Page:Pyrotechnics the history and art of firework making (1922).djvu/22

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The word "fireworks" as a metaphor, used either to describe the higher flights of oratory, of literature, or of human strife, whether it be in Parliament or the Parish Hall, or merely descriptive of domestic discord, is familiar, even threadbare,

Moreover, the metaphor has generally a humorous flavour; why is this? Is there anything inherently comic about fireworks? It is true that for a short season the less critical of the comic papers used the cracker and squib as pegs upon which to hang the type of joke which depends for its success on the atavistic human trait of laughing at the misfortune or discomfort of others, but this is the lowest type of humour which soon palls upon the mind.

The Stage also has its comedy and clown, yet the mention of the stage is not a signal for mirth. Can any who have heard the long-drawn Ah-h! of rapture from many thousand throats, at the bursting of a flight of shell, or the darting up of the wonderfully tinted rays of the "Magical Illumination" at the Crystal Palace, maintain that the most dramatic moment on the stage is more affecting to the spectators?

Pyrotechny is possibly the only art which can compete with nature; anyone who has seen a first-class firework display will admit that for impressive grandeur, colour effects, and contrasts of light and shade, pyrotechny is unapproached.

Pyrotechny paints on the canvas of the sky; and the results are at once the joy and despair of the artist. Many artists have tried to record their impressions, but the results have been generally disappointing. Whistler came near success, but even his wonderful work conveys merely the dying embers of passed