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THE ELECTRIC LIGHT.
And it may
Of late much has been said and written respecting the electric light, which most people regard as a new discovery. It is not so, however. One of the earliest experiments performed by the aid of the galvanic battery was the producing of an intense light, by transmitting what is termed the electric Auid through the interval between two points of charcoal. A similar effect, though unequal in brilliancy, and varying in color, was produced by employing points of the various metals. Of the electric fluid we know, indeed, little ; of its effects we are cognizant in a variety of ways. Science, though it cannot disclose the nature of this mysterious agent, has brought it into the service of man, in the telegraphic transmission of signals, the blasting of rocks, the exploding of gunpowder under water, &c.
Nor is the attempt to adapt the electric light to purposes of general illumination any thing new. Seven years ago, an American patented an invention for this purpose. be said that, for twenty years at least, experiments have been going on under the hands of some one who has meditated the perfecting of this source of luminosity.
But there have been obstinate difficulties in the way. It was requisite to procure charcoal of a particular kind, unvarying in the density of its substanee; and to regulate the voltaic current in its passage across the charcoal points. Any variation in the condition or position of the points, or the slightest diminution in the voltaic current, produced a change in the degree of light, and its qualities of color, sufficient to render it unavailable for practical purposes.
Indeed, it often occurred that one of the points falling from its position, left the surrounding space instantly in utter darkness.
We cannot here enter into a detail of the theory of electricity, nor describe the construction of the batteries now in use, but let the reader, for the sake of illustration, lay before him two steel pens, point to point; let the holders of these pens be supposed as the wires communicating with the battery and transmitting the electric current in a circuit; let the inky points of the pens be regarded as the two points of charcoal ; let them touch each other, and understand that while they are in actual contact no
light, or indications of it whatever, occurs; but, draw them ever so slightly apart, and that instant the most brilliant luminosity appears! Our readers will thus understand pretty clearly what is meant by the charcoal points. Directly these points are disunited, a separation of particles from one point takes place, and these become lodged on the opposite one in the direction of the current; one point, therefore, becomes reduced in size, the other enlarged and irregular in shape; thus the conditions for obtaining the light are soon impaired.
Mr. Staite, the patentee of the new invention, has met the difficulty with reference to the quality of the charcoal in the following manner :
He reduces coke to impalpable powder, makes it into a paste with water, forms it into sticks, and exposes it to a violent heat. He then dips the sticks into melted sugar, (the chief constituent of which is charcoal), so that every minute interstice may be filled up, and exposes to heat again. The result of this treatment is a carbonaceous mass of density superior to any that can be obtained from wood, and which, moreover, can easily be obtained in the form of straight sticks, an impossibility with charcoal made from wood, for, if prepared from the straightest pieces, the resulting charcoal will be almost invariably crooked. The first great desideratum is thus accomplished. The other desideratum, viz., a steady light, dependant on a regular flow of electricity and the maintenance of certain given relations of position between the two carbonaceous points, required certain mechanical appliances of a self-acting kind. Thus, in order to the development of the light, it was necessary that the two charcoal points should be first brought into contact; then separated and maintained (notwithstanding the variation of the charcoal points as the result of the electric action, at a given and unvarying distance from each other. These objects have been accomplished by the electric current itself on its passage towards the charcoal points, whence it is presently to emanate as light.
The instrument subservient to this end consists of a coil of copper wire surrounding a bar of soft iron. On passing the electric current through this coil, the bar becomes magnetized, and is adapted to rise or fall as the current is strong or weak. These motions of rising and falling are caused to actuate an
escapement by means of which an equable current of electricity is always maintained, and the charcoal points are held at a distance from each other proportionate to the passing amount of electric current. And thus the difficulties of this invention are said to be overcome.
The experiments already tried in the various parts of the metropolis have proved very satisfactory. The light has been raised upon the Duke of York’s Column, and other eminences, and reflected in various directions, with the most brilliant effect. --From “The Family Friend” for January.
THE WAY TO THE GIFT.
When the magistrate again came into court, and the prisoners were placed in the dock, Bozwell, who had bad little experience in cross-questioning a witness, appeared to have received a new light upon the subject, from the hints probably of his fellow prisoners. Leaning forward, he said, in a low and indistinct tone, “That last witness never see the things till next day.”
The worthy magistrate listened very kindly, and speaking to the usher, ordered him to put Sampson in the box again. Sampson was a very unworthy representative of his illustrious namesake—a small-limbed policeman, scarcely out of his boyhood, and evidently quite young in the force.
“Sampson," said the magistrate, resting his elbow on the table, and slightly inclining his head, —" You took the prisoner Bozwell into custody?"
“Yesterday !" said the magistrate, frowning majestically" Eh?"
“Yesterday," replied Sampson, hesitatingly.
"Speak up, man, speak up, I thought you said,” continued the magistrate very deliberately -"you certainly said, it was the day before yesterday you took charge of these articles that have just been produced.”
“No, sir,” replied the policeman—“This good woman, Mrs. Phillips, as lives next the prisoner, told me she see Bozwell the
day before breaking them up, in his back yard, just about the time, as near as can be, when they was brought in."
“O!” said the magistrate, looking ominously at the witness, “You didn't see them at all till yesterday ?"
“Not exactly see them myself—but”
“ Come, come,” said the magistrate, “tell us what you saw, not what you were told;" and then measuring his words very distinctly, added—“Did you see, yourself, any of these things before yesterday?"
“Not myself—no, sir. I can't say I did, but” –
“You may stand down, Sampson; but in future, think before you speak, and tell us only what you saw, not what others told you. You may have to give your evidence elsewhere; but unless you acquit yourself better, you will do no credit to the force—you're a young hand at it, I suppose?"
“Yes, sir,” said the policeman, with an obsequious bow, as he stepped down.
“Who's Mrs. Phillips?” enquired the magistrate, of the usher_" is she here?"
“ Here I am,” said a shrill voice from the other side the court_“but I won't be sworn !"
Whether or not there is any natural objection on the part of the gentler sex to be put upon proof, need not now be determined, but a general titter ran through the court as this decision was enunciated.
“ Silence !” shouted the usher; and then turning to the magistrate, added in a low voice —" She says she knows nothing about it: she won't even swear that the prisoner was the man she saw in the back yard."
We need not go through the remainder of the evidence, but content ourselves with stating that it completely exonerated Bozwell, who, it appeared, had no hand at all in damaging the stolen property. The thieves themselves, partly, but principally an accomplice not in custody, finding Bozwell out when the goods were taken there, had commenced the work of destruction, but being causelessly alarmed, had left the property on the premises just as it had been found the next day by Sampson. The boy's father was of course acquitted, and was probably rather benefited than injured by his appearance in the police court. The mutual greetings of father and son, at the close of this memorable scene, were touching in the extreme; and who can tell what influence for good it may have exercised on either. To both it was a lesson, written to be sure with an iron penbut written, no doubt, for wise though mysterious purposes.
In my own mind, as I walked homewards, it awakened a variety of thoughts—some pleasing—some painful; but all, I trust, fraught with profit. In this flippant age, we often hear 'the majesty of the law' questioned, and in many cases ridiculed. But I saw that morning nothing to be deprecated. Sterling, straight-forward, common sense and honesty, were the salient features of that day's proceedings; and truth eventually triumphed. So far from wishing any thing altered, I came away with the impression that it would be well sometimes to carry into our homes and hearts the practice of our halls of justiceto call witness after witness, now for the prosecution, and now for the defence; to examine, cross-examine, and re-examine, in questions, even where the suit was but a friendly one; or like Cowper's famous case, a contest between Eyes and Nose only. “ Prove all things : hold fast that which is good.”
It struck me, too, that the whole proceedings had a decided bearing on the object before me in writing this little narrative; and lay directly in “The Way to the Gift.” For why had people so often mistaken that way, but because they were partial in themselves, and had become judges of evil thoughts—not in others, but in themselves, for that seems to be the force of the passage ? There had been an evident leaning this way or that ; to one class of testimony or another; and a war among the members of an argument, had ended almost always in the plucking out of an eye, or the cutting off of a hand, instead of the allocation or restoration of each to its right office and uses. The head, the foot, the hand, the eye, and the body, had all in turn assumed the autocracy, and had declared war for no conceivable reason but because each was not the other.
But what a narrow, foolish view of truth can be arrived at by these means—by keeping out of sight half the witnesses, by doggedly refusing to call some, and declining to cross-examine others. Partial Truth is Error, and yet how few take in the whole idea.