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per ton this last winter, when the Irish coals (if any could have been spared or kept in stock till winter) by our new company of adventurers were sold at 14s. and 15s. per ton.
The mismanagement thereof, the misapplication of that fund, the disadvantageous, hazardous situation of this new projected port, the embezzlement of both the money and coals, I shall treat of in a more particular manner hereafter.
When the city was starving all the last winter for want of coals, there was not one barrel of Irish coal to be had at any rate; and for the want of a stock the Whitehaven colliers imposed upon us what rates they pleased.
It is to be observed that all or great part of the Irish coals imported, and to be laid up for the winter season, was sold out in summer to the barracks, the custom-house, and the glass-house.
The barracks. — The computation, at so many bushels of coal to each room, according to the consumption and lasting of Whitehaven coal, which was near one-third less to the poor soldier in his firing, and the slack useless.
The custom-house. — The commissioners and officers having a hank upon the Whitehaven owners, they dare not impose upon them in the price of their coals, so that they might have been spared in selling out of the public stock, for the commissioners would have been content to have a stock left for the relief of the poor in winter; but in this, as in all other cases, the public and the poor are always the last to be served.
As I conceive such a stock ought not to be delivered out till the height of winter, and to be sold out in small parcels, as half a barrel or barrel at most at any one time, still to keep a stock for the relief of the poor, and to keep down any exaction or exorbitant price laid
As to the glass-house, the undertakers in the one and the adventurers in the other, are most of them joined in company, and these coals consumed in blowing bottles.
A NEW EXPERIMENT IN FINDING THE VACUUM.
These bottle-makers, like the children, play with soap and water,
, blowing up bottles in a sun-shiny day, makes various fine colors while it lasts, and like their pots hitherto, both prove alike to bem a bubble.
I am no way for discouraging the design, though as yet it has proved all in vain, but entirely against lessening the stock (designed
so to be reserved for the relief of the poor, &c.) upon any account whatever.
And I find the glass-house too near to the coal-yard and to the city. As to the latter, I remember two dreadful fires occasioned by glass-houses within this city.
Now that I am upon this subject of fire and smoke, I must mention that quarter of the town where I have seen such a train of coaches, the ladies taking a tour to the Strand, and all this gaiety at once eclipsed (like the chariot of the sun) by a dark thick cloud of smoke. This glass-house has been complained of as an exceedingly great nuisance in that neighborhood, and by the several inhabitants thereabouts; but as the design is good, let them try their hand once more, until it is brought to some perfection, and when once a right method is found, it will be an encouragement to proceed further therein, and carry on the work in some remote part of the town.
AS TO THE KEEPING A STOCK OF COALS.
One objection to our Irish coal, if kept for any time, is that the sulphureous matter of the coal (when dug up and torn out of its natural bed) evaporates or exhales by the sun and air, and natural causes are offered; but we know that a coal, though it may of the outward, whether sulphureous or bituminous, matter, yet the inside of the coal cannot be penetrated or made worse, either by the sun, air, water, or any cause whatsoever, in one season or two.
And how easy is all this remedied, at a little expense, when a thousand of furzes, with a little dirty stable litter on it, will cover 20,000 tons of coals.
And the same furzes may be made use of again, as you break into the body and bulk of your stock of coals, with little or no cost.
I come now to lay before you the great advantage of a coal that we have within ourselves, in our own province, that exceeds any other coal whatsoever, that is, the Kilkenny coal. I appeal to all those that make use of that coal, and to all such as ever have been in that country, for a just report. What will neighboring nations, what will posterity say of
that for so great a series of time as these collieries have been found out, the use of so great a blessing as this is should have been so long neglected ? They may truly say, an ignorant, indolent, cursed, slothful people : -as, when we find a good mine, we do not know how to make use of it.
Nature affords us navigable rivers near these collieries, the Barrow,
upper and lower, which falls into Ross, Waterford, and other ports: and when once our neighboring kingdom can get a trial, finding the value of this coal for several uses, they will be glada at any rate to purchase that which we ourselves have foolishly neglected so long a time. What hardships have we undergone! What immense sums have been taken out of this kingdom ! laid out for a much worse
the value so much inferior to this of the Kilkenny, that there is no manner of comparison in goodness, for heat and duration.
This is the great article in draining the money out of the kingdom, without
any the least return; this it is that makes silver so scarce; these colliers taking no other money over but that specie alone.
It is objected, the difficulty in lighting this coal. Do the people in that county make any difficulty in lighting their fires ? and is turf so scarce here, that you will want a fire for want of turf to light it ? Time and experience will tell the contrary.
In order to make your fire burn bright and clear, 'tis no more than to add a bar or two to the bottom of your grate, to give it more air, and you may have a constant, lasting, good fire: once you are accustomed to it, it will answer all the ends you propose.
As to any suffocating smell in this coal, and making people drowsy, those that are conversant with it deny the assertion, and
it is the violent heat in this more than in any other coal, which
be very easily qualified :
And a little turf, or any small quantity of coal, mixed with it, removes all objections that can be made; as the old saying, we are still more nice than wise.
Are there any people in this kingdom so free from asthmas as in the county of Kilkenny? Not only the inhabitants, but all others that resort thither, can testify, and much it is owing to their fire, free from smoke. The constant thick clouds of smoke that hang over Dublin are so nauseous, the air so corrupted, that the smell of the smoke is perceptible some miles off, insomuch, that few or none ever escape without some disorder.
Who is there here that cannot see the cause, and has not felt the effect ? None but those that are inured to this fire and smoke, that has so intoxicated their brains, that they are void of all their senses, and in such a lethargy they will not seek relief.
The physicians in Dublin make it their constant practice to remove their patients to some purer air near the suburbs, out of the smoke of the city, which in winter is so thick, and cloudy enough
to stifle men and beasts, so great an influence, that it affects even the blossom and bloom of the flowers in the spring.
And the chief cause of the bad air about Dublin proceeds from the great quantity of smoke in the coals used here; the best proof that can be, by your senses in seeing and smelling.
I am very well informed and assured, that the common rate of the Kilkenny coal, at the pits, is 16d. the stand; the stand is 500, one quarter weight; that 4 stand makes 1 ton 1 cwt. ; and 1 ton of this coal at the pit comes to about a crown-piece, which, with the further charge by water-carriage, &c., cannot exceed in the whole more than 10s. or 12s. per ton in Dublin, for Kilkenny coal; when the same coal, by land-carriage to this town, commonly costs about 20s. per ton in Dublin market, and that only to be had in the sum
Is there no distinction to be made, when 1 ton of this coal will outlast 3 ton of any other coal ? Have you no thought now after such dear-bought experience these many years) of keeping what little money you have to circulate in your own kingdom, and lay it out among one another? O CIVES, CIVES, &c.
I have been very well assured, that several of the Whitehaven owners have combined together, and have declared, that this next winter they resolve to starve you out and out by raising their coals to 40s. a ton, on account of the usage they met with from the lord mayor the last winter; then necessity will compel you to what has now been offered.
As to the new projected port - it will avail little or nothing; besides the great loss to the buyer in the slack of this coal, and
many other disadvantages to all but the proprietors and undertakers. The cause of lashing out in this satirical manner proceeds not from any fondness for variety, but a just flight of passion, that people should be so blind and infatuated, in point of their own interest and wel
but no inducement can swerve me from the interest of my country. I need not, nay, cannot urge it further; and like what a worthy prelate said upon the like occasion, for the good of his country— Liberavi animam meam - I have done my duty, and discharged my conscience. I cannot find any but who will be pleased, except money-changers and chimney-sweepers.
Even most of the bankers (those worthy members of the commonwealth) will be for it, because they can get no exchange to and fro to Whitehaven.
Must I at last (Stewart-like) address myself to the ladies, (too hard a task for an old man to undertake with pleasure,) therefore I cannot hold long upon the subject.
The ladies may lay aside their washes, &c., that destroy the complexion. This preserves it, and renders the Kilkenny beauty both pure and lasting as the Kilkenny marble.
Sir, as I have exceeded the bounds of a letter, I refer the conclusion of this to your next. And am, for the present, my country's
Most humble, &c., M. B.
To the Publisher of the Dublin Weekly Journal.
Who is so blind, as he
Saturday, August 16, 1729. SIR, — I have in my last given you a small sketch, hoping, the next session, you will propose, encourage, and improve the method already taken by our masters and owners of ships, in importing Kilkenny coal to this city, for immediate relief, that we may have a constant supply of coals to this city, and that a competent stock may be laid in for the relief of the poor.
I pray and wish (for I have nothing more at heart, no other view, than the service of the public) that this scheme in particular serving the city of Dublin and the kingdom in general may and will be improved. For my part, I can think of no other surer way than the encouragement of importing the coals aforesaid.
I am, sir, your most humble servant, M. B. N.B. The reason of writing and communicating this affair so early before the session, is that no time should be lost, that now in summer the coals
may be dug up (I mean in great qnantities) and drawn from the pits to the water-side.
Now the way is paved, and a clear road, without any let or trouble in bringing them.
This will employ the poor and a great many hands, and this is the time for encouraging and carrying on the work, as the city, the head of this weak, poor, feeble nation is grown so monstrous great (a head too big for the body), so in proportion it will require and take an exceedingly great quantity of coals to serve it with firing.
But when you consider the difference, as I shall hereafter show and demonstrate the lasting of this coal, that in a great measure will lessen the quantity of coals to supply and answer this great call, and save you above one-third in the charge of your firing. It will save