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“Some years ago,” says Dr. Bancroft, “I purchased of a calico printer, possessing great knowledge of the principles and practice of his art, the secret of a composition which he had employed with success, as a prosubstantive black, and which, as far as I can judge from experiments upon a small scale, deserved the high commendations which he bestowed upon it: and though I have never obtained the smallest pecuniary advantage from this purchase, in any way, I will here give the full benefit of it to the public. The following was his recipe, with some abbreviations of language: viz. Take two pounds of the best mixed galls, in powder, and boil them in one gallon of vinegar, until their soluble part is extracted, or dissolved; then strain off the clear decoction, and add to the residuum of the galls as much water as will be equal to the vinegar evaporated in boiling; stir them a little, and after allowing the powdered galls time to subside, strain off the clear liquor, and mix it with the former decoction, adding to the mixture six ounces of sulphate of iron; and this being dissolved, put to it six ounces more of sulphate of iron, after it has been previously mixed with, and dissolved by, half of its weight of single aquafortis; let this be stirred, and equally dispersed through the mixture, which is to be thickened by dissolving therein a sufficient quantity of gum tragacanth, (of which a very small proportion will suffice.) Calico, after being printed or pencilled with this mixture, should, when the latter is sufficiently dried, be washed in lime water, to remove the gum and superfluous colour, and then either streamed or well rinsed in clear water. This composition
has not been found to weaken, or injure, the texture of calico printed or pencilled with it, and the colour is thought unobjectionable in regard to its blackness and durability.”
It is added by Dr. Bancroft, that “when sulphate of iron is mixed with aquafortis, the latter undergoes a decomposition; the oxygen of the nitric acid combining with the iron, and raising it to a much higher degree of oxidation; the result of these operations is the production of a fluid wi. has the consistence and smooth appearance of oil, and which (though the name may not be quite unex
ceptionable) I will call a nitro-sulphate
of iron. I have been induced to believe, from several trials, that a better prosub. stantive black than any other within my knowledge may be formed, by taking a decoction, containing in each gallon the soluble matter of two pounds of the best galls, in sorts, and when cold, adding to it for each gallon twelve ounces of sulphate of iron, which had been previously mixed with half its weight of single aqua. fortis, (of which one wine pint should weigh about twenty ounces) and, by the decomposition just described, converted to the nitro-sulphate of ironjustmentioned. By thus employing twelve ounces of sulhate of iron, oxygenated by nitric acid, instead of six ounces of the latter, with six ounces of the green sulphate in its ordinary state, an improvement in the colour seems, by my experiments, to have been invariably *. and without any corroding or hurtful action upon the fibres of the cotton.” With these scientific receipts and suggestions it may be agreeable to close. Matters of this kind have not been before introduced, nor is it purposed to repeat them; and those who think they are out of place at present, may be asked to recollect whether any of themselves ever obtained knowledge of any kind that, at some period or other, did not come into use !
NATURALISTS' cALENDAR. Mean Temperature . . . 40 - 72.
CHRONOLOGY. A Scotch newspaper of the 27th of February, 1753, relates, that on the preceding Wednesday se’nnight, the river
Tweed was dried up from six o'clock in the morning to six in the evening, the current having been entirely suspended. On the 20th of February, 1748, the river Sark, near Philipston, in the parish of Kirk Andrews upon Eske, and the Liddel, near Penton, in the same parish, were both dry. At the same time other rivers also lost their waters. These remarkable phenomena are naturally accounted for in the “Gentleman's Magazine for 1753,” vol. xxiii. p. 156.
NATURALists' cALENDAR. Mean Temperature . . . 41' 39.
februarp 28. Dr. Johnson.
It was recorded in the daily journals, on the 28th of February, 1755, that “the university of Oxford, in full convocation, unanimously conferred the degree of master of arts on the learned Mr. Samuel Johnson, author of the New English Dictionary.” Such a testimony to distinguished merit, from a learned university, was, perhaps, such a reward as Dr. Johnson appreciated more highly than others of more seeming worth; the publicity given to it at the time is evidence of the notoriety he had attained by his literary labours, and of the interest taken in his fame by every class of society. He taught and admonished all ranks, in a style that charmed by its luxuriant amplification of simple truths, when the majority of people refused the wholesome labour of reflection. Johnson's ethical writings verify the remark of a shrewd writer, that “a maxim is like an ingot of gold, which you may draw out to any length you please.”
The “Historical Chronicle" of the “Gentleman's Magazine,” notices that on this day, in the year 1736, a proposal was submitted to the house of commons “for laying such a duty on distilled spirituous liquors as might prevent the ill consequences of the poorer sort drinking them to excess,” whereon it takes occasion to adduce the following fact: “We have observed some signs, where such liquors are retailed, with the following inscriptions, Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for twopence, clean straw for nothing.” This record establishes the reality of the inscription in Hogarth's fearful print of “Gin-lane,” and marks a trait in the manners of that period, which, to the credit of the industrious classes of society, has greatly abated.
Drunkenness exists nowhere but in the vicious or the irresolute. “Give a poor man work and you will make him rich.” Give a drunkard work and he will only keep sober till he has earned enough to drink again and get poor. While he is drinking he robs himself of his time; drinking robs him of his understanding and health; when he is unfit or disinclined to work he will lie to avoid it; and if he succeeds in deceiving, he will probably turn thief. Thus a drunkard is not to be relied on either for true speaking, or honest principle; and therefore those who see that drinking leads to falsehood and dishonesty, never attach credit to what a drunkard says, nor trust him within reach of their property.
NATURALISTs' cale.NdAR. . Mean Temperature .. 40° 44.
Now husbandman and hinds in March prepare,
The pruner's skilful eye, and ready hand;
In the “Mirror of the Months” it is observed, that at this season a strange commotion may be seen and heard among the winged creatures, portending momentous matters. The lark is high up in the cold air before daylight, and his chosen mis
tress is listening to him down among the dank grass, with the dew still upon her unshaken wing. The robin, too, has left off, for a brief season, his low plaintive piping, which it must b confessed was poured forth for his own exclusive satisSpread around thy tend’rest diligence In flow'ry spring-time, when the new-dropt lamb, Tott'ring with weakness by his mother's side, Feels the fresh world about him; and each thorn, Hillock, or furrow, trips his feeble feet: O, guard his meek sweet innocence from all Th' innumerous ills, that rush around his life: Mark the quick kite, with beak and talons prone, Circling the skies to snatch him from the plain; Observe the lurking crows; beware the brake, There the sly fox the careless minute waits; Nor trust thy neighbour's dog, nor earth, nor sky; Thy bosom to a thousand cares divide.
faction, and, reckoning on his spruce looks and sparkling eyes, issues his quick peremptory love-call, in a somewhat ungallant and husband-like manner. The sparrows, who have lately been sulking silently about from tree to tree, with ruffled plumes and drooping wings, now spruce themselves up till they do not look half their former size; and if it were not pairing-time, one might fancy that there was more of war than of love in their noisy squabblings. Now, also, the ants first begin to show themselves from their subterranean sleeping-rooms; those winged abortions, the bats, perplex the eyes of evening wanderers by their seeming ubiquity; and the owls Hol. scientific converse with each other at half a mile distance. Now, quitting the country till next month, we find London all alive, Lent and Lady-day notwithstanding; for the latter is but a day after all; and he must have a very countrified conscience who cannot satisfy it as to the former, by doing F. once or twice at an oratorio, and earing comic songs sung in a foreign tongue; or, if this does not do, he may fast if he please, every Friday, by eating salt fish in addition to the rest of his fare.
During this month some birds that took refuge in our temperate climate, from the rigour of the arctic winters, now begin to leave us, and return to the countries where they were bred; the redwing-thrush, fieldfare, and woodcock, are of this kind, and they retire to spend their summer in Norway, Sweden, and other northern re
gions. The reason why these birds quit the north of Europe in winter is evidently to escape the severity of the frost; but why at the approach of spring they should return to their former haunts is not so easily accounted for. It cannot be want of food, for if during the winter in this i." they are able to subsist, they may fare plentifully through the rest of the year; neither can their migration be caused by an impatience of warmth, for the season when they quit this country is by no means so hot as the Lapland summers; and in fact, from a few stragglers or wounded birds annually breeding here, it is evident that there is nothing in our climate or soil which should hinder them from making this country their permanent residence, as the thrush, blackbird, and other of their congeners, actually do. The crane, the stork, and other birds, which used formerly to be natives of our island, have quitted it as cultivation and population have extended; it is probable, also, that the same reason forbids the fieldfare and redwing-thrush, which are of a timorous, retired disposition, to make choice of England as a place of sufficient security to breed in."
In this month commences the yeaning season of those gentle animals whose clothing yields us our own, and engages in its manufacture a large portion of human industry and ingenuity. The poet of “The Fleece” beautifully describes and admonishes the shepherd of the accidents to which these emblems of peace and innocence are exposed, when “abroad in the meadows beside of their dams.”
Eurus oft slings his hail;
the tardy fields
Pay not their promis'd food; and of the dam
* Aikin's Year.
To the particulars connected with this anniversary, related in vol. i. p. 317-322, may be added that Coles, in his “Adam in Eden,” says, concerning leeks, “The gentlemen in Wales have them in great regard, both for their feeding, and to wear in their hats upon St. David's day.” It is affirmed in the “Royal Apophthegms” of James I., that “the Welchmen in commemoration of the Great Fight by the Black Prince of Wales, do wear Leeks as their chosen ensign.” Mr. Brand received through the late Mr. Jones, Welsh bard to the king, as rince of Wales, a transcript of the folowing lines from a MS. in the British Museum.
I like the leeke above all herbes and flowers.
The bishop’s “Last Good Night,” a single sheet satire, dated 1642, has a stanza which runs thus:
“Landaff, provide for St. David's day,
Lest the leeke, and red-herring run away:
Are you resolved to go or stay 2
d There is the following proverb on this ay:—
“Upon St. David's day, put oats and barley in the clay.” Ray.
NATURALISTS' cALENDAR. Mean Temperature... 42 - 27.
A rare quarto tract alleges some extraordinary appearances in Ireland on this day in the year 1679. It is here reprinted verbatim, beginning with the title-page: Wiz,
A TRUE Account of divers most strange and prodigious APPARItions seen in the Air at Poins-town, in the county of Tipperary, in Ireland: March the second, 1678-9. Attested by Sixteen Persons that were Eye-witnesses. Published at Dublin, and thence communicated hither. Licensed, 1679. London: printed for L. C., 1679.
Upon the second day of this present month, being Sunday in the evening, near sun-set, several gentlemen and others, hereinafter named, walked forth into the fields, and the sun going down behind a hill, and appearing somewhat bigger than ordinary, they discourst about it, directing their eyes towards the place where the Sun Set.
When one of the company observed in the air, near the place where the sun went down, an arm of a blackish blew colour, with a ruddy complexioned hand at one end and at the other end a cross piece, with a ring fastned to the middle of it, like one end of an anchor, which stood still a while, and then made northwards, and so disappeared; while they were startled at the sight which they all saw, and wondred what it should be and mean, there appeared at a great distance in the air, from the same part of the : something like a ship coming towards them; and so near to them it came, that they could distinctly perceive the masts, sails, tacklings, and men; she then seemed to tack about, and sailed with the stern foremost, northwards, upon a dark, smooth sea, (not seen before,) which stretched