Слике страница
PDF
ePub

substantial clothing. The shepherd would dress himself in in his sheep or goat's skin; and the hunter, as a trophy, in the skin of a wild beast.

The Tartars clothe themselves in horse-hides to this day ; the Americans, in the skins of buffaloes ; and, even in some parts of Europe, a sheep's skin, with the woolly side inward or outward, makes a winter or a summer-garment.

114. Some natives of the South Sea islands clothe themselves in mats made of reeds or vegetable fibres ; others render pliable the common bark of trees; but none of these will wash, and they are not durable.

Civilized man, however, adapts the means of nature to his purposes, by a process of his own ; he separates the fibres themselves, then twists them into thread, and by interweaving this thread, he obtains a pliable and durable material.

115. The most useful plant for this purpose, is flax. It is cultivated like wheat ; and as soon as its seeds are ripe, it is pulled up by the hand : the seed-vessels are taken off, and the stems are put into pits of water, till the mucilaginous or other matter, which holds the fibres of the stalk together, is decayed.

116. After the stalks have been taken out of the pits, they are dried, beaten, and combed, till what remains is fine, loose, and shining ; the flax is then spun, or twisted by a distaff, and wound on a reel or spindle. This thread is either adapted for needle-work; or is given to the weaver to be woven into linen cloth by his loom.

117. The process of weaving is simple :-the threads in their length are called the warp; and are drawn tight by weights at one end; at the other, they are divided into two sets, each set composed of alternate threads ;-on moving a treadle, one set, or every other thread, is thrown, up, and the other set is brought down; and, at this instant, a cross thread or woof is thrown between them by means of a shuttle.

The lower set of ends are then raised ; and the other brought down, and the woof is again thrown between. The operation is thus continued, till the whole length of the warp has been interwoven with cross threads.

Obs. 1. A figure of a simple loom is here given; in wbich, the parts referred to above Day easily be traced. The forms of looms are, however, various, and often very intricate.1 here are stocking looss, or frames, silk looms, cloth looms, cotton looms, linen looms, cambric looms, carpet looms, lace looms, &c.

[graphic]

2. As the loom is one of the most important of social ma. chines, its principal of action ought to be well understood. Look at a piece of linen with the eye, or with any simple magnifier, and it will be seen that the loom has simply crossed the threads, and thereby matted the whole together. The four fingers present themselves, as the most ample illustration of its action : but the student gay fasten six or eight pieces of string to a wall, to represent the warp ; and then by raising every other one, and depressing the others, he will be able to pass the woof by any contrivance, which will represent the shuttle. He may thus make a piece of packthread cloth ; and so, completely illustrate the principle of weaving.

118. After the piece has been woven, it requires to be bleached by the air and sun, or by exposure to some acid. It is afterwards, if desired, printed to any pattern, by means of blocks of wood, cut out to the pattern, and is then pressed and glazed before it is used.

Much skill and experience are required in fixing colours, so that they will not wash out; but in printing, dying, and similar arts, the Hindoos and Chinese exrel all nations.

119. Hemp is another fibrous stalk, much cultivated for the manufacture of ropes and sail cloth. But the fibrous substance, now the most used for every purpose of clothing and furniture, is the product of the cotton-tree, or plant.

Obs. In hemp, as in flax, it is the cortical part which is retained for the use of the manufacturer: the pith or medullary part of the stalk being broken and separated from it.

The cotton wool is found in a state nearly fit for the manufacturer, in the seed pod of the plants; and in the West Indies, they yield two crops in the year.

120. Hundreds of ships arrive every year from the West Indies, laden with this material. The chief manufactories of cotton are in Lancashire and Lanarkshire ; and they are wonders of human invention.

The articles used in clothing, produced from this substance, are muslins of every degree of fineness, corduroys, sheeting, calicoes, quilting, bed furniture, hangings, &c.; all of which has been the means of extending the commerce of Britain to 'every part of the world.

Obs. Manufactories of cotton are now scattered all over the United Kingdom; and employ a million of men, women and children.

121. The wonderful operations of a COTTON-Mill have been so correctly described by Darwin, that they will be much better remembered in that form than in prose :

First, with nice eye, emerging maidens cull
From leathery pods, the vegetable wool;
With wiry teeth revolving cards release
The tangled knots, and smooth the reveld fleece ;
Next moves the iron hand with fingers fine,
Combs the wide card, and forms the eternal line ;
Síow, with soft lips, the whirling con acquires
The tender skeins, and wraps in rising spires ;
With quicken'd pace successive rollers move,
And these retain, and those extend, the rove ;
Then fly the spoles ; the rapid wales glow;
While slowly circumvolves the lab’ring wheel below.

[ocr errors]

122. Civilized man does not disdain to convert the covering of animals to his purpose ; but he changes their appearance, and prepares then, so as at once to preserve and clear them from offensive odours.

One of the most common articles of external clothing is derived from the wool of the sheep; and this forms the most admired and useful of the native manufactures of Great Britain.

123. The fleece, as it comes from the animal, is first picked and sorted; and then cleansed from stains, dirt and grease. The wool-comber afterwards prepares it for the spinner ; who twists it into woollen thread called worsted, or yarn. Of late years, the twisting has been performed by worsted-mills, on the plan of cotton-mills.

124. This yarn, or worsted, is then wove in a loom into cloths, flannels, or stockings, of various degrees of fineness, according to the nature of the fleece: the weaver delivers the cloth to the fuller ; who, by means of fuller's earth, deprives it of all remaining grease.

It is, afterwards, dyed of any required colour ; then it is pressed, and finally sold under the name of broad and narrow cloth, to the draper, tailor, or merchant.

Obs.-England and Wales feed 36 millions of sheep; each of which yields a fleece of four pounds weight; or 144 millions of pounds at 1s. per pound, value £7,400,000. These manufactured, produce 20 millions of pounds sterling ; leaving a profit of upwards of twelve millions per annum, to the manufacturers.

125. Carpets are another production of wool; and in making them the warp is worked perpendicularly, instead of horizontally. The fine shawls of the East, (lately so well imitated in England,) are made from the fine wool of the sheep, which range the mountains of Thibet.

Obs.-Cable ropes, of superior strength and durability, have lately been made from the long wool, which is useless for cloths.

126. Man's finest clothing, however, is derived from the web of a crawling insect, or catterpillar, called the silk-worm. All the countries of the south and the east, preserve and propagate this insect; and the produce of its labours, forms a considerable article of commerce with China, India, Persia, Turkey, Italy and the south of France.

127. The worm is hatched by the heat of the sun, from eggs laid by a lively moth, in the preceding year. Its food is the leaves of the mulberry ; in which tree it lives in warm climates. After it attains its full growth, it winds itself in its silky web, attached to one of the leaves ; and in this cone of silk, it is converted into a chrysalis !

128. In a few days the chrysalis produces a lively and delicate moth, which eats its way out of the cone of silk ; flutters its wings for a few days, lays eggs for future supplies of silk-worms, and then dies ! Such is the curious and wonderful economy of this insect, which supplies man with the material of silk. See the cut in another part of the work.

129. The cones of raw silk are about the size of a pigeon's egg! and each of them when wound off, contains, in length, a quarter of a mile! These webs, after slight preparations, are spun into thread, by machinery in silk-mills, and then called organized or thrown silk. The weaver converts the thread into the various elegant fabrics made of silk, and the dyer and presser finish them for consumption.

Obs.--Attempts have been made to render the web of the spider useful ; and stockings have actually been made of this material! In short, whatever man can spin into thread, he contrives to weave into garments; and in this respect there is no bound to his materials, but in nature.

136. Hats are made of the fine hair of animals, felted or beat; and then gummed together, till they ere tenacious and firm. Shoes and gloves are made of the hides of animals, first prepared by the tanner end currier by expelling the fatty and unctious matter

« ПретходнаНастави »