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smiths. These moulds are then heated in the fire, and drawn out upon the anvil, much in the manner of large blades in general, — two men, a maker and a striker, using their hammers so as to give alternate strokes : the tang is of iron, and is, therefore, welded to the blade during the operation of forging. When the blade is required to be concave on the sides, or to have a reeded back, or some similar sort of ornament, it is hammered between steel bosses or swages, as the workmen term them. The blade is then hardened in the usual manner, by the smith heating it in the fire until it becomes worm red, and then dipping it, point down. wards, in a tub of cold water. It is tempered by drawing it through the fire several times, until it exhibits a bluish oxydisation along the surface. In this state it is set, or twisted into shape, by placing it in a sort of fork upon the anvil, and wrenching it, by means of the tongs, in the direction required to correct any degree of warping which may have been contracted during the hardening. The grinding of a sword is performed upon a stone having either a flat or a fluted surface, according to the kind of blade to be ground; by this operation the blade of a sword, as is the case with the web of a saw, loses much of its uniform elasticity; the temper, however, is presently restored by slightly heating it in the fire, after which it is glazed with emery, and, if for a fine instrument, polished with crocus marti, after the manner of a razor blade. It is now, if found perfect, ready for the hilt or handle, which is composed of a variety of substances; as ebony, fish skin, ivory, and, occasionally, still more precious materials. The guard, which admits of considerable diversity of form, is sometimes of iron; most commonly of brass, gilt; and, in some superb and costly articles, of silver and gold.
As so much is presumed to depend upon the goodness of a sword, every blade is submitted to a series of tests, much more violent than any service to which it is likely it can ever be really submitted. For instance, the point of a stout cavalry sabre, being placed against a pin in a board, containing six or eight spike nails, inserted at distances so as to form the segment of a circle, the blade is bent until it comes in contact with the spikes, when the flexure towards the middle amounts to six or seven inches from a line drawn from the point to the hilt.
The point of the sabre is then placed upon a board, from which an upright piece rises, forming together a test-frame somewhat in the shape of an inverted F (thus E): the hilt is then pressed down until the blade bend away from the upright piece about five inches, the amount of flexure being indicated by a projecting peg in the front of the frame. The sabre is likewise tested by striking it on both sides, as severely as possible, upon a stout table; and, afterwards, by smart strokes of both back and edge upon a block kept for the purpose. A sword that has sustained this fourfold ordeal will not be very likely to give way under any usage to which, as a hand weapon, it may be subjected.
The test to which the celebrated “ Toledo blades" were submitted at the manufactory on the Tagus, when visited by Mr. Inglis, in 1830, is thus described:“ The flexibility and excellent temper of the blades is surprising: there are two trials which
blade must undergo before it be pronounced sound, - the trial of flexibility, and the trial of temper. In the former, it is thrust against a plate in the wall, and bent into an arc
at least three parts of a circle: in the second, it is struck edgeways upon a leaden table, with the whole force which can be given by a powerful man holding it with both hands. The blades are polished upon a wheel of walnut-wood, and are certainly beautiful specimens of the arts.”
In the British manufactures, the blades are frequently fluted, and etched in the manner described in the article on razors ; sometimes they are embossed, or ornamented with figures executed in a sort of relief by means of chisels and punches, so as to produce a rich and beautiful effect.
Among the ancient methods of beautifying swords and similar articles, that called damasking, or more commonly damascening, was the most famous : it consisted in inlaying the steel with different metals; and is supposed, from its appellation, to have been first practised at Damascus. “ Damasking,” says M. Savary, ' partakes of the mosaic, of engraving, and of carving. As to the mosaic, it hath inlaid work; as to engraving, it cuts the metal, representing divers figures; and, as in chasing gold and silver, is wrought in relievo. There are two ways of damasking: the one which the finest is where the metal is cut deep, with proper instruments, and inlaid with thick gold and silver wire ; the other is only superficial. In the first, the incisions are made in the dovetail manner, that the gold and silver wire which is forcibly drove in may be firmly fixed. In the other, having heated the steel till it becomes of a blue or violet colour, they hatch it over and across with the knife, then draw the design or ornaments intended with a fine brass point or bodkin ; which done, they take fine gold wire, and chasing it according to the figure designed, they carefully sink it into the hatches of the metal, with à tool suitable to the occasion.”
The celebrated Italian artist, Benvenuto Cellini, whose memoirs, written by himself, are, as Horace Walpole said, more amusing than a novel,” states that he had, at one time, a strong inclination to cultivate
this branch of art, so different from the rest of the goldsmith's business, He was led to form the desire, on seeing some little Turkish daggers, the handles of which were of steel, as well as the blades; and even the scabbards, he observes, were of the same metal. “My own performances, indeed,” says the ingenious Florentine,
were much finer and more durable than the Turkish, for several reasons: one was, that I made a deeper incision in the steel than is generally practised in the Turkish works; the other, that their foliages are nothing else but chichory leaves, with some few flowers of echites: these have, perhaps, some grace, but they do not continue to please like our foliages. In Italy there is a variety of tastes, and we cut foliages in many very different forms. The Lombards make the most beautiful wreaths, representing ivy and vine leaves, and others of the same sort, with agreeable turnings highly pleasing to the eye. The Romans and Tuscans have a much better notion in this respect; for they represent acanthus leaves, with all their festoons and flowers winding in a variety of forms; and amongst these leaves they insert birds and animals of several sorts, with great ingenuity and elegance in the arrangement."
The bayonet, said to derive its name from Bayonne in France, is a kind of triangular dagger made with a hollow handle or socket, and a shoulder, to fix on the muzzle of a musket. At first the bayonet was made flat in the blade, not unlike a large carving-knife, and fitted with a round handle, so as to push or screw into the nozzle of the piece ; in which case the soldier could not use it till he had fired : at present, the firing takes place with the bayonet fixed on the end of the barrel by means of a socket; so that the individual is instantly ready to act against an enemy's horse as with a pike. Grose mentions an instance of the consternation into which, for a moment, a part of the British army was thrown during one of the campaigns under William III. in Flanders, when the French unexpectedly fired upon them with fixed bayonets, a novel mode of attack at
that time. The introduction of the bayonet has been alternately attributed to the people of Malacca and the fuzileers of France, who were made a body of royal artillery. To a successful management of this weapon, M. Folard attributes, in a great measure, the victories gained by the French in the seventeenth century; and to the neglect of it, and trusting to their fire, the same author attributes most of the losses sustained by that nation in the succeeding war. At present, the bayonet is given to every infantry regiment, and it has become proverbially terrible in the hands of the British soldiery. Bayonets for the service are exclusively manufactured at Birmingham ; the blade or dagger part is made of good steel carefully tempered ; and the hollow socket and shoulder of the best iron. The whole is tested by striking the point smartly upon a block of wood.