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small proportions; and be it observed that these proportions are constantly varying, according to the quality of the coal, the skill and care bestowed on its manufacture, &c. The analysis considered most correct at the present day, as an average, is that of Dr. Henry, which, from 100 measures of coal-gas, whose specific gravity is .650, is as follows:
The first of these is composed of 2 atoms of hydrogen and 2 atoms of charcoal; and the weight of 100 cubic inches is 29.652 grains. When pure, it has neither taste nor smell, it burns with a dense white light, combining with three times its bulk of oxygen. In carburetted hydrogen, there is but 1 atom of charcoal to 2 atoms of hydrogen, and its specific gravity is ·5555. This is the only constituent of coal gas which has any tendency to explode. Combining with twice its bulk of oxygen, it burns with a dull yellowish flame, and will produce no explosion, except when mixed with from 5 to 14 times its own weight of atmospheric air. The more olefiant gas contained in any given quantity the better is the light, and the heavier the compound; hence it is that the best gas is the heaviest, and the worst the lightest—light carburetted hydrogen predominating in the latter. Here we have an explanation of the manner in which certain companies, both in this country and England, pretend to furnish gas at a cheaper rate than their rivals
. The author of the article Gas-light, in the “ Encyclopædia Britannica,” gives the following facts as the results of experiments on light (defective) coal-gasmor gas, in which there was a superabundance of light carburetted hydrogen : “We took,” he says, " a portion, of the specific gravity of •67, which we found consumed at the rate of 4,400 cubic inches per hour, and yielded the light of 11 candles, being 400 cubic inches per hour for the light of one candle. This gas, being diluted with a fourth part of its bulk of pure hydrogen, acquired the specific gravity .55, and wasted away at the rate of 6,545 cubic inches per hour, yielding the light of 10 candles. As a fifth part of the compound gas was hydrogen, the remaining four-fifths, amounting to 5,236 cubic inches, was the quantity of the coal-gas, which in its diluted state
gave the light of ten candles, for an hour; so that 524 cubic inches of the original coal-gas were requisite to give the light of one. candle for the same time. But, in its unmixed state, 400 cubic inches were sufficient to give the light of one candle for an hour, and consequently the deterioration caused by the dilution was in the ratio of 524 to 400, or of 100 to 76, being 24 per cent.” Now, need we say, that those who offer this kind of gas 10 or even 20 per cent. less than others charge for the heavy gas, which burns at once slowly and brilliantly, instead of selling cheap, sell much dearer than those whom they would break down; the difference being often nearly as great as that between “shoddy” and genuine broadcloth.
The truth of all this can easily be tested by any intelligent person, so that one can judge coal-gas pretty nearly as accurately as any other article of commerce. Thus, in the first place, there is no truer criterion whereby to form an opinion of the value and durability of any particular quantity of gas, than by its weight, and vice versa. In good, pure gas, there ought to be neither carbonic acid nor sulphuretted hydrogen; at least, not so much as to exercise any perceptible influence. But, if they are present, the fact can easily be proved. To determine whether there is any carbonic acid present, all that is necessary is, to shake a portion of the gas with lime-water in a phial; if the acid be present, it will form carbonate of lime, and render the water turbid. It is still easier to determine the presence or absence of the sulphuretted hydrogen. All that is necessary is, to wet a slip of paper with a solution of sugar of lead ; if there is so much as one part in twenty thousand of the foreign substance present, the solution of lead instantly becomes brown or black.
Much also depends on the character of the burners ; a fact too often lost sight of. There are many who think that they act economically in getting what they call cheap gas fixtures ; and after having done so they wonder how it is that their gas bill is so high at the end of the month or quarter. Sometimes they make complaints and accuse the Gas Company of overcharging them, and it is not until the fact is pointed out that it occurs to them that the gas-fitter has had any hand in the increase of consumption, which they call an overcharge for what they have really used.
We had intended to enter into particulars on this branch of the subject; for it is one in which all who use gas are
more or less interested; but we find now that we must postpone
its consideration for a future occasion. In the mean time, the extensive new works, now in progress at Seventy-ninth street, will have been completed, affording us new facts and data whence to draw conclusions, which will be interesting at once to the man of business, the political economist, and the scientific student. Although we cannot thank Mr. Charles Roome for having furnished a single fact to aid us in the preparation of our article, further than we have gleaned from his writings, wherever we could find them, we are not the less willing to acknowledge our conviction that he has deserved as much of his countrymen, for his scientific labors, as Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Dargan have deserved of theirs ; and each of the latter has been suitably honored. We make this admission all the more readily, because it is modestynot any lack of courtesy or politeness—that has prevented Mr. Roome from affording us all the facilities in his power.
ART. VI.--Dinah. New York : Charles Scribner. 1861.
We had hoped that the war would put an end to productions of this kind; but a more aggravated case of the bookmaking mania we do not remember to have seen, than that now before us. We have no disposition to ridicule the infirmities of our neighbors—we hold that it is ungenerous to do so—but there is no rule without an exception. In our opinion, none deserve to be laughed at more than those who, with a very limited amount of common sense and intelligence, make the most laborious and painful efforts to appear at once learned and philosophical. One may be excused for puzzling his brains in this way in private, among his friends, but, when he undertakes to entertain and instruct the public, those very friends ought to be the first to admonish him of his silliness. So many
have made fools of themselves in recent years, in their ambition to become authors, that nobody wonders any longer, let him find what twaddle he may in book form. The tailor who spoils a garment is sneered at; so is the painter that gives a caricature for a portrait. The servant-maid who,
scarcely knowing how to wash the dishes, professes to understand all the secrets of the culinary art, may well excite a smile at the difference between her pretensions and her performances, when she cooks a dish that none can eat. But what sensible man, giving a public dinner, would employ such a cook? Probably Mr. Scribner would hesitate before engaging the services of any of the three; but he represents the author of this work as an admirable delineator of character; a most attractive and instructive writer; whereas, in point of fact, he is no more qualified to write a novel, worthy of the name, than a blacksmith is to make a watch.
This may seem a harsh judgment, but, in our opinion, the real harshness is, to praise what is worthless and represent it as meritorious. The latter may be very agreeable to the author, but it does injustice to true merit. A man of genius, whose productions will endure, need not appreciate the approbation which is awarded to him in common with the scribbler, who, destitute alike of talent and education, has nothing to recommend him but his presumption. But, apart from the injustice done to true merit by indiscriminate praise, still greater injury is done by it to the young and inexperienced—to all who are incapable of judging for themselves. A boy or girl, or even an adult, may be very intelligent, and still be influenced to their prejudice by what they are told in the form of a criticism. If they are informed, for example, that a stupid, vicious book, written in a crude, bombastic style, is a model of excellence, how can it be expected that their taste will improve ? Is it not more likely that they will prefer the evil to the good ?
If Dinuh seemed to us a work worth reading, there is no reason why we should not say so. Every number of this periodical will bear us witness, that none are more willing than we to do justice to merit. We do not pretend to be superior to resentment. The greatest authors and kindest of men have attacked their enemies through their books; but we have no knowledge of the author of Dinah. He may be one of our best friends, for aught we know to the contrary. He does not give his name ; and it is well that he has withheld it; for, in sooth, it would be no credit to an inmate of bedlam. We mean nothing ill-natured, when we say that we have more than once known the wearer of a
straight-jacket,” in a lunatic asylum, to write in a more sensible and less bombastic style than the strange jargon which forms the staple of the volume before us. But we will not ask any one to accept our estimate of the book, without proof; nor shall we pass any judgment without a careful perusal. The latter has, indeed, been rather a severe trial in the present case; we admit that more than once we have fallen into a pretty sound slumber, in our efforts to wade through the pages of Dinah. Still we have accomplished the task ; but we hope it will be at least a year before we can make a similar boast.
The work is so full of polysyllables that it seems as if the author had first taken a dictionary, selected the strangest words he could find, and made it a point to use a certain number in every page, nay, in every paragraph, with very little regard to their appropriateness. In a similar manner, the strange, unearthly beings, whom, in courtesy, we must call the dramatis persona, are made to do everything as if they, too, had been laboring under some unaccountable hallucination. As for plot, in any proper sense of the term, the book has nothing of the kind. But, before we proceed any further, let us give a specimen or two of our author's style. This we may do at random. The following is evidently intended to be a very fine piece of writing, and chaste withal:
“ Afar off stood the reverend mountains The woods were waving nearer, and there were rolls of velvet in the afternoon air. As the ethereal breakers baptized the cheek of the idle Charles, they seemed to him to come down from those Indian years and green forests of the past, which the weird dream brought up to his memory. While seated, in this soft bewitchment, upon his terrace, a horse came up the way beneath the trees so swiftly that he seerned to swell up to the house like a blast of the breeze, in a brilliant equine manner, such as the prospect of oats always inspires in the noble creatures. There was a young lady upon him, a debonair
capitalist in animation, immediately followed by a young gentleman who, in consequence of the precarious state of affairs, appeared to be judiciously absorbed in revolving the best methods of keeping his seat.
Laura, my child !' said Charles's mother, in quiet dignity. The accompanying gentleman was engaged in catching his breath. Charles sauntered up to her horse and extended his courtesy, when a gify of per-, turbation and turmoil whirled in his stagnant spirit, and as the mother folded her to her embrace Laura blushed at his air in all the stammely color of health.”—pp. 22–3.
The simile,“ like a blast of the breeze, in a brilliant equine manner,” is of course very fine ; but it may be doubted whether it is so poetical as that admirable climax