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was placed, would be more powerful in consuming what it should there meet with, and that any cinders between or near the bars would be presently destroyed and the passage opened.
After the stove was fixed and in action, I had a pleasure now and then in opening that door a little, to see through the crevice how the flame descended among the red coals; and, observing once a single coal lodged on the bars in the middle of the focus, a fancy took me to observe by my watch in how short a time it would be consumed. I looked at it long without perceiving it to be at all diminished, which surprised me greatly. At length it occurred to me, that I and many others had seen the same thing thousands of times, in the conservation of the red coal formed in the snuff of a burning candle, which, while enveloped in flame, and thereby prevented from the contact of passing air, is long continued and augments instead of diminishing, so that we are often obliged to remove it by the snuffers, or bend it out of the flame into the air, where it consumes presently to ashes. I then supposed, that to consume a body by fire, passing air was necessary to receive and carry off the separated particles of the body; and that the air passing in the flame of my stove, and in the flame of a candle, being already saturated with such particles, could not receive more, and therefore left the coal undiminished as long as the outward air was prevented from coming to it by the surrounding flame, which kept it in a situation somewhat like that of charcoal in a well luted crucible, which, though long kept in a strong fire, comes out unconsumed.
An easy experiment will satisfy any one of this conserving power of flame enveloping red coal. Take a small stick of deal or other wood the size of a goose quill, and hold it horizontally and steadily in the flame
of the candle above the wick, without touching it, but in the body of the flame. The wood will first be inflamed, and burn beyond the edge of the flame of the candle, perhaps a quarter of an inch. When the flame of the wood goes out, it will leave a red coal at the end of the stick, part of which will be in the flame of the candle and part out in the air. In a minute or two you will perceive the coal in the air diminish gradually, so as to form a neck; while the part in the flame continues of its first size, and at length the neck being quite consumed, it drops off; and, by rolling it between your fingers when extinguished, you will find it still a solid coal.
However, as one cannot be always putting on fresh fuel in this stove to furnish a continual flame, as is done in a candle, the air in the intervals of time gets at the red coals and consumes them. Yet the conservation while it lasted, so much delayed the consumption of the coals, that two fires, one made in the morning, and the other in the afternoon, each made by only a hatfull of coals, were sufficient to keep my writing room, about sixteen feet square and ten high, warm a whole day. The fire kindled at seven in the morning would burn till noon; and, all the iron of the ma chine with the walls of the niche being thereby heated the room kept warm till evening, when another smaller fire kindled kept it warm till midnight.
Instead of the sliding plate E, which shuts the front of the box C, I sometimes used another, which had a pane of glass, or, which is better, of Muscovy talc, that the flame might be seen descending from the bottom of the vase and passing in a column through the box C, into the cavities of the bottom plate, like water falling from a funnel, admirable to such as are not acquainted with the nature of the machine, and in itself a pleasing spectacle.
Every utensil, however properly contrived to serve its purpose, requires some practice before it can be used adroitly. Put into the hands of a man for the first time a gimblet or a hammer, (very simple instruments,) and tell him the use of them, he shall neither bore a hole or drive a nail with the dexterity and success of another, who has been accustomed to handle them. The beginner, therefore, in the use of this machine, will do well not to be discouraged with little accidents, that may arise at first from his want of experience. Being somewhat complex, it requires, as already said, a variety of attentions; habit will render them unnecessary. And the studious man, who is much in his chamber, and has a pleasure in managing his own fire, will soon find this a machine most comfortable and delightful. To others, who leave their fires to the care of ignorant servants, I do not recommend it. They will with difficulty acquire the knowledge necessary, and will make frequent blunders, that will fill your room with smoke. It is therefore by no means fit for common use in families. It may be advisable to begin with the flaming kind of stone coal, which is large, and, not caking together, is not so apt to clog the grate. After some experience, any kind of coal may be used, and with this advantage, that no smell, even from the most sulphurous kind, can come into your room, the current of air being constantly into the vase, where too that smell is all consumed.
The vase form was chosen as being elegant in itself, and very proper for burning of coals. Where wood is the usual fuel, and must be burned in pieces of some length, a long square chest may be substituted, in which A is the cover opening by a hinge behind, B the grate, C the hearth-box with its divisions as in the other, D the plan of the chest, E the long narrow grate. Plate,
Fig. 17. This I have not tried, but the vase machine was completed in 1771, and used by me in London three winters, and one afterwards in America, much to my satisfaction; and I have not yet thought of any improvement it may be capable of, though such may occur to others. For common use, while in France, I have contrived another grate for coals, which has in part the same property of burning the smoke and preserving the red coals longer by the flame, though not so completely as in the vase, yet sufficiently to be very useful, which I shall now describe as follows.
A, is a round grate, one French foot in diameter, and eight inches deep between the bars and the back (Plate, Fig. 18); the sides and back of plate iron; the sides having holes of half an inch diameter, distant three or four inches from each other, to let in air for enlivening the fire. The back without holes. The sides do not meet at top nor at bottom by eight inches; that space is filled by grates of small bars crossing front to back to let in air below, and let out the smoke or flame above. The three middle bars of the front grate are fixed, the upper and lower may be taken out and put in at pleasure, when hot, with a pair of pincers. This round grate turns upon an axis, supported by the crotchet B, the stem of which is an inverted conical tube five inches deep, which comes on as many inches upon a pin that fits it, and which is fixed upright in a cast-iron plate D, that lies upon the hearth; in the middle of the top and bottom grates are fixed small upright pieces, E, E, about an inch high, which, as the whole is turned on its axis, stop it when the grate is perpendicular. Fig. 19 is another view of the same machine.
In making the first fire in a morning with this grate, there is nothing particular to be observed. It is made as in other grates, the coals being put in above, after
taking out the upper bar, and replacing it when they are in. The round figure of the fire, when thoroughly kindled, is agreeable. It represents the Great Giver of warmth to our system. As it burns down and leaves a vacancy above, which you would fill with fresh coals, the upper bar is to be taken out, and afterwards replaced. The fresh coals, while the grate continues in the same position, will throw up as usual a body of thick smoke. But every one accustomed to coal fires in common grates must have observed, that pieces of fresh coal stuck in below among the red coals have their smoke so heated, as that it becomes flame as fast as it is produced, which flame rises among the coals and enlivens the appearance of the fire. Here then is the use of this swivel grate. By a push with your tongs or poker, you turn it on its pin till it faces the back of the chimney, then turn it over on its axis gently till it again faces the room, whereby all the fresh coals will be found under the live coals, and the greater part of the smoke arising from the fresh coals will, in its passage through the live ones, be heated so as to be converted into flame; whence you have much more heat from them, and your red coals are longer preserved from consuming. I conceive this construction, though not so complete a consumer of all the smoke as the vase, yet to be fitter for common use, and very advantageous. It gives too a full sight of the fire, always a pleasing object, which we have not in the other. It may with a touch be turned more or less from any one of the company, that desires to have less of its heat, or presented full to one just come out of the cold. And, supported in a horizontal position, a tea kettle may be boiled on it.
The author's description of his Pennsylvania fireplace, first published in 1744, having fallen into the