of his art four thousand years ago; and whether it be a wheel-wright building a chariot; a leather cutter using the self same form of knife of old as is considered the best form now; the plain, and fancy weavers actively employed at their respective looms; a white smith using that identical form of blow pipe, but lately recognized to be the most efficient; the seal engraver cutting in hieroglyphics such names as Shoofo's, Arphaxad's, and Arkite Ghiden Ghelen's, above four thousand three hundred years ago; or even the poulterer removing the pip from geese; all these and many more evidences of Egyptian priority now require but a glance at the plates of Rosellini.”
To this catalogue of Egyptian arts, a long addition might be made of monuments descriptive of the goldsmith's and jeweller's work; instrumental music, singing, dancing, and gymnastic exercises, including children's games, like some of the present day; the tasteful furniture of their houses ; ship building; drawings in natural history, so true to life, that the French naturalists, by means of them, instanuy recognized the several species of Egyptian birds designated by them; and of numberless other branches of art.
In Persia also, much ethnographic information has lately been brought to light, by the architects and artists attached to the French embassy in that country. Their operations embrace ruins of the ancient cities of Nineveh, Babylon, Ecbatana, Persepolis, Ctesiphon, &c. These researches in connection with the labours of Groteford and Lassen, who have deciphered the arrow-headed inscriptions of those cities, are of great importance in elucidating a portion of the world's history, of which we know so little. The French government has lately sent a party to explore the regions between Casbmere and Katleristan, with orders to report on the Geography of those countriesthe various native tribes by which they are occupied, their languages, monuments, &c.
In Asia Minor a new field for antiquarian researches has been opened, which bids fair to throw much light on the history of several nations, and particularly the Greeka, at a period, the history of which we know but little. The researches of the Englinh lince chietly been in ancient Lycia, where in two different expeditions, Mr. Fellows how made some important discoveries of cities, remains of temples, inscription, c. He has also been able to make out the language of the people who erected there edifices, through bilinqular inscriptions found there. Ho in now on his way there again, with a large company and a steamer, for the purpoap of transporting to England such never again be introduced, unless a knowledge of the processes employed in their production were preserved. When such knowledge is only transmitted verbally, and when it is confined to operative monuments of art as are valuable and in good preservation. The French and Prussian governments have scientific expeditions besides, in other parts of Asia Minor.
In Abyssinia are travellers from England, France, and Germany, who are engaged in scientific explorations of the country. Their labours will contribute greatly to our knowledge of that hitherto unknown region. On the cite of ancient Carthage and in the country adjacent, some interesting discoveries have been made. Among these the following articles have been found:
1st. A complete power loom of bronze, of vertical construction, adapted to weave sixteen webs of cloth at one and the same operition, either plain, tweeled, or figured, and with from one to thirty-seven shuttles, &c.
24. A loom for wearing dimily and such stulis, with appet wheel to work the treadles, and a curious motion to stop the machine when the weit thread or threads break. This last contrivance consists of two parts, one of which is very like an 'Irish gridiron, and is fixed in the lay in a vertical position, about three-fourths of an inch from one end of the reed; the other part resembles a French four-pronged eating fork, and is made to play into the former at each, and every throw of the shuttle. But as this motion (with several other valuable contrivances in weaving) was patented by us in England, France, and other countries in the years 1833, 31 and 39, the claims of the said hierologists to the contrary thereof notirithstanding, no farther notice need be taken of it here; and particularly so, as it is now being adapted to common power looms at Paterson, N. J., Troy, N. Y., and at Lowell, Mass., where the curious may see it in full operation, and be better able to judge of its merits for themselves.
3d. A spinning machine with two hundred and fifty-six spindles, copper drums, and India rubber bands to drive it; all of which are in a tolerable state of preservation; the whole bearing a very close resemblance to the Danforth frame.'
4th. 187 yards of 'net work' or lace, figured, similar to that used in the decoration of Solomon's Temple, and of which so frequent mention is made in the book of Exodus. This specimen corresponds in many respects to that shown us by his Holiness, the Pope's antiquarian when at Rome, in April, 1831, and of which we shall have occasion to make further mention hereafter.
5th. 134 yards of beautiful lace, being composed of gold and silver threads alternately, on which are represented the sun, moon, and stars; the crocodile, pelican, heron, and goose ; and also a man and woman in a state of nudity, eating fruit, which they appear to have plucked from off a tree hard by; there is also in the same group a likeness of a serpent, very much resembling our modern boa constrictor.
6th. A penknife with 98 blades; but this does not so much excite our wonder as the others, because we are well aware of the fact, that immense manufactories of penknives were carried on in ancient Babylon, and other cities of the land of Shinar, long before the Jewish dispensation ; see also the 36th chap. of Jeremiah and 230 verse.