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tion; which latent elements cannot be inflammable air. Persons employed in excited to sufficient intensity of action, to subterraneous occupations, are too well yield fire, unless assisted by the influence of acquainted with its terrific character, from oxygen gas.
the explosions which, in coal and other Again, this very peculiar principle of deep mines, are occasionally causing such animated nature, and of fire, would not destructive consequences as we hear of; have been mentioned here, had it not, also, and miners have given it the very expressive been subservient to the purposes of the name of fire-damp. Most people are now, Creator in the production of water, of also, acquainted with it, from the attention which it is a main constituent, as before it has attracted of late years by being em. noticed ; and to its instrumentality in this ployed as a substitute for oil-lamps in respect, as we shall have further to allude, lighting streets, shops, taverns, &c.- It is, all conducive to our object, as far as we also, pretty generally known to be that have already gone, having been signified, same gas employed for filling balloons, we desire merely to recapitulate, that we being, as it is, one of the lightest substances are indebted to this invisible substance, first in nature ; thirteen gallons of which, when of all, for the power to breathe, and, in the pure, not being heavier than one gallon of next place, for its being the means of con- common air. Hence, when collected and tributing two, in themselves, of the most conveyed in a large quantity into the body hostile parts of nature, yet both indispen- of a balloon, it has the quality of pressing sable auxiliaries to life, namely, fire and upwards equal to thirteen times the resistwater !
ance of the atmosphere, through which it is Besides these, its peculiar properties, this consequently capable of ascending, and of gas has qualities, also, common to every carrying very great weights to a wonderful other ethereal fluid, such, for instance, as altitude. the power of expansion and compression. Although we see it burning with such It enters, moreover, with them, into the brilliancy, as it issues from the lamp-pipe, composition of most substances in nature; and although it might justly receive its chaand, though in itself so volatile and subtle racteristic title, inflammable air, yet actuan essence, it contributes, as a medium of ally, within itself, it has not the quality of condensation and cement, to give magni- burning, being indebted to the oxygen gas tude and solidity, to, perhaps, every thing existing in the atmospheric air, for the we behold in the visible creation-whether power to become what we call fire. In. animal, vegetable, or mineral !
deed, so far from being able to ignite in This very powerful ethereal spirit, though itself, if a lighted candle be introduced into contained in all substances, was wholly un- a body of this gas in a confined vessel, known to have existence until 1774, when instead of causing the explosion of the gas, the experiments of the philosophical Dr. as might be supposed, the candle is inPriestley, of Birmingham, detected it; and stantly extinguished ; yet, in a confined who, from discovering also its peculiar apartment, where an accumulation of hyquality of supplying the principle of ani. drogen gas had taken place, by a candle mal life, gave it the name of vital air. being introduced into the room, the exploEvery philosophical treatise on the consti- sion would be terrific. tution of the earth's atmosphere, or the The human body, as well as all other composition of water, written previously to animal bodies, contains a great portion of the discovery of this principal element of hydrogen in its composition : and all vegeboth air and water, must therefore neces- tables, likewise, are indebted to this elesarily be defective. To have given, as we mentary substance for a considerable went on, an account of the analytical expe- quantity of their component material. riments by which the facts brought forward Indeed, we may also look upon it as in this description of oxygen gas were being, in union with oxygen, the great authenticated, would have rendered an cementing principle of the most solid and article of this kind tedious, without ade- dense bodies in nature. That it exists quate benefit; experiments, for the most copiously in metallic substances, may be part, requiring to be seen, to be under- inferred from its being derived very abunstood.
dantly and purely by the decomposition of Concerning the other gas before-named, iron by sulphuric acid : it is generated derived from the essential and very subtle profusely, also, by the action of solar heat substance called hydrogen, because it has on peat-lands, and boggy tracts of country. the peculiar property of communicating to Although constantly escaping from the water its quality of Auidity, it has long earth in every direction, yet it never been known as that invisible matter termed mingles with the atmospheric air : it will
enter into composition with either oxygen tions that convert them into water,—it is gas, or nitrogen gas, separately: but when thus that every drop of water ever produced they become commingled, as in the atmo- in the world has been generated ! sphere, they refuse to admit a particle of Staggering as this fact may seem, it is hydrogen to incorporate with them. Hence, fully proved by the analysis of water, therefore, from its extraordinary volatility, which, come from whatever part of the it is supposed to ascend, as it escapes from earth it may, sea or river, rain or spring, the earth, into the higher regions of the air, exhibits the same invariable proportion of where it subsides in elevated tracts of rare. each gas;—that is, eighty-five parts of fied ether, equal in levity to itself, accumu- oxygen gas, and fifteen parts of hydrogen lating, probably, for some dispensation in gas. the destiny of the world.
In consequence of the difference of quaHaving thus given an account of the lity which almost every water possesses separate properties, and characteristic pecu- from the saline quality of the sea, conliarities, of each of the two elementary trasted with the freshness of the river; and ingredients which constitute water, we now the hardness, as we say, of some spring proceed to explain the means employed by waters, compared with the softness of nature in order to effect the very interesting rains, -at a hasty view, the accuracy of process of compounding her prepared the fact alleged "might be disputed : but atoms of primitive matter. These said these seeming contradictions will immegases being each conceived to be solid diately disappear after a little consideration. particles of matter in the highest possible The quality of the same water, we know, state of refinement, are not to be supposed can be changed, by throwing a little salt to have any power or tendency to flow into one vessel ; and into another, containtogether of themselves, and to produce ing a portion of the same water, a little another substance totally different in its sugar, soda, &c.: but the salt, sugar, or nature and properties either. Matter soda, can be again extracted by means of has no power to act, but is susceptible of distillation, and the water in each be certain influences by which it is acted restored to its original purity. In like upon; and this property is universal in all manner, water containing any mineral subsorts of matter, whether it be elementary stance, how strongly soever it may be imparticles, or compound masses. Thus has pregnated, can, by evaporation, be so comthe AUTHOR AND RULER OF NATURE pletely separated, as to become pure water : reserved 10 himself the power of establish- and it is this distilled water which, reduced ing agencies and instrumentalities, by to its native elements, will always exhibit means of which the whole system of orga- those elements in the relative quantities nization and decomposition is being carried which have been stated. on throughout the material universe.
In the experiments from which the truths Seeing, then, that oxygen gas could have we have here taught are deduced, there are no innate tendency to unite with hydrogen some results that are very interesting and gas, nor hydrogen any inclination to mingle convincing.-Suppose oxygen and hydrowith oxygen,-seeing, also, that the exact gen gases to be each introduced into a proportions of each must be, on all occa- close glass vessel in the proportions before sions, maintained, in order to produce the stated, through some part of which vessel result ordained by divine appointment, to a brass wire has been inserted, and made what wonderful agency or instrumentality air-tight, if an electrical spark be conducted are we to ascribe the effect, of their each by the wire to the gases, combustion will contributing its precise quantity, so as, out take place, and they will be deposited in of their respective dry, solid, impenetrable the shape of water, which water will be atoms, to produce the phenomenon of water? precisely equal in weight to that of the
Can it be by the action and agency of gases before they were burnt. Again, this fire ?-It has been shown that fire is not a same water may be resolved by analysis substance, and that it can be produced only into the two gases, which will retain each under certain restrictions; yet it is, never- of their original proportions, without any theless, one of the most active and universal loss of weight : and these experiments may agents in nature, not only for reducing sub- be alternately repeated for several times, stances into their elementary particles, but without either of the gases being realso for converting and compounding ma- duced by the action of combustion,terial elements into bodies : and actual that is to say, neither of them will have combustion is the means of interflux of the been burnt away in the least degree by the two ethereal essences, oxygen gas and hy- performance of the experiment many times drogen gas, in the precise relative propor- over! 20. SERIES, NO. 21.---VOL. II.
165, VOL. XIV,
The relation of these particulars leads to end, it learns what for a long time it had the mention of one more phenomenon, by sought-here it first begins to discern a way of conclusion. When hydrogen gas has been evolved from the earth in very If paganism could dictate such sentilarge quantities, it sometimes chances, in its ments as these, what are the impressions progress upwards, to meet with partial ob. which Christianity ought to impart, upon a structions from very dense collections of survey of such works of wonder as those floating exhalations in the mid air. When we have just been contemplating? Thouthus intercepted, and a voluminous body sands of half-fervent and doubting sort of of it has been accumulated under a mass Christians may never before have supposed of such héterogeneous exhalations as salts, that there was any thing in the production bitumen, sulphur, metals, and almost every of water to cause surprise ; and on reading thing else to which a name can be given, the facts here related, may exclaim, who while thus pent under the impeding mine- could have thought it ?-Such questions as ral cloud, electric emotions between differ- these are within the reach of almost every ently charged volumes are taking place, capacity; and there is no difficulty in makand sundry influences are acting upon each ing up the mind to believe on reading and in different directions : thus we see great examining them : yet they cannot be agitation among the condensing elements; believed without being examined, and the some clouds being drawn one way, and mind on examination being captivated by some in an opposite direction, until, at truth. length, a great degree of violence is ex- Yet it is possible that those who are igcited; they become convulsed, and the norant of these physical truths, may have electrical fire begins to fly and dart about. pretended to sift and and question the What then are we to expect! Has there truths of divine revelation.—Thus, by the not been a body of highly combustible discovery of our deficiency in knowledge matter composed beneath, and entangled concerning what is going on before our with the mass of exhalations of all descrip- eyes, it is, that we gain an understandtions, within the oxygenated atmosphere, ing, the merchandise of which," as Soloand are we not to expect its explosion mon assures us, “is better than the meramid the flashing fires ? Confined as it had chandise of silver, and the gain thereof been among all mineral commixtures, must than of fine gold.”—Having found out how
not expect, from the simultaneous far the wisdom of an Eternal and Infinite conflagration, all the floating particles of Being has surpassed all human comprehen. earths and metals within its reach to sion in the economy of “earthly things," become molten and vitrified ? Must we we become diciplined to such a proper not look, from such a cause, for the pre- diffidence, as to yield implicit obedience cipitation of meteoric masses to the earth : to the evidences with which we have been and do we not see, also, the engendering, favoured, concerning “heavenly things,” out of the combustion of the oxygen and -we behold his Almightiness in the hydrogen gases thus met, vast quantities of secondary revelations of nature, and surwater, and the pouring down of it in tre- render to the evangelical testimonies of his mendous showers, amid peals of thunder? gospel - we contemplate the wonders of Do we not see, indeed, amid all this dis- creation with which we are surrounded, till, traction of the elements, a rational and lost in transport, we exclaim with the son satisfactory solution of the phenomena of a of Sirach, “There are yet hid greater things thunder-storm, and of all its accompanying than these, for we have seen but few of his meteoric prodigies ?
works,” Now, as improvement ought to be derived from every page we read, let us
OF ELECTRICITY, OF ELECTROendeavour to find out to what intellectual
GALVANISM, AND OF ELECTRO - MAGaccount we can turn such excursions in science as the one we have just taken.Seneca, merely a pagan philosopher, says, MR. EDITOR, “ The mind, seeing that it hath really. Sır, -So much attention has, for the last arrived upwards at infinitude, is cheered twenty years, been bestowed on Electroand enlarged ; and, freed, as it were, from Galvanism and Electro - Magnetism, that fetters, it regains its native sphere. It philosophers have almost forgotten many scrutinizes the magnificent works it be- other of those physical subjects which enholds, and ponders! What further does it gaged the attention of our forefathers. But, seek? It perceives that these things appertain to its own derivation-here, in the
* Naturales Questiones, 1. i.
in spite of the popularity of these novelties, the direction of the motion called gravity. the mysterious way in which new facts have Hence it may be inferred, that every space been enshrined by old theories, have ren- is essentially full of fixed or mobile atoms; dered it so difficult for sober inquirers to that every equal space has equal power follow them, that some disentanglement of within it; that disturbance, or inequality, false theory becomes necessary to render in any space, is reacted upon by the force the novelties intelligible,– I have, therefore, of all adjoining space; and that all space renewed my correspondence with you, is a plenum of equal power, in relatively and, on this subject, submit to your fixed atoms, or in atoms performing regular readers a theory of the whole, which I have motions or orbits. no doubt, if adopted, will facilitate much 4. That solids are converted into liquids further discovery
and gases, by imparting to them the moIt is now five-and-forty years since I tions or momenta, which previously existed pursued, with youthful ardour, a science in some other liquids or gases, which on veiled by hereditary superstitions in many their part become less liquid, or less gasehidden mysteries. I burst their bonds, and, ous, or even solid, in their turn; and that conforming my machine to the natural prin- this transfer of motion from one species of ciple of spherical action, I operated with body to another is what is called heat; extended surfaces of conductors; and, in while this theory of heat, as matter of fact, 1788, formed an arrangement of them, applies to every known form and display of exactly resembling, in outline, Mr. Chil- heat, and to all the changes and phenomena dren's great Voltaic Battery, literally charge of which this mode of atomic action is ing cells and plates of air. The results were susceptible. transcendent, and gratifying as a spectacle ;
5. That the transfer of heat is a general but they effected far more, they enabled me abstraction of the momenta of the various to understand the true nature of electrical atoms in a fluid or gaseous mass; but when action.
it happens that any species of atoms are In the following sketch, brevity renders fixed, and not the others in the same vofulness of explanation, and excursive topics, lume, then the constitution and equilibrium impracticable; but electricians, and single of the volume is disturbed, and a series of minded searchers after TRUTH, will supply phenomena arise, which we call ELECTRIvarious details on which I could not enter. CAL. Heat, therefore, generally speaking, I am, &c. &c. is equal acquisition, or transfer of motion,
from, or to, a volume of atoms; and electriR. PHILLIPS.
city is the partial acquisition, or transfer of
motion, in regard to particular atoms of the 1. That electricity, in whatever way excited, volume, as those of oxygen, hydrogen, &c. is a display of the actions and re-actions of 6. That as far as our experiments have the atomic elements of nature, in the pro- extended, (under erroneous theories which duction of many sensible phenomena, which have mystified and embarrassed all inquiry,) elements are traced by their effects, and it appears that the particular disturbance have been agreed to be called by the which creates electrical action is oxydation, names of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, car- or accumulation of oxygen atoms, at one side bon, &c.
of a previously quiescent volume. It is thus 2. That in all definite compounds, these in the oxydation of the amalgam on our elements dispose themselves in regular ar- electrical rubber, and of the zinc in a galvarangements, proportions, and conditions ; nic arrangement. In one, the rubber and quiescent and fixed in solids; partly fixed its connected bodies are de-oxydated, or oxyand partly mobile in liquids; and mobile gen accumulated on the excited side by its in gaseous fluids as their expansion and flow to the parts; and in the other, the
oxyAuidity; while disturbances in these regular gen is rapidly fixed on the zinc surface, atomic arrangements, and the force and from the adjoining acidulous fluid. circumstances of restoration, generate the 7. That" in speaking of electricity as reactions and phenomena which we call negative and positive, it is the description of electrical.
the effects of one action on two or more 3. That central motion, or weight, is a elements, as it affects electrics, which it measure of the number of atoms within penetrates in right lines or radii with varied given dimensions, just as the atoms are freedom; and as conductors which oppose fixed or partly fixed, as in solids or liquids; its penetration, thereby concentrating it on but it is no measure of their number when their surfaces, and moving it laterally on the atoms, as in liquids and gases, have the surface. We generate electricity by lateral motions, oblique or right-angle to some accumulation of oxygen ; and vh
we do this, it is in proximity with some 10. That all the phenomena of an elecelectric which propagates the disturbance trical machine are, therefore, as matter of through its mass, and through the masses fact, the actions and re-actions of two oppoof all adjacent electrics; as, through glass, site hemispheres in contrary states. The air, &c. &c.
prime conductor is merely an extension of 6. That we rub an electric with another the cylinder, facilitated by the points directed electric, and then the susceptibility of oxy- to it, and seeking to expand the principle of gen to motion occasions oxygen accumula- oxygen to meet the principle of hydrogen, tion on the surface of the electric body, in or the return of it to the cushion. The limit which, so to speak, the oxygen has more of the power is the distance of the points affinity with the motion than the body. from the cushion, and the maximum force This oxygen creates a corresponding as- is in the line joining the centre. The poles semblage on the rubber, of hydrogen, are the rubber and the cylinder, or the which, separating from its oxygen, renders points of the conductors; and if these are both electrical in opposite states, on their joined, the spheres collapse, generating at two sides. When separated, each affects the common centre the effect called electriin a similar manner the adjoining electric city, which effect is the sudden condensaof air, and begets in the air (owing to its tion of disturbed spheres, or hemispheres, extent) an electrical atmosphere, which, in of oxygen and hydrogen, producing light, juxtaposition, is contrary to the excited atomic energy, force, &c. &c., in the centre. electric on both its sides; but the expansion What is miscalled, “ electric fluid, fire,” &c. diminishing the force, a limit arises, gene- is therefore, in EVERY CASE, the condensarating a distant surface in a contrary state, tion of spheres of separated orygen and less or more distant as the space is or is hydrogen, acting in hemispheres around not bounded by surfaces of non-electrics, their centres, and collapsing on any reunion obstructors, or what are called “ of their centres ; and no fluid, as it is oddly ductors." This is disturbance, or excite- called, no fire, flame, gc., take place withment; and restoration consists in re-uniting out this reunion. If wires are extended the equally disturbed atmospheres, by join. from each centre, they extend or change the ing their centres, by which they suddenly locality of the hemispheres; and if the collapse, and present to the senses, in the wires are extended for any number of miles, centre, electric flame and action.
the original power between the conductor 9. That in the previous description of and rubber is merely extended with the the mode by which the electrified sphere is poles of the wires, and a junction of the generated, we are borne out by the facts. poles, whenever it takes place, is still but as In oxydating by rubbing a cushion and glass, the union of the rubber and conductor, and we abstract the oxygen from the cushion and collapse of the original hemispheres, as they bodies adjoining it, and transfer it to the are continued to the respective poles of glass. If the cushion is connected by a the wires. Wherever, or however, there is chain to the ground, or with an insulated electrical action, there are equal hemispheres conductor in its rear, we see sparks proceed diverging on each side, in radii from the to it, indicating that an exhaustion and re- foci or planes of excitement. storation is passing between the cushion and 11. That the class of bodies called ELECthe parts behind it, so that a flow of oxygen TRICS, of which there are various degrees, takes place as far as possible from the are such as permit the excitement to act in aerial hemisphere behind the cushion, and and through their pores or laminæ, in right that hemisphere becomes in a positive state, lines or radii only, as glass, or wax, or air, tending every where to transmit sparks to or the fluids in galvanic cells. the cushion, and displaying at a distance mitting the action on their surface to exhaust points with a brush, and on the cushion a itself in and through their substance, so as point with a star. The glass on the other to create hemispheres of electrics, they are hand becomes positive, and the air and all like porous pipes in conducting a fluid, as bodies opposed to it negative, the sparks they do not permit it to travel laterally over proceeding in the opposite direction, the their surfaces, or are non-conductors. They needles between the conductor and glass receive excitement, because their power of heing stars, or receiving, and the flow being conducting heat from rubbed, or any-how from positive, or oxygen in the glass, with excited surfaces, is less than the power a brush, to negative, or hydrogen, in the which unites the oxygen to the hydrogen ; whole hemisphere on that side, acting in for if heated through, or rubbed on both radii through the air and electrics, and sides, they display no excitement. laterally on obstructors, or non-affected 12. That the class of bodies called conbodies, called “conductors."
DUCTORS, of which there are various degrees,