« PreviousContinue »
cation of iron to railway structures. Evidence was given to show that pieces of wrought iron exposed to vibration frequently break after long use, and exhibit a peculiar crystalline fracture and loss of tenacity; whilst other witnesses maintained that this peculiar structure was the result of an original fault in the process of manufacture, and that the internal constitution of the metal remained unaffected by vibration, however rapid or long-continued. In opposition to the popular view as to the brittleness of iron being occasioned by vibration, Mr. Robert Stephenson pointed to the engine-beam of a Cornish engine which received a shock equal to about 55 tons eight or ten times a minute, and yet went on working for twenty years without apparent change. He also referred to the connecting-rod that communicates the power of the locomotive to the wheel, and receives a violent jar eight times in a second at ordinary speed, and yet remains unaffected. He pointed out that in a case of that sort a rod that has borne 200 million of such jars, will be found, on examination, to have retained its fibrous structure.
Where iron exhibits a crystalline appearance on breaking, Dr. Percy rightly points out that time plays a most important part in determining the character of the fracture. When the metal is broken with extreme rapidity, the fracture will be crystalline; when broken slowly, it will be of a fibrous appearance. In the case of the breakage of a crank-axle, we apprehend the cause to be torsion, not vibration. It was stated in evidence by a locomotive engineer, at the inquiry into the causes of the Bow accident on the Great Eastern line, that the very first turn of a crank-axle begins the process of breaking; and that the final fracture-nearly always at the same place-is only a question of time.
That the brittleness of iron is increased by frost is also a prevalent notion amongst engineers, similar to the popular impression that bones are more brittle in winter than in summer. But the railway accidents which occur in frosty weather are more probably attributable to the circumstance that at that time the road is hard and rigid, and the engines running over it at high speeds are much more strained, and consequently more able to accident than they are in ordinary weather when the road is soft and yielding; just as in frosty weather we are more liable to falls, and consequently to fractured limbs, arising from the slipperiness of the roads rather than to the increased brittleness of our
bones at that season. To put the matter to a practical test, however, Mr. Ramsbottom had a piece of rail taken up while covered with sharp frost and placed under the large steam-hammer at Crewe, when it stood the blows necessary to double both ends
together without showing the smallest indication of fracture. Nevertheless the suggestion of Dr. Percy is well worthy of consideration, in which he says, "It is most desirable that the subject should be accurately investigated; and the Institution of Civil Engineers would render excellent service by conducting an elaborate inquiry into it."
As for the supply of the ore out of which iron and its inestimable compounds are manufactured, there seems to be no limit to it. Throughout Great Britain it is found in various forms: as red hæmatite in Cumberland and Glamorganshire ; brown hæmatite in Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Glamorganshire, Cornwall, Devon, and the north of Ireland; spathic carbonates in Durham, Somerset, and Devon; and argillaceous ironstone from the coal measures in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Monmouthshire, Glamorganshire, Pembrokeshire, and in Scotland. Only within the last few years immense deposits of iron ore have been discovered in the liassic and oölitic beds in Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, and Lincolnshire.
There is therefore little reason to apprehend the exhaustion of the raw material of iron, though there are grounds for fear lest the Coal, without which the ore would be comparatively worthless, should by waste, exportation, and increasing consumption for manufacturing and locomotive purposes, become prematurely exhausted. Indeed, the impression begins to prevail that we are drawing far too largely upon our coal deposits, and that in the course of two or three more generations there will be an end of them, or, at least, that the cost of raising the coal from greater depths will be so much enhanced as to place us at a serious disadvantage compared with our foreign competitors. Our manufacturing power rests mainly upon the cheapness and the abundance of our fuel, of which the supply is limited, though we consume and export it as if it were inexhaustible. We are no doubt exceedingly prosperous at present, and shall probably continue so while we go on raising, consuming, and exporting at such an increasing rate our treasure of steam-power, so long hoarded up in the bowels of the earth; but unless some new source of power can be discovered, as cheap and available as coal, the greater our prosperity the nearer will be our decay. When our coal is burnt up, or becomes scarce and dear, away will go our iron and steel making, our steam-power, our manufactures, and all the varied industries that depend mainly upon cheap fuel for their prosperity. When that time arrives, as arrive it will, though it may not be in our time, the towns of the North, now so populous, so prosperous, and so rich, will
become deserted wildernesses of brick, and fall into decrepitude and decay, like Venice, like Ghent, or like Bruges, but without their art and their beauty.
The same transfer of industry has been witnessed in England before, though on a much smaller scale. When Sussex abounded in timber, it was the great seat of the iron manufacture. The clang of hammers resounded throughout the county, and manufactures prospered in the adjoining towns-at Cranbrook, Rye, Robertsbridge, and Winchelsea-places now in the last stages of decay. But, as fuel became scarce, the iron manufacture of Sussex declined; and England long depended upon foreigners for its supply of the metal until the fortunate discovery was made that coal could be successfully employed in the reduction of the ore. Then the manufactures of the South were for the most part transferred to the North, and the Sussex glades were left to their original solitude. And such, too, will be the fate of the North when the iron-melters and manufacturers there have burnt up all their fuel.
Not without reason, therefore, does Dr. Percy conclude his admirable volume on Iron and Steel' with these warning words: Our coal is not only being consumed at a prodigious rate at home, but is being largely exported; and the question as to the probable duration of our coal fields has of late been discussed with reasonable anxiety. In 1862, we raised 84,000,000 tons of coal, and the demand continually increases. Hitherto, owing to the abundance of our mineral fuel, we have been-and still are comparatively regardless of economy in its consumption. The time has now arrived when necessity will compel us to act differently, both in our manufactories and our households.'
ART. IV.-Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, with Notices of some of his Contemporaries. Commenced by Charles Robert Leslie, R.A. Continued and concluded by Tom Taylor, M.A. With Portraits and Illustrations. 2 Vols. 8vo. London,
E resume, according to promise, our consideration of the Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and we propose to follow that gifted and worthy man to the close of his distinguished life. We have already said that in the generation which preceded that of Reynolds, English painting had sunk very low. But when art has passed through its various stages of decay till it has lapsed into vapid imitation there is a natural tendency
to a revival. Nothing is left in the practice of the degene
rate masters which can continue to command the reverence of a gifted pupil, and genius soon discovers that it must innovate if it aspires to rise above mechanic mediocrity. Feebleness in Italy had not been succeeded by a reaction of vigour. The painters,' said Reynolds, 'before the age of Raphael are better than the painters since the time of Carlo Maratti. The reason is, the former have nothing but truth in view; whereas the others do not even endeavour to see for themselves, hut receive, by report only, what has before passed through many hands.' They were servile mimics of their predecessors, and never got beyond a tame and superficial mannerism. In England the incapacity of one generation was the cause of the originality of the next. Ten years before Reynolds went to London Hogarth had broken loose from traditional trammels to inaugurate a style in which he had no precursors and is never likely to have an equal. Neither his technical skill-though it was considerable-nor the scale of his figures was adequate to effect a general revolution in art. This was the work of three men, who without concert had deviated from the contemporary insipidity and struck into a new and splendid road. Wilson, whose sole instructor was an obscure portrait-painter, subsequently formed himself in Italy by the study of nature and the great masters of landscape. While Reynolds was serving an apprenticeship to Hudson, another commonplace artist, Hayman, was the nominal tutor of Gainsborough. The genius of the lad was not developed till he had done with his teacher, and took Rubens, Teniers, and Vandyke for his guides. "What he thus learnt,' says Reynolds, 'he applied to the originals of nature which he saw with his own eyes, and imitated not in the manner of those masters but his own.' The words were just as true of Reynolds. He had only followed that he might lead. The history of his student life was the counterpart of that of Wilson and Gainsborough, and his influence was by far the greatest of the three in emancipating English painting from its thraldom. He was proud of the free and varied power which was manifested later at the Academy exhibitions, and he used to say, as Farington reports, that the independence of the national character was apparent even in our works of art, which through all their gradations of merit showed that they were the productions of men who thought for themselves.' This is a distinction which our leading painters have maintained ever since.
The public quickly recognised the rightful supremacy of Reynolds, but the old school was not without its adherents, and among the number was Hogarth. His originality had not recon
ciled him to the innovations of others, and he preferred, or professed to prefer, Cotes to Reynolds. In his own style Cotes was a commendable artist. He belonged to the class of what Sir Joshua called the cold painter of portraits.' If allowance is made for the stiffness of his forms, he was a good copyist of literal nature, and gave true and strong representations of his sitters. Here his power stopped. He could not inform his faces with mind and heart, or invest his figures with grace and dignity, or impart poetic sentiment to incidents from common life, or thrill the spectator with the magical effects of composition and colour. Hogarth, who was vain and arrogant, was supposed to have spoken with asperity of Reynolds out of envy at his fame ;* but, whatever jealousy may have perverted the verdict of the pictorial novelist, it is certain that he knew little of the Italian schools of painting and his own attempts in portrait were of the literal kind. His theory embodied the vulgar prejudices which have often blunted the perceptions and misled the judgment of persons who are ignorant of art. 'I found,' he said, by mortifying experience, that whoever will succeed in portraiture must adopt the mode recommended in Gay's "Fables," and make divinities of all who sit to him. Whether or not this childish affectation will ever be done away with is a doubtful question. None of those who have attempted to reform it have yet succeeded; nor unless portrait painters in general become more honest and their customers less vain is there much reason to expect that they ever will.' The criticism is a mistake. Titian, Vandyke, and Reynolds did not gain their pre-eminence because they were great flatterers, but because they were great painters. Nor in ennobling countenances were they influenced by the sordid object of pandering to vanity, but their predominant thought was the excellence of the picture. They were enamoured of their art, and improved upon the bare prosaic features that they might fulfil its requirements. The lasting admiration excited by their works is due in no small part to the qualities which Hogarth condemned. Northcote once remarked to Miss Reynolds that 'he had never seen a picture by Jervas, which was rather extra
His extravagant envy and vanity are the principal charges brought against Hogarth by Churchill in the satirical epistle he addressed to him after their quarrel. The poet says that he had often heard him babble through a long summer's day in praise of himself, and that if some celebrated old master was mentioned with respect he turned pale, and flew into a passion. He is accused of exerting all his power to keep down rising worth, and reserving his good word for sycophants without merit. If they exhibited any talent his friendliness was immediately converted into enmity. The vain are often generous applauders of merit, but the conceit of Hogarth seems undoubtedly to have been of that odious class which hates all excellence except its own. Such was the intolerance of his self-sufficiency that the slightest contradiction threw him into a rage.