Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/816

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constructing an electric railway between Northumberland Avenue and Waterloo Station. Again, at the Paris Exhibition, an enterprising firm of agriculturists showed land-plowing by electricity, and, in fact, the application of electricity to innumerable useful purposes was illustrated—rock-boring, newspaper-printing, driving of sewing-machines, embroidery, leather-work, glass-cutting, wood-carving, lifts raised, ventilation assisted, etc. I am looking forward to the Crystal Palace Exhibition with great interest, to see how far these exhibits will be repeated. The exhibition will be well worth a visit; in fact, all exhibitions are worth visiting, for they excite interest, they induce every one, more or less, by generating curiosity, to add to his knowledge, they honestly stimulate national as well as individual competition, and they always result in the enlargement of the useful application of a power like that of electricity, because a man of one trade who sees electricity used in another trade can not resist thinking out whether it can not also be usefully applied to his own purposes. We sometimes hear electricity spoken of as a mysterious agency, and sometimes as a wild, untamed beast. It is only mysterious to the ignorant, and it is only untamed to the unskilled. I hope that the promise I made to you at first starting, that you would leave this room with a fair knowledge of how the electric light is produced, has been fulfilled, and I can only add that electricity will always prove an obedient slave to those who take the trouble to understand it; but it may prove, and it has proved, a very dangerous ally to the ignorant and the unskilled.


IS any one noting the loss of life and property by explosions? Can not some improved measures of protection be suggested? There is great increase in the number, variety, and potential energy of explosives, and they are causing a startling number of disasters; and these involve not only the proprietors who have the control, and the hands who do the work of the magazine, mine, quarry, factory, steam-ship, locomotive, in which the explosion occurs, but also the general public—by-standers, persons walking, riding, or lodging near, passengers by train or steamboat, carriers or purchasers of dangerous goods improperly packed, and many others. Recall a score of the more novel and peculiar cases of the season of 1881, those which represent the advance in this peril, and see if they do not indicate that more stringent regulation of the subject is demanded for public safety.

There was wide-spread excitement in August when British custom-