Abbildungen der Seite

The fostering hand of the national government would be felt in the benefits diffused through the fertile territory watered by the father of rivers; and the hardy yeomanry, that are now engaged in rearing up the mighty states which stretch along its banks, would yearn with even warmer patriotic sentiments than now fill their hearts, towards that Union to which they owe their existence, and which came forward with its great resources to save them from the consequences of youthful prodigality, and to redeem their honour from the reproach of the world. Convince them that we are united in fact as well as in name; that we all belong to one country; that this great confederacy has not lost its identity or its character in advancing beyond the Alleghanies; but that it responds in everything touching the interests and honour of the states, to the glorious motto emblazoned on its banner,“ E Pluribus Unum.” Such a policy would impart new life to the country.

Instead of a Union of insolvent states, with exhausted treasuries, decayed credit, alienated feelings and distracted councils, whose resources are dried up, and whose energies are paralyzed by the blighting effects of a cold and selfish policy on the part of those entrusted with the direction of national affairs; an example would be afforded to the world of the advantage of republican institutions administered for the general welfare, applying their resources, not in senseless pageants, nor expensive military establishments, but in promoting the internal improvement of this fertile country, developing its powers, and extending its sway over the yet unexplored continent—sowing it broad-cast with flourishing villages and populous cities, and enabling this great confederacy to fulfil its high destiny.



WHEN we look at the uses to which fire is applied; when we consider how much it contributes to the comfort of man, either directly by affording warmth or in preparing his food, or indirectly in the scientific or manufacturing arts; when we reflect that without this important agent, most of the mechani. cal arts would be useless; that steam could not be generated ; that tin, lead, copper and iron—and, indeed, nearly all the metals-would remain in the shape of useless ores, we cannot but acknowledge that to this ethereal element, civilized society is indebted for the greatest portion of its superiority over savage life.

So important is its agency upon our destiny, that, in some countries, it has been worshipped as a deity, and in the Grecian mythology its introduction among men was attributed to the daring theft of Prometheus ; and so much did the sire of gods resent of the conferring this vast power upon man, that the punishment of its author was destined to be eternal, and terrible, in sublime horror, above all the retributive punishments of paganism. In the early stages of society the readiest means of obtaining fuel were furnished from the forest. Wood is not only excellent as fuel, but it is easy of access, and was, of course, first resorted to. As society advanced, wood became scarce, and it was wanted for so many purposes, that it was a desirable object to provide some other substances to be used as fuel.

Even in the United States, boundless as the forest seems, there is a deficiency of wood in certain portions of the country.

G g

In the old states men are beginning to estimate trees rather as timber than fuel; and the time is rapidly passing away, in all parts of the Union, when it is deemed that the best mode of disposing of the noble trees that grace the American woods is to turn them into ashes. On the sea-coast, that time has long since passed, and for many years the community has been anxiously seeking some substitute for the rapidly diminishing forest.

Such is, in fact, the natural progress of society. A dense population, except in tropical climates, cannot be supplied with fuel from the annual growth of the soil; and the mode in which a substance, containing in a concentrated form the means of producing fire, is stored away in the earth for the use of man in the advanced stages of society, affords a striking proof of the wisdom and beneficence of that Power which created this planet and its inhabitants.

Although coal is now universally used in England, it is only about iwo centuries since it came into general use, and it was not known at the time of the conquest. In the borough laws promulgated in 1140, privileges are granted to those who supply towns with fuel, i. e. wood, turf, and peat. No allusion is made to coal; and it is not until nearly a century afterwards, or about six hundred years ago, that any mention is made of coal as a fuel. Pius II., who visited England in the fifteenth century, speaks of it as given for fuel to the poor beggars by the monks.

In China it was, however, known much earlier; and Marco Paulo, who wrote in the thirteenth century, speaks of it as then used in the province of Cathay, for fuel. The descriptions, both of Pope Pius and Marco Paulo, obviously show that its use for such purposes was a matter of wonder to them, and prove that it was not known to the nations of the European continent.

At the end of the sixteenth century, in the reign of James the First, of England, its use in making iron was not known in Scotland. It may, therefore, be regarded as a modern discovery; and to its general application to the mechanical and manufacturing arts, may be fairly attributed their great advancement within the two last centuries. The present importance of the coal business in Great Britain may be estimated by the number of persons employed in it, amounting to 150,000, and furnishing 21,000,000 tons of coal, for the annual consumption of the island.

There are seven kinds of British coal. The first is known as Newcastle or Sunderland coal, being of a fat, bituminous quality, melting, when heated, to a mass, and caking, and producing but little ashes. This coal is also found in Scotland.

The general character of Scotch coal is different. It is of two kinds; the rock coal, which burns to a good cinder, and produces but little ashes; and the splent or stone coal, which is slaty, and burns freely, with considerable smoke. It is found in very regular strata, like slate. The fourth kind is cannal or parrot coal, which is very light and inflammable, burning very freely, with light ashes. The fifth kind is culm coal, which is not easily ignited, emits neither smoke nor flame, but burns a long time, with a heat like anthracite or charcoal. It does not cake, nor produce much ashes. The sixth kind is jet, which is like the cannal coal, except that it breaks in the direction of the grain, whereas cannal coal breaks in any direction, and is of uniform texture. Jet is found in detached masses, and not in strata. The last is anthracite.

Many curious speculations have been made as to the origin and nature of coal, whether mineral or vegetable. The sagacity and industry of modern geologists have, however, solved these doubts, and at the same time have thrown much light upon the construction of the earth, and its general adaptation to the present uses of man. From the examination of fossil remains and of the strata in which they are found, conclusions approaching to demonstration have been drawn, both as to the natural history of the globe and the modifications or revolutions which its surface has undergone. In penetrating the earth in low lands or intervalesto a great depth, we come to horizontal strata, composed of various substances, and abounding with marine productions. Every portion of the earth, every continent, every large island, exhibits this phenomenon.

We are consequently brought to the conclusion, that the sea

« ZurückWeiter »