There is an excellent article in the last number (12) of " Littell's Living Age," taken from " Chamber's Journal," on the subject indicated by the above caption. It treats of the explosions in the coal mines of England, and it appears from a Parliamentary Report, that no less than 900 lives were lost by mine explosions in the short space of twenty-one weeks, in the year 1852. We entertained the opinion that our own country—America— was distinguished above all others, for great accidents, and a reckless disregard of human lite, lut we can entertain such an opinion no longer, hidden things will come to light, and England far surpasses the United States in the number of appalling accidents, yea, we are confident that there were not 900 lives sacrificed by accidents in all our country last year, and it was sadly distinguished for a number of fearful ones. One thing appears to be singularly strange as tlie cause of many accidents in the English mines, it being nothing less than Davy's Safety Lamp. It has come to light that since this was introduced into the coal mines, the number of accidents by explosions, have greatly increased. This lamp is scientifically a safety lamp, but the ignorance of the coliers, and their carelessness, have made it a dangerous lamp. It was found in one pit that some of the miners had such a singular notion ef its safety powers, that they looked upon its presence in the mine as a kind of charm to frighten away the fire damp, consequently, while one safety lamp was used, others were recklessly burning candles. The miners de not take the trouble nor care to keep their wire gauze clean, consequently it clogs up and becomes useless. There can be no doubt but Bavy's, lamp works beautiful in a lecture room, but in a coal mine the conditions are altogether different from those of a chemists' laboratory, for it has been found that the wire gauze in some lamps became red liot, consequently an explosion was inevitable. There are two iCiued'.es proposed to prevent the frequency of such accidents, viz., the education of the miners scientifically in the use of the Davy lamp, and the expulsion of the gas from the mines by steam jets. If the latter plan be carried out, there will be ? 3 use for the safety lamp. Carburetted hydrogen is the gas which is the cause of mine explosions. It must, however, be mixed with a certain quantity of air before it will ignite suddenly —explode; eight volumes of air to one of carburetted hydrogen forms the most explosive mixture. It has been found that 70 per cent, of deaths in coal mines are not caused first by the explosion, but by the carbonic acid gas as the product of an explosion ; so speedy is the action of this gas that the miners suddenly sinks down asleep in death.— Those who die from the effects of this gas sleep away placidly without a struggle.— The coal mines in America are very free from these gases, because they are so near the surface, and are therefore far better ventilated than the deep coal mines of England, nevertheless, let us say to all those who use the safety lamp, " keep it clean or dread the worst consequences.”
This article was originally published with the title "English Mine Explosions"