On the Statistics and Geography of the Production of Iron

On the Statistics and Geography of the Production of Iron

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Excerpt from On the Statistics and Geography of the Production of Iron: A Paper Read Before the American Geographical and Statistical Society, on the 21st February, 1856

Nor is it strange that to the young or the ignorant, the idea of magical power should attach to those who, penetrating into the depths of the earth, shatter the mighty rocks with explosive power, rivaling the thunderbolts of Jove, and by the combined action of earth and air, and fire and water, reduce from the dull ore the glowing vivid metal, till then

"In stony fetters fixed and motionless."

It is a perpetual struggle against resisting nature, and the victory is only won by turning her own gigantic powers against herself, so that the ancients called in the aid of Gods to account for the triumph; and for the gift which, as AEschylus has it, "has shown itself a teacher of every art to mortals, and a great resource," made the unhappy Prometheus expiate the offence in fetters on the rude Caucasian rock.

But in our day the interest which attaches to the production of iron rests upon a better appreciation of the difficulties to be surmounted; and upon a full knowledge that iron is the mainspring of modem civilization, Locke has told us that "he who first made known the uses of iron may be truly styled the Father of Arts, and the Author of Plenty;" and in our own day, Hood thus wittily sums up its multifarious applications: -

"The universality of the employment of iron is so manifest, especially in this country, that if any period has deserved the title of the Iron Age, to none can it be so characteristically applied as to the present The seas are traversed by iron ships; the land travelled over by iron carriages upon iron roads. We have iron engines employed for nearly every mechanical purpose. Water is brought along our streets by iron pipes, and all our thoroughfares illumined by means of gas conveyed to us through a similar channel. Many of our houses have iron floors and iron roofs, whilst the windows are closed with iron shutters.

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