Boekgegevens
Titel: First English reading book: Engelsch leesboek voor instituten, gymnasiën en hoogere burgerscholen: met Nederlandsche woordenlijst
Auteur: Herrig, Ludwig
Uitgave: Arnhem: J. Voltelen, 1869 *
Auteursrechten: Zie auteursrechten
Citeerinstructie: Bijzondere Collecties van de Universiteit van Amsterdam, UBM: IWO 513 H 21
URL: https://schoolmuseum.uba.uva.nl/bookid/LCSM_204683
Onderwerp: Taal- en letterkunde naar afzonderlijke talen: Engelse taalkunde
Trefwoord: Leesvaardigheid, Engels, Leermiddelen (vorm)
* jaar van uitgave niet op de gebruikelijke wijze verkregen, mogelijk betreft het een schatting
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•101
in the httle parlour adjoining the shop, that
he had heard that day of a fearful explo-
sion which had occurred , during the last
month, in one of the Welsh coal-mines.
'li seems,' said the doctor, as he took
his place at the table, 'that there were two
'shifts,' or sets, of men employed at the
pit. The first went to work at four in the
morning, and were relieved by the next set
at eleven; and so secure was the mine con-
sidered — so little thought of danger, in-
deed, entered the minds of the pitmen —
that the second shift of men often entered
the mine before the first had left it. This
happened to be the case, they tell me, at
the time of the accident; for shortly after
the second set of hands had descended the
shaft, the people above-ground were alarm-
ed by a terrible report, followed by others
so quickly, that it sounded like the firing
of infantry, and a sheet of llame was seen
to flash from the mouth of one of the shafts.
The ground shook as if with an earthquake,
the tremor being felt for half-a-mile round
the workings; while the dull, subterranean
boom of the explosion was heard, they say,
nearly four miles off. Vast clouds of dust
rose high in the air, in the form of an in-
verted cone, and large masses of timber
and fragments of coal were shot straight
up from the pit-mouth, as from a huge
piece of Artillery, and fell with a heavy
crash near it; while the dust, borne by the
wind, descended in a shower upwards of a
mile from the spot, and as it did so, it
caused a gloom, I am assured, like early
twilight, in the neighbouring villages, in-
habited chiefly by the families of the
miners.
'The boom was no sooner heard,' con-
tinued Mr. Borlase, 'the tremor of the earth
felt, an the darkness from the shower of
ashes perceived, than the wives and chil-
dren of the miners rushed frantically to-
wards the pit. Horror and dismay were
painted on every face. The crowd thicken-
ed from all sides, so that in a short time
several hundreds of women and children
were gathered round the shaft. The air,
the people say, resounded with shrieks and
cries of despair for the fate of husbands,
fathers, and sons, from many a bursting
heart.
'The machinery, it was then found, had
been rendered useless by the explosion, so
that it was near upon an hour before thirty-
two persons — all that survived the dread-
ful catastrophe — had been brought to day-
light, and of these twenty-nine only lived
to relate what had occurred in the mine
below.
'It was now discovered that one hundred
and twenty-one, men and boys, had been in
the pit when the accident happened, so that
eighty-nime poor souls still remained en-
tombed in the workings. Those who had
their friends restored to them appeared, it
is said, to suffer for a while as much from
an excess of joy as they had, a short time
before, from the depth of despair; while
those who were yet in the agony of sus-
pense filled the air with shrieks and how-
lings, and ran about wringing their hands
and throwing their bodies into the most
frantic and extravagant gestures.
'After some little time, it appears that
nine persons volunteered to desend into
the pit, with the faint hope that some en-
gulfed below might still survive. As the
lire-damp, however, would have been in-
stantly ignited by candles, those who went
to search the mine lighted their way by
'steel-mills,' as they are called, which, add-
ed Mr. Borlase, turning round to Humphry,
'are small machines for giving light, by
turning a cylinder of steel against a piece
of fiint; for it has been found, I should tell
you, that though the fire-damp is immedi-
ately ignited by flame, it is not explosible
by sparks.'
The remark evidently sank deep into the
boy's mind, for he knit his brows and bit
his hps as if a sudden thought had flashed
across his brain. But Humphry was too
much interested in the narrative to inter-
rupt the doctor, so he said not a word and
waited anxiously for Mr. Borlase to pro-
ceed.
'The men who had descended the pit,'
continued that gentleman, 'attempted to
make their way towards the spot where
they knew the miners must have been at
the time when the explosion happened.
Their progress, however, was soon inter-
cepted by the prevalence of what is cafled
the 'choke-damp,* — an atmosphere which
it is suffocation to inhale, — and the sparks
from the steel-mill, they say, fell into this
like dark drops of blood.
'Deprived of light, therefore, and nearly
stifled, they were forced to grope their way
back to the shaft.
'As each came up he was surrounded by
a group of anxious inquirers, but not a ray
of hope could be elicited. It was impos-
sible, they told the people, for any breath-
ing thing to live in the mine. At first, the
assertion seemed to obtain some credit but
hope still fingered. All there recollected
how persons had survived similar accidents,
and stories were told how, upon opening a
mine forty days after an explosion, men