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THREE MAY-DAYS IN LONDON.

III. THE MAY PALACE. (1851).

WHEN Aladdin raised a palace in one night,
whose walls were formed, not of layers of
bricks, but of gold and silver, and whose
hall, with four-and-twenty windows, was
adorned with all the riches of the world, he
accomplished this wonder by the agency of
the Slaves of the Lamp.

Let us consider how many Slaves of the
Lamp have been employed in constructing the
Palace of Industrythat "fabric huge," which
"rose like an exhalation" in the winter of 1850
and the spring of 1851. From the first
"fortuitous liquefaction " of saltpetre among the
sands of the river Belus, as mentioned by
Pliny,* to the production, in three months, of
many thousand pounds of sheet-glass, for one
building, there have been steps of progress,
some faint and many wholly obscured; but
which in their results are indications of the
general advance of the world in civilisation
and happiness.
* See " Household Words," Vol. ii., page 433.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century
light was admitted to dwellings through
wooden lattice-work. The houses of the more
luxurious had horn lights; but the manufacture
of window-glass having been introduced
into this country in 1557, a glass-factory
was set up in Crutched Friars, London. It
was then considered so precious an article,
that in 1567 the glass of the windows of
Alnwick Castle was "taken down, and laid
up in safety," when the great Earl was
not residing there; and when he came to
his castle, " the same was set up of new, with
small charge to his lordship." Glass was then
growing into use for windows; but the fixing
of the panes was a rude operation. In 1584,
we find that " glass is come to be plentiful;"
so that lattice and horn had grown into less
use. But the little quarry of the sixteenth
century was a very different thing from the
sheet-glass of which the Exhibition building
is composed. It is not more than fourteen
years ago since the manufacture of this peculiar
species of glass was introduced into
England. The factory which first produced,
here, that sheet-glassa material far superior
to crown-glass, and far less costly than plate-glass,
which has given a finish of beauty to the houses of
the middle rankshas made the
material for the Palace of Industry, which
gives it the popular name of the Crystal
Palace. In 1837 there was a difficulty in
making this glass of the length of three feet,
at all; but, during last year, there were produced in
a few months nine hundred thousand cubic feet of
sheet-glass, each pane being
forty-nine inches in length. The weight of
this glass is four hundred tons. In the first
year of this century there were less than
three thousand tons of window-glass used in
the whole of England; hence, the Crystal
Palace has consumed as much glass as one-
eighth of Great Britain consumed in 1801.
If Science had not been at work in every
direction for the last fifty yearsPolitical,
as well as Chemical and Mechanical Science
the four hundred tons of sheet-glass could
not have been produced. The Genii of the
Lamp were at hand, in the form of skilful
manufacturers and wise statesmen. Sir
Robert Peel, who destroyed the vexatious and
burdensome excise upon glass in 1845, is a
builder of the Palace of Industry as truly as the
Messrs. Chance, who brought to Birmingham
the manufacture of German glass, some ten
years before. The actual tax upon the glass
used in the great building, previous to its
total abolition, would have amounted to very
nearly thirty thousand pounds; to say nothing
of the greatly increased cost that would have
been the result of a continued interference of
the exciseman with the manufacture.

The other important material used in the
construction of the May Palace, is Iron.
The quantity required for it would have
astounded our forefathers. The quantity of
Iron made in England and Wales in 1740,
was estimated at some seventeen thousand
tons. To smelt it, charcoal was then employed in
the furnaces. Subsequently, iron
ore was smelted by means of coke, and at the
beginning of the present century, a hundred
and fifty thousand tons were made. In 1848,
above two million tons of British iron were
produced. The demand for iron has been
constantly increasing since the days of rail-
roads and iron steamboats; but the price has
been as constantly kept down by the agency
of Science. Ingenious iron-masters employed
every resource of chemical and mechanical

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