Imagens da página

vermin in the world. I am certain that almost any instrument is lawful against them. If a thing be an imposture, you lash it as hard and as fast as you can. Satire is abominable only when it is directed against anything that is weak or gentle. Marvel wrote several poems. Some of them are beautiful enough; and they show a rather extensive knowledge of the classic languages, and a rare culture. Nature had bestowed upon this man some of her most admirable gifts, and cultivation had done everything that was possible to perfect him. He began life a poor man, and he died a poor man. So long as there are left in this nation just ten righteous men, enough to save us, so long will Andrew Marvel's name be remembered among us. I have no intention of giving any seasonable lessons upon elections; but it is a strange thing how a man will spend thousands of pounds to get an honour that men at that time used to run away from. Any man with no moral qualification whatever, but pos sessed of wealth, is returned with enthusiasm by free, enlightened, and independent electors. They have nothing but a big purse, and that is enough for this generation. Marvel's letters to his constituents are admirable; they are written by a faithful pains-taking man, and contain an account of all that went on in the House of Commons. They are somo of the greatest curiosities in England; therefore, when any of you want to get yourselves up to electioneering pitch, let me recommend to you these letters of Marvel's to his constituents. You may meet with a coarse word now and then, but if you have nothing bad in you, you will not find much there. I have a perfect veneration for this incorruptible Englishman. I can only lament that he has very few successors. If you wish such men to be more common, the best way is to create a demand, and you will have them.



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

The author of this practical and able lecture on Mining Lamps

and Explosire Gases, is well known throughout the scienti. fic world as an eminent geologist and mineralogist. We feel mach indebted to Mr. Binney for the permission to publish his original and valuable lecture, which we hope will le circulated as widely as possible by colliery owners, and other persons who are interested in the safe working of our extensive and inestimable coal mines. It is a hopeful sign that a College of Practical Mining is about to be establixhai at Newcastle-on-Tyne, under the auspices of the North of England Institute of Mining Engineers, and with the general support of the coal owners of Northumberland and Durham. Such an institution must prove a national blessing, by its promotion of skill and economy in the getting coal, and the security of life and property. The Duke of Northumberland, who is patron of the College, has promised £10,000 as soon as £30,000 have been raised for its endowment)

As I have on several occasions publicly advocated the desirability of plain lectures being delivered to the officers of collieries, and working colliers, on the origin and properties of fire damp, and the construction of mining lamps; and finding that no one has been induced to take up the subject, I am led to do it myself, although I am well aware that I am by no means fitted for the task I have undertaken. Some years since the late Mr. Francis Looney, F.G.S., a gentleman well known for the interest he took in the education of the working classes, having been provided with mining lamps by the Manchester Geological Society, went round at his own expense and delivered lectures to the colliers of the different districts in Lancashire. Mr. Looney having prosented these lamps to me, I feel in some measure bound to follow his example, and revive the subject until the useful nature of it is better known, and abler lecturers are induced to take the matter up.

Coal is a substance well known to most people ; and it is hard to believe that disputes should have arisen, and thousands of pounds been spent in order to determine whether a body was or was not coal. Yet this has taken place in our day. If a man found a seam of black substance in the earth, and it burnt like coal, and made gas like coal, he would naturally conclude that it was coal, and call it as such, without sending it up to the chemists, geologists, mineralogists, and microscopists of London, to ask their opinions. These learned gentlemen might find fault with its colour in being brown and not black. Some might cay that it had too much gas, and others too little gas, for the coals they had been accustomed to see. Others might again say that it contained too little ash, or too much ash, for their ideas of coal. Probably it will be as well to take Dr. Redforn's definition, who says:-"Under the term coal, those substances must be comprised which consist of compressed and chemically altered vegetable matter, associated with more or less of earthy substances, and capable of being used as fuel."* A Lancashire man who had been accustomed to see the bright pitchy looking cannel of Wigan, would hardly include under the term cannel the brown earthy-look ing parrots of Scotland; whilsta Newcastle man would scarcely recognise the blazing Wallsend coal with the smouldering anthracite of South Wales. Yet in

*Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, VOL. lii., p. 206

each district the substances would be well known as coals, and no doubts would be entertained as to their nature. As coal ought not in strict language to be called a mineral (which includes only brute and not organic matter, however altered), the opinion of common people on the productions of their respective disFricts, is entitled to some respect, and they certainly nave as much right as a stranger to give it a name. About one thing, however, there is no doubt, namely, wat coal is of vegetable origin, and consists of the

mains of plants. There is certainly a considerable Werence between a piece of wood and a piece of coal, but not more so than between a piece of liquorIce root and a lump of Spanish juice; both are qually of vegetable origin, however much they are

w changed in appearance. The chemist tells you a coal is of vegetable origin by its composition ;

Seologist shows you the floor of the coal, a rich way, clay, full of countless roots, and the roof

led with upright stems of plants, well known gst colliers as potholes, whilst the coal itself is u fibres of charcoal mingled in the bright coaly

and the microscopist cuts the hard nodules trasses found in coals, and proves them to be ples of the old vegetables preserved and hercally sealed up, and now showing the minutest 13 and vessels. The nature of the plants, of o cal has been formed, is not yet well wy, but the most eminent living botanists are dedly of opinion that they were aquatic; and

the fact of most deep seams of coal now conwhy salt water, it is pretty clear that such plants e grew in sea water, even if the remains of the dies and shells found in the adjoining strata did

indicate a marine origin, which they most

decidedly do.

on the Lancashire coal field, from the bottom to y top, there must be at least 120 seams of coal, seat and small. These indicate 120 periods of rest or repose of the earth's crust, when a primeval forest reared its top above the waters until the vegetable matter now forming each bed of coal was grown and deposited. Then such forest was submerged and buried under mud and sand, now found as shale and sandstone rocks. The hollow caused by such subsidence is silted up until it is again covered over by shallow water. Then again a fresh crop of vegetation flourishes, so as to form another bed of coal. For 120 times does this successive growth of vegetable matter, submergence, and silting up go on. In some instances, whole forests of Sigillaria, standing upright in fine shale, on the top of the seams of coal, are met with, thus clearly showing that they were submerged quietly and slowly; whilst at other times the prostrate stems now found lying in sandstone, and other roots, show that the submergence was rapid, causing strong currents, that tore up and drifted the trees. All the floors of coal seams are full of the roots of Sigillaria (Stigmariæ); so with the stems of trees in the roof, vegetable matter in the seam of coal, and roots in the floor: there can scarcely exist a doubt, therefore, as to the remains of the vegetables now composing coal having grown on the spot where it is now found, and that stigmaria was the characteristic root of the plant, which for the most part produced coal.

The constituents of the gaseous mixtures given off by coals when compared with the known com. position of wood and coal, enable us to form a very probable conjecture respecting the mode of their formation. It is now admitted that coal is the product of the gradual decomposition of wood, by : kind of mouldering process in the presence of water, pressure, and a limited supply of air. These agencies have all had a share in the transformation, but we are unable to trace the influence which each may have separately exerted towards the ultimate result.

« AnteriorContinuar »