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the sight of them should again unhinge my brain. I am too old now to think of planting the tender shrub of affection in any female heart, and shall die long before it could take root and arrive at maturity. Nothing now remains for me but to bear my fate like a man, and wait with humble resignation for the hour when I shall be permitted to join my murdered family. 0! let no one think himself happy that he is exempt from the labours of business, nor let the needy man repine at his daily toils. My own experience has taught me this lesson—that employment is the surest path to the recovery of our peace of mind, and that to be exempt from the necessity of exertion, is to be at the mercy of incurable sorrow.

“Compare now your situation with mine. Though bereft of one blessing, you are surrounded by many others, and cherished by friends whose affection will in some measure supply your losswhile I exist like a desert rock in the wide ocean, to whose barren breast no mariner is allured, and in whose desolate confines no gentle songster warbles a note of happiness. He who has · none to love, and who is beloved by none, may be permitted to despair; but remember, that uncontrolled grief for the loss of one friend, is a tacit unkindness to those who survive, because it seems to indicate that their affection is of little worth-and it is ingratitude to heaven which has still permitted you the enjoyment of many blessings."





Felling is a manor about a mile and a half east of Gateshead. It contains several strata of coal, the uppermost of which were extensively wrought in the beginning of the last century. The stratum called the High-main was won in 1779, and continued to be wrought till the 19th January, 1811, when it was entirely excavated. The present colliery is in the seam called the Low-main. It commenced in October, 1810, and was at full work in May, 1812. This mine was considered by the workmen as a model of perfection in the purity of its air, and orderly arrangements its inclined plane was saving the daily expense of at least 13 horses -the concern wore the features of the greatest possible prosperity, and no accident, except a trifling explosion of fire-damp, slightly burning two or three workmen, had occurred. Two shifts or sets of men were constantly employed, except on Sundays. Twentyfive acres of coal had been excavated. The first shift entered the mine at four o'clock A. M. and were relieved at their working posts by the next at eleven o'clock in the morning. The establishment it employed under ground consisted of about 128 persons, who, in the fortnight from the 11th to the 25th of May, 1812, wrought 624 scores of coal, equal to 1,300 Newcastle chaldrons, or 2,455 London chaldrons. About half past eleven o'clock on the morning of the 25th May, 1812, the neighbouring villages were alarmed by a tremendous explosion in this colliery. The subterraneous fire broke forth with two heavy discharges from the John, which were, almost instantaneously, followed by one from the William. A slight trembling, as from an earthquake, was felt for about half a mile around the workings; and the noise of the explosion, though dull, was heard to three or four miles distance, and much resembled an unsteady fire of infantry,

Immense quantities of dust and small coal accompanied these blasts, and rose high into the air, in the form of an inverted cone. The heaviest part of the ejected matter, such as corves, pieces of wood, and small coal, fell near the pits; but the dust, borne away by a strong west wind, fell in a continued shower from the pit to the distance of a mile and a half. As soon as the explosion was heard, the wives and children of the workmen ran to the workingpit. Wildness and terror were pictured in every countenance.

The crowd from all sides soon collected to the number of several hundreds, some crying out for a husband, others for a parent or a son, and all deeply affected with a mixture of horror, anxiety, and grief. The machine being rendered useless by the eruption, the rope of the gin was sent down the pit with all expedition. In the absence of horses, a number of men, whom the wish to be instrumental in rescuing their neighbours from their perilous situation, seemed to supply with strength proportionate to the urgency of the occasion, put their shoulders to the starts or shafts of the gin, and wrought with astonishing expedition. By twelve o'clock 32 persons, all that survived this dreadful calamity, were brought to day-light. The dead bodies of two boys, who were miserably scorched and shattered, were also brought up at this time; three boys, out of the 32 who escaped alive, died within a few hours after the accident. Only 29 persons were, therefore, left to relate wbat they observed of the appearance and effects of this subterraneous thundering; 121 were in the mine when it happened, and 87 remained in the workings. Eight persons came up at different intervals, a short time before the explosion. They who had their friends restored hastened with them from the dismal scene, and seemed for a while to suffer as much from the excess of joy as they had lately done from grief; and they who were yet held in doubt concerning the fate of their relations and friends, filled the air with shrieks and howlings; went about wringing their hands; and threw their bodies into the most frantic and extravagant gestures. The persons who now remained in the mine had all been employed in the workings to which the plane-board was the general avenue, and as none had escaped by that way, the apprehension for their safety began to strengthen every moment. Ata quarter after twelve o'clock, Messrs. Straker, Anderson, Haswell, Rogers, Wilson, Pearson, H. Anderson, Menham, and Greener, therefore, descended the John, in expectation of meeting with some of them alive. As the fire-damp would have instantly ignited at candles, they lighted their way by steel-mills, small machines which give light by turning a plain thin cylinder of steel against a piece of flint. Knowing that a great number of the workmen would be at the crane when the explosion happened, they attempted to reach it by the plane-board: but their progress was intercepted at the second pillar by the prevalence of choke-damp; the noxious fluid filled the board between the roof and the thill; and the sparks from the steel fell into it like dark drops of blood. Being, therefore, deprived of light, and nearly poisoned for want of atmospheric air, they retraced their steps to the shaft, and with

similar success attempted to pass up the narrow boards ; in these . they were stopped at the sixth pillar hy a thick smoke, which

stood like a wall the whole height of the board. Here their flint

mills were not only rendered useless, and respiration became extremely difficult, but the probability of their ever reaching the places where they expected to meet with those they were in search of, or finding any of them alive, was entirely done away. To the hopelessness of success in their enterprise should also be added, their certainty of the mine being on fire, and the probability of a second explosion at every moment occurring and burying them in its ruins.

At two o'clock Mr. Straker and Mr. Anderson had just ascended the John, and were gone to examine the appearance of the air issuing from the William. Menham, Greener, and Rogers, had also ascended. Two of the party were at this moment in the shaft, and the other two remained below, when a second explosion, much less severe than the first, excited more frightful expressions of grief and terror amongst the relatives of the persons still in the inine. Rogers and Wilson, the persons in the shaft, experienced little inconvenience by the eruption; they felt an unusual heat, but it had no effect in lifting up their bodies, or otherwise destroying the uniformity of the motion of their ascent. Haswell and H. Anderson, hearing its distant growlings, laid themselves down at full length on their faces, and in this posture, by keeping firm hold of a strong wooden prop, placed near the shaft to support the roof of the mine, experienced no other inconvenience from the blast, than its listing up their legs and poising their bodies in various directions, in the manner that the waves heave and toss a buoy at sea. As soon as the atmospheric current returned down the shaft, they were drawn to bank. This expedient of lying down and suffering the fury of the blast to roll over them, is mentioned in the life of Lord Keeper North, under the year 1676. It is most efficacious where the mine is wet, for atmospheric air always accompanies running water; but the warning of a blast being usually sudden, it requires a degree of experience and coolness, not commonly united, to exercise any precaution against it. The miner, knowing its irresistible power, instantly sees the inefficacy of every attempt to escape, and, like a physician attacked by some incurable complaint, and conscious that his art is unequal to its cure, makes no struggle to save his life. *

* Dr. Thompson, in his Annals of Philosophy, says, that “what is called fire. damp in coal mines is the carbureted hydrogen gas of chymists. It is composed of Carbon ..

72 Hydrogen



or of seven atoms of hydrogen, and three of carbon. He conceives that fire-damp is formed by the action of coal upon water. The water is decomposed, two atoms

All the oxygen combines with carbon, and forms carbonic acid ; while all the hydrogen unites likewise with carbon, and forms carbureted hydrogen, or fire

at once.

each of the party came up, he was surrounded by a group of anxious inquirers. All their reports were equally hopeless; and the second explosion so strongly corroborated their account of the impure state of the mine, that their assertions for the present seemed to be credited. But this impression was only momentary. On recollection, they remembered that persons had survived similar accidents, and when the mine was opened, been found alive. Three had been shut up during 40 days in a pit near Byker, and all that period had subsisted on candles and horse beans. The proposition to exclude the atmospheric air from the mine, in order to extinguish the fire, was therefore received with the cries of “Murder," and with determinations of opposing the proceeding. Many of the widows continued about the mouth of the John pit during the whole of Monday night, with the hope of hearing the voice of a husband or a son calling for assistance. On Tuesday the 26th of May, the natural propensity of the human mind to be gratified with spectacles of horror was strongly exemplified. An immense crowd of colliers from various parts, but especially from the banks of the river Wear, assembled round the pits, and were profuse in reproaches on the persons concerned in the mine, for want of exertion to recover the men. Every one had some example to relate of successful attempts in cases of this kind-all were large in their professions of readiness to give assistance; but none were found to enter the inflammable jaws of the mine. Their reasonings and assertions seemed indeed to be a mixture of those prejudices and conceits which cleave to workmen whom experience has afforded a partial insight into the nature and peculiarities of their profession, and not to be grounded on any memory of facts, or to result from a knowledge of the connexion between causes and effects; and on this account, as soon as the leaders of the outcry could be brought to listen with patience to a relation of the appearances that attended this accident, and to hear the reasons assigned for the conclusion that the mine was on fire, and that the persons remaining in it were dead, they seemed to allow the impracticability of reaching the bodies of the sufferers till the fire was extinguished, and consequently the necessity of smothering it out by excluding atmospheric air from the mine. On Wednesday the 27th of May, at the clamorous solicitation of the people, Mr. Straker and the overman again descended the John Pit, in order to ascertain the state of the air in

damp. We are not acquainted with any means of preventing the formation of this gas; but it certainly might be prevented from accumulating, by ventilating the mine properly. If the usual method of fires, &c. be insufficient, nothing would be easier than to pump the air out of the mine, by means of an engine : and this would serare a perfect ventilation at all times, unless we suppose the workmen culpably neg. igent." Vol. III, Nen: Series,


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