POPULAR AND SCIENTIFIC SUBJECTS
EARL OF CAITHNESS, F.R.S.
DELIVERED AT VARIOUS TIMES AND PLACES.
Second Enlarged Edition.
LONDON: TRUeBNER & CO., LUDGATE HILL. 1879.
BALLANTYNE, HANSON AND CO.
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
COAL AND COAL MINES
SCIENCE APPLIED TO ART
A PENNY'S WORTH; OR, "TAKE CARE OF THE PENCE, AND THE POUNDS WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES"
PAST AND PRESENT MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
THE OIL FROM LINSEED
HODGE-PODGE; OR, WHAT'S INTILT
LECTURES ON POPULAR AND SCIENTIFIC SUBJECTS.
COAL AND COAL-MINES.
There are few subjects of more importance, and few less known or thought about, than our coal-mines. Coal is one of our greatest blessings, and certainly one originating cause of England's greatness and wealth. It has given us a power over other nations, and vast sums of money are yearly brought to our country from abroad in exchange for the coal we send. Nearly L17,000,000 is the representative value of the coal raised every year at the pit's mouth, and L20,000,000 represent its mean value at the various places of consumption. The capital invested in our coal-mining trade, apart from the value of the mines themselves, exceeds L20,000,000 sterling, and the amount of coal annually extracted from the earth is over 70,000,000 of tons. Taking the calculation of a working miner—J. Ellwood, Moss Pit, near Whitehaven—we may state, that if 68,000,000 tons were excavated from a mining gallery 6 feet high and 12 feet wide, that gallery would be not less than 5128 miles, 1090 yards, in length; or, if this amount of coal were erected in a pyramid, its square base would extend over 40 acres, and the height would be 3356 feet.
There are grounds for believing that the produce of the various coal-fields of the world does not at present much exceed 100,000,000 of tons annually, and therefore our own country contributes more than three-fifths of the total amount. If we divide the coal-yielding counties of Britain into four classes, so as to make nearly equal amounts of produce, we find that Durham and Northumberland yield rather more every year than seven other counties, including Yorkshire. Derbyshire, again, produces more than eight other counties, and nearly as much as the whole of North and South Wales, Scotland, and Ireland—the yield of the latter being about 17,000,000 of tons, and that of the two first-named about 16,000,000 of tons.
In 1773 there were only 13 collieries on the Tyne, and these had increased to upwards of 30 in 1800. The number of collieries in 1828 had increased to 41 on the Tyne, and 18 on the Wear, in all 59, producing 5,887,552 tons of coal. The out-put of coal in Northumberland and Durham in 1854 was no less than 15,420,615 tons, and now in these two counties there are 283 collieries. Mining began on the Tyne and continued on the Wear, where the industry has been largely developed. There are in all about 57 different seams in the Great Northern coal-field, varying in thickness from 1 inch to 5 feet 5 inches and 6 feet, and these seams comprise an aggregate of nearly 76 feet of coal. Taking the area of this field to be 750 square miles—a most probable estimate—we may classify the contents as household coal, steam coal, or those employed in steam-engine boilers, and coking coal, employed for making coke and gas. Of household coal there is only 96 square miles out of the total 750, all the remainder being steam or coking and gas coal. The greater part even of this 96 square miles has been worked out on the Tyne, and the supply is rapidly decreasing also on the Wear, where the largest bulk of the household coal lies. The collieries of the Tees possess but six square miles out of the 96, as far as we at present know. Turning, however, to that part of the coal-field regarded as precarious, and consisting of first, second, and third-rate household coal, we have for future use 300 square miles. London was formerly supplied from the pits east of Tyne Bridge, where is the famous Wallsend Colliery, which gave the name to the best coal. That mine is now drowned out, and, like the great Roman Wall, at the termination of which it was sunk, and from which it derived its name, is now an antiquity. There is now no Wallsend coal, and the principal part of the present so-called coal comes from the Wear, but the seam which supplied that famous pit is continued into Durham, and that seam, or its equivalent, sends a million or two of tons every year into London. The supply, however, in this district is rapidly decreasing. Careful calculations have been made as to the probable duration of this coal, of which the following is a summary. The workable quantity of coal remaining in the ten principal seams of this coal-field is estimated at 1,876,848,756 Newcastle chaldrons (each 35 cwt.). Deducting losses and underground and surface waste, the total merchantable round or good-sized coal will be 1,251,232,507 Newcastle chaldrons. Proceeding on this estimate, formed by Mr. Grunwith in 1846, we may arrive at the probable duration of the supplies: taking the future annual average of coal raised from these seams to be 10,000,000 of tons—and this is under the present rate—the whole will be exhausted in 331 years. A still later estimate was made by Mr. T.G. Hall in 1854, and he reckoned the quantity of coal left for future use at 5,121,888,956 tons; dividing this by 14,000,000 of tons as the annual consumption, the result would be 365 years; and should the annual demand arrive at 20,000,000 of tons, the future supply of this famous coal-field would continue for 256 years. The total available coal (1871) in the British coal-fields, at depths not exceeding 4000 feet, and in seams not less than 1 foot thick, is 90,207,285,398 tons, and taking into account seams which may yet become available, lying under the Permian, New Red Sandstone, and other superincumbent strata, this estimate is increased to 146,480,000,000 of tons. This quantity, at the present annual rate of production throughout the country—namely, 123,500,000 tons—would last 1186 years. Other estimates of various kinds relative to our coal supply have been put forth: some have asserted that, owing to increasing population and increasing consumption in manufactures, it will be exhausted in 100 years, and between this extreme and that of 1186 years there are many other conjectures and estimates.
In the United States there are about 120,000 square miles underlaid by known workable coal-beds, besides what yet remains to be discovered; while on the cliffs of Nova Scotia the coal-seams can be seen one over the other for many hundred feet, and showing how the coal was originally formed. With this immense stock of fuel in the cellars of the earth, it seems evident that we need not trouble our minds or be anxious as to the duration of our coal supply. Besides, the conversion of vegetable matter into coal seems to be going on even now. In the United States there are peat-bogs of considerable extent, in which a substance exactly resembling cannel coal has been found; and in some of the Irish peat-beds, as also in the North of Scotland, a similar substance has been discovered, of a very inflammable nature, resembling coal.
Yes! what could have produced this singular-looking, black, inflammable rock? How many times was this question asked before Science could return an answer? This she can now do with confidence. Coal was once growing vegetable matter. On the surface of the shale, immediately above the coal, you will find innumerable impressions of leaves and branches, as perfect as artist ever drew. But how could this vegetable matter ever accumulate in such masses as to make beds of coal of such vast extent, some not less than 30 feet thick? It would take 10 or 12 feet of green vegetable matter to make 1 foot of solid coal. Let us transport ourselves to the carboniferous times, and see the condition of the earth, and this may assist us to answer the question. Stand on this rocky eminence and behold that sea of verdure, whose gigantic waves roll in the greenest of billows to the verge of the horizon—that is a carboniferous forest. Mark that steamy cloud floating over it, an indication of the great evaporation constantly proceeding. The scent of the morning air is like that of a greenhouse; and well it may be, for the land of the globe is a mighty hothouse—the crust of the earth is still thin, and its internal heat makes a tropical climate everywhere, unchecked by winter's cold, thus forcing plants to a most luxurious growth.
Descend, and let us wander through this forest and examine it more closely. What strange trees are here! No oaks, no elms, or ash, or chestnut—no trees that we ever saw before. It looks as if the plants of a boggy meadow had shot up in a single night to a height of 60 or 70 feet, and we were walking among the stalks—a gigantic meadow of ferns, reeds, grasses, and club-mosses. A million columns rise, so thick at the top that they make twilight at mid-day, and their trunks are so close together we can scarcely edge our way between them, whilst the ground is carpeted with trailing plants completely interwoven. What strange trees they are! Beneath us lies an accumulation of vegetable matter more than 200 feet in thickness—the result of the growth and decay of plants in this swamp for centuries. All things are here favourable for the growth of vegetation—the great heat of the ground causes water to rise rapidly in vapour, and this again descends in showers, supplying the plants with moisture continuously. The air contains a large proportion of carbonic acid gas, poison to animals but food to plants, which, by means of its aid, build up their woody structure. Winds at times level these gigantic plants, for their hold on the earth is feeble, and thus the mass goes on increasing.
We are now on the edge of a lake abounding with fish, whose bony scales glitter in the water as they pursue their prey. Lying along the shore are shells cast up by the waves, and there are also seen the tracks of some large animals. How like the impression of a man's hand some of these tracks are! The hind-feet are evidently much larger than the fore-feet. There is the frog-like animal which made them, and what a size! It must be six feet long, and its head looks like that of a crocodile, for its jaws are furnished with formidable rows of long, strong, sharp, conical teeth.
The continued growth and decomposition of the vegetation during long ages must have produced beds like the peat-deposits of America and Great Britain. In the Dismal Swamp of Virginia there is said to be a mass of vegetable matter 40 feet in thickness, and on the banks of the Shannon in Ireland is a peat-bog 3 miles broad and 50 feet deep. When conditions were so much more favourable for these deposits, beds 400 feet in thickness may easily have been produced. This accumulated mass of vegetable matter must be buried, however, before we can have a coal-bed. How was this accomplished? The very weight of it may have caused the crust of the earth to sink, forming a basin into which rivers, sweeping down from the surrounding higher country, and carrying down mud in their waters, the weight of which, deposited upon the vegetable matter, pressed and squeezed it into half its original compass. Sand carried down subsequently in a similar manner, and deposited upon the mud, pressed it into shale, and the vegetable matter, still more reduced in volume by this additional pressure, is prepared for its final conversion into shale. In time the basin becomes shallow from the decomposition of sediment on its bottom, and then we have another marsh with its myriad plants; another accumulation of vegetable matter takes place, which by similar processes is also buried. Where thirty or forty seams of coal have been found one below another, we have evidence of land and water thus changing places many times.
When vegetable matter is excluded from air and under great pressure, it decomposes slowly, parting with carbonic acid gas; and is first changed into lignite or brown coal, and then into bituminous coal, or the soft coal that burns with smoke and flame. I have been in a coal-mine where the carbonic acid gas, pouring from a crevice in the coal, put out a lighted candle. The high temperature to which the coal has been subjected when buried at great depths has also probably assisted in producing this change; and where that temperature has been very high, the coal by the influence of the heat having parted with its inflammable gases, we have the hard or anthracite coal, which burns with little or no flame and without smoke. It is indeed coal made into coke under tremendous pressure, and this is the kind of coal which Americans use exclusively in their dwelling-houses and monster hotels.
It was at first supposed that the plants of the carboniferous times were bamboos, palms, and gigantic cactuses, such as are now found in tropical regions, but a more careful examination of them shows that, with the exception of the tree-fern now found in the tropics, they differ from all existing trees. A large proportion of the plants of the coal-measures were ferns, some authorities say one-half. From their great abundance we may infer the great heat and moisture of the atmosphere at the time when they grew, as similar ferns at the present day are only found in the greatest abundance on small tropical islands where the temperature is high. Coal often contains impressions of fern leaves and palm-like ferns—no less than 934 kinds are drawn and described by geologists. Many animals and insects are found in the coal, such as large toad-like reptiles with beautiful teeth, small lizards, water lizards, great fish with tremendous jaws, many insects of the grasshopper tribe, but none of these are of the same species as those found now living on this globe.
Wood, peat, brown coal, jet, and true coal, are chemically alike, differing only in their amount of oxygen, due to the difference of compression to which they were subjected. The sun gave his heat and light to the forests now turned into coal, and when we burn it ages afterwards, we revive some of the heat and light so long untouched. Stephenson once remarked to Sir Robert Peel, as they stood watching a passing train: "There goes the sunshine of former ages!"
COST OF WORKING.
Having thus stated shortly the origin and extent of the coal of this country, more particularly that of the northern coal-fields of Northumberland and Durham, I think it may be interesting to say something of the cost at which this valuable article is obtained, as I am sure few are at all aware of the vast sums of money that have to be expended before we can sit down by our comfortable firesides, with a cold winter night outside, and read our book, or have our family gathered round us; and few know the danger and hardship of the bold worker who risks his life to procure the coal. The first step is to find out if there is coal. This done, the next is to get at it, or, as it is termed, to win the coal. The process is to sink a shaft, and this is alike dangerous, uncertain, and very costly. The first attempt to sink a pit at Haswell in Durham was abandoned after an outlay of L60,000. The sinkers had to pass through sand, under the magnesian limestone, where vast quantities of water lay stored, and though engines were erected that pumped out 26,700 tons of water per day, yet the flood remained the conqueror. This amount seems incredible, but such is the fact. At another colliery near Gateshead (Goose Colliery), 1000 gallons a minute, or 6000 tons of water per day, were pumped out, and only 300 tons of coal were brought up in the same time, and thus the water raised exceeded the coal twenty times. The most astonishing undertaking in mining was the Dalton le Dale Pit, nine miles from Durham. On the 1st June 1840 they pumped out 3285 gallons a minute. Engines were erected which raised 93,000 gallons a minute from a depth of 90 fathoms or 540 feet, and this was done night and day. The amount expended to reach the coal in this pit was L300,000. Mr. Hall estimates the capital invested in the coal trade of the counties of Durham and Northumberland, including private railways, waggons, and docks for loading ships, at L13,000,000 sterling.
The great difficulty in working coal, should these upper seams fail, is not only the increase of cost in sinking further down, but the increased heat to be worked in. At 2000 feet the mine will increase in heat 28 deg., at 4000, 57 deg.; to this must be added the constant temperature of 50 deg. 5', so that at 2000 feet it would be 78 deg. 5', and at 4000, 107 deg. 5' Fahr. By actual trial on July 17, 1857, in Duckingfield Pit, the temperature at 2249 feet was 75 deg. 5'. From this it may be conceived in what great heat the men have to work, and the work is very hard. One may fancy from this what can be endured, but it would be next to impossible to work in a greater temperature. I can speak upon this from actual experience, as when down the Lady Londonderry Pit the temperature was 85 deg., and here the men worked naked. Another great source of expense and anxiety lies in keeping up the roof, as, from the excessive pressure, the roof and floor are always inclined to come together, and props must therefore be used, and these in some pits cost as much as L1500 a year. To digress for a moment, an amusing story is told of Grimaldi, the celebrated clown, when paying a visit to a coal-pit. Having gone some way through the mine, a sudden noise, arising from the falling of coal from the roof, caused him to ask the reason of the noise. "Hallo!" exclaimed Grimaldi, greatly terrified, "what's that?" "Hech!" said his guide, "it's only a wee bit of coal fallen down—we have that three or four times a day." "Then I'll thank you to ring for my basket, for I'll stop no longer among the wee bits of falling coal." This "wee bit" was about three tons' weight. A large proportion of the sad accidents in coal-mines is caused by these falls of the roof, which give no warning, but suddenly come down and crush to death those who happen to be near.
MODE OF WORKING.
The cost of working having thus been given, I wish now to lay before you an explanation of the method of working and bringing the coal to the surface. It may not be uninteresting to mention how many men are employed in this work, as the number is very large. Coal was not formerly excavated by machinery, but it is so now, and therefore hands must be had. The number of men employed in the mines of county Durham in 1854 was 28,000; of these, 13,500 were hewers, winning several thousand tons of coal daily. Of the remainder, 3500 were safety-staff men, having, besides, 1400 boys belonging to their staff; 2000 were off-hand men, for bargain work or other duties; 7600 lads and boys, working under the various designations of "putters," or pushers of coal-tubs, underground "drivers," "marrows," "half-marrows," and "foals," these latter terms being local, and significant of age and labour. For Northumberland must be added 10,536 persons, and Cumberland 3579, making a total for these three counties of upwards of 42,000 persons labouring in and round our northern collieries. The average that each hewer will raise per day is from two to three tons in thin, and three to four tons in thick seams. The largest quantity raised by any hewer on an average of the colliers of England is about six tons a day of eight hours. The mode of working is very laborious, as the majority of seams of coal being very thin—that is to say, not more than two feet thick—the worker of necessity is obliged to work in a constrained position, often lying on his side; and you can fancy the labour of using a pick in such a position. To get an idea of the position, just place yourself under a table, and then try to use a pick, and it will give you a pretty clear idea of the comfortable way in which a great part of our coal is got, and this also at a temperature of 86 deg. in bad air. The object, of course, of the worker is to take nothing but coal, as all labour is lost that is spent in taking any other material away. The man after a time gets twisted in his form, from being constantly in this constrained position, and, in fact, to sit upright like other men is at last painful. Then an amount of danger is always before him, even in the best regulated and ventilated pits. This danger proceeds from fire-damp, as one unlucky stroke of the pick may bring forth a stream of carbureted hydrogen gas, inexplosive of itself, but if mixed with eight times its bulk of air, more dangerous than gunpowder, and which, if by chance it comes in contact with the flame of a candle, is sure to explode, and certain death is the result—not always from the explosion itself, but from the after-damp or carbonic acid gas which follows it.
Upwards of 1500 lives are yearly lost from these causes, and not less than 10,000 accidents in the same period show the constant danger that the miner is exposed to. It would appear that England has more deaths from mining accidents than foreign countries, as Mr. Mackworth's table will show:—
Prussia 1.89 per 1000 Belgium 2.8 " England 4.5 " Staffordshire 7.3 "
This statement shows that more care is wanted in this last-named county especially, as I find that the yield of coal in Belgium is half as much as in England. Long working in the dark, if one may so speak, is a cause of serious detriment to the sight, and the worker also suffers much from constantly inhaling the small black dust, which in course of time affects the lungs, causing what is known as "miner's asthma." Without going further into the unhealthy nature of the miner's work, it may be interesting to mention something of the actual process, and having myself been an eye-witness of it, I will explain it as shortly as I can. The workers having arrived at the pit-mouth at their proper hours—for the pit is worked by shifts, and consequently is generally worked day and night—the first operation is for each to procure his lamp from the lamp-keeper, receiving it lighted and locked; this is found to be necessary, as from the small light given by the Davy-lamp the men are often tempted to open them, and some are even, so foolhardy as to carry their lamp on their cap and a candle in the hand, and hence a terrible explosion may take place. A few words on the Davy-lamp, which came into use about sixty years ago, may not be out of place here. This safety-lamp of the miner not only shows the presence of gas, but prevents its explosion. It is constructed of gauze made of iron-wire one-fortieth to one-sixtieth of an inch in diameter, having 784 openings to the inch, and the cooling effect of the current passing through the lamp prevents the gas taking fire. If we pour turpentine over a lighted safety-lamp, it will show black smoke, but no flame. Provided with his lamp, the miner takes his place with others in the tub, which conveys him with great rapidity to the bottom of the shaft. Here landed, he takes his way to the workings, some of these, in large pits, being two miles from the bottom of the shaft. To a novice this is not easy, as you have to walk in a crouching manner most part of the way. Once there, he begins in earnest, and drives at his pick for eight hours, the monotony only relieved by his gathering the products into small railway waggons or tubs to be removed. This is done mostly by boys, but in the larger mines by ponies of the Shetland and other small breeds. The tubs are taken to a part of the mine where, if one may so speak, the main line is reached, and then formed into trains, and taken to the shaft by means of an endless rope worked by an engine in the pit. In accomplishing all this work, great care has to be taken that the current of air is not changed or stopped. This is effected by means of doors placed in various parts of the mine, so as to stop the current and drive it in the required direction. These doors are kept by boys, whose duty it is to open and close them for the passage of the coal tubs. Those boys are often allowed no light, and sit in a hole cut in the side of the road near to the doors. Upon their carefulness the safety of the mine in a great measure depends, as if they neglect to shut the door the current of air is changed. I have been told that these boys are subject to accidents no less than the workers, for, sitting in the dark, and often alone for hours, they are very apt to go to sleep. To ensure being awoke at the proper time, they frequently lie down on the line of rails under the rope, so that when the rope is started it may awake them by its motion, but at times so sound is their sleep, that it has failed to rouse them in time, and a train of coal waggons has passed over them, causing in most cases death.
The coal having been brought to the pit-mouth, it remains to be shown what becomes of this most valuable mineral, the consumption of which is now so large in all parts of the globe. The next person employed in the trade is the sailor, to convey it to the market, and the collier vessels are a valuable navy to the country, proving quite a nursery of seamen for our royal marine service. Newcastle, Sunderland, West Hartlepool, and a large number of other ports along our coast, have an immense amount of shipping employed exclusively in the coal trade—no less than 5359 vessels carrying coal having entered the port of London alone in 1873, and the average annual quantity of coal exported abroad during the three years ending 1872 was 12,000,000 tons.
I will not now detain you longer on the subject of the extent and working of coal, lest I should tire your patience; but before concluding I should wish to give some account of the uses to which this most valuable product is applied. The main use of coal, as we all know, is to produce heat, without which many a paterfamilias would grumble when the dinner-hour came and he had nothing hot to eat. It not only, however, supplies heat, but the beauty of the processes for lighting up our houses is now mainly derived from coal. The immense consumption of coal, among other things, is in the production of the vapour of water—steam, by which our thousands of engines on sea and land are made to perform their various appointed tasks. This production, formed of decayed vegetable matter, which in ages past nourished on the surface of the earth, as I have already shown, is again brought forth for our use, and is a testimony of the goodness and kindness of God in providing for our wants. By its heat some 10,000 locomotive engines are propelled, and many hundreds of iron furnaces are kept in work, besides those for other purposes. It moves the machinery of at least 3000 factories, 2500 steam vessels, besides numerous smaller craft, and I cannot tell how many forges and fires. It aids in producing delicacies out of season in our hothouses. It lights our houses and streets with gas, the cheapest and best of all lights—London alone in this way spending about L50,000 a year. It gives us oil and tar to lubricate machinery and preserve timber and iron; and last, not least, by the aid of chemistry it is made to produce many beautiful dyes, such as magenta and mauve, and also, in the same way, gives perfumes resembling cloves, almonds, and spices.
The annual consumption of coal in Great Britain is reckoned to be not less than 80,000,000 tons. The amount raised in 1873 amounted to 127,000,000 tons, and of this was imported into London alone 7,883,138 tons—4,000,000 tons, or 15 per cent. of the total out-put of the country, being sent from Durham alone. The cost of the Wallsend coal on board the ship may be stated at 10s. 6d. per ton; to this must be added the charge at coal-market of 2s. 8d., freight say 5s. 9d., profit 7s. 6d., so that a ton of coal of this kind will cost in your cellar in London the sum of L1, 6s. 5d.
I think it is now time to conclude this most interesting subject, for though I have by no means exhausted it, yet I fear I have said as much as a lecture will warrant. The subject shows us how mindful a kind Providence has been of man, and to this nation in particular, for to our coal we in a measure owe much of our greatness. So while we admire the geology of our globe, let us not forget who made it and all that it contains, and who, when He had finished the work, pronounced it all very good. Let us so strive to live, that though we may be called away suddenly, as 199 of our fellow-creatures were called by what is termed a mining accident, we may be ready to meet Him who not only made us, but made the coal, and who, when man, at first made perfect, fell away, was pleased to send a Saviour to redeem us and bring us to that light which fadeth not away.
SCIENCE APPLIED TO ART.
A resume of science and art requires to set forth what they have already done and what they are now doing—to trace them down to our own time, and contrast their early stages with their present development. Giving to art and science all that is their due, it must be evident to every one that they are primarily not of human origin, but owe their existence and progress to those inherent faculties of man which have been bestowed upon him by an Almighty Being—faculties given not only to fathom the works of creation, and adapt them for man's use and benefit, but also that they might show forth the praise and honour of their Creator, as "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork." To set forth science and art before an Institution like that here met together, behoves one to enter upon the subject in a way which will not only interest but also instruct. But this is only an opening address, and the lecturers who will follow me in due course will bring before you the special interests of those special subjects on which they are to treat. These cannot fail to interest as well as instruct those who attend, their object being profit to the mind, and hence not only the furtherance of mental culture, but increasing capabilities for material prosperity.
To address a meeting in Glasgow gives one a feeling of pleasure; but, before going further, I trust that when I have finished you may not be able to say of me, as the two Highlanders did after leaving church—"Eh, man! wasna that a grand discoorse?—it jumbled the head and confused the understanding!" This city has brought forth one of the greatest of men—though, like many others, he had to fight an uphill battle in his early career—that man was James Watt. But what a career was his! and what a benefit to all now living has proved the result of his perseverance, for to his genius are we mainly indebted for the manifold applications of the wondrous power of Steam! That word is enough; and the engines it now propels are a powerful testimony to the talent of the great man who brought this mighty power to bear on the vast machinery, not only of this great country, but of the whole world. Contrast, for one thing, the travelling facilities of Watt's early days with those we now possess through his persevering industry. Fourteen days was then the usual time for a journey from Glasgow to London, while at present it can be performed in a less number of hours.
Railways! what have they not done! We see towns spring up in a few years where only a few cottages formerly stood, and wild glens transformed into fruitful valleys, by means of railways in their neighbourhood developing traffic and trade, and creating employment by placing them in communication with larger towns, and thus opening up new sources of material prosperity. Look at the magnitude of our railways. With respect to locomotives alone, in 1866 there were 8125 of these, and the work performed by them was the haulage of 6,000,000 trains a distance of 143,000,000 miles. As each engine possesses a draught-power equal to 450 horses, these 8125 locomotives consequently did the work of more than 3,500,000 horses, and as the average durability of a locomotive is computed to be about fifteen years, each will have in that time traversed nearly 300,000 miles! Then, again, there have to be replaced about 500 worn-out locomotives every year, at a cost for each of about L2500 to L3000, entailing an annual expenditure of nearly L1,500,000 sterling. All this money circulates for the country's benefit, keeping our iron, copper, and coal mines, our furnaces and our workshops, all at work, and our people well and usefully employed, and thus proving one of the greatest advantages of applied science and art to this country and the world at large. If it had not been for steam, this valuable Institution might not have been in existence, having for its chief objects the promotion of the growth and increasing the usefulness of the applied sciences.
We have now one of the greatest triumphs of engineering art in the Mont Cenis Railway, and this, though worked out under great difficulties, has proved a perfect success. Still more recently we have had brought under our notice the bold scheme of connecting Britain and France by a tunnel under the English Channel—a project which, but a few years ago, any one would have been thought mad to propose; but science has proved that it can be carried out; and it is only a few days since a large meeting was held in Liverpool with a view of tunnelling under the Mersey, and thus connecting Liverpool and Birkenhead. Nor do these schemes seem at all visionary when we learn that our go-ahead Transatlantic cousins have a project before the Legislature of New Jersey for laying wooden tubes underground, through which the mails and small parcels will be forwarded at the rate of 150 miles an hour! Through a similar tube, 6 feet in diameter, laid under the East and Hudson Rivers, passengers are to be transported from Brooklyn to Jersey city. A like scheme is in course of construction under the Thames.[A] Another American engineering triumph will be the railway suspension bridge proposed to be built across the Hudson River at Peekskill, in the hilly district known to New Yorkers as the Highlands, which is to have a clear span of 1600 feet at a height of 155 feet above high water.
Another grand and comparatively recent application of steam is in its adaptation to agriculture. Fields are now turned up by the steam-plough—an invention as yet in its infancy—in a manner that could never be done by mere hand-labour. Steam-culture has already penetrated as far north as John-o'-Groats, where I have one of the ploughs of Mr. Howard of Bedford, and but for its assistance I could not have taken in the land I have now worked up. So great is the demand for steam-cultivating apparatus, not only in Britain, but throughout the German plains and the flat alluvial soils of Egypt, that the makers have now more orders than they can readily supply.
In all our manufactories steam proves itself the motive power, and there is hardly a large work without it. This city can show its weaving, spinning, bleaching, and dyeing works—all which have tended to raise Glasgow from the small town of Watt's time to the proud position it now holds of being the first commercial city of Scotland. In this city, second only to Manchester in the production of cotton goods, it cannot fail to be interesting to state, that in the first nine months of the present year there has been exported 2,188,591,288 yards of cotton piece-goods manufactured in this country—a larger quantity by nearly 150,000,000 yards than the corresponding period of 1867, the year of the largest export of cotton manufactures ever known until then. Of course Glasgow has had its share in this great branch of export trade, rendering it large, wealthy, and populous—results which have mainly followed from the application of science to art.
Last, not least, see what steam has enabled us to do in regard to the food for the mind, both in printing it and afterwards in its distribution. Look, for instance, to Printing House Square—to the "Times" newspaper. In the short space of one hour 20,000 copies are thrown off the printing-machine, and, thanks to the express train, the same day the paper can be read in Glasgow. Still further in this direction, the value of steam is also shown by its having enabled us to produce cheap literature, so strikingly instanced in the world-famed works of Sir Walter Scott, which we are now enabled to purchase at the small sum of sixpence for each volume—a result which well shows the application of science to art.
Let us now observe what a varied number of mechanical and agricultural appliances are required to furnish us with this cheap literature. There is agriculture, in the growth of the fibre that produces the material of which the printing paper is made; then the flax-mill is brought into play to produce the yarn to be woven; then weaving to produce the cloth; after this, dyeing. Then the fine material is used for various purposes too numerous to mention; and after it has performed its own proper work, and is cast away as rags, no more to be thought of by its owner, it is gathered up as a most precious substance by the papermaker, who shows us the true value of the cast-off rags. Subjected to the beautiful and costly machinery of the paper-mill, the rags turn out an article of so much value that without it the world would almost come to a stand-still. Yet further, we have next the miner, who by his labour brings to the surface of the earth the metal required to produce the type for printing; after this the printing-press; and next the chemist, who by certain chemical combinations gives us the ink that is to spread knowledge to the world, by making clear to the eye the thoughts of authors who have applied their minds for the instruction and amusement of their fellow-men. But we do not end here; consider also that each and all, the farmer, the spinner, the weaver, the chemist, the miner, the printer, and the author, must respectively have a profit out of their various branches of industry, and does it not strike one forcibly what a boon to the world is this all-important application of science to art—putting within the reach of the poor man and the working man the means of cultivating his mind, and so, by giving him matters of deep interest to think over, keeping him from idleness and perhaps sin (for idleness is the root of most evil), and making him a happy family-man instead of a public-house frequenter.
Many were strongly opposed to the introduction of steam, and would rather have seen it put down, and the old coach and printing-press, loom, spinning-wheel, and flail kept in use, fearing that machinery would limit employment; and a hard fight it has been to carry forward all that has hitherto been done. But what has proved to be the result? Thousands are now employed where formerly a few people sufficed, and we are all benefited in having better and cheaper goods, books, provisions, and all things needful. There is therefore the satisfaction of knowing that, by the thousand and one applications of steam, the physical, mental, and even moral condition of the people has been greatly ameliorated; in this way again proving a triumph for the application of science to art.
Glasgow is not only famous for its multifarious applications of water in its finely divided gaseous form of steam, but it has made admirable use of that element in its more familiar and fluid form, as shown in the gigantic undertaking of bringing a water-supply into this thriving and populous city. The peaceful waters of a Highland lake are suddenly turned from their quiet resting-place, where they have remained in peace for generations, the admiration of all beholders, and made to take an active part in contributing to the health, wealth, and comfort of Glasgow. The beautiful Loch Katrine has been brought into the city, furnishing a stream of pure water to minister to the wants of all classes of the people—an undertaking which a few years ago would have been pronounced impossible; but here again science and art have prevailed, and brought about this all-important object and greatly desired and inestimable boon. The great capital of England itself cannot boast of such an advantage, and must still be content to drink water contaminated with impurities. Does not this speak volumes for the wealth and energy of Glasgow? What so conducive to health and cleanliness (and cleanliness is akin to godliness) as a pure and perfect supply of water such as you now possess; and you have great reason to be grateful for this beneficent application of science and art. With a worldwide celebrity for your waterworks, you have cause also to be proud of your chemical works, and that famous chimney of St. Rollox, one of the loftiest structures in the world. There are few cities more highly favoured than this. Would not Captain Shaw be glad if, in London, he had the head or command of water such as you have from Loch Katrine to save the great metropolis from the destruction by fire that they are in daily dread of? In Glasgow we hardly want this—our grand Loch Katrine does it all.
Turn to your river, the beautiful Clyde, which eighty years ago could be forded at Erskine, while Port Glasgow was as far as ships could then come up—a striking contrast to what is now to be seen at the Broomielaw, where the largest steamers and ships drawing thirty feet of water are moored in the very heart of the city, discharging produce from all parts of the world. What has done this but steam—the energy of man; steam cutting a channel by dredging to admit of ships passing so far up the river: and this has been to Glasgow a great source of wealth by the promotion of commerce. Art has been permitted to work out great things for your city, and I trust still greater things are in store. Take the trade now in full progress on the banks of the Clyde. The shipbuilding is fast leaving the Thames and finding its way here. It is a pleasure to hear people say: "There is a fine ship—she is Clyde-built."—"Who built her? Was it Napier, or Thomson, or Tod, or M'Gregor, or Randolph & Elder, or Caird, or Denny of Dumbarton, or Cunliff & Dunlop?" Pardon me if I have left out any name, for all are good builders. Then, again, it may be asked: "Who engined these ships?"—"Oh, Clyde engineers, or those who built them." I had the pleasure of being this year on board the Trinity yacht "Galatea," on a cruise when fourteen knots an hour were accomplished; and that yacht is a good specimen of what Clyde shipbuilders can turn out. She was built by Caird. I have also had the pleasure of a trip in the "Russia," one of the finest screw-vessels afloat, built by Thomson; and she has proved herself perhaps the fastest of sea-going steamers. Does not all this show what science applied to art has done?
Glasgow has also a College of the first order, one that is looked up to as sending men of high standing forth to the world. Watt worked under its roof as a poor mathematical instrument maker, and although enjoying little of its valuable instruction, he produced the steam-engine—a lesson as to what those ought to do towards promoting the application of science to art who have the full benefit of a scientific training such as your College affords.
Each day brings forth something new—the electric telegraph, for instance, by which our thoughts and desires are transmitted to all parts of the world, so to speak, in a moment of time. When we think that we are within an instant of America, it gives one a feeling of awe, for it shows to what an extent we have been permitted to carry the application of science to art. A small wire is carried across the great Atlantic, and immediate communication is the result. The achievements of science were shown to a great extent in the laying of this cable, and perhaps still more in its recovery after it had been broken. A small cable is lost at the bottom of the ocean, far from the land, and in water about two miles in depth—a ship goes out, discovers the spot, and then grappling irons are lowered. Science with its long arm, as it were, reaches down the almost unfathomable abyss, and with its powerful hand secures and brings to the surface of the ocean the fractured cable, which is again made to connect the Old and New Worlds—thus verifying almost the words of Shakespeare, when he speaks of calling "spirits from the vasty deep." After splicing the cable, the vessel proceeds with the work of paying it out, as it sails across the Atlantic; and once more science and art find a successful issue, for Europe and America are united.
What the combination of science and art has done is, however, not yet exhausted: witness the splendid specimens of artillery now produced by Sir Joseph Whitworth and Sir William Armstrong—weapons by which projectiles are thrown with an almost irresistible force. The beauty of their construction is a triumph to art, and their mathematical truth a triumph to science. One thing follows another, and no sooner have men of originality and observation perfected the means of destruction, when others press forward and furnish the means of defence. Our armour-clads, such as the "Warrior" and others which lately visited these waters, have thus been called into existence, and they are splendid specimens of what science applied to art can achieve.
The Menai Bridge is another instance of the power of man in applied science. A railway bridge is required to further communication, but Government demands that the navigation of the Strait shall not be impeded. The mind of a great man is called into action, and by applying scientific principles to engineering art, we have that wonder of the world, the great tubular bridge over the Menai Straits. This work required a mind of no ordinary nature, but such a one was found in the celebrated Robert Stephenson. I am proud to say I was privileged to have him as a friend, and I greatly lamented his death, not only as a friend, but as an irreparable loss to the world of science.
Another instance of science applied to art—and not the least important—is the adaptation of glass to form the lens which enables the flame of a lamp to be seen from a great distance. What this has done for the mariner is shown in our lighthouses, which enable him to know where he is by night as well as by day, for the lights are made to revolve, to be stationary, or to show various colours or flashes, which reveal to him their respective positions. The compass also, though ancient, is still an application of applied science, and by it the mariner is enabled to guide his ship safely over the ocean. A very beautiful instance of applied science to art is electrometallurgy, in which metals are deposited by means of the galvanic battery in any required form or shape, and this process of gilding and plating is executed with marvellous rapidity. All these various instances show what the mind of man has done, and is doing; but the applications of science to art are so endless, that even their simple enumeration could not be included in the limits of an opening address, for there are few things to which science cannot be applied. One of the most recent and beautiful is the art of photography, where, by means of applied chemistry, aided by the rays of the sun, there can be produced the most pleasing and lifelike representations. This new application of chemistry is a most interesting one, which shows that we do not stand still, and as long as arts and science are permitted to be practised by us we are not intended to stand still, but to exercise our minds to the utmost to unravel those mysteries of nature that are yet to be developed.
Chemistry, as a regular branch of natural science, is of comparatively recent origin, and can hardly be said to date earlier than the latter third of last century. The Greek philosophers had some vague yet profound ideas on this subject, but their acquaintance was limited to speculations a priori, founded on general and often inaccurate observations of natural occurrences. Yet their acuteness was such, that some of their speculations as to the constituent properties of matter coincide in a wonderful degree with those which now prevail among modern philosophers. It is not easy to define what chemistry is in a few words, but it may be described as the science which has for its object the investigation of all elementary bodies which exist in the universe, with the view of determining their composition and properties. It also seeks to detect the laws which regulate their mutual relations, and the proportions in which these elements will combine together to form the compounds which constitute the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, as well as the properties of these various compounds. The ancients admitted only four elements—earth, air, fire, and water. Chemists now far exceed this number, and seek to show what these elements are composed of by analysing them into the various gases, solids, and liquids.
Astronomy is the most ancient of all the sciences. The Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Hindoos, Gauls, and Peruvians, each regarded themselves as the inventors of astronomy, an honour which Josephus deprives them of by ascribing it to the antediluvian patriarchs. From the few facts to be gleaned out of the vague accounts by ancient authors regarding the Chaldeans, it may be inferred that their boasted knowledge of this science was confined to observations of the simplest kind, unassisted by any instruments whatever. The Egyptians, again, though anciently considered the rivals of the Chaldeans in the cultivation of this science, have yet left behind them still fewer records of their labours, though it is so far certain that their astronomical knowledge was even greater than that of the Chaldeans. The Phoenicians seem to have excelled in the art of navigation, and would no doubt direct their course among the islands of the Mediterranean by the stars; but if they had any further speculative notions of astronomy, they were probably derived from the Chaldeans or Egyptians. In China, astronomy has been known from the remotest ages, and has always been considered as a science necessary and indispensable to the civil government of the Celestial Empire. On considering the accounts of Chinese astronomy, we find it consisted only in the practice of certain observations, which led to nothing more than the knowledge of a few isolated facts, and they are indebted to foreigners for any further improvements they have since adopted.
The Greeks seem to have made the most early advances in astronomy; for notwithstanding that the art of observation was still in its infancy, we are indebted to the labours and speculations of ancient Greek philosophers for raising astronomy to the dignity of a science. The complicated but ingenious hypotheses of the Greek Ptolemy prepared the way for the discovery of the elliptic form of the planetary orbits and other astronomical laws by the German Kepler, which again conducted our English Newton to the discovery of the law of gravitation. I am not, however, desirous of giving this meeting a lecture on astronomy—I shall leave that to Professor Grant. But it is singular that I should have come here on a day on which one of the now known observations and movements of the planets has taken place—the transit of Mercury. This was calculated to occur this day by the science of astronomy, and it is also known when it will again occur, namely, on the 6th of May 1878. I will end this subject by saying, that the discoveries in astronomy in the last and present centuries have been so many and interesting, that it would be quite impossible for me to enter here minutely upon them.
In conclusion,—What have science and art done for us? They have cultivated our minds—they have made us think, wonder, and admire, and I trust caused us to adore and reverence the Creator of this vast universe. They have taught us the knowledge and value of time, and have also shown the value of what man has been enabled to work out for his own benefit and that of the world at large.
The chemist deals with the various substances brought under his notice, thereby acquiring a knowledge of their properties, enabling him to produce results which are truly beneficial. This knowledge is power.
The painter makes the features of Nature his study, and by his brush delineates them on the canvas, and thus by knowledge of art he exhibits power.
The astronomer's science is one of vast magnitude and importance—the study of it embracing both science and art: science in the various intricate calculations he requires to make in connection with the heavenly bodies. By his researches we have discovered the form of the earth and other planets, their respective distances from each other, their revolutions, their eclipses and their orbits, and, more wonderful still, the precise time when the various movements of each occur. In art, the astronomer has originated and perfected the many powerful and beautiful instruments now required for taking observations, and these, when compared with the instruments in use in bypast times, are excellent evidences of modern progress in this direction. Our wonder is excited when we look at the instruments formerly in use; that so much was done through them, and the advance made by art in the perfection of those now adopted, show us again that knowledge is power.
The navigator, by a combination of astronomy and seamanship, is enabled to plough the great deep, and at all times by mathematical calculation to discover the exact position of his ship. What, however, would he be without the aid of art? The compass, the sextant, or quadrant, &c., are the means which enable him to attain these grand results, and to bring his ship to the desired haven. The use of these is knowledge, and this knowledge is power.
Alike with all other things which science and art have called into use, knowledge is power, and this power was given by the Almighty, as I said at the beginning of this lecture, to enable man to fathom the works of creation. Let us then so live that we may ever admire the results of the labours of science and of art, and at the same time ever remember Him who has given us the power to discover and use them for our benefit,—thanking God, who first made all things and pronounced them very good, for His great mercy toward us.
[A] Now carried out.
A PENNY'S WORTH;
"TAKE CARE OF THE PENCE, AND THE POUNDS WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES."
A penny seems a small sum to talk about, and with many, I am sorry to say, is looked upon as so insignificant as to be considered almost worthless; but I hope, before I have done, to show you something of the great value of even a penny, and of the effects and products we have been enabled to produce and dispose of with a reasonable profit at the cost of one penny. A much smaller sum than this was looked upon and regarded as of inestimable value by our blessed Saviour, when He saw the rich men and the widow casting their offerings into the treasury, for He said: "All these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."
Now what did this widow cast in? Two mites, which make one farthing. Though this took place more than eighteen hundred years ago, it shows to us even now the great value of small things when given with the heart and used in the right way.
Money is a most desirable thing, and without it the business of the world would come to a stand-still, but how to spend it aright is a matter of grave thought, for it may with ease be spent in luxury, but it requires a mind to use it profitably. Both pleasure and profit may be gained by prudent and proper expenditure, and to show how even a limited income may enjoy great comfort at home (and there is, I hope you think, no place like home, and one's own home-fireside), I have ventured to bring before you at this time what can be done for one penny.
The penny itself is a matter which leads one into thought. The vastness of mind which has been brought to bear on the production of the coin is itself worthy of consideration. Before any coin can be sanctioned by the realm, it has to go through the ordeal of Her Majesty's Government, and after all has been done to the satisfaction of the authorities, a little bit of copper—though now, for the good of our pockets, mixed with an alloy—is made to minister to our wants in ways which I hope to lay before you as plainly and shortly as possible. First and foremost we must have that great and valuable thing heat, for without heat generated by fire we could have no penny. One of the first things required to produce this heat is wood. Now the wood must be grown,—trees attended to with care and at great cost. Years pass before they are either fit for beauty or use, yet, during the time of their growth, the smaller branches that are lopped off form just what is required to set on fire the coal and coke to produce the heat which is necessary for smelting and blast furnaces, for our own domestic fires, and various other uses. A faggot of these lopped branches can be bought for a penny. Having thus found out, as a beginning, one thing which can be obtained for a penny, let us go on to see what has to be attended to and encountered before this valuable coin can be made. Sums of money have to be spent, risks very great have to be entered into, and beautiful machinery constructed before it can be placed in our pockets. The mines of Cornwall have to be reached for both copper and tin—a matter of great cost to the pockets of speculators, and of anxiety to the minds of engineers, who lay themselves out to gain the material. Furnaces have to be built to smelt the ore and bring it into a workable condition. The Mint is then, after the metal is ready, called into requisition to produce a coin which, after all this labour and expense, is only a penny.
I come now to tell some of the things which can be accomplished and produced for a penny. One of the earliest publications of any note was the "Penny Magazine," which is endeared to my memory as having shown me the earliest of George Stephenson's great works—the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. This magazine has now passed away, but it has been amply replaced by others of equal merit, carrying out its principles of giving a sound and cheap literature to the people; it was a boon to all who cared for instruction, and at the same time had to take care of a penny. Now we have our daily papers at a penny, and of the 1711 newspapers issued (1876) in the United Kingdom, 808 are sold at this small price. Look at those papers, the "Telegraph," "Standard," and many others; are they not a light that has shone over our world, showing what man has been enabled to do for his fellows, in being able to disseminate the knowledge of what is transpiring over the world to their readers, both near and far off, and all for only one penny! Has this been done without labour? No. What has caused it but the earnest desire to know the events of daily life in as short a time as possible. I do not care to vouch for what I now say, but I should think that about 20,000 copies are thrown off of the "Daily Telegraph" in an hour, and these can be bought for one penny each. This penny's worth has cost a great amount of thought to bring about. Besides the various manufactures which are required for this result, the daily paper also brings to its aid the agriculturist as regards the paper; for though this was at first only made of rags, we now produce it from straw, and I have made it from thistles, whilst it has also been made from wood and other things. The rags, of course, were derived from agriculture in as far as flax required to be grown, but now the farmer gets his grain from the crop, and the straw left is made into paper—the chief agent in distributing through the world the thoughts of the learned in science, arts, literature, and politics. With what eagerness do we look for our paper in the morning, and with what pleasure do we pay our penny for it! A penny's worth with respect to this material does not stop here. Look at our beautiful and not costly decorations; see what a charming room we can show, produced by a wall-paper at a cost of one penny a yard. Some of these coloured decorations produce an eye-deception that quite, as the Scotch would say, "jumbles the judgment and confounds the understanding."
We have not done with luxuries, and I will now bring one before you that, like many others, if used aright, there is no harm in, and which I look upon as a means of keeping up social good-fellowship among all. I mean smoking. Now the use of tobacco in itself is harmless, but used in excess is not only dangerous, but acts as a poison. I like a pipe, but I find at the same time it is needful to have a light. The ingenuity of man has supplied my want and wish, and I can now get a light from an article which, to look at, seems only something black tipped with red. The labour required to produce this small box of lights, as it is called, is wonderful—the chemist, the wood merchant, the mechanician (and I am sorry to say, also the surgeon, from the deleterious effects of the phosphorus on the human frame), have all to bring their work to bear on the production of this most useful article. Yet, after all, it is sold and bought for one penny a box. Messrs. Bryant & May profess to save your houses from fire for this sum by using their matches, and I think they are right. Fire and heat are among our best friends, but are also dangerous enemies; and I am sure a penny spent on Bryant & May's matches is well spent. I do not wish to disparage other makers—far from it; but a match that will only ignite on the box is an article all householders should procure, not only for their own protection, but also for that of their neighbours.
A very striking instance of the value of a penny is set before us in that most wonderful system the penny-postage, the institution of which was a boon to the kingdom that cannot be too highly appreciated. It enables rich and poor alike to bring their thoughts and desires into communication with each other, and so relieve anxious cares in regard to the health and wealth, the joys and sorrows of friends in an easy manner. A penny stamp can convey all our requirements, whether for good or for evil, and many a large sum is now transmitted under its care. I have been told that as many as 60,000 letters have passed through the travelling post-office of the London and North-Western Railway in one night. How could this great correspondence ever have been carried on but for railways; and but for the foresight of Sir Rowland Hill this system might still have been in the background. It is clearly in my recollection when 1 s. 1-1/2 d. was the charge for a letter from London to Edinburgh, and that was for what was then called a single letter; now you may send as much as you like under a certain weight for one penny.
Travelling is now also a thing within the reach of all, for you can travel for one penny a mile, and this at a rate of speed that could not be done a few years ago. So much for railways.
Having begun with matters more especially affecting older people, it would be hard indeed to leave out the younger branches, and the means that are now employed not only for their comfort, but their amusement. Among other requirements for them we may class their toys. They are in a sense most needful, as well as useful, for our children, and from many of the ingenious toys now-a-days we can acquire a great deal of knowledge, useful to ourselves and of advantage to others. The beauty of their manufacture is a striking instance of the ingenuity of man as applied to small things, seeing that toys, so to speak, are only made for a few days' enjoyment, and are then almost certain to be broken. But for their short and transient existence what an amount of mental energy has been brought to bear—the fancy of the child has to be studied and provided for, in a way to please, gratify, and amuse, teaching the young idea how to shoot: all this for one penny. Look at the carts, horses, and other articles innumerable that are to be bought at the bazaars in London for a penny, and do they not bring before us in a striking manner what has been done for the benefit of the young. These toys, which only cost a penny, have caused many hard and anxious thoughts, are the means of giving work to thousands, and enabling these thousands to live an honest and happy life by furnishing a paying living, while at the same time they minister to the acquirements of those who when young require amusement. All this is done for a penny's worth; but how divided is this before the wonderful toy is produced! We have wood, iron, copper, tin, lead—I may say, all the metals, even the most precious (for gold is frequently used in the production of a toy that can be bought for a penny), are employed. Not only have these to be utilised, but they have first to be obtained—some by the growth of timber, others by mining, then by the heat of the furnace, then by hammer and workman, then by the chemist and colour-maker, then by the maker of the toy—many of these employed at large wages; and yet you receive for your children an article which not only gives instruction, but the greatest amusement, all for one penny.
An old saying, but a very true one, "Cleanliness is next to godliness;" and this brings us to a luxury which, though long known in France, has only been lately introduced here. This is the shoe-black. You come up to him, dirty from the mud of the streets of London, and in a very short time you have your boots shining for a penny. This penny's worth brings before us a large amount of thought before it can be earned and paid for. We have to begin with the farmer, who feeds the animal that, after we have eaten a good dish from and think no more of, yet furnishes the hair which is made into brushes by the brushmaker; the carpenter has to make the box to hold them; the blacking-maker also comes to the service; and the tailor to give the uniform red coat worn by the Shoeblack Brigade—yet after all this, you can get your boots blacked, and that well done, for one penny. Out of their earnings, at some stations the boys—so I was told a short time ago—have to pay 2s. 6d. a day for leave to stand at their station.
I have gone a long way on things that can be obtained for a penny, but I have not yet got to the greatest and most valuable—a thing which is to be obtained for even less than the widow's mite. It is this: "Come ye, buy and eat, without money and without price, for My word is meat indeed, and My word is drink indeed." Christ says this, and man cannot deny it. I am not going to preach a sermon, but as things have come before me, I have put them down.
Seeing what a penny can do, let us turn to some of the results. A penny a week at a school, and what can be gained? A child is educated to use the talents given him or her, so as to work out an honest living, and is there taught what it can do for the life that now is and that which is to come. The value of education is so great that it cannot be over-estimated. A young man I knew got into a railway workshop. He saved enough to go to Australia, where he has now made a large sum of money. He left this country with less than L50 in his pocket. He knew work and business, thanks to education, and had a determined desire to work his way. I wish it was so all over England, for I know in the Midland Counties every one will not leave home. You must leave home, at least for a season, if you wish to get on in the world. Nothing is to be gained in this world without striving for it. Here is work, but after death there is rest, but not till then. So, in conclusion, let me say, Let us all remember that while on earth it is a season for work. Here is work—work for the body, work for the mind, and, above all, work to prepare the soul for eternity. So that when we come to die, we may not only be able to look back on a life in which we have spent a penny aright, but be able to look forward to that life where is everlasting peace and joy, through Christ in God. And may our last words be—Here was work, but there is rest, through Christ our Saviour.
PAST AND PRESENT MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
We may, I think, commence by saying, "Lord, so teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom," for, as David says, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him? Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands, and hast put all things in subjection under his feet." The difference of past and present means of communication are so great, that it is no easy task to enter into a discussion on the subject; but it leads one to gravely consider what is said in the 90th Psalm: "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." To address an association such as I have now the honour and pleasure of doing, gives one a feeling of interest, as well as a feeling of responsibility, for as I have been kindly asked to close the course of lectures for this session, such an address is looked to in general with expectation. Do not hope for too much from me; but I trust that, when I have concluded, you will not be able to pay me the compliment an old Highland woman did to her minister on seeing him after church-service—"Ah, maister, this discoursing will never do, for I wasna weel asleep till ye were done." Having said this by way of introduction, I think it devolves upon me in some way first to explain what is the meaning of the subject of Communication. It may be briefly stated to be a means to an end—an intercourse or passage of either the body from one place to another, or of the thoughts of one person to another. And as I begin with the communication of the body, I cannot do better than name some of the methods by which communication is carried on, and shall commence with Roads, Coaches, Railways, Canals, and Steamers. Then, for mind, I will take Books, Printing, Letters, Exhibitions, and Telegraphs.
Our age has so advanced, that though Methuselah lived nearly one thousand years, yet he in his age did not live as long as we do now. See what science and art have done for us. We now do more in one day than could be done in a month some very few years ago; and, as far as travelling about the world is concerned, I can say that I have been from John-o'-Groat's House to Brighton, thence into Hertfordshire, thence back to London, from there to Edinburgh, thence to John-o'-Groat's, and here I am before you, without fatigue, or a thought that I should not be present in time. What has enabled us to do this but the determination of man to communicate with his fellow-men, and his thirst for the knowledge of what is doing in places where he, as an individual, could not be present. When there were no roads, it was no easy matter to move about, so the people remained at rest. But the Romans, a people who aspired to conquer the world, were not a people to sleep and let things stand still. They began the making of roads in Britain, and to them we owe the first of our greatness. They saw, as every wise man now sees, that the first thing to the improvement of land and property is easy communication, and facilities for bringing the things needed for the improvement of the land, and the means also of export for the produce. The earliest roads were, as we may say, right on end; and the Roman roads, as I hear, have borne the traffic of two thousand years. I hope I may say that even a Roman road would not bear the traffic of a town like Greenock for anything like that period of time, or I fear the commerce of this populous and most thriving town would be in a bad way. The great Telford and Macadam are the persons to be thanked for our beautiful system of road-making, and no person can, I am sure, deny the utility of their plans. As I said, roads are a means of communication for the body, and also for the mind; and therefore, now that their advantages are seen, we should strive to further their advance in all districts.
Coaches.—We come now to the means of communication on the roads for the body, and also for the mind, as both must go together—viz., the coach and the carriage or cart (for before the roads were made we had no coaches). In the first place, these carts or carriages were rude and heavy waggons, without springs or other comfort; but still they served to convey the body, and the mind that went with it at last discovered, by degrees, that conveyances could be constructed so as to cause less wear and tear on animal life. The result of time and labour has been the elegant constructions of the present day. The first hackney-coaches were started in London, A.D. 1625, by a Captain Bailey. Another conveyance for the body, the sedan-chair, was introduced first into England in 1584, and came into fashion in London in 1634. The late Sir John Sinclair was called a fool because he said a mail-coach would come from London to Thurso. I am glad to say that he saw it, and it opened up a communication for the body and mind that has worked wonders in the far North. We now have a railway.
Steam.—We proceed next to the grandest stage—or, as it is said in the North, "We took a start." What place have we to thank for this great start, but the very town in which I have the honour to give this closing address. Was not James Watt born here? The 19th January 1736 was a great day for England, Scotland, and the world at large, for that day brought into the world a man who, by his talents and by his observations of what others had done before him, was the means of bringing to a workable state that all-powerful and most useful machine, the steam-engine. The people of Greenock may well indeed feel proud of being citizens of a town that produced such a man; for though many places have given birth to great and valuable men, and persons who rendered the world vast and lasting service, yet, I may safely say, no one has surpassed James Watt in the benefits he has bestowed on the world, on its trade, its commerce, and its means of communication for both body and mind, as the producer of the steam-engine. There were not even coaches in his time, and his first journey to London was performed on horseback, a ten days' ride, very different to our ten or twelve hours now-a-days. His life and determination show what a man can do, both for himself and his fellow-men, and are a bright example to be followed by all those especially who belong to such associations as the one I now have the honour to address. He not only thought, but carried out his thoughts to a practical issue, and, though laughed at, he still stuck to his great work, and by his perseverance gave to the world one of its greatest boons, and certainly its greatest motive power—the steam-engine. The first use of the engine, as you well know, was the pumping of water. Rude were the machines made by Savory, Newcombe, and others, to achieve the desired end, but Watt, in his small room in the cottage at Glasgow, at last brought about a triumph that the world at large now feels and acknowledges. I will not go further into the history of a man so well known and appreciated, as his memory must be here, but will go on to say something briefly on the results of the operations of the mind over the material placed before it, to bring into form and make it practically useful for the advantage of man.
Steamers.—Greenock must see and value the great power at her disposal in the steam-ship. She has now her large building yards, and it was from her yards that, in 1719, the first ship—belonging to Greenock, and I believe built there—sailed for America, and from that time the trade increased rapidly. And I believe Glasgow launched the first Scotch ship that ever crossed the Atlantic in 1718, only one year in advance of Greenock. The large building yards of Greenock bring into the town sums of money which, but for these yards, would go elsewhere, and deprive the community of many comforts, not to say luxuries. They are the means of carrying on the import and export trade of this thriving town in a way that could not otherwise have been done; famous as this place is for shipbuilding, spinning, and its splendid sugar-works. These latter you have indeed reason to be proud of, for there are few finer. The increase of importation of sugar is striking. In Britain in 1856, our imports of this article were 6,813,000 lbs., in 1865 it was 7,112,772 lbs. Though all this did not come to Greenock, yet from what you do in this trade, I think the word holds good that we as Scotchmen are sweet-toothed. You can now boast of a steam communication not only on the coast, but over the world. I had last year the pleasure of a cruise in the Trinity yacht "Galatea," and does not she speak volumes for what can be done by your citizens? for that vessel was built by Mr. Caird, and even the ship seemed to feel that she came from the beautiful Clyde. What a difference now to the time of Henry Bell in 1812, who first started a steamer for passengers on the Clyde! We have now in Great Britain 2523 steamers, registering no less than 766,200 tons. Have not these improvements shown what means of communication do for body and mind?
Railways.—Having said this much about steamers, I will turn for a short time to another means of communication for body and mind—I mean the railways. Are not they a striking advance in science, and the bringing to bear the power of mind to work on the material that has been provided for our use by an all-wise God? It is but a few years since, comparatively speaking, they came into existence, and yet, from the time of George Stephenson (and his perseverance largely aided to perfect the railway), see what vast sums of money have been spent, what magnificent and noble structures have been erected, and what speed has been obtained for the communication of body and mind. Instead of the thirty miles from Manchester to Liverpool in 1830, we now have in Great Britain and Ireland 13,289 miles of railway. The total capital paid in 1865 was L455,478,000, and this has largely increased since then. An idea may be formed of the difference of the rate of speed in travelling effected, both before and after the introduction of railways, by such facts as the following:—Two hundred years ago, King James's groom rode six days in succession between London and York, and a wonderful feat it was deemed; whilst now, the same distance is performed in five hours. About 1755 to 1760, the London and Edinburgh coach was advertised to run between these cities in fourteen days in summer, and sixteen in winter, resting one Sunday on the road. So much for the growing desire for speedy intercourse for mind and body.
Suez Canal.—There is an all-absorbing topic now before the public, and it is one that brings strikingly before us the thirst for communication of both body and mind to and from distant parts of our globe. It is one of deep importance to all who take an interest in the advancement of science—I mean the Suez Canal. The Red Sea cannot but be familiar to us all—a sea of the most profound interest, for there did the mighty Jehovah work one of His most stupendous miracles, when He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, and at the same time destroyed Pharaoh and all his host. But in how different a manner did the Lord work! By a word He caused the waters to go back, leaving a wall on the right hand and on the left, so that the people of Israel went through on dry land. This was not all. Were not His chosen people accompanied by a pillar of fire to give light in the night season, and a cloud of thick darkness to prevent the Egyptians coming near them during the day? Does not this show that His mercy is over all His works? For after He had brought out His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness, He overthrew their enemies in the sea—in the same place where He had performed such wonders for the preservation of His people.
Often has the spot been crossed by our steamers; and though some may, and I trust do, bring to mind the stupendous miracle, yet it, like many other thing's, is regarded as a matter gone by. Here now we have the Red Sea brought under our notice in a most striking manner, and one that leads us not only to feel the greatness of the power of man over material things, but I trust it may also lead us to see our littleness when compared with Him who made us. We, that is the nations which brought about this great canal, have had to spend years and vast sums of money to carry out the end aimed at, and under the Divine aid it has been brought to a successful termination. But see what God did! Did the Almighty consult engineers, or take soundings and levels, or ask the laws of Nature if He could or would succeed? Nay,—one word was enough. He spake, and that was sufficient—the waters stood up in a heap. We, however, have succeeded in bringing the Red Sea and the Mediterranean into connection with each other—an achievement that strongly shows the determination of man. It is a boon, indeed, to the commerce of this country, and I hope also of many others, as by enabling ships to pass through, the transhipment of cargo is now done away with, and the distance to the other side of the globe reduced to its minimum. Engineers may truly be proud of the day that brought this great and noble work to a completion; and I trust they will thank the Lord who hath crowned their strenuous efforts with success.
Books.—Having got thus far as regards the conveyance of the body, we must now turn to the communication of the mind, and the thoughts of one individual as conveyed to another, and this leads one to speak of books. What are they but the means of communication of the thoughts of great men, and a distribution of those thoughts for the benefit of their fellows, by bringing before them matters of interest in the history of our own country and that of others. The great object to be looked to is the selection of our books—the variety is now so great; and I grieve to say (and I think I am right) that the sensational works of the present day have a tendency to lead the mind into a train of thought that is flippant and unsteady, and I would warn young people against them. When we look to such works as those of Sir Walter Scott, Macaulay, and many others of the same kind, we find food for the mind, the benefit of which cannot be over-estimated.
Printing.—The spread of knowledge through the world is indeed a boon which cannot be too highly extolled; but the thoughts of man could not thus have been circulated had it not been for the printing-press. See what science and art have done for us in this most perfect and beautiful machine! When we go only to one example, the "Times" newspaper, and consider the amount of information it circulates each day through the world, it strikes one forcibly what man has been allowed and enabled to do for the benefit of himself and his fellow-men. What we have brought the printing-press to, is shown in 20,000 copies of the "Times" being thrown off in one hour, and the advantage it has been to the advancement of literature in our now being able to buy such works as those of Sir Walter Scott for sixpence a volume.
Having gone so far, I must not detain you for more than a brief period. You have had such an able and interesting course of lectures given by men of high talent, that little remains for me except to close this course with congratulation to the Association in being able to procure those individuals to give their valuable time to this desirable object; for what in life is more interesting than the imparting the knowledge we may possess to others who desire to acquire it, seeing that there is no way in which moral and social intercourse is more advanced and developed. Still, before closing, I must ask for a short time to go into one or two other subjects. And first, I will take one of the greatest importance to the commerce of this country, and one that has shown what the mind has done for communicating the thoughts of one person to another at far distant places—I refer to the telegraph. The land is not only covered with wires, but even the vast depths of the great ocean are made to minister to our requirements. The world, we may say, is encircled with ropes, and instant communication has been the result. What has achieved these great results but the mind of man applied to science! And see in what a multitude of ways this application of mind has been made to work! What does it bring into play? Why, we have mining to produce the metal to make the wire; we have the furnace, hammers, and wire-drawing machines to produce the wire from the raw material. We have the forest then to go to for gutta-percha, for land poles, and for tar to preserve the cables. We have the farmer for our hemp. We have the chemist, we have the electrician, we have the steamer, and a great number of other requisites before the silent but unerring voice of the needle brings the thoughts of one man in America to another in this town in an instant of time. Accidents and mistakes will occur in the best-regulated works of all kinds, but I hope not often. One as to the telegraph I must tell that happened during the Indian Mutiny. The message meant to say that "The general won't act, and the troops have no head." The transformation was curious, namely, "The general won't eat, and the troops have cut off his head." If men would only consider well this grand achievement, they would be led indeed to say and feel, with all humility and thankfulness, that God has truly given him dominion over the works of His hands, and has put all things in subjection under his feet.
I had almost forgotten one other point of communication for mind, and, though at the risk of trying your patience, I must mention it, as its increase has been so large, and its advantages so manifold and untold. I mean the penny-postage. I am not going to enter into it at any length, but the increase of correspondence has been so large, that Sir Rowland Hill's name should not be left out of a lecture treating on subjects such as this one is intended to do. I will content myself by merely telling the increase of correspondence, and leave you to judge for yourselves as to its benefits. The number of letters in 1839, before the penny-postage, was 82,470,596, and in 1866 it was 597,277,616. Judge the difference!
Coming to the results of communication, I have one subject to bring before you, and as it has shown to such a large extent the benefits of international communication, I trust a few words on it may not be out of place. The subject is the great International Exhibitions that have been held in various countries in the last eighteen years. The first idea of holding such great exhibitions emanated from a man whose name cannot be held in too great estimation by all. Few men were gifted with such rare talents as he was, for there were few subjects, whether in science, literature, or art, that he was not intimately acquainted with. This man was the late Prince Consort. He conceived the idea that if the products of the various countries of the world could be brought together under one roof, the knowledge these would convey of the machinery, cultivation, science, literature, and arts practised in the various parts of the globe would tend to stimulate and advance the mind by showing that we had not only ourselves to look to, but that in a great measure we had to depend on others for the many blessings we now enjoy; and also lead us to see how needful to our prosperity and comfort is a constant communication with those who can communicate to us that knowledge which otherwise we could not obtain. Certainly the results have proved that he was right. Could anything have been more interesting or instructive to all than a visit to the Great Exhibitions of 1851 or 1862, or that of Paris in 1867. The public interest is at once shown when I tell you that 6,039,195 persons visited the latter, and the receipts in money were L506,100. There, all and every one had before him at a glance the subject most suited to his taste, with a full description of the country which produced it. From the largest machine, the heaviest ordnance, the most brilliant and precious stones, the finest silks, lace, furniture, carriages, the greatest luxuries for the table, and, in fact, everything needful for the use of man;—all were there, and all to be seen and studied by the inquiring mind, or to be regarded as very wonderful by those who went to the Exhibition as a sight. Few, I venture to say, ever left these buildings except wiser than when they entered. It could not fail to strike one, if one only gave it a moment's reflection, and asked himself, how has all this been brought about, but that it was the result of the communication of the minds of certain individuals with those of others, and by a concentration of the products of various countries to enlighten the mind as to the vast intelligence of the world at large.
In conclusion, I feel now that I have spoken long enough for any lecture, though I have not by any means exhausted the subject of communication of either past or present; but I should feel grieved if I exhausted your patience. All things, as we well know, must have an end, except that life to which we are looking forward and striving to gain, where we shall cease from our labours and be at rest. We have been endued by our Maker with thought and mind, talents to be used for our benefit, and not wrapped up in a napkin till our Lord's return, but to be placed out so as to bring in either the five or the ten talents. And, as you all know, we are answerable for the manner in which we employ them. May the result prove that we have used them aright.
The progress of means of communication of mind and body have been gradual but steady, and I think may be represented by human life from its childhood to manhood, as beautifully set forth in the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians 11th verse, where it is said, "When I was a child, I spake as a child; I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Is not this very much in keeping with our growth in communication? At first it was small, and we were content to hear of what others were engaged in without regard to time, as one day earlier or later was of little consequence. But now we are not children, but are become men in our interests and thirst for communication with each other. What should we say if we found the Express, as was written on the boy's post-bag, busily engaged in a game of bowls on the road, regardless of the loss of time or money thereby occasioned? I think we should be inclined to write to the papers.
The results of communication are manifold, and day by day they are brought before us in a manner which shows the untiring wish of man for improvement both in social and commercial interests. These results are strikingly shown in the various subjects I have endeavoured to bring before you. Each and all of them are subjects for thought. What should we now be without, I may say, any one of them?
A well-regulated mind is the most desirable of all acquirements, and I know no better means of gaining this than by meetings of such institutions as this. Here you have intercourse with your friends, and you can gain from one another by friendly intercourse stores of knowledge, that to search for as individuals would take away much more time than you could by any means devote, and at the same time attend to the business of your calling. Here you have the means of amusement as well as of gaining sound information, and I trust no one here will ever have cause to regret the day when he came to associate with his friends, and hear what others could communicate, for "in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom."
The many varieties of the world's manufactures—one might almost call them wonders—are now so numerous, that to bring any particular one in a single form before this meeting is a matter of no easy nature. To-night, however, I have ventured to single out, and have the pleasure of bringing before you, the steam-engine, as the prime mover at present of our workshops and manufactories, as also the grand motive power of our railways, now so different from the time when the great Stephenson was said to be mad, because he thought it possible to drive a train at fifteen miles an hour. For the first serviceable use of this grand machine we are indebted to the great James Watt. He it was who first wrought it so as to be under the useful and entire control of man, from what it was in the time of Hero of Alexandria, about 120 years before Christ. Our engineers have, since Watt's time, improved upon it year by year, till at the present day, instead of having to go in a mail-coach from London to Edinburgh, which formerly took fifty hours, we now go in the express train in ten, a distance of 420 miles. If beyond this ten hours, we grumble, and ask guards, porters, &c., at the various stations, "What has made the train so late to-day?" forgetting that just before the railways were first opened, the great Stephenson was urged not to say too much as to the supposed power of the locomotive, in case the cause of railways might be damaged. This was only some forty years ago, and it shows us how times are changed, for in the present day we consider thirty miles an hour anything but a fast train.