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The Economy of Perfect Combustion.
61 balloon to be torn, and fearing the effect of the gas on the crowd, tried to turn it upside down, so that the gas should escape into the air, but just as he was stooping for this purpose, the crowd pressed so upon the balloon that the gas was squeezed out in large quantity, and the aeronaut was again rendered insensible, and remained so for two hours, and several other people were likewise seriously affected. This was certainly due to the carbonic oxide, which was mixed in large quantity with the hydrogen, and which, being heavier, did not stream upwards when allowed to escape from the balloon. Many other accidents, some of them fatal, are narrated in the Comptes Rendus of the French Academy, from which we have taken the above.
We can hardly suppose that this gas, so noxious in large quantity, is altogether innocent when diffused through the atmosphere, and we deprecate the pouring of it from the mouths of our factory chimneys instead of the thoroughly oxydized carbonic acid, which, although incapable of supporting life, has little or no actively poisonous quality, and which returns to the atmosphere the carbonaceous portion of primeval forests in a condition ready to be assimilated by the trees of the present epoch, and to enter into new and various transformations full of life and beauty, such as may serve the present purposes of man, and may even form part of new coalbeds for the use of future generations. Our furnaces should be like the lungs of the animal kingdom, which, by wondrous wisdom, are so designed as to return to the atmosphere the carbon and hydrogen of the body in such forms as can be appropriated by the vegetable kingdom, from which all living creatures directly or indirectly derive their
Let it be distinctly understood that the prevention of smoke is a saving in fuel. A ton of coals is capable of giving out a certain amount of heat, and if a part of this ton be sent flying up the chimney unconsumed, it cannot produce that amount. It is true that the quantity of carbon in the blackest cloud of smoke is small as compared with the other constituents, but it is something; and let it be remembered, also, that where much smoke is formed, the carbon is generally associated with some volatile hydrocarbons, which have wholly escaped combustion, and thus the coals have vanished, like Macbeth's witches, into air, but without leaving any effect behind. This is peculiarly the case in the smoke from domestic fireplaces, where, from a deficiency of draft, a large portion of gas escapes unignited. The smoke of London is principally from private houses; and that it contains tarry matters, as well as fine charcoal, is sufficiently indicated by the odour and appearance of a yellow fog.
Indeed, the waste of heat in our common fireplaces is terrible, arising partly from imperfect combustion, partly from its being carried up the flue. Count Rumford estimated it at five-sixths of the whole, and Dr. Arnott corroborates that calculation; while it is a matter of notoriety that in a continental grate a fourth part of the fuel will often suffice for warming a room.
But our object is not just now to reckon how many millions sterling their fondness for open fires costs the English nation annually, but to remind the owners of furnaces that the same thing, though on a less frightful scale, takes place in their fires, and that it is to them a matter of some importance whether a pound of coal is made to evaporate eight pounds of water or only six. The alteration of a furnace involves expense; but those who have succeeded in preventing by that means the formation of smoke, have generally found themselves quickly reimbursed.
Mr. Fairbairn has publicly stated that smoke had been got rid of to a very great extent in Manchester, for, though the "number of engines at work had been doubled within the last 'fifteen years, the quantity of smoke was not more now than at 'the commencement of that period; and this had been accomplished by the authorities instituting proceedings against 'offenders.'
There can be little doubt that not only half but the whole of the dense smoke, not in Manchester alone, but throughout the country, may be prevented. Thus our atmosphere would be clearer, the sun would shine more brightly, the health of the community would be improved, the vegetable kingdom would thrive better, and a great saving would be effected in every article that requires washing, as well as in the quantity of fuel consumed for the production of heat. Let every patent then have its fair trial; there are few, if any, that are not applicable in certain cases; but especially let a knowledge of the true principles of combustion be more widely extended, not only among the owners of furnaces and their servants, but among engineers, many of whom, by their culpable ignorance of these first principles, entail long vexation and expense upon those who have confided in their skill.
ART. III.-The Life of Henry Cornelius Agrippa Von Nettesheim, Doctor and Knight, commonly known as a Magician. By HENRY MORLEY, Author of 'Palissy the Potter,' &c. 2 Vols. London: Chapman and Hall. 1856.
In this book Mr. Morley has completed a kind of biographical trilogy. His object has been to exhibit the life of the scholar at the period when Letters were revived and the Church was reformed. Assuming that the interest of this era is far from extinct, he has endeavoured to illustrate the peculiarities of the time by narrating the struggles and the achievements of three of its most notable men. Perhaps more by accident than as part of his original purpose, he has fixed upon a Frenchman, an Italian, and a German-upon a peasant's son, a member of the middle classes, and a scion of nobility. Palissy the Potter, Cardan the Physician, and Agrippa the Courtier and Knight, may therefore be regarded not only as types of the age, but as representatives of three great nations of Europe. Two parts of this scheme having been admirably accomplished, we have now to glance at the subject of the third.
The question to be asked with regard to Agrippa is this-Was he a genuine philosopher, or a mere showy charlatan? Sham or no sham? as Mr. Carlyle would say. Did the man believe all that he asserted, and honestly endeavour to make the world wiser by the labours of his brain? Or was he a crafty impostor, availing himself of his deeper knowledge, and his adroiter tongue, to extort the admiration, or to extract the gold of the less lettered portion of mankind? Undoubtedly the general impression has been that Cornelius was a conjuror of the first water. Hudibras has done much to stigmatize his memory, for the author of that blistering satire insists upon his wonderful proficiency in the art of lying-celebrates the diabolical dog which acted as his preceptor in all matters of occult philosophy, and treats him as a sort of prince amongst the practitioners of sorcery.* Rabelais, as Mr. Morley says, began to revile him, before he was well in his
grave, under the designation of Her Trippa :* and, so late as the last age, Southey upbraided his cold ashes in a ballad, wherein an apprentice magician attempts to conjure by means of one of Agrippa's books, the leaves of which are made of dead men's skin, and the characters written with blood, but is killed by the exasperated spirits he contrives to evoke.
The object, however, of the present work is to prove that Cornelius was no cozening quack or brazen-browed pretender. Mr. Morley strips him of all claims to the character of a professional sorcerer. He breaks his staff, buries it certain fathoms' in the legendary deposits of the dark ages, and, deeper than plummet ever sounded, drowns the dread book, whose leaves were made of human parchment, and whose letters were penned in human blood. Seen through the mists of tradition, and enveloped in the haze of heresy with which his memory was invested by hostile monks, it is no wonder that his form should loom before us, dilated in its size, and distorted in its proportions. But to Mr. Morley he is neither an enchanter nor an impostor. He is simply a genuine scholar, a legitimate philosopher, a penetrating theologian, a pattern of erudition, and a man of large heart and liberal genius. We have no doubt that this view is substantially correct. The portrait now drawn by Mr. Morley's skilful and well-practised pencil is infinitely more human than the caricature hitherto accepted as the true likeness of Agrippa; and for this reason we are bound to rejoice that a much calumniated man has at length been restored to his rightful place amongst the learned notabilities of his day.
But may we venture to confess it? We lament whilst we rejoice. The process of disenchantment to which Cornelius has been subjected inspires us with certain emotions of regret. It does not exactly comport with our relish for the romantic. For the sake of scenic effect we would much rather that Agrippa had been permitted to figure on the stage as a licensed and wellauthenticated magician. Let us at once acknowledge that we are rather partial to conjurors. We have a weakness for those old marvel-mongers of the Paracelsian school. We cannot think, without a touch of admiration, of the men who wandered about in all the power of their audacity-exquisitely oblivious of the irrationality of their pretensions-to assist others in the art of making gold, though their own tattered garb might afford the strongest evidences of poverty; who offered to sell you a phial of the elixir of life, whilst their own bodies were tumbling rapidly to decay; or who promised to expound the minutest secrets of destiny, though they had never been able to tell what the morrow
Pantagruel, chap. xxv. Comment Panurge se conseille à Her Trippa.
had in store for themselves. Perhaps we are interested in them because they were the great scourges of credulity-the unconscious castigators of people who were willing, and, indeed, eager to be cheated. For where there are dupes there will be charlatans. Given the carcase, the eagles will soon be gathered. If Sir Epicure Mammon was resolved to be an ass,' and hoped to acquire unbounded wealth at a stroke, ought we not to feel some satisfaction when Subtle the alchemist compels him to pay down 101. in cash, and then enjoins him to bring his spits, andirons, and dripping-pans, in order that they may be converted into gold that very afternoon ?* All we regret is, that Subtle did not ask for 50l. Mammon ought to have been heavily mulcted for his stupidity. Hence we are inclined to believe that empirics have done much to whip the world into a more reasonable state of mind. Not that they are entitled to the least praise for their selfish exertions; but it would be unjust to deny that, whilst serving their own ends, they have unwittingly accelerated the destruction of many a popular delusion. Will it be wicked, therefore, if we repeat that it has given us some pain to see poor Agrippa ejected from the synagogue of sorcerers? Shall we venture too far if we express our sorrow that a reputed enchanter is now disfranchised-that a picturesque nuisance to society has been summarily converted into a decent conventional hero? We trust not. We should have been glad, at least, to have retained that four-footed familiar. Our feelings are not at all outraged when we fancy it barking a discourse on the influence of the stars, or communicating the choicer secrets of necromancy in a whispered whine. Neither are our nerves in any way agitated, when we think of Cornelius professing to raise spirits by the fumes of spermaceti and aloes, or attempting to produce storms and lightnings by burning the liver of a chameleon on the housetop. Nor yet are we shocked at the notion of that fiendcompelling treatise, with its gory characters inscribed on mortal vellum. On the contrary, we prize the memory of that delicious horror which used to creep over us in our more youthful days, when we reflected that the incidents of Southey's tremendous ballad might perhaps be as authentic as the history of Rome or Greece in general. But provoking as the sacrifice must be, it is fitting that it should be made. Truth must be permitted to prevail. Let Agrippa, therefore, be dismantled of all his magical accompaniments, and if we are not at liberty to revel in the exploits of the enchanter, let us be content with such instruction as may be derived from the strivings and the sufferings, the sayings and the writings, of a gifted and remarkable man.