The tallow candle is the offspring of the tallow torch used in the tweUth century. When tallow candles were first introduced their cost was so great that only the most wealthy could afford the luxury, and it was not till the fifteenth century that they were sufficiently cheapened to come into general use. Think of a tallow candle—that dripping, guttering, greasy thing, being considered a luxury. But the tallow candle, now used only where more convenient and economical lighting materials cannot be obtained, is, as we now kno w it, no more to be compared to the candle of the twelfth century, than the best illuminating gas to lard oil. Its wick was of tow, hard to light, and burning so rapidly as to melt a large portion of the tallow into rivera of oi 1, 80 that the drip of four candles would buy a new one. What would the quaint old revelers of that period have thought if, in the midst of one of their drinking bouts, their tallow dips with tow wicks could have been suddenly eclipsed in the splendor of the oxy-hydrogen light of to-day. Verily, both the physical and mental darkness of that age has given way to the light of a brighter an:! nobler period. Can it be that in centuries to come, the luxuries of the present will be regarded as contemptuously as we now regard the obsolete appliances of the middle ages?
This article was originally published with the title "The Origin of Candles" in Scientific American 21, 24, 376-377 (December 1869)