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A THEATRICAL EPISODE.
nature, it is toward this that the modern critical spirit tends world; if we would save our own character from the blight in all save a few pure and noble souls.
of cynicism and envy; this is our only method : to cultivate Over the greater part of the so-called civilized world is what a distinguished thinker has called of late sweetness spreading a deep distrust, a deep irreverence of every man and light; the charity which comes from knowledge, the toward his neighbor. Cloaked in the guise of virtue and knowledge which comes from charity; the temper of which of dignity, detraction simpers as impartiality, base envy it is written, “He that loveth his brother abideth in the struts as noble independence, and a practical unbelief in light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him; but he every man whom you do see atones for itself by a theoretic that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkbelief in an ideal human nature which you do not see. ness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because darkness has The Stoic with his reticence is transformed into the Cynic blinded his eyes.” Ah that we could believe that! Ah that with his sneer; and instead of proving all things and hold- we could believe that God is love; and that he that dwelleth ing fast that which is good, men prove all things, but hold in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Then we should fast that which is bad. But such a temper of mind, unless have no need to be told to cultivate sweetness and light, it be checked by that which alone can check it, - namely, for they would seem to us the only temper which could the grace of God,- must tend toward sheer anarchy. I do make life tolerable in any corner of the universe. not mean political anarchy, though that has been, as And more: we should not merely cultivate them, we a plain fact, the net result of this temper in every should pray for them. For we should see that they are country which has given itself up to it. I mean a divine; that they are of the very essence of the all-seeing, deeper and uglier anarchy - the anarchy of society and of all-merciful Christ; that he alone can give them to us; the family; the anarchy of the head and of the heart; which that he, and he alone, must make us partakers of his own leaves poor human beings as orphans in the wilderness, to spirit of light and love. We should pray to him daily, -cry in vain,“ What can I know? whom can I love ?” O Lord, Love who embracest the universe, Light who
No wonder that from such a temper some seek refuge in lightest every man that comes into the world, take away Roman Ultramontanism. No wonder that out of their from me all darkness of soul, all hardness of heart. Fill doubt, their confusion, their loneliness, they clutch eagerly me with thy light, that I may see all things in light. Fill at the phantoms of organization, of brotherhood, in one me with thy love, that I may love all things which thou infallible Church. But we who know these phantoms to be hast made. phantoms; we who have said in our hearts, – as God grant we all have said, “ Whatever is true, that is false; what
THE TWO TROMBONES. ever is right, that is wrong; we who must judge for ourselves, and, as it seems,in such hasty, babbling days as these, must too often judge whether we will or not, — what canon MR. WHIFFLES — the respected parent of our hero, for judging rightly can we find ?
Mr. Adolphus Whiffles — was an opulent Berkshire farWhat, save the old one, laid down in a like case by the mer, who, before retiring from his business and leaving wisest and most loving lips which ever spoke on earth ? it to his son, fancied that a visit to the great metropolis “Go and tell John again the things you hear and see, - would have the effect of sharpening the wits of that amiathe blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers ble youth, an operation of which that young gentleman are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and stood greatly in need. The son jumped at the idea, espeto the poor the gospel is preached.”
cially when he learned he was to set forth on his travels This I believe more and more is the one rule by which alone. With the parental blessing, and his purse well we should judge all human opinions, endeavors, characters. filled, Mr. Whiffles, junior, duly arrived in London and inAre they trying to lessen the sum of human misery, of stalled himself in economical quarters in Savoy Street, Strand. human ignorance? Are they trying, however clumsily, to The theatres, of course, occupied a large share of Mr. cure physical suffering, weakness, deformity, disease; and Whiffles's attentions during his stay in London, and the to make human bodies what God would have them ? Are neighborhood of stage-doors afforded him a vast amount of they trying, however clumsily, to cure spiritual evil ? to satisfaction. The sight of “ professionals” in their everyraise the dead from the true death of brutality and vice ? day costume was to him a source of great gratification, and to preach to the poor a true gospel, and good news of light, his delight when he made the acquaintance of a prominent and freedom and trust in God; and not a sham gospel, member of the orchestra of the Royal Dash Theatre exand bad news of darkness, superstition and dread ?
ceeded all bounds. He vowed eternal friendship for him If so, let us judge them no further. Let them pass out of on the spot, and there and then ratified the agreement by the pale of our criticism. Let their creed seem to us defec- entertaining his new acquaintance at a récherché supper at tive, their opinions fantastic, their means irrational. God the Albion. Our story opens when Mr. Whiffles and his must judge of that, not we. They are trying to do good; companion - Mr. O'Leary by name — had been almost inthen they are children of the light. They are on God's separables for the space of six weeks. With pain Mr. eide in the universe, whether they know it or not; and let Whiffles had lately observed an expression of settled melthat be enough for us. They are doing their best to cast ancholy upon Mr. O'Leary's expressive countenance, and out devils ; and of them our Lord has said, “ Forbid them had resolutely determined to divine the cause. not." “ To their own master they stand or fall; yea, and “ You are ill ?” said our hero one evening, after they had they shall stand, for God is able to make them stand;" and supped at the hostelry above mentioned, and were quafling in them, sooner or later, may be fulfilled that law, “If a man various “whiskeys hot” to promote digestion. does God's will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be Mr. O'Leary sighed, shook his head sadly, and emptied of God.” Wisdom is justified of all her children; and it his glass by way of a reply. may be that poor well-meaning old Folly may be justified of " Your
supper has disagreed with you; you have eaten some of hers likewise ; and that in the dread day when the too much,” continued Mr. Whiffles, tenderly. counsels of all hearts shall be made manifest, we — the “ It isn't the supper that worries me,” observed his comcritics, we the Pharisees, we the fastidious, we dealers in panion; " it's the substitute.” bard words and hasty judgments -- shall find that we have This mysterious answer puzzled Mr. Whiffles. He been speaking evil of our betters, and terrified to see how thought it over seriously, then gave it up in despair, and Dear we have been to committing the sin of sins, and say- demanded an explanation. Mr. O'Leary vigorously puffed ing, “ He cast out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the at his cigar and proceeded to enlighten Mr. Whiffles. devils,” shall begin with shame to take the lowest_room, It appeared from Mr. O'Leary's account that it was cuscrying, “ God forgive me for every cruel word I ever tomary in the Royal Dash Theatre for the management to spoke," — thankful if there be room left for us at all in the allow various members of the orchestra to absent themoutermost forecourt of Him who came not to condemn the selves from time to time from their posts in order to attend world, but that the world by Him might be saved.
concerts or other entertainments, on the condition that they Yes, if we would keep ourselves unspotted from the provided efficient substitutes to fulfil their ordinary duties.
As a rule, these substitutes were not hard to find; but Mr. himself up and found himself upon the stage. He had O'Leary confessed, wi:h tears in his eyes, that although he hardly time to cast a hurried glance upon the novel, not to had searched high and low, for some unaccountable reason say dreary, objects by which he was surrounded, when an he could find no one able or willing to supply his place at elderly individual in a white beard, and whose shirt-front apthe theatre, while he was absent to fulfil a most profitable peared to be plentifully besprinkled with snuff, beckoned engagement he had accepted to play at a fashionable WestEnd concert, the ensuing evening. Without a moment's “ Tom,” said he, “ go into the music-room, and ask Mr. hesitation Mr. Whiffles threw himself into the breach and Lovejoy for my copy of Old King Cole.'” proffered his services.
The boy at once complied. Rightly conjecturing that “Stuff!” replied Mr. O'Leary, rudely, “what do you the music-room was the place wherein the musicians assemknow about music?”
bled previous to making their appearance in the orchestra, Mr. Whiffles couldn't tell. He was quite certain about Mr. Whiffles followed the boy down a score or so of ricketwhat he didn't know, but that he refrained from mentioning. ty stairs, to the great detriment of his shins, into a scantily There was a painful pause. Mr. O'Leary smoked silently furnished apartment, situated immediately beneath the on for some time, now an:1 then darting a searching glance stage, wherein he found several gentlemen composedly tunupon the anxious face of Mr. Whiffles, as if he were re- ing their instruments. Upon hearing Mr. Lovejoy, the volving some great scheme in the innermost recesses of his leader, addressed by name, Mr. Whiffles nervously introown mind, but as yet scarcely saw the manner in which it duced himself as Mr. O'Leary's substitute. could be carried out. Suddenly,
“ Very good,” said Mr. Lovejoy; "he's told you every “I have it. Thanks, Whistles, my boy. I accept your thing, I suppose ?" generous offer.
You shall be my substitute," said Mr. Mr. Whiffles bowed assentingly, and darted a piercing O'Leary.
glance into every corner of the apartment in search of the To say that Mr. Whiffles was delighted would but feebly other trombone. Horror! He wasn't there! The man upon express the state of his mind. He yrasped Mr. O'Leary's whom he solely depended, absent! What was to be done? hand and shook it fervent!y. He treinbled already with Retreat was out of the question; as, while he was contemexcitement. His prouclest hopes were about to be realized. plating flight, a small bell sounded, and the musicians proHe would be admitted behind the scenes of a theatre. ceeded to take their places in the orchestra. Mr. Whitles
, Words failed to convey any idea of his feelings, as he lent still bearing the fatal trombone, despairingly followed, and, a willing ear to Mr. O'Leary, who proceeded to give him ere long, found himself in the presence of the British pubthe necessary instructions.
lic. The novelty of his situation so confused him that he In the first place, Mr. O'Leary pointed out, there were for a moment seated himself in the chair belonging to Mr. two trombone-players in the orchestra of the Royal Dash Lovejoy, and was received with a prodigious outburst of Theatre, he hiinself being one, anil that for the especial enthusiasm, the audience supposing him to be the talented guilance of Mr. Whitlles he would su:nmarily state the leader himself. This mistake was soon rectified by the case as follows, premising that after the rising of the cur- appearance of the veritable leader, who muttered something tain on the first piece a performance upon the two trom- under his breath by no means complimentary to our hero, bones heralded the approach of the villain of the piece. and motioned him angrily to the seat usually occupied by
Further, his (Mr. O'Leary's) experience induced him to Mr. O'Leary. The audience, perceiving the mistake, exbelieve that in a crowded assembly one troinbone would pressed their opinion of Mr. Whiffles in candid and unmisprob bly make as much noise as two; and that all Mr. takable terms, as he ruefully made his way to the spot indiWhisles had to do, after announcing himself as Mr. cated by the irate conductor. After trying to reduce to O'Leary's substitute, would be to take his seat leisurely in something like order the sheets of music upon the stand be the orchestra, and, when the curtain rose, carefully watch fore him, Mr. Whifflles regained sufficient courage to look the proceedings of the other trombone-player and imitate around him. The house was packed from floor to ceiling ; his every movement; so that, in reality, one trombone everybody was on the tiptoe of expectation, and sundry would make all the noise, although apparently, two were anxious voices appertaining to impatient “gods” implored being played. Lastly, he advised Mr. Whiffles to be care- the musicians to strike up at once and appease their ful and to mind what he was about, as the leader was a anxiety. -!
Again the small bell tinkled. Mr. Lovejoy tapped his Soon afterwards the friends left the Albion and proceed- desk raised his baton – looked on each side of him, ed on their several ways; his friend and companion and — stopped. He whispered the First Fildle, then left already more than half repenting his rashness in einbark- his seat and the orchestra. Mr. Whiffles asked his next ing in the undertaking.
neighbor what this might portend; and was informed, in The sombre shades of twilight were enwrapping, as with reply, that Puffler, the other Trombone, hadn't as yet put a shroud, the streets of London, when, carrying Mr. in an appearance. O'Leary's trombone in his hand, Mr. Whiffles might have “ Couldn't they do without him ? ” asked Mr. Whiffles, been observed wofully picking his way through the pur- -devoutly hoping in his heart of hearts they couldn't. lieus of Drury Lane endeavoring to find t' e stage-entrance Certainly not,” was the reply. of the Royal Dash Theatre. Two or three sallow-faced “Wouldn't the big drum do as well ? ” inquired Nir. gentlemen were smoking short pipes in front of the en- Whiffles. trance, and occasionally a lady or gentleman passed hur- His neighbor regarded him with some surprise, smiled, riedly in, evidently under the impression that they were and continued : behind their time; but a glance at the clock in the hall ap- “ Do without him! how can they? Don't you know peared to reassure them as they made their way more leis- that you and he begin, the moment the curtain rises, to urely towards their respective lressing-rooms. Upon ref- bring on old Russett, the heavy man ? He couldn't come erence to his watch, Mr. Whiffles found that the doors had on without his music, you know: as he appears at the back only just been opened, and he therefore had some leisure at first, then crosses the mountains from left to right, then to look about him. He loitere l at the door for some time, from right to left, and finally connes down eft u on the sia re, won:lering, as the various members of the company made where he expresses a variety of emotions in pantomime, their appearance, who this was, and who that could possibly and all to your music.” be, uniil a small, but uncommonly sharp, boy plucked him At these words Mr. Whiffles resigned all hope, and was by the sleeve and said,
mentally calculating the dangers to which he would be “ You'd better make haste; they're a goin' to ring in.” exposed if he leaped into the stalls, from thence into the
Mr. Whiffles then becaine aware that he was almost pit, and fought his way out of the theatre, when the leader alone. Without having the faintest idea of the meaning returned, an ominous frown upon his brow, followed by a of “ringing in,” he mechnically followed the small boy short, fat, pale-faced gentleman, apparently of foreign down a gloomy passage, tumbled down a few steps, picked extraction, who carried a trombone under his left arm.
were soon extricated, and, fortunately, no bones were broken.
The two gentlemen- after a rather exciting interview with the stage-manager- were, shortly afterwards, permitted to take their departure.
Mr. O'Leary, next day, was duly informed of the disaster, and lost his situation. The same fate befell the unfortunate Puffler, who, it appeared upon inquiry, was really laboring under some severe indisposition that threatened to confine him to bis bed; and being naturally unwilling to lose his salary, he provided a substitute, like Mr. Whiffles, utterly unable to play, and to whom he gave, in effect, instructions almost identical with those given to our hero by Mr. O'Leary.
Mr. Whiffles returned to the home of his ancestors a sadder and a wiser man. He has never been to a theatre since, and never thinks without a shudder of his terrible adventure connected with the two trombones.
Joy! Mr. Whiffles felt a man again. This, then, was Puffler! Mr. Whiffles remembered his instructions, and watched the new-comer attentively; who, upon his part, appeared to regard him with the uttermost concern. Mr. Whiffles had occasion to shift his trombone; Puffler did likewise. Mr. Whiffles felt for his handkerchief; Mr. Pufiler followed his example. All this seemed very mysterious, and Mr. Whiffles was lost in wonderment when the overture commenced. Luckily, the trombones were not wanted until the commencement of the drama. The overture ceased.
Now, look out,” observed Mr. Whiffles's neighbor; “it's Mr. Whiffles mechanically raised the instrument to his lips, keeping a steadfast gaze the while upon the proceedings of Dir. Puffler, who did his best to stare Mr. Whiffles out of countenance. Mr. Lovejoy looked round, and seeing the trombones perfectly realy, awaited the rising of the curtain. It was an agonizing moment. The silence was positively painful. One might have heard a pin drop. The small bell was heard again. Mr. Lovejoy tapped his desk, and the curtain slowly rose - in solemn silence! Mr. Lovejoy began beating time slowly, and had even accomplished a few strokes before he realized the fact. Turning round to ascertain the meaning of this extraordinary circumstance, his surprise and bewilderment may well be imagined at perceiving the two trombone-players hard at work, distending their cheeks to their utmost capacity, nervously manipulating their instruments, and producing not a sound ! And the most unaccountable thing was, they never took their eyes off one another. Mr. Lovejoy was transfixed with amazement.
** This is very strange,” thought Mr. Whiffles. “ I wonder when that fellow is going to begin!”
The little bell tinkled again and again. Mr. Russett stepped upon the stage with some amount of dignity and left it without any, under the impression that he was a trifle too soon. The stage-manager, a gentleman of excitable temperament and much addicted to the use of passionate language, who played one of the principal parts in the piece, rushed from his room, discharged on the spot an inoffensive “ super” who, unfortunately, happened to cross his path; went, half-a-dozen at a time, down the score or so of ricketty stairs, at the imminent hazard of breaking his neck, and, appearing at the little door under the stage that led into the orchestra, demanded in unmeasured terms what the very bad word — Mr. Lovejoy meant by such conduct, and why the — excessively-rude observation - he didn't go on? Mr. Lovejoy was too astounded to reply. He could only point, in silent wonder, to the two trombones. There they sat, puffing and blowing vigorously, but with no result.
The stage-manager gesticulated violently, and Dearly had a fit. The audience, unable to comprehend what was going on before their eyes, hissed loudly; and, finally, the curtain fell. Then Mr. Lovejoy gave vent to his feelings. He leaped from his seat and rushed towards Mr. Whitfles, who, panting with exhaustion after his unaccustomed exertions, was wiping the perspiration from his face, Fondering what on earth was going to happen next. No sooner, however, did he perceive the angry conductor advancing towards him, than, with an intuitive perception that something unpleasant was about to occur, he made a precipitate rush through the little door, and sought safety under the stage, hotly pursued by Mr. Lovejoy, who opporunely came across the foreign gentleman quietly sneaking away, and fell upon him tooth and nail. The foreign gentleman, being choleric, knocked Mr. Lovejoy down. Mr. Lovejoy, being by no means de..cient in pluck, regained the perpendicular, and — in the language of the ring – let the foreign gentleman “have it." That individual next seized the astonished Whiffles and endeavored to drag him before Mr. Lovejoy, in order that he might undergo condign punishment, when the foreign gentleman slipped; they both fell, and the two trombone-players mysteriously disappeared.
They had fallen down an unused well under the stage, Mr. Whiffles undermost. There being but little water, they
SODA. ONE of the chemical discoveries of the present century, the applications of which are the most varied, and the history of which is the least known, is the manufacture of soda. It is a metallic oxide; that is to say, the combination of a metal with oxygen. Like potash, with which it has many affinities and many common uses, it belongs to what the Arabs called, in the ninth century, alkalies, name which, as well as alchemy, has been adopted in most European laboratories.
It has a strong affinity for acids, and combines with them to form various salts. This property is made use of in trades of various kinds, as, for instance, in scouring cloths that must be freed from greasy matters, and also in the manufacture of soap. The real composition of alkalies was entirely unknown to the old alchemists. They, however, got so far as to obtain many alkaline salts, and their probable application was also perceived. thus that potash combined with nitric acid gave saltpetre, one of the ingredients of gunpowder. Albertus Magnus indicated this in 1225, calling nitric acid dissolving water. He
gave lectures in Paris on these subjects with such success that the hall where he taught became too small for his numerous audience, and he continued his lessons in the open air, in a square which took his name, Magni Alberti, now corrupted into the Place Maubert. In order to show the present value of soda in commercial matters, it may be well to describe the share it takes in the manufacture of soap and glass alone.
We owe the largely increased use of soap in the west to the period of Louis XIV., when Colbert imported the manufacture of it from Savona to Provence, where he founded large and very flourishing establishments. This white and marbled
soap has not even yet lost its superiority, and still occupies a first place among similar products of other nations. It is made by combining soda with the acid fat of olive-oil. The glass manufactories also consume an immense quantity of soda. Glass is composed of flint and different alkaline bases, such as potash, soda, lime, and barytes. Certain mineral oxides give it a variety of color, sometimes of a very undesirable kind. Should the paste contain traces of iron, instead of producing white glass, there will be only the common bottle-glass; and if the iron be in larger proportions, the dark-green shade will be the result. On the trary, add a certain quantity of oxide of lead to a pure base of potash, and the beautiful crystal glass is formed; a still larger dose, and the diamond paste, with its wonderfully dispersive power, will deceive many an unpractised eye. Between these extremes, the dull bottle and the many-sided crystal, there is the window-glass, which adds so much to the comfort and health of our houses, the gorgeous lookingglasses to adorn our drawing-rooms, the rich decorations for the dining-table, the crystal pendants of our gasaliers, and many other other objects which satisfy our commonest necessities, and minister to the highest taste or luxury.
The two alkalies, soda and potash, have been obtained from time immemorial, either by collecting natron, as it was
formerly named, during the evaporation of alkaline waters bringing the salt water, which, when evaporated, gave the in shallow lakes, or by burning plants which grew on the necessary material, so that any quantity of soda could be sea-shore, and gathering up the alkali contained in the ashes. made. Several chemists set to work; the one who took up There are lakes formed, as it were, of crystallized carbonate Leblanc's system in full was M. Payen, who established a of soda; such is Lake Natrum in Egypt, from which is de- manufactory in the then deserted plain of Grenelle, and rived the term natron; and others in Hungary, Russia, others were placed nearer the sea-coast, at Marseilles, ChauIndia, Tibet, and Peru. If vegetables have grown beside
ny, and Rouen.
In a very few years so much was produced the coast, soda is predominant in the ashes; if, on the con- that the importation of soda into the French market was trary, they flourished inland, potash is found almost alone. strictly forbidden, according to the protectionist ideas of The ashes are washed, and the water dissolving the alkalies the period. England, at this time, was prevented from may be used at once for any cleansing process; or, after adopting the new trade by the enormous duty laid upon filtering and evaporating, it may be collected in compact or salt by the government; and it was not until 1823 that Mr. granulated masses, white, red, or bluish. These rough Muspratt established a manufactory of soda near Liverpool, lumps were known in commerce as soda of Alicant, Tene- which is still one of the largest chemical works in this counriffe, Spain, or Narbonne. There was still a third method
try, perhaps in the world. of obtaining it; not from plants growing on the sea-shore, 'It only remains to show the process by which Leblanc but really in the bed of the ocean, such as sea-weeds; from carried out his ideas, using as few technical terms as may which a result was obtained very poor in soda, but rich in be, so as to bring it within the understanding of the general saline composition, and useful in the manufacture of glass, reader. It will be seen what difficulties he had to contend where a variety of salts mixed with the molten fluid was against, what other chemical products were brought to light highly favorable.
during the operations, and what close relations exist between Such was the state of the market for soda when the French this and many other articles of trade. Revolution broke out, and France, placed under the ban of When marine salt is acted upon by sulphuric acid, an a European coalition, saw many sources of her national acid gas is thrown off, and sulphate of soda remains. In wealth dried up.
Not only was soda interdicted, but vari- the time of Leblanc, chemists were ignorant of the compo ous chemical compounds useful for manufactures, and all sition of the gas which escapes, and gave it the name, for those which were indispensable for the engines of war, such want of a better, of muriatic acid ; and marine salt was supas saltpetre and sulphur. The fabrication of artificial soda posed to be a composition of this acid and soda, which was is one of the most important and beautiful discoveries of this
In the present day, it is known that marine salt period, so fruitful in chemical invention ; such an abundance is composed only of soda and chlorine, and that muriatic was supplied, that it was used in many cases where potash had acid consists of hydrogen and chlorine. Neither Leblanc hitherto been necessary, and thus the latter could be reserved nor his companions suspected the real case, that sulphurie for gunpowder alone. A commission of savans was ap- acid could have no power over salt without the intervention pointed, and they were not long in finding the right man, of water. It is this simple agent, which, by decomposing, furwho had devoted half a century to such researches, — Nicho- nishes oxygen for the sodium, and hydrogen for the chlorine; las Leblanc, whose manner of proceeding has survived to the giving, as a result, the soda, which combines with the sulpresent day without any particular change; and we give, phuric acid, and a gas which flies off, now called, to adopt after authentic documents, a short sketch of the inventor the more exact names of the new system, hydrochloric acid. and the invention.
Without water there could be no reaction ; happily, it was Leblanc had been formerly an officer of health, a chemist, always present in the sulphuric acid that was employed, and a member of several learned societies; he was well and consequently this error in theory had no influence over known by his works on crystallization, and had discovered the result in action. We have now reached the point of a method of obtaining isolated and complete crystals, which obtaining sulphate of soda; to obtain the common soda, it could be increased at will by placing in certain conditions. is necessary to divide it from the sulphuric acid, which was He was also the first to observe that many sulphates crys- altogether Leblanc's discovery. Most chemists proposed a tallized in the same way, and might be superposed on each solution of this difficult question by heating it with various other in crystals of similar form; this was the new step which bodies; he laid his hand upon the one which gave the best led other learned men to the new theory of isomorphism. results, chalk, or carbonate of chalk, and charcoal. It is At the request of the government, in 1792, he began a singular that he did not even know the exact theory of the manufactory, and the Duke of Orleans, entering into the reaction this produces, which later chemists have fully scheme, found the necessary capital. The works were es- defined ; but his instinct was so sure, his first experiments tablished at St. Denis, and for two years were in full activi- were conducted with such accuracy, and the quantities were ty, with every prospect of success, when an unexpected so irreproachably defined, that later years have in no degree catastrophe ruined all the hopes of Leblanc. The death of changed the manufacturing process which Leblanc first laid the Duke of Orleans, and the strict sequestration of his down. First came the decomposition of marine salt by sulestate, deprived the partnership of the indispensable funds; phuric acid; then the decomposition of sulphate of soda by there followed a disastrous liquidation ; the utensi's, materi- the heated kiln, and the washing of the rough soda on the als, and products already obtained, were sold by auction ; floor of the kiln. the ruin of the establishment was complete; and the patent From the first of these operations, one of the most imgranted by government having returned into its hands, portant articles in modern industrial occupation intervenes, the inventor saw himself deprived of his privilege, whilst – that of sulphuric acid. In a few years, a way of making the commission had made known its smallest details. It is it in large quantities was discovered ; and, going side by side curious to note that he considered his manufacture of soda with soda, of which it was the issue, the face of all chemical a thing of no account, but rested all his hopes of fame and operations was changed. It is by the help of it, that, diprofit on his collection of crystals; he relates the patient rectly or indirectly, chemists are enabled to extract from labor of twenty years in his book, but a short note contains the different salts the greater part of the acids used in laborathe two years' work at the St. Denis establishment. He was tories and in the arts. Thanks to it, hydrochloric acid has more of a savant than a manufacturer; and the author of been economically obtained, which has rendered such service one of the greatest of modern chemical inventions died in paper-making, bleaching, dyeing of stuffs, also serving for poor in 1806.
the preparation of gelatine, of ammoniacal salts, and of disThe want of success in this undertaking did not hinder infectants. Next is carbonic acid, which is used in the others from prosecuting the work; there was the same ne- manufacture of soda-water and all effervescent drinks, in cessity as before for the production of soda, and now that the extraction of sugar from beet-root, and the fabrication the discovery had been made that it could be obtained from of alkaline bicarbonates; and last of all is azotic acid, the sea-salt, there was no fear of foreign intervention. The most powerful agent of oxidation, which dissolves all metals, armies of Europe could not prevent the waves of the At- even gold and platina, when united to hydrochloric acid, lantic and Mediterranean washing the shores of France, and and is indispensable to the workers in metals. By sulphuric
As the evap
acid, phosphates are transformed into powerful manures ; and breaking it into fragments, after allowing it to cool. sulphates of aluminium, of potash, of magnesia, of ammonia Thus the obstinate consumers had forced a manufacturer and iron, are economically obtained, with many other im- to exert his imagination in order to sell them French soda, portant applications in agriculture, medicine, and domestic instead of American, at the price of a hundred and thirty economy. The production of electric currents, of electro- francs, when it was only worth eighty francs. chemical gilding and plating, the refining of gold and silver, A few words in conclusion as to the salt-works on the the making of stearine candles, the purification of colza and shores of the Mediterranean may not be uninteresting, as other oils, the dissolution of indigo, are some among, many they form the groundwork from which the manufacture of other branches of trade which could not be carried on soda springs. The water from the sea is brought during without sulphuric acid; and its being manufactured in such the summer months into large basins, where it clears and large quantities is entirely owing to the soda-works.
concentrates its quality by evaporation, until the time One of the most serious embarrassments arose from the arrives when it is saturated ; that is, when it contains the immense quantity of hydrochloric acid which was poured largest quantity of salt that the water can keep in a state out from the soda-works in the form of gas. It was con- of dissolution. There is a curious phenomenon connected densed as much as possible by passing it through a se- with this period : the surface of the water acquires a red ries of vessels full of water, thus obtaining acid dissolutions, tint, and exhales the odor of violets, which is thus accounted which had a certain value, but more was produced than for: Many small organic beings, such as the little cruscould be disposed of. Besides, much escaped into the at- taceous branchiopodes and a globular microscopic vegetable, mosphere in the shape of corrosive acid vapor, which both of a red color, for the crustacean feeds on the latter, attacked the iron parts of buildings, dried up the leaves of and, its body, being transparent, the color of the food it the trees, and exercised a most pernicious influence on the swallows is visible, — live in the salt water. health of the surrounding neighborhood. The winds car- oration proceeds, the density of the water in which they ried it away to great distances, and the effects were percep- move increases; and the time comes when it is so considertible miles away. The proprietors had to pay heavy dam- able that they can no longer live in it, but rise to the ages; and it became a matter of existence or non-existence surface like a thin tissue spread over the liquid, and form a to the soda-works to find a means of condensing and col- rosy and perfumed bed. Then the workmen say:
" The lecting this deleterious acid. All these difficulties have basin will now yield its salt.” Many other matters are been surmounted; and, as it has often happened in chem- deposited besides the salt, such as salt of magnesia, chalk, istry, each has become the means of fresh progress.
One sodium, iron. When the early attempts were made, the of the most curious plans tried to purify the air was to build existence of iodine and bromide were altogether unknown the works near to old abandoned quarries, and burying the articles in chemistry; they have both played an important inconvenient vapors in their depths; but the acid, penetrat- part in the progress of photography. ing the stone, rendered it moist and friable, so that portions There was one drawback to the success of these saltfell, and houses built in the neighborhood were rendered works, which has been removed during the past few years ; unsafe. Two different arrangements are now adopted, both the evaporation being due to the season of the year, a warm succeeding perfectly. One is to pass the gas through many or a cold summer made the greatest difference, and long hundreds of stone bottles, communicating with each other periods of rest often hindered the workmen. It is well through well-luted tubes; a current of water is driven known that heat is but a modification of force; and wherever through them in an opposite way to the gas, and the small- a machine can be worked, there is a source of heat; and, by est portion of hydrochloric acid is thus dissolved. Another means of appliances not difficult to modern mechanics, it plan is what is called the absorbing cascade; a high, wide can be transformed into a source of cold. When the questower is built of flint-stones, the interior of which is filled tion arose how the salt-pits' could be regulated in these with coke, fragments of flint, or bricks set apart ; the gas is respects, it was known that powerful steam-engines of more introduced at the base, and before it can escape it has to than a hundred horse-power were used in India for the pass through all the interstices of these hard materials. making of ice. In the London Exhibition of 1862, an ecoFrom above, a fine rain of water is continually falling, and, nomical and elegant machine of this kind was exhibited ; meeting the gas at every angle, retards its progress, and ab- this, on a larger scale, was immediately employed, and the sorbs the acid.
temperature can now be lowered at the right moment for The artificial soda differed much from the appearance of the production of sulphate of soda. Perhaps, in future days, the natural soda, to which the eye was accustomed; thus the manufacture of soda may be no longer necessary, for an the new production excited great distrust; the washer- immense subterranean deposit, rich in saline particles, simwomen especially refused to use it, saying that it burned ilar to those of the salt marshes, has been discovered in the linen. Whether true or not, it led to a very valuable Germany, near to Magdeburg - a stratified mass, slowly discovery, by which, through the aid of a simple process, formed by the sea in past geologic ages, and buried in the the exact amount of potash and soda contained in the lump bowels of the earth by the accumulation of later formations. can be accurately defined. Henceforward, the relations be- It was discovered in 1860; and the place, little known tween producers and consumers rested on a certain basis, before, has attracted many visitors interested in the subject. whilst previously some amount of subterfuge had been re- The barbarous proceedings which were long used to prepare sorted to, innocent in its way, and rather ingenious, as the this alkali — the burning down of forests, which were following illustration will show: Among all the foreign al- rapidly being exhausted in Germany, Russia, America, and kalies which commanded the exclusive confidence of cer- Tuscany — are no longer necessary; and the supply of soda, tain consumers, there was one, the red potash of America, either from the waves of the sea or the mines of Germany, which enjoyed an unexceptional favor. "Rather unexpect- appears to be inexhaustible. edly, the announcement was made that several packages of the much-desired product had arrived ; and the fact seemed
SIGNOR JOHN. to be well established. The barrels which held it were of the well-known wood, the staves strongly bound, and when
I. a barrel was opened there were the same large, angular It seems but this morning that I got up before the sun, in lumps, rather red in color, betraying their origin by the caus- our little wooden house, to cook, bake, wash in the river, tic lavor when touched by the tongue. It was immediately help to mow the grass, coax my father, serve my brother bought up, and used in various ways with perfect success, Niccolo, and be as happy as the grasshoppers that sing both like the best quality of American potash. From this time night and day. We lived upon a very high Alp, and we there were regular arrivals of the same article, and not a were poor, though we did not suffer hardship. In winter complaint was heard. They were, however, manufactured we had plenty of pine-logs to keep the fire alive, and at at Vaugirard, near to Paris, by weakening the artificial night we were very gay, singing songs and playing the soda, the color being due to the addition of sulphate of cop- zither. In summer we breakfasted on the grass in the faint pes, and the angular appearance was obtained by melting | dawn, dined under the long roof at the sheltered side of the