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Christmas holidays everybody knew that Ben was leaving it for good. His leaviug home made him a sort of hero in the village. No one had ever been sent to a boarding-school from Woodbourne before, for the clergyman had taught his sons himself, and the lawyer's boys were hardly old enough. So all through the Christmas and New Year holidays Ben was the envied and admired of all his old schoolfellows, to whom he never wearied of prophesying what he meant to do in his new circumstances. Enjoyable as had been his life at Woodbourne, he was eager to enter on his new experiences, for his father had fired his imagination with many a tale of schoolboy prank, adventure, and pastime.
At last the time for starting came. It was a sharp, frosty morning towards the end of January, Ben's box had been packed and corded the previous night, after being re-opened at least half-a-dozen times for something forgotten. He had been up since five o'clock, strolling about the stable, the yard, and the garden, feeding his rabbits and pigeons for the last time, and giving Bob the groom particular instructions as to their tending during his absence. At about eight o'clock he beard his father's cheery voice
“Now, Ben! Bless my life! where is the boy ? I believe he doesn't want to go after all. Why, when I first went to school, I wanted to start at day break. Here you are, Ben ; the horse and gig bave been waiting nearly five minutes. In with you."
A hurried putting on of overcoat, a warm embrace from mother and sisters, a crowing adieu from the baby, and a final pat of old Carlo's head, and Ben was seated beside bis father in the gig, and rattling away over the elastic frozen ground towards Hammerthorpe.
Away they went, past the old church with its ivied porch and tower; round ihe corner of the rectory, from the windows of wbich Mr. Bland waved them a genial salute; past the mill, where Tom Blunt, the miller's son, rushed out to shout "Hurrah !” by the pond, wbere Charlie Thornton and John Williams were already sliding; across the common, where all the cricket matches were played, and on through country lanes, whose bedgerows Jack Frost had draped in fairy lace. By-and-by the lanes became studded on either side with straggling coitages, these buddled closer and closer together until the lanes became streets ; further on the houses were replaced by shops, and scoses of shivering apprentices were taking down the shutters, pausing after every one to blow their benumbed finger-ends. The streets became wider and more important, and at last a large building was reached, and Ben and his father, dismounting, found themselves in Hammerthorpe Station, where the porters were lounging about the waiting-room fires, expecting the arrival of the Worcester express.
Here we must suspend our narrative, and ask the reader to gather what he can of Ben's further proceedings from the letters which passed between him and his friends in other words, from “Ben Barlow's Budget.” How the letters were obtained needs no present explanation. Suffice it to say no confidence is betrayed in their publication, and Ben himself will be very pleased if his correspondence furnishes amusement or instruction to those who read it. For the better understanding of the letters, a short personal sketch of Ben's various correspondents will be given.
Jan. 20th, 187MY DEAR FATHER,
I got here all right, only I almost lost my box at the station. I was met by one of the assistant-masters, and he brought me here at
The house is not quite so big as I expected. I was taken into the library and Dr. Tasker came and spoke to me. He seems a mild, pleasant old gentleman. Mrs. Tasker showed me my sleeping-room, and then I was taken into the schoolroom, where the boys were all at lessons.
I promised to write to Charlie Thornton, so I have not time for any more at present. With love to all at home, I remain, your affectionate son,
Letter No. 2.
Jan, 20th, 187—. DEAR CHARLIE, —
You see I am here. It was a jolly ride to Worcester ; but what do you think? Almost as soon as I could get out of the train and look around, I saw a porter going off with my trunk in a thing like a big hamper on wheels. I soon got it off him, you may guess, and kept close to it, until an assistant-master who had come to meet me had it taken to a place they call a “cloak room "-why, I don't know. There were a lot more trunks than cloaks in it.
I should like you to see Mr. Henley—that's the master that came to meet me. I should think he's at least a head and shoulders taller than Mr. Slim, the auctioneer, and if anything thinner. The lads call him “ Stilts." He's very pale, all but his eyes and nose, which always look as if he had been crying; but it seems he has nearly always got a cold in his head. Some say that is because the air must be cold so high up; but one of the big boys who is going to be a surgeon says it's because the circulation in his extremities must be very slow. I must ask father when I come home.
Worcester is a fine town-city, I ought to say, because it has a cathedral. My goodness, Charlie, you should see the cathedral. It would hold a dozen churches like ours. Our house is almost close to the river—the Severn you know. Shan't I have some boating this summer! It is a house about like Squire Burnley's at Upleigh. The schoolroom is a building by itself. There is a big playground and a meadow for cricket.
I have almost filled my paper, so I must tell you about the master and the boys when I write again-perhaps to-morrow.-I remain, yours truly,
BENJAMIN BARLOW. P.S. Just call and remind Bob that my hutch wants another bar in the door, or else the black doe will get out and be killed by the cats.
Charlie Thornton, to whom the preceding letter was addressed, was Ben's special and particular friend—a lad after his own heart. His father was the village stationer and postmaster. Charlie had been Ben's second in all his fights, his companion in all his adventures, and his trusty defender in all scrapes, and he very much regretted that his father was not able to send him to Worcester with Ben. He had listened eagerly to all the wonderful expectations Ben had indulged, and was almost personally interested in his anticipated experiences. In Ben's absence he, of course, took the leadership of the village playground, and this distinction served in a measure to reconcile him to the loss of Ben's companionship.
Letter No. 3.
Jan. 21st, 187— MY DEAR FATHER, —
I am just going out for a game, so havn't time to write much; but I find I forgot to bring my skates, after all. I kept them out of sight for fear mother should not like me to bring them.
Tell Mary they are behind the spice-box in the kitchen cupboard, wrapped up in sugar paper. I hope you will send them; there is such splendid skating-where the river has flooded the meadows—and so safe. The boys say you can send them by train for sixpence as a parcel.
Don't tell mother, but let me have them quick-before the frost goes. With best love, I am, your affectionate
BEN. P.8. Ted Instone-one of my room-mates-has been looking over my shoulder, and he says I ought to finish up "your dutiful son” when I write to you.
(to be continued.)
PAPERS FOR THOUGHTFUL BOYS.
By Thos. STONELEY.
1. NATURAL PRODUCTS COAL AND IRON. IN making my first appearance before the readers of the
JUVENILE INSTRUCTOR, I would take the opportunity of stating the design of the series of
which I have undertaken to contribute. My wish is to supply a brief description of a few of the materials, processes,
and apparatus made use of in the various products of industry and skill constantly before our eyes. It is, I think, desirable that our young friends should acquire a knowledge of such products, and an interest in those who, by their hard work and patient ingenuity, supply them. Every article and process can be made to have a value in proportion to the amount of knowledge we possess respecting them.
In the present paper we shall speak about Coal and Iron. These are the two fundamental elements of art and industry, and contribute more than any other mineral productions of the earth to increase the riches, multiply the comforts, and so ameliorate the condition of mankind. The true source of England's wealth is coal. Iron now forms an important branch of our commerce and industry, but without coal this metal could not be applied to its present numerous serviceable uses. If for the veins of coal found in the bowels of the earth veins of gold were substituted, we should be grievous losers by the exchange. The value of the annual production of all the gold and silver mines of North and South America was estimated by Baron Humboldt at £9,243,000. But the value of the coal produced annually in Great Britain alone is computed at about £35,000,000 sterling, when delivered at the places of consumption. At the same time the value of the iron brought into a manufactured state through the agency of coal is £20,000,000 more. Without coal our country could not be the factory for supplying the great family of mankind with most of its material necessaries. Deprive us of our coal, and we should be no longer able by our commerce to convey the benefits of knowledge and civilisation to the remote regions of the globe. Without coal steam-power would be annihilated, and, with the loss of that, our prosperity and supremacy as a nation would go. Vur steam-engines would rust unused for lack of fuel ; our factories would be closed ; our railroads be untraversed ; our steam-vessels be dismantled and decay in dock; and all our processes of manufacture deteriorated, if not fully stopped. The future historian of the revolutions of empires would date the decline and fall of the vast dominion of Britain from the period when her supplies of mineral fuel were exhausted, and her last coal-fields worked out.
ORIGIN OF COAL.
Coal, it is generally admitted, is the product of decomposed vegetable matter. It is the result of changes produced, during many ages, upon vegetable matter buried in the earth by the various convulsions which it has undergone, and pressed into layers or strata. To raise this invaluable fuel powerful machinery is used, and deep shafts are sunk, at an enormous expense.
Before coal is found, many layers of soil
, sand, clay, and stone have to be dug through ; and, after passing through hundreds of feet of these, it is found as a thin layer or seam extending over a large surface. A clay is found beneath it, then more sand and water, then a thicker seam with clay beneath, and so on for many feet down. One monster seam is as much as thirty feet thick. It is evident that the lowest coal seam was formed first; it was a swampy forest, and the rotten branches and fallen leaves mixed with the water-plants, and formed a black bog. Sand and mud gradually covered it up, and it sank beneath the surface of the ground, for rolled pebbles and sand are found on it, and they can only be produced by running water. After a while a fresh forest formed, decayed, and was covered up in its turn. This destruction and re-formation went on for ages, for in the cliffs of Nova Scotia the coal seams can be seen one over the other for many hundred feet. In the mass coal exbibits externally but little appearance of organised matter; but when thinly sliced, polished, and placed under the microscope traces may be observed of vegetable structure, and occasionally the external form of a plant has been preserved. In the coal, therefore, with which we warm ourselves, and by which we gain incalculable commercial advantages, we have the forests of primæval times, deprived of their variety and volatile parts, but preserving all their combustible matter, wbich by a happy provision is laid up for our use in vast deposits under our feet, closely packed and protected_from air, rain, and floods by a solid covering of rock and soils. Few who are in the daily enjoyment of the comforts and advantages derived from abundant supplies of this fuel think of the long and obscure process by which it was prepared in the laboratory of nature, a cubic inch of which in many instances contains thousands of vegetable cells.
HISTORY OF COAL.
The earliest known record of the existence of coal is the description given of this fossil by Theophrastus, the pupil of Aristotle; for the occasional use of the word in our uanslaiion of the Scripiures evidently refers to burping wood. The use of coal is supposed to have been known to the Chinese at a very remote period. Numerous mines are worked in China at the present day, but the mode of working is of the rudest description ; there are no shafts nor machinery of any kind. A'flint axe found stuck in a vein of coal at Craig y Parc, Monmouthshire, proves it to have been known by the Ancient Britons; and the ashes discovered in the Roman stations at Lanchester and