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ment of which we are speaking writes down, not from dictation, or manipulation, but under impulses received from outward nature itself, the direction, the variations, and the strength of every wind that blows; and registers permanently, in the same manner, every drop of rain that falls at any and all hours of the day and night, unceasingly, so long as it is supplied every thirty-six hours with the proper quantum of paper for the task.
All of our readers are, we presume, aware that one of the principal buildings in London is denominated the Royal Exchange. This building is in somewhat the style of an Eastern house, having an open court, surrounded by a piazza, in the centre, in which the merchants of the place are accustomed to transact business. Around this court are numberless apartments, let out as offices and shops; and over those at the east end is a handsome suite of rooms, the management of which belongs to a committee of merchants, ship-owners, and underwriters, under the name of “ Lloyd's."
In one of these rooms appropriated to the use of insurers, or as they are usually termed, underwriters, the apparatus of which we are to speak, is placed ; and some idea may be formed of its utility, when it is remembered that to the gentlemen frequenting Lloyd's every change of wind, and every fluctuation in its propelling power is of the utmost consequence as connected with the arrival, the departure, or the safety of the shipping in which they are interested. It may be also mentioned that as it is at work throughout both day and night, it frequently affords intimation of gales of wind and sudden squalls, the occurrence of which would never otherwise have been known. Our own limited experience has afforded us several examples of the kind. Orders have sometimes arrived to insure vessels off the coast after a stormy night, and we have been compelled, through the silent intimations of this machine, either to pay an increased rate of premium, or to warrant the ship in port during the gale. “Was she out last night?” would be the first enquiry of the underwriters. “I don't know; but why do you ask?" “Why! look at the Indicator.” The Indicator is consulted; and it tells the unwelcome tale that between two and three o'clock in the morning, when most eyes were closed in sleep, the wind blew a perfect hurricane.
It is however full time to describe this wonderful apparatus. A brief and imperfect notice of it appeared in Chambers' Edinburgh Journal for February 14, 1846; but we have seen no detailed account of it in print. The machine itself occupies a position near the south-eastern angle of the Royal Exchange, and may be seen above the roof by any passer-by. With this we have but little to do, our remarks applying more particularly to the apparatus within doors.
On the right hand side of the fire-place occupying the centre of the south end of the Underwriters' room, there is a neat mahogany erection, finished with a handsome scroll-pediment supporting a wind-dial, and encasing this Indicator, below which the dial-plate of a moderate sized clock is visible. The works of this clock are connected with a brass rack fixed to a plain mahogany board of about two and a half feet long, by one and a half high; and to this board, the papers intended for registers of the wind and weather are fastened by screws or drawing pins. The board is large enough to admit of two sheets of these ruled papers, each of which lasts for thirty-six hours; and both, consequently, serve for three days and nights.
As before stated, the uses of this Indicator are three-fold. It records the force of the wind, and as this is its most important office, the whole machine is commonly called the Anemometer, or wind-measurer. It marks down the direction of the wind; and it shows also the fall of rain ; but unlike a common pluviameter, it tells also the precise hour at which the first showerbegins, as well as every subsequent variation or temporary cessation.
To begin with the Anemometer, whose workings are recorded in the uppermost division of the paper, which is ruled. vertically for the several hours from noon to midnight, and midnight to noon; and graduated by fainter horizontal lines by which to measure the amount of pressure.
The action of the wind on the fly or fan outside the building, causes the downward movement of a stout circular iron rod, grooved like a screw, and connected at its lower end with a small pencil-lead. A common blue steel spring keeps the end
of this pencil pressed against the paper, which being fixed to the mahogany board, travels with it as the clock below propels it by means of the brass rack already referred to. When the air is comparatively still, this marker traverses the uppermost line upon the paper; but as soon as the wind rises, it works up and down according to the propelling power exerted upon the screw-rod, sometimes descending as low as the lines 10, 15, or even 20, which indicate the pressure in pounds upon every square foot, describing on the paper a series of lines, proportioned in their length to the power of each successive gust.
By the movements of the clock below, these papers are gradually pushed towards the right hand, each interspace 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., occupying an hour in passing. Every part of the paper is thus brought gradually under the pencil, by which means the time of every gust is correctly indicated.
The direction of the wind is registered in the central division of the board ; the horizontal lines being in that part of the paper distinguished by the letters N; N. E; E; S. E; S; S. W; W; N. W; N. and so on, throughout several series, each comprising all the points of the compass.
Supposing the wind to have been due South at Noon, the pencil would rest upon the line marked S., but as soon as any change took place towards the East or West, it would run up or down towards the respective points distinguished by the letters E. and W. The principle of this machine is by no means new, it being merely a modification of the old wind-dial. The improvement consists in the addition of a time movement and a marker.
The horizontal lines on the Rain gauge each indicate the hundredth of an inch.
The rain falls into a vessel calculated to retain a quantity equal to.25, or a quarter of an inch, and the pencil, which rests on the upper line when no rain is falling, continues to descend with every shower towards the line marked .25, on reaching which, the gauge empties itself, and the pencil suddenly rises to its original position. By adding together these quarters, the total fall is easily estimated.
FRIENDLY CONTROVERSY. Amongst the vast variety of new periodicals issued every month from the press, few perhaps, are better adapted to the times in which we live, or calculated, under proper management, to achieve happier results than “ The British Controversialist,"* the first number of which is before us. We are not, however, without serious misgivings as to its success, in a pecuniary point of view; and this we see more reason to regret, because there is much sound reason and good sense in the remarks of “ Anglo Saxon,” printed on the cover of this first number.
6 When one reflects that a knowledge of the laws of reasoning is an indispensable pre-requisite to the formation of sound opinion, it may appear somewhat strange, that none of the heroes of cheap literature have thought of devoting themselves to the task of supplying a perspicuous and intelligible code of laws on the reasoning process, such as may be suitable to the wants of the generality of the people, and of providing them with the means of discussing the merits of those questions upon which there exists such a diversity of opinion. But, I think, a little further reflection will show us the true reason of this seeming anomaly, for those who embark on a voyage on behalf of the masses, form but too correct an estimate of the tastes of their readers, overlooking the more important matter of providing for their wants. Knowing well what will be most acceptable, they act without considering what is most important. Like the English merchants in their dealings with the South Sea Islanders, they take care to have their vessels well freighted with tinsel gewgaws, glittering ornaments, and other alluring kinds of merchandise, which may, indeed, please the fancy; but they are extremely scanty with their stores of those useful articles which serve the higher purpose of supplying their necessities. In fact, the more saleable article appears to be most plentifully dealt out, and what is really beneficial, most sparingly supplied.
With some exceptions, we believe, “ Anglo Saxon,” to be right here. But he does not grasp the whole question. Literature has either a philanthropic or a mercantile object. In
* The British Controversialist, and Impartial Inquirer, No. 1, May, 1850, 3d. Hloulston & Co.
nine cases out of ten, the latter predominates, and the “saleable" of course takes precedence of the “really beneficial.” Again, useful truth is very rarely popular or readable. We speak advisedly when we state our firm belief, that reading is far more commonly regarded as a penalty than a privilege; and although the writer's object is attained in exciting an interest, or obtaining a perusal, when the taste of the masses is consulted, the favorable feeling thus called forth is no criterion of a love of literature. The “sweet and palatable” in books, would be still more sweet in any other form, and the sound, healthy, and beneficial, is too often doomed to pass away unread, unhonored, and uselessly.
We think that these things ought not to be so, whilst our experience confirms us in the belief that they are. books good in their object, and not wanting even in the graces of style, are still-born from the press.
We have known an admirable work originally published in this country, greedily caught up by our more wisely-judging brethren in America, and reprinted there to good effect, whilst in the country of its authorship, it was so completly ignored by the trade, as to be again published here from the American edition! In this particular case, an injunction was actually obtained against the sale, and a large issue thrown uselessly upon the hands of the poor bookseller. We recollect an instance, also, which shows how little the sale even of books has to do with their perusal. Of the book in question, an edition of one thousand copies was
almost entirely sold off, long before it was discovered that one • of the sheets had been so disturbed in the form, as to render
several pages utterly unintelligible even to the most desperate phonotypist! Three copies only, out of more than nine hundred, ever found their way back to the publisher, or elicited, so far as could be learned, a single complaint or remonstrance of any kind!
We mention these facts simply for the sake of showing that both authors and publishers must often place their dependence in some degree upon “the saleable;” or trust, as in the last of these two instances, to that common but pitiful alternative" the pressure from without.” They must either please or puff.
We fear our friends of the “ Controversialist,” may not do the first : we know they will not attempt the second. Yet they