30 JUNE 1855, Page 18


[ram A acierrime CORRESPONDENT.] It bap more than once been pointed out in the columns of the Spectator that our present system of artillery is quite Lilliputian compared with the results it is desirable to attain. Very slowly this perception is grow- ing; and it is destined for the badger-like obstinacy of Russia to force it =unwilling authority. Mechanical philosophy can see precisely what be done, and devise the means of doing it ; but mechanical philoso- phy can find no fulcrum whereon to poise the lever that should stir the gravitation of those who sit in high places. The quack can sit at the ear of authority and attain power by practising arts which the true philoso- pher disdains. Incompetent authority cannot judge between the quack and the true man. How should it ? Socrates of old said that a man cm'

judge of that which he understands; and if the blind lead the blind, they not both fall into the ditch—even the ditch of Sebastopol and the ditch of Cronstadt ?

The 7Ytnee, in a leading article, puts forth a truth from a civilian pen, the logic of which it is not in military power to disprove. It is a prac- ticable thing, by "a vertical fire of the largest shells from the heaviest mortars," to rend Cronstadt into fragments, filling craters like extinct volcanoes. It is a process sure in its result tea the scooping out of Ant- werp citadel by the shells of the French engineers. It is a game at chess with the chances heavily on one side. Given the same instruments on the forts and in the gun-boat, the missing missiles from the forts plunge into the water and are extinct, whereas the missiles from the gun-boats tell effectively even with yards of error. The gun-boat missiles all attain a mark, whereas shelling a gun-boat in motion would be something like shooting a sparrow flying with a single bullet. But, as Mrs. Glasse says by the hare, first catch your shell and your mortar, up to the mark, and not, as the Times truly. says, "incomparably short of the mark." The projectile and the prolecter have yet to be made in conformity with the physical principles that analysis demon- strates. The projectile has to cleave its way through a fluid ; and we should think either a sphere, or an egg, or a short cylinder with a conical end, a very odd shape for a steam-boat, which has to cleave its way at a slower pace through a denser fluid than air. The projectile should be disclasrged with the fullest power of the projecter ; and when it hasreached its maximum Tanga, it might take ups new internal power of its own and attain another maximum range.

Of all the cast-iron projecters formed out of a lump of metal with a big hole and a little one, the mortar is that which uses the largest quantity of powder with comparatively the least effect. Its sole general superiority consists in its greater comparative weight. The qualities required in a projecter are—first, a tough inelastic metal indisposed to vibrate ; se- condly, a below mass preventing recoil by inertia ; thirdly, an accurate polished bore reducing friction to the minimum ; fourthly, such a length of bore as will expend the whole strength of the expansive gas generated by the burning powder usefully: on the projectile.

The power with which a projectile will be thrown from a projector by a re- spective weights and the free cleavage power of the projectile. If the pro- discharge of powderwill be in proportion to the difference in their re- jectffe were heavier than the gun, the latter would be projected in an oppo- site direction to the projectile. The horizontally-placed gun has more fa- cility of recoil than has the mortar, which impinges on the ground at an angle of forty-five degrees. The late Sir Samuel Bentham advocated the principle of fixing light cannon so as to prevent recoil ; and the mode in which he did it was practically putting a stock to the cannon as to a mus- ket. The old "Cock of the Rook," Elliott, during the memorable siege of Gibraltar, once astonished the French and Spanish fleets when they were thought to be out of range, by abutting his guns against the rock to prevent the recoil, and thus getting one third more range. Ships' guns properly attached to the side without power of recoil would do less mischief than the result of a recoil and a heel of the ship at the same time, suddenly bringing taut the breedings, and sometimes tumbling the gam over into the hold. It is well known that if a musket be held tight to the shoulder, the recoil is less than if held at a little distance, which sometimes knocks a man backwards; and the recoil of a light fowling-piece is much greater than that of a heavy one.

Rifles in the Crimea are found to 'lead up" more than they do in Eng- land; so that sixteen shots puts the gun temporarily out of use. The reason of this probably is that they are rusty and rugged inside. In all the experiments that have been made, we doubt if it has oc- curred to the authorities to compare the results of a rusty bore with a polished bore. Gunpowder is fuel forming vapour : when burned, the barrel is practi- ce/1y a steam cylinder ; and no rusty steam cylinder will do efficient work.

The guns are not yet made nor the boats imagined that shall beat -demi Cronstadt under our feet ; and they should be carefully and not hurriedly gone about. We can "take time" to do our work well : the barbarian is cooped in his stone boxes of the Baltic, and the Crimea is all but ours. It is doubtful if we shall do anything this year in the Baltic; but we may and ought to be provided in 1856 with boats and machinery that will make the harrying of the stone brigand's nest a badger-bait on a large scale, witnessed as a spectacle by the owners of all the yachts of England.

We are trying to make wrought-iron guns without being quite sure that we understand the philosophy of making wrought iron homogeneous. Commodore Stockton had one in the Prineetown, and it burst and killed three members of Congress. The Americans have stopped there ; but there is no reason why we should stop if we go rightly about it. But it is not desirable to tell the Russians how, in a newspaper, that they may experiment on English devices in Cronstadt arsenal.

Since this was written, a correspondent of the Timer, in answer to the leading article, asserts the superiority of the cannon to the mortar, for throwing shells. No doubt about it. The length of the cannon ex- pends the elastic force usefully, and gives direction to the shell ; neither of which the mortar can do. The very shape of it indicates the original utensil of the apothecary in which Roger Bacon triturated his first gunpow- der ; and the flight of the shell is as clumsy as that of the ingenious monk when be seated himself on the stone which covered his new corapound in order to test its powers.

Either vertical or horizontal fire can be made sufficiently ailaellievella: but possibly, and indeed assuredly, neither bomb-proofs nor reniparaa have yet reached their maximum. When the Times correspondent by horizontal shelling has blown up the earth-work with his travelling mines, a better work than that can be made to match the occasion; and for that kind of work also we should be prepared. Meanwhile, what should we think of a mortar for the purpose of horizontal fire ? Has any Engineer-officer ever asked himself this plain question ? Let us bring to our vertical fine at least as good machinery BA we use for hori- zontal fire, and it will then be time enough to insist on the advantages of the horizontal.

Mr. Joseph Whitworth, with an experimental 150001. placed at his dis- posal by the Government, has revived and pateqata.d a new edition of Mona Meg—a hooped cannon. Is not this a humthaktag acknowledgment of our deplorable ignorance of the philosophy of welding, and the mere em- piricism of our iron-manufacturers?