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This latter part of the scene is, we believe, true, whatever the former may be. The poor Empress descended down stairs to the court of the Grand Hôtel, screaming ma voiture! ma voiture! As she resisted all efforts to lead her back, her carriage was ordered. The equipage came. With a leap the Empress rushed in. The General prepared to follow. Then her powers deserted her; she sank down, her eyes closed themselves, white foam welled forth from her mouth, without consciousness she fell down on the cushion in convulsive shudders. Several servants hastened to her, and she was borne to her
• What a tragedy is beginning here!' said General Almonte, who followed slowly, seized with horror, “and what a sequel lies in the lap of the future!'
A continuation of this novel of the time' has been announced, under the title of European Mines and Counter‘mines,' which promises to portray in novelistic form the diplomatic chess-playing of the years 1867–70. It may at least be said in favour of treating diplomatic action and correspondence in this fashion, that they are more endurable thus than if they had been put into rhyme or set to music.
ART. VI.-1. Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire
into the several Matters relating to Coal in the United King
dom. 3 vols. 1871. 2. Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Ireland for the Year 1871. By ROBERT HUNT, F.R.S.,
Keeper of Mining Records. 1872. 3. Industrial Partnership, a Remedy for Strikes and Locks
out. A Lecture delivered at Sheffield, 9th March, 1870, by ARCHIBALD BRIGGS. (Reprinted.) 1871. He winter through which we have just passed will long
be memorable for the high price of coal, and the privations which this cost has inflicted on the poor and the lower middle classes; nor have any, excepting the rich, been insensible to the inconvenience arising from this cause.
With the poor, indeed, it has been a matter of health or disease, of life or death, and only those who have habitually visited them are really aware of what they have suffered, and only in a less degree, are still continuing to suffer, from the lack of fuel. The commonest topic of conversation has been this, and the daily inquiries on all sides were, · What has occasioned this immensely increased cost? how long is it likely to con
tinue? who profits by it to the greatest extent ? and what have been and what will be the consequences in trade and commerce, as well as in household expenditure?' These are the inquiries which we propose to ourselves, and hope to answer, as far as the complexity of the whole subject will enable us to do so in one article; and we shall conclude by suggesting some issues of the gravest national importance, unless remedies be discovered and adopted for our present evils.
The cause, or rather the causes, of the present cost of coal are several, and require to be distinguished one from another. There is a general, long-prevailing, and in some respects a happy cause for the increased cost-namely, the rapid general extension of our national industries ; the return of prosperity after a weary interval of depression; and a remarkable revival of some particular industries which require a large supply of coal. So far, a great demand for coal is not a subject for lamentation, but for congratulation; that is, the nation benefits at the expense and to the inconvenience of numerous individuals composing it.
This fact is strikingly illustrated by the late very vigorous vitality of the iron manufacture and iron trade, which is mainly dependent upon the supply of appropriate coal. Ever since the invention of the puddling process the foundation of iron-making has been coal. Given a good supply of coal of a suitable quality, and almost any kind of iron can be made of marketable value by working and re-working it. Hence the quality of iron ore has become subordinate to the abundance of coal, and the great centres of the iron manufacture were naturally fixed on such coal fields as yielded the best and most ready mineral fuel. Yorkshire, Staffordshire, South Wales, Durham, and Northumberland have become the centres of iron because they are by nature the centres of coal.
It is popularly supposed that the excellence of iron depends on that of the ore, but in truth it is more directly dependent upon the coal ; for the amount of work put into the iron is equivalent to the quantity of fuel burnt in producing and re-working it. In Staffordshire about 24 cwt. of coal (long weight, or 120 lbs. to the cwt.) are consumed in producing from pig-iron one ton of puddled iron, the rate of consumption being about four pounds per minute, or 240 lbs. per hour; but in respect to the superior iron, with the most economical mode of working in the present practice of Staffordshire, the making of bars marked as best, best, best, corresponds to a consumption of five tons of coal per ton of iron made from the
forge pigs, which themselves require about two tons of coal for their production. None of these quantities, however, are permanent by necessity.* Great improvements may, and we earnestly hope will, be realised. One should be instanced. Bessemer's process has saved us half a million of tons of coal in converting 150,000 tons of steel in one year, and it is said
* A great saving in the coke and coal used in iron-making has been gradually effected of late years. We gather from Mushet that 5 tons of coal were necessary for a ton of pig-iron in 1810 in Staffordshire, and much more previously in the same county. In Mushet's time nearly 4 tons of coke were needed to produce a ton of pig-iron; the latest information we have shows that at Witton Park, 23 cwts. of coke are required for each ton of forge pig-iron.
† It is estimated that in one year, 1869, the consumption of coal for the make of pig-iron was 16,337,271 tons, and the coal used in the conversion of this pig-iron into malleable iron was 15,859,335 tons. The total coal used, therefore, in our iron manufacture in 1869 were 32,207,706 tons. The pig-iron produce in Great Britain during 1871 exceeded six and a half millions of tons-viz., 6,627,179 tonsand then the value of this production at the place where it was made was 16,667,9471. No doubt the iron produce of 1872 was much in excess of that of 1871, so that we may safely assume that at least 7,000,000 of tons of pig-iron were produced in Great Britain, and probably considerably more. Proportionately additional coal was consumed in obtaining this amount, and proportionately more in preparing the copper, tin, lead, silver, and zinc which have to be added to the iron to arrive at the total of the make of metals during any year. In the same year (1871) there were 6,841 puddling furnaces at work in the kingdom. What, therefore, must have been the annual burning of coal for nearly 7,000 puddling furnaces, besides that for the forging of pig-iron, and for all the additional metallic productions simultaneously wrought; and what will it continue to be every successive year? There is, indeed, some ground for hope of a small reduction in this particular demand by the introduction of mechanical methods of puddling iron. Dank's (American) Furnace has been much vaunted, and three large iron-works have arranged to introduce it in England; one of these indeed has already found it to work satisfactorily. We observe that a Belgian Commission of Iron Manufacturers have discussed and reported very favourably upon the merits of this invention, and have visited Middlesborough for the purpose of testing its applicableness in Belgium. The Report of this Commission is very interesting to iron-workers, but we here only notice the question of the saving of fuel by using it. The saving is not considerable, and the Report says, the consumption (of coal) ought not to be greater in Dank's Furnace
than in others ; ' in fact the consumption during twenty-four hours represented very nearly the consumption of an ordinary furnace with forced air.
that a recent invention of Dr. Siemen’s for making steel will be equally effective in point of economy,
The above refers only to one branch, though that is the principal branch, of our metallurgy. If we look to others we find similar results. In all sorts of copper-smelting, to take another principal branch, it is calculated that upon all kinds of ore the consumption of coal is not less than eighteen tons for every ton of copper produced. In 1859 Dr. Percy stated that in certain works from 13 to 18 tons of coal (which then cost 5s. per ton) were required to make one ton of copper, and that about half of this quantity was consumed in the first and second operations of calcining and smelting. Hence copper works must be the first to suffer from an extraordinary rise in the price of fuel, which forms the largest item of their expenditure. Dr. Percy estimates that in works such as he supposes there would be an annual consumption of about 20,000 tons of coal, or for every ton of copper made from a mixture of ores yielding ten per cent. of copper, 18 tons of coal. Following out such elements of a general estimate, it was found in 1869 that 149,238 tons of coal were used in the entire smeltings of copper ores in Britain. Very large quantities of copper ores and regulus are brought to Swansea to be smelted from Chili, from the Cape, from Portugal and elsewhere, because it has hitherto cost less to bring the ore to the coal than to send the coal to the ore.
In like manner we may pursue our inquiry into the consumption of coal for the reduction of all of the metallic ores raised by us or sent here. Keeping to the year 1869, and adverting to lead, it was estimated that in smelting and desilverising the 966,868 tons of lead ore then raised, about 145,299 tons of coal were burnt, and that for the ten preceding years the average annual consumption of coal for such work of all kinds must have been 141,694 tons. If the lead ore imported by us in 1869 be added, the estimate of coal consumed must be raised to 177,577 tons.
Of zinc, it may be added, that if we include the large imports of that metal, our zinc smelters used, for the whole reduction of the zinc in the same year, as much as 231,176 tons of coal.
The whole matter, then, resolves itself into a question of mineral instead of monetary capital and issue. We have a natural bank of bituminous or carbonaceous fuel, and the capital in that bank is a fixed quantity, while at the same time we have a manufacturing demand upon this natural bank which, in such times as the recent and the present, has amounted to a run. The whole nation, indeed, is running upon
its natural bank, and in nature as well as in commerce the results are the same, with this difference, that the natural has not, like the national bank, any artificial system of adjustment. It has no prudential reserves, no raising of the rate of discount, except what manifests itself in the augmented cost of production. This is in fact the correlative of the Bank of England's variations of the rate of discount. In the deep subterraneous cellars of our bank of coal there is so much bituminous bullion, and no more; it cannot be added to, bat can only be subtracted from; there is no influx, but only efflux; therefore, if you draw too much by a sudden and simultaneous rush upon it, the pits' mouths are like the bank-doors-they must be closed for a time, or at least the price of the supply will be raised.
We must be prepared to follow out this leading truth into all the departments of trade and manufacture, and to find that the coal famine, as it has been expressively called, has been caused by a strong demand for coal in all directions. Every householder and every manufacturer has presented his demand, and all of these cannot be met. The bituminous bank cannot raise its rate of production, but it can raise the cost of extraction, and does raise it to the dismay and disaster of all-even the comparatively rich. Everywhere gloom exists, and very gloomy apprehensions prevail as to what is to come. Iron has not only of late advanced very greatly, but it is still rapidly advancing. Look at an ironmaker's circular, and you will read the same kind of intelligence as this, dated February 14 ult., from the representative of the great firm, in the following words :- I beg to inform you that the price of Earl • Dudley's iron this day has been advanced ll. per ton.' Of course other firms will follow their leader. Bars are dearer than they were a year ago by 21., and yet the 121. of the preceding February became 161. in July of last year. Advances up to March 14 of this year have raised the best marked bars of Staffordshire throughout to 15l. and 161. per
The intelligence received from many quarters informs us of the partial or total close of several iron-works. How can they be kept in operation when the cost of smelting the ore, owing to the cost of coal, exceeds the profit derivable from the process ? It is impossible to work at a loss, and the question is when that loss will be realised. The price of iron may be raised to a point at which consumers cannot take it; and when it cannot be sold to advantage, the whole manufacture will be at an end in this country. (See our note at the close of this article, on American diminished demands.)