Page images
PDF
EPUB

ral, which must be previously ascertained by trials. He has likewise made confiderable improvements in the several manual operations; in the neceflary furnaces and machines; in the stampers and mills for the comminution of the ore; in the furnaces for calcination; in the boiling furnaces, with the apparatus and machinery for the stirring of the mixture in almagamation; in the apparatus for wathing the amalgam, and in the stampers connected with it; in the furnaces for eliquating the amalgam, and for distilling the mercury, &c.; of all which he gives descriptions and figures. In short, the reader will here meet with ample instructions for the most successful and economical management, in large, of every part of the business, so as to obtain the whole quantity of gold and silver contained in the ore, and to recover the quicksilver without loss ;. neither of which points have hitherto been attained, even at the Spanish mines in America, where the silver, as well as gold, is, for the most part, confessedly, and often visibly, metallic; and where this mode of extracting them has been established during above two hundred years.

Previously to the author's detail of his own processes, he gives an account of the methods practised by the Spaniards, as' described by different philofophical travellers, in treatifes written expressly on the subje&t by persons on the spot, and in some official records. From these accounts, it is plain, that, though the enormous quantity of the nobler metals, annually brought into Europe from America, is almost entirely obtained by amalgamation, yet the methods practised or proposed for that purpose are very faulty, and the descriptions of them imperfect and inconsistent; that the full produce of gold and filver cannot be extracted by any one of them; and that a great quantity of silver must annually remain in the leavings; that some additions recommended are absolutely useless; that the means faid to prevent the loss of quicksilver are very unsafe ; and that the pretended symptoms of the good or bad success of the amalgamation are very fallacious.

The new method of procedure was first brought into practice, and the first quick-mill erected, near Shemnitz in Hungary; and the advantages of it were so fully ascertained, from the very beginning, that the late Emperor, by a formal de cree, ordered similar mills to be erected upon all the Imperial and Royal mines in Hungary and Bohemia, under the dio rection of Baron Born, and that his Majesty nobly and liberally granted to him, as inventor and improver of the process of amalgamation, one third of the clear profits thence arifing during a space of ten years, and during another subsequent period of twenty years an annuity of four per cent, of one-third

of of the said profits; under this single reservation, that the Baron, out of this grant and annuities, should defray one-third of the cost.' Notwithstanding the well-judged patronage of the Emperor himself, the Baron appears to have had great difficulties to overcome from another quarter, before the final establishment of his plan:

• When I first proposed the amalgamation of gold and silver ores, fome (he says, p. 71,) of our closet chemists and empyrical melt-, ers sccuted the idea, and denied the possibility so positively, that, rather than own it, I was fuspected and charged by implication of having, somehow or other, and by Night of hand, introduced filver into the boilers or the other apparatus which I made use of. But when the experiments were repeated at Vienna, and ocular demonftration was given of the denied possibility, reams of paper were wasted in calculations, doubts, considerations, and objections against the use of the process at large. Fortunately, the matter came to the cognizance of a monarch who knew, from experience, what ob. stacles egorism, prejudice, and ignorance, will throw into the way: of improvements and useful innovations. The consequence was, his Majesty's command, that amalgamation should be introduced. Now, and ever since, the operations at large have perfectly answered, and undeniably proved the advantages which I foresaw; all these calculators, pyrrhonists, considerers, and objectors, are reduced to their last miserable lift, which is a shrug of their moul. ders, with an invidious ejaculation ; There is nothing new in it! It is but the old Spanish process of amalgamation !!!

After the Emperor's grant had been obtained, some new financial regulations were devised, with a view to obstruct the undertaking, by increasing its expence.

For common falt (of which the quantity consumed was very considerable, more fo at first than was afterward found to be necessary,) the Baron was made to pay (as we learn from the translator's preface,) at the rate of gs. 4d. sterling per hundred weight in Hungary, and 16s. 8d. in Bohemia ; though the prime cost at the royal magazines in the respective places was only about 25. 60. and 3s. For quicksilver, he was charged 121. 8s. per quintal, while the court of Spain was supplied for iol. and the originał price was but 255. gd. These regulations, however, and others of a like kind, instead of distreffing or discrediting the work, served only the more to evince its advantages : the new process was adopted not only at the mines in the Imperial and Austrian dominions, but at those of Freyberg in Saxony: Some successful trials have been made for introducing it in the Hartz forest, in place of the very expensive process of feparating silver from copper by eliquation with lead; and the court of Spain has been fo fully convinced of the advantages that muft arise from it, particularly with regard to the rich leavings of their former process, which have been accumulating

for ages, that Mr. d'Elhuyar, inspector general of the mines in South America, after having been instructed at Shemniz in the principles of this process, has been sent, in 1788, to Mexico, with one Swedih and fix German metallurgifts of the fame school, in order to introduce it in Mexico and Peru.'

While all the mining countries on the continent are looking up with admiration to this singular revolution in metallurgy, and preparing to make the most of it for themselves, Mr. Ralpe has very laudably exerted himself in diffusing the knowlege of it in this iftand, and in collecting for us all the additional information on the fubject that can be procured.

In a prefatory address to his fubscribers, he gives an account of several improvements which have been made since the Ba, ron's publication, and by which the process is wonderfully simplified ; particularly the wet stamping of the ore instead of dry grinding; a more expeditious way of hifting; a method of effecting the amalgamation by churning, without heat, in which the Baron himself had not been able to succeed, though he had not given up the idea of its being pra&icable; a very ingenious and simple contrivance for recovering the mercury from the amalgam without loss; with some useful remasks, by the translator himself, on the ores, &c. which may be refined by quicksilver ; on the extraction of filver from copper by this mcans ; on the reducing of copper to a high degree of purity; and a view of the quicksilver trade.

The Supplement consists of · Reports and opinions on the advantages of amalgamation, drawn up by fome eminent miners and metallurgifts, at their meeting at Glasshutte near Shemniz in 1786, published by J. J. Ferber, at Leipzig and Vienna, in 1787. The great superiority of the new process is here fully confirmed, by unexceptionable judges aflembled from different parts of Europe ; so that no doubt can remain of its being advantageous to all who are concerned either in the extraction of the nobler metals from ores, or in the recovery of them when mixed, in small particles, with recrementitious matters, in the necessary operations of various arts and manufactories.

With regard to the translation of this work, most of our seaders, we presume, are already sufficiently apprized, that there is no danger of Mr. Raspe having any where misunderfood the sense of his originals, or of having expressed himself inadequately in our language - but justice requires us to add, that he appears to have had this buliness much at heart; and he intimates, in consequence of a mineralogical survey which at that time (1790) employed him in the northern parts of the illand, that Great Britain has a chance to have quicksilver mines of her own, nor any longer in that respect to be

dependant

[ocr errors]

dependant on foreign regulations of finance, speculation, and monopoly.'

Ch....

W

ART.XVI. An History of Funguffes, growing about Halifax, (Yorkshire.]

With Forty-six Copper-plates, &c. With a particular Description of each Species, in all its Stages, &c. The Whole being a plain Recital of Facts, the Result of more than Twenty Years' Obsery, ation. By James Bolcon, Member of the Natural History Society at Edinburgh. 410. 4 Vols. Each at 21. 25. coloured, or 183. plaiņ. Boards. White and Son. 1788–1791. & may perhaps appear to Mr. Bolton, as well as to many

of his friends, to have overlooked this work: but so re. fpectable a production could not have been treated by us with such indifference. The truth is, that soon after the third volume came to our hands, we heard a report that materials were in ftore, fufficient to make out a large additional one. The subjeet itself induced us to give credit to the report. Fungi, the very quintessence of anomaly in vegetation, are not very readily to be ascertained as to locality, if even as to existence: for they appear after very long intervals, and they are won. derfully numerous in one year, and perhaps will not grow in that spot again for ten or twenty years. The necessity, therefore, of an appendix, large as it is t, did not surprize us. We fall rather wonder, if Mr. Bolton, provided he continue to be actuated by the fame spirit of inquiry, will not think himself compelled to favour us with another, or rather others, from time to time. Hearing, therefore, and readily believing, that a fourth part of equal importance would appear, we thought it best to wait, till we could give an account of the whole together :- 10 which we now proceed.

The first volume opens with a handsome dedication to the Earl of Gainsborough. To this succeeds an introduction, in which the author defines his Genera, and refers to a figure by way of illuftration. The Agarics, being very numerous, are particularly considered ; and the parts of which they confift. are defined and illustrated by figures. This introduction is carried on in the second volume, where also the outline of che author's plan is set forth. The whole of the first volume, and seventy-three pages of the second, contain the Agarics.-Mr. Bolton has not forgotten to give us a table of the specific defcriptions of all his species drawn up in one view :-a plan which we cannot too strongly recommend to all writers in Na

• The first two vols. were briefly noticed by us in Rev. vol. Ixxix. # The Appendix makes the 4th volume of this work.

tural

P. 460.

tural History, particularly when they treat of numerous sube jects.

The remainder of the second volume contains the GENERA, Boletus, Hydnum, and Phallus.

The third volume has the introduction continued, of which we shall have occasion 10 fay a few words hereafter, and comprehends the GENERA, Clathrus, Helvella, Peziza, Clavaria, Lycoperdon, Sphæria, and Mucor. A very short appendix, containing a few later discoveries, closes the volume.

We thank Mr. Bolton for the continuance of the introduction in the fourth volume ;--not merely for his own later ob. fervation, but also for his account of Monsieur Bulliard's work on the Fungi of France, which he gives with neatness, and all-becoming modesty. The Agarics, added in this voq lume, make the whole number described, and figured, 107. The Boleti are twenty-seven.- The numbers of the other families are in proportion. At the end of this volume, is an Index Gineralis, containing an enumeration of all the species treated in the whole work, with references to such figures in other works, as Mr. Bolton could determine with certainty.

The plan, as pursued tirsoughout the whole performance, is, to give a short specific description in Latin' of each species, with reference to synonyms and figures in other authors, (this idea is more fully put in practice in the Index Generalis,) and then to add a long and very particular description of all the parts and qualities of each in English. Every species is figured. There are 182 plates.

The author will, by this time, be sensible, that we have taken some pains to describe his publication ; and our readers will also have a tolerable idea of the immense labour which Mr. Bolton has bellowed in preparing his work: we shall, therefore, turn our thoughts and inquiries, very readily, to consider the mode in which he has executed it.

It must be allowed that there is great perspicuity in the general method pursued. The GenerA are first eftablidhed; the orders' under each are then regularly described; the fpecific description is accurately detailed, at considerable length; and the figure, being placed fronting each description, is thus' ready at hand for comparison. As the Genus Agaricus is the principal one of the Fungi, we are consequently led to examine the author's treatment of that subject. It is not often that we can bring ourselves to take part with modern fciolifts, in their affected improvements of the Linnéan arrangements :but we must fay that Mr. Bolton is very right in contending for the distinction betweeri the volva and the velum.-The fora mer is that which inwraps the whole plant in its infant state ;

the

« PreviousContinue »