Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/176

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that of flax and hemp is cylindrical; then, too, cotton is more readily bleached than hemp or flax. The manufacture of calico came, as the name implies, from India; and the first printed textures thence brought to Europe were very coarsely printed, with figures in black, red, or blue, the colors being dull, but very fast. Imitation calico was first manufactured at Bordeaux, and from that city the industry passed over into Switzerland and Germany, with the Protestants who were driven from France by the dragonnades of Louis XIV. It quickly attained exceptional importance at Neufchâtel and at Mühlhausen, which then belonged to Switzerland; but it is in Alsace that it has made most progress, and taken the lead of all other industries.

Chaptal, the famous Minister of Commerce under Napoleon I., said that the manufacture of calico is the most difficult of industries, for it requires most capital, most patience, the longest training, and the largest amount of good sense and intelligence. Chaptal was in the right; for all the great manufacturers of cotton-prints take rank among men of note. I need only cite a few names. In Switzerland we have our Dupasquiers, Bovets, and Verdans; France has her Haussmanns, Schlumbergers, Koechlins, and Dolfus; and this roll is sufficient to show the justice of Chaptal's assertion. Every year, every day, has witnessed some new improvement in the manufacture of calico; the dull colors of former times have been superseded by a series of novel shades, and coarse patterns have given way before artistic designs which may well compare with the finest designs on paper.

The fixation of colors was the result of chance, aided more or less by the manufacturer's experience, which was not unfrequently nonplussed by a change of the atmosphere, or by a variation in the quality of the drugs employed. In such a state of things, which threatened to ruin the manufacture, recourse was had to science, and the dyers became chemists and physicists. But then the charm was broken: there was no more chance, no more tentative; the fabrication of printed tissues was now a science, and soon, in addition to liquid dyes, we had our dye-stuffs in the shape of vapor, which yield brilliant tints indeed, but not very stable. Finally, besides cotton fabrics, we began to print textures of silk and of wool, or of mixed wool, silk, and cotton, which have given rise to an entirely new class of tissues called chalys or barèges, when they contain wool and silk, and cotton warp when they are comprised of cotton and wool.

In order to form some idea of the cotton industry, let us go back to the gathering-in of the crop. The cotton-wool, when it starts from the pod, contains three times its own weight in large oily seeds. These are separated from the cotton by means of machines which are in fact cards, and which seize the cotton, suffering the seeds to drop out. During this process the seeds will be more or less crushed, and give out an oil, which is absorbed by the cotton. If, now, there flows in a current of hot air, the cotton takes fire. This is the cause of the