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1851. Lucifer Matches.
Amorphous Phosphorus. 595 might easily escape,— and, in truth, had nearly escaped the obbervation of the most inquisitive.
The.last Number, 220., section 2. of the present edition of the Catalogue, mentions the models of some Lucifer-matches made with amorphous phosphorus. The uninformed reader would hardly guess that this simple statement involves the solution of one of the most curious problems of Vulcanic chemistry, and indicates results of equal importance to commerce and philanthropy. The production and commercial uses of this mysterious body have been hitherto checked by the fearful disease its subtle absorption into the system produces, and by the dangers attending its transport or storage, as it ignites at the temperature of a warm summer-day. The conversion of phosphorus from a crystallised into an amorphous form, strips this dangerous substance of its highly inflammable and poisonous qualities : but, in doing so deprives it of none of its useful properties. At the same time, the fact of this being wrought by a simple change in the arrangement of its constituent atoms, gives us an insight into a series of phenomena equally new and important. Whilst looking at the dull brown amorphous mass, of which a piece now lies before us, and comparing it with the straw-coloured crystallised form, we are no longer surprised at the succession of changes in the internal structure of carbon, from soot to graphite or the diamond. Concerning the entire identity of the amorphous and crystallised phosphorus, there can be no room for doubt, as we can at will reproduce either form from the other, without the addition of any new matter whatever. We have reason to think that the distinguished scholar to whom we owe this important discovery, Professor Schrötter, the Secretary of the Academy of Sciences at Vienna, is not without strong hopes of speedily resolving some of the other elementary crystallised substances into a similarly amor. phous state. Such of our readers as desire further information on the subject, will do well to consult the Monograph of the author, and the last edition of the Chemical letters of Baron Liebig, who has already ventured to suggest that many of the minerals composing the crust of the earth may be but different crystallisations of one and the same body.
We must add, that the amorphous matches now lying on our table, of which models only were admissible into the Exhibition, were not produced until within a very few weeks of its closing; and might, in all probability, owing to the accidental failure of the first experiments, have remained long a mere scientific possibility, had not the stimulant of a world-wide fame spurred the manufacturer on to a repetition of the experiment.
This is neither the time nor place to discuss the bearing of the rival capabilities displayed on the great question of national competition. We must await the publication of the Reports of the juries before we can form any such opinion. But we may venture to state, on the authority of the collective whisperings of the deciding body, that the commerce of each country is being gradually forced into paths far beyond the influence of mere geographical distribution. The opinion seems also gaining ground that the most perfect system of Navigation Laws may co-exist with very imperfect laws of naval architecture, and that the reliance on the bolts and guards of a protective system, however venerable or intricate, may prove as delusive on emergency as the complicated virtues of Mr.Chubb's lock in the hands of a Mr. Hobbs. The opponents of free trade were in a great measure its conscientious opponents; and we feel bound to admit that the result fully justifies their sagacity according to their generation. Nasmyth's steam-hammer, Penn's engines, the Britannia hydraulic press, and the building itself, have, we understand, made converts in high places abroad on the subject of duties on iron, which occupies with the great "country party' on the Continent the place which corn occupies amongst our own.
· Were we to presume to hazard an opinion on the general character of the discoveries with which this Exhibition has made us familiar, we should say, that the direction they indicate is
, such as might be expected from this age—the successful effort to supersede mechanical by chemical agency. The three discoveries already alluded to, and others, such as Mr. Young's solidified gas or parafine from coal, as well as the endless improvements in electro-magnetism,--all point in the same direction. They indicate at the same time the path in which each nation will have to tread to avoid being distanced in the race of industrial competition. The competition of intellect is displacing that of matter; and the votaries of protective duties will have just cause of pride if they succeed in sustaining, even with the highest tariff-power, branches of industry which have to compete with such rivals as a simple chemical discovery creates; for instance, such as amongst ourselves, the power of extracting soda from salt, coupled with the means of utilising muriatic acid through the agency of gutta percha-a substance which promises to effect for the chemistry of manufactures what platinum has already done for analytic science.
Whatever else the results of this Exhibition prove - and it is far from easy to prognosticate the future - it will have served a large and national purpose in enlightening the world on the real condition and character of the inhabitants of this country. For
Apotheosis of Marshal Haynau.
some years past a flood of mendacious literature has poured in upon the Continent, misrepresenting and vilifying the habits, pursuits, feelings, and social condition of our producing classes. Six months of the most searching scrutiny, of an examination conducted by large sections of the populations, on whom these falsehoods have been foisted, constitute the best, and perhaps the only form of vindication which could have proved successful. We cannot envy the feelings of the fallen republican chieftain, M. Ledru Rollin, whilst assisting at the wondrous inauguration of this temple, and reflecting how strange a contrast the scene around him offered to the pictures and predictions of his work on the state of this country. It will have proved on the widest scale, and in the least controvertible form, that all sections of our population combine the most indomitable energy with the most ingrained love of order and respect for their own institutions. It is also worthy of remark, as very creditable to the advanced intelligence and manly bearing of the working classes of this country, that no feelings of jealousy seemed any where to prevail, nor any memory to exist of the many hardships and wrongs to which their brethren had been subjected within a recent period in France. The only instance of violence was that regrettable one to which we have already alluded; but which had more of a strictly ethical than political character. It has been atoned for. As a people we are incapable of malice. Hardly was the building half finished when the popular humour pronounced the gigantic equestrian statue of the redoubtable Godfrey de Bouillon, the chivalrous leader of the first Crusade, to be the effigy of the misused marshal.
And the popular amende may be said more particularly to have lain in the suggestion, that the huge Flemish steed of the simulated hero was supplied from the sleek stock of the peccant Firm, within whose domain the act had been perpetrated, as an atonement for an offence, - to reach which even Prince Schwarzenberg's familiarity with the defects of our criminal law failed to suggest an effective form of procedure.
In conclusion let us observe, that as few designs ever awakened more alarm at its outset, or ever inspired greater apprehensions for its success during its progress, so in the same proportion have few realisations been more complete, and no consummation more pregnant, we would believe, with lasting good. It may be a matter of difficulty to apportion the exact degree in which all engaged partake of the advantages, or share its honours. But we would fain believe that few with a capacity for improvement have not gained instruction, - and few susceptible of pleasure have not derived enjoyment. They are equally
few, we believe, who will not partake directly or indirectly of its fruits — for as it is the curse of evil ever to propagate evil
, so we believe it to be the property of all things inherently good to generate what is good. If all sources of judgment be not fallacious, all classes have increased their stock of knowledge,
- enlarged the sphere of their enjoyments, cultivated new and instructive relations, exercised their national hospitality, confirmed their loyalty, and this -- without increasing our bills of mortality, or adding to our calendars of crime.
NOTE TO ART. VI. OF THE LAST NUMBER.
In the Article headed · Sir E. L. Bulwer Lytton's Letters to * John Bull, Esq.,' which appeared in the last number of the Review, we were undesignedly led into the error of supposing that Sir Edward Lytton had at one time held opinions on the subject of a free-trade in corn, different from those which he maintains at present; in palliation of which error we can only say, that we held it in common, we believe, with a large portion of the public. Our general arguments are in no degree affected by our misconception of the steadiness of Sir Edward's personal convictions upon the question : but we cannot correct our error without expressing our unfeigned regret at having, however unintentionally, misrepresented a gentleman to whom the literary world is under so many obligations.
No. CXCIII. will be published in January, 1852.
[ 599 ]
Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, 528—its results, ib.-Popery to be met
remarks on the work, 557.
Grammar of the Sanskrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Gothic,