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Wide Domain and Usefulness of Chemistry.
had perfected this application, it was found difficult, under certain circumstances, to prepare a pulp so free from excess of chlorine as to prevent, in the lapse of time, the bleaching of the ink upon the paper which was made from it. But this difficulty also has been overcome: and the prescribed use of an anti-chlor, as the makers call it, employed according to their prescription, removes the entire residue of the bleaching substance, and secures to well-prepared ink an indelible permanence. Still the bleached material is often deficient in whiteness, to disguise which the manufacturer copies the expedient of the laundress; or a decided blue tint, as in the paper before us, is wished for, and the requisite colouring matter must be added to the pulp.
The preparation of the beautiful smalts of our workshops from the crude poisonous ores of cobalt is one of our latest triumphs. This fine blue was employed by the paper makers, but the best qualities were very dear. The precious ultramarine, which the devotee of the highest art could barely afford to purchase, was looked upon with covetous eyes by the cultivators of this and of many other arts of life. But to obtain it, in sufficient quantity, and at a reasonable price, was beyond their hope. Chemists analysed it, and determined its composition; in their hands the ingredients of which it is made up still resisted all persuasion to re-unite into the coveted blue. Men's eyes being instructed, however, a blue substance was observed occasionally to present itself in the refuse of certain processes of chemical manufacture. This refuse was collected, examined, analysed, and found in quality and composition to be identical with the natural ultramarine. An after study of the conditions under which it was produced in the furnace, suggested the successive processes of a new manufacture; and the paper maker, along with a thousand others, now rejoices in supplies of Nuremberg blue, or artificial ultramarine, which can be made in any country, from materials common and abundant,
paper makers about the beginning of the present century. It is entitled · Historical Account of the Substances which have been used ' to describe Events and to convey Ideas from the earliest Date to the * Invention of Paper: printed on the first useful Paper manufactured solely from Straw. London, 1800.' It is a thin 8vo., of which part is printed on paper made from straw, and the remainder on paper made from wood. Among the many uses to which it has been proposed from time to time to turn the Irish bogs, one is to convert them into paper! We possess a sample of beautiful pure white pulp, fit for the paper-mill, prepared from peat by chemical treatment; and we believe both straw and peat are now used, to some extent, in the manufacture of inferior kinds of wrapping and hangings paper.
and with shades of colour which vie with the brightest and most beautiful that live on the immortal canvass.
Nor do results of a higher order fail at times to show themselves. We close by one brief example.
Among the substances which are contained in and are necessary to the composition and usefulness of the bread of man, is one to which chemists give the name of phosphate of lime. This material the growing corn extracts from the soil. Without its presence in sufficient abundance in the earth through which its roots spread, the plant flourishes poorly, the ear is ill-filled, and the produce of grain scanty.
The bones of animals contain this phosphate of lime, and it has for half a century been customary to apply them in a crushed or broken form to the soil to fit it for the healthy growth of luxuriant crops of corn. But chemistry established the fact that certain stones and rocky masses which occur in various parts of the earth, contain the same phosphate of lime. It has recently, therefore, advised the grower of grain to take advantage of these mineral masses. And now, after previous preparation, by a simple chemical process, they are extensively employed to impart fertility to the soil. In the account of the temptation of our Saviour the tempter said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these
stones be made bread. In our indirect conversion of stones into bread, the prosecution of science has conferred upon man a power analogous to that which to common apprehension partakes of the divine. It is the Deity rewarding with a portion of his own power, the right exercise of that sublime intellect which is a portion of his own spirit.
Our illustrations of the wide dominion and vast applications of this growing science must here cease. We have not dwelt so long upon its history and recent progress with the view of merely placing before our readers an intelligible picture of its actual importance at the present moment. Our hope is, that from the glimpse we have given of its past and present, an idea may be formed also of the great future which awaits it, and a right estimate made of the position it ought to occupy in national estimation, the proportion of study which ought to be generally devoted to it as a part of liberal education, and the share of sympathy and support which are due to those who cultivate it by profession.
A science which asserts a rational sway over every kingdom of nature -- which is indispensable as an auxiliary to so many other branches of physical knowledge-- which explains so many most striking natural appearances, and which, is related in such
Wide Domain and Usefulness of Chemistry.
countless ways to the arts and conveniences of life, is surely entitled to as high a place as any other among all the sciences which, in the progress of civilisation, are contending for precedency and homage. It has this advantage, too, above almost all other sciences, that the condition of man here below depends in great measure for advancement upon its future progress, while no other pursuit has enlarged its sphere so wonderfully, nor been rewarded with such astonishing success. The promises of alchemy were nothing to what has already been accomplished.
• We have no curiosity about that of which we know nothing,' was said by Sismondi. It is the almost total ignorance of chemistry on the part of our older university men, which has hitherto excluded this branch of knowledge from the list of subjects of instruction in nearly all the educational institutions over which their influence extends. We can neither appreciate the claims nor the value of a science of which we have been taught nothing. We cannot even by private study learn to appreciate them justly when the science is one which is incapable, from its very nature, of being taught by books alone.
The modern practice in our English colleges and universities of selecting the heads and teachers almost exclusively from their own house-taught members or alumni, tends to perpetuate the exclusion of modern and growing branches of knowledge, and to stereotype old forms and confined limits in collegiate and scholastic teaching. Even the now long-favoured Greek had once difficulties to overcome similar to those which at present beset the sciences of observation. The pressure for innovation and improvement must, therefore, be made from without by those who feel the urgency of each particular instance: and in this way strength will be given to the hands of the few men within, who are aware of the real advances and value of positive knowledge *, and of the demand for it which exists throughout the great body of the nation.
We have been struck by some facts and reasonings in connexion with this subject in a pamphlet † recently published by Principal Wayland, of Brown University, Providence, New Jersey. From this pamphlet it appears that, though the population of New England has been greatly increasing during the last twenty
Oxford, we are glad to see, has broken the ice, and has recently raised the stipends of the Professor of Chemistry, and of the Reader of Experimental Philosophy, and of the Camden Professor of History, to 3001. a year each; with 2501. a year each to the Readers in Mineralogy and Geology, and to the Professor of Moral Philosophy.
† Report to the Corporation of Brown University, on the Changes in the System of Collegiate Education. Providence : 1850.
or thirty years, the number of students at its various colleges and universities, even those of most repute, has been gradually decreasing. At first this was ascribed to the great expense of the existing system of college education, and efforts were made to lessen it by lowering the fees and the cost of board. But the reduction in numbers still went on, and it has not been arrested even in those colleges in which education has been given gratuitously. It was not owing, therefore, to any undue expense in the system. Nor did it arise, as Dr. Wayland shows, from
, want of talent in the professors, from defective modes of teaching, or from inefficient examinations for university honours. He concludes, therefore, in mercantile phraseology, that the
article which the universities offer for sale is not such as the public want, and therefore they don't come to buy it.' He proposes, in consequence, to the trustees of his own college, to remodel the whole system of instruction, to create new courses of study, comprehending those branches of knowledge which are actually in public demand, so arranged as to afford time to learn each branch as thoroughly as circumstances may require, and to attach to eminence in each honorary distinctions similar to those hitherto awarded in the form of degrees in arts. Thus, instead of one fixed and invariable routine, he would offer students the choice of several sets of equivalent studies, a due acquaintance with which on examination should entitle the candidates in them to equal honours. If a fair measure of success should follow this movement in Brown University, it must exercise a powerful influence upon the other colleges in the United States, and ultimately upon those of our own country.
But whatever fate may await the wide reform of Dr. Wayland, it is plain, we think, that in a century during which the progress of civilisation has taken so distinctly positive and material a direction, the science of Chemistry, which presides over material progress in so many of its most interesting and important directions, cannot remain shut out from its legitimate place and influence in the educational institutions of the empire.
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