Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/73

This page has been validated.
61
SMOKELESS GUNPOWDER.

leisure in walking through dry places seeking rest; for, to those who have the eyes to see and the spirit to discern, the world is neither dry nor barren; but rather, it is like the mountain as it appeared to the servant of the prophet when his eyes were opened, full of beauty and wonder, of mystery and power—full of hosts from all nations, striving manfully onward to promised lands of knowledge and of truth, and waging ceaseless warfare against ignorance and prejudice, and the long train of evils which are consequent upon them. And if, as the eventide of life draws on, our eye wax dim, and our step grow weary, so that we can no longer follow, we may still lay us down to rest in some unknown spot, in the full confidence that others will not be wanting to fill our places and gain fresh ground, though we may not live to see it.—Nature.

 

SMOKELESS GUNPOWDER.

IT is very often the case that one bird falls to the right barrel, and "the rest unhurt" go on their way, rejoicing no doubt at having escaped a deadly volley from the left barrel. There is, however, a reason for their having got off scot-free, well known to all sportsmen; i. e., the smoke from the first barrel obscured the birds from the sportsman's second aim, until they were out of range. Science, however, has discovered a panacea for this oft-recurring disappointment, in Schultze's wood-powder, a smokeless explosive which we wish to introduce to those of our readers who are not already conversant with its merits. Of course, every one knows our "dear, dirty old friend," Black Gunpowder; the acquaintance of which we made in early youth, turning it into a "devil" to frighten our grandmother; but we have cut our "dear, dirty old friend," and our gun is now loaded with Schultze's wood-powder instead. "How is this?" you inquire. "Why abandon an explosive with which Colonel Hawker, and the never-to-be forgotten Maxwell of 'Wild Sports of the West' celebrity, killed so many head of game?" To this we reply, Schultze's wood-powder was not invented in their day, or they would have used it, and for these reasons:

For seven hundred years and more, even granting the invention to have been Roger Bacon's, the dull-black mixture of sulphur, nitre, and charcoal—it is only a mixture, not a chemical compound—has had the monopoly of guns, large and small. It has answered every purpose moderately well, perhaps more than moderately. Nevertheless, from time to time the desire has arisen to evolve out of chemical stores some new compound, mechanical or chemical, that should do better duty. Somewhat extraordinary, indeed, the case seems that, amid all the improvements of guns and gunnery, all the advancement of chemistry