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then, for a like period deprived of them, the one producing a degree of cold beyond anything we can conceive, and the other, a degree of heat sufficient, probably, (if there be water in the Moon), to produce a temporary atmosphere of steam,-have we not every reason to conclude that the atmosphere with which the Moon may be, and probably is, encompassed, is materially different in its constitution and properties, from that which surrounds our own globe, and which may, in some degree, account for the contradictory statements I have just noticed ? An annular eclipse of the Sun, presents (I think) the most likely means of obtaining more accurate information on this subject than we at present possess.
New ERA IN STEAM NAVIGATION. — In the Washington Union, of January 5th, is a long report from a board of professional engineers and others, appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, to test an important improvement in the construction of naral steam-engines, the invention of Capt. Ericsson. There appears to be an apparatus called an evaporator, and another a condenser, conveniently arranged amidst the machinery, so as to occupy very little space. By this, the steam, after performing its work, is converted into water, and forced back into the boiler, again and again taking the same routine.
As some of the steam will always be lost by loose joints, the evaporator supplies the deficiency from the element in which the vessel floats, and from this increased supply of steam, the condenser affords any desired amount of fresh water. The whole is said to be complete and perfect, and the following results attained :
1. A steamer may go to sea, and complete her voyage, without ever having one particle of salt water in her boiler, if she will begin it with fresb water.
2. She need not carry any tanks of fresh water, but can make it from the sea at will ; thus saving the space for fuel.
3. Besides the supply for the boiler and culinary purposes, enough fresh water can be made to allow each sailor a bath every day, the supply may be so ample.
4. The fires need never be extinguished to relieve the boilers of salt or mud, as neither salt or mud will ever get in; thus saving fuel.
5. The boiler will require little or no watching ; being once arranged, the machinery will do the rest, and keep up the exact supply of pure water.
6. A boiler at sea, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, will last two or three times as long as at present, as no impurities will be admitted there, any more than on the lakes.
7. Nearly one-fifth of the fuel will be saved, as the heat will act on the plates and flues, free of incrustations from salt or mud, and the water from the condenser, wbile very hot, will be pumped into the boiler.
8. A low pressure engine will answer on the Mississippi and Missouri, as well as on streams of clear water, as the muddy water will be evaporated, the vapour recondensed, and forced into the boilers as clear as crystal.
9. The awful bursting of boilers, so often occurring on the western waters, may be arrested in toto, as the saving of fuel, and the equal adaption of the low-pressure engine will induce its substitution in lieu of the powder magazines, as the engines now in use may be called
10. The oil used around the piston of the cylinder, and the rust on the boiler, may impart a little of their taste at first to the steam and water ; but a very simple filter will make it as pure as when distilled in the chemist's laboratory.--Hants Paper.
THE DISCOVERY OF COAL AT VANCOUVER'S ISLAND.
The Times having noticed the important discovery of coal in Vancouver's Island, a specimen of which was brought home by the Cormorant, which she had been able to procure at 4s. a ton, while at Valparaiso a ton of British coal was considerably higher; the following interesting particulars, as to the locality of this treasure, are extracted from the same journal :
“ On the north and east side of Vancouver's Island, a recently discovered river debouches into Johnstone's Straits, near the mouth of which large seams of coal crop out on the surface of the soil. At the point, the trading steamer of the Hudson's Bay Company navigating the Straits of Juan de Fuca, obtains ready and plentiful supplies, which are put on board by the Indians at a mere nominal price. Mr. Dunn, who was a trader and interpreter in the Hudson's Bay Company's steamer Beaver, gives an interesting account of the discovery of this coal. He states . The cause of the discovery' (of the coal) was as curious as the discovery itself was important. Some of the natives at Fort M‘Loughlin having, on coming to the fort to traffic, observed coal burning in the furnace of the blacksmiths, in their natural spirit of curiosity made several inquiries about it; they were told that it was the best kind of fuel, and that it was brought over the great salt lake six months' journey. They looked surprised, and in spite of their habitual gravity laughed, and capered about. The servants of the fort were surprised at their unusual antics, and inquired the cause. The Indians explained, saying that they had changed in a great measure their opinion of the white men, whom they thought endowed by the Great Spirit with the power of effecting great and useful objects, as it was evident they were not then influenced by his wisdom in bringing fuel such a vast distance, and at so much cost. They then pointed out where it could be found, of the richest quality, close to the surface, rising in hillocks, and requiring very little labour to dig it out. This intelligence having been reported at Fort Vancouver, we received instructions to make the necessary inquiries and exploration. Mr. Finlaison and part of the crew went on shore, and after some inquiries, and a small distribution of rewards, found from the natives that the original account-given at Fort M'Loughlin-was true. The coal turned out to be of excellent quality, running in extensive fields, and even in clumpy mounds, and most easily worked, all along that part of the country. The natives were anxious that we should employ them to work the coal. To this we consented, and agreed to give them a certain sum for each large box. The natives being so nume. rous and labour so cheap, for us to attempt to work the coal would have been madness.' It is earnestly to be hoped that this rich and valuable deposit may ere long be brought within the reach of the fast increasing number of our steamers on the west coast of America and the Pacific."
ASTRONOMY.- Colour of the Stars.--Some undefined circumstances in the constitution of the celestial bodies produces the effect of their exhibiting not only a different degree, but a different kind, of lustre. Their light is by no meaps uniform; the ray of Sirius differs not merely in intensity, but in kind, from that of Vega: that is perceptible in this country, but in those favoured regions where the atmosphere is more pure, where less of humidity and haze exist, the difference is striking, even to the naked eye; “ one star differing from another in glory." One star shines as an emerald, while another glows as a ruby, adorning the winter's sky with a rich variety of sparkling gems, differing not more in size than they do in hue or brilliancy. This circumstance of variation of colours characterises the double stars; and it is remarkable, that sometimes when one of these stars is of one marked colour, its companion is of another. There are many instances in which a red and green star are associated, or a yellow with a blue. This may be the result of optical delusion, when the stars are of different degrees of brilliancy; as the eye has a tendency, when gazing on any bright colour, to endow fainter objects near it with the opposite colour as a relief; but this is not always borne out, as many instances occur in which couples, in precisely similar situations, display no such contrast. Sir John Herschel was at first inclined to the opinion that a diversity of colour did inherently exist in each star; but he has subsequently appeared more inclined to attribute the phenomenon to some circumstances connected with the beholder.
Loss Of A WHALING SHIP, AND HORRIBLE MURDER OF HER CREW.Letters have been received at Lloyd's, dated Sydney, Aug. 17, communicating the total loss of the barque British Sovereign, a whaling ship, Capt. W. H. Jones, master, on the eastern side of the Sandwich Islands, and the reported horrible massacre by the natives of nearly the whole of the ship's crew. The intelligence of the appalling affair was brought to Sydney on that day (Aug. 17) by the ship Isabella Anna, from New Hebrides, the master of which reports as follows:4" On the 10th of May last, the Isabella Anna, whilst beating into the harbour on the north-west side of the Sandwich Islands, observed a man swimming in the direction of the vessel from the shore. She was hauled to, and he was picked up, when he made a statement which at first excited suspicion of doubt, but, from subsequent circumstances there is much reason to fear that it is perfectly correct. He stated his name to be Thomas Weir, a native of Dundee, and was one of the crew of the whaling ship British Sovereign, which had been wrecked, and he feared he was the only one who had escaped, all hands having been murdered by the natives of the island."
The court-martial on Lieut. Rooke, and his three surviving companions, from the ill-fated Avenger, took place at Malta, on the 31st of January ; Rear Admiral, Sir Lucius Curtis, Bart., President. A narrative of all the circumstances connected with the lamentable event was put in by Lieut. Rooke, and read, and after the examination of that officer, the court delivered the following sentence :
“ The Court, after having the narrative of Lieut. Rooke read, and the evidence adduced, are of opinion that, the Avenger was wrecked on a reef of rocks, about ten o'clock on the evening of the 20th of December last, but there is not sufficient cause shown in the evidence to account for the accident. No blame is attached to Lieut. Rooke, or the other prisoners, and they are fully acquitted. The Court consider the conduct of Lieut. Rooke to have been proper in lowering the cutter, as he was acting in obedience to orders given. The Court consider the conduct of Lieut. Rooke in laying off the ship to save the lives of any who might seek safety, and his persevering efforts for the same object, in returning to the vessel from Tunis, to have been most praiseworthy and humane. The Court cannot separate without expressing their warm approbation of the conduct of Mr. Larcom, throughout the trying scene. The Court warmly eulogise the humanity of the Arabs, who assisted the sufferers on their reaching the land. The Court have very considerable doubts if the Avenger had the Admiralty charts of the Mediterranean on board.* The Court fully and entirely acquit the prisoners.
" The President, calling Lieut. Francis Rooke, thus addressed him :· Lieut. Rooke,-It is needless for me to make any comment, after the expression of the opinion of the Court you have just heard read, and I have the greatest pleasure in returning you your sword.'".
* From the above remarks, our readers would be led to infer that the ill-fated ship, and so many valuable lives were lost from there being “no charts on board for the Mediterranean station, at the period of her being wrecked.” While we cannot but deeply enter into the state of mind that possessed the unfortunate sufferers at the cry“ Oh God! Oh God! we are all lost !" when she struck; and truly sympathize with the hundreds of surviving relatives; yet, the authorities must be exonerated from any neglect on their part; we, therefore, take the opportunity of making public, that the Avenger had the requisite charts on board, at the time she left Gibraltar, for which assertion we are authorized to print the following:
" Gibraltar Yard, 14th December, 1847. “Received from Capt. the Hon. George Grey, naval officer, a box of charts for the Mediterranean station, No. 33, for the use of Her Majesty's steamship Avenger.
"CHARLES G. E. NAPIER, Captain." We have had no opportunity since the melancholy event, of offering our assistance towards receiving subscriptions for the relief of the widows and orphans of the sufferers. Such urgent appeals from our contemporaries have gone forth, and not in vain, that nothing is left for us but to tell our humane countrymen that, by this sad event, hundreds of their fellow beings have lost husbands, fathers, brothers, and friends, on whom they depended for the necessaries of life. We now offer our humble aid in receiving any contribution that may be added towards their relief'; “If thou hast much, give plenteously ; if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give ihat little ; for whatsoever thou layest out, it shall be paid to thee again."
We request that all contributions may be addressed to the Editor of the Nautical Magazine, 21, Poultry, London.-ED.
UNITED States Navy. Vessels in Commission on the 1st November, 1847. Ships of the Line. The Columbus and Ohio Pacific squadron. Pennsylvania, Norfolk, receiving ship. North Carolina, New York receiving ship. Franklin, Boston, receiving ship.
Razee. The Independence, Pacific squadron.
Frigates.- The United States, African squadron. Congress, Pacific squadron. Brandywine, Brazil station. Cumberland, Gulf of Mexico.
Sloops of War. — The Saratoga, Gulf of Mexico ; John Adams, Gulf of Mexico; Albany, Gulf of Mexico; Germantown, Gulf of Mexico; Portsmouth, . Pacific squadron ; Jamestown, African squadron ; all first class. Warren,
Pacific squadron; Cyane, Pacific squadron ; Ontario, Baltimore, receiving vessel ; all second class. Decatur, Gulf of Mexico; Preble, Pacific squadron; Dale, Pacific squadron ; Marion, Mediterranean; all third class.
Brigs.— The Boxer, African squadron ; Dolphin, African squadron ; Perry, Brazil station ; Porpoise, preparing for service ; Washington, coast surveying; Bainbridge, preparing for service.
Schooners. -The Flirt, Gulf of Mexico; Bonita, Gulf of Mexico; Petrel, Gulf of Mexico; Reefer, Gulf of Mexico; Experiment, Philadelphia, receiving vessel; On-ka-hy-e, Brazil station ; Taney, Mediterranean; Walter M., Pensacola ; Wave, coast survey ; Nautilus, coast survey; Phoenix, coast survey.
Bomb.gun Vessels.— The Vesuvius, Gulf of Mexico; Hecla, Gulf of Mexico; Ætna, Gulf of Mexico; Stromboli, Gulf of Mexico.
Ordnance Transport.-The Electra, Gulf of Mexico.
Steamers.—The Mississippi, Gulf of Mexico; Princeton, Mediterranean ; Michigan, on the Upper Lakes ; Alleghany, preparing for the Mediterranean; General Taylor, Pensacola ; Engineer, Norfolk; Spitfire, Gulf of Mexico; Vixen, Gulf of Mexico; Scourge, Gulf of Mexico; Scorpion, Gulf of Mexico; Waterwitch, Gulf of Mexico; Iris, Gulf of Mexico.
Store Skips, ---The Erie, Pacific squadron; Lexington, Pacific squadron ; Southampton, Pacific squadron; Reliej, Gulf of Mexico; Supply, Mediterranean ; Fredonia, Gulf of Mexico.
Recapitulation.-5 ships of the line, 1 razee, 4 frigates, 13 sloops, 6 brigs, il schooners, 4 bomb-gun vessels, 1 ordnance transport, 12 steamers, 6 store ships.—Total 63.
Statement of Vessels which were in Ordinary on the 1st of November, 1847. -Constitution, frigate; Falmouth, sloop, 2nd class; Yorktown, do., 3rd do. ; Fullon, steamer; Savannah, frigate, 1st class; Plymouth, sloop, do.; Vincennes, do., 2nd class; Macedonian, frigate, do.; Delaware, ship of the line; Potomac, frigate, 1st class ; Raritan, do, do.; St. Laurence, do. do.; Columbia, do, do.; Constellation, do., 2nd class; Fairfield, sloop, do.; Vandalia, do. do.; St. Louis, do. do.; Levant, do. do.; St. Mary's, do, do.; Union, steamer; Austin, sloop.
Recapitulatton.—1 ship of the line, 8 frigates, 10 sloops of war, 2 steamers. -Total, 21.-New York Express.
PHENOMENA OF LIGHTNING.—Whenever the atmosphere is rendered arid by excessive heat, a very considerable quantity of vapour is absorbed into it, the clouds thereby formed are consequently very highly charged, and have a very dense black appearance; sailing slowly along by the wind, they absorb into them all the lighter clouds, increasing until they have spread over almost the whole of the heavens. Thus an approaching thunder-storm is usually indicated by heavy clouds advancing in one direction, meeting and absorbing into them thin filaments of light clouds that are scattered about. When a cloud thus formed, passes one negatively electrified, the fluid rushing out of it separates the air, ignites, and forms a flash of lightning ; the air collapsing again after its passage, causes the rumbling noise called thunder. When the air is strong and much agitated, and the passage of the Auid meets with great resistance, it flies about in a zigzag form, which is kpown as forked lightning - Sharpe's London Magazine.