Page images
PDF
EPUB

noted, and faithfully carried to account. It is a point which it is desirable to ascertain, though we by no means agree in the common opinion, that on its decision depends the question of the economical advantages of the gas-lights. The committee were unfortunate in choosing this for their experimentum crucis. The lights required in streets are at considerable intervals, and, consequently, the range of tubes is extensive and costly; and, going to a great distance from the centre of supply, must be subject to accident and derangement. In lighting the strects, too, the gas must beat out of the market the coarsest and cheapest of all materials ; so that we can imagine a failure, in this instance, not inconsistent with its producing great national and individual benefit.

There is one circumstance, in which, as far as we can judge from our imperfect knowledge of Winsor's process, it is superior to Murdoch's. The latter seems to follow the usual mode of di. stillation, by putting the vessel that contains the coal into the centre of a furnace. But Winsor puts the fire in the centre, and fleaving only space sufficient for a draught of air) surrounds it with the coal that is to be carbonized ; the evident advantage of which is this, that the least possible heat is wasted, as, in flying off, it encounters the coal on every side. Accordingly, we find, that, in Murdoch's statement, a sixth part of the annual expense goes for the purchase of common coal to distil the cannel which he employed; while Winsor's carbonizing process is performed by the refuse cinder of a former operation; and as this cinder does not appear in the estimate of coke produced, it may in fact be considered as costing nothing. Before taking leave of Mr Winsor, we shall present the reader with the results of his analysis of coal, which, from the specimen he has given us of his powers of exaggeration, we should have been cautious of admitting among authentic facts, had not the Committee declared, that the experiments were repeated in their presence, and that they corroborated Winsor's printed statement in the most satisfactory manner. Two pecks of Newcastle coal, weighing 36 lib., produced three pecks of coke, weighing 24. lib. 2 oz., about 3} lib. of oily tar, and about 44 of alkaline liquor ; and, as the only other product was gas, it is concluded that gas constituted the remainder of the weight, amounting nearly to four pounds.

From the foregoing facts and reasonings, we think ourselves enitled to draw the following conclusions.

I. In all manufactories, whether on a large, middling, or small scale,- in all public offices, printing-houses, theatres, lighthouses, &c.--in short, wherever much light is required in a given space, the gas-lighits may be introduced with very great advantage. We need not remind the reader, how large a proportion of the artifi. cial light used in this manufacturing country is comprehended in this description. It may be objected to the universality of our conclusion, that the price of coals differing very much in different places, will occasion a variation in the expense of procuring gas. But there are two reasons why this should have less effect than at first sight might be imagined. In the first place, we find, upon examining Mr Murdoch's statement, that of 6001., the estimated yearly expense of lighting the cotton mill, 550l. consist of interest of capital, and tear and wear of apparatus, leaving the cost of coal only 501. ;-a sum so trilling, when we reflect that it replaces 20001. worth of candles, that the price of coal, even where it is highest, can but slightly affect the general profits. Secondly, the coal, by yielding the gas and other volatile products, is converted into a substance, increased in bulk, and in the power of producing heat ; and as a manufactory generally requires heating as well as lighting, there will be a gain both ways. By distilling his coal, instead of burning it as it comes from the pit, the manufacturer will save his candles, and improve his fuel. One effort at the outset, in erecting a'proper apparatus, will reduce his annual disbursement, for these two articles of prime necessity, much in the same manner (though in a far greater degree) as the farmer gains by building a thrashing machine, and laying aside the use of the flail.

need

II. When we reflect on the small number of trials that has yet been made, and the expensiveness and awkwardness of first attempts, we may reasonably expect considerable improvements as the practice becomes more general, so as to turn the scale still more decidedly in favour of the gas-lights. Anxious as we are to avoid the charge of visionary speculation, we cannot help anticipating the pretty extensive introduction of them into private houses. Mr Lee has set the example :--the whole of his house at Manchester, from the kitchen to the drawing-room, is lighted solely by gas. Its properties render it particularly fit for ornamental illumination. As there is nothing to spill, the flame may be directed either downwards, upwards, or horizontally; and the points from which it issues may be disposed in any form that taste or fancy may suggest. We are perfectly aware of the difficulties that oppose such an application of the gas; but we have unbounded confidence in the skill and ingenuity of our countrymen, when they are once fairly brought into action. The gigantic Steam-engine has been reduced to a convenient, and even portable size ; and its power made so divisible, as to be dealt out in portions to petty manufaciurers, who know nothing of the machine, but by the power which they hira. It has been proved, we think, that, in the case before us, there are materials to work upon; and, whenever this becomes the general opinion, we shall not be afraid of the best means being adopted to turn them to account. Whether ingenuity should be left to its own workings, and the stimulus of private gain, or restrained and directed by the interference of Government, is a question which we do not feel ourselves called upon to decide.

ART. XIII. An Examination of the Causes which led to the late

Expedition against Copenhagen. By an Observer. Hatchard. 1808.

T'he privilege which we enjoy in this country, of discussing e.

very public occurrence with all the freedom and the keenness which belong to our political or physical constitution, though productive of incalculable benefit on the whole, has been the source of some evils. The most considerable perhaps of these, is the habit to which it has formed us of limiting our attention to the subject of the day, and dismissing entirely from our reflection every topic upon which our contending parties have once fairly delivered their opinions. Among a nation of newsmongers and politicians, this can scarcely be otherwise. Novelty is the great demand of the superficial; and, where every day supplies something new and disputable, the most important measures must take their turn with the most insignificant ; and discussions, which are to influence the fate of future generations, must give place to the paltry recriminations of individuals whose names are notorious.

There are topics, however, which it seems to be a duty to try at least to rescue from this periodical oblivion, and to which the public attention ought if possible to be directed, after they have ceased to be the watchwords of faction, or the vehicles of personal abuse. There are objects now and then to be seen above the political horizon, which, though confounded, by the dazzled and shortsighted eyes of party or of idle curiosity, with the transient meteors of the atmosphere, are yet destined to hold their course in the eyes of many generations, and to exert a visible influence on every part of the system in which they appear. There are events of great example, and of terrible warning. There are measures which leave a taint or a healing virtue behind them, long after the period of their individual consummation; and princi. ples which, though first disclosed in events that seem but comanon subjects of wrangling or censure, yet entail a blessing or a

curse

foron, will by; ne lanen recaj

curse on the nations by which they are adopted. The partition of Poland excited less sensation in England than a Westminster election, or the capture of a folitary frigate ; and yet, by that blow, the keystone was struck out of the arch of European independence. The expedition to Copenhagen is less thought of at this moment than the City Address, or the merits of Sir Arthur Wellesley; and yet that one measure has probably ensured the subjugation of the North, and confirmed the alienation of the whole Continent from this country. We do not know whether any thing that we can say can recal the attention of the public to a topic which, in the language of the Quidnuncs, is now so com pletely gone by; but the time which we have chosen for its discussion, will be received, we hope, as a proof, that we engage in it for better purposes than those of faction; and that we wish to address ourselves to the reason, and not to the passions or prejua dices of our readers.

It is of the utmost importance, in the outset, to conlider the conjuncture at which this extraordinary proceeding was adopta ed. In the year 1807, we beheld the Continent of Europe apparently prostrate before the armies of France. The discipline of Austria and Prussia had disappeared before their numbers, their enthusiasm, and the predominant genius of their leaders The Sovereigns of those countries had seen their capitals filled with hostile armies, and their flying courts hovering on the frontiers of their former dominions. The house of Hapsburg had ceased to give emperors to Germany; and the downfal of a conftitution, transmitted from the feudal ages, was beheld without astonishment, and possibly without regret. The king of Prussia saw the antient poffeffions, and recent acquisitions of the house of Brandenburg, alike a prey to the overwhelming power of the conqueror; and, from the remote city of Koningsberg, contemplated the mighty ruin with which the wretched politics of his own cam binet had overspread the regions of the North. On the banks of the Vistula, the Russians still disputed the further progress of the enemy; but neither the protracted severity of a northern winter, the difficulty of procuring supplies and reinforcements at so great a distance from France, nor the reluctant and indignant Tube mission of the intermediate countries, could encourage them to .. hazard a decisive action. The return of summer had permitted Bonaparte to resume offensive operations, facilitated the commu- ". nication of his different armies, and led to the battle of Friedland, which appears to have convinced the Emperor of Rullia of the necessity of peace. The treaty of Tilfit, concluded on the 8th of · July, rather proclaimed than confirmed, the power of Bonaparte, and the weakness of his adversaries.

VOL. XỊII. NO. 26.

{ At that period, the humiliation of the Continental sovereigns was very generally mistaken in England for the forcible and complete subjugation of their territories. An interval of fifteen years of war and revolution, had almost caused it to be forgotten that the fate of a brave and unanimous people cannot be permanently decide ed by a few pitched battles. The fortune of every country depends 'on the numbers and character of its inhabitants; and the immense population of Germany, with their athletic forms, hardy habits, and native courage, would not have struggled in vain, in a contest which had really called their powers into action. But the Ger. man nations had witnessed the weak and versatile policy, and experienced the oppression, of their own governments. In their military leaders, they saw no talents adequate to defence; and, in the absence of all motives fitted to inspire enthusiasm, the advantage of submission or resistance became a matter of calculation, and the celerity of the enemy's marches afforded little time for deliberation. On England, indeed, the eyes of all were fixed. In her they beheld a power which had uniformly resisted, with vigour, and with "comparative success, the encroachments of the Continental despot. She had always supplied the enemies of France profusely with the pecuniary means of warfare ; her insular situation, her invincible fleets, and the loyal unanimity of her inhabitants, held out a permanent encouragement to every nation disposed to assert their independence, and reared up a bulwark against universal dominion. Her enemies, indeed, had found occasion to disseminate more than - suspicions as to the purity of the motives which prompted this 'conduct. But though she had stooped after sugar islands and plantations of pepper, she had been faithful to her engagements with her allies; and had adopted no measure obviously the result 'of a felfih policy. In struggling to support the political system of civilized Europe, she had respected the laws by which it was regulated. She was evidently regaining character even with her commercial rivals; and the tone of high honour and inflexible justice, which founded in her public declarations, and in the fpeeches of her parliamentary orators, had unquestionably established a very general sentiment of admiration and confidence. In the actual posture of affairs, indeed, these sentiments were mere Tatent sparks, which subsequent events might kindle or extinguish. Her influence and reputation were placed in her own keeping ; and if the sketch we have ventured to delineate of the state of Europe be at all correct, it will be easy to fee of what importance 'it was to the whole civilized world, that England should have persevered in a line of conduct calculated to conciliate confidence, and to command respect. In her transactions with the court of St Petersburgh, she had

recently

« PreviousContinue »