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It may be satisfactory to our readers to have before them the relative production of Iron at the same period.

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An investigation, conducted by Professor R. Johnstone at Washington, U. S.*, respecting the comparative qualities of coal for the use of steamers in the United States, has been published in America, and the results are quoted by the author. At the suggestion of Mr. Joseph Hume a similar inquiry has since been adopted in this country, and entrusted to Sir H. De la Beche and Dr. Lyon Playfair, by whom two elaborate reports have been recently presented, — the first containing a statement of the methods and apparatus employed in the investigation, the second giving the result of the experiments on various coals from different collieries. As the operations are not yet finished, we shall not anticipate their probable results; but the promptitude of the authorities in adopting the suggested inquiry, and giving it effect, has been very creditable and satisfactory. When the report has been printed, a comparison of the methods used by our reporters with those employed in America, as well as by some other experimenters in this country and in Scotland, and of their results, will form an interesting subject for practical chemists — as well as for the owners and consumers of coal.

Before we quit the subject of American coal, it is but justice to the public spirit and foresight of the statesmen by whom the geological and natural-history surveys of the United States were organised, to point out the benefit conferred on their country in thus obtaining for mining operations, and measures of local im


* Report to the Navy Department of the United States on • American Coals,' by W. Ř. Johnstone

provement, the guidance of Scientific knowledge. A

government which is influenced by such views well deserves to have at its disposal such a powerful instrument of good as the United States derive from their vast coal districts. And in carrying through the surveys of several of the principal States, they have formed and brought into action a corps of practical geologists, who may compete with those of any of the older European countries. *

Coal Districts of Nova Scotia. We have seen in the Diagram at p. 530. fig. 3. the very large space occupied by coal in British North America. Mr. Taylor states, that an association, generally known under the name of the Cape Breton and Nova • Scotia Mining Company,' as tenants of the Crown and of his late royal highness the Duke of York, are lessees of all the • mines and minerals in the province of Nova Scotia Proper and • the island and county of Cape Breton.' The lease is for sixty years from 1827, at a fixed rent of 3,0001. per annum, with the condition that a maximum quantity (since increased to 6,500 tons) shall be raised annually, and a royalty of 2s. per chaldron be paid for all beyond that quantity. The company, which also possesses 14,000 acres of land, had in 1845 only four collieries open and at work-two in Nova Scotia and as many in Cape Breton. The author thus observes upon this arrangement: • In reciting these details we, as well as our readers, cannot omit 'to remark the injurious magnitude of such gigantic monopolies

as the one before us. In this case it covers an extent of more .than 12,000,000 of acres, or three times the size of Wales. It

is scarcely necessary to say, that its tendency is to impoverish 'the people, and to destroy all energy in cultivating the abun• dant natural resources of a fine country. On the continuance

of such a deplorable system, the rival coal proprietors of the • United States may well found their calculations of a remunera‘tive internal trade in coal, with even greater certainty than on the influence of tariffs and the restrictions of international regulations.' (P. 189.)

A singular statement of fact is connected with this subject, – that the steamboats which run into Chignecto Bay are impelled by coals imported from Great Britain, - actually passing over the coal strata, which the inhabitants of Nova Scotia are not permitted to open ! and up to the present hour they are compelled

* A chronological list of writers on American geology, given by the author, comprehends nearly a hundred names of men, of whom several have by their works already acquired high reputation in Europe. VOL. XC. NO. CLXXXII.


4. But Shafts have also other important purposes to fulfil: they are the channels through which the coal must be raised to the surface; and by which the workmen habitually gain access and egress to and from the mine. These objects, unfortunately, in 00 many cases, have been so combined with the function of ventilation, that the latter process is often rendered ineffectual or null.

5. It is believed, by many of the best informed persons, that a greater number of Shafts — with passages below, well arranged and well executed, for diffusing fresh air throughout the mine, would, in a great majority of cases, remove or greatly diminish the risk of explosion; and would most essentially contribute to the comfort and good health of the miner.

6. The only objection to the multiplication of Shafts is, that they are costly; though there is reason to believe that the estimate of the expense attending their construction has been exaggerated.

7. But even if the estimated expense were quite as great as has been represented, the serious alternative remains, - Are the mine-owners to encounter that expense ?—or are the lives of the miners to be sacrificed as they have been?

8. To lessen the chance of explosion, the safety-lamp was introduced; the object being to enable the workmen to carry an imperfect light through an explosive atmosphere without setting it on fire: the lamp, of course, not expelling the gas, nor rendering the mixed atmosphere less injurious to health. * 9. But experience has now proved, beyond doubt, that no lamp is a complete security against explosion. It may assist the miner in guiding himself through an old or dangerous work, by giving him warning; but, in extreme danger, his only resource is, to extinguish his lamp-and to fly! The lamp cannot be used in working without risk of injury from accidents; and when exposed to currents charged with gas or coal-dust, the flame is communicated to the mixed air beyond the lamp, and causes explosion.

10. The light afforded by lamps of the most improved construction is often inadequate to the purposes of the miner. It is in evidence, on the best authority, that the thicker seams of coal cannot be worked without the light of candles.

11. An unfounded, — but we cannot say with truth a disinterested confidence in the lamp, has been productive of great loss of life. First, by causing work to be carried on in dangerous mines, without other measures of security against explo

is 20° greater than that of the surface. The workmen complain and suffer much from the heat in such cases.

sion; and, still more unfortunately, by leading to a vicious limitation in the number of shafts, thus lowering the standard of

good ventilation. Where there is only one shaft, or even two shafts if in close proximity, - explosion at once puts an end to ventilation, rendering the death of those who remain, by afterdamp, (carbonic acid) almost inevitable. While the effective relief of those who have been injured, by prompt removal to the surface, is impossible.

12. The obvious remedy for the evils thus naturally existing or artificially produced, — repeatedly pointed out by the earnest memorials of the miners, and by the concurrent testimony of numberless well-informed and impartial persons, — is, first, the multiplication of SHAFTS, — which ought to be spacious, not too near each other, and so placed as to favour the escape of the lighter noxious and adulterated airs, by channels quite distinct from those by which fresh air is brought into the mine; - and unencumbered, also, as far as possible, by the apparatus for pumping, and for bringing up the coal.

13. But shafts alone do not insure good ventilation. The passages or air-ways connected with them, should be direct, uniform in dimensions, air-tight when communication is not desired; and, above all, should have a considerable clear space above the workmen, for the reception and conveyance of the lighter gas to an appropriate upcast.

14. The goafs,' or exhausted wastes of the mine, should be objects of particular attention, their free ventilation being specially provided for, and carefully watched : the air passing through or proceeding from them should not linger in the works, but be immediately and separately carried outwards.

15. As special cases of difficulty in ventilation may arise from various causes, it would be important to have at command some additional (or, so to speak) external power of exhausting or injecting air into the mine; and for this purpose, the Steam Jet of Mr. Goldsworthy Gurney, if it answers to the descriptions given of its efficacy, offers an obvious and powerful ally. But as the great and primary resources to be relied upon are the Shafts and well-managed air-ways, we should be careful — in this case, as in the use of lamps — not to allow the accessory, to call off attention from the indispensable requisite of thorough ventilation, by Shafts.

16. The permanent efficiency of all the provisions for ventilation of the mine, and the safety and health of the workmen, should be maintained by the diligent inspection of well-informed men; - of knowledge sufficient to deserve attention, courage to assert, and firmness to maintain, their just and real opinions.

Lastly. However reluctant to introduce any thing like compulsion into the superintendence of mines, we yet can hardly conceive that the business of inspection can be practically effective, unless there exist, somewhere, (and the higher the quarter, the better) a power to stop the working of a dangerous or ill-constructed mine, after due representation to the proper authority by the Inspector. Taking into account the great variety which must be expected to exist in the structure of mines, and the great diversity of temper, disposition, and of pecuniary circumstances, especially among the smaller proprietors, — difficulties must from time to time present themselves which no unsupported recommendations of improvement can overcome. Upon this point there may, perhaps, be a difference of opinion; and we are content to leave the question to our readers ;-having suggested nothing else, that we cannot sustain by facts, and by the evidence of living witnesses, — and nothing, we most conscientiously believe, that does not give fair promise of being practically useful.

To return to the volume immediately before us. We do not apologise to the author for devoting so many pages to the consideration of a subject which forms an important section of the statistics of coal, though we are thus prevented from adverting to several points in his valuable book which we had intended to notice. We agree with Mr. Taylor most cordially as to the necessity of change in our system of coal mining, and in our treatment of the workmen; and are convinced that he will rejoice with us at the prospect of improvement which, we trust, is now approaching.

The miners in our collieries, we verily believe, have been an injured and misrepresented body of men. In our earlier history they were treated as slaves, - transferred, like beasts of burden, along with the ground under which they laboured, and deprived of the benefit of the habeas corpus.*

The laws sanctioning these enormities were only finally repealed, in so far at least as Scotland was concerned, in 1799. They have been too commonly regarded as brutal and barbarous ; and but a few years have passed since we consented to release their wives and daughters from the most oppressive and indecent labour in the mines. We gave them no education; we did not impart to them the comforts of social life; we tempted them to expose their lives to an enemy whose grasp is instant death; and did not enforce the use of the only feeble protection which, -as we asserted—it was in our power to supply. We still neglect

* North British Review for November, 1847, p. 53.

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