GENERAL REMARKS—During the past week nlany additions of an attractive and useful character have been made to both the building and its contents. A ship from Leghorn came into this port on last Tuesday, with no less than 172 cases for exhibition, and many more from other parts of the world, are yet to arrive. We must give our French cousins the greatest credit for having their department arranged in the neatest manner, and in the most advanced state. Our English cousins are the farthest behind in arrangement and decoration, indeed, Uncle John must get up some high pressure before he can steam up to be alongside of any department in the building. As it regards neatness, the British department does not at all compare yet with any other—a radical reform is wanted, and we hope the British Commissioners will push matters along with more spirit, and taste, next week. The Belgian Department is very good, and in many manufactures, such as velvets, we have been delightfully surprised; there is a display nearly rivaling that of the French Department. Austria," this patch en the surface of the earth," has shown herself in every branch of the fine and useful arts, to have attained a high position in producing somethirg more than patch work. The American Department has advanced nobly during the past week. In both the useful and ornamental arts, our countrymen are going to do more than we expected. Our brethren from other lands, we are confident, will go away with a very Irish opinion of the taste, genius, and skill of the people within the borders of our land. That eminent chemist, Justus Liebig, in his " Letters on Chemistry; page 1.30, says, "the quantity of soap consumed by a nation would be no inaccurate measure whereby to estimate its wealth and civilization." By this measure we justly could claim, we believe, for the United States, the title of the most wealthy and civilized nation in the world. Pillars of soap, busts of soap, windows of soap, soap of all colors, in all shapes, in all sizes, and of all smells, mark the vast extent of our soap manufacture. We are no doubt the best washed people in all creation. Some people may think we are somewhat quizzical in our remarks, owing to the equivocal use of the word soap, such as soft-soaping, for flattery, &c, but we assure them we are sincere and mean to be understood as having assumed for our standard of civilization and wealth, the quantity of soap consumed by the people. FIRE ARMS —In the United States Department the array of fire-arms is extensive and brilliant, and supports the high character for which our countrymen have long been distinguished in this branch of the mechanic arts. There are arms from the United States arsenals, which are no discredit to the gunneries of these establishments. Visitors will find them on the right-hand side of the North nave next to the aisle. Porter's rifle, Jen-ning's, Marston's, Sharp's, &c, are all on display. Of Colt's revolvers there is a fine case, and there is also a fine case of Whitney's revolvers. Close to the Amazon Group, ol Kiss, in the British Department, there is a curious display of old fire-arms, arranged on one of the pillars, and very conspicuous. Those who are interested in fire-arms, and who would desire to study the progress made in their manufacture, would do well to examine this collection first, then some cases, behind them, from London, then the Belgian collection on the West side of the South aisle, and afterwards cross over and examine the American collection. The great improvements which have been made, are due to superior mechanical skill, excepting the application of detonating powder and the percussion lock,as superior substitutes for the old match and flint locks. TViPTfi are old musVflfis and pistols from the Tower of London, with a stack of barrels and charge-chamber to match,—an invention supposed to be quite new in our country a few years ago, and respecting which Uncle Sam, at one time, was made the subject of an adroit swindle. We cannot tell at present how much money the government paid at one time for a lot of stack or many-barrelled muskets, but we know the sum was not small, something over $100,000. We saw some stacks of these fire-arms sold for old iron, in 1849. It was always supposed by us, and the majority of our countrymen, that a pistol, with a revolving charge-chamber, like Colt's, was an invention of only a few years old, but this is not so. There is a pistol from the same quarter as the stack barrelled musket, as old as 1617, with a revolving chamber containing six charge recesses. This is the pistol which was obtained from the British Government by Col. Colt, to explain the difference between his invention and it, before the Society of Civil Engineers. The charge-chamber of Colt's revolver, is moved by the trigger this old-fashioned one is turned on an axis by hand, and held by a catch for each shot to be discharged. There are some of the drollest kinds of arms in this old curiosity-shop. The butts of some of the old muskets look like the hubs of the wheels of a donkey cart. There are old double-handed swords, like that of" Cceur de Leon," single rapiers, halberts; bill-hooks of the old English Archer days, and many other quaint pieces of armor, all worth attention. MACHINE ROOM.—When this room is complete, and all the machines to be exhibited are whirling along in all the graceful attitudes so captivating to the enthusiastic mechanician we shall see something worth being proud of, and pleased with. There will be a single line of shafting 450 feet long, and straight as an arrow. The largest metal cutting shears in the world are now being fitted up; two large horizontal engines irom Lawrence, Mass., working on one shaft, are now being put up for driving the machinery; a large beam engine from Providence R. I., will soon be put up tor a driving engine also.'— The boilers to supply the driving engines, are erected on the other side of the street, north of the building, and entirely separate from it. No less than five large steam boilers have been provided, and the steam is conveyed under ground across the street. Plenty of steam power is thus provided for all the machines large and small, which will be exhibited.— We also expect to see some fine locomotives on exhibition and trial for a short period ; this will afford us much gratification. It will be the month of September, we believe, before the machinery will be all in operation; the work to be done cannot and will not be slighted. The Superintendent, Mr. Holmes, is pushing matters as fast, a s discreetly, and effectively as he can.
This article was originally published with the title "The Crystal Palace" in Scientific American 8, 48, 378 (August 1853)