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The progress of the nation page 16


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The introduction of the steam-engine, railroads, and canals enabled our coal-miners during this reign to extend the supply of coals enormously. In 1792 the coal mines of Durham and Northumberland alone maintained twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty persons, and employed a capital of three million one hundred and thirty thousand pounds - a very small amount of both people and money engaged in the trade since the wonderful expansion of our manufacturing and steam systems. The coal fields of Durham and Northumberland extend to nearly eight hundred square miles. It is supposed that upwards of forty million tons of coals are consumed annually in these islands; but the beds of this mineral in Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, the Midland Counties, south of Scotland, and Ireland, are still immense, and not yet fully explored. Fresh strata are discovered as steam power enables us to go deeper. In 1817 Sir Humphry Davy perfected his safety- lamp, which, by means of a simple wire gauze, enabled the miner to work amid the most explosive gases. These lamps, however, have not been able to protect the colliers from their own carelessness, and most horrible destruction, from time to time, takes place amongst them from neglect.

With the reign of George III. commenced a series of improvements in the manufacture of iron, which have led not only to a tenfold production of that most useful of metals, but to changes in its quality which before were inconceivable. Towards the latter end of the reign of George II. the destruction of our woods in smelting iron-ore was so great as to threaten their extinction, and with it the manufacture of iron in this country. Many manufacturers had already transferred their businesses to Russia, where wood was abundant and cheap. It was then found that coke made from coal was a tolerable Substitute for charcoal, and, in 1760, the very first year of the reign of George III., the proprietors of the Carron Works in Scotland commenced the use of pit-coal. Through the scientific aid of Smeaton and Watt, they applied water, and afterwards steam- power, to increase the blast of their furnaces, to make it steady and continuous, instead of intermitting, as from bellows; and they increased the height of their furnaces. By these means, Dr. John Roebuck, the founder of these works, became the first to produce pig iron by the use of coal. This gave great fame to the Carron Works, and they received large Orders from government for cannon and cannon-balls. It was some time, however, before we could produce iron enough to meet the increasing demand for railroads, iron bridges, &c.; and so late as 1781 we had to import fifty thousand tons annually from Russia and Sweden.

The employment of pit-coal had not reached perfection, and, in 1785, the Society of Arts offered a premium for the making of fine bar iron with pit-coal. This object was accomplished by Mr. Cort, an iron founder of Gloucestershire, by exposing the pig iron on the hearth of a reverberatory furnace to the flame of pit-coal. This process was improved into what was called puddling, in puddling or reverberatory furnaces. Cort also introduced the drawing out of iron betwixt cylindrical rollers; but he became ruined in his experiments, and other iron masters of more capital came in to reap the profit. It is only lately that a pension has been conferred on some of his children for his services. It would have been greatly more creditable to the enormously wealthy iron masters of this kingdom to have acknowledged their vast obligations to Mr. Cort, by putting him and his family in conformable independence. In 1755 the whole population of Carron was only one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four; in 1795 the workmen alone employed in the works were one thousand, the population four thousand, when the foundry had five blast furnaces, sixteen air furnaces, three cupola furnaces, and consumed one hundred and thirty-six tons of coals daily. It supplied to the government eleven thousand tons annually of cannon, mortars, shot, shells, &c.; to the East India Company six thousand tons; and to all customers together twenty-six thousand tons. The growth of the iron trade in Great Britain, through these improvements, may be Seen from the fact that, in 1802, there were one hundred and sixty-eight blast furnaces, producing two hundred and twenty thousand tons of iron; in 1820, the annual production of iron was four hundred thousand tons; in 1845 the production was calculated at twice that amount - that is, in twenty-five years the production had doubled itself; and by our continually expanding demand for railways, both at home and abroad, and for all kinds of machinery, the production now is not less than four million tons. In 1771 the use of iron ropes, instead of hempen ones, was suggested by M. Bouganville, and this was made a fact by captain Brown, in 1811. Before this, in 1800, Mr. Mushet, of Glasgow, discovered the art of Converting malleable iron, or iron ore, into cast steel; and in 1804 Samuel Lucas, of Sheffield, extended the benefit by the discovery of a mode of Converting any castings from pig iron at once into malleable iron, or cast steel, so that knives, forks, snuffers, scythes, and all kind of articles, were converted into steel, " without any alterative process whatever between the blast furnace and the melting-pot." In 1815 it was calculated that two hundred thousand persons were employed manufacturing articles of iron, the annual value of which was ten million pounds.

With the war the manufacture of guns and arms of all kinds was greatly increased, and several important improvements were made in the construction of gun-barrels and their breeches. All kinds of cutlery were improved, but, at the same time, both government, by contractors, and foreign countries, by merchants, were imposed on by articles that had more show than use, to the serious injury of the British reputation. Knives and razors were sent out of mere iron, and our pioneers and sappers and miners were often supplied with axes, picks, and shovels more resembling lead than iron.

The same extension of production and consumption of copper, tin, and other ores, marks this reign, owing to the increase of both commerce and population. Great attention during this reign was devoted to the manufacturing of clocks and watches. To such eminence had the English manufacture of watches arrived, that in 1799 it was calculated that the value of watches and marine Chronometers alone manufactured in and around London amounted to a million of money yearly. In 1762 John Harrison claimed the reward offered by act of parliament for a Chronometer which would ascertain the longitude within sixty, forty, or thirty miles. For the least accurate of these the reward was ten thousand pounds, for the next more accurate fifteen thousand pounds, and for the best twenty thousand pounds Harrison produced a Chronometer which, after two voyages to the West Indies, entitled him to the highest prize, but a fresh act of parliament was passed, refusing him more than two thousand five hundred pounds until he had made known the principle of his invention, and assigned his Chronometer for the public use. Even when these new terms were com- plied with lie was only to receive ten thousand pounds, and the remainder on the correctness of the Chronometer having been sufficiently tested. Harrison very justly complained of these new stipulations, and of the delays thus interposed; but in 1767, nine years before his decease, he obtained the full amount of the premium. In 1774 a premium of five thousand pounds was offered by act of parliament for a Chronometer that should keep the longitude within one degree of a great circle, or sixty geographical miles; seven thousand five hundred pounds for one that would keep the longitude within two-thirds of that distance; and ten thou - sand pounds for one that would keep it within half a degree. This called out the efforts of various competitors - Harrison, Meadge, Kendal, Coombe, and numbers of others. In 1777 Meadge produced two, which were submitted to the test of the astronomer-royal, Dr. Maskelyne, and pronounced un- favourably upon; but Meadge petitioned parliament against this decision, and, on the report of a committee on his Chronometers, he was awarded a premium of two thousand five hundred pounds.

In 1783 the English carriage-builders, who had before been considered inferior in elegance to the French makers, began to receive large Orders from Paris itself. In 1759 Walter Taylor and son introduced machinery for cutting blocks, sheaves, and pins for ships - a great improvement, but which has been carried far beyond that step by the machinery of Brunei, now in use at our government dock- yards. Saw-mills were also introduced into this country, in 1767, by Mr. Dingley, of Limehouse.

In the art of printing, the process of Stereotyping was re-invented by Mr. Tulloch, in 1780. In 1801 lithography was introduced into England from Germany, but was not much used till Mr. Ackermann began to employ it, in 1817. In 1814 steam was first applied to printing in the Times office.

The art of coining received, like so many other things, a new facility and perfection from the application of the steam-engine. Messrs. Boulton and Watt, at the Soho Works, set up machinery, in 1788, which rolled out the metal, cut out the blanks, or circular pieces, shook them in bags to take off the rough edges, and stamped the coins - in higher perfection than ever before attained - at the rate of from thirty to forty thousand per hour. To this prolific reign belongs also the discovery of coal-gas. In 1792 William Murdoch, an engineer, lighted his own house with it in Redruth, in Cornwall. The same gentleman illuminated the Soho Works of Messrs. Boulton and Watt with it at the peace of Amiens, in 1802; and in the year 1804 some of the cotton mills in Manchester began to use it. In 1807 it was used in Golden Lane, in London; in 1809 Mr. Winsor, a German, lit up Pall Mall with it; and in 1813 'the first chartered gas Company was established in London, and it soon spread through all the large towns.

In astronomy, Herschel discovered the planet Uranus in 1781, in 1802 he published, in the " Philosophical Transactions," his catalogue of five hundred new nebulae and nebulous stars; and in 1803 announced his discovery of the motion of double stars round each other. In chemistry, Sir Humphry Davy, in 1807, extracted their metallic bases from the fixed alkalies; in 1808 demonstrated the same fact as it regarded the alkaline earths; in 1811 discovered the true nature of chlorine; in 1815 invented his safety lamp; and in 1817 brought it to perfection. In 1804 Leslie published discoveries of the nature and properties of heat; in 1808 Dalton announced his atomic theory; and in 1814 Wollaston completed its development and proof.

the fine arts

Amongst these arts, the first to which we direct attention, that is,

music,

was warmly patronised by the royal family, and therefore maintained the status which it had acquired in the last reign, though it produced no great original genius. Church music continued to be cultivated, and the anthems of Kent, published in 1773, and those of Nares, published in 1778, were of much merit. To these we may add the services and anthems of doctors Hayes, Dupuis, Arnold, Cooke, Ayrton, and of Mr. Battishill. The "Shunamite Woman," an oratorio by Arnold, appeared at a later date, as well as the anthems and services of Dr. Whitfield.

In the early part of the reign the English operas of Augustine Arne, " Artaxerxes " and " Love in a Village " - the former principally a translation from " Metastasio " - were much admired. For the rest, there were numbers of lovers and professors of the art, both in sacred, operatic, and glee music. The Catch Club was formed in 1761, and zealously supported, as well as the Concerts of Ancient Music in 1776. Under the patronage of this society, and particularly of his majesty, took place Handel's celebrated " Commemoration " in Westminster Abbey, in May and June of 1784. During the early part of the reign, too, appeared several distinguished works in this department. At the head of these stood the " Histories of Music," by Sir John Hawkins and Dr. Burney; Dr. Burney's "Musical Tours; " Dr. John Browne's " Dissertation on Poetry and Music; " the" Letters " of Jackson, of Exeter; and Mason's "Essays on Church Music." In the later portion of the reign there was much love of music, but little original composition, except for the stage, where Arnold, Shield, Storace, and Dibdin produced the most delightful and lasting compositions. Arnold's " Castle of Andalusia," "Inkle and Yarico," "The Surrender of Calais," and "The Mountaineers;" and Shield's "Rosina," "The Poor Soldier," " The Woodman," and " The Farmer," are universally admired. The sea songs of Charles Dibdin are as imperishable as our navy, to which they have given a wealth of its own. He wrote about one thousand four hundred songs thirty dramatic pieces, " A Musical Tour," and a " History of the Stage," and was allowed, after all, to die in deep poverty, after charming all the world for half a century. During the latter part of the reign music was in much esteem, and musical meetings in various parts of the country - in London, the opera, Ancient Concerts, and performances by foreign composers, as Handel's "Messiah," Beethoven's " Mount of Olives," Mozart's opera of " Don Giovanni," &c. - were flocked to, but little native genius appeared.

architecture

During this reign, architecture was in a state of transition, or, rather, revolution, running through the Palladian, the Roman, the Greek, and into the Gothic, with a rapidity which denoted the unsettled ideas on the subject. At the commencement of the reign James Paine and John Carr were the prevailing architects. Worksop Manor, since pulled down, and Keddlestone, in Derbyshire, were the work of Paine; but Robert Adam, an advocate for a Roman style, completed Keddlestone. Carr built Harewood House, and others of a like character, chiefly remarkable for Grecian porticos attached to buildings of no style whatever. The Woods, of Bath, employed a spurious Grecian style in the Crescent, in that city, Queen's Square, the Pounds, &c., which, however, acquired a certain splendour by their extent and tout ensemble. To these succeeded Robert Taylor, the architect of the Bank of England and other public buildings, in a manner half Italian, half Roman. Sir William Chambers, of more purely Italian taste, has left us Somerset House as a noble specimen of his talent. Robert and James Adam erected numerous works in the semi- Roman semi-Italian style, as Caenwood House, at High- gate, Portland Place, and the screen at the Admiralty. In Portland Place Robert Adam set the example of giving the space necessary for a great metropolis, and the screen at the Admiralty is a beautiful erection. James Wyatt, who succeeded Sir William Chambers as surveyor-general in 1800, destined to leave extensive traces of his art in this generation, commenced his career by the erection of the Pantheon, in the classical style, and then took up the Gothic style, which had begun to have its admirers, and in which James Essex had already distinguished himself by his restoration of the lantern of Ely Cathedral, and in other works at Cambridge. Wyatt was employed to restore some of the principal colleges at Oxford, and to do the same work for the cathedral of Salisbury and Windsor Castle. In these he showed that he had penetrated to a certain extent into the principles of that order of architecture, but was far from having completely mastered them. A greater failure was his erection of Fonthill Abbey, for Beck- ford, the author of " Vathek," where he made a medley of half an abbey, half a castle, with a huge central church tower, so little based on the knowledge of the Gothic architects, that in a few years the tower fell. Wyatt, however, was a man of a bold and enterprising genius. Cotemporary with Wyatt, George Dance made a much less happy attempt in Gothic in the front of Guildhall; but he built Newgate and St. Luke's Hospital in a very appropriate style. One of the most elegant erections at this period was the Italian Opera House, by a foreigner, Novosielsky, in 1789. Nor must we omit here the publication of John Gwynn's "London and Westminster Improved, "in 17G6, by which he led the way to the extensive opening up of narrow streets, and throwing out of fresh bridges, areas, and thoroughfares, which have been since realised, or which are still in progress.

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Westminster Hall
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