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it. The ship founders, but the raft lives through the waves; and, some days, or weeks after, is picked up by a friendly vessel, or makes some point of land in safety. I see that you look on the model of the life-raft with more attention than you did; it is meant to preserve life, and is, therefore, not a work of science only, but of humanity.
The other day I was talking with the inventor of a superior life-raft. In whatever direction the raft turned, a man could sit suspended in it in safety above the water. The weather at Cherbourg was stormy, the waves of the sea ran high, and the inventor was warned not to risk himself in his raft on the deep, but, feeling no fear, he was pitched among the boiling billows, when after being tossed about among the breakers, he was, at last, flung up, high and dry, on the sands of the opposite shore.
Here is a life-preserver, meant to be thrown into the sea when a sailor falls overboard. I hope that you can swim, and are able and willing to render assistance when you see any one in the water in danger. A few weeks ago, a poor idiot, seeing a child fall into the canal, leaped in after him, and saved the child's life. Who would be outdone in humanity by an idiot?
Hark ! that flourish of trumpets announces that the steam-gun is about to pour its stream of leaden bullets against the iron target. What a reverberation! what wondrous rapidity! Seventy balls have burst forth in four seconds, and twenty-five thousand might be discharged in an hour. And are not mankind visited enough with woes? Cannot men destroy each other fast enough in their ruthless wars, that such a murderous weapon as this should be required? Our life, at best, is "even a vapour, that appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away." Surely then, "wisdom is better than weapons of war," and deeds of mercy than doings of destruction. Had the steam-gun been the only invention of its talented constructor, he would scarcely be to be envied; but society is indebted to him for many inventions of less questionable utility.
Come back! come back! here is a cluster of curiosities—a model of a new anchor, an improved rudder, a plan for preventing ships from foundering at sea, and a shipwreck-arrow, to hold communication with a vessel in distress. I like to look at these things, because they are of great value to seamen, who undergo unnumbered hardships while we are safe on shore. Every thing belonging to a ship is interesting, from stem to stern, from the sky-scraper to the keel. Ships not only bear away our manufactures, and bring back the produce of distant lands, but take out, also, missionaries, and religious tracts, and that "flaming angel" the Bible, to enlighten the heathen world. He, then, who improves a cable, an anchor, a rudder, or a sail, or invents aught to assist the shipwrecked mariner, deserves well at the hands of his country.
We must not omit seeing the combustion of steel, for it is a very curious, and considered, also, a very mysterious process. A round plate of soft iron is made to revolve at the rate of five thousand times in a minute, when, if a hardened file be pressed against it, that part of the file next the iron will be melted by the extreme heat. Hardened steel melted and cut through by soft iron! Velocity gives new qualities to matter, so that a soft substance, in rapid motion, overcomes the resistance of a hard one that is in a state of rest. These experiments are intended to set us thinking, and I have been reflecting on this very matter. It seems to me that one reason why the file is cut, while the round iron plate remains whole, is this—every part of the round iron plate, after coming in contact with the file, performs a circle before it again rubs against the file, while the file itself has to bear, at the same point,without intermission, the friction of the revolving plate of iron.
If you have ever seen, as I have, the extremity of distress which is endured by the inmates of a dwelling that has taken fire in the night, you will regard these models offire-escapes with attention. Let us suppose the clock has struck one or two. All is still, save the slow-pacing foot-fall of the policeman, and the occasional rumble of a cab or coach. Hark! the fearful exclamation, "Fire! Fire!" resounds along the street. A crowd rapidly assembles; the door of the dwelling is broken in; the house is full of smoke, and the staircase is in flames. A window of the first-floor is thrown up: one lets himself down by a sheet, another leaps in desperation on the stone pavement. But how are the poor wretches, shrieking at the attic window, to escape? There is a trap-door to the roof, but the padlock is rusty, the key will not turn it. There is a parapet along which they may go to other houses if they can get out of the windows. Alas! the females are paralyzed with fear; the children are clinging to them, and no one is near to assist them; their case seems totally hopeless. Dreadful! dreadful! they must perish in the flames. Who are the men who have planted that ladder-like pole against the house? One is mounting on high; he has entered the attic window; with a firm heart and a ready hand he places the children, one by one, in the large basket which has been pulled up to the top of the pole. The children are safe on the ground. Again the basket mounts, and again it descends, freighted with the helpless women. Last of all comes down the brave man, who has, under Providence, rescued them from destruction. Think not that this picture is fanciful, it is fearfully correct: and now, can you feel any other sentiment than respect for those, whose benevolent inventions are thus made instrumental in rescuing human beings from destruction? So long as the Royal Adelaide Gallery presents models that have for their object the preservation of human life, so long will it promote in the public mind the desire to be useful in seasons of distress, thereby befriending the community at large.
Who, without strong emotion, can read of the horrifying circumstance at Hatfield House, of a nobleman with his attendants being driven back by smoke from the dressing-room where his own mother was, in all probability, at that moment in flames; and who would not have rejoiced, if some one with knowledge and presence of mind suited to the emergency, had snatched the ill-fated marchioness from the destructive conflagration that so awfully consumed her? It is asserted in the "Medical Gazette," that any one, by applying a wet cloth or handkerchief to his mouth, may fearlessly enter the densest smoke that fire can create, especially if he enter on his hands and knees. Reflect a moment on this simple and secure means of entering the several rooms of a house on fire. It is too late to apply any remedy to the calamity already alluded to, but He only who knows all things, can tell how soon we may be placed in a like extremity. Let us resolve, with God's blessing, to increase our limited knowledge, and to tax