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to prevent its immediate repeal—the retiring allowance (which will vanish) and other charges being transferred to the other duties. On the 8d. and 1d. duties there is a charge of £956,839, which might be paid by the year 1859, and they petition that the duties should then cease.

We think, however, that the duties should cease immediately, and that the borough fund of London city should be charged with the liquidation of this debt. It is quite scandalous that the waste and profusion of the city rulers should continue to be a burden on the fuel of all the working-men of the metropolis ; and for the corporation to be preaching free-trade and cherishing these protective duties is mere hypocrisy.

These direct local taxes by no means constitute the whole of the unnecessary burdens on coal. There are, as we before said, the unnecessary waste of life in the coal mines; the burdens arising from 'wayleaves;' the oppressive ballast system of Newcastle, as well as its direct borough tax on coal ; the destruction of property caused by the dangerous navigation of the river, the want of docks, and the terrible destruction of ships and seamen at the mouth of the Tyne for want of proper engineering works (all of which the river dues, properly expended on the river, would have paid for long ere this); the infamous extortions of * Trinity dues' and 'passing tolls ;' and finally, after the London corporation taxes,* the system of the coal merchants and factors, which greatly increases the price of fuel to the Londoner, and which, were the trade quite free, would speedily be broken up.

Let us draw the reader's attention briefly to some of these topics.

Mr. James Mather's admirable little work t contains much valuable information on the dangers and difficulties of coal mining and miners, and we urge every one concerned for the welfare of this interesting class of men to peruse it. Mr. Mather has, among many other benevolent efforts for which he is well known in the north, devoted much attention to the best methods of alleviating the lot of the coal miner. He was associated with Mr. Gurney in his beautiful and valuable application of the steam-jet to the ventilation of mines. He shows that of the 160,000 individuals employed in the coal mines, about 1000 fall victims every year to accidents and explosions. He enters into an inquiry as to the causes of this destruction of life ; and in his chapters on Inspection, Ventilation, Safety-lamps, Coroners'

* A writer in 'Fraser's Magazine' says, “The gross amount received into the civic chamber or treasury in 1852 may be stated in round numbers at £550,000, of which he gives £200,000 the coal duty, £28,000 as the river dues, and £47,000 as the Bridge House estates.'

† The Coal Mines, their Dangers, and Means of Safety. 8vo. pp. 102. Longman & Co. 1853.

Inquests, and Education for the mines, points out what seems to him the best plan of obviating it.

His explanation of the steam-jet is very clear, and the wonderful effects of this new plan of ventilating mines are strikingly shown in many instances. The mine of St. Hilda's at South Shields, on the 31st December, 1852, was so full of explosive gas

that no naked light was allowed to approach the shaft,' and after lying waste till the following May, it was completely cleared of gas by the steam-jet. Strong controversies have taken place in the north on the respective merits of the furnace and steamjet modes of ventilation, and much evidence on both sides has been given both in the mining districts and before parliamentary committees. It is very evident, however, that the working-men of Seaton Delaval colliery near Newcastle, where both plans have been well tried, prefer the steam-jet; that the system has been in effective working for four years ;' and that in the pit of St. Hilda's just named, a distinguished opponent of the steam-jet plan of ventilation used it successfully for clearing his own colsiery of fire-damp, to which of course no furnace ventilation was applicable.

The reader is aware that 'furnace ventilation' is effected by placing a large fire at the bottom of the pit-shaft, the current caused by the heated air ascending the 'upcast shaft, and by the cool air drawn through the mine from another shaft (the downcast') to feed the fire and in its turn to ascend, constituting the ventilation by means of a fire, or "furnace ventilator.' The current created by this method has reached seventeen miles an hour. "The steam-jet ventilation,' to use Mr. Mather's words, ' is by high-pressure steam at a velocity greater than that of sound, projected against the entire volume of air in the shaft. It has produced in the upcast of one mine a rate of twenty-three miles an hour.'

We well recollect the enthusiasm with which, six years ago, we heard of this splendid discovery of the practical value of the steam-jet, and how much we rejoiced in this characteristic benevolent triumph for one bearing the honoured name of Gurney. Mr. Mather seems to have caught at it with all the philanthropic ardour of his nature, and to have, from the first moment, devoted himself to aid the discoverer in carrying his scientific principle into practical effect. We believe the steam-jet will by and by be found to be a valuable sanitary agent, not only in mines, but in freeing our old cesspools and sewers (where these are suffered to exist) of the foul gases which they generate, and which are the grand cause of the excessive mortality of towns. The case of the St. Hilda pit, in 1852—a pit which had a few years before exploded and killed above fifty men and boys, many of whose dead bodies we saw brought to the bank amid sbrieking women and sobbing men, a scene of unspeakable anguish ;—the case of this pit in December, 1852, is so illustrative of the value of the steam-jet, and of the dangers and losses which tend to enhance the price of fuel, that it will be well to notice it further.

• Upon the 31st December, 1852,' says Mr. Mather, 'as a man was carrying a shovel of burning coals, upwards of twenty feet from the shaft, the gas from the pit caught fire at the burning coals, and in a mass of flame darted into the shaft, forming a blazing area of upwards of ninetyeight feet. It thus blazed for four hours, darting into the atmosphere in flames, sometimes forty feet high, burning down all within reach. Had it descended into the mine and exploded the fourteen million cubic feet of gas, it would have shook a portion of South Shields as with an earthquake. Fortunately, no atmospheric air had descended into the workings to form one of the most tremendous explosive mixtures in the world.'

The awful effect of the late explosion at Gateshead, which has killed between fifty and sixty people, wounded five hundred, and destroyed in one way and another property to the amount of about a million sterling, would have been greatly exceeded by the results of such an explosion as might easily have occurred in St. Hilda's pit. Besides the town of South Shields, which would have been fired as well as shattered, the ships in the harbour, usually amounting about New Year's-day to 1000 or 1200 vessels, sometimes far more, would in all probability have been in flames. North Shields might also have been set fire to; and if there was a time, as we know there was at the Newcastle and Gateshead fire, when despair almost quenched hope, we may be well assured, that in such a conflagration as must have occurred in the crowded harbour of Shields, had St. Hilda's pit i exploded, the bravest hearts would have quailed, and the

mined efforts have been overcome by so universal a

would have been kindled. We remember distinctly th

December, 1852, the atmosphere had for som

muggy state, the barometer having bee

low," and that our reflection was-stan

pulation of this district does on a vast

with explosive gases, which only requi

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the barometer in order that they may issue from their multitudinous cells, rush to the surface of almost every pit mouth, and explode at any casual flame, laying waste the whole wealth and prosperity of old father Tyne,—the natural reflection on this view of the subject was—how, moment by moment, and on every side, are we in the merciful hands of God ;-how true it is in every sense, that by Him 'we live and move and have our being !

Here, as the year is closing, is a vast population busy with its festivities, or winding up its yearly toils, anticipating no evil, least of all dreaming of the volcano beneath its feet; meantime the barometer falls a little, the invisible deadly gases rise, spread invisibly, and touching the fire that passes at twenty yards' distance, the whole breath and throat of the subterranean monster shoots into flame. One hundred feet broad, forty feet high shoots forth this terrible tongue of fire, and there it burns, unquenched, unquenchable, for four hours !

How dreadful both to the ignorant and the intelligent inhabitants must this phenomenon have been ! The ignorant vaguely shaping unknown and hitherto unimagined dangers; the more experienced and philosophical alarmed lest the common air might find its way in quantity among the gases which filled all these subterranean chambers of death, and explode with an earthquake's force! For some hours the fate of Lisbon or Calabria must have seemed suspended over the awe-stricken inhabitants of South Shields.

No furnace of course could here be lighted for ventilation; the danger was lest this huge furnace might draw such supplies of fresh air into the pit as to form a vast explosive mixture. The enemy was in possession. Nothing but the jets in this grave dilemma could save the mine,' says Mr. Mather. On the 14th May the jets were erected ; on the 21st the mine was clear.

This valuable property,' continues the author, ‘has thus been placed under command and in safety by the steam-jet, when no other power could be brought to bear.'

But we must hasten on, contenting ourselves with saying that better ventilation, greater care, a more perfect and general educa-. tion of the mining population are the means recommended for lessening the dangers of the collieries, and increasing the production of coal than at present; that these are now seen by the mining population themselves to be necessary; that they have appealed, so far, successfully to Parliament, and that all classes, from the Duke of Northumberland, the greatest coal owner near the Tyne, to the meanest pit lad, are bent on the necessary reforms.

Injudicious speculations, wrong sites, dangers from water, dangers from fire, all these are now in number much lessened;

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of whose dead bodies we saw brought to the bank amid shrieking women and sobbing men, a scene of unspeakable anguish ;-the case of this pit in December, 1852, is so illustrative of the value of the steam-jet, and of the dangers and losses which tend to enhance the price of fuel, that it will be well to notice it further.

* Upon the 31st December, 1852,' says Mr. Mather, as a man was carrying a shovel of burning coals, upwards of twenty feet from the shaft, the gas from the pit caught fire at the burning coals, and in a mass of flame darted into the shaft, forming a blazing area of upwards of ninetyeight feet. It thus blazed for four hours, darting into the atmosphere in flames, sometimes forty feet high, burning down all within reach. Had it descended into the mine and exploded the fourteen million cubic feet of gas, it would have shook a portion of South Shields as with an earthquake. Fortunately, no atmospheric air had descended into the workings to form one of the most tremendous explosive mixtures in the world.'

The awful effect of the late explosion at Gateshead, which has killed between fifty and sixty people, wounded five hundred, and destroyed in one way and another property to the amount of about a million sterling, would have been greatly exceeded by the results of such an explosion as might easily have occurred in St. Hilda's pit. Besides the town of South Shields, which would have been fired as well as shattered, the ships in the harbour, usually amounting about New Year's-day to 1000 or 1200 vessels, sometimes far more, would in all probability have been in flames. North Shields might also have been set fire to; and if there was a time, as we know there was at the Newcastle and Gateshead fire, when despair almost quenched hope, we may be well assured, that in such a conflagration as must have occurred in the crowded harbour of Shields, had St. Hilda's pit then exploded, the bravest hearts would have quailed, and the most determined efforts have been overcome by so universal a conflagration as would have been kindled.

We remember distinctly that at the close of December, 1852, the atmosphere had for some time been in a close, 'muggy' state, the barometer having been for some days very low,* and that our reflection was, -standing as the whole population of this district does on a vast honeycomb of coal filled with explosive gases, which only require the quiet fall of an inch and a half in

‘At Backworth pit, Northumberland,' says Mr. Mather, 'when the barometer falls to 29 inches the stythe hisses from the coal; and on its rise again to 30, if sufficiently rapid, the gas hisses as it returns back into the crevices and pores. So early as 1822, at Walker Colliery, when barometers and thermometers were not much used in the mines, the men and boys, when called in the morning, would examine the state of the weather, and if the wind was at S.E., with threats of rain, they knew the pit would be full of gas, and went to bed again.' Going in and out between life and death, this !

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