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Catechism of Familiar Things; Their History, and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery, A

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<SPAN name="CHAPTER_X" id="CHAPTER_X"></SPAN>CHAPTER X.</h2> <h3><span class="smcap">Asbestus, Salt, Coal, Iron, Copper, Brass, Zinc, and Lapis Calaminaris.</span></h3> <p><b>What is the name of the remarkable stone of which a cloth has been made, that resists the action of fire?</b></p> <p>The Asbestus, a mineral substance of a whitish or silver color. There are several species of this mineral, which are distinguished by different names, according to the appearance of each, as fibrous asbestus, hard asbestus, and woody asbestus; it is the fibrous sort which is most noted for its uses in the arts. It is usually found inclosed within very hard stones; sometimes growing on their outside, and sometimes detached from them.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Fibrous</i>, full of fibres or threads.</p></div><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_77" id="Page_77"></SPAN>[77]</span></p> <p><b>What are its qualities?</b></p> <p>It is insipid; will not dissolve in water; and exposed to the fire, it neither consumes nor calcines. The industry of mankind has found a method of working upon this untoward mineral and employing it in making cloth and paper; the process is, however, difficult.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Insipid</i>, without taste.</p></div> <p><b>Was not this curious mineral better known to the ancients than it is at present?</b></p> <p>The linen made from it was highly esteemed by them; it was not only better known, but more common, than among us, being equally valuable with the richest pearls; but the superiority of all other cloths to this in every respect, except the resistance to fire, has caused incombustible cloth to be regarded in modern times merely as a curiosity, but it is still employed in chemical preparations.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Incombustible</i>, remaining undestroyed in fire.</p></div> <p><b>To what use did they put it?</b></p> <p>In royal funerals, it formed the shroud to wrap the body in that its ashes might be prevented from mingling with the wood, &amp;c., that composed the pile. Some of the ancients made themselves clothes of it, particularly the Brahmins among the Hindoos; it formed wicks for their perpetual lamps; thread, ropes, nets, and paper were also made of it. Pliny, the Roman naturalist, says he has seen napkins of asbestus taken soiled from the table after a feast, which were thrown into the fire, and by that means better scoured than if they had been washed with water.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Naturalist</i>, a person who studies nature, especially in what relates to minerals, vegetables, and animals.</p> <p><i>Brahmins</i>, Hindoo priests.</p></div> <p><b>Where is the Asbestus found?</b></p> <p>This mineral is found in the greatest quantity in the silver mines of Saxony; at Bleyburg, in Carinthia; in Sweden, Corsica, and sometimes in France, England, and the United States; also in Tartary and Siberia.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_78" id="Page_78"></SPAN>[78]</span></p> <p><b>What method is used in preparing the Asbestus?</b></p> <p>The stone is laid in warm water to soak, then opened and divided by the hands, that the earthy matter may be washed out. This washing is several times repeated, and the flax-like filaments collected and dried; these are easily spun with the addition of flax. The cloth when woven is best preserved by oil from breaking or wasting; on exposure to the fire, the flax and the oil burn out, and the cloth remains of a pure white. The shorter threads, which separate on washing the stone, may be made into paper in the usual manner.</p> <p><b>What is Salt?</b></p> <p>A saline crystallization of a sharp, pungent taste, and cleansing quality, used to season flesh, fish, butter, &amp;c., and other things that are to be kept. It is distinguished, with reference to the general sources from which it is most plentifully derived, into three different sorts, namely, fossil, or rock salt; sea, or marine salt; and spring salt, or that drawn from briny springs and wells.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Marine</i>, belonging to the sea.</p> <p><i>Saline</i>, consisting of salt.</p> <p><i>Briny</i>, consisting of brine; which means water tasting of salt; it is used to signify the waters of the sea, or any salt water.</p></div> <p><b>What is Fossil or Rock Salt?</b></p> <p>That which is found in large beds in the bowels of the earth, and which has not undergone any artificial preparation; it is sometimes colorless, but more frequently red, yellow, or blue, and mixed with earthy impurities; this salt was entirely unknown to the ancients, who by rock salt meant that which adheres to the rocks above high-water mark, being lodged there by the spray of the sea, which is evaporated by the heat of the sun; this is the purest salt, and is to be found on the rocks of Sicily, and several islands of the West Indies.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Artificial</i>, produced by art, and the labor of man.</p> <p><i>Evaporated</i>, converted into vapor and dissipated.</p></div> <p><b>What is Marine Salt?</b></p> <p>That which is made from sea-water, concentrated by repeated evaporations, and at length crystallized.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_79" id="Page_79"></SPAN>[79]</span></p> <p><b>What is Spring Salt?</b></p> <p>That salt which is not made from sea-water, but from the water of salt wells or springs; large quantities of this salt are made in the United States, in some parts of which saline springs are numerous.</p> <p><b>In what manner is it obtained?</b></p> <p>The means employed for extracting the salt from the water vary according to circumstances. In hot countries, the water is merely exposed to the action of the sun, until the water is evaporated; the salt procured in this manner is considered the best.</p> <p><b>What method is usually employed in countries where the sun's heat is not sufficiently powerful?</b></p> <p>In climates where the rays of the sun do not afford sufficient heat, the water, which has been partly evaporated in large shallow reservoirs formed in the earth, called salt-pans, is poured into enormous coppers and boiled for four or five hours: when the contents of the copper are wasted to half the quantity, the liquid begins to be crystallized; the vessel is again filled up, and the brine again boiled and purified: this is repeated three or four times. After the last purifying the fire is kept very low for twelve or fourteen hours, and when the moisture is nearly evaporated the salt is removed, and, after the remaining brine has drained off, is placed in the store-houses.</p> <p><b>In what countries is Salt generally found?</b></p> <p>This substance, so necessary to the comfort of mankind, is widely distributed over the face of the earth, and nothing, except, perhaps, the air we breathe, is more easily placed within our reach. The ocean is an exhaustless store-house of this valuable article. Those nations of the earth which are placed at a distance from the sea, find themselves provided with magazines of salt, either in solid masses, or dissolved in the waters of inland lakes, or issuing from the solid rocks in springs of brine. At Salina, Syracuse, and other places in Onondaga Co., <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_80" id="Page_80"></SPAN>[80]</span>New York, salt springs are remarkably abundant, and yield annually several millions of bushels; immense quantities are also obtained from the salt-wells on the Great and Little Kanawha, and other places in Western Virginia; it is also extensively manufactured in the western part of Pennsylvania, and throughout the Western States.</p> <p><b>Name the countries most noted for mines of Salt.</b></p> <p>Poland, Upper Hungary, and the mountains of Catalonia, have extensive salt mines; those in the village of Wieliczca, in Poland, about five leagues from Cracow, are of a surprising depth and size. In the interior of Hindostan, there is a remarkable salt lake; and in several parts of the globe there are spots of ground impregnated entirely with this substance: an island of the East Indies contains a singular kind of fossil, or native dry salt; the soil there is in general very fruitful, but in certain parts of the island, there are spots of ground entirely barren, without the appearance of anything vegetable upon them; these spots taste very much of salt, and abound with it in such quantities, as to supply not only the whole island, but the greater part of the adjacent continent. In Utah Territory, especially in the neighborhood of the Mormon city, at the Great Salt Lake, are found extensive plains thus impregnated with salt, which is procured in great abundance.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Fossil</i>, the remains of minerals or shells dug from the earth.</p> <p><i>Impregnated</i>, filled, saturated.</p> <p><i>Catalonia</i>, a considerable province of Spain, situated to the north-east.</p> <p><i>Adjacent</i>, adjoining, lying near, or contiguous.</p></div> <p><b>To what use did the ancient inhabitants of Africa and Arabia put this substance?</b></p> <p>The large slabs of rock salt, with which their country abounds, were employed by them instead of stones, in building their dwellings, the pieces being easily cemented together by sprinkling the joints with water, which, melting the parts of the two surfaces that opposed each other, formed the whole, when dry, into one solid block.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_81" id="Page_81"></SPAN>[81]</span></p> <p><b>Does Rock Salt undergo any preparation before it is used?</b></p> <p>Yes; when taken from the earth it is dissolved in cold water, and afterwards drawn off into salt-pans, and refined in the same manner as the sea salt.</p> <p><b>What is Coal?</b></p> <p>A hard, black, sulphurous and inflammable substance, dug out of the earth, serving in many countries as fuel. It is common in most of the countries of Europe and America. In some parts of the United States, it is found in beds having an area of several thousand square miles.</p> <p><b>From what is Coal supposed to have originated?</b></p> <p>Its origin is supposed to be derived from gigantic trees which flourished in the swamps and forests of the primeval earth. These having been torn away from their native bed, by storms and inundations, were transported into some adjacent lake, river, or sea. Here they floated on the waters until, saturated with them, they sank to the bottom, and being buried in the lower soil of adjacent lands, became transformed into a new state among the members of the mineral kingdom. A long interment followed, during which a course of chemical changes, and new combinations of their vegetable elements, converted them to the mineral condition of coal.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Primeval</i>, original, existing before the flood.</p> <p><i>Gigantic</i>, extremely large, greater than the usual size.</p> <p><i>Interment</i>, burial under the ground.</p> <p><i>Elements</i>, the several parts or principles of which bodies are composed.</p></div> <p><b>What is a Coal Mine?</b></p> <p>A subterraneous excavation, from which coal is obtained.</p> <p><b>Do the terms Coal and Charcoal signify the same substance?</b></p> <p>No; Charcoal is an artificial fuel, made in imitation of coal, by burning wood covered with earth so as partially to exclude the air. It is used for various purposes, as the making of gunpowder,<SPAN name="FNanchor_7_7" id="FNanchor_7_7"></SPAN><SPAN href="#Footnote_7_7" class="fnanchor">[7]</SPAN> polishing brass and copper, &amp;c., and when a clear and<span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_82" id="Page_82"></SPAN>[82]</span> bright fire is required, as it burns with little or no smoke; it is dangerous, however, for one to remain many hours in a close room with a charcoal fire, as the fumes it throws out are hurtful, and would destroy life. Charcoal, in fact, is the coaly residuum of any vegetables burnt in close vessels; but the common charcoal is that prepared from wood, and is generally black, very brittle, light, and destitute of taste or smell. It is a powerful antiseptic, unalterable and indestructible.</p> <div class="footnotes"><p><SPAN name="Footnote_7_7" id="Footnote_7_7"></SPAN><SPAN href="#FNanchor_7_7"><span class="label">[7]</span></SPAN> See <SPAN href="#CHAPTER_XII">Chapter XII.</SPAN></p> </div> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Residuum</i>, the remaining part, that which is left.</p> <p><i>Antiseptic</i>, that which prevents putrefaction.</p></div> <p><b>What is Iron?</b></p> <p>One of the most useful and abundant metals; being found in all mineral earths, and stones; in plants, and animal fluids; and is the chief cause of the varieties of color in all. Iron is found in great masses, in various states, in the bowels of the earth; it is usually, however, compounded with stone, from which it is separated by the action of fire. In some parts of the world, whole mountains are formed of iron; among these may be mentioned the Pilot Knob and the Iron Mountain, in Missouri, being unsurpassed by anything of the kind found elsewhere.</p> <p><b>What are its characteristics?</b></p> <p>It is hard, fusible, not very malleable, but extremely ductile, and very tenacious; it is of a greyish color, and nearly eight times heavier than water. Without iron, society could make no progress in the cultivation of the ground, in mechanical arts or trades, in architecture or navigation; it is therefore of the greatest use to man. Iron tools have been used in all European countries as long as their histories have existed; this metal appears likewise to have been known and used by the inhabitants of the world in the earliest ages, being frequently mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. In the fourth chapter of Genesis, Tubalcain is spoken of as "a hammerer and artificer in every work of brass and iron," and thus their existence was evidently known at that early period of the world.</p> <p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_83" id="Page_83"></SPAN>[83]</span></p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Artificer</i>, one who works or makes.</p> <p><i>Fusible</i>, capable of being melted by fire.</p></div> <p class="center"><ANTIMG src="images/image_08.jpg" alt="THE SALT MINES OF WIELICZCA." width="384" height="615" /><br /> <span class="caption">THE SALT MINES OF WIELICZCA.</span></p> <p><b>What do you mean by Metals?</b></p> <p>Useful substances dug from the bowels of the earth, being sometimes found pure, but mostly combined with other matter. They are distinguished by their weight, tenacity, hardness, opacity, color, and peculiar lustre, known as the metallic lustre; they are fusible by heat, and good conductors of heat and electricity; many of them are malleable, and some extremely ductile. Those which were first known are gold, silver, iron, copper, mercury, lead, and tin.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Tenacity</i>, the firmness with which one part adheres to another.</p> <p><i>Opacity</i>, want of transparency or clearness.</p></div> <p><b>What are Metals called in their natural state?</b></p> <p>Ores; so named because the metal contained in them is either mixed with other metals, or with mineral earths, from which they are separated and purified by various means: such as washing, roasting, &amp;c., but the method is always regulated by the nature of the ore.</p> <p><b>What is Copper?</b></p> <p>A hard, heavy, ductile metal, found native, and in many ores; of these the most important is <i>copper pyrites</i>, which is a sulphuret of copper. Next to gold, silver, and platinum, copper is the most malleable and ductile of metals; it may be drawn into wires as fine as hair, or beaten into leaves as thin as those of silver. The rust of copper is very poisonous. Copper, mixed with a certain quantity of tin, forms bell-metal. With a smaller proportion, it forms bronze, a substance used in sculpture for casting figures and statues. It is an abundant metal, and is found in various parts of the world. Native oxides of copper are found in Cornwall, Siberia, and in North and South America.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Oxide</i>, a substance combined with Oxygen,<SPAN name="FNanchor_8_8" id="FNanchor_8_8"></SPAN><SPAN href="#Footnote_8_8" class="fnanchor">[8]</SPAN> in a proportion not sufficient to produce acidity.</p> <p><i>Sulphuret</i>, a combination of sulphur with a base.</p></div> <div class="footnotes"><p><SPAN name="Footnote_8_8" id="Footnote_8_8"></SPAN><SPAN href="#FNanchor_8_8"><span class="label">[8]</span></SPAN> See Chapter XIII., article <SPAN href="#OXYGEN">Oxygen</SPAN>.</p> </div><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_84" id="Page_84"></SPAN>[84]</span></p> <p><b>What are the uses of Copper?</b></p> <p>They are too various to be enumerated. In sheets it is much used to sheathe the bottoms of ships, for boilers, and other utensils. Copper coin was the only money used by the Romans till the 485th year of their city, when silver began to be coined. In Sweden, houses are covered with this metal.</p> <p><b>What is a Mine?</b></p> <p>A cavity under ground, formed for the purpose of obtaining metals, &amp;c.; mines are often very deep and extensive. The descent into them is by a pit, called a shaft; the clues by which mines are discovered, are, mineral springs, the discoloration of vegetables, the appearance of pieces of ore, &amp;c.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Clues</i>, signs or means by which things hidden are brought to light.</p></div> <p><b>What is Brass?</b></p> <p>A factitious metal, consisting of copper and zinc. Brass is lighter and harder than pure copper, and less subject to rust; owing to these properties, together with its beautiful color, it is extremely useful in the manufacture of many utensils.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Factitious</i>, made by art, not found in a natural state.</p></div> <p><b>What is Zinc?</b></p> <p>A metal of a brilliant bluish white color. Its name was unknown to the ancient Greeks and Arabians. It is mixed with other substances in the ore, from which it is obtained by smelting in the furnace. It has never yet been found native or pure.</p> <p><b>For what is Zinc used?</b></p> <p>From its readiness to dissolve in all acids, and unite with other metals, it is used in alloy with them in the composition of brass, &amp;c. Thin sheets of zinc are also used to cover roofs of houses, and in the manufacture of various household utensils.</p> <p><b>What is Lapis Calaminaris?</b></p> <p>Lapis Calaminaris, or calamine stone, is a native carbonate of zinc, of some use in medicine, but chiefly in founding. It <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_85" id="Page_85"></SPAN>[85]</span>is, sometimes brownish, as that found in Germany and England, or red, as that of France. It is dug out of mines, usually in small pieces; generally out of those of lead. Calamine is mostly found in barren, rocky soils. </p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Founding</i>, the art of casting metals.</p></div> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2>
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