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French physician, who attended Overbury for some months during his imprisonment, and apparently by the King's orders. But Lobell had no animosity against his victim. He was therefore employed by others. Who were they?

We must answer this inquiry by another. Who had cause to wish his death?

THE KING, we are told, had conceived a rooted hatred against Overbury. The cause of his hatred we can only conjecture. Overbury had insulted the Queen, but this was an offence that would hardly have stirred James's blood. Was it then, this, that the King desired to get rid of one who was privy to the same dark and mysterious secret, the knowledge of which gave Somerset, a few years after, so strange a power over his royal master? We are told that Sir Edward Coke, in the trial of Monson, and in his letters to the King, threw out dark hints respecting some fearful plot of which he thought he had found the clue, yet was rebuked, and lost his place as Chief Justice for his officiousness.' Be this as it may, we think it plain that Somerset was acquainted with some secret, the revelation of which would have consigned James to infamy, as the fear that it might be revealed threw him into the agony of terror so graphically described by Weldon. If so, considering the intimacy between Somerset and his Mentor,* it may be taken for granted that Overbury knew it too. Those students of English history who believe that James contrived the destruction of the Gowries, will find no difficulty in believing that he also contrived the destruction of Overbury. It is not necessary to suppose that the King actually instructed Lobell to administer the poison; perhaps he only uttered some such significant wish as that which, uttered by Henry II., caused the murder of Becket.

'Overbury was known to have great interest and strict friendship with my Lord of Somerset. . . . he was a kind of oracle to him; . . . . the time was when Overbury knew more of the secrets of State than the Council-table did.' From the speech of Sir Francis Bacon on the trial of Somerset.-See the State Trials.

ART. II.-Prize Essay on the Prevention of the Smoke Nuisance. By CHARLES WYE WILLIAMS, Associate Institute Civil Engineers. London: John Weale. 1856.

WHEN a foreigner sets sail for England, he does so with a conviction that he is bidding adieu to clear air and sunny skies. He has heard that our sea-girt isle is perpetually mantled in fog, and that myriads of factory chimneys ceaselessly pour into the atmosphere their contribution towards the general gloom. As he crosses the Channel this idea is confirmed by the long lines of smoke which, issuing from the steamboat funnels, stretch away to the distant horizon, and display their blackness against the white cliffs of Albion. As he enters the metropolis, either through Bermondsey or Blackwall, the hanging clouds of grimy mist and the discoloured architecture give reality to this impression. Further acquaintance with us may teach him that the sun does often shine, and that brightly, in London, and that the sooty cloud which spreads over our great manufacturing towns does not extend perceptibly into the country; yet he will inevitably return home with the conviction that among the predominant institutions of England is smoke.

And smoke is a positive nuisance. It renders day too much like night; it interferes with the healthful enjoyment of the fresh air; it prevents the growth of roses, literally and figuratively; it dulls our appreciation of bright colours, and increases our national spleen; it corrodes our stone-work, it destroys our clothes, and it has been reckoned to cost Manchester alone 200,000l. per annum in soap. Think of a regular London yellow fog, when you cannot see ten inches before you, when you are frightened by horses and cabs on the footpath, and glaring linkboys starting up under your feet, and lose your way in the middle of the street, feeling the bitter smoke entering eyes, nose, and lungs, and conscious of being momentarily covered with what Dickens calls snowflakes that have gone into mourning for the loss of the sun.' Or think of a laundress in the outskirts of town, who, wishing to take advantage of a bit of clear sky and freshening wind, hangs out her lines weighed down with rows of snowy linen; but the fickle wind changes, and when she returns -we drop the subject; talk, if you please, of the trouble caused by the three million blacks in the Southern States of America, but attempt not to describe her dismay and grievance.

We all grumble, and at length the legislature steps in, and says that smoke shall be done away with. It begins with Michael Angelo Taylor's Act, in 1821, and ends, at least as far as the

metropolis is concerned, with Lord Palmerston's Smoke Nuisance Abatement Act, which came into operation on the 1st of August, 1854. But Acts of Parliament are not omnipotent, and unfortunately these particular Acts, while they tell what is to be done, leave the poor smoke producer in profound ignorance as to how to do it. The artist, with a few dashes of his brush, or strokes of his chisel, may create new forms of loveliness and power; but even the original Michael Angelo could not, with a few dashes of his pen, have created the means of sweeping from our skies the unlovely veil of smoke. We have heard that, in some eastern lands, Palmerston is looked upon as a mighty wizard, who had only to pronounce a magic word, and presto! his foes disappear, and thousand swift-winged spirits acknowledge his potent sway. But even he has found that it was not enough to cry, 'Let smoke cease,' in order that the malignant cloud should dissolve into pellucid air, and the sun's rays stream down unhindered to the gladsome earth.

What was to be done? The legislature declared that every one whose chimney smoked in London should be summarily convicted and fined. Derby, Halifax, Glasgow, Liverpool, and other provincial towns, have copied the law of the metropolis; and Paris has followed our example, for England has not a monopoly of smoke. Yet there was no efficient or generally known way to obey the command of the Government; no wonder, then, that a crowd of speculators arose with their panaceas for the mischief, some not at all understanding it, others full of strange theories, but each attempting, by violent advertisement, to force the public to believe in his proffered nostrum. In fact, it appears that seventy-seven patents were taken out in 1855 for this purpose alone. But to which shall the poor manufacturer look for the cure of his obnoxious furnace? He is assailed with, 'Use a split bridge;' 'Pass the air through two strata of fire;' 'Try our calorific plates; Regulate the draft;' 'Make the chimney taller; The whole question of furnaces and boilers is one of mere dimensions. Many of these recommendations may be good, but what is to decide between them?

We believe that a reply to this question can be best arrived at by a thorough examination of the causes of smoke; we think too that this may be made perfectly comprehensible by the majority of those who own furnaces, and thus they will be enabled to test the claims of those inventors who offer to remove the evil. This is our present object, and before us lies a treatise, which has great claims to our regard, since it obtained the special gold medal offered by the Society of Arts for the best Essay on this very subject. It is entitled, Prize Essay on the Prevention of

The Mystery of Fire.

49

the Smoke Nuisance, and its writer is Mr. Charles Wye Williams, who is already known to the world as the author of an Essay On the Combustion of Coal, chemically and practically considered. He has a patent of his own, and when we first opened this book and saw the large amount of italics, and observed the controversial tone, and the curt, little remarks between brackets, we thought that the quiet-looking old gentleman, whose portrait serves as the frontispiece, was of the same stamp as the empirics on whom we have just been animadverting. But on closer inspection we found that he was thoroughly acquainted with the science of the matter, and with its practice too, and we were led to ascribe these unpromising indications to his necessary connexion with the tribe of patentees.

Before we can cure an evil, we must generally learn something about its origin. So as the proverb 'Where there is smoke, there is fire,' is literally true, we shall ask our readers to look for an instant at the question-'What is fire?' With fire itself we are all well acquainted; we wonder perhaps at its power, we feel awed by its resistlessness, yet we make it our servant, and brightly it does our bidding. From remote antiquity, man has known how to cook his food by fire, to warm his benumbed limbs, and to reduce metals from their ores, but he has not understood the agent that he was daily employing on a thousand missions. The Persians saw in the luminous blaze so mysterious, so intangible, rising up ardent to heaven, and suddenly lost to human sight, something that was supra-material, and they bowed down in adoration before it. The Greeks were skilful in asking questions of nature, but they were not usually so skilful in understanding her replies. Some of their philosophers considered fire as one of the four elements of which all matter was built up, whilst Heraclitus esteemed it the prime element which, variously modified, formed all the shifting phenomena of the universe. In any case, their idea was that fire was something substantial that went out of the body burnt. This too was the notion of the alchemists. They believed that when a substance was in combustion sulphur left it, why we cannot conceive, unless it was because most flames are yellow. But sulphur itself burns; what is the blue flame which proceeds from it? They said 'Pinguetudo' or 'Oleum.' However the aphoristic statement, Ubi ignis et calor, ibi sulphur,' was not universally received, for Geber believed in every case in the emission of a terra pinguis.' But other investigators arose; alchemy threw off its oriental garb and its oriental affix, and became modern chemistry. Hooke and Mayow believed, that in the process of combustion, something came out of the air, the Nitroaerial particles,' and attached itself to the body burnt; but

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this glimpse of the truth was forgotten, and the idea of fire as a substance was elaborated by the renowned Stahl, in his famous Phlogiston theory. He believed that this phlogiston was an actual entity, though he could not isolate and exhibit it, for whenever he caught a flame by itself, it unfortunately just went out. There were certain objections, no doubt, to this theory; for instance, the necessity of air for maintaining combustion, and what was more dwelt upon at the time, the increase of weight which certain bodies, such as lead and tin, exhibit when calcined. But, oh! the ingenuity an unsound theory brings into play! Phlogiston was esteemed the very principle of lightness, which, by departing from a body, of course left it heavier! So, for seventy years, this hypothesis bore triumphant sway, till Lavoisier attacked it, and, in 1772, announced his belief that combustion depended on the combination of the body burnt with part of the atmosphere.' The discovery of oxygen, by Priestley, two years afterwards, showed which part of the atmosphere it was that thus combined: yet, strange to say, Priestley himself remained the latest advocate of the Phlogiston theory, and died in that faith, while gradually every other chemist adopted the modern view, and the truth of it is now unquestioned. But the Lavoisierian statement has been enlarged, and fire may be now chemically described as the phenomenon arising from such an intense combination between two substances that sufficient heat is evolved to render them, or the resulting products, luminous.

This may be illustrated by two cases, which will enable those who are unacquainted with chemical science to understand more easily our subsequent remarks. Charcoal, coke, soot or lampblack, are all more or less pure conditions of an elementary substance termed carbon. The air contains a fifth of its volume of

oxygen gas. Now when carbon is heated with oxygen, the two combine, with the appearance of fire, and form another gas, called carbonic acid, which is the very gas which we see rising up in champagne and other effervescent drinks, which fills the brewer's vat during the fermentation of the wort, which is frequently found in cellars, or at the bottom of wells, and which forms the dreaded choke-damp that fills a mine after an explosion. This gas is invisible, but, nevertheless, contains within itself the carbon or charcoal, and always in a regular proportion; namely, eleven parts of it contain three parts of carbon and eight parts of oxygen by weight, in chemical combination.

Hydrogen is the lightest gas that is known; if a jet of it be ignited in the air, or if a jet of oxygen be ignited in hydrogen gas, an intensely hot but slightly luminous flame is the result, and steam passes off, which is capable of being condensed into

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