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met with a degree of support from Rulers and their subjects that argued well for the intelligence of the age and the inherent soundness of the plan itself. The dictates of civilisation are every where alike. . Different degrees of refinement and not of • distance, mark the distinctions among mankind. Savages of
the most opposite climates have all but one character of improvidence and rapacity; and tutored nations, however sepa
rate, make use of the very same methods to procure refined enjoyment.' · Nations, in truth, in their intercourse with one another know but the two great languagesmof war and commerce. And in obedience to some subtle law of national affinities, there seems to be an irresistible impulse among States to cultivate intimate relations either martial or mercantile, through the medium of cotton bales or cannon-balls; the latter being often but an alternativeon se bat — faute de s'entendre. Nature, which abhors Dictionaries with the intensity of a Scaliger, provides those two-fold symbols of communication peaceful and aggressive, -of which the Hyde Park Building furnishes so varied a repertory,as a counterpoise to the barbarising influences of diverse tongues. The Birmingham hatchet, with one end of which the Cherokee Indian scalps his enemy, whilst with the other he placidly smokes his dried leaves, becomes the harbinger of civilisation, just as the gibbet, seen by the French voyager on a desolate coast, assured him of the milder manners of the inhabitants.
Voluntary isolation is now regarded as a crime, and the great Powers of the present day are constantly casting about on the world's chart in search of some land, hitherto jealously guarded against all intrusion. They seem to resent such reserve, as a slight on the co-operative tendencies of the age, and on the comity of nations, and hasten to chastise the pride, which isolation has at once engendered and rendered feeble.
We seek out the rude Islanders of the Pacific and barter our varied wares for the oil of the sperm whale, and, by its light, plan new schemes of conquest and colonisation. On the banks of the Senegal and the Gambia we contend with France in cultivating the friendship of the native kings, con. verting their royal realms into factories of gum or the juice of the palm nut; and we tempt King Dahomey to deck with the industrial products of his slaves a stall in the World's Fair in Hyde Park.
It has often been a subject of regret that on so few of our ancient maps do we find the great commercial routes laid down, by which the amber-merchant in the east, and the tin-merchant in the west, travelled in search of these so sparingly scattered
1851. The Alembic and Crucible.- Educational Influences. 591
minerals; - such routes marked side by side with the itineraries of the great conquerors could not fail of suggesting interesting comparisons. We should be enabled to trace back the civilisation of the world to the motives of its first disseminators, and measure the relative influence of gain and glory on the destinies of Empires. How often has it happened that some trivial article of commerce has changed the face of kingdoms.
England may be said to owe her great Indian empire to a free-trade feeling in 1620 in favour of pepper. For her Chinese trade and
prospects, she is in a measure indebted to her preference of tea to opium. And it would be indeed hazardous at present to predict the wondrous social effects which lie still concealed in the flocculent bulbs of the bombax gossypium and the other species of the cotton plant.
It would be well could we at the same time indicate those changing lines along which the crusades of creed have swept. The same impulse that carried the followers of Mahomet from Mecca beyond the Pyrenees, still carries the Mormon over the Rocky Mountains; and as science is indebted to those Arab philosophers for the uses of the alembic, we may perhaps derive à similar advantage from the followers of the Californian prophet, in learning new uses of the crucible. But the influences of religious enthusiasm have ever been more of a qualifying than a direct character, and have always partaken as largely of the commercial as the military quality. Where the pilgrim 'halted the pedlar bartered; and the great fairs of Germany seek their origin, as the term Messen, or Masses, still indicates, in those mediæval gatherings of the pious; for the joint purpose of assisting at the holy offices of the Church, and supplying their other than strictly spiritual wants.
In estimating the future influences of commerce it is necessary to bear in mind the novel combinations and appliances which modern science has placed at its disposal. The diplomacy of trade at the present day is as unlike the commercial negotiation of bygone times, as the armament of our steel-clad warriors little resembles the equipments of our modern soldiery. The pedlar, caravanseries, and the fair, have given place to the commercial traveller, the railroad, and the book of patterns. And the Industrial Exhibition itself may be regarded as the next stage, constituting not more a display of the products themselves, than of the capabilities of the producer.
When considering the immediate effects of the Exhibition in relation to its great instructive purpose, it is necessary to bear in mind, that little there exhibited claims to be new in the absolute sense of the word. Comparatively, few of the articles contributed to any of the several departments have
been specially designed or created for the purpose of exposition: the great majority, however, though well known to particular classes, are still perfectly new to the great mass of visitors. Most of the American inventions, which have deservedly attracted so large a share of attention, bave been long known in Europe. Mr. Mac Cormick’s reaping-machine, and Mr. Hobb’s lock, have both already graced provincial Exhibitions, if we are not mistaken, even in Austria. But this very circumstance is the best proof of the practical value of the present enterprise. So slow are we to incur the responsibility of adopting the results of empiric talent, that it is only in the concentrated light of a Crystal Palace, with the full blaze of the world's recognition of merit illumining our judgment, that we venture on the outlay or the change in our old established procedures incidental to new inventions. It has been sometimes urged that little practical value is to be derived from so extended a field of observation, where the attention is distracted by the multifariousness of the examination and the variety of the objects claiming notice. But the dilettant, seeking mere general information, is affected in a way altogether different from the man with a distinct purpose, and in pursuit of some special branch of knowledge. It is very remarkable that almost the only failure which the Commission have to lament, was the attempt to give instruction in the form of lectures. These failed from the paucity of visitors, whose reliance on their eyes in the scrutiny of minute adaptations did not render them indifferent to the generalisations of the lecturer. The following remarks from a New York paper will, however, show in what way our Transatlantic brethren view this point.
• The Exhibition is destined to contribute immensely to the industrial and practical education of the British people. Of a million who come to gaze, only a hundred thousand may come with any clear idea of profiting by the show, and but half of those succeed in carrying back more wisdom than they brought here ; yet even those are quite an army, and fifty thousand skilled artisans, or sharp-eyed apprentices, viewing such an exposition aright, and going home to ponder and dream upon it, cannot fail of working out great triumphs. The British mind is more fertile in improvement than in absolute invention, as is here demonstrated, especially in the Department of Machinery; and the simple adaption of the forces now attained, the principles established, the machines already invented, to all the beneficent uses of which they are capable, would speedily transform the industrial and social condition of mankind. I am perfectly satisfied for example, that boots and shoes may be cut out and made by machinery with less than one fourth the labour now required, — that this would require no absolutely new inventions, but only an adaption of those already well known. So in other departments of industry.'
1851. Promotion of Peace.--Improvements in Fire-Arms. 593
To the other incidental effects we must add the extraordinary diffusion of at least the elements of industrial knowledge, through the medium of our public journals and the legion of guides, handbooks, catalogues, and illustrated publications of all kind, which have given a wholesome and instructive tone to our humblest class of literature. There can, also, be little doubt that the mor al effect has been highly satisfactory :
• The idea,' says Sir John Herschel *, once conceived and verified that great and noble ends are to be achieved, by which the condition of the whole human species shall be permanently bettered, by bringing into exercise a sufficient quantity of sober thought, and by a proper adaptation of means, is of itself sufficient to set us earnestly on reflecting what ends are truly great and noble either in themselves, or as conducive to others of a still loftier character, because we are not now as heretofore hopeless of attaining them. . . For why should we despair that the reason which has enabled us to subdue aú nature to our purposes, should (if permitted and assisted by the Providence of God) achieve a far more difficult purpose; and ultimately find some means of enabling the collective wisdom of mankind to bear down those obstacles which individual short-sightedness, selfishness and passion, oppose to all improvements, and by which the highest hopes are continually blighted, and the fairest prospects marred.'
The day may be yet far distant when Minerva shall lay aside her lance, or when we shall be fortunate enough to number war — if we may be permitted to continue the metaphoramong the dead languages; but it cannot be doubted that, even the many improvements in projectiles and fire-arms, of which the Exhibition offers not a few, are all steps in the path of peace. We are continually, by such means, increasing the distance between the combatants, and placing them less in opposition to the personal prowess and passions of their adversaries than to the laws of inorganic matter. War is becoming a mere problem for the laboratory—a question of the relative expansive powers of certain gases; and the results of future campaigns are likely to depend much less on the strategy of the commanders than on the combination of chemical knowledge and mechanical skill in perfecting the Prussian needle-gun or Minier's rifle.
What can serve as a happier illustration of the pacific tendencies of our progress, or of the reluctance of science to become the bandmaid of war, than the recent discoveries in chemical science in connexion with the xylicate of cotton, and flax, the latter of which has attracted so much attention, and obtained so wide a scrutiny through the medium of the present Exhibition ?
• Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy.
A few years since the world learned with surprise, almost with dismay, that the most terrible engine of human destruction lay in the explosive qualities of the cotton-fibre, which had hitherto formed the staple of our peaceful industry. But experience soon established the fact that, however applicable the extraordinary powers of M. Schönbein's gun-cotton to the purposes of industrial progress,--the blasting of rocks, the cutting of tunnels, the deepening of mines, --it was little suited to the purposes of warfare. Its indirect application to industrial purposes have been many, and among the most recent, is the silvering process of the Daguerreotype. This year the similar explosive qualities of the flax-fibre has received at the hands of M. Claussen an application, which promises for his flax-cotton, in its peaceful uses, a more enlarged sphere of influence than the gun-cotton of M. Schönbein ever affected to attain. M. Claussen steeps his flax in an alkaline solution, and on the subsequent application of sulphuric acid, explodes every fibre of the mass by means of the carbonic acid gas evolved, rendering the entire substance applicable, from the delicacy of its fibre, to the manipulation of our ordinary cotton machinery. In this way, it would seem, that after having by successive improvements in mechanism attained a rare perfection in the action of our machinery, we summon chemical science to complete by the adaptation of new products, what mere mechanical action could hardly hope to accomplish.
On the ultimate results of M. Claussen's invention, and the economic value of his discovery, it is as yet impossible to decide. But through the publicity which the subject has gained, and the thorough scrutiny to which it has been subjected, there is little fear of its value .being unappreciated, or its character remaining long' untested. We cannot forbear here alluding to the kindred discovery of Mr. Mercer, which may be regarded as a further step in the same direction, and which stands in intimate connexion with this summoning of chemistry to perform those delicate offices, which the grosser qualities of mechanism attempt in vain. By steeping a piece of common calico in a solution of soda, Mr. Mercer gives a fineness to the texture -- from the contraction of the parts - which, besides heightening the dying properties of the material, enables him to raise figured surfaces at will, by merely guarding them against the contracting properties of the alkali. For this discovery we are indebted to the present Exhibition-as it was the desire to produce something new for it which fortunately in this instance led to the resumption of inquiries long laid aside. The next virgin discovery of which the Exposition has to boast, is one which comes before it in so unpretending a form that it