Royal Society (Great Britain).

The Philosophical transactions of the Royal society of London, from their commencement in 1665, in the year 1800 (Volume 8) online

. (page 69 of 85)
Online LibraryRoyal Society (Great Britain)The Philosophical transactions of the Royal society of London, from their commencement in 1665, in the year 1800 (Volume 8) → online text (page 69 of 85)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

heads ach, and is very offensive and unwholesome ; notwithstanding which, in
4 or 5 hours after the fire is out, the inside of the walls of the house and bed-
places will be 2 or 3 inches thick with ice, which is every morning cut away
with a hatchet. Three or 4 times a day they make iron shot of 24 pounds
weight red-hot, and hang them up in the windows of the apartments. Though
a good fire be in the room the major part of the 24 hours, yet all this will not
preserve the beer, wine, ink, &c. from freezing.

For a winter dress, they make use of 3 pair of socks of coarse blanketing, or
Duffield, for the feet, with a pair of deer-skin shoes over them ; 2 pair of thick
English stockings, and a pair of cloth stockings upon them ; breeches lined
with flannel ; 2 or 3 English jackets, and a fur or leather gown over them ; a
large beaver cap, double, to come over the face and shoulders, and a cloth of
blanketing under the chin ; with yarn gloves, and a large pair of beaver mit-
tens, hanging down from the shoulders before, to put the hands in, which
reach up as high as the elbows; yet notwithstanding this warm cloathing, al-
VOL. viii. 4 G


most every day, some of the men that stir abroad, if any wind blows from the
northward, are dreadfully frozen ; some have their arms, hands and face blis-
tered and frozen in a terrible manner, the skin coming off soon after they enter
a warm house, and some have lost their toes And their confinement for the
cure of these frozen parts, brings on the scurvy in a lamentable manner. Many
have died of it, and few are free from that distemper. And notwithstanding
all endeavours, nothing will prevent that distemper from being mortal, but ex-
ercise and stirring abroad.

Coronas and parhelia, commonly called halos and mock-suns, appear fre-
quently about the sun and moon here. They are seen once or twice a week
about the sun, and once or twice a month about the moon, for 4 or 5 months
in the winter, several coronse of diflferent diameters appearing at the same time.
Five or six parallel coronae, concentric with the sun, are seen several times in
the winter, being for the most part very bright, and always attended with par-
helia or mock-suns. The parhelia are always accompanied with coronas, if the
weather be clear ; and continue for several days together, from the sun's rising
to his setting. These rings are of various colours, and about 40 or 30 degrees
in diameter.

The frequent appearance of these phenomena in this frozen clime seems to
confirm Descartes's hypothesis, who supposes them to proceed from ice sus-
pended in the air.

The aurora borealis is much oftner seen here than in England ; seldom a
night passes in the winter free from their appearance. They shine with a sur-
prising brightness, darkening all the stars and planets, and covering the whole
hemisphere : their tremulous motion from all parts, and their beauty and
lustre, are much the same as in the northern parts of Scotland and Den-
mark, &c.

The dreadful long winters here may almost be compared to the polar parts,
where the absence of the sun continues for 6 months ; the air being perpetually
chilled and frozen by the northerly winds in winter, and the cold fogs and mists
obstructing the sun's beams in the short summer they have ; for notwithstand-
ing the snow and ice is then dissolved in the low-lands and plains, yet the
mountains are perpetually covered with snow, and incredible large bodies of
ice continue in the adjacent seas. When the wind blows from the southern
parts, the air is tolerably warm ; but very cold when it comes from the north-
ward ; and it seldom blows otherwise than between the north-east and north-
west, except in the two summer months, when they have light gales between
the east and the north, and calms.

The northerly winds being so extremely cold, is owing to the neighbourhood


of high mountains, whose tops are perpetually covered with snow, which ex-
ceedingly chills the air passing over them. Tiie fogs and mists, brought here
from the polar parts in winter, appear visible to the naked eye in innumerable
icicles, as small as fine hairs or threads, and pointed as sharp as needles. These
icicles lodge in the cloaths; and if the faces or hands be uncovered, they pre-
sently raise blisters as white as a linen cloth, and as hard as horn. Yet if they
immediately turn their backs to the weather, and can bear a hand out of the
mitten, and with it rub the blistered part for a small time, they sometimes bring
the skin to its former state : if not, they make the best of their way to a fire,
and get warm water, with which they bathe it, and so dissipate the humours
raised by the frozen air; otherwise the skin would be off in a short time, with
much hot, serous, watery matter coming from under along with the skin;
and this happens to some almost every time they go abroad for 5 or 6 months
in the winter, so extremely cold is the air when the wind blows any thing strong.

It is observed, that when it has been extreme hard frost by the thermome-
ter, and little or no wind that day, the cold has not near so sensibly affected
them, as when the thermometer has showed much less freezing, having a brisk
gale of northerly wind at the same time. This difference may perhaps be oc-
casioned by those sharp-pointed icicles before mentioned striking more forcibly
in a windy day than in calm weather, thereby penetrating the naked skin, or
parts but thinly covered, and causing an acute sensation of pain or cold. And
the same reason will probably hold good in other places

It is not a little surprizing to many, that such extreme cold should be felt in
these parts of America, more than in places of the same latitude on the coast of
Norway ; but the difference seems to be occasioned by wind blowing constantly
here, for 7 months in the 12, between the north-east and north-west, and
passing over a large tract of land, and the exceedingly high mountains, &c.
Whereas at Droutheim in Norway, as Capt. M. observed some years ago in win-
tering there, the wind all the winter comes from the north north-west, and
crosses a great part of the ocean clear of those large bodies of ice found here
perpetually. At this place they have constantly every year Q months frost and
snow, and unsufferable cold from October till the beginning of May. In the
long winter, as the air becomes less ponderous towards the polar parts, and
nearer to an equilibrium, as it happens about one day in a week, they then have
calms and light airs all round the compass, continuing sometimes 24 hours,
and then back to its old place again, in the same manner as it happens every
night in the West Indies, near some of the islands.

The snow that falls here is as fine as dust, but never any hail, except at the



beginning and end of winter. Almost every full and change of the moon
very hard gales from the north. The constant trade-winds in these northern
parts he thinks undoubtedly to proceed from the same principle, which Dr.
Halley conceives to be the cause of the trade-winds near the equator, and their
variations. For that the cold dense air, by reason of its great gravity, conti-
nually presses from the polar parts towards the equator, where the air is more
rarefied, to preserve an equilibrium or balance of the atmosphere, is very evi-
dent from the wind in those frozen regions blowing from the north and north-
west, from the beginning of October till May ; for when the sun, at the be-
ginning of June, has warmed those countries to the northward, then the south-
east, east and variable winds, continue till October again ; and doubtless the
trade-winds and hard gales may be found in the southern polar parts to blow
towards the equator, when the sun is in the northern signs, from the same

The limit of these winds from the polar parts, towards the equator, is seldom
known to reach beyond the 30th degree of latitude; and the nearer they ap-
proach to that limit, the shorter is the continuance of those winds. In New
England it blows from the north near 4 months in the winter; at Canada, about
5 months ; at the Dane's settlement in Davis's Straits, in the 63d degree of
latitude, near 7 months; on the coast of Norway, in 64°, not above 5^.
months, because blowing over a great part of the ocean, as before-mentioned;
for those northerly winds continue a longer or shorter time, as the air is more
or less rarefied, which may very probably be altered several degrees, by the na-
ture of the soil, and the situation of the adjoining contments.

The vast bodies of ice met with in the passage from England to Hudson's-
bay, are very surprising, not only as to quantity, but magnitude, and as unac-
countable how they are formed of so great a bulk, some of them being im-
mersed JOO fathom or more under the surface of the ocean; and a 5th or 6th
part above, and 3 or 4 miles in circumference. Some hundreds of these are
sometimes seen in a voyage, all in sight at once, when the weather is clear.
Some of them are frequently seen on the coasts and banks of Newfoundland
and New England, though much diminished. When becalmed in Hudson's-
straits for 3 or 4 tides together, Capt. M. has taken a boat, and laid close to
the side of one of them, sounded, and found 100 fathom water all round it.
The tide flows here above 4 fathom ; and he has observed, by marks on a body
of ice, the tide to rise and fall that difference, which was a certainty of its being
aground. And in a harbour in the island of Resolution, where he continued
4 days, 3 of these isles of ice came aground. He sounded along by the side


of one of them, quite round it, and found 32 fathom water, and the height
above the surface but 10 yards; another was 28 fathom under, and the perpen-
dicular height but 9 yards above the water.

Capt. M. accounts for the aggregation of such large bodies of ice in this
manner: all along the coasts of Davis's-straits, both sides of Baffin's-bay,
Hudson's-straits, Anticosh, or Labradore, the land is very high and bold, and
100 fathoms, or more, close to the shore. These shores have many inlets or
fuirSj, the cavities of which are filled up with ice and snow, by the almost per-
petual winters there, and frozen to the ground, increasing for 4, 5, or ^ years,
till a kind of deluge or land-flood, which commonly happens in that space of
time throughout those parts, breaks them loose, and launches them into the
straits or ocean, where they are driven about by the variable winds and currents
in the months of June, July, and August, rather increasing than diminishing
in bulk, being surrounded, except in 4 or 5 points of the compass, with smaller
ice for many hundred leagues, and land covered all the year with snow, the
weather being extremely cold, for the most part, in those summer months.
The smaller ice that almost fills the straits and bays, and covers many leagues
out into the ocean along the coast, is from 4 to JO fathom thick, and chills
the air to that degree, that there is a constant increase to the large isles by the
sea's washing against them, and the perpetual wet fogs, like small rain, freez-
ing as they settle on the ice; and their being so deeply immersed under water
and such a small part above, prevents the winds having much power to move
them; for though it blows from the north-west quarter near Q months in 12
and consequently those isles are driven towards a warmer climate, yet the pro-
gressive motion is so slow, that it must take up many years before they can get
5 or 6 hundred leagues to the southward ; probably some hundreds of years are
required; for they cannot well dissolve before they come between the 50th and
40th degree of latitude, where the heat of the sun consuming the upper parts,
they lighten and waste in time; yet there is a perpetual supply from the northern

Observations of the longitude, latitude, and the declination of the magnetic needle,
at Prince of Waleis Fort, Churchill River.

Having observed the apparent time of an emersion of Jupiter's first satellite
at Fort Churchill, on Saturday the 20th of March last 1741-2, at u'' 55"' 50'.

And as the same emersion happened at London, by Mr. Pound's tables,
compared with some emersions actually observed in England near the same, at

is'' 15" lO'. ;(...(■ ; ,

Hence the hoary difference of meridians between Fort Churchill and Londoa«
comes out &" IQ'" 20^



Which converted into degrees of the equator, gives for the distance of the
same meridians 94° 50'.

And several other observations gave nearly the same difference of longitude.

The variation of the magnetical needle, or sea-compass, observed at Churchill
in 1725, as in N° 3Q3 of the Philosophical Transactions for the months of
March and April 1726, was at that time north 21° westerly, and this winter
Capt. M. carefully observed it at the same place, and found it no more than
J7°; so that it has differed about 1° in 4 years; for in 1738, he observed it
here, and found its declination 18° westerly.

The Report of the Committee of the Royal Society appointed to examine some
Questions in Gunnery. N° 465, p. 172.

Dr. Jurin having proposed 2 questions in gunnery to be examined, the Society
was pleased to appoint a committee for that purpose. The questions were,
1. Whether all the powder of the charge be fired, before the bullet is sensibly
moved from its place ? 2. Whether the distance to which the bullet is thrown,
may not become greater or less, by changing the form of the chamber, though
the charge of powder and all other circumstances continue unchanged ?

At the meeting of the committee, it was proposed to divide the 1st question
into 2 parts. 1 . Whether all the powder of the charge be fired ? 2. Whe-
ther all the powder that is fired, be fired before the bullet is sensibly moved
from its place?

As to the 1st part of the 1st question, the committee are of opinion, that all
the powder of the charge is not fired. And they found their opinion on the
following experiments:

Pieces of paper used for hangings were laid close together on the ground, to
the breadth of 10 feet, in the line of a fowling-piece, between it and a frame
of 10 feet square, covered over with paper. On pointing the piece towards the
middle of the frame, and discharging it several times with and without ball,
some powder was always collected, but mixed with a great deal of dirt.

It is however to be observed, that in 2 experiments made the 22d of July,
near the Artillery-ground, before the president and some of the fellows of the
Society, with a finer sort of powder, in a barrel of 3 feet 9 inches in length,
and 4- of an inch bore, with 12 dwts. of powder the 1st time, and 24 dwts. the
2d time, without ball or wadding, no powder could be found scattered on the
paper laid before the piece, nor sticking to a board at the distance of about 10
feet, against which the piece was pointed. But when the same powder was fired
in a short barrel of 5^ inches in the chace, either with or without ball, some
quantity of powder was always collected.


Other experiments were afterwards made before the committee by firing a
fowling-piece charged with 5 dwts. of powder, against a sheet of whited-brown
paper, at the distance of 2 or 3 yards ; the paper was found pierced with several
hundred holes, and the jags of the paper appeared on the backside. In a 2d
trial with 10 dwts. the paper had more holes in it. A 3d trial was made with 5
dwts. of powder and ball, and then few holes appeared in the paper. In a 4th
experiment, made with a short screw-barrel pistol, with a charge of 1 dwt. 2
grs. of powder and a ball, several holes were found in the paper.*

But the irregularities in this manner of collecting the powder unfired, giving
reason to suspect, that some powder escaped sideways, beyond the paper laid to
receive it, it was proposed to have a machine made, which being close every-
where, except at the end where the muzzle of the piece was to be placed, might
thereby hinder the powder from being dissipated. Such a machine was con-
trived by Mr. Ellicot, and by him presented to the committee, being a frame
of wood in shape like a truncated quadrangular pyramid; at the smaller end was
a board to receive the shot, and the 4 sides of the machine were covered with
thick paper strongly pasted together, and so prepared as to prevent its taking
fire. This machine, supported by props, was placed on one of its angles, the
carriages for fixing the barrels was placed close to the greater base, which was
left open. The results of the several experiments were as follows:

The first 3 experiments were made with a barrel -j- of an inch diameter of
the bore, and the length of the chace 5-i- inches. The charge each time was
6 dwts. of powder, without ball; the quantities of powder collected were res-
pectively, 1 dwt. IQ grs. 1 dwt. 21 grs. and 1 dwt. 20 grs.

Three other experiments were made with the same piece, and with a 12 dwt.
charge, without ball. The quantities of powder collected were 4 dwts. ] 8 grs.

4 dwts. 2-i- grs. and 4 dwts. 22 grs.

The next 3 trials were with the same piece, the charge 6 dwts. with a ball
weighing 1 oz. 4 dwts. being a mixture of lead and tin, and fitting the piece
exactly. The quantities of powder collected each time were respectively, i dwt.

5 grs. 1 dwt. 5 grs. and 1 dwt. 1 1 grs.

The last 3 experiments with the same piece, were made with a charge of 12
dwts. the weight of the ball as before; and the quantities of powder collected,
were found to be 1 dwt. 12 grs. 1 dwt. 9 grs. and i dwt. 8-i-grs.

The waddings used in all these and the following experiments were of thick
leather cut round, to fit the bore of the piece.

* That the paper in these experiments was pierced by the unfired powder, appears, because several
grains were found lying behind the frame, to which the paper was fixed, and some few stuck in the
paper. — Orig.


The committee then proceeded to examine what alteration might arise from
a greater length of chace. The experiments in this case were made with a
barrel 3 feet Q inches in length, and ^ of an inch in the bore; the charges of
powder, and weight of leaden balls, were as before.

In the first 3 experiments, with 6 dwts. charge, without ball, the quantities
of powder collected were, 3 grs. Q grs. and g grs. respectively. In the next 3
experiments, with 12 dwts. charge, without ball, the quantities of powder col-
lected were 13 grs. Qgrs. and l6-i-grs. The 3 following experiments were with
6 dwts. charge, and a ball. The powder collected was 2 grs. 3 grs. and 2 grs.

The last experiments were made with 12 dwts. charge, and ball, as before;
the quantities of powder collected from 2 discharges were respectively, 2 grs.
and 44- grs. The frame being broken, a 3d experiment could not be made.

The powder collected after the several discharges was put into separate boxes;
it seemed much bruised, and mixed with dirt. Yet several of the parcels being
tried, fired with brisk explosions; and some of the powder collected from the
experiments with the short barrel, amounting to 6 dwts. 1 6 grs. being put into
the long barrel, and fired with ball, went off with a strong report; and the ball
pierced the deal-board, at the end of the frame, and penetrated 2 inches deep
into an elm-plank, placed to receive the balls.

Some gentlemen, present at these experiments, suspecting that part of the
powder might escape at the open end of the frame; the short barrel was fired
with 12 dwts. of powder and ball, as before, through a very large funnel; the
quantities found, after 3 discharges, were severally 1 dwt. 2 grs. l6grs. and
J 5 grs. Whereas on removing the funnel, and discharging the piece, as before,
1 dwt. 11 grs. was collected, agreeably to former experiments; it seems that
the funne had a like effect as lengthening the piece.

Some experiments were also made with the short barrel, filled up with lead,
so as to leave but 3|- inches for the chace ; the piece being then charged with
12 dwts. of powder, and ball, as before; the surface of the ball was but a of an
inch within the mouth of the piece, and the powder collected, after 3 dis-
charges, was respectively, 2 dwts, 2 grs. 1 dwt. 17 grs, and 1 dwt. 1 1 grs.

The barrel being further filled up, so as to leave only 2a inches for the chace,
and charged as before, the ball rising about 4- of an inch beyond the mouth of
the piece, the powder collected, after the discharge, was 2 dwts. 6 grs. On a
2d trial, the ball being as much within the mouth, 1 dwt. l6 grs. were collected.
And at the 3d trial, the ball being level with the mouth, 2 dwts. 6 grs. were
again found.

The committee also caused some experiments to be made of the effect of a
touch-hole near the fore-part of the charge. They found, on discharging the


short piece of 5^ inch chace, the charge 12 dwts. and ball, as before, the touch-
hole being near the fore part of the powder ; the quantities of powder, seve-
rally collected, were 1 dwt. 74- grs. ; 1 dwt. 6 grs. ; and l dwt. 4 grs. And on
a discharge made with a little more powder, which filled the barrel exactly to
the edge of another touch-hole, the former being screwed up, the quantity
collected was 1 dwt. Q grs.

The effect of firing with heavy slugs was also examined : the weight of the
slugs and quantities of powder collected, were as follow ; the charge in the
short barrel being 12 dwts.

Discharge. Weight of Slugs. Powder collected.

I .... 2 oz. 13 dwt. gr 1 dwt. 3 gr.

II 2 11 14 O 17

III 2 12 O O 8

IV 5 5 6 .... O 13

V 5 3 O O 8^

The powder used in all these experiments, made before the committee, was
presented to them by Mr. Walton, and is such as he makes for the king's ser-
vice. To ascertain as nearly as possible, that the powder had not undergone
any considerable alteration by damps or otherwise, a standard experiment was
previously made at every meeting, with the short barrel charged with 12 dwts.
of powder, and with a ball of 24 dwts. ; and the quantity of powder collected
was from 1 dwt. 8 grs. to 1 dwt. 12 grs. ; which is as great a regularity as can
well be expected. This powder of Mr, Walton being sifted, and divided into a
fine and a large sort, the following discharges were made with 12 dwts. of each,
and ball as usual :

Discharges with Powder collected. Discharge with large Powder collected, j

fine powder. powder.

I 1 dwt. 4 gr. I 1 dwt. 1 1 gr.

II O 21 II 1 l6

III O 12 III 1 21

In the third experiment the bullet, not being so exactly turned as the others,
was rammed down with great force.

And the powder being bruised in a mortar, and sifted through a lawn sieve,
the charge and ball being as before, what was collected after 3 discharges, was
1 dwt. 10 grs. ; 1 dwt. 8 grs ; and 17 grs.

Mr. Watson having had two parcels of powder delivered to him, the one
fresh, and the other collected after discharges with ball, gave an account of the
quantity of nitre he had separated from them, viz.



Separated from 9 dwts. of fresh powder: From Q dwt. of powder collected after

Nitre 6 dwt. 2 gr. having been discharged with ball :

Residuum .... 2 7 Nitre 4 dwt. 18 gr.

Residuum .... 2 15

Loss O 15 Sand, &c o 11

Loss 1 14

Twelve grains of the powder gathered and put into separate boxes, after firing
with ball out of the short piece, as before mentioned, being fired in the ex-
hausted receiver, sunk the mercurial gage from 29-^ inches to 23-fV- And the
same weight of fresh powder being fired in the same manner, sunk the gage to
22f ; the diflference being 4-^ of an inch.

From these experiments the committee are of opinion, that the 1st part of
the 1 St question, Whether all the powder of the charge be fired ? is sufficiently
determined in the negative.

As to the 2d part of the 1st question. Whether all the powder that is fired,
be fired before the bullet is sensibly moved from its place ? The committee are
of opinion, that the bullet is sensibly moved from its place before all the powder
that is fired, has taken fire.*

This, indeed, has net been determined by any direct experiment, but seems
a consequence of the determination of the first part of the question, that the
whole of the charge is not fired.

Online LibraryRoyal Society (Great Britain)The Philosophical transactions of the Royal society of London, from their commencement in 1665, in the year 1800 (Volume 8) → online text (page 69 of 85)