Familiar Letters on Chemistry eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 119 pages of information about Familiar Letters on Chemistry.
silk, wine, raisins, indigo, &c., &c., we can understand why the English Government should have resolved to resort to war with Naples, in order to abolish the sulphur monopoly, which the latter power attempted recently to establish.  Nothing could be more opposed to the true interests of Sicily than such a monopoly; indeed, had it been maintained a few years, it is highly probable that sulphur, the source of her wealth, would have been rendered perfectly valueless to her.  Science and industry form a power to which it is dangerous to present impediments.  It was not difficult to perceive that the issue would be the entire cessation of the exportation of sulphur from Sicily.  In the short period the sulphur monopoly lasted, fifteen patents were taken out for methods to obtain back the sulphuric acid used in making soda.  Admitting that these fifteen experiments were not perfectly successful, there can be no doubt it would ere long have been accomplished.  But then, in gypsum, (sulphate of lime), and in heavy-spar, (sulphate of barytes), we possess mountains of sulphuric acid; in galena, (sulphate of lead), and in iron pyrites, we have no less abundance of sulphur.  The problem is, how to separate the sulphuric acid, or the sulphur, from these native stores.  Hundreds of thousands of pounds weight of sulphuric acid were prepared from iron pyrites, while the high price of sulphur consequent upon the monopoly lasted.  We should probably ere long have triumphed over all difficulties, and have separated it from gypsum.  The impulse has been given, the possibility of the process proved, and it may happen in a few years that the inconsiderate financial speculation of Naples may deprive her of that lucrative commerce.  In like manner Russia, by her prohibitory system, has lost much of her trade in tallow and potash.  One country purchases only from absolute necessity from another, which excludes her own productions from her markets.  Instead of the tallow and linseed oil of Russia, Great Britain now uses palm oil and cocoa-nut oil of other countries.  Precisely analogous is the combination of workmen against their employers, which has led to the construction of many admirable machines for superseding manual labour.  In commerce and industry every imprudence carries with it its own punishment; every oppression immediately and sensibly recoils upon the head of those from whom it emanates.


My dear Sir,

One of the most influential causes of improvement in the social condition of mankind is that spirit of enterprise which induces men of capital to adopt and carry out suggestions for the improvement of machinery, the creation of new articles of commerce, or the cheaper production of those already in demand; and we cannot but admire the energy with which such men devote their talents, their time, and their wealth, to realise the benefits of the discoveries and inventions of

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Familiar Letters on Chemistry from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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