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name of which is sulphate of copper, being a that these two gases are the only materials compound of sulphuric acid and copper. On of which water is made up or entirely the inside of this is a sort of shelf full of holes composed. I have here (D), upon which I have placed a number a glass tube which conof pieces of the substance just alluded to, tains a mixture of these with a view to keep the solution as strong two gases, oxygen and as possible. Within this again is a hydrogen, and which has cylinder of porous material which con- two pieces of wire which tains a mixture consisting of one part of go through the sides, and oil of vitriol, and seven of water. In the whose points nearly meet centre of this is a rod of zinc (C), sup-in the hollow part inside. ported in the smaller cylinder by the cross In the curve of the tube piece (I). The instrument is fitted up with (c) there some water, caps and screws (E and F), to connect the which has been previwires (G and H) along which the current of ously measured exactly, electricity passes from the battery. If the and which is placed there to prevent the gas end of these wires (G and H) be brought in the hollow part at a being mixed with air. together a spark will be seen to pass between If I now connect the wires of the battery their points; or if they are held in the with the wires which pass through the hands (previously wetted), the peculiar gases, an explosion will take place, and the effects of a continuous current of electricity oxygen and hydrogen will have united again will be felt. Why this effect is produced in the form of water. If quicksilver is would occupy more time to explain than placed in the tube the experiment is still we can afford just now, and the subject more striking. As, however, the explosion will therefore be reserved till another is violent, the experiment is fraught with opportunity presents itself for me to talk some danger. to you about it.
There are other methods for decomposing water which are more easily practised than that which I have described to you, and which I will now show you how to perform.
To make the phenomenon of the decomposition of water very evident, several of these batteries should be connected together. The wires connecting the two ends of the batteries should also be waxed over their whole extent, except about an inch at the points, so that when they are plunged in
Let an ordinary half-pint bottle be rather more than half filled with water, and drop some pieces of zinc or iron turnings into it; then pour in about an ounce of
the water which is to be decomposed, a tum-sulphuric acid, or vitriol. A bubbling and bler, or other glass receiver, may catch all the hissing will immediately commence, and a bubbles that rise. If this arrangement is quantity of hydrogen will escape. If a made, and the wires plunged into pure cork with a small tube passing through it water, a stream of gas will rise in bubbles be fitted to the neck, the stream of gas may from each wire where it is uncovered by the be lighted, and will be found to burn with wax. These bubbles are produced by the a very pale blue flame; and if the tube rewires from any good battery, but unless the presented in Fig. 1 be held over it, water stream of galvanic electricity is powerful, will be found to result. Here let us stop the gases are not produced in sufficient to inquire how these metallic fragments, quantity for examination. The gases from and the vitriol, have the power to separate each wire having been collected, let us pro- the component parts of the water and to ceed to test them separately. A taper set the hydrogen free. It appears that sulplunged into the first burns with increased phuric acid, or vitriol, has a great affinity, brightness; but in the second, is imme- or attraction, for zinc and iron, and longs diately extinguished, though the gas itself to unite with either of them; but the acid at the moment takes fire itself. The first, cannot unite with them in their pure metalwe may be pretty sure, is oxygen, as the lic state, they must be first combined with great supporter of combustion; and the oxygen, and become oxides of iron (rust), latter, being an inflammable gas, is our new or oxides of zinc. In the case before us, acquaintance-hydrogen. then, the iron or zinc desiring to unite Perhaps you still are in doubt, however, with the sulphuric acid robs the water of
gen, to escape, while sulphate of iron, or sulphate of zinc, is formed in the bottle. Another method of decomposing water is by passing the steam from a kettle through a gun barrel full of iron-filings made redhot in a chafer, or portable furnace. In this experiment the oxygen of the steam (vapour of water) is attracted and absorbed by the heated iron, and pure hydrogen passes out at the other end of the gun barrel, where it may be collected and burned. In the burning, the hydrogen again combines with the oxygen of the air, and water is again produced.
its oxygen, leaving the other part, hydro-fire-damp of coal-mines owes its destructive powers; and to the same cause is due the accidents which occur when the ordinary coal gas escapes into cellars, and becomes mixed with the air, in which it finds oxygen. Hydrogen alone has no explosive propensities, unless it finds some oxygen with which to come in contact and unite; and in like manner the carburetted hydrogen, which is used to illuminate our streets, would have never produced the accidents recorded, in its pure state. An electric spark passed through pure hydrogen does not ignite it.
On the other hand, wherever we see a flame, we may be sure that hydrogen is therein, combining with oxygen, and that water is being produced just as it is by the candle or gas-light. In each of these instances there is a double union going on. The oil of the lamp, and the tallow of the candle, and the gas from coal, contain hydrogen and carbon. While the hydrogen makes the flame, by uniting with the oxygen of the atmosphere to form water, the carbon, as I before explained, unites with the same gas to form carbonic acid. The particles of carbon become white with heat in the otherwise colourless flame of hydrogen, and thus endow it with illuminating power.
We have thus demonstrated that water is composed entirely of two gases-hydrogen and oxygen; and that this very fluid which is used to extinguish flame is produced by that which it is so frequently used to destroy.
Hydrogen is quite colourless, transparent as the air, but fourteen times as light; it is therefore peculiarly adapted for floating heavy weights in the atmosphere when confined in a bag called a balloon. It does not support combustion, though it is itself highly combustible-a burning spark immersed in it is immediately extinguished.
Next to oxygen, hydrogen may be regarded as the most important constituent of the earth. It takes its name from two Greek words, the former signifying "water," and the latter "to produce." It is evolved from the earth by volcanoes, and forms various combinations, among which may be mentioned ammonia, the essential principle of the common smelling salts. It is said to be breathed out by certain plants, of the fungus or mushroom class. But most im
This experiment will be made more interesting if all the materials are weighed exactly before the boiling is commenced, which will enable the operator to discover if any loss or destruction of matter has taken place. When such an examination is made, it is found that some of the water has vanished, and that in consequence, the vessel containing it weighs less than it did before. Whither has it flown? On weighing the gun-barrel, an increase of weight is detected, proving that something has been added to its contents; and upon emptying out the iron turnings, which were put in so bright and clean, we find that a brown coating has destroyed their metallic lustre, and increased their heaviness. If this extra weight be added to the weight of the hydrogen which has passed off, it will be found to make up a sum equal to the weight of water missed from the kettle or boiler. By chemical analysis the brown coating upon the iron shavings could be proved to be composed of the metal united with oxygen in the form of oxide, which is the name used to describe the results of all such unions of the gas with metals. If, moreover, the oxygen could be liberated from the iron, and made to unite with the hydrogen which has passed over, the exact quantity of water which has been missed from the kettle would be reproduced.
This union of oxygen and hydrogen may be effected by pressure, but the gases, in uniting, produce a violent explosion, and therefore the experiment should never be performed except with instruments constructed to allow of this sudden expansion of the contents. To this explosive property of a mixture of these gases, the
wife with a countenance yellow as gold,
"Frightful struggles of the elements."
Whampo Whang had a friend called Phi-Phing. He was a little sharp man, whose eyes blinked at the rate of three to a second. Having read many books, and written some moral poems, he passed for a genius, especially as he made much money by means which I shall not investigate, since it might be impertinent. But, being luxurious, he spent his dollars faster than he earned them; and one morning sat in a
too confident in our wisdom, since, perad-cake-shop-owing a large bill to the cook venture, we may find that our ignorance is quite as ridiculous, and more inexcusable than that of our ancestors.
with an overwhelming debt on his head, but without a home to go to. Then he bethought himself of Whampo Whang, whom, in prosperity, he had despised, because he would not speculate. There was little in common between the two worthies, except that each possessed on his head the bump-national in China-of cheating.
A SKETCH OF LIFE IN THE GOLD REGIONS.
So Phi-Phing set off in search of
I WOULD not believe it! He had narrow-Whampo Whang, and was courteously re
ly escaped death among the Borneo pirates;
ceived by him. Seated, pipe in hand, over
* See vol. ii. p. 9.
portant of all the phenomena connected with it, is its strong affinity for oxygen, and the formation of water, of which hydrogen-light as it is-constitutes more than a tenth part by weight.
As it does not support combustion, you will be prepared to hear that it cannot support respiration, which is the same phenomenon in a different mode. Nevertheless, though hydrogen does not support life, it can, unlike carbonic acid, be breathed for a few seconds. If we speak while the chest is thus filled with the gas, a remarkable alteration is perceived in the tone of the voice, which becomes softer, shriller, and often squeaking. When wind instruments are played with it their tones are affected in a similar manner.
The ancients believed that all things were composed of fire, air, earth, and water; and these they named "the four elements," an expression still used by poets, who describe storms as
WHAMPO WHANG IN
very preposterous, since it is a common practice in civilized lands. I have heard many such propositions; and here the reader may thank me for a little advice. When you meet a plausible gentleman who proposes a scheme entirely for your benefit, make him a civil bow and turn your back. Elegantly expressed, he is a humbug!
wise man; therefore, I doubt the truth of these maxims, and still believe in some constancy, good faith, and affection.
To buy an estate, and cultivate tea on the slope of some sunny mountain, was one of Phi-Phing's proposals; but Whampo Whang heard it coldly, never pricking up his ears once until a name was mentioned which caused his pig-tail visibly to wag, the blush to redden in his cheeks, and his eyes to blink with alarming rapidity. Grasping his friend by the hand, he consigned himself to the company of owls for never thinking of the thing before. Forthwith the two adventurers arranged a plan of operations.
But why digress? Whampo Whang and Phi-Phing were bound for California in the junk Defier of Storms," and ten thousand miles of ocean lay before them. Of all that voyage I have not heard one circumstance, and if I had, I could not pause to tell it. Let us then set ourselves down at San Francisco-where the two friends paid three hundred dollars for a week's lodging at the hotel-and stored their cargo of tea, spirits, and dried provisions. The "Defier of Storms" then departed, and despite her valiant name, was engulphed by waves, five hundred miles at sea. The adventurers at once resolved to proceed to the diggings with the portable house brought from Hong Kong, and establishing themselves on the banks of some golden-sanded river, commence operations. It was some time before two servants could be hired, for over every door was written, "Gone to the Diggins." The town was as a
The sun had scarcely set thirty times from that day, before Ting-Tang villa was in the hands of a retired tea-planter, Mrs. Whampo Whang in a small dwelling on the outskirts of the town, and the mer-city of the plague; deserted silent ships chant with his friend lolling in the cabin of swung in a desolate harbour, grass grew in an enormous junk, just spreading her lateen the streets, and tall, gaunt houses stood sail for the golden coast of California. tenantless on the beach. But a continual From a time beyond man's memory, emi- stream of traffic poured from certain gration was interdicted to the inhabitants groups, along certain highways; and within of the Celestial empire, and, with the ex- a few mornings of their arrival, Whampo eeption of those occasional swarms that Whang and his companion found themfloated over the seas, and settled down selves in a capacious waggon, with a tent, among the Indian islands, the children of the portable house, and their stores, on the China lived, died, and were buried in the way to the valley where gold was plentiland where their cradles were rocked. But ful as dust. Scenes the most novel met when the golden rivers of the Sacramento their sight, as wending their way over a were discovered, even ancient customs landscape of ever-varying fertility, rich bent and broke under the rule of Mammon; with the hues of beauty, perfumed with the for, whatever may be said of sacred hearths breath of flowers, and teeming with the and homes, and indissoluble ties and bonds activity of life, they approached the great to bind for ever, I believe in few of them valley, where, under the expanding roof of -especially in China. Set up a golden heaven, a hundred thousand votaries bent rock amid the waters of the remotest sea, before the shrine of the great god-Gold. and, like the loadstone, it will attract men from all the quarters of the world; from domestic hearths, from happy homes, from forefathers' graves, from children's cradles, from wives' bosoms-from kindred, friends, and native land; and when the new idol rises in the heart, the old one will die out of memory, as the affection of to-day is blotted out by the love of to-morrow. This is the philosopher's creed; but I had rather be a deluded dupe, than a cynical
In one spot might be seen, on a level sward shaded by trees, a party of amateur diggers engaged in preparations for a meal. Before the door of the tent, groups were busy round the blazing fire, over which, in iron pans and pots, huge masses of pork were hissing in oceans of their own fat, with tin pails-used in common as kettles and gold-washing machines-full of boiling water, and open coffee-pots, foaming with rich brown froth. Crowds of men
gathered round these comfortable scenes of preparation. Among them convicts, released, or escaped, from New South Wales, were remarkable for their hideous countenances, and disorderly demeanour. flaming red caps bound about with white cloaths, greasy shirts of the same colour, huge loose belts of leather, and most formidable sheath-knives, they danced around the fires, shouting, yelling, singing demoniacal songs, and playing all the antics characteristic of humanity under its most degraded forms-drunken and criminal.
sounds proclaimed awaking life. Coffee, pork, and pilot bread, were devoured; tents were struck, waggons and boats were in motion; and seizing axes, spades, shovels, crow-bars, with every implement at hand, the gold-seekers, snatching a hurried meal, rushed furiously to work, to dig, scrape, wash, sift, and search for gold;-gold! the great hardener of nature, the soother of sorrows, the idol of all hearts, and the object of all hopes!
Whampo Whang and Phi-Phing gazed on these scenes, and the merchant looked curiously into his friend's face. There he read encouragement-and in a short time found himself behind a broad counter in front of the little portable house which they had brought from Hong Kong. Many of their countrymen were busy in the valley erecting dwellings for the gold hunters, and receiving for their labour payment at the most imperial rate. They resolved also to sell, at imperial prices, the provisions they had stored up within the house, with knives, pistols, powder, percussion-caps, guns, tobacco, leathern pantaloons, shirts, and tin utensils for goldwashing, which they had purchased from a Yankee dealer at San Francisco. The man was not sober when he sold the things, but so much the better for our Chinamen, who, with the praiseworthy view of punishing his intemperance, cheated him out of half their ordinary value, and drank to intoxication to celebrate the achievement.
All over the valley had arisen multitudes of bushy bowers, calico-frame houses, tents, wooden sheds, indescribable erections of poles and canvas, and every kind of temporary dwelling that the ingenuity of the diggers could devise. Many hundreds lived in old waggons: some modern disciples of Diogenes slept in tubs and barrels! others had scooped for themselves holes in the earth, or formed hovels of turf and clay; whilst thousands of shelterless wretches were fain to be content with the warmth of a blanket under the open sky. All day long the toilers swarmed in every quarter of the valley. The bright winding river was peopled along its banks with men of all classes, descriptions, and characters. There were merchants, gentlemen, lawyers, thieves, parsons, doctors, poets, players, beggars, bankrupts, editors, writers, printers, tradesmen, pedagogues, painters, lords, and vagabonds-swarming in tumultuous crowds, some in groups, some scattered, some solitary, but all with faces bent to the earth. Some washed the sand in pails, cullenders, rocking-machines, and sieves; some delved, some hunted among the hollows and ravines. When night came, and the dusky shadows crept over the valley, a thousand twinkling lights shone in all directions; a thousand bivouac fires were lit, the toilers threw by their tools, songs and gaiety prevailed, the flames glared brightly, the evening meals were eaten, and then, each seeking his own shed, all lay down to rest, and gradually the spirit of sleep fell upon all that mighty multitude, and silence creeping over the scenes, darkness closed around-as the slumberers, wafted into the world of dreams, forgot the toil of day in the balmy rest of night. Morning dawned. Ten thousand mingled
If ever a shop throve, it was that concern of Whampo Whang, and his friend Phi-Phing! They sold their goods at prices which no extortionate Jew in famine time ever dreamed of demanding; and numerous little bags of gold dust, with heaps of shining dollars, testified to their ingenuity. When a customer came, he would untie a leathern pouch, and demand perhaps a bottle of brandy. The scales was forthwith produced, an ounce of the fine grains weighed, and the change effected to mutual satisfaction. With other things it was the same; but spirits, provisions, and bowie-knives, sold most freely. The food was to feed upon, the liquor was to revel in, and the weapon was to enact the usual last scene in a Californian bacchanalian feast, when several wretches generally fell upon each other, to satisfy with blood the passions excited by ardent drink. Several