A Manual of Pyrotechny or, A Familiar System of Recreative Fire-works
Footnote anchors are denoted by [number], and the footnotes have beenplaced at the end of the book.
Some minor changes to the text are noted at the end of the book.
A FAMILIAR SYSTEM
BY G. W. MORTIMER.
Admotam rapiunt vivacia sulfura flammam.
PRINTED FOR W. SIMPKIN & R. MARSHALL,
STATIONERS’ HALL COURT, LUDGATE STREET.
W. TYLER, PRINTER, 5, BRIDGEWATER SQUARE.
The Introduction prefixed to the followinglittle Manual supersedes the necessity ofan extended Preface, and leaves little moreto be mentioned than the design and occasionof the work.
The design of it is to be a useful assistantto those who are fond of a rational andscientific amusement, and the occasion of itarises from the great scarcity and generaldifficulty of procuring any work on thesubject; none having appeared worthy ofnotice since that published by LieutenantRobert Jones, in 1760, and those by theFrench Artists mentioned in our Introduction.
In didactic particulars the Author hasoccasionally availed himself of the languageof the best writers, where such has been corroboratedby subsequent experience.
Perspicuity has been a particular objectthrough the work, and when technical terms[iv]have been used they are generally followedby familiar explications, and the Author feelsassured that the whole will be found perfectlyintelligible to every reader. To experiencedPyrotechnists this little work cannot be expectedto afford much additional information,yet to them it may contain some little particularsnot known to them before, whichfrom their practical utility it is hoped will proveacceptable.
The Author publishes this little work,with the desire that it may prove a usefulassistant to those who are unacquainted withthe principles of the art on which it treats.If in any way it should contribute to thispurpose, an apology for obtruding it uponthe Public will certainly be unnecessary.
January 1st, 1824.
|History and description of Gunpowder||10|
|To purify Sulphur||34|
|To prepare Iron-sand||37|
|Oil of Camphor||40|
|Another method of Grinding||44|
|Method of Mixing the Ingredients||45|
|Description and Variety of Fire-works||47|
|To make Touch-paper||ibid.|
|To make Quick-matches; and composition for ditto||50|
|Compositions for ditto||52|
|Port-fires for Illuminations||53|
|Leaders, or Pipes of Communication||ibid.|
|Application of ditto||54|
|Of single Fire-works||57|
|Another method of making ditto||69|
|Batteries of Marroons, &c.||71|
|Composition for ditto, Red and White||ibid.|
|Dimensions of Rockets||88|
|Calibre and Weight of Rockets||89|
|Calibre of Moulds||90|
|Remarks on the foregoing Tables||91|
|[vii] Preparing the Cartridges||93|
|Filling and Ramming the Cases||96|
|Directions for ditto||97|
|Preparing and fixing the pots to the Heads of Rockets||101|
|Table for the Length and Proportion of Rods||105|
|Tables of Composition for Rockets||106|
|To cause a Rocket to ascend in a Spiral form||109|
|Courantines, or Line Rockets||117|
|To represent by Rockets various forms in the air||122|
|To cause a Rocket to form an arc in rising||128|
|To fire Rockets without Rods||124|
|Theory of the flight of Rockets||125|
|Tables of various compositions||130|
|Girandole chests of Serpents||ibid.|
|Girandole chests of Rockets||141|
|Pots des Brins||142|
|Jets of Fire||143|
|Pyramid of Flower Pots||146|
|Ditto single Horizontal||150|
|[viii] Wheels Spiral||152|
|Ditto Ditto Illuminated||153|
|Ditto Horizontal changed to a Vertical||156|
|Ditto Vertical Scroll||158|
|Ditto remarks on||ibid.|
|Fir tree, to represent||159|
|Yew tree of Brilliant Fire||160|
|Fixed Fire Globes||161|
|Globes which leap or roll on the ground||ibid.|
|Moon and seven Stars||164|
|Suns, fixed and moveable||165|
|Composition for representing Animals and other devices in fire||168|
|Fire fountain for the water||170|
The term Pyrotechny is derived from pyrand techny, the two Greek words for Fireand Art; or it is the art of employing firefor purposes of utility or pleasure. The termhas been applied by some writers to the useand structure of fire-arms, and Artilleryemployed in the art of warfare; but in thepresent publication, we shall take a differentview of the subject; for we can see no amusementin the motion of a bullet, which decimatesso many of our fellow-creatures, norin the action of a bomb-shell, that carries withit more dreadful devastations.
We shall confine ourselves in this Workto a more pleasing application of fire, andendeavour to give plain and efficient rulesfor the safe management of that element, andfor the making, by means of gunpowder, andother inflammable substances, various compositions,agreeable to the eye, both by theirform and splendor, and to describe everyprincipal article and instrument made use ofin these pleasing operations.
On the other hand, our Work does notpretend to dictate an original set of rulesand receipts, for those who term themselvesArtists in Fire-works, whose exclusive businessit is to manufacture the different articleson which it treats; to those, it is expectedit will yield but little instruction; but, to thesciolistic Tyro in the Art, it is intended (asits title expresses) to be a Manual of Pyrotechny,and to treat of fire-works as objectsof rational amusement; to describe in a perspicuousmanner the materials and apparatusmade use of in their construction; and toselect such examples of their particular combinations,as are calculated rather for privatediversion than public exhibition. The directionsherein given (if strictly attended to) willenable youth to gratify their taste for thisspecies of recreation at a comparatively , and at the same time will guardthem against those accidents which often ariseto the ignorant, in firing the larger workspurchased from the makers; and throughoutthe whole it will strictly observe a principleof economy, the neglect of which has so frequentlyretarded the operations of genius.
In regard to the origin of Pyrotechny, ourknowledge is very limited. The Chinese aresaid to have been the first people who hadany practical knowledge of it, or broughtthe art to any degree of perfection; with themthe use of fire-works is said to have beenvery general, long before they were knownin European countries; and from accountsgiven of some recent exhibitions at Pekin, itshould seem that they have attained to a degreeof perfection not surpassed by any of ourmodern artists: Mr. Barrow, in his “Travelsin China” gives, from the Journal of LordMacartney, the following description of oneof their exhibitions: “The fire-works, insome particulars,” says he, “exceeded anything of the kind I had ever seen. In grandeur,magnificence, and variety, they were,I own, inferior to the Chinese fire-works wehad seen at Batavia, but infinitely superiorin point of novelty, neatness, and ingenuityof contrivance. One piece of machinery Igreatly admired: a green chest, five feetsquare, was hoisted up fifty or sixtyfeet from the ground, the bottom of whichwas so contrived as then suddenly to fall out,and make way for twenty or thirty strings oflanterns, inclosed in a box, to descend fromit, unfolding themselves from one another bydegrees, so as at last, to form a collection offull five hundred, each having a light of abeautifully coloured flame burning brightlywithin it. This devolution lanterns were several times repeated, andat every time exhibiting a difference of colourand figure. On each side was a correspondenceof smaller boxes, which opened in likemanner as the other, and let down an immensenet-work of fire, with divisions andcompartments of various forms and dimensions,round and square, hexagons, octagons,&c. which shone like the brightest burnishedcopper, and flashed like prismatic lightnings,with every impulse of the wind. The wholeconcluded with a volcano, or general explosionand discharge of suns and stars, squibs,crackers, rockets, and grenadœs, which involvedthe gardens for an hour in a cloud ofintolerable smoke.” The diversity of colour,with which the Chinese have the secret ofclothing their fire, seems one of the chief meritsof their “Pyrotechny;” and which alonewould set them upon an equal footing withthe Europeans. It is to them, no doubt,that we are indebted for the discovery of thatbeautiful composition, which is still known bythe name of the “Chinese fire:” and to themwe are likewise indebted, for the method ofrepresenting with fire, that pleasing and perpetualvariety of figures, which (when judiciouslyarranged) seem to emulate in splendourthose endless beauties, which adorn our celestialhemisphere. In Europe, the Florentinesare said to have been the first people thatgained a knowledge of the invention, and,we have reason to think it was not long afterthe discovery of the use of gunpowder andfire-arms, about the end of the thirteenth, orbeginning of the fourteenth century; we saythe use of gunpowder, or application of it tofire-arms, for we believe the discovery of itto be of much earlier date, than what is generallygiven to it: and, whether the inventionof the art of fire-works is not coeval withthat of gunpowder, is a question not over-burthenedwith improbability. The Frenchhave published several treatises on Pyrotechny,such as the “Traité des Feux d’Artificepour le spectacle et pour la Guerre,” by Perrinetd’Orval. The Manuel d’Artificier, byFather several others of the likenature: in some of which, they attach to theChinese a very early knowledge of the art, andconsequently the composition of gunpowder,or at least the effects of a similar combination,was not entirely unknown to them. But as theFrench gained their knowledge of the artfrom the Italians, they may probably be inan error respecting its invention: whetherthey are or not, it will have but a negativeeffect on the present Work. Tracing itsprogress to England, we shall endeavour togive as good a delineation of