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From Fraser's Magazine. been trampled out by the soldier's heel. The proBENZOLE. *
cesses of Nature are not stopped—the laws through In February, 1848, we were speeding towards which God rules his universe preserve their resistParis by the first train which entered that city on less sway; yet Nature yields herself to those who the Havre railway line after the revolution-our know how, ministering, to subdue-yet she sings anxieties far outstripping the tardy powers of steam.
to those who have ears to hear her ever-murmuring And we well remember how strange, and yet sooth- voice. In the realm of Physical Science—that ing, was the sight, on the morrow of that great other agriculture—the husbandmen are still delving overthrow--somewhere between Havre and Rouen, and ploughing, still reaping and bringing in their we could not afford to mark where—of a peasant harvests. Professors may here and there get imploughing the soil for the spring crops, and stop- prisoned or shot, but though some ripe crop of ping his horse awhile to gaze at the train. It observation may thus be trampled out, it is but a seemed to tell of a something abiding and steadfast temporary and partial fallow in a soil teeming with amidst the crash of thrones-of that great ocean of fruitful powers, which a little loving labor will domestic life, to whose still depths the storm reaches cause to burst forth plenteously once more. not, however it may rage at the surface-of that
Here is a man-although he does not tell us of it great duty of replenishing the earth and subduing --capable of watching, month after month, for, we it, which precedes and survives the right” of in- believe, upwards of a year, the distillation of coalsurrection alike and of repression—of that great tar in a retort. By thus making himself, as it were, promise, as true and as living now as when first the servant of Nature in her processes by patiently breathed over the ground scarce rescued from the waiting upon the successive phases of disintegraflood, “ While the earth remaineth, seed-time and tion of one of the common products of our coalharvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, fields, he becomes in turn able thoroughly to suband day and night, shall not cease.
due the subject of his experiments, and make it Feelings somewhat of this nature come again fruitful of all sorts of wonderful births. First he upon us, as we turn aside for a moment from the draws from coal-tar the ordinary products of the contemplation of that great revolutionary drama, to imperfect commercial distillation of this substance-which the “ days of February'' served as it were
distillation which, as he tells us in his Researches, but for a prologue, to a work of pure science like is a regular branch of trade, and is usually carried the one before us. France
be busily occupied on in large iron retorts capable of holding many with the parody of the last half-century of her his- hundred gallons. These products (after getting tory-her mock republic seemingly about to give rid of some permanent gases and ammoniacal comway to a mock empire, (complete already save in pounds) are three in number-naphtha, or “ light name,) and that in turn no doubt to a mock restora- oil,” which floats; “ dead oil,” which sinks in tion, and that again perhaps to a mock July mon- water ; pitch, which solidifies by cooling, and “ is archy ; South Germany may be quivering with the applied to the purposes of making asphalte, &c., last shocks of the late outbreak of atheistic radical- or, when dissolved in a part of the fluid oily distil. ism; in Hungary a few brare spirits may be still late, to the production of a black varnish, much carrying on the struggle, now hopeless, of a noble used for iron-work.” Then he breaks up each people, not only for themselves, but for all Europe, product again, and shows us that it is but a bundle against the swelling flood of Russian barbarism ; of other substances still more distinct and various. Rome may be delivered over to the perplexed and From the black pitch there comes a yellow powder grotesque perfidy of French intervention ; Venice (chrysene); a wax-like substance (paranaphthamay have fallen, silent and unhelped ; Switzerland line) ; an extremely hard, cellular coke, difficult and Turkey may be already threatened in their of combustion, and approaching to pure carbon. existence by the tide of so-called conservative reäc- From the “ dead oil,” which“ is used chiefly for tion. We ask, with awe, where will the overthrow burning into lamp-black, for coarse lamps or torches, cease? Congresses may spout and maunder about and for the preservation of timber by impregnating peace, but war is smoking or smouldering on all it with the oil," come other substances, including sides.
And yet the very tempest is but superficial. another wax-like solid (naphthaline). Of this we Grace will soon
"smile forth again from ruin,” are told, (Researches, p. 4, note,) that it “ may be according to the expression of one of the first, procured in enormous quantities at many of the tar though least-noticed, of sonneteers, Wilhelm von works, where it is deposited, mixed with paranaphHumboldt. A year or two more, and the corn
thaline, by the oils distilled from the tar, in granucrops will wave again luxuriant in the plains of lar crystalline masses, called salts' by the workHungary over the bones of Cossack and Magyar men.
It is there thrown away as useless, or, at alike, thicker even than if the parent ears had never best, burned for lamp-black; and yet it is honored
in our chemical catalogues with a price of four or *1. Benzole ; its Nature and Utility. By Charles five shillings per ounce." Blachford Manstield, M. A. Cantab. London : John W. Chemical science, to have remained till now thus
What a slur upon our Parker.
2. " Researches on Coal-tar,” by Charles Blachford ignorant of the proceedings of our industrial chemMansfield, B. A., in the Quarterly Journal of the Chem- ist! The naphtha again brings forth an abundant ical Society of London, vol. i., p. 244.
+ Und Anmuth lacht aus der Ruine wieder. Die progeny-solid “ carbolic acid,” (or, in its impure Nymphe.
state, creosote,) so caustic as to destroy the skin of 24
the hand if touched ; poisonous oils, such as “ ani- | acts upon the benzole by making it crystallize in a line,” of which a few grains are enough to kill a beautiful snow-like mass, at the freezing-point of rabbit, (whilst its property of giving a blue color water; whilst ils congeners remain unaffected, the to hypochloride of lime makes it a valuable reägent,) law of chrystallization at definite temperatures or such as the peculiarly foul-smelling “picoline;' being as steadfast as that of volatilization. And harmless oils, such as
“ cumole,” this completes the education of our substance. “ toluole," our“ benzole”-all of which, as their How to use it is next the question. It is easily names import, occur elsewhere in nature; the cy- inflammable; will it serve as a source of artificial mole and cumole being derived from cumin seed, light? At first sight one would say not. “ It is the toluole from tolu balsam, the benzole from ben- found by experiment, that the proper proportions zoic acid-yet all differing in properties amongst of carbon and hydrogen for a light-fuel to be burned themselves ; the cumole, for instance, extinguish in the open air, are those of an equal number of ing flame; the benzole taking fire before the match equivalents of these elements.” Now benzole reaches its surface. And, lo! amidst all this con- contains twice as much carbon as hydrogen ; and, fusion appears the great ternary law of Nature. All accordingly, a wick soaked in it and set fire to, these substances are either neutral, acid, or basic; evolves volumes of dense smoke, indicating the the neutral abundant in quantity, many in number, excess of carbon. Some special contrivance is (" like the workers in a bee-hive,” our author tells therefore needed ; and its purpose must be, that of us—a suggestive and beautiful comparison,) of in- mixing “ with the vapor of benzole some other nocuous properties, and, until combined with sul- vapor or gas containing less carbon, without inphur, generally of fragrant smell ; the basic and creasing the actual quantity of material passing the acid, few, fetid, and poisonous—the former, to out for combustion in a given time.” Alcohol will use our author's luminous expression, governed by serve for this purpose, or wood-spirit, or carbonic
affinity,” and affording“ a symbol of family life" oxide, or hydrogen itself, or, last and cheapest, by their tendency “to dissolve or be dissolved in atmospheric air. It is this latter mixture which each other, without any change in their nature or constitutes Mr. Mansfield's light, the principle of the formation of a new substance ;" the latter gov- which is simply the use of common air, charged erned by a sort “of bipolar attachment,” which with benzole vapor, as a substitute for coal-gasinvests them with a peculiar tendency to unite with benzole evaporating at a very low temperature, each other and form new compounds, “ intolerant viz. 176° Fahrenheit. Of the brilliancy of the of plurality,” making them thus “ the very type of flame thus obtained, none who have witnessed it connubial life."
can entertain a doubt. But the evaporation of the Very curious is it, although it could hardly be oil producing cold, the quantity of vapor produced explained without the use of plates and tables, to would be always diminishing, and thereby impairnote the peculiar processes, the shifts and contriv-ing the light, which finally would disappear, if ances, (all of his own devising, though again he some process of regulation were not adopted so as will not say so,) by which our chemist seeks to get to keep the temperature of the benzole reservoir rid of this “family relationship” of the liquid constant.
This is effected by means of an ingenhydrocarbons of coal-tar, which will adhere to- ious apparatus termed a thermostat,” the object gether, both in the liquid and aëriform state ; the of which is, to direct a small jet of flame upon the volatile benzole, at first kept liquid, notwithstand- evaporating vessel from the moment that its teming the application of heat, by its heavier brethren perature begins to fall. The cost of the benzole toluole, &c., and when it does pass into vapor, light, as was stated in a paper by Mr. Mansfield, carrying away a portion of toluole with it. And “ On a new system of Artificial Illumination," yet these shifts and contrivances are in themselves read at the Institution of Civil Engineers, (see The not arbitrary, but are the mere applications of Pharmaceutical Journal for May, 1849,) will probsoine general law, through which alone nature ably not exceed four shillings per gallon of benconsents to obey the will of man. First, distilla- zole, equivalent to one thousand cubic feet of coaltion by heat is resorted to, the principle of which gas. One ounce of benzole is calculated to give is that every liquid volatile without decomposition a light equal to four wax candles, of four to the has a boiling-point as fixed as that of water ; so pound, for one hour." that “ nothing can be more striking than to observe We need not dwell here upon the other uses of all these substances, at all times and places, punc- benzole, manifold though Mr. Mansfield shows tually obeying the law impressed upon them at them to be ; whether as a source of heat in the their formation, and (as soon as the temperature blow-pipe ; as a solvent of all true oils insaturable and pressure on their surface reach the coördinate in water, and, under certain circumstances, even points which have been assigned to each of them) of the most intractable resins; as a cheap substiassiduously commencing to boil off into vapor.” tute for ether, which it nearly resembles in its Then we need a reägent to get rid of impurities nature and properties, and may replace as sulphuric acid, for instance, which refuses to unite anæsthetic. Mixed with concentrated nitric acid, with benzole, whilst it combines at once with most it produces a new substance, called Nitrobenzole, of the other substances which are likely to be * of the abundance of the product there is no doubt. found joined to it. Lastly, cold must be employed,
It may be procured lo any extent,” Mr. Mansfield tells combined with pressure—the application of which I naphtha.”
us in his Researches, " from coal-tar, or from the light
of a most fragrant smell, similar to that of oil of thus taken of chemical composition. The process bitter almonds, though without its poisonous quali- seems one exactly analogous to that by which mere ties, and which, therefore, may be most usefully spelling rises into etymology. The child knows employed as a perfume or flavor. The nitroben- only how to resolve the word into the mere sound, zole thus obtained, like the benzole, which forms the chemical atoms, as it were, of which it is made one of its constituents, is still neutral, has no up. For him the word " complete,” spells c, 0, special “ attachment” or craving for acid or alkali. m, com, p, l, e, t, e, plete, and nothing more. But But the “nitrogen which we have inserted becomes the etymologist sees in either syllable a substantive a new centre of vitality, the germ of new tenden- word, capable of entering into dozens of other comcies.” Mix nitrobenzole with hydrochloric acid, pound forms, conceives the meaning of the whole no mutual action takes place ; add zinc filings to from the combination of its parts, discerns the law the mixture, and by the decomposition of the acid of that combination ; and can trace back the latter hydrogen is given off, which “in its so called syllable, plete, to the hypothetical radical pleo, nascent state, at the first moment of separation, has mentioned only in Festiis, without being anywhere powers which, when collected and kept, it can found in use, but which is clearly proved to be exert but feebly or not at all.” It decomposes in real by its compounds compleo, impleo, suppleo, turn the benzole, and produces that poisonous repleo, &c., by its derivative plenus, and so forth. alkaloid aniline, which, as we have seen, has the Is not this the history of our chemist's “phenyle," property of turning hypochloride of lime of a vio- and “amidogen?” let blue color.
We will not apologize, utterly unscientific This aniline, Mr. Mansfield tells us, is an "am- though we may be, for these few pages on a monia," and
may be taken as a type of the vola- chemical essay. Benzole itself is not more retile organic alkaloids." And he explains to us markable than many other substances, although it how the term “ ammonia,” once restricted to the is exhibited before us with peculiar wholeness and well-known compound of one atom of nitrogen to effect in Mr. Mansfield's lecture-than which a four of hydrogen, then supposed to be the only more complete specimen of a chemical monograph volatile basic compound, has now to become generic could not probably be found. But we need to be in order to embrace a large number of similar sub- reminded now and then-careless readers, and stances, " characterized like ammonia by contain- seers, and hearers that we are-how marvellous is ing nitrogen and hydrogen," but differing from it every product of our gas-works and laboratories ; by their archetype containing no carbon, which all how steadfast are the laws which govern the the others do. And these substances, these am- changes of every substance from any one of the monias, though ready to form compounds with three great conditions of material existence (solid, acids, are not true alkalis, like the common metallic liquid, gaseous) to another; and yet how manifold, earths, as being electro-negative instead of electro- how almost human, are the attractions, the inpositive. Upon aniline, we are told, that Dr. stincts, of every individual substance, which react Hofmann has succeeded in building up a series of upon those laws, and, becoming laws in turn, reguextremely complex alkaloids, by which some hope Jate the conditions of all combination and of all is afforded of artificially putting together those dissolution, according to a new threefold division mighty elements in Nature's own pharmacy- (acid, basic, and neutral) ; not to speak of that, quinine, the vegetable alkaloid of Peruvian bark ; perhaps, greatest marvel of all, the law of chemical strychnine, of the nux vomica ; morphine, of equivalents, by which the relative proportions in opium-all compounded of nitrogen, hydrogen, which different bodies replace one another in comcarbon, and oxygen ; a result which, it seems, has position are so exactly regulated ; so that there is been “as great an object with many modern chem- not a substance in nature, simple or compound, ists ... as it was with a few of the old alchemists which has not its own peculiar invariable character to accomplish the manufacture of gold."
and individuality. Another matter remains to be told. Benzole, Here resides the true poetry of chemical science; carbolic acid, aniline, nitrobenzole, and other sub- a poetry, no doubt, often deeply felt by those who stances derived from benzole, are considered by our are least aware of its nature, and as utterly over chemists, not as compounded immediately from looked by many who affect poetical taste. There the elements into which they are ultimately re- are men, for instance, who cannot understand the solvable, but rather as springing up from a com- abstract importance assigned by chemists to experipound radical “phenyle," till now hypothetical ; ments in composition, and the interest taken by whilst ammonia itself is in like manner looked upon, them in new compounds, of no discoverable utility not as at first, as a compound of one atom of nitro- for the time being. And there are chemists and gen with four of hydrogen, but as one of two atoms men of science in general, true poets in their way of hydrogen with another compound radical, “ami- who shrug their shoulders or wax indignant over dogen," composed itself of one atom of nitrogen to imaginary characters and their artificial woes. two of hydrogen. And this view is confirmed, in But any true substance, however artificially formed, either case, by the regular series of bodies which is as real, as living as it were and individual, as can be built up upon the hypothetical radicals. the most ordinary products of Nature's laboratory; There appears, to an unlearned reader like ourself, as the water which we drink, as the metals which something deeply interesting in the new views we handle ; just as Hamlet and Cordelia, as Don
Quixote, and Monkbarns, and Becky Sharp, are as ; abstinence from any of those details of individual real, as living, as individual, as if they had ever experience, which tend more than anything else trod the earth, flesh and blood like ourselves. The to invest scientific researches with a real human chemist who draws forth aniline or benzole from interest. Pierre Leroux somewhere beautifully the matter in a retort, is as true a poet (finder, says, (we have not the passage at command,) that the middle ages beautifully called it-trouvère, with the advance of science every plant, every troubadour,) whether on a lower or higher scale mineral, every chemical product, becomes, as it we will not pretend to decide, as the writer who were, the revelation, the spiritual image of the draws a true ideal character from the feelings and botanist, the traveller, the experimentalist who experiences distilled, as it were, by his own brain. first discovered or applied it, and unfolds a living Each of them finds—or, as God has allowed us volume of human joy and woe. Now, from the to say, makes-a new creature ; only the one in oral delivery of Mr. Mansfield's lecture on benzole, God's material, the other in His intellectual world. at the Royal Institution, we imagine all who were And that new creature once made has its own not previously aware of the lecturer's position laws of action and development, its own attractions must have gone away impressed with the absolute and repulsions, which you cannot violate ; else want of something to connect the speaker with the were it a mere sham and lie, the man's head upon subject. There needed some one to say, This is the horse's neck. Your benzole never could quench the man who first disentangled the hydrocarbons fire like cumole, or assume the garlic smell of of coal-tar from one another, first investigated the picoline. Could you transform your Don Quixote properties of most of them, first evolved their variinto that “mailed Bacchus” of a Mark Antony ? ous uses ; so long he worked, such and so many
your Hamlet dream of betraying a sister's were his failures ; every product that you see on honor to his own cowardly lust of life, like that the table is the result of his own labor; every still vilest of all Shakspeare's characters, Claudio ? almost and apparatus by which those products were
But, indeed, the little essay on benzole before extracted or made available, even to yonder shiftus has peculiar claims to general attention. It ing pasteboard diagram of atomic changes, was appears to us the first attempt, not yet wholly suc- first applied or invented by him. And we are not cessful, to humanize chemistry, to bring a study afraid to tell one so thoroughly convinced as Mr. which seems to many one of the most arid and Mansfield, that all truth is of God, that when He abstruse, the most foreign to the common sympa- chooses to make us His instruments for unveiling thies of man's nature, into harmony with those any portion of that truth, we have no right to consympathies, and, as it were, into the same plane ceal, and, as it were, be ashamed of the part He with them. And this, not so much by the use of bids us play; certain as we must be that whatso-called “popular” langnage, as by bringing out ever light may thus be cast upon us is His, and the deep-set meanings with which we believe God not our own, desirous as we should be to lie hidto have planted the whole universe, the spiritual den and drowned in the full splendor of His glory. bonds and analogies by which its various realms And yet all should be grateful to the young are interwoven together, and inwoven into one chemical democrat, if we may venture the term, sphere everlasting truth, order, and beauty. who, by taking up a product in daily and vulgar Thus the entirely novel distinction between chem- use, such as coal-tar, was able to evolve from it ical “ attachment” and “affinity," although seem
80 many wonders.
This is the true glory of sciingly involving a mere change in nomenclature, ence- to teach us the meaning, the beauty, the appears to us to cast a vivid light through the richness of commonest things; and if we might very depths of the science. And yet the attempt, suggest to him a field for his future labors, we we said, is not yet wholly successful; the work would recommend one which he has himself sugis very likely to be called too popular by the men gested—the chemical etymology (let the expresof science,* too learned by the many, whilst but sion be forgiven us) of coal. We will lay the very few will be able to enter into that peculiar passage before our readers, as a sample of Mr. point of view which we just now adverted to, and Mansfield's style : which, once seized, shows each part of the work in its true meaning and proportion. The work is, assiduously analyzed and defined the various com.
It is very remarkable that, though chemists have indeed, too full of matter, and likely to repel the pounds which make up the great bulk of nearly all careless reader by the extreme philosophic precision the material bodies within their reach, animal, vegeat which it aims, and which it seeks to attain by the tal, and mineral, we have been left quite in the use of Latin vocables ; an error, as we conceive, dark as to what coal is. We know what it has which our greatest scientific writers, such as Pro-been-an accumulation of vegetal organisms. We
know that limestone is carbonate of lime, that fessor Owen, are too apt to fall into. Another (as it seems to us) esthetical defect in muscle and sinew are made up chiefly of fibrine and
woody fibre is a definite chemical compound, that the work is, as it were, a certain want of person- gelatine, whose composition we know exactly ; but ality, in the almost morbid and yet most lovable we have no information as to what substances con
stitute the vast coal-beds with which our country * Or, rather, by the talkers about science. " The chem
has been blessed. We are aware that their mass istry of it is really very good !" was the remark of a worthy and eminent London professor, much astonished with the is composed of ths elements oxygen, hydrogen, remainder.
nitrogen, and carbon ; but of the compounds into
But can any
From the London Times.
which these elements are grouped in coal we have A termination almost so unhoped for, has filled not even an hypothesis.
men's hearts with gratitude. They recognize, in Now, although it is the ultimate analyses which the mercy that has arrested the hand of the destroyare of practical utility in assigning their value as fuel to different sorts of coal, it is a knowledge of ing angel, the salvation of this country from all the proximate constitution of these materials which the moral and material ills, which have ever would be of interest to the chemist, which would followed in the train of great pestilences. Had enable him to assist the geologist in speculating on the disease remained among us for any time withthe circumstances under which vegetal fibre has out abatement, experience tells us it could hardly been stratified into mineral masses, and which would have remained without increase. The mortality, give a double usefulness to the knowledge which which had risen from the usual weekly average we may obtain of the new substances which we procure by the decomposition of the coal itself. At of 900 to 3000, would not have remained many present we can only look upon these latter products weeks as low as 3000. Had it gone on in the with an isolated interest, that which their own in- same ratio of increase, it is hardly too much to trinsic worth may attach to them. The coke, the say that whole districts in the metropolis and its tar, the gas—the solid, liquid, and fluid products in suburbs would have been laid bare and desolate. which the coal lives again after its dissolution in the True, this would have happened among the abodes retorts-cannot be connected with the former bodies of the very poor. But would the consequences of in which they existed in the coal, by any intelligible scheme of metamorphosis
. All we know is, that the affliction have been restricted to these spots ? the transmigration has occurred. The thread of Could whole families have been plunged into desconsciousness, as it were, is broken ; and we must titntion, and whole parishes have been desolated by rest content with what we can find out of the prod- panic, in the offskirts of a huge city, without ucts we can actually see and handle, till we have infecting the other and healthier elements of sociattained by experiment to introvision into the re-ety? Impossible. Of the plague which has torts, or to intuition into the essence of coal.
already, we trust, spent its worst malignity, the These are surely the words of one to whom deaths which it caused were not the sole nor the God has given eyes to see His works, and a heart most terrible result. The great historian of Greece to understand the meaning of them, and a mouth has depicted, in indelible colors, the moral which to speak that meaning to his fellow-men. Mr. goes hand in hand with the physical pest. We, Mansfield has yet much more to see, and much as a nation, indeed, may not be in the same state more to say.
as that refined and volatile people which erected altars to The Unknown God."
one, who knows anything of our great cities, and CESSATION OF CHOLERA IN LONDON.
especially of our greatest, say that, were a pest It would be as impossible to exaggerate the let loose with unmitigated violence on them or in sentiment of gratitude which is felt throughout the it, the mere destruction of human life would measmetropolis at the abatement of the pest from which ure the havoc and the calamity endured? Would we are beginning to escape, as it would be to the poorer masses of our population go untainted by exaggerate the misery which its further contin- that same utter recklessness of all save present uance would have inflicted. The plague is gain and present enjoyment—the same indifference stayed. Death strikes with a feeble and fitful to death or life-honor or dishonor-good or evil hand where he so lately smote with so fearful a —which poisoned the minds of the Athenians more force. Terror and despondence, the satellites and than the plague destroyed their bodies? The hiscompanions of death, are flying before the Power torian of the great plague of London bears testiwhich has destroyed the gaunt destroyer. The mony to the frightful immorality, hardness of streets, which still bear the aspect of mourning heart, and savage recklessness which disputed and sadness, no longer witness the daily insignia with piety, contrition, and repentance, the dominof mortality. One meets, indeed, in every place, ion over men's minds. In our age, the vast the memorials of irreparable losses, and the tokens increase of population, the more than proportionate of lasting grief. In the throng of the Exchange, increase of luxury and wealth-the great contrasts in the great thoroughfares, in the crowded streets, of conditions and fortunes, have all raised up we jostle against those who have, within a few elements of discord, contention, and bitter strife, days, lost their nearest kin. One man, a week ago which were unknown in De Foe's time, but which, the happy husband or proud father, has since fol- in a wide-spread pestilence, might now ferment lowed wife and children to the grave. The prat- into anarchy and ruin. The metropolis could tle of infancy, and the soft accents of affection, not have suffered alone. It would have infected have been suddenly hushed in a thousand homes. all England. We have escaped these evils. We A havoc has been wrought in innumerable fam- have escaped panic. We have escaped anarchy. ilies which a long life will fail to repair. But the We have escaped national convulsion. There plague is already stayed ; and, great as the calam- have, doubtless, been great suffering, privation, ity may have been, it is slight compared with what destitution, and despair inflicted on There old traditions and modern experience taught us to have, likewise, been much hardness, selfishness, expect. London has escaped with half the loss and cruelty elicited by it. But, still, how little sustained in Paris, and a tithe of the destruction have these been, compared with the probable and which ravaged Moscow, Petersburgh, or Delhi. almost inevitable consequences of a heavier and