« ForrigeFortsæt »
year of what is, by the trade, technically termed park paling, being only fit for such purposes, and the cost of which was only seven shillings and sixpence each; but now we can furnish the Brazilians and others, who still imagine they hold a right in the blood of their fellow-men, ship loads, if they choose, at only five shillings and sixpence each, and it is still supposed one of these imitations is the blood-money for a fellow-creature. It would be a just and equitable law, if our legislature would pass it, 'That every man should fire the guns he manufactures;' nothing would tend to improve the quality of the guns of a low grade more."
When on the subject of park-paling, it is right to state that the demand for rubbish of such a villanous description during the existence of the slave-trade, and before the people of England were so far deluded as to think that that infernal traffic had been suppressed, was so great, that the legislature interfered, and enacted that all gun barrels should be subjected to a proof operation; certain penalties being affixed to the non-observance of the statute. This is the account of the process which takes place in a proof-house :
"As soon as a number of gun barrels are loaded they are taken to a house or detached building, standing apart from other offices. It is lined throughout with thick sheet iron. The windows, which resemble Venetian blinds, are constructed of the same metal. Iron frames are laid the whole length of the room; on these the barrels of various qualities, when about to be fired, are placed. In the front of these frames lies a large mass of sand, to receive the balls. Behind the frame, on which the twist barrels are fixed, lies another bed of sand, in which, on the recoil, the barrels are buried. Behind the frame, on which the common barrels or muskets are tried, a strong iron bar is placed, having a number of holes large enough to receive the tang of the breech, but not the barrel. The barrels being thus fixed it is impossible for them to fly back. A groove runs along the whole length of each frame, in which the train of powder is strewed to ignite the charges, upon which the barrels, with the touch holes downwards, are laid. When everything is ready for the proof, the windows are let close down, the door is shut and secured; an iron rod heated red hot is introduced through a hole in the wall. On touching the train, a tremendous explosion takes place. The windows are then drawn up, the door opened, the smoke dissipated, and the twist barrels are found buried in the sand, the common ones are thrown forwards-some are found perfect, others burst to pieces. It is rare that best barrels are found burst-more frequently bulged or swelled out in places which are faulty, or of a softer temper. Those that are found perfect, are then marked with punches of different sizes (but having the same impression,) according to the quality of the barrel. In London, they have an additional punch, containing the number of the bore the barrel has been tried by. This mark easily enables the observer to discover whether the barrel has had any considerable quantity bored out after proving, which the marks of the Birmingham proofhouse do not; the omission of which, except to a person well versed with the different sized punches is a disadvantage. Those that are bulged are
sent back to the maker, who beats down the swellings, sends back the barrels, and they are proved again. They generally stand the second proof, though I have known a barrel undergo four proofs before it was marked. The common barrels are required to stand twenty-four hours before they are examined, when, if not burst, any holes or other material imperfections are made quite apparent by the action of the saltpetre. Such barrels are, of course, sent back unmarked. Those that are found satisfactory are duly stamped and taken home."
This looks very well on paper; but, after all, the spirit of the enactment, it seems, is evaded; so that the damage to limb and life, both of honest fowlers and to slave hunters, may be as dire and extensive as ever. Mr. Greener thus writes:
"The gunpowder used is of a very inferior description indeed, when compared with sporting powder, the very powder all sporting guns are to be used with is nearly three times the power of the proof powder. For taking Hutton's calculation that gunpowder explodes with a velocity of five thousand feet per second, bear in mind he means government best powder, you have a material not exceeding one-third the velocity possessed by the best canister powder, for it is indisputable that the latter explodes with a velocity of full fifteen thousand feet per second, as the next chapter will go far to prove; the pressure of this will be in proportion; compare the resistance of 1 ounces of shot, a body capable of being jammed together, and thus exerting a lateral pressure of the greatest extent with the lateral friction of two rolls of paper, and a solid ball, not capable of any lateral expansion, and barely all weighed together, equal to two-thirds the weight of the charge of shot, and the great dissimilarity becomes glaringly apparent. The proof powder is only of a similar strength to that of Hutton's calculation, and quite unfitted for the purpose. The generality of barrels that do burst are all rent in the fore part, all guns that burst with shooting, burst near the breech,--I do not say all, but a vast majority. This is in perfect keeping with all my remarks; for, in sporting, the greatest test is in the first lift of the charge; in proving, the greatest test is in the mid distance from breech to muzzle, and so arises the result. The proportion of guns that are broke (they technically call bursting broke) in proving is very small, not exceeding three to four per cent. This I also applied at head quarters to know, but like the answers to the other questions, I was left to guess at them. The largeness of the grain of the powder is at too great an extreme, no doubt it is beneficial to have larger than the present sporting scale, yet, here they have grain large enough for a duck gun, instead of appropriating it to the various purposes wanted. Pistols are crammed nearly full of powder, with not an inch of tube for the ball to travel through, nor the sligtest extra pressure obtained; why, it is one of the greatest pretences without reality I know of, and only a fit blind •for the ignorant. If the legislature does not take up the question, and by the institution of a suitable test, backed by a penalty commensurate with the crime of depriving a fellow-creature of his limb, it will neglect an imperative duty, and become a party particeps."
Powder deserves and obtains a prominent notice in a treatise on the subject of gunnery and fire-arms, the power of which may be greatly increased beyond that which is possessed by the best article in present use. But then this increase, it appears, is at the risk of producing not only such an inflammable powder as can hardly be trusted by itself, but such also as would burst the guns in our naval and military service.
Having in a former article obtained some information relative to the iron trade, we may here, both as bearing most closely on the subject immediately before us, but as an appendix to the paper mentioned, advantageously quote some particulars regarding the metal which is now manufactured for making gun barrels :
"Science and experience has worked a wonderful change in the mixture of the superior qualities of iron; for we have had announcements of silversteel barrels, only ten guineas a pair, in the rough; Brescian steel barrels, carbonised iron, and I know not how many more descriptions or compounds of metals, to form the best material for high-priced barrels. We have now metal which, in the rod, cannot be sold for less than 1s. 2d. per pound; the iron for a pair of barrels thus costing 16s. 4d."
It has become impossible to obtain old horse-shoe nails for the manufacture of sterling gun barrels, so that many efforts are made to procure a substitute and an equivalent. On this branch of the subject Mr. Greener is led into speculations which concern not merely a vexed Damascus question, but the iron trade. He says:
"There is, as must be well understood, an immense variety of different qualities of both iron and steel; there is not a uniformity of quality in two productions out of a hundred; the very ore, the coal, the presence of oxygen, the excess of it, all vary the quality of the material; the excess of carbon is more detrimental than a scarcity; where carbon has once been it leaves an indelible mark, and though extracted to as great an extent as practicable, it leaves a residue that possesses an affinity to absorb carbon again equal to the original quantity; thus, once make steel, and it will never, by any process as yet known, be reconverted back to iron of the same nature it was originally. Mr. Mushet has given us the proportions of carbon held in solution by the various qualities of steel and iron. It will follow, as a principle indisputable, that the quantity of carbon contained in the metal (avoiding cast iron) will increase or decrease, and thus regulate the degree of hardness of the metals in question. A quantity of these being dissimilar in this point, mixed together, and run into a vessel in a state of fusion, when cold, filed, and polished, will show a variety as the place they hold in the crystallized mass; work and twist this material in all the tortuous ways and shapes it is capable of taking, and you only twist the fibres of the different bodies in the same way, and when they come to be acted upon by acid or oxydization, they still retain their relative positions, forming the watering or figure, as has been the intention of the tortuous twisting. All the beautiful arrangements in Damascus figures
are obtained in this way; metals containing more or less carbon will always produce this watering. To obtain a satisfactory proof, any person may case-harden a few pounds weight of stubs, and afterwards melt them in a crucible, and run them into a receiver; when these are worked down into the bar, or not, as you please, dress and apply a little sulphuric acid, and the peculiar situation the various stubbs had taken in the fluid state will be clearly discernible. The original barrel welders, the real Damascus iron workers, were, as are ours of the present day, not the most conscientious individuals, nor the most honourable. For strange, but not more so than true on examination of most real Damascus barrels I have met with, I find the iron must have been so valuable, as to induce the workmen to plate or veneer the superior mixture over a body of the commonest iron; all large barrels are thus made, rifles especially."
Such are specimens of a work that is full of popular interest and professional value.
ART. XV.-The Moor and the Loch. By JOHN COLQUHOUN. Second Edition. Murray.
THERE is so much new matter in this second edition of Mr. Colquhoun's "Practical Hints on Highland Sports," as to claim a short notice from us, even after the review we bestowed on it when the work first appeared; especially at this opportune season when so many must have repaired to the mountainous districts of Scotland in pursuit of some favourite field sport. The attractive and racy character of the book, whether subject or treament be regarded, will ever recommend it. But when it is understood that the author has continued to enlarge his experience in Moor and Loch, and has been at pain to revise the whole work, while many new anecdotes have been incorporated, not a few, we are convinced, will put themselves in possession of this edition, although they may have committed to memory the greater part of the former. Not only are there many fresh insertions, but entire papers or chapters have been added, the most remarkable of which is that on deer-stalking. We shall quote a passage from it, which gives a life-like picture of the sport, and also of the enthusiasm, the physical stamina, and the knowledge required in this kind of sport :
"There is no sport which more calls into play the sportsman's pluck and endurance of fatigue. He first climbs to the ridge of the hill, where he is at once seen by the hawk-eyed driver, who has taken his station near the foot, or on the opposite brow, and marked with his glass every herd at feed or rest on the face below. As soon as he has selected one, he attempts to drive it up the hill towards the sportsman, either by hallooing or showing himself; at the same time giving warning by the manner of his halloo which way they are likely to take. The sportsman must be thoroughly acquainted with all the passes, or have some person with him who is; and,
running from one 'snib' to another, in obedience to the signal below, catch sight of the horns of the herd, as with serpentine ascent they wind their wary way. From the zigzag manner in which they often come up, it is very difficult to make sure which pass will be the favoured one; and I have been within a few hundred yards of the antlers when the prolonged shout from below has warned me that I had an almost perpendicular shoulder of the hill to breast at my utmost speed before I could hope to obtain the much-desired shot. If the wind is at all high, so determined are the deer to face it, that, unless there are a great number of drivers, one herd after another may take the wrong direction; but if the day is favourable, with only a light breeze, a knowing driver or two will generally manage to send them up to the rifle. When the deer have selected their pass, should you be within fair distance, with both barrels cocked, beware of making the slightest motion, especially of the head, until you mean to fire. Even when perfectly in view, if you lie flat and do not move, the herd are almost sure to pass. One or two hinds generally take the lead. The fine old harts, if there are any in the herd, often come next; but sometimes, if very fat and lazy, they lag in the rear. When the first few hinds have fairly passed, the rest are sure to follow, until their line is broken and their motions quickened by a double volley from the rifle.
"When stalking last September, in Glenartney forest, by the kind permission of the noble owner, I had as fine a chance as man could wish spoiled by the scarcely-audible whimper of a dog. I was placed in a most advantageous spot, within near distance of the pass. Presently an old hind came picking her stately steps, like a lady of the old school ushering her company to the dining-room. Next her came a careless two-year-old hart, looking very anxious to get forward, and perfectly regardless of danger. All was now safe-I felt sure of my shot; when, horror of horrors! a slight whimper was heard. The old hind listened, halted, and then turned short round upon the young hart, who instantly followed her example, and the whole herd ran helter-skelter down the hill. The unfortunate sound proceeded from one of the forester's two colleys, the only dogs Lord Willoughby allows in the forest: they are kept for the purpose of bringing to bay any deer badly wounded, and are never slipped upon other occasions. The marplot above alluded to is an old dog, and very good for the purpose: he had winded without seeing the deer-hence his mistake."
ART. XVI.-China. By PROFESSOR KIDD. London: Taylor and Walton. "CHINA; or, Illustrations of the Symbols, Philosophy, Antiquities, Customs, Superstitions, Laws, Government, Education, and Literature of the Chinese," by the Professor of the Chinese Language and Literature, University College-the only chair of the kind in this country-is a work that will be chiefly interesting to scholars or students who have an eye not only to the character of the language in question, but who wish to obtain a knowledge of the people that speak it through such a medium. Professor Kidd, we understand, resided for a number of years at Malacca, a place that was wont to be resorted to by many of the Chinese of the