Page images

of earthenware resembling white bricks. First of all, the sand is subjected to enormous hydraulic pressure, and is then baked in furnaces at a very great heat, so that blocks of various sizes are produced of a white colour, being, in fact, a pure silex. These will resist the action of sulphuric and other powerful acids, as well as sharp frost, the heat of the sun, and wind and rain. They are very light, their specific gravity being only 15. They will be invaluable for decorative and architectural purposes, when combined with coloured bricks or stones.


At a recent meeting of the Highland and Agricultural Society at Edinburgh, Mr Colin Mackenzie stated that the test experiments which he had been conducting with ensilage at Portmore, Peeblesshire, were concluded in August last, when all the animals that had been fed on silage and turnips were sold. On February 14, when the experiments began, the six cattle that were fed on turnips and straw weighed on an average 7 cwt. 1 qr. 10 lbs., and the five animals fed on silage averaged 7 cwt. 1 qr. 183 lbs. When turned out to grass, on May 12, they averaged respectively 8 cwt. 1 qr. 2 lbs. for the turnip-fed animals, and 8 cwt. 2 qrs. 12 lbs. for those getting silage. On June 17, the turnip-fed beasts averaged 8 cwt. 2 qrs. 8 lbs., while those fed on silage averaged 8 cwt. 3 qrs. 6 lbs. After being slaughtered, the dressed carcases were weighed, when the animals getting turnips averaged thirtynine stone seven and one-sixth pounds, and those fed on silage gave an average of forty-two stone four and two-fifth pounds. Thus the silage-fed animals, which started with an advantage of eight pounds of live weight, finished with an advantage of two stone eleven pounds of dead weight. An experiment undertaken with the view of testing the suitability of silage for ewes in winter showed that from birth till the date of sale the lambs produced by the ewes could not be distinguished either in size or condition from the lambs of ewes fed on turnips. Mr Mackenzie proceeded to say that the whole of the cattle in his possession were now being foddered on silage only, and he could not desire to see them in a more healthy and thriving condition. His silos now numbered five, and the whole had been filled with the produce of lea-fields, 'hained' for cutting, and a certain amount of plantation grass, and the whole of the silage was in excellent condition. In conclusion, he moved that the committee to whom the task was intrusted of making the experiment be discharged, and that the Society proceed to gather and publish details of a practical nature regarding the use of silage.— The motion was unanimously agreed to.


Mr C. S. Jeaffreson, F.R.C.S.E., writes as follows: 'Repeated paragraphs have lately appeared in many of the daily papers concerning a new drug -muriate of cocaine-which is declared to have the power, when applied to the surface of the eye, of producing complete anesthesia, or insensibility to touch and painful impressions. By its agency the surgeon can, it is said, perform operations

which are confined to the globe of the eye with perfect freedom from pain. I am so frequently being asked questions upon this subject, and the matter is of such vast importance to the general public, that I make no apology for stating my experience of this new drug in the public press. I have no hesitation in saying that since the introduction of chloroform into surgical practice, there is no discovery which equals in importance the effects which are found to follow the use of this new preparation. I obtained a four per cent. solution of muriate of cocaine through the agency of Mr Bolam, chemist, and having first experimented upon Dr Houseman-my assistant at the Eye Infirmary-and found that its effects upon the eye were such as to produce complete anasthesia, I used it in various operations with complete and unqualified success. I have no doubt that its introduction will mark a new era in ophthalmic practice; and a knowledge of the great benefits which, by its agency, are likely-I may say certain-to accrue to suffering humanity cannot be too prominently brought before the public.'



O'ER the wide waste of barren, bloomless moors,
Whereon not yet the purple heather-bells
Yield honey-spoil unto the roving bee,

Falls thick and white and fast the winter-snow.
Long, long ago, the pale blue harebells died;
The golden broom her petals one by one
Dropped 'mid the sere brown fern; and all the wealth
Of sweet wild-flowers that make bright and fair
The fells in autumn, withered lie and dead
Beneath the wintry blast.

The shepherd seeks,
Hardy and weather-seasoned though he be,
The shelter of his cot; his bonnet blue
Scarce keeps from off his scanty silver hairs
The pelting snow-storm; crouch the shivering ewes
With their new-yeaned and pretty bleating lambs,
'Neath the furze-covered shed.

Keen, keen, and cold,

The north wind whistles o'er the bleak hillside,
As, chill and gray, the gloaming closes in;
And ceaseless flutter from the leaden sky
The feathering flakes, till not a single bush,
Or tuft or hillock, through its covering shows,
But still and white and silent all around,
The landscape lies beneath a shroud of snow.

The Conductor of CHAMBERS's JOURNAL begs to direct the attention of CONTRIBUTORS to the following notice: 1st. All communications should be addressed to the Editor, 339 High Street, Edinburgh.'

2d. For its return in case of ineligibility, postage-stamps should accompany every manuscript.

3d. To secure their safe return if ineligible, ALL MANUSCRIPTS, whether accompanied by a letter of advice or otherwise, should have the writer's Name and Address written upon them IN FULL.

4th. Offerings of Verse should invariably be accompanied

by a stamped and directed envelope.

If the above rules are complied with, the Editor will do his best to insure the safe return of ineligible papers.

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster Row, LONDON, and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH.

All Rights Reserved.

[ocr errors]





Fifth Series


[blocks in formation]

IN THE NEAR FUTURE. AMONG the facts that every schoolboy knows are many which most men and women have forgotten. Even those familiar on our tongues, few of us fully realise. That the last century has been pre-eminently the age of inventions which have changed the face of the world is the tritest of commonplaces. But the extent and variety of the mechanical, and still more of the industrial and social reorganisation effected by two or three great inventions, we seldom bear in mind, and our children seem likely to forget. The order of the civilised world has undergone a greater revolution in that period than perhaps in any preceding millennium. We all know that the land has been intersected with a network of canals, railways, and telegraphs; that seas have been joined, underlaid with telegraphic cables, and covered with fleets moving independent of wind and wave. But it is difficult for a strong imagination fully to realise the yet greater social and industrial revolution that steam has caused.

We know, but hardly remember, that the greatest single manufacture in the world is scarcely a hundred years old. Steam has obtained an absolute monopoly of textile manufactures, gathering multitudes of men, women, and children in gigantic establishments to work under conditions and perform functions scarcely less mechanical than those of the countless spindles, the endless rows of mules and looms they no longer direct, but watch and serve. The economical gain is enormous, and felt by every family within reach of European commerce. The social and moral consequences are more questionable; although the grosser evils originally attending the sudden and enormous growth of the system have been almost entirely corrected.

Marvellous as have been the inventions of the recent past, stupendous as are the changes they have effected, inventions in actual progress or 'within measurable distance' of attainment promise even greater results. Metallurgists are


in active pursuit of cheap aluminium; and cheap aluminium might prove a scarcely less valuable possession, a scarcely less revolutionary industrial agent, than iron itself. Incorrodible as gold, beautiful as silver, threefold lighter, strength for strength, than iron, even more useful to the electrician than copper, aluminium promises to be the most serviceable, as it is one of the most abundant of metals. Hitherto, however, the difficulty of separating it from its ores has rendered it at least one-half as costly as silver. It has been obtained, we believe, only from the chloride, and only through the action of sodium, another abundant but comparatively irreducible metal. But no chemist doubts that it may, most expect that it will, soon be obtainable by some comparatively cheap and simple process from common ores like its silicate, which forms the basis of clay. Were it as cheap as iron, it might supersede iron for almost all purposes. Aluminium ships would need no copper sheathing, would be as strong as steel, and but one-third of the weight. Aluminium furniture would be lighter and far more elegant than either wood or iron; aluminium machinery would be clean and light, would not soil the hands of the workers with rust or oil. Aluminium utensils would be far handier than iron, safe as tin, and even less corrodible than copper. Aluminium spoons and forks would certainly supersede electro-plate and every other substitute for silver. Railway engines and carriages made of aluminium would reduce probably by one-half the dead-weight of the train. Infrangible glass is another by no means impossible or incredible achievement of the future; and infrangible glass, especially with the aid of cheap aluminium, might improve almost indefinitely our inconvenient, absurd, and uncomfortable domestic architecture.

But the paramount invention, the master-agent of the future, is electricity. The delay of electric lighting, which has greatly disappointed public expectation, is due less to unforeseen and by no means insuperable difficulties-less to cost, which would be speedily and steadily reduced-than to

injudicious legislation; which, too eager to protect the public interest, has placed the holders of electric patents under apparently unfair and certainly unacceptable conditions. But the electric light is an accomplished fact, accomplished in forms severally suitable for street, theatrical, factory, and domestic use. For rooms large or small, the little Swan' lamp, single or by twos and threes, realises the ideal perfection of artificial light. It has neither glare nor heat nor smoke; it is bright, soft, and steady, and as it can be placed close to the ceiling, need affect the eyes no more than diffused sunshine. Electricity will supersede gas as certainly as gas superseded oil and wax and tallow. Thus cheapened, gas will probably supersede coal as the fuel of electric engines and of domestic use. Conservatories and hothouses lighted with electricity will allow the florist and fruit-grower to try new experiments in forcing, acclimatising; creating artificial seasons at his pleasure. Heretofore, he could obtain summer heat, but not the prolonged light which is equally essential. The alleged danger from the wires is far less than that from gas, which we regard with so much indifference. There is no peril of leaking or bursting pipes, accidents and explosions without the interference and beyond the control of the household. For one man who, recklessly laying hold of communicating wires, may be painlessly killed, a score are now burnt or blown up, blinded or maimed, by gas accidents utterly beyond their own control. The children of the next generation will bless the invention which allows the parent to leave them a light brighter than gas, and beyond the reach of careless or mischievous fingers. The perfection of the telephone is no extravagant dream of sanguine credulity. Our children may, and probably will, live to communicate by word of mouth between Liverpool and London, Leeds and Glasgow, if not between London and Paris, or even between Liverpool and New York. Very probably they may see the telephone a common article of domestic convenience. Married daughters and sisters may be able to hold daily converse with their distant homes; men of business, as it is, give orders and instructions verbally, by a method which admits of question, explanation, and correction at the moment.

But the peculiar interest and incalculable potential importance of electricity lies in its character as a motive-power, or rather, perhaps, as a vehicle of motive-force. It differs from all others hitherto employed in several vital particulars. It is capable of easy and infinite subdivision, of storage and of employment at an indefinite distance. These characteristics may have consequences as yet undreamed of, or dreamed of not by men of science, but by observant and somewhat Utopian speculative thinkers. The first and most obvious consequence relates to the sources of power. At present, nearly all the motive-power employed in wholesale locomotion by land and sea, in manufactures, and in every form of industry-the only motive-force except that of human and animal muscle at man's command, save in a few favoured localities—is derived from coal. Water and wind power might be had gratis; but as compared with the steam-power supplied by coal, even water-power is worth having only where it is

supplied under specially advantageous conditions, and where coal is distant and costly. But coal, the stored and petrified forests of former ages, is absolutely limited in quantity; though the as yet undeveloped coal-fields of America and India, not to mention others, promise to supply the consumption of mankind for an indefinite period. Our English coal-fields with the present and prospective output, cannot be expected to last for ever. It may be very long before the whole coal will be used up; but that which is accessible at moderate depths without enormous increase in the cost of production will not last two or three centuries at the present constantly increasing rate of consumption. We want so much coal to supply heat for chemical and domestic purposes, that we cannot long afford to make it our sole source of motive-power. This may seem a needless or exaggerated alarm; but at all events, could we find a cheap means of rendering available the force supplied gratis by nature, the use of artificial motive-power, by which the progress of material civilisation may be roughly measured, would proceed far more rapidly, evenly, and cheaply than while we depend on coal alone.

Now, electricity promises to furnish just what we want-a means of converting the waste forces of nature into an available form. How vast those forces are, only scientific men are at all aware. The heat of the sun, the wind, the water-power of the world's innumerable riversabove all, that supplied by the motion of the world itself, the force of the tides-afford, each and every one of them, a supply of force incomparably greater than all the possible coal-fields of the earth can practically furnish. Sanguine electricians tell us that each and all of these can be rendered available as sources of electric motive-power. One eminent inventor already lights his house with electricity derived from the water-power of a small stream some furlongs distant. It would be just as easy to apply that power to work sewing-machines, lifts, sawpits, or a local railway. The smallest waterfall, the force of an utterly neglected stream, could furnish half-a-dozen households with motive-power sufficient for all domestic purposes to which machinery could be applied. The Thames could light London, and have force yet to spare for all the machinery of every factory on its banks. True that the waste, both in conversion and application, will be great; that is to say, we shall obtain half, perhaps not a quarter, possibly not more than a tithe of the force which sun and wind, stream and tide, can supply. But we need not calculate or grudge the waste of force that costs nothing, and which as yet is absolutely wasted.

Another important point in the promise if not the performance of electricity is the power of storage. We cannot store up steam or wind or sun-heat in their native form; but each of them may be made the source of electricity that can be stored. Boxes of electric force originally supplied by coal or water-power, or it might be by the tide or by the sails of a windmill, can furnish light to a household, motive-power to a tricycle or a sewing-machine. As yet, the power of storage is inconveniently limited; that is, the boxes are inconveniently large and heavy. But electricians expect to find means of storing a very much larger power in very much smaller


bulk. When this is done, a locomotive, a boat, a carriage, or a tricycle can be supplied at starting with a portable motive-power of an amount capable of driving it for so many hours at an ascertained speed. The importance of this peculiar capacity of electric force is obvious. Windmills were abandoned, in spite of the cheapness of their motive-power, simply because it could not be stored; because they could work only when the wind happened to blow, and blow briskly. In a word, the sources of electric force are absolutely unlimited; and those that work most unevenly are scarcely the less available, since the power they supply can be laid up in


to cook the meal, and keep the house clean and comfortable.

All the artistic handicrafts, all those in which individual skill, taste, and feeling are important, will tend to segregation, when the indispensable aid of machinery can be supplied almost as easily to the single artisan as to the thousand hands of a great establishment. The tendency at present is to compulsory concentration, as more and more is done by machinery, and less and less by independent human skill and strength. But when independent human skill and strength can have the aid of machinery and motive-power without foregoing independence and individual liberty, half the evils of the system, and all the But among all the characteristics of the new heartburning that it at present excites, will graforce, probably the most important, especially in dually and naturally pass away. Thus, electricity the social and industrial aspect, are its divisi- promises not indeed to reverse, but to check the bility and conductibility. Niagara, they say, social action of steam. Congregated labour will could supply all the factories of the States with still occupy a large part, probably far the water-power; but that power could heretofore greater part of the industrial field. But electribe turned to account only on the spot, and city promises to preserve to individual indetherefore only an infinitesimal part of the limit-pendent industry all that it still retains, and less supply could have been available. As to restore much that it has lost. When men matter of fact, the whole of this vast reservoir can find separate and independent employof power has been left unused. So little of it ment-when women and children can earn a could have been utilised, that it was not worth living without quitting the domestic spherewhile to disfigure the magnificent natural scenery when the factories, therefore, depend on volunof that unrivalled gorge. But, converted into teers, no longer confined to Hobson's choice, the electric force, the water-power of Niagara might reforms which it now seems difficult and almost be conveyed to an indefinite distance, and dis- impossible to introduce, will enforce themselves. tributed in amounts large or small to suit the needs of factories or of families. This is of course an extreme illustration rather than a practical example. The potentialities of electricity are not accomplished facts, but neither are they mere speculations. The conversion, the storage, the conveyance, and the distribution have all been achieved upon a small scale and in an imperfect form; that the scale can be enlarged and the methods improved almost indefinitely, those least doubt who have most deeply studied the subject.

The cheapness of conveyance, the distribution of force, may well apply a powerful check to the most formidable and most unpleasant tendency of modern civilisation, the aggregation of human beings in vast, unmanageable, unwholesome dreary cities; for nothing can make vast masses of stone and brick and mortar, endless lines of street, otherwise than dreary, unpleasant, unwholesome, in comparison with the fresh air and natural beauty of the open country. When motive-power can be distributed indefinitely, the city will have no necessary, indispensable, irresistible economic advantage over the village. Aggregation and division of labour must always be more or less economical; but the spinner and weaver may well be content to earn ten or fifteen per cent. less for the sake of independence. Fathers and husbands may well choose that wives and daughters should earn twenty shillings at home, rather than twenty-five or thirty shillings under the rigid discipline and in the promiscuous society of the great factory. Should this prove possible, women will be able to earn their bread without neglecting their homes, to work eight, nine, or ten hours a day, but not continuously; with less fatigue, with perfect freedom, with liberty to rest, or to interrupt their handicraft in order to mind their children,

To predict that electricity will achieve such results, even to affirm confidently that such will be its tendency, would be rash and unreasonable. But this at least is clear, that electricity admits of application, and almost indefinite application to isolated handicrafts and domestic convenience. The application of artificial motive-power in the smallest workshops to aid the individual labourer may not be economical, but it will be possible. The domestic use of machinery, which has hitherto been a more or less Utopian dream, will be brought within the sphere of practical effort. All men of mechanical tastes and knowledge are aware how much steam might do to lighten the labours, to add to the comfort of domestic life, were it practically possible to make the steam-engine a common domestic convenience. What cannot be done with steam can be done with electricity. The rougher mechanical labour of all but the smallest establishments-pumping water, cleaning knives, turning the mangle and the sewing-wheel, may be done ten, fifteen, or thirty years hence, if not without human care, at least without muscular effort. Electric vehicles alone would add enormously to the comfort of daily life, as to the convenience of business. Of all domestic luxuries, a carriage is perhaps the most universally and reasonably coveted, the first, though the most reluctantly, abandoned. How much it contributes to health as well as to enjoyment-how the privation is felt by overtasked or weakly women accustomed to, but compelled to resign it, those only know who have tried. Electricity may in a few years furnish an available substitute, a cheap and convenient means of conveyance; bring fresh air and change of scene, the refreshment and delight of a frequent country drive, within the reach of all who have leisure to enjoy them, of tired men and feeble women, of invalids and children.

for the same class of tenants, and now brought for the first time into competition with honestly built and sensibly constructed dwellings. And if, as seems probable, electricity should gradually increase the facility of locomotion, and extend the permissible distance between men's dwellings and their work, a greater range of choice may enforce a competition not merely of cheapness, but of honest, sensible, economic construction.



The dull conservatism, the slow improvement of domestic economy, contrast signally and strangely with the rapid progress of industrial organisation. Men of business tolerate in their homes an expense, a neglect of well-known and simple improvements, an adhesion to obsolete, extravagant, inconvenient methods, a waste of labour which would be impossible in the severe competition of business. At a moderate estimate, one-third of our domestic labour runs to waste for lack of two or three familiar and obvious contrivances. Factories, clubs, and hotels have long since adopted as necessary economies improvements which are still wanting alike in the most luxurious and the most economical families. The carriage of water, for example, is a scandalous THE revelation which thus burst upon Mr Durant and needless tax on servants' strength, a wanton was known throughout the length and breadth waste of highly-paid labour. A comparatively of Bordighera, as that good man said, before the slight expenditure would furnish our houses with day was out. The expression was not so inapthe far simpler, cleanlier, and more convenient propriate as might be at first supposed, conarrangement of our clubs. Coal-fires, open fire- sidering the limited society to which the fact places, ill-constructed chimneys, double the cost that Mr Waring had a second daughter was of of fuel, and, together with the incompleteness of any particular interest; for the good chaplain's water-service, probably take up the time of one own residence was almost at the extremity of servant in four. The root of the mischief is, of the Marina, and General Gaunt's on the highest course, that houses are built by speculators and point of elevation among the olive gardens ; rented for short terms. No man of sense, while the only other English inhabitants were building for himself on land of his own, would in the hotels near the beach, and consisted of dream of adopting the almost invariable con- a landlady, a housekeeper, and the highly struction of town and suburban houses-the respectable person who had charge of the stables rotten foundations, the thin walls, the insanitary at the Bellevue. This little inferior world was arrangements, the absence of all mechanical respectfully interested but not excited by the appliances to secure comfort and save labour; new arrival. and the same wretched system will doubtless delay the adoption of the yet greater facilities proffered by electricity. But the senseless, comfortless, wasteful system of the present cannot last for ever, deeply as the division of interests from which it arises is unhappily rooted in our economic system. The ground landlord, secure of his rent, cares for nothing else. The builders, as a body, with their forty, sixty, or eighty years' leases, and a monopoly of ground within reach of business centres, will spend nothing to attract tenants, who, go where they will within the limits imposed on them, can find nothing better. The tenant cannot spend money on the improvement of a stranger's property. Not one house in ten, therefore, is furnished with a sensible kitchen range, not one in fifty has a decent or economic water-service, not one in a thousand a single arrangement for saving labour or fuel, or securing health or comfort.

But to Mrs Durant and Tasie it was an event of the first importance; and Mrs Gaunt was at first disposed to believe that it was a revelation of further wickedness, and that there was no telling where these discoveries might end. 'We shall be hearing that he has a son next,' she said. They had a meeting in the afternoon to talk it over; and it really did appear at first that the new disclosure enhanced the enormity of the first; for, naturally, the difference between a widower and a married man is aggravated by the discovery that the deceiver pretending to have only one child has really a family.' the first glance, the ladies were all impressed by this; though afterwards, when they began to think of it, they were obliged to admit that the conclusion perhaps was not very well founded. And when it turned out that Frances and the new-comer were twins, that altogether altered the question, and left them, though they were by no means satisfied, without anything further to say.


Happily, a reaction is here and there discernible. The very costliness of ground has led to the construction of buildings whose size renders solidity While all this went on outside the Palazzo, indispensable. English families detest flats; flats, there was much going on within it that was therefore, must be made attractive by conve- calculated to produce difficulty and embarrassniences not found in independent houses. The ment. Mr Waring, with a consciousness that absence of stairs-in itself an enormous saving he was acting a somewhat cowardly part, ran of labour-is not sufficient; the economies and away from it altogether, and shut himself up comforts familiar to clubs and hotels must be in his library, and left his daughters to make introduced. The flats may be expected to raise acquaintance with each other as they best could. gradually but surely the absurdly low and worse He was, as has been said, by no means suffithan antiquated standard of independent dwell- ciently at his ease to return to what he called ings; and when flats are lighted by electricity his studies, the ordinary occupations of his life. and furnished with motive-power, the contrast He had run away, and he knew it. He went of comfort and convenience will be too glaring; so far as to turn the key in one door, so that, will provoke a strong, persistent, irresistible whatever happened, he could only be invaded demand for common-sense, decency, and rational from one side, and sat down uneasily in the arrangement in the construction of houses intended full conviction that from moment to moment

« PreviousContinue »