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Ploessl, of Vienna, which for magnifying power and clearness of vision Mr. Bauer has found superior to every other he has had an opportunity of using, appear to be transparent glassy tubes, flattened, and twisted round their own axis. A section of the filament resembles in some degree a figure of 8; the tube, originally cylindrical, having collapsed most in the middle, forming semi-tubes on each side, which give to the fibre, when viewed in certain lights, the appearance of a flat ribbon, with a hem or border at each edge. The uniform transparency of the filament is impaired by small irregular figures, in all probability wrinkles or creases arising from the desiccation of the tube. The twisted and corkscrew form of the filament of cotton distinguishes it from all other vegetable fibres, and is characteristic of the fully ripe and mature pod, Mr. Bauer having ascertained that the fibres of the unripe seed are simple untwisted cylindrical tubes, which never twist afterwards if separated from the plant; but when the seeds ripen, even before the capsule bursts, the cylindrical tubes collapse in the middle, and assume the form already described, and which is accurately delineated in the accompanying drawing.
This form and character the fibres retain ever after, and in that respect undergo no change through the operation of spin.ning, weaving, bleaching, printing, and dyeing, nor in all the subsequent domestic operations of washing, &c., till the stuff is worn to rags; and then even the violent process of reducing those rags to pulp for the purpose of making paper, effects no change in the structure of those fibres. “With Ploessl's microscope,” says Mr. Bauer, “I can ascertain whether cotton rags have been mixed with linen in any manufactured paper whatever.”
The elementary fibres of flax (linum usitatissimum) are also transparent tubes, cylindrical, and articulated or jointed like a cane. This latter structure is only observable by the aid of an excellent instrument. They are accurately delineated in the annexed engraving.
Earplanation of Plate A.
First row of figures: A. Fibres of the unripe seed of cotton. In that state the fibres are perfect cylindrical tubes. At " is a fibre represented as seen under water, showing that the water
had gradually entered and enclosed several air-bubbles, proving the tube to be quite hollow, and without joints. B. The first two fibres are from ripe cotton, and are already twisted, though the pod or capsule is not yet burst, and is still on the growing plant. The other three fibres are of raw cotton prepared for manufacture. C. Various fibres of unravelled threads of manufactured cotton. The fibres of cotton in the annexed drawing are represented 1&n of an inch in length, and are magnified 400 times in diameter. In thickness these fibres vary from s}o to soon part of an inch. The twists or turns in a fibre of cotton are from 300 to 800 in an inch. Second row of figures. Plate B. Fig. 1. Fibres of raw flax before spinning. Fig. 2. Fibres of unravelled threads of manufactured flax. Fig. 3, 4, 5. Fibres of the unravelled threads of various mummy cloths. Fig. 6. Fibres of unravelled threads of the cloth of Dr. Granville's mummy, supposed to be cotton. The specimens are all flax, and the fibres remarkably strong and large. Fig. 7. Fibres of unravelled threads of several Ibis mummies. Fig. 8. Fibres of unravelled threads of the mummy of an ox's head. All the annexed figures of fibres of flax represent each Too of an inch in length, and are magnified 400 times in diameter. They vary in thickness from T}o to soon part of an inch.
Of the productions of the loom amongst the nations of antiquity, with the exception of those which form the subject of this paper, we know only what is to be gathered from the few scattered notices in ancient writers. Even the great work of Pliny, the encyclopædia of that day, and with all its defects, an invaluable collection of facts, affords but scanty information. Of the manufactures of the Egyptians, and of their domestic arts, our knowledge is more ample, but we are more indebted to their monuments than to their historians; and the paintings which adorn their tombs, and which are fresh at the present
day as from the hand of the artist, have revealed to us more than all the writers of antiquity.
Of the products of the Egyptian loom, however, we know scarcely more than the mummy-pits have disclosed to us; and it would be as unreasonable to look through modern sepulchres for specimens and proofs of the state of manufacturing art amongst ourselves, as to deduce an opinion of the skill of the Egyptians from those fragments of cloth which envelope their dead, and have come down, almost unchanged, to our own time. The curious or costly fabrics which adorned the living, and were the pride of the industry and skill of Thebes, have perished ages ago. There are, however, amongst these remains some which are not unworthy of notice, which carry us back into the workshops of former times, and exhibit to us the actual labours of the weavers and dyers of Egypt more than two thousand years ago.
The great mass of the mummy cloth employed in bandages and coverings, whether of birds, animals, or of the human species, is of coarse texture, especially that more immediately in contact with the body, and which is generally impregnated with resinous or bituminous matter. The upper bandages, nearer the surface, are finer. Sometimes the whole is enveloped in a covering coarse and thick, and very like the sacking of the present day; sometimes in cloth coarse and open, like that used in our cheese-presses, for which it might easily be mistaken. In the College of Surgeons are various specimens of these cloths, some of which are very curious.
The beauty of the texture and peculiarity in the structure of a mummy cloth given to me by Mr. Belzoni was very striking. It was free from gum, or resin, or impregnation of any kind, and had evidently been originally white. It was close and firm, yet very elastic. The yarn or thread of both warp and woof was remarkably even and well spun. The thread of the warp was double, consisting of two finer threads twisted together. The woof was single. The warp contained 90 threads in an inch ; the woof, or weft, only 44. The fineness of these materials, estimated after the manner of cotton yarn, was about 30 hanks” in the pound.
* A hank measures 849 yards, so by the length, or number of yards into that the degree of fineness is estimated which a pound of cotton is spun.