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A few fragments scattered around the body of a ruin are proper, and picturesque. They are proper, because they account for what is defaced : and they are picturesque, because they unite the principal pile with the ground; on which union the beauty of composition, in a good measure, depends. But here they were thought rough and unsightly; and fell a sacrifice to neatness. Even the court of justice was not spared though a fragment, probably as beautiful as it was curious.
In the room of these detached parts, which were the proper and picturesque embellishments of the scene, a gaudy temple is erected, and other trumpery wholly foreign to it.
But not only the scenery is defaced, and the outworks of the ruin violently torn away; the main body of the ruin itself is at this very time under the alarming hand of decoration.
The remains of this pile are very magnificent. Almost the intire skeleton of the abbey-church is left, which is a beautiful piece of Gothic architecture, The tower seems wholly to have escaped the injuries of time. Its mouldering lines only are softened. Near the church stand a double row of cloysters, which are singularly curious from the pointed arches, which do the office of columns, in supporting the roof. At the end of these cloysters stand the abbot's apartments, which open into a court, called the Monk's Garden. On one side of this court is the hall, a noble room; which communicates, in the spirit of hospitality, with the kitchen. There are besides a few other detached parts,
When the present proprietor made his purchase, he found this whole mass of ruin, the cloysters, the abbey-church, and the hall, choked with rubbish. His first work therefore was to clear and open. And something in this way might have been done with propriety. For we see ruins sometimes so choked that no view of them can be obtained.
To this business succeeded the great work of restoring and ornamenting. This required a very delicate touch. Among the ruins were found scraps of Gothic windows; small, marble columns; tiles of different colours; and a variety of other ornamental fragments. These the proprietor has picked from the rubbish with great care; aud with infinite industry is now restoring to their old situation. But in vain; for the friability of the edges of every fracture makes any restoration of parts an awkward patchwork.
Indeed the very idea of giving a finished splendor to a ruin is absurd. How unnatural in a place evidently forlorn and deserted by man, are the recent marks of human industry! Besides, every sentiment, which the scene suggests is destroyed. Instead of that soothing melancholy, on which the mind feeds in contemplating the ruins of time, a sort of jargon is excited by these heterogeneous mixtures, as if, when some grand choras had taken possession of the soul-when the sounds in all their sublimity were yet vibrating on the ear a light jig should strike up.
But the restoration of parts is not enough: ornaments must be added: and such incongruous ornaments, as disgraced the scene, are disgracing also the ruin. The monk's garden is turned into a trim parterre, and planted with flowering shrubs: a view is opened, through the great window, to some ridiculous (I know not what; Ann Bolein, I think, they called it) that is placed in the valley; and in the central part of the abbey
church, a circular pedestal is raised out of the fragments of the old pavement; on which is erected-a mutilated heathen statue!!!
It is a difficult matter, at the sight of such monstrous absurdities, to keep resentment within decent bounds. I hope I have not exceeded. A legal right the proprietor unquestionably has to deform his ruin, as he pleases. But though he fear no indictment in the king's bench, he must expect a very severe prosecution in the court of taste. The refined code of this court does not consider an elegant ruin as a man's property, on which he may exercise at will the irregular sallies of a wanton imagination: but as a deposit, of which he is only the guardian, for the amusement and admiration of posterity. A ruin is a sacred thing. Rooted for ages in the soil, assimilated to it, and become as it were a part of it, we consider it as a work of nature, rather than of art. Art cannot reach it. A Gothic window, a fretted arch, some trivial peculiarity may have been aimed at with success: but the magnificence of ruin was never attained by any modern attempt.
What reverence, then, is due to these sacred relics, which the rough hand of temerity and caprice dare mangle without remorse? The least error is irretrievable. Let us pause a moment—A Goth may deform: but it exceeds the power of art to amend.
The scenes of Studley, which I have here described, are confined to the two contiguous valleys. The improvements of the place extend considerably further: but we had neither time, nor inclination, to examine more. We had seen enough.
History of Trades and Manufactures.
HISTORY OF THE IRON TRADE,
On the Conversion of Malleable Iron into Steel.
ALTHOUGH we have no historical account by which we can determine when this invaluable discovery of converting iron into steel was made, yet it is reasonable to conclude, that it was nearly coeval with the discovery of iron; probably the quality of the steel was very indifferent, and in many cases but little removed from iron,-yet removed it must have been whereever work of arts have made any progress, as pure malleable iron is incapable of being hardened to answer the purpose even of a stone-mason's chissel, and it is well-known there is scarcely a tool of any description but what owes its excellency to steel.
The present mode of converting iron into steel, is simply to impregnate the iron with carbon, which is obtained from charcoal, in what are termed Converting Furnaces, and nearly of the following construction:-The place for the fire is level with the floor, and the dimensions being eighteen inches wide, and two feet high, and twelve or fifteen feet long; as the whole of the bottom is grated, the air has free influx from the ash-hole beneath; the outlet for the fire is through a number of small apertures on each side near the top, which immediately pass under and up each side of what are called the Pots; these are troughs, of the same length as the fire, about two feet wide, and near the same in depth; they are composed of
the best fire-stone, four or five inches thick; there are two in each furnace : over these is a simi-circular arch, seven or eight feet span; in appearance it is similar to a covered waggon, extending the whole length of the pots, and sufficiently high to admit the workmen to empty and re-charge the furnace; the fire escapes through apertures in the crown of the arch into the chimney or cupola. The whole of this apparatus, except the chimney, is built of fire-stone or fire-brick; these terms are used for such stone and brick as will endure a great degree of heat. When the furnace
is charged, it is quite cold; a workman goes in, and covers the bottom of the trough with a thin layer of bruised charcoal, and then a layer of bariron, then of charcoal, and so on alternately till the trough is nearly full, taking care that the bars do not touch each other; it is then covered either with river-sand or earth that will not easily vitrefy. When the furnace is thus prepared, the workmen ciose the entrance, and the fire is put in, and supplied with coal day and night, till the whole is sufficiently heated through; and as it requires nearly a white heat, or little short of a welding heat, before the carbon will penetrate the iron, it will take six or eight days before the desired effect is produced. This object attained, however, the fire is permitted to go out, and the furnace to cool. In the course of a week or more, the workmen enter, and bring out the bars, which are now converted into steel, the charcoal being but little changed in appearance. It is evident the troughs must be completely air-tight and well covered, otherwise a combustion of the charcoal would take place, and the bars remain in no wise altered.
From the foregoing process, we may easily conjecture how the invention of making steel would be discovered; a piece of iron accidentally covered in a charcoal-fire would in some measure become steel.
The article we have been describing is called Bar or Blistered steel; the latter name being given from these bars being covered with lumps, occasioned by small particles of air in the bars being rarified, when the iron was nearly at a welding heat. Although great quantities of steel are used in this state, yet there are two other processes which are much in practice, and greatly improve its quality; the one is called making German steel, or Sheer-steel, the other Cast-steel. They are both manufactured from bar-steel. The origin of the former term must doubtless be traced to the fact of that article having been imported from Germany; so late as forty years ago much of this kind of steel was brought over for the more valuable purposes. The first manufactory of it in England was established at Newcastle; and having been found very suitable for making sheers, it thence obtained the latter of the titles just mentioned. It is about thirty years since several forges for this purpose were erected in the neighbourhood of Sheffield; and as each met with rapid success, more were established, so that for a number of years all the steel used in the manufactures has been made in the vicinity of that town. The process consists in simply laying six or eight bars (of about a foot long) together, and welding them into one piece; it is then drawn down under a forge-hammer to two inches square, cut in the middle, doubled and welded again, and then reduced to the size wanted. From this operation, an improvement of the steel is effected by increasing its malleability; and, from having obtained a greater uniformity of quality, it is rendered more ductile and
stronger than iron, and will hear suspended nearly half as much more; it has moreover the capability of being hardened to sustain the finest edge. Of this article are manufactured the best kind of table-blades, and such articles as require great strength and but little substance. Although Sheffield has not the merit of the invention of sheer-steel, yet it has justly to boast of that of cast-steel, and to this production of its ingenuity is owing its unparalleled excellence in hardware manufacture, and not a little of its prosperity.
It is about fifty years since the first attempt was made to reduce barsteel to a fluid state for the purpose of improving its quality; the person who had the honour of this ingenious effort was named Huntsman ; he met with great success, and for a considerable time was the only person famed for its manufacture: his successors at this day are in high estimation. The process appears simple, but requires good management. The tops of the furnaces are level with the floor; they are twelve or fifteen inches square, and from two to three feet deep; at the bottom are the grates; the ash-poles are of course in the cellar; the outlets for the fire are on one side near the top, and immediately enter the chimney; frequently six or eight of these furnaces are in a row; the crucibles are about six inches wide and twelve inches deep. The bar-steel is broke in small pieces, about two inches square; twenty-eight or thirty pounds weight are put in each time; the crucible is then covered, and placed in the furnace when sufficiently hot; fuel is frequently added till the steel is completely melted. Afterwards the pot is taken out with tongs, and the fluid steel poured into cast-iron mouids, the shape wanted; if for rolling into sheets, the ingots are six inches broad, one inch thick, and from twelve to eighteen inches long; but if for tilting, (viz. drawing into rods for the cutlers, &c.) it is cast two inches square, and three feet long. The heat required to melt steel is very intense; and when it is running into the mould, it is studded with sparks as brilliant as burning wire in oxygen gas; the strong and hardest kind of coke is used as fuel, being capable of producing the greatest degree of heat.
The cause of the improvement in steel by melting has long been a subject of enquiry and specnlation; the chemical change is very unimportant, a trifling loss of carbon being all that takes place; it is generally attributed to a complete mechanical change in the size and construction of the particles of the metal, which in some measure appears confirmed by its extraordinary density when hardened, and the much higher polish it will sustain than common steel.
Perhaps no other country on the surface of the globe produces, in the same compass, such a variety and abundance of minerals as our own; yet are we still indebted to Sweden and Russia for our best steel-iron, and it seems probable that this will continue to be the case. Patents have been taken out, and much money expended in manufacturing English iron into steel, but without any prospect of ultimately succeeding. In the first place we are deficient in wood for charcoal to pursue the foreign method of working, and, provided this difficulty did not exist, there is in our iron-ores a want of manganese. Attempts have been made, and a patent obtained, to mix manganese with the iron-ore, but neither this
nor presenting it to the metal in any subsequent part of the process, has been found to answer the purpose. They were enabled to make some of the steel good, but the quality was too irregular to be depended on; it appears evident that nature alone can properly blend the ingredients together. The ore obtained in Cumberland is superior to any other produced in this country, and approaches nearer to the Swedish, but even from this, good steel has not yet been manufactured; the quality will suit for many purposes but not for the best, and it is probable that a scarcity of wood may prevent a much further pursuit of the scheme.
As the town of Sheffield has long stood pre-eminent for its hardware manufactory, it is much to be regretted that any part of its good name should be sacrificed to the interest or mistaken notions of a few; this, we conceive, must be the case till the legislature shall interfere to prevent the circulation of cast-metal knives and scissors as steel ones. A legible mark on the metal goods seems all that is required. For a number of years back, it has been customary to make forks of metal; and probably, except the polish, they may not have been much inferior to steel; but wherever a good edge and strength are wanted, as is the case in knives and scissors, steel is universally acknowledged to be much preferable. In the present relaxed state of things, however, the unwary consumer is imposed upon, and frequently without reduction in the price.
We have now described the various processes through which this invaluable mineral passes, from its natural state to that in which it is fitted for the hands of the manufacturer of the finest articles of cutlery, and for every other useful and ornamental purpose to which it has hitherto been applied; and as, in a work of this mulifarious nature, we have in consequence a variety of tastes to gratify, we hope, to those who feel an interest in this department of the arts, we shall be found to have afforded a pleasing and intelligible outline.
Miscellaneous Correspondence, Selections, &c.
COMPARISON OF VIRGIL AND THOMSON.
[Continued from vol. i. page 438.]
To the Editors of the Northern Star.
To those of your correspondents who are fond of the country, I hope this paper, in which I propose to continue the comparison between Thomson and Virgil, will not be uninteresting, since I shall confine myself to those justly admired and celebrated panegyrics in which both poets extol the innocence and happiness of a country-life. These passages which occur, one in the conclusion of the third hook of the Seasons, and the other in the second of the Georgics, I shall compare, putting down in order as many of the parallel lines as are necessary to my present purpose.