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Title: Gunpowder and Ammunition their Origin and Progress
Author: Hime, Henry W. L.
Language: English
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  STRAY MILITARY PAPERS. With 2 Plates. 8vo, 7s. 6d











  All rights reserved




  CHAP.                                                     PAGE

     I.  INTRODUCTION                                          3

    II.  SALTPETRE                                            12

   III.  THE GREEKS                                           29

    IV.  MARCUS GRÆCUS                                        57

     V.  THE ARABS                                            90

    VI.  THE HINDUS                                          105

   VII.  THE CHINESE                                         124

  VIII.  FRIAR BACON                                         141



    IX.  ANALYTICAL TABLE OF AMMUNITION                      165


            FIRE-ARROWS AND FIRE-PIKES                       168

            HAND GRENADES                                    169

    XI.  WAR ROCKETS                                         172

   XII.  GUNPOWDER                                           177


            DARTS, &C.                                       199

            ROUND SHOT                                       200

            CASE                                             207

            SHRAPNEL                                         208


            HOT SHOT                                         217

            INCENDIARY FIREBALLS                             217

            INCENDIARY SHELL                                 220

            CARCASSES                                        224

            EXPLOSIVE FIREBALLS                              224

            EXPLOSIVE SHELL                                  225


                PORTFIRES                                    228

            TUBES                                            230

            TIME FUZES                                       231

            PERCUSSION AND CONCUSSION FUZES                  244

   XVI.  SIGNALS                                             246


  TABLE                                                     PAGE

     I.  METHODS OF REFINING SALTPETRE                        27

    II.  GREEK FIRES                                          32

   III.  SEA FIRES                                            41

    IV.  ANALYTICAL TABLE OF AMMUNITION                      167


            VELOCITY, AND PRESSURE                           195



    IX.  PRICE OF METALS IN 1375 AND 1865                    204

            OF DIFFERENT MATERIALS, _cir._ 1375              205

            OF DIFFERENT MATERIALS, _cir._ 1375              206




    XV.  FIXED LIGHTS                                        246

   XVI.  FIREWORKS                                           247

         INDEX                                               249


The following works are frequently quoted, and are only designated by
the author’s name. Thus, “Elliot,” ii. 75, means Sir H. M. Elliot’s
“Hist. of India, as told, &c. &c.,” vol. ii. p. 75.

  BACON, ROGER, _Opera quædam hactenus inedita_, ed. by
  Professor Brewer; Rolls Series, 1859.

  BERTHELOT, M. P. E., _La Chimie au Moyen Age_, Paris,

  BRACKENBURY, Lieut.-General Sir H., G.C.B., “Ancient
  Cannon in Europe,” in vols. iv. and v. of _Proceed. Roy.
  Artillery Institution_, Woolwich, 1865-6.

  ELLIOT, Sir H. M., “Hist. of India, as told by its own
  Historians,” ed. by Professor J. Dowson, M.R.A.S.,
  London, 1867-77.

  JÄHNS, Oberst-Lieut. M., _Handbuch einer Geschichte des
  Kriegswesens_, Leipsig, 1880.

  NAPOLEON III., _Études sur le Passé et l’Avenir de
  l’Artillerie_, Paris, 1846-71.

  NYE, Master-Gunner N., “Art of Gunnery,” to which is
  added a “Treatise on Artificial Fireworks” (separately
  paginated), London, 1647.

  REINAUD (Professor) et FAVÉ (Capitaine), _Du Feu
  Grégeois_, &c., Paris, 1845.

  ROMOCKI, S. J. VON, _Geschichte der Explosivstoffe_,
  Hanover, 1895.

  WHITEHORNE, P., “Certain Waies for the ordering of
  Souldiers in Battelray,” London, 1560.






Much discussion has been caused in the past by the vagueness of the
word _gunpowder_. The following are the meanings which this and a few
other words bear in these pages:—

  _Explosion._—The sudden and violent generation, with a
  loud noise and in a time inappreciable by the unaided
  senses, of a very great volume of gas, by the combustion
  of a body occupying a comparatively very small volume.

  _Progressive Combustion._—Combustion which takes place
  in a time appreciable by the unaided senses, such as that
  of rocket composition or a bit of paper.

  _Gunpowder._—A mixture of saltpetre, charcoal, and
  sulphur, which explodes. The signs of its explosion are a
  bright flash, a loud noise, and a large volume of smoke.

  _Incendiary_ (for “incendiary composition”).—A substance
  or mixture which burns progressively, although fiercely,
  and is hard to put out.

  _Machine_ always means an apparatus of the ballista type.

  _Cannon_ includes bombards, mortars, guns, &c.

  _Musket_ includes all hand firearms charged with


Of the many difficulties that beset the present inquiry, two deserve
special mention.

The first is the want of simple exactness in most early writers when
recording the facts from which we have to draw our conclusions. At
times their descriptions are so meagre that it is difficult, if not
impossible, to decide whether certain projectiles were incendiary or
explosive. At other times they abound in tropes and figures of speech
which amount to an unintentional _suggestio falsi_. “The missiles
spread themselves abroad like a cloud,” says a Spanish Arab; “they
roar like thunder; they flame like a furnace; they reduce everything
to ashes.”[1] A projectile full of blazing Greek fire appeared to
Joinville to be of portentous bulk. It flew through the midnight sky
with thundering noise like a fiery dragon, followed by a long trail of
flame; and it illumined the whole camp as with the light of day.[2]
Even to approach the truth, we must prune such figures of rhetoric;
and this is a dangerous operation, for we may prune too much. The
only safeguard against these suggestive metaphors is to keep steadily
in view the distinctive peculiarities of incendiary and explosive

The incendiary shell was simply an envelope intended to convey into
the interior of a fort, ship, &c., a quantity of combustible matter,
which burned with such violence as to _set fire_ to everything
inflammable that was near it. The primary object of the explosive
shell, on the other hand, was to _blow up_ whatever it fell upon. It
might occasionally, by the intense heat generated by the explosion,[3]
set fire to its surroundings when inflammable; but this was a mere
incidental consequence of its action. Its aim and end was to explode.

When a musket or cannon was fired there was a bright flash, a loud,
momentary report, and a large volume of smoke.[4] When an incendiary
missile was discharged from a machine there was no flash, but little
smoke, and the only sounds were the whizzing and sputtering of the
burning mixture and the creaking and groaning of bolts, spars, ropes,

  “With grisly soune out goth the greté gonne.”[5]

An explosive missile made its way through the air with little noise[6]
and less light:[7] during its flight the blazing contents of the
incendiary shell doubtless gave out much light and made a considerable
noise, as described by many early writers. When an explosive shell
reached its object there was, sooner or later (if it acted at all),
an explosion, occasionally followed by a conflagration: an incendiary
shell produced a conflagration only.

The second difficulty arises from the change of meaning which many
technical words have undergone in the lapse of years.

The Arabic word _barúd_ originally meant _hail_, was afterwards applied
to _saltpetre_, and finally came to signify _gunpowder_. Our own word
_powder_, which at first meant a fine, floury dust (_pulvis_), is
often used in the present day to designate the stringy nitrocelluloid,
_cordite_—smokeless powder. The Chinese word _yo_ means _gunpowder_
now, although its first meaning was a _drug_ or _plant_. For centuries
gunpowder was called _kraut_ in Germany, and to this day it is called
_kruid_ in Holland. The Danish _krud_ has not long become obsolete.

The present Chinese word for _firearm_, _huo p’áu_, originally meant
a _machine_ for throwing blazing incendiary matter. The Arabic word
_bundúq_ at first meant a _hazel-nut_, secondly a _clay-pellet_ the
size of a hazel-nut, thirdly a _bullet_, and finally a _firearm_.[8]
The Latin _nochus_, a _hazel-nut_, is used, strange to say, to
designate a _smoke-ball_ by an old German military writer, Konrad
Kyeser, whose “Bellifortis” dates from 1405.[9] The word was also
applied in Germany to bullets in general, and more particularly to
projectiles discharged by machines.

The word _Artillery_, both in France and England, originally meant
_bows and arrows_. In his original account of the battle of Cressy,
Froissart calls the apparatus and bolts of the Genoese crossbowmen
_leur artillerie_; while a few lines further on he speaks of the
_kanons_ of the English.[10] Ascham, writing in 1571, says: “Artillerie
nowadays is taken for two things: gunnes and bowes.”[11] Selden reminds
us that _gonne_, our present _gun_, at first meant a _machine_ of the
ballista type.[12] It is used in this sense in “Kyng Alisaunder,” 3268,
written A.D. 1275-1300, and other metrical romances. Like the Arabic
_bundúq_, the word is occasionally applied to the _projectile_, as in
the “Avowing of Arthur,” st. 65. It is used in the modern sense, as
_cannon_, in the “Vision of Piers the Plowman,” Passus xxi, C text,
293, a poem begun in 1362 and finally revised by its author in 1390;
and in all three meanings by Chaucer, in poems written during the last
quarter of the fourteenth century;—as a machine in the “Romaunt of the
Rose,” 4176, as a projectile in the “Legende of Good Women,” 637, and
as a cannon in the “Hous of Fame,” 533.

“When the thing is perceived, the idea conceived,” says Professor
Whitney, “(men) find in the existing resources of speech the means of
its expression—a name which formerly belonged to something else in
some way akin to it; a combination of words,” &c.[13] For example, a
word, W, which has always been the name of a thing, M, is applied to
some new thing, N, which has been devised for the same use as M and
answers the purpose better.[14] W thus represents both M and N for
an indefinite time,[15] until M eventually drops into disuse and W
comes to mean N and N only. The confusion necessarily arising from
the equivocal meaning of W during this indefinite period, is entirely
due, of course, to neglect of Horace’s advice to coin new names for
new things.[16] Had a new name been given to N from the first, no
difficulty could possibly have ensued, and our way would have been
straight and clear. But as matters have fallen out, not only have we
to determine whether W means M or N, whenever it is used during the
transition period,[17] but we have to meet the arguments of those,
never far off, who insist that because W meant N _finally_, it must
have meant N at some bygone time when history and probability alike
show that it meant M and M only. Examples, enough and to spare, of such
arguments will be met with shortly.

In consequence of the change of meaning which many military words
have suffered, no translation of passages in foreign books containing
ambiguous words should be relied upon, if access to the originals,
or faithful copies of them, can be obtained. As an example of the
necessity for this precaution, let us compare a few sentences relating
to the siege of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, from the “Polychronicon” of Higden
(_d._ cir. 1363), Rolls Series, iv. 429 _ff._, with the translations of
them by Trevisa, 1385, and by the author of MS. Harl. No. 2261, of A.D.


  (1) Inde Vespasianus ictu arietis murum conturbat

  (2) Thanne Vaspacianus destourbed the wal with the stroke
  of an engyne (Trevisa).

  (3) Wherefore Vespasian troublede the walle soore with
  gunnes and other engynes (MS. Harl.).


  (1) Josephus tamen ardenti oleo superjecto omnia
  machinamenta exussit (Higden).

  (2) But Joseph threwe out brennynge oyle uppon alle her
  gynnes and smoot all her gynnes (Trevisa).

  (3) Then Josephus destroyede alle theire instruments in
  castenge brennenge oyle on hit (MS. Harl.).


  (1) Quo viso tanta vis telorum ex parte Titi proruit, ut
  unius de sociis Josephi occipitium lapide percussum ultra
  tertium stadium excuteretur (Higden).

  (2) Whan that was i-seie there fil so gret strenthe of
  castynge and of schot of Titus his side, that the noble
  knyght of oon of Josephus his felowes was i-smyte of that
  place with a stoon and flewe over the thrydde forlong

  (3) Titus perceyvenge that, sende furthe a sawte and
  schotte gunnes to the walles in so much that the hynder
  parte of the hedde of a man stondenge by Josephus was
  smyten by the space of thre forlonges (MS. Harl.).


  (1) Admotis tandem arietibus ad templum (Higden).

  (2) At the laste the engynes were remeved toward the
  temple (Trevisa).

  (3) Titus causede his gunners to schote at the Temple
  (MS. Harl.).

No suspicion rests upon either of these translators; yet, were the
original lost, a covert allusion to cannon might be discovered in
Trevisa’s translation of B and C, and the Harleian translation of A, C,
and D would be put forward as proof positive of their use.


The claims of the Greeks to the invention of gunpowder are examined in
Chap. III. Chap. IV. is an inquiry into the nature and authorship of
the _Liber Ignium_ of Marcus Græcus. The claims of the Arabs, Hindus,
Chinese, and English are considered in Chaps. V.-VIII. In Part II. the
progress of Ammunition is very briefly traced from the introduction of
cannon to the introduction of breechloading arms.

As the book is addressed to the officers of the Army, who seldom have
a library at command, the authorities for the statements of important
facts are generally given at length. On all controversial points,
when a foreign authority is quoted the original[18] is given as well
as the translation. I have endeavoured to acknowledge my obligation
in all cases where quotations have been borrowed from others without

The invention of gunpowder was impossible until the properties of
saltpetre had become known. We proceed, therefore, in the following
chapter to determine the approximate date of the discovery of this



The attention of the ancients was naturally attracted by the
efflorescences which form on certain stones, on walls, and in caves
and cellars; and the Hindus and nomad Arabs must have noticed the
deflagration of at least one of them when a fire was lit on it. These
efflorescences consist of various salts,—sulphate and carbonate of
soda, chloride of sodium, saltpetre, &c.—but they are so similar
in appearance and taste, the only two criteria known in primitive
times,[19] that early observers succeeded in discriminating only one of
them, common salt, from the rest. So close, in fact, is the resemblance
between potash and soda, that their radical difference was only finally
established by Du Hamel in 1736. Common salt received a distinctive
name in remote times; all other salts were grouped together under such
vague generic names as _nitrum_, _natron_, _afro-nitron_, &c.

No trace of saltpetre has hitherto been found anywhere before the
thirteenth century. The Greek alchemists of preceding centuries are
silent. There is no saltpetre in the earliest recipe we possess for
Greek fire, No. 26 of the _Liber Ignium_,[20] ascribed to one Marcus
Græcus, either as given in the Paris MSS. of 1300, or in the Munich MS.
of 1438. It is true that the phrase _sal coctus_ in this recipe has
been translated by _saltpetre_ in M. Hœfer’s untrustworthy _Histoire
de la Chimie_, but as MM. Reinaud and Favé remark: “Rien n’autorise
à traduire ainsi; le sel ordinaire a été souvent employé dans les
artifices.”[21] There is no instance in Latin, I believe, of saltpetre
being designated otherwise than by _sal petræ_ (or _petrosus_), or by
_nitrum_, singly or in combination with some other word, as _spuma
nitri_. The substitution of _sal petræ_ for _sal coctus_, in later
editions of the recipe, only shows that when the valuable properties
of saltpetre became known it was employed instead of common salt.
The very fact of the change having been made by most of the later
alchemists, proves that to them _sal coctus_ did not mean _sal petræ_,
but something else. If _sal coctus_ had meant _sal petræ_, what need
was there for the change? This change, however, was not universal.
In the version of recipe 26, given in the _Livre de Canonnerie et
Artifice de Feu_, published in Paris in 1561, but written long before
by a fire-worker well acquainted with saltpetre, we find: “prenez
soufre vif, tarte, farcocoly (sarcocolla), peghel (pitch), sarcosti
(sal coctum), &c.”[22] The word _coquo_ (to boil or evaporate)
was necessarily connected with the preparation of common salt by
evaporation,[23] and _coctus_ would correctly distinguish evaporated or
artificial salt from natural or rock salt. In his “Natural History,”
xxxi. 39 (7), Pliny tells us that salt is found round the edges of
certain lakes in Sicily which are partially dried up in summer by the
heat of the sun; while in Phrygia, where much greater evaporation
takes place (_ubi largius coquitur_), a lake is dried up (and salt
is deposited) to its very middle. _Sal coctus_ was salt recovered
from salt water by natural or artificial heat, as distinguished from
natural, or rock salt, which was dug out of the ground.[24]

The Arab alchemists before the thirteenth century are as silent as the
Greeks: nothing that can be identified with saltpetre is to be found
in their voluminous works. The evidence of Geber, so often cited to
prove that saltpetre was known to the Arabs in the ninth century, has
been stripped of all authority by M. Berthelot, who has satisfactorily
proved that there were two Gebers. The real Arab, Jabir, says nothing
of saltpetre, but he mentions a salve used by naphtha-throwers[25]
as a safeguard against burns. The other Geber, or pseudo-Jabir, was
acquainted with saltpetre, as well he might be; for he was a western
who lived some time about the year 1300,[26] and wrote a number of
Latin works falsely purporting to be translations from the Arabic
of the real Jabir. All doubt about the matter has been removed by
M. Berthelot’s publication of the real Jabir’s Arabic writings.[27]
It has been also suspected that the _sal Indicus_ of the _Liber
Sacerdotum, cir._ tenth century,[28] a salt again mentioned in the
_Liber Secretorum_ of Bubacar, _cir._ 1000,[29] means saltpetre. Both
these works are translations from the Arabic or Persian,[30] and _sal
Indicus_ is the literal translation of the Persian—نمك هندي (nimaki
Hindi) = نمك سياه (nimaki siyah) = salt of bitumen; a substance of
the same family as the “salt of naphtha” also mentioned by Bubacar.

There is no word for saltpetre in classical Sanskrit, _sauverchala_
being a generic term for natural salts, which corresponded to, and
was as comprehensive as the _nitrum_, _spuma nitri_, &c., of the
West. “Recent Sanskrit formulæ for the preparation of mineral acids
containing nitre, mention this salt under the name of _soraka_. This
word, however, is not met with in any Sanskrit dictionary, and is
evidently Sanskritised from the vernacular _sora_, a term of foreign
origin.”[31] Both Professor H. H. Wilson and Professor M. Williams,
in their Sanskrit dictionaries, “erroneously render _yavakshara_ as
saltpetre, as also does Colebrooke in his ‘Amara-kosha.’”[32] The word
means impure carbonate of potash obtained by the incineration of barley

At length, however, notwithstanding coarse scales and clumsy apparatus,
the want of all means of registering time and temperature, and the
absence of any general principle to guide them in their researches,
the alchemists succeeded in differentiating certain natural salts
from the rest, and among them saltpetre. The Chinese were acquainted
with it about the middle of the thirteenth century.[34] Abd Allah ibn
al-Baythar, who died at Damascus in 1248, tells us that the _flower
of the stone of Assos_ was called _Chinese snow_ by the Egyptian
physicians and _barūd_ (_i.e._ saltpetre) by the (Arab) people of
the West.[35] Friar Bacon, whose _De Secretis_ was written before 1249,
and Hassan er-Rammah who wrote 1275-95, were thoroughly acquainted
with the salt. A grand chemical discovery had been made, and saltpetre
became known from China to Spain.

The Egyptians thought fit to call saltpetre “Chinese snow,” but this
does not justify the conclusion that the discovery was made by the
Chinese. Consider our own phrases “Jerusalem” artichoke, “Welsh” onion,
and “Turkey” cock. Jerusalem is a gardener’s corruption of _girasole_,
the Turkey came from America, and the home of the Welsh onion is
Siberia. The Persians called their native alkaline salt _jamadi Chini_,
and no one will suggest that this substance came from China.

It is evident from the way in which it is mentioned by the alchemists
of the thirteenth century, and from their primitive methods of refining
it, that saltpetre was then in its infancy. Roger Bacon speaks of it
as one would speak of a substance recently discovered and still little
known—“that salt which is called saltpetre” (_illius salis qui sal
petræ vocatur_).[36] Marcus Græcus thought it necessary to explain what
the word means, in his 14th recipe which probably belongs to the latter
years of the thirteenth century.[37] The methods of refining the salt
given by Marcus and Hassan leave no possible doubt that in their time
it had but just come into use. It is true that Bacon’s method was much
superior, if the solution of his steganogram given in Chap. viii. be
accepted. But it would have been past all explanation had the method of
the greatest natural philosopher of the age been found to be no better
than that of an Arabic druggist or a European fireworker.

As the matter is one of the greatest importance, the methods of all
three are given in full, together with that of Whitehorne, 1560. The
Waltham Abbey method is added, as a standard by which to judge them. To
admit of easy comparison, the corresponding operations are marked with
the same letter. The five methods are summed up in Table I.


A. _Preparation of grough from natural saltpetre._[38]

Natural saltpetre is dissolved in boiling water, the insoluble
impurities removed, and the solution evaporated by the sun or
artificial heat. The solid residue is grough saltpetre, and contains 1
to 10 per cent. of impurities, consisting of the chlorides of potassium
and sodium, sulphates of potash, soda, and calcium, vegetable matter,
sand, and moisture.

B. _Boiling the solution of grough saltpetre._

The grough saltpetre is placed in an open copper with a false bottom;
water is added, and heat applied until the mixture boils at 110° C.

C. _Removal of the insoluble impurities._

The scum which rises to the surface during this operation is removed by
ladles; the sand and heavy impurities fall upon the false bottom, which
is removed just before the mixture boils. The boiling is continued
until the scum ceases to rise.

D. _Second boiling of the solution._

Cold water is added; the solution is boiled for a few minutes, and then
allowed to cool somewhat.

E. _Filtration._

At 104.5° C. the mother liquid is transferred to a tank with holes in
its bottom, closed by filters.

F. _Use of wood-ash, charcoal, &c._

If the impurities prevent the liquid from passing freely through the
filters, it is treated with glue, wood-ash, or, better, with a little
animal charcoal, which seizes on the impurities and rises to the top as

G. _Crystallisation._

The mother liquid filters into the crystallising trough at 70.2° to
65.8° C.

H. _Stirring the depositing solution._

The solution is kept in constant agitation by poles whilst cooling, in
order that it may deposit in minute crystals, called _saltpetre flour_.
Large crystals contain more or less of the impure mother liquid.

I. _Washing and drying._

The agitation is discontinued at 25.8° C. and the mother liquid drawn
off. The flour is drained on an inclined plane, transferred to a
washing vat, where it is washed three times with cold water, and then
finally dried.


A. _Preparation of grough from natural saltpetre._

On the bottom of a vessel pierced with “three or fower littell holes”
is placed a linen cloth, “or else the end of a broom, or some straw.”
A layer of nitrified earth, “a spanne thicknesse,” is laid on this,
and on the earth “three fingers’ thicknesse” of a mixture of “two parts
of unslacked lime and three of oke asshes, or other asshes.... And so,
putting one rewe” of saltpetre alternately with one of the mixture,
“you shall fill the tubbe ... within a spanne of (its mouth), and the
rest you will fill with water.” The water, on percolating through the
mass, drips into a brass cauldron which, when two-thirds full, is
boiled “till it come to one-third part or thereabouts. And after take
it off and put it to settell in a great vessell,” when it is to be
“clarified and from earthe and grosse matter diligentlie purged.”

B. _Boiling the solution of grough saltpetre._

The solution is then “taken and boyled of new.”

F. _Use of wood-ash, animal charcoal, &c._

When the solution boils and throws up scum, it is treated with a
mixture of “3 parts of oke asshes and 1 of lime, together with 4 lbs.
of rock alum to every 100 lbs. of the mother liquid.” “In a little time
you shall see it alaie, both clear and fair and of an azure colour.”

C. _Removal of insoluble impurities._

The heavy impurities, which sink to the bottom, are got rid of by
pouring the clarified mother liquid into another vessel.

G. _Crystallisation._

“Take it out and put it in vessels of woode or of earth that are rough
within, with certain sticks of wood, to congeal.”

I. _Washing and drying._

“This same saltpeter being taken from the sides of the vessel where
it congealed, and in the water thereof washed, you must lay it upon a
table to drie throughly.”

F´.[39] _Use of wood-ash, animal charcoal, &c._

“Minding to have (saltpetre) above the common use, for some purpose,
more purified, &c. (which for to make exceeding fine powder, or aqua
fortis, is most requisite so to be):—take of the aforesaid mixture (F)
... and for every barrel of water you have put in the cauldron ... you
must put into it five potfulls” of the mixture. “In the same quantity
of water so prepared, put so much saltpeter as it will dissolve.”

D. _Second boiling of the solution._

Boil the whole until it “resolve very well.”

E. _Filtration._

When the scum rises, transfer the mother liquid to a tub with holes in
the bottom, on which is laid a linen cloth covered with a layer of
sand four finger-breadths deep.

D´. _Third boiling of the solution._

The filtered liquid is boiled again “in order to make the greater part
of the water seeth away.... Make it boil so much until you see it ready
to thicken, pouring in now and then a little of the mixture” (F).

G´. _Final crystallisation._

The mother liquid is then transferred to wooden troughs “to congeal,”
for which three or four days are allowed. “After this sort thou shalt
make the saltpeter most white and fair, and much better than at the
first setting.”

“LIBER IGNIUM,” _cir._ 1300.

A. _Preparation of grough from natural saltpetre._

If natural saltpetre is dissolved in boiling water, cleansed, and
passed through a filter, and boiled for a day and a night; the (grough)
saltpetre will be found deposited in crystals at the bottom of the

The original is as follows:—

“Nota, quod sal petrosum est minera terræ et reperitur in scrophulis
contra lapides. Hæc terra dissolvitur in aqua bulliente, postea
depurata et distillata per filtrum et permittatur per diem et noctem
integram decoqui, et invenies in fundo laminas salis conielatas


A. _Preparation of grough from natural saltpetre._

“Take white, clean, bright (natural) saltpetre _ad lib._, and two new
(earthen) jars. Put the saltpetre into one of them, and add some water.
Put the jar on a gentle fire until it gets warm” (and the saltpetre
dissolves. Skim off) “the scum that rises” (and) “throw it away. Stir
up the fire until the liquid becomes quite clear. Then pour it into the
other jar in such a way that no scum remains attached to it. Place this
jar on a low fire until the contents begin to coagulate. Then take it
off the fire, and beat (the crystals) gently.”

F. _Use of wood-ash, animal charcoal, &c._

“Take dry willow wood, burn it, and plunge it into water according to
the recipe for its incineration. Take three parts by weight of the
saltpetre” (just obtained), “and the third of a part of the wood-ash,
which has been carefully pulverised, and put the mixture into a jar—if
made of brass, so much the better.”

B. _Boiling the solution of grough saltpetre._

“Add water and apply heat, until the ashes and saltpetre no longer
adhere together. Beware of sparks.”

The original is as follows:—[41]

                   صثة حل البارود
          يوخذ البارود الابيض النقى النارى مهما اردت وتاخذ
        طاجنين جدد ويحط فى الطاجن الواحد ويغمر بالماء ويوقد
  عليه نار لينة حتى يفتر وتطلع رغوته فارمها واوقد تحته جيدا
      حتى يروق ماؤه الى غاية ويقلب الماء الرايق قى طاجن اخر
         بحيث لا يتراك من التفل شى ويوخذ عليه وقدا لطيفا الى
            ان يجمد وتشيله وتصحنه ناعما ويوخذ الحطب الصفصاف
           اليابس يحرق ويغمر على صفة الحراق ويزن من البارود
     الثلثين والثلث من رماد الفحع الذى صحنته بالميزان ويعاد
         الى الطاجنين وان كانت الاعادة فى طاجن نحاس فهو اجود
        ويعمل عليه قليل ماء وتحمصه بحيث ان لا يلتزق واحذو من
                                                  شرر النار

ROGER BACON, _cir._ 1248.

A. _Preparation of grough from natural saltpetre._

Carefully wash the natural saltpetre, and (as far as possible) remove
all impurities. Dissolve it in water over a gentle fire, and boil it
until the scum ceases to rise, and it is purified and clarified. Let
the operation be repeated again and again, until the solution is clear
and bright. Let it then deposit its crystals of the stone which is not
a stone,[42] and dry them in a warm place.

B. _Boiling the solution of grough saltpetre._

Pulverise the crystals of grough saltpetre thus obtained, and immerse
them in water. Make a powder of two purifying substances in the
proportion of 3:2. Dissolve the crystals over a gentle fire.

F. _Use of wood-ash, charcoal, &c._

To the powder add some animal charcoal, and thoroughly incorporate the
ingredients (in a vessel). Then pour the hot solution upon it, and your
object (of clarifying the mother liquid) will be gained.

C. _Removal of the insoluble impurities._

If (by its appearance and taste you judge that) the solution is good,
pour it out (into a crystallising vessel, leaving the heavy impurities

G. _Crystallisation._

(The mother liquid is now allowed to crystallise.)

H. _Stirring the depositing solution._

(While depositing), stir the solution with a pestle. Collect the
crystals as best you can, and gradually draw off the mother liquid.

The original is as follows:—

Calcem diligenter purifica, ut fiat terra pura penitus liberata ab
aliis elementis. Dissolvatur in aqua cum igne levi, ut decoquatur
quatenus separetur pinguedo sua, donec purgatur et dealbetur. Iteretur
distillatio donec rectificetur: rectificationis novissima signa sunt
candor et crystallina serenitas. Ex hac aqua materia congelatur. Lapis
vero Aristotelis, qui non est lapis, ponitur in pyramide in loco calido.

Accipe lapidem et calcina ipsum. In fine parum commisce de aqua dulci;
et medicinam laxativam compone de duabus rebus quarum proportio melior
est in sesquialtera proportione. Resolve ad ignem et mollius calefac.
Mixto ex Phœnice adjunge, et incorpora per fortem motum; cui si liquor
calidus adhibeatur, habebis propositum ultimum. Evacuato quod bonum
est. Regyra cum pistillo, et congrega materiam ut potes, et aquam
separa paulatim.[43]


_Methods of Refining Saltpetre._

  | Roger Bacon, _cir._ 1248  | A | B | F | C | G | H |... |...|...|... |... |
  | Hassan er-Rammah,         |   |   |   |   |   |   |    |   |   |    |    |
  |   1275-95                 | A | F | B |...|...|...|... |...|...|... |... |
  | Liber Ignium, _cir._ 1300 | A |...|...|...|...|...|... |...|...|... |... |
  | Whitehorne, 1560          | A | B | F | C | G | I | F´ | D | E | D´ | G´ |
  | Waltham Abbey, 1860.      | A | B | C | D | E | F | G  | H | I |... |... |

  A = Preparation of grough from natural saltpetre.
  B = Boiling the solution of grough saltpetre.
  C = Removal of insoluble impurities.
  D = Second boiling of the solution.
  E = Filtration.
  F = Use of wood-ash, animal charcoal, &c.
  G = Crystallisation.
  H = Stirring the depositing solution.
  I = Washing and drying.

The simple and highly probable conclusion to be drawn from the foregoing
facts is, that saltpetre was not discovered until the second quarter
of the thirteenth century; but this conclusion is not universally
accepted. It is said by some that although saltpetre was unknown to the
rest of the world until then, it had been secretly used by the Greeks
for five hundred years. This theory will be examined in the following



Homer knew nothing apparently of incendiary compositions. When the
Trojans set fire to the Greek ships, he certainly says that they burned
with “unquenchable flame” (ἀσβέστη φλόξ), _Iliad_, xvi. 123; but this
is a mere figure of speech, for presently afterwards he tells us that
Patroclus extinguished the fire (κατὰ δ’ ἔσβεσεν αἰθόμενον πῦρ), 293.

The Assyrian bas-reliefs in the British Museum prove that liquid fire
was used in warfare in very remote times. Whether the Greeks adopted
its use from the Orientals or originated it themselves, there is
little evidence to show; but traces of it are found at an early date,
for instance at the siege of Syracuse,[44] 413 B.C., and the siege of
Rhodes,[45] 304 B.C. Vessels full of burning matter were thrown, at
first by hand, from walls and the tops of forts upon besiegers; and
when shell of suitable construction had been devised, these missiles
were discharged from machines.

The earliest instance of the use of firearms by the Greeks is found in
Thucydides, ii. 75, where it is stated that at the siege of Platæa,
429 B.C., the Platæans found it necessary to protect a wooden wall by
skins and hides against the fire-arrows (πυρφόροις ὀïστοῖς) of their
Peloponnesian besiegers. By the time of the Roman Empire, fire-arrows
were so well known as to be mentioned by the Latin poets,[46] and the
historians speak of fire-lances which were discharged from machines[47]
(_adactæ tormentis ardentes hastæ_). Vegetius, who lived in the fourth
century A.D., gives the composition of fire-arrows;[48] and Ammianus
Marcellinus, who lived about the same time, points out their defects.
First, the fire-arrow had to be discharged with a low velocity—_ictu
enim rapidiore extinguitur_; it was extinguished by the cooling effect
of the air when discharged with the full force of the bow. Secondly,
in addition to its low velocity (and consequently limited range) it
was extinguished when covered with clay.[49] However, the composition
was easy to light and hard to put out—even with clay or vinegar; its
viscosity enabled it to stick to the body it struck; and, becoming more
and more fluid from the heat of combustion, it “spread like wild-fire.”

But the use of incendiaries was not confined to grenades and arrows. At
the siege of Platæa, just referred to, the Spartans piled up faggots of
brushwood against the walls, and, after pouring a mixture of sulphur
and pitch on the heap, set fire to it in order to burn the town.[50]
They would have gained their object but for a rainstorm which put out
the fire. We have here perhaps the earliest historical account of the
composition of an incendiary—429 B.C. At the siege of Delium, 424
B.C., a tree was cut down and hollowed out, so as to form a tube, and
from one end of it, which was protected by a covering of iron, was
hung a cauldron containing a burning mixture of charcoal, sulphur, and
pitch. Into this cauldron was introduced an iron bellows-pipe, leading
from the end of the tree from which it hung. Having transported the
machine close to the wall of the town (the cauldron to the front), the
besiegers inserted the snout of a large bellows into the other end of
the hollowed tree, and blew them. A great flame was thus produced; the
wall, in which there was much wood, was set on fire; the heat of the
fire and the vapour of the incendiary drove the defenders from the
walls, and the town fell.[51] Its simplicity shows that the mixture
belongs to the infancy of incendiaries in Greece.

We meet with fire-ships as early as 413 B.C., when the Syracusians
employed one ineffectually against the Athenian fleet;[52] and
a special incendiary for naval use is recommended by Æneas, the
tactician, about 350 B.C. It consisted of sulphur, pitch, incense,
pine-wood, and tow. The mixture was stowed in egg-shaped, wooden
vessels, admirably adapted for their purpose, which were thrown lighted
upon the enemy’s decks.[53]


_Greek Fires._

  |   Æneas.[54]    |  Vegetius.[55]   | Liber Ignium.[56]| Kyeser.[57]| Wild Fire.[68]| Carcass Composition.[59]|
  | _cir._ 350 B.C. | _cir._ A.D. 350. |   1200-1225.     |    1405.   |     1560.     |          1903.          |
  | Sulphur         | Sulphur          | Sulphur          | Sulphur    | Sulphur       | Sulphur                 |
  |                 |                  |                  |            |               |                         |
  | Pitch           | Bitumen          | Pitch            |    ...     | Pitch         | Tallow                  |
  |                 |                  |                  |            |               |                         |
  | Pine-wood[60]   | Rosin            | Sarcocolla[61]   |    ...     |  Charcoal     | Rosin                   |
  |                 |                  |                  |            |               |                         |
  | Incense         | Naphtha          | Petroleum        | Petroleum  | Turpentine    | Turpentine              |
  |                 |                  |                  |            |               |                         |
  | Tow             |    ...           | Sal Coctus[62]   | Salfanium? | Bay Salt     | Crude Antimony          |
  |                 |                  |                  |            |               |                         |
  |    ...          |    ...           | Oil of Gemma     |    ...     |    ...        |     ...                 |
  |                 |                  |                  |            |               |                         |
  |    ...          |    ...           | Tartarum[63]     | Saltpetre  | Saltpetre     | Saltpetre               |

In such ways were incendiaries employed by the Greeks for nearly eleven
centuries after the siege of Platæa. During this long period the
composition was of course improved, and the mixture of the seventh
century A.D. burned more fiercely, and was harder to put out than that
of the fourth century B.C.; but nevertheless the two mixtures were of
the same species. At length, in the decade 670-80, a new species was
devised. For the sake of clearness, the old incendiary mixtures will
henceforward be called Greek fire; the new one “sea-fire.”

We are told by Theophanes in his “Chronography,” written 811-815,
that in the year 673 an architect called Kallinikos[64] fled from
Heliopolis in Syria to the Romans (_i.e._ Constantinople), and
eventually compounded a “sea-fire” which enabled them to burn large
numbers of the Moslem vessels engaged in the Seven Years’ War,[65]
671-677. This incendiary was again employed with success against the
Moslems during their second attack against Constantinople, 717, and at
the decisive naval victory over the Russians under Igor in 941. The
evidence of Theophanes about Kallinikos is corroborated almost verbally
by the Emperor Constantine VII., Porphyrogenitus, in Chap. xlviii.
of his “Administration of the Empire”: “Be it known that under the
reign of Constantine Pogonatus (668-685) one Kallinikos, who fled from
Heliopolis to the Romans, prepared a ‘wet-fire’ to be discharged from
siphons, by means of which the Romans burned the fleet of the Saracens
at Cyzicus and gained the victory.”[66] It is true that when writing to
his son (in Chap. xiii. of the same work) the Emperor gives (or tells
his son to give) a different version of the invention of sea-fire:
“If any persons venture to inquire of you how this fire is prepared,
withstand them and dismiss them with some such answer as this—that
the secret was revealed by an angel to the first Emperor Constantine”
(A.D. 323-337).[67] But this passage only proves that the Emperor was
mendacious and his people superstitious. There can be little doubt
that this great invention was made by a Greek for the Greeks in the
decade 670-680; but what was the nature of the mixture? All we know
for certain about it is that it was a State secret, was intended for
sea service, burned with much noise and vapour, and was projected
from siphons. In other words, the mixture fulfilled the following

(1) Its composition could be kept secret.

(2) It had some close connection with the sea, or water.

(3) It burned with much noise and smoke.

(4) It had some close connection with siphons, or tubes.

The fact that the sea-fire was made a State secret proves that it did
not belong to the same family as the Greek fire of Æneas and Vegetius
which, in one form or another, had been known all over the East
from time immemorial. It was a new mixture—_i.e._ either a mixture
containing some substance not hitherto known, or a mixture of known
substances not hitherto combined together for warlike purposes. Many
hold that an unknown substance was employed, and, further, that it
was no other than saltpetre. We might, of course, fall back on the
conclusion established in Chap. ii., and reply that saltpetre was
not discovered until the thirteenth century and could not have been
used as an ingredient of an incendiary in the seventh century. But
the conclusion drawn in Chap. ii. was not a certain one: it was there
characterised as highly probable. Saltpetre might possibly have been
employed, and a belief which is shared in by some good writers deserves
respectful consideration. We have, therefore, to investigate how far a
saltpetre mixture would satisfy the above four conditions.

There was absolutely nothing to attract public attention in the
purchase from time to time of common, well-known substances, such
as sulphur, quicklime, naphtha, &c. &c., by the authorities of the
Arsenal; but the suspicions of the spies and traitors, always to be
found in Constantinople,[68] would have been instantly roused by the
importation of any new or rare substance such as saltpetre. And whence
could saltpetre have come? M. Berthelot recognises the importance of
this question, although he cannot answer it: “Comment se procurait-on
le salpêtre?... Aucun renseignment n’est venu nous l’apprendre. Ce
point pourtant est capital.”[69] Saltpetre would naturally have
been obtained from the countries where it was most abundant and
cheapest—from the East; but the Greeks could not have relied upon this
source of supply, for whenever political complications arose between
the Emperor and the Caliph—and they were interminable—the ports of
Egypt and Syria were closed against Greek ships. However, saltpetre
did not grow in the streets of Constantinople: the natural salt (if
used) must have been collected _somewhere_, and sold to Government by
_someone_, and transported _somehow_ to the capital; and what despot
could have tied the tongues of collectors, merchants, sailors, and
porters? The mere facts that only one State trafficked in saltpetre,
that this State only bought it in time of war, and that this State
alone employed sea-fire, would have immediately betrayed the secret
of its composition to these men, and what was known to them was known
to the world. It is most improbable that the use of saltpetre could
have been concealed for one year, much less the five hundred years
during which the secret of the sea-fire was successfully guarded. I
may be reminded of the Emperor Constantine VII.’s statement (in Chap.
xiii. of his “Administration, &c.”), that on one occasion a Roman
general, corrupted by a large bribe, did reveal the secret and shortly
afterwards, when entering a church, was consumed by fire which fell
from heaven upon him. The story is obviously legendary. The venal
general is as unreal as the fire from heaven; he is merely introduced
to us as “an awful example,” and we cannot endow him with reality by
rejecting the fire. The claim of the Marquess Carabbas to reality is
not established by denying the existence of Puss-in-Boots. Had the
secret been divulged the sea-fire would have been used against the
Greeks, and no mixture that can be identified with it ever was.

A saltpetre mixture, then, would not, in all probability, have
fulfilled the first condition, nor would it have fulfilled the second.
There is no conceivable connection between saltpetre and the sea, or
water in general. A saltpetre mixture (of suitable proportions) would
have proved a much better incendiary than Greek fire, but it would have
acted as effectively from a fort as from a ship. Indeed, if we consider
the ill effect of the moist sea air on the impure saltpetre of early
times, we are justified in saying that the action of such mixtures on
land would have been better, in general, than at sea.

A saltpetre mixture would have fulfilled the third condition by burning
with much noise and smoke, which we may suppose to be the essential
meaning of the Emperor Leo’s phrase, “thunder and smoke.”[70] We
cannot reasonably attach greater significance to one of the commonest
of all metaphors, thunder, which has been applied times unnumbered to
the human voice, to the bursting of a child’s cracker,[71] and to the
whirring of a dart. “Never burst such peals from the thunder-cloud,”
says Vergil, as were produced by the javelin thrown by Æneas.[72]

As regards the fourth condition, the above statement of the Emperor
Constantine about sea-fire and siphons[73] completely justifies us
in concluding that there was some necessary connection between the
two things. Now, there was no necessary connection between saltpetre
mixtures, even when explosive, and siphons. Small quantities of such
mixtures could have been, and eventually were, thrown by hand, in
grenades, like Greek fire. Saltpetre mixtures, therefore, would not
have fulfilled the fourth condition.

The result of the foregoing inquiry is, that a saltpetre mixture would
have only fulfilled one, the third, of the four conditions to which the
sea-fire was subject; and we have now to cast about for some mixture of
known substances, not hitherto combined together for warlike purposes,
which would have fulfilled them all.

A clue to the composition of the Kallinikos mixture may perhaps be
found in its Greek name, “sea-fire” or “wet-fire.” One substance
had long been known with whose combustion water was closely
connected—quicklime, and with its properties Kallinikos, as an
architect, must have been perfectly familiar. Its temperature rises—to
150° C. (302° F.) if the quantity be large—when sprinkled with water,
and it can consequently be employed to ignite substances with low
points of ignition. For example, if a mixture of quicklime and naphtha
be thrown into water, the rapid rise in temperature of the lime causes
a sudden and strong development of vapour from the naphtha, which on
mixing with the air becomes highly explosive. Such a mixture, it is
almost unnecessary to add, could not be handled with safety _after_ it
has been wet. Plutarch was aware of the explosive nature of naphtha
vapour. “Naphtha,” he says, “is like bitumen, and is so easy to set
on fire that, without touching it with any flame, it will catch light
from the rays which are sent forth from a fire, burning the air which
is between both.”[74] Pliny speaks of the heat developed by quicklime
when sprinkled with water. “It is strange,” he says, “that what has
already been burnt should be ignited by water” (_mirum aliquid,
postquam arserit, accendi aquis_).[75] The same property is implicitly
referred to in the “Kestoi,” attributed to Sextus Julius Africanus
of Emaus, who lived under Alexander Severus, 222-235. The military
portions of this work, however, must have been written long afterwards,
in the end of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century at the
earliest; for Belisarius, who was born in 505, is mentioned in the
sixty-sixth chapter.[76] In the forty-fifth chapter there is a recipe
for a quicklime-asphalt composition, which is called “automatic fire.”
This mixture was used by jugglers to exhibit “spontaneous combustion,”
a little water being secretly poured on a plate on which a ball of
the composition was placed.[77] It contained very little quicklime
(παντελῶς ὀλίγον). Cameniata tells us that at the storming of Salonika
in 904 the Moslems threw “pitch and torches and quicklime” over the
walls.[78] By “quicklime” he probably meant the earthenware hand
grenades, filled with wet quicklime, described by the Emperor Leo,
who then sat on the throne (886-911). “The vapour of the quicklime,”
he says, “when the pots are broken, stifles and chokes the enemy and
distracts his soldiers.”[79]

The simplest and most probable explanation of the nature of the
sea-fire then is, that it was a sulphur-quicklime-naphtha mixture of
the same family as those shown in the following Table.



  | Liber Ignium.[80]| Liber Ignium.[81]| De Mirabilibus.[82]| Kyeser.[83]| Hartlieb.[84]    |
  | _cir._ 1300.     |  _cir._ 1350     |  _cir._ 1350.      |    1405.   | _cir._ 1425.     |
  | Sulphur.         | Sulphur.         | Sulphur.           | Sulphur.   | Sulphur(Oil of). |
  | Quicklime.       | Quicklime.       | Quicklime.         | Quicklime. | Quicklime.       |
  | Oil              | Turpentine.      | Naphtha.           | Petroleum. | Mastic.          |
  | Gum Arabic.      | ...              | Wax.               | Wax.       | Gum Arabic.      |
  | ...              | ...              | Oil of Balm.       | ...        | ...              |

  _N.B._—None of these mixtures professes to be the
  official Greek sea-fire, the exact composition of which
  is unknown; but the “De Mirabilibus” mixture is probably
  a close approximation to it. Although called sea-fires
  here, they were not so called by their western authors,
  who were ignorant of the use and even of the name of
  sea-fire. The first four recipes are described as
  mixtures which will ignite “when rain falls upon them.”
  Hartlieb alone foresaw that such mixtures would ignite
  “if thrown upon water.”

Such a mixture would have completely fulfilled the four conditions
already mentioned. First, the secret of its composition was
easy to keep, since it lay in the choice and proportions of known
ingredients; not in the use of one special and unknown substance (such
as saltpetre), smuggled privily into the Arsenal[85] with a mystery
which was certain to excite the curiosity of a people who “spent their
time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.”
Secondly, it was literally a “sea-fire” or “wet-fire,”—a fire which
was ignited by water and which burned on its surface. Thirdly, its
combustion gave rise to a considerable volume of vapour and a series of
small explosions in the air. Fourthly, from the mode of its combustion
it was unsafe to handle after ignition, and it was necessarily
discharged from siphons. This simple explanation of the sea-fire[86]
sweeps away the insurmountable difficulties raised by the saltpetre
theory. We have no longer to believe in the patriotic silence of
Byzantine officials, workmen and sailors, maintained for five hundred
years; we have no longer to admit reluctantly that saltpetre was known
in Greece, where it occurs in comparatively scanty quantity, five
hundred years before it was known in the great natural storehouse of
this salt, Asia; we have no longer to suspect the whole body of Greek
writers on alchemy and pharmacy, from the seventh to the thirteenth
century, of having entered into a vast conspiracy of silence to hide
their knowledge of saltpetre from the barbarians; we are no longer left
wondering whence the Greeks got their saltpetre, and why they gave the
name of “sea-fire” to a mixture in no way connected with the sea; and
we are no longer perplexed by the fact that the earliest recipes for
Greek fire contain no saltpetre.[87]

It remains to inquire how the sea-fire was expelled from the siphons.

There were two kinds of siphons, large siphons and hand-siphons.

Of the hand-siphons there were several patterns. Some seem to have been
thrown by hand, like squibs;[88] from others, mentioned by Cameniata,
the charge was projected by air[89]—presumably by a bellows or some
such contrivance; while in a third kind, described by the Princess
Anna, a pellet was blown by the breath through a flame placed before
the front end of the tube.[90] The two latter siphons were of the same
species, and as Anna’s was charged with Greek fire[91] we may suppose
Cameniata’s took a similar charge.

The large sea-fire siphon was fixed in the bow of the ship and served
by the two foremost rowers, one of whom laid the siphon and was called
the siphonator, while the other, we may suppose, loaded it. The siphon
was mounted on a swivel, as may be gathered from the account given by
the Princess Anna of the naval battle fought near the island of Rhodes
in 1103 by the Greeks and the Pisans. The latter were terrified, she
says, by an apparatus which directed on them fire of an extraordinary
nature. “Ordinary flame rises upwards, but this flame shot downwards
and sideways as well, at the will of the gunner.”[92] Unless the siphon
was mounted on a swivel, the phrase which I have translated by “at the
will of the gunner” (ἐφ’ ἃ βούλεται ὁ πέμπων) would be meaningless.

In his _Recherche sur le Feu Grégeois_, p. 23, M. Chrétien-Lalanne
maintains that the incendiary was expelled from the siphon by means
of a spring. This theory is inadmissible, for helical springs are not
heard of until long after the time in question. Further, the ancients
possessed no means of condensing air to the degree necessary for the
projection of a heavy body over even the short ranges of the Dark Ages,
and steam power had hardly been recognised at all.[93] Therefore, it
has been urged, the incendiary must have been expelled from the siphon
by means of an explosive saltpetre mixture, this being the only way of
effecting the object that remained at the disposal of the ancients. As
will be seen presently, there remained a simple and efficacious method,
involving very little expense and no danger whatever; a fact which in
itself would be sufficient to meet the above argument in favour of
saltpetre, even were it unsupported by the evidence already brought
forward in Chap. ii. to show that saltpetre had not been yet discovered
at the time in question, and the evidence adduced in the present
chapter to prove that in fact it was not used. Further, the supposition
that an explosive was employed is excluded by the construction of the
siphon, which was made of wood. Such is the only reasonable explanation
that can be given of the Emperor Leo’s order that the siphons should
be “cased with bronze.”[94] Had they been of metal, a casing of bronze
would have been a useless complication; but, being of wood, an internal
casing of metal was absolutely necessary to protect them from the flame
of the burning composition. Only one round probably could have been
fired from a wooden tube by means of an explosive, and that round in
most cases would have been more fatal to the siphon detachment than to
the enemy.

Again, as the projectile was simply a lump of oleaginous matter, it
would have been blown by an explosive cartridge into thousands of
fragments, each of them so small as to be worthless for incendiary
purposes; for the efficacy of an incendiary depends to a great extent
on its containing a large quantity of matter.

Since the use of springs, compressed air, and steam were impossible,
and the use of an explosive extremely improbable, it only remains to
examine the arguments for and against water as the motive power.

The Emperor Leo VI. speaks of the “artificial fire discharged by means
of siphons;”[95] the Emperor Constantine VII. speaks similarly of
“the wet-fire projected by means of siphons;”[96] and if we translate
_siphon_ by _tube_ both phrases are intelligible, but neither gives
any hint as to the means by which the mixture was expelled from the
tubes. But like so many other military words, _siphon_ has (at least)
two meanings, and signifies not only a tube, but a _fire-engine_, or
_water-engine_, or _squirt_. Heron of Alexandria (_cir._ 130 B.C.)
begins his description of a fire-engine with the words: “The _siphons_
used for the extinction of fire are made as follows.”[97] Pliny the
Younger (_cir._ 100 A.D.), in a letter to the Emperor Trajan about
a fire which had taken place in the town of Nicomedia, observes
that “there was not a _sipho_, nor even a bucket, at hand to quench
it.”[98] Hesychius in his Greek Lexicon, about the end of the fourth
century, gives under σίφων: “an apparatus for pumping water in
conflagrations.”[99] If we translate _siphon_ by _water-engine_, as
we are perfectly justified in doing, we find that the phrases used by
the two Emperors are not only intelligible, but indicate both the mode
of projection and the mode of ignition of the sea-fire. The lump of
quicklime-naphtha-sulphur was projected, and at the same time ignited,
by applying the hose of a water-engine to the breech of the tube, which
thus became an integral part of the apparatus to which it gave its name.

Two obscure passages in Byzantine works, which hitherto have never been
satisfactorily explained, are made clear by this interpretation. The
first occurs in the “Tactics” of Constantine VIII., where he directs
“‘flexible’ (apparatus) with (artificial) fire, siphons, hand-siphons,
and manjaniks” to be employed, if they are at hand, against any tower
that may be advanced against the wall of a besieged town.[100] The
“flexible” apparatus cannot refer to the helical springs of a later
age. Neither can it mean crossbows, for the Princess Anna, who wrote
a century after Constantine, expressly says: “The crossbow (_tzangra_)
is a foreign weapon (hitherto) unknown in the Greek service.”[101]
That it cannot mean longbows is quite certain from the second of the
obscure passages in question, which occurs in the “Alexiad”: “In the
bow of each ship he (the Admiral) put the heads of lions and other land
animals, made of brass and iron, gilt, so as to be (quite) frightful
to look at; and he arranged that from their mouths, which were (wide)
open, should issue the fire to be delivered by the soldiers by means
of (or through) the ‘flexible’ apparatus.”[102] The enemy might have
exclaimed with the Jewish king: “They gaped upon me with their mouths,
as a ravening and as a roaring lion.” But whatever the moral effect of
these trumpery scarecrows—if ever actually used—it is certain that
archers with longbows could not have shot fire-arrows through them with
any success; and the meaning of Emperor and Princess remains hidden
until we interpret “flexible instrument” as the leathern hose of a pump
or water-engine, than which nothing can be more flexible. The import of
both passages then becomes perfectly plain. Such a mode of discharging
incendiaries is by no means unknown in later military history. “Dans
une expérience faite au Havre, 1758, avec une pompe à huile de naphte,
dont le jet était enflammé par une mèche allumée, on brûla même
une chaloupe.”[103] At the siege of Charleston, 1863, not only was
solidified Greek fire in tin tubes employed,[104] but coal naphtha
placed in shells or pumped through hose.[105] Finally, M. Berthelot
speaks of “les propositions faites, pendant le siège de Paris (1870),
pour repousser les ennemis au moyen de pompes projetant des jets de
pétrole enflammé. Mais cet agent ... n’a été mis réellement à l’épreuve
que par la Commune, pour brûler nos palais.”[106]

When the Crusades began in 1097 Greeks were thus in possession of
two species of incendiaries: the sea-fire which was distinctively
and exclusively Greek, and the old mixture of the Æneas family which
was known all over the East. Yet it was to the latter that the name
“Greek fire” was given by the Crusaders, who, I believe, had neither
experience nor knowledge of the sea-fire. The only passage I can recall
among the old writers in which the two fires are discriminated and
correctly named occurs in the metrical romance “Richard Coer-de-Lion,”
_temp._ Edward I. (1272-1307):—

  “Kyng Richard, oute of hys galye,
  Caste wylde-fyr into the skye
  And fyr Gregeys into the see.

  *       *       *       *       *

  The see brent all off fyr Gregeys” (2627).[107]

Historically this passage is probably worthless; but, whether
deliberately or by accident, the poet indicates the real distinction
between the two fires. It was the sea-fire, the true Greek fire,
which was thrown or fell into the sea; while the wild-fire, misnamed
“Greek fire” by the Crusaders, was flung “into the sky” to descend
on the heads of the enemy. In the preceding pages I have adopted the
Crusaders’ nomenclature, because it is now too late to rectify their

During the siege of Stirling Castle, 1304, Edward I. “gave orders
for the employment of Greek fire, with which he had probably become
acquainted in the East.”[108] It was also made use of by the Flemish
engineer, Crab, who took an active part in the defence of Berwick when
besieged by Edward II. in 1319:—

 “And pyk (_pitch_) and ter (_tar_) als haiff thai tane,
  And lynt (_fat_) and herdes (_refuse of flax_) and brymstane,
  And dry treyis (_trees or wood_) that wele wald brin (_burn_).”[109]

We again made use of Greek fire in the defence of the Castle of
Breteuil, and in the attack on the Castle of Romorentin, in 1356;[110]
but no record remains of its composition or of the way in which it was
projected. It was no doubt similar to Whitehorne’s wild-fire of 1560,
given in Table II. As late as 1571 Greek fire was poured down on the
heads of the Turks, in the primitive fashion, by the Venetians in the
defence of Famagusta.[111]

The phrase “Greek fire” never took root in England, where “wild-fire”
was early substituted for it. Wild-fire is found in Robert of
Gloucester’s “Chronicle,”[112] of the same date as “Richard
Coer-de-Lion.” According to the _Promptorium Parvulorum_, an
English-Latin dictionary compiled in 1440 by Galfridus, a Dominican
of Lynn Episcopi in Norfolk, the phrases “Greek fire” and “wild-fire”
were then synonymous; for he gives as the Latin equivalents of the
latter—“ignis Pelasgus, vel ignis pelagus, vel ignis Græcus.” Among
the ammunition supplied to the troops sent to Scotland under Lord
Lennox in 1545, we find “xx tronckes charged with wylde fyer.”[113]
Whitehorne gives a plate of these tronckes or trombes, which were
hollow wooden cylinders, “as bigge as a man’s thigh and the length of
an ell,” filled with the mixture given in Table II. for the sixteenth
century. In Phillips’ English Dictionary, 1706, wild-fire is described
as (1) “a sort of fire invented by the Grecians about A.C. 777,” and
(2) “gunpowder rolled up wet and set on fire.” It is used in the latter
sense in “Robinson Crusoe,” published in 1719. Before an attack on
the Indians, the sailors “made some wild-fire ... by wetting a little
powder in the palms of their hands” (Part ii. chap. 21). The word is
only heard now in the phrase “spreads like wildfire.”

But though its names have passed away, the thing remains. Greek fire
was used at the siege of Charleston in 1863; in 1870 M. Berthelot
watched its effects when thrown into Paris by German guns; we
ourselves possess it to this day in our Carcass composition.[114]
The sea-fire, on the other hand, was comparatively short-lived, and
I can find no certain evidence of its employment after the year
1200. Its disappearance is easily accounted for. From about the
middle of the eleventh century the Byzantines began to show signs of
an ever-increasing disinclination for war-service either afloat or
ashore,[115] a want of national honour and military energy which Mr.
Finlay ascribes to “a general deficiency of common honesty and personal
courage;”[116] and this moral degeneracy threw naval duties more and
more into the hands of the Venetians and other foreign mercenaries,
to whom the Government may have been unwilling to make known the
secret of the sea-fire. This state of things did not escape the notice
of Benjamin of Tudela, a Jewish traveller of the twelfth century:
“(Les Grecs) entretiennent des soldats à gages de toutes les Nations
qu’ils appellent Barbares, pour faire la guerre au Roi des Peuples
de Togarma appellez Turcs. Car les Grecs eux-mêmes n’ont ni cœur ni
courage pour la guerre. Aussi sont-ils reputez comme les femmes qui
n’ont aucune force pour combattre.”[117] Matters came to a crisis in
1200: in this year Michael Struphnos, the admiral commanding, sold the
naval stores at Constantinople and appropriated the proceeds of the
sale.[118] When, therefore, the pious warriors of the Fourth Crusade
turned their arms against their fellow-Christians and beleaguered the
city in April 1204, there was no sea-fire at hand for use against
their ships, and an attempt to burn them by means of sixteen ordinary
fire-ships was foiled by the activity of the Venetian sailors.[119]
The accession of the Latin dynasty to the throne of Constantinople in
this year was a serious hindrance to the reemployment of sea-fire.
The Latins were ignorant of its composition, and they were not likely
to gain information upon the subject from the few Greeks who were
acquainted with it; for these Christians did not love one another.
Finally, saltpetre was discovered not many years afterwards, and
its substitution for customary ingredients in the later editions of
existing “Fire-books”[120] proves that it was utilised without delay
for Greek fire, which thus became a more formidable incendiary than

The Greeks had no hand in the invention of cannon. One of their
historians of the fifteenth century, when speculating on the subject
in his narrative for the year 1389, says the Germans were commonly
believed to have been the inventors.[121] Could the Greeks, then, have
been in possession of saltpetre-mixtures many centuries before? Is it
credible that people with intellect as keen as the Greeks employed
an explosive for long ages without hitting upon the idea of metal
guns? Yet judging from the manner in which Chalcocondyles speaks of
cannon in his narrative for 1446, they were even then but little known
to the Greeks. “Cannon,” he tells his countrymen, “are formidable
instruments, which no armour can resist, and which penetrates through
everything.”[122] No historian of the ability of Chalcocondyles would
have spoken in this manner about an arm which was well known.

The fact that the first recorded use of fire-arrows on Greek soil
was made by Persian archers,[123] lends some probability to the
view that Greek fire was originally borrowed from the East; but the
Greeks assuredly invented the sea-fire which was the palladium of the
Empire for several centuries. To the discovery of saltpetre they have
no legitimate claim. The claim put forward in their name is based
partly on a metaphor,[124] partly on the assumption that the effects
of sea-fire could have been only produced by a mixture containing
saltpetre; and it cannot be sustained. The hypothesis that Kallinikos
compounded a saltpetre mixture ignores the highly probable conclusion
that saltpetre was not discovered until the thirteenth century;[125]
fails to explain some statements, and is irreconcilable with other
statements made by the ancients; and involves many incredible

It may be objected that this conclusion has been arrived at without
taking the evidence of the chief witness for the Greeks, Marcus Græcus.
Let us examine his _Liber Ignium_.



(_Du Theil’s text_[126] _with Berthelot’s numeration_)

  Incipit Liber Ignium a Marco Græco descriptus, cuius
  virtus et efficacia ad comburendos hostes tam in mari
  quam in terra plurimum efficax reperitur; quorum primus
  hic est.

1. Recipe sandaracæ puræ libram I., armoniaci liquidi ana. Haec simul
pista et in vase fictili vitreato et luto sapientiæ diligenter obturato
deinde (?); donec liquescat ignis subponatur. Liquoris vero istius haec
sunt signa, ut ligno intromisso per foramen ad modum butyri videatur.
Postea vero IV. libras de alkitran græco infundas. Haec autem sub tecto
fieri prohibeantur, quum periculum immineret. Cum autem in mari ex
ipso operari volueris, de pelle caprina accipies utrem, et in ipsum de
hoc oleo libras II. intromittas. Si hostes prope fuerint, intromittes
minus, si vero remoti fuerint, plus mittes. Postea vero utrem ad veru
ferreum ligabis, lignum adversus veru grossitudinem faciens. Ipsum
veru inferius sepo perungues, lignum prædictum in ripa succendes, et
sub utre locabis. Tunc vero oleum sub veru et super lignum distillans
accensum super aquas discurret, et quidquid obviam fuerit concremabit.

2. Et sequitur alia species ignis quæ comburit domos inimicorum in
montibus sitas, aut in aliis locis, si libet. Recipe balsami sive
petrolii libram I., medulæ cannæ ferulæ libras sex, sulphuris libram
I., pinguedinis arietinæ liquefactæ libram I., et oleum terebenthinæ
sive de lateribus vel anethorum. Omnibus his collectis sagittam
quadrifidam faciens de confectione prædicta replebis. Igne autem intus
reposito, in aërem cum arcu emittes; ibi enim sepo liquefacto et
confectione succensa, quocumque loco cecidit, comburit illum; et si
aqua superjecta fuerit, augmentabitur flamma ignis.

3. Alius modus ignis ad comburendos hostes ubique sitos. Recipe
balsamum, oleum Æthiopiæ, alkitran et oleum sulphuris. Haec quidem
omnia in vase fictili reposita in fimo diebus XIV. subfodias. Quo
inde extracto, corvos eodem perunguens ad hostilia loca sive tentoria
destinabis. Oriente enim sole, ubicumque illud liquefactum fuerit,
accendetur. Unde semper ante solis ortum aut post occasum ipsius
præcipimus esse mittendos.

4. Oleum vero sulphuris sic fit. Recipe sulphuris uncias quattuor,
quibus in marmoreo lapide contritis et in pulverum redactis, oleum
iuniperi quattuor uncias admisces et in caldario pone, ut, lento igne
supposito, destillare incipiat.

5. Modus autem ad idem. Recipe sulphuris splendidi quattuor uncias,
vitella ovorum quinquaginti unum contrita, et in patella ferrea lento
igne coquantur; et quum ardere inceperit, in altera parte patellae
declinans, quod liquidius emanabit, ipsum est quod quæris, oleum
scilicet sulphuricum.

6. Sequitur alia species ignis, cum qua, si opus, subeas hostiles
domus vicinas. Recipe alkitran, boni, olei ovorum, sulphuris quod
leviter frangitur ana unciam unam. Quæ quidem omnia commisceantur.
Pista et ad prunas appone. Quum autem commixta fuerint, ad collectionem
totius confectionis quartem partem ceræ novæ adicies, ut in modum
cataplasmatis convertatur. Quum autem operari volueris, vesicam bovis
vento repletam accipias et in foramen in ea faciens cera supposita
ipsam obturabis. Vesica tali præscripta sæpissime oleo peruncta cum
ligno marubii, quod ad haec invenietur aptius, accenso ac simul
imposito, foramen aperies; ea enim semel accensa et a filtro quo
involuta fuerit extracta, in ventosa nocti sub lecto vel tecto inimici
tui supponatur. Quocumque enim ventus eam sufflaverit, quidquid
propinquum fuerit, comburetur; et si aqua projecta fuerit, letales
procreabit flammas.

7.Sub pacis namque specie missis nuntiis, ad loca hostilia bacleos
gerentes excavos hac materia repletos et confectione, qui jam prope
hostes fuerint, quo fungebuntur ignem jam per domos et vias fundentes.
Dum calor solis supervenerit, omnia incendio comburentur.[127]

Recipe sandaracae (libram, cerae)[128] libram: in vase vero fictili,
ore concluso, liquescat. Quum autem liquefacta fuerint, medietatem
libræ olei lini et sulphuris superadjicies. Quæ quidem omnia in eodem
vase tribus mensibus in fimo ovino reponantur, verum tamen fimum ter in
mense renovando.

8. Ignis quem invenit Aristoteles quum cum Alexandro ad obscura
loca iter ageret, volens in eo per mensem fieri id quod sol in anno
præparat. Ut in spera de auricalco, recipe seris rubicundi libram
I., stanni et plumbi, limaturæ ferri, singulorum medietatem libræ.
Quibus pariter liquefactis, ad modum astrolabii lamina formetur lata
et rotunda. Ipsam eodem igne perunctam X. diebus siccabis, duodecies
iterando: per annum namque integrum ignis idem succensus nullatenus
deficiet. Quæ enim inunctio ultra annum durabit. Si vero locum quempiam
inunguere libeat, eo desiccato, scintilla quælibet diffusa ardebit
continue, nec aqua extingui poterit. Et haec est prædicti ignis
compositio. Recipe alkitran, colophonii, sulphuris crocei, olei ovorum
sulphurici. Sulphur in marmore teratur. Quo facto universum oleum
superponas. Deinde tectoris limaginem ad omne pondus acceptum insimul
pista et inungue.

9. Et sequitur alia species ignis, quo Aristoteles domos in montibus
sitas destruere incendio ait, ut et mons ipse subsideret. Recipe
balsami libram I., alkitran libras V., oleum ovorum et calcis non
extinctae libras X. Calcem teras cum oleo donec una fiat massa; deinde
inunguas lapides ex ipso et herbas ac renascentias quaslibet in diebus
canicularibus, et sub fimo eiusdam regionis sub fossa dimittes;
postea[129] namque autumnalis pluviæ dilapsu succenditur. Terram et
indigenas comburit igne Aristoteles, namque hunc ignem annis IX. durare

10. Compositio inextinguibilis et experta. Accipe[130] sulphur vivum,
colophonium, asphaltum classam, tartarum, piculam navalem, fimum ovinum
aut columbinum. Hæc pulverisa subtiliter petroleo; postea in ampulla
reponendo vitrea, orificio bene clauso, per dies XV. in fimo calido
equino subhumetur, Extracta vero ampulla destillabis oleum in cucurbita
lento igne ac cinere mediante, calidissima ac subtili. In quo si bombax
intincta fuerit ac accensa, omnia super quæ arcu vel ballista proiecta
fuerit, incendio concremabit.

11. Nota quod omnis ignis inextinguibilis IV. rebus extingui vel
suffocari poterit, videlicet cum aceto acuto aut cum urina antiqua vel
arena, sive filtro ter in aceto imbibito et toties desiccato ignem iam
dictum suffocas.

12. Nota quod ignis volatilis in aëre duplex est compositio; quorum
primus est:—recipe partem unam colophonii et tantum sulphuris vivi,
II. partes vero salis petrosi et in oleo linoso vel lamii[131] quod est
melius, dissolvantur bene pulverisata et oleo liquefacta. Postea in
canna vel ligno excavo reponatur et accendatur. Evolat enim subito ad
quemcumque locum volueris, et omnia incendio concremabit.

13. Secundus modus ignis volatilis hoc modo conficitur. Accipias libram
I. sulphuris vivi, libras duas carbonum vitis vel salicis, VI. libras
salis petrosi; quae tria subtilissima terantur in lapide marmoreo.
Postea pulvis ad libitum in tunica reponatur volatili vel tonitrum

Nota, quod tunica ad volundum debet esse gracilis et longa et cum
prædicto pulvere optime conculcato repleta. Tunica vero tonitrum
faciens debet esse brevis et grossa et prædicto pulvere semiplena et ab
utraque parte fortissime filo ferreo bene ligata. Nota, quod in tali
tunica parvum foramen faciendum est, ut tenta imposita accendatur; quæ
tenta in extremitatibus sit gracilis, in medio vero lata et prædicto
pulvere repleta. Nota, quod quæ ad volandum tunica, plicaturas ad
libitum habere potest; tonitrum vero faciens, quam plurimas plicaturas.
Nota, quod duplex poteris facere tonitrum atque duplex volatile
instrumentum, videlicet tunicam includendo.

14. Nota, quod sal petrosum est minera terræ et reperitur in scopulis
et lapidibus.[132] Haec terra dissolvatur in aqua bulliente, postea
depurata et destillata per filtrum, permittatur per diem et noctem
integram decoqui; et invenies in fundo laminas salis congelatas

15. Candela quæ, si semel accensa fuerit, non amplius extinguitur. Si
vero aqua irrigata fuerit, maius parabit incendium. Formetur sphaera de
ære Italico; deinde accipies calcis vivæ partem unam, galbani mediam
et cum felle testudinis ad pondus galbani sumpto conficies. Postea
cantharides quot volueris accipies, capitibus et alis abscisis, cum
aequali parte olei zambac, teras et in vase fictili reposita, XI.
diebus sub fimo equino reponantur, de quinto in quintum diem fimum
renovando. Sic olei foetidi et crocei spiritum assument, de quo sphæram
illinias; qua siccata, sepo inguatur, post igne accendatur.

16. Alia candela que continuum præstat incendium. Vermes noctilucas
cum oleo zambac puro teres et in rotunda ponas vitrea, orificio
lutato cera Græca et sale combusto bene recluso et in fimo, ut iam
dictum est, equino reponenda. Quo soluto, sphæram de ferro Indico vel
auricalco undique cum penna illinias; quæ his iuncta et dessiccata igne
succendatur et nunquam deficiet. Si vero attingit pluvia, majus præstat
incendii incrementum.

17. Alia quæ semel incensa dat lumen diuturnum. Recipe noctilucas
quum incipiunt volare, et cum æquali parte olei zambac commixta, XIV.
diebus sub fimo fodias equino. Quo inde extracto, ad quartam partem
istius assumas felles testudinis, ad sex felles mustelæ, ad medietatem
fellis furonis. In fimo repone, ut iam dictum est. Deinde exhibe in
quolibet vase lichnum, cujuscumque generis, pone de ligno aut latone
vel ferro vel ære. Ea tandem hoc oleo peruncta et accensa diuturnum
præstat incendium. Haec autem opera prodigiosa et admiranda Hermes et
Tholomeus[133] asserunt.

18. Hoc autem genus candelæ neque in domo clausa nec aperta neque in
aqua extingui poterit. Quod est: recipe fel testudinis, fel marini
leporis sive lupi aquatici de cuius felle Tyriaca. Quibus insimul
collectis quadrupliciter noctilucarum capitibus ac alis præcisis
adicies, totumque in vase plumbeo vel vitreo repositum in fimo
subfodias equino, ut dictum est, quod extractum oleum recipias. Verum
tum cum æquali parte prædictorum fellium et æquali noctilucarum
admiscens, sub fimo XI. diebus subfodias per singulares hebdomades
fimum renovando; quo iam extracto de radice herbæ que cyrogaleonis[134]
et noctilucis pabulum factum, ex hoc liquore medium superfundas. Quod
si volueris, omnia repone in vase vitreo et eodem ordine fit. Quolibet
enim loco repositum fuerit, continuum præstat incendium.

19. Candela quæ in domo relucet ut argentum. Recipe lacertam nigram
vel viridem, cuius caudam amputa et desicca; nam in cauda eius argenti
vivi silicem reperies. Deinde quodcumque lichnum in illo illinitum ac
involutum in lampade locabis vitrea aut ferrea, qua accensa mox domus
argenteum induet colorem, et quicumque in domo illa erit, ad modum
argenti relucebit.

20. Ut domus quælibet viridem induat colorem et aviculæ coloris
ejusdem volent. Recipe cerebrum aviculæ in panno involvens tentam et
baculum, inde faciens vel pabulum in lampade viridi novo oleo olivarum

21. Ut ignem manibus gestare possis sine ulla læsione. Cum aqua fabarum
calida calx dissolvatur, modicum terræ Messinæ, postea parum malvæ
visci adicies. Quibus insimul commixtis palmam illinias et desiccari

22. Ut aliquis sine læsione comburi videatur. Alceam cum albumine
ovorum confice, et corpus perungue et desiccari permitte. Deinde coque
cum vitellis ovorum iterum, commiscens terendo super pannum lineum.
Postea sulphur pulverisatum superaspergens accende.

23. Candela quæ, quum aliquis in manibus apertis tenuerit, cito
extinguitur; si vero clausis, ignis subito renitebitur: et haec
millies, si vis, poteris facere. Recipe nucem Indicam vel castaneam,
eam aqua camphoræ conficias, et manus cum eo inungue, et fiet confestim.

24. Confectio visci est cum si aqua projecta fuerit, accendetur ex
toto. Recipe calcem vivam, eamque cum modico gummi Arabici et oleo in
vase candido cum sulphure confice; ex quo factum viscum et aqua aspersa
accendetur. Hac vero confectione domus quælibet adveniente pluvia

25. Lapis qui dicitur petra solis in domo locandus, et appositus
lapidi qui dicitur albacarimum (_alba ceraunia?_). Lapis quidem niger
est et rotundus, candidas vero habens notas, ex quo vero lux solaris
serenissimus procedit radius. Quem si in domo dimiseris, non minor quam
ex candelis cereis splendor procedit. Hic in loco sublimi positus et
aqua compositus relucet valde.

26. Ignem Græcum tali modo facies. Recipe sulphur vivum, tartarum,
sarcocollam et picem, sal coctum, oleum petroleum et oleum gemmæ.
Facias bullire invicem omnia ista bene. Postea impone stuppam et
accende, quod, si volueris, exhibere (poteris ?) per embotum ut supra
diximus.[135] Stuppa illinita non extinguetur, nisi urina vel aceto vel

27. Aquam ardentem sic facies. Recipe vinum nigrum spissum et vetus
et in una quarta ipsius distemperabuntur unciæ II. sulphuris vivi
subtilissime pulverisati, lib. II. tartari extracti a bono vino albo,
unciæ II. salis communis; et subdita ponas in cucurbita bene plumbata
et alembico supposito destillabis aquam ardentem quam servare debes in
vase clauso vitreo.

28. Experimentum mirabile quod fecit homines ire in igne sini læsione
vel etiam portare ignem vel ferrum calidum in manu. Recipe succum
bisvalvæ et albumen ovi et semen psillii et calcem et pulverisa;
et confice cum albumine succis (?) raphani et commisce. Et ex hac
commixtione illinias corpus tuum et manum et desiccare permitte et post
iterum illinias; et tunc poteris audacter sustinere sine nocumento.

29. Si autem velis ut videatur comburi, tunc accenditur sulphur, nec
nocebit ei.

30. Candela accensa quæ tantam reddit flammam quæ crines vel vestes
tenentis eam comburit. Recipe terebenthinam et destilla per alembicum
aquam ardentem, quam impones in vino cui applicatur candela et ardebit

31. Recipe colophonium et picem subtilissime tritum et ibi cum tunica
proicies in ignem vel in flammam candelæ.

32. Ignis volantis in aëre triplex est compositio. Quorum primus fit de
sale petroso et sulphure et oleo lini, quibus tritis, distemperatis et
in canna positis et accensis, poterit in aërem sufflari.

33. Alius ignis volans in aëre fit ex sale petroso et sulphure vivo et
ex carbonibus vitis vel salicis; quibus mixtis et in tenta de papiro
facta positis et accensis, mox in aërem volat. Et nota, quod respectu
sulphuris debes ponere tres partes de carbonibus, et respectu carbonum
tres partes salpetræ.

34. Carbunculum gemmæ lumen præstantem sic facies. Recipe noctilucas
quam plurimas; ipsas conteras in ampulla vitrea et in fimo equino
calido sepelias et permorari permittas per XV. dies. Postea ipsas
remotas destillabis per alembicum et ipsam aquam in cristallo reponas

35. Candela durabilis maxime ingeniosa fit. Fiat archa plumbea vel
ænea omnino plena intus et in fundo locetur canale gracile tendens ad
candelabrum, et præstabit lumen continuum oleo durante.

  Explicit liber Ignium.



  Acetum, 11, 26

  Æs, 17, 35

   ”  Italicus, 15

   ”  Rubicundus, 8

  Æthiopiæ Oleum, 3

  Alambicum,  27, 30, 34

  Albacarimum (Alba Ceraunia ?), 25

  Alcea ?, 22

  Alkitran, 1, 3, 6, 8, 9

  Ammoniæ Liquor, 1

  Anethorum Oleum, 2

  Aqua Ardens, 27, 30

  Arena, 11, 26

  Argentum Vivum, 19

  Asphaltum, 10

  Astrolabium, 8

  Auricalcum, 8, 16

  Aviculæ Cerebrum, 20

  Balsamum, 2, 3, 9

  Bismalvæ Succum, 28

  Bombax, 10

  Calx, 21, 28

    ”  non Extincta, 9

    ”  Viva, 15, 24

  Camphoræ Aqua, 23

  Cantharides, 15

  Carbo Salicis, 13, 33

  Carbo Vitis, 13, 33

  Carbunculum, 34

  Cera, 6, 7, 13

  Colophonium, 8, 10, 12, 31

  Cucurbita, 10, 27

  Cyrogaleo (Cynoglossum ?), 18

  Embotum, 26

  Fabarum Aqua, 21

  Ferri Limaturæ, 8

  Ferrum, 17

     ”  Indicum, 16

  Filtrum, 6, 11

  Fimum Columbinum, 10

    ”  Ovinum, 10

  Furonis Fel, 17

  Galbanum, 15

  Gemmæ Oleum, 26

  Gummi Arabicum, 24

  Juniperi Oleum, 4

  Lacertus Niger, 19

     ”     Viridis, 19

  Lamii Oleum, 12

  Laterum Oleum, 2

  Laton, 17

  Leporis Marini Fel, 18

  Lini Oleum, 7, 12, 32

  Lupi Aquatici Fel, 18

  Lutum Sapientiæ, 1[136]

  Malvæ Viscus, 21

  Marrubii Lignum, 6

  Medulla Cannæ Ferulæ, 2

  Mustelæ Fel, 17

  Noctilucæ, 17, 18, 34

  Nux Castanea, 23

   ”  Indica, 23

  Oleum, 24, 35

   ”  Foetidum, 15

  Olivarum Oleum, 20

  Ovorum Albumen, 22, 28

    ”  Oleum, 6, 8, 9

    ”  Vitella, 5, 22

  Petroleum, 2, 10, 26

  Picula, 10

  Pinguedo Arietina, 2

  Pix, 26, 31

  Plumbum, 8, 35

  Psillii Semen, 28

  Raphani Succum, 28

  Sal Coctus, 26

   ”  Combustus, 16

   ”  Communis, 27

  Sal Petrosus, 12, 13, 14, 32, 33

  Sandraca, 1, 7

  Sarcocolla, 26

  Stannum, 8

  Stuppa, 26

  Sulphur, 2, 4, 6, 22, 24, 29, 32, 33

    ”  Croceum, 8

    ”  Oleum, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8

    ”  Splendidum, 5

    ”  Vivum, 10, 12, 13, 26, 27, 33

  Tartarum, 10, 26, 27

  Terebenthina, 30

        ”      Oleum, 2

  Terra Messinæ, 21

  Testudinis Fel, 15, 17, 18

  Tyriaca, 18

  Urina, 11, 26

  Vermes Noctilucæ, 16

  Vinum, 30

    ”  Album, 27

    ”  Nigram, 27

  Zembac Oleum, 15, 16, 17

M. Berthelot (i. 100 _ff._) gives the best existing text of the
foregoing tract, founded on Paris MSS. 7156 and 7158 collated with the
Munich MS. 267. He adds extracts from the Munich MS. 197, dated 1438.
Herr von Romocki gives the text reproduced here and the Nürnberg MS. of
a somewhat later date than the Paris MSS., say 1350.[137]

A glance at the text given here shows that, far from being a formal
and connected treatise, it is a medley of recipes thrown together with
very little method and without any literary skill. Of the thirty-five
recipes (in Du Theil’s MS.) fourteen are war mixtures, six relate to
the extinction of incendiaries or the prevention and cure of burns,
eleven are for lamps, lights, &c., and four describe the preparation
of certain chemicals—one of them, No. 14, giving a mode of refining
saltpetre. The war mixtures consist of nine recipes for various fires,
Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 24, and 26; one for fire-arrow composition,
No. 10; and four for rockets and Roman candles (including a “cracker”),
Nos. 12, 13, 32, and 33. Nos. 9, 15, and 24 contain quicklime; 12, 13,
14, 32, and 33 contain saltpetre.

A closer examination leads to the conclusion that the tract is the work
of neither one author nor one period. As we read of such ingredients
as weasel’s gall (17) and paste of glow-worms (16); of the mercury to
be found in black and green lizards’ tails (19); of the mixture which
ignites incontinently at sunrise, wherewith crows are to be anointed
and despatched against the enemy (3), we seem to hear the chant of the
witches in “Macbeth”:—

  “Eye of newt and toe of frog,
  Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
  Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
  Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.”

These recipes embody the same traditions as the war recipes of the
“Kestoi” of Sextus Julius Africanus, which belong to the seventh
century. But on turning to Nos. 32 and 33, we find recipes as precise
and formal as those of Hassan er-Rammah, who wrote in the last
quarter of the thirteenth century. The description of the rocket
and its composition (13) is as definite and intelligible as many
a recipe of the seventeenth century: recipes 8 and 17, with their
allusions to Hermes, the mythical Alexander the Great, Aristotle the
wizard and Ptolemy the magician, belong to a far earlier period. In
short, the extraordinary contrast in style and matter, phraseology
and diction, between certain recipes and others, leads irresistibly
to the conclusion that the oldest recipes are separated from the
youngest by several centuries, and that the tract (as we possess it)
was not the work of one man, but of several. There is a kernel of old
recipes, to which others were added from time to time. This conclusion
receives strong support from the fact that no two of the MSS. are of
the same length. The Munich MS. contains twenty-two, Berthelot’s text
thirty-five, and the Nürnberg MS. twenty-five recipes.

The best judges date the oldest existing MSS., Paris, 7156 and 7158, at
about 1300 A.D., and Abd Allah tells us that saltpetre was known to the
Spanish Arabs in the second quarter of the thirteenth century.[138] The
saltpetre recipes, therefore, 12, 13, 14, 32, 33, lie between the years
1225 and 1300. We shall call them, for convenience of reference, the
“Late Recipes.”

No one who carefully studies the remaining recipes can fail to observe
that many of them are marked by archaism of style, form and matter, and
that they hand down to us ancient alchemical traditions, or traces of
them; while others display no such peculiarities. Let us then, again
for mere convenience, divide them into two series—the “Early Recipes,”
which possess these peculiarities, and the “Middle Recipes,” which do
not. To what periods do these two series belong?

No. 26, apparently the most modern of the Middle Recipes, will
presently be shown to belong to the early part of the thirteenth
century, and, as it does not contain saltpetre, its approximate date
is 1200-1225. There is no evidence, so far as I am aware, which would
enable us to fix the beginning of the Middle or the end of the Early
Recipes. The matter, happily, is immaterial; it is sufficient for us to
know that the former series is undoubtedly subsequent to the latter,
and (as will be shown) quite independent of it.

For a reason which will appear presently, the date of the oldest of the
Early Recipes depends upon the period at which Moslems began to write
upon alchemy. According to Arab authorities,[139] the first Moslem who
wrote on the subject was Prince Khalid ibn Yazeed ibn Moawyah, who died
in 708. After him came the real Jabir, of the eighth or ninth century;
but Masudi, in the tenth century, tells us that there were many other
writers on alchemy whose names are now lost.[140] The very earliest
date, then, that can be assigned to the oldest of the Early Recipes is
the eighth century, say 750.

The three series are as follows:—

  |     Early Recipes,      | Middle Recipes,   |  Late Recipes,  |
  |         750-  ?         |    ?  -1225.      |   1225-1300.    |
  |                         |                   |                 |
  | 1, 2, 3 6, 7, 8, 9, 1O, | 4, 5, 11, 22, 24, | 12, 13, 14, 32, |
  | 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, | 26, 27, 28, 29,   | 33              |
  | 21, 23, 25, 34          | 30, 31, 35        |                 |

Looking from the chemical point of view, M. Berthelot divides the
recipes into six groups.[141] Those who are interested in the matter
will find on examination that, chronologically, his groups harmonise
perfectly with the three series given here.

The reader will observe on a cursory examination of the Latin text that
most of the recipes contain foreign, _i.e._ non-Latin words; and this
fact suggests the question, Is the _Liber Ignium_ an original work or a

The number of foreign words and allusions is so considerable as to
leave little doubt that a large part of the tract was translated from
some foreign language, and no one, I believe, seriously maintains that
the work, as a whole, is original. From what language, then, has it
been translated?

We meet with the Greek proper names Hermes, Ptolemy, Alexander and
Aristotle, and with a number of Greek words which look like survivals
of a Greek original. Among the most prominent are alba ceraunia (?),
asphaltum,[142] bombax, cynoglossum (?), orichalcum and sarcocolla,
all of which are latinised Greek words. But on looking closely into
this evidence we find that it has very little weight. The Greek proper
names prove nothing. Hermes and Ptolemy became common property to
alchemists of all nationalities in the infancy of alchemy. Alexander
the Great’s extraordinary career excited universal wonder, and the many
and marvellous legends which grew round his name in the West were only
surpassed by those of the East. He and his Wazir, Aristu (Aristotle),
were common property long before the _Liber Ignium_ saw the light.
The Greek words give no support to the hypothesis of a Greek original
unless it can be shown either that they had not previously been adopted
by the Latins, or that the tract was written before they were borrowed.
A particular instance will make the matter clearer. We took the word
_harquebus_ from the French at some period, say _p_. If harquebus
occurs in an English book written after _p_, its presence raises no
presumption that the book was in any way connected with France, or
even that its author understood French. If the book was written before
_p_, its author must have had recourse, directly or indirectly, to
French sources. Now all the Greek words given above had been latinised
long before the _Liber Ignium_ was written, and might have been used by
a Latin when translating from any language. Alba ceraunia, asphaltum,
bombax, cynoglossum and sarcocolla are found in Pliny’s “Natural
History,” first century A.D., and orichalcum occurs in the “Bragging
Soldier” of Plautus about the end of the third century B.C. But it is
unnecessary to continue the examination of the Greek words contained
in the tract for the following reason. A hypothesis must cover all the
facts of a case, and some facts in the present case are inexplicable on
the theory of a Greek original.

The Greeks had three words for the asphalt family, _pissa_,
_asphaltos_, and _naphtha_; and the translator had at least three Latin
words (which he has actually used) wherewith to translate them, _pix_
(or _picula_), _asphaltum_, and _petroleum_. How, then, came he to use
the barbarism, _alkitran Græcum_, in recipe 1? The original of this
phrase came from no Greek source.

We could not expect the author of the tract to reveal the secret of the
sea-fire, which was only known to a few officials; but the mediæval
Greeks were not an exceptionally modest people, and we naturally
look for some slight allusion to this triumphant incendiary and the
siphons in which it was employed. They are never referred to, although
ballistæ, bows, and rockets are mentioned in recipes 10, 12, 13, 32, 33.

The title of the tract, _Liber Ignium, a Marco Græco descriptus_,
assuming it to have been correctly and literally translated, was not
written by a Byzantine Greek. No Byzantine Greek ever described himself
(or a compatriot) as a Greek: “in the lowest period of degeneracy and
decay the name of _Roman_ adhered to the last fragments of the Empire
of Constantinople.”[143] The writer of the title, therefore, was either
a Moslem or a western.

The author of recipe 26, _Ignem Græcum_, &c., was neither a Greek nor
a Moslem. No Greek[144] or Moslem[145] writer ever uses the phrase
“Greek fire,” which sprang up in the West during the Crusades.[146]
The recipe, therefore, cannot have been written before the siege of
Nice, 1097, the first act of the first crusade, and it was probably
not written until long afterwards. The phrase “Greek fire” must have
taken some time to reach the West, and it spread there very slowly.
Abbé Guibert de Nogent, who died in 1124, speaks of “discharging
from machines the fire they call Greek” (_Græcos, quos ita vocitant,
Ignes injicere machinis_).[147] At the close of the century William
the Little, Canon of St. Mary’s, Newburgh, Yorkshire, mentions “a
certain kind of fire which they call Greek “ (_quodam ignis genere
quem_ _Græcum dicunt_)[148] Such modes of expression show that Greek
fire was very little known in the West during the twelfth century.
In the _Liber Ignium_, on the other hand, it is spoken of without
qualification or explanation, like sulphur or pitch, as a substance
too well known to require note or comment. The 26th recipe, therefore,
belongs very probably to the first quarter of the thirteenth century,
and its author was certainly a western.

The hypothesis of a Greek original, then, must be abandoned, even
though old Greek alchemical traditions are crystallised in the Early
Recipes. The Greeks founded alchemy in remote times; their methods were
transmitted through the Syrians and Egyptian Greeks to the Moslems;
and a large number of their recipes had become common property long
before the _Liber Ignium_ was written. But Greek science did not spread
equally in all directions, at least to any appreciable extent. It
spread to the south and east only, and the west owed its knowledge of
alchemy to the Arabs who invaded Spain in 710 A.D. This fact may throw
some light upon the Arabic words and allusions to be found in the tract.

In a very old recipe, No. 9, we meet with the phrase, “the first fall
of the autumnal rain “ (_primo autumnalis pluviae dilapsu_), which
indicates the regular, periodic rains of the East, and is apparently
the translation of خريف (kharif) = the autumnal rains. The beginning
of these rains was an event of great importance to the Arabs. “Suivant
Masudi,” says Baron de Sacy, “les Arabes nomment l’automne وسمي
(_wasmy_), à cause des pluies qui tombent en cette saison, parceque
la terre, étant alors très-sèche, et n’ayant pas été humectée depuis
longtemps, la première pluie qui vient à tomber imprime sa marque sur
la terre.... Il ajoute que les Arabes commencent l’année à l’équinoxe
d’automne, parceque c’est l’époque où commence à tomber la pluie à
laquelle ils doivent leur subsistance.”[149]

_Alambicum_ is apparently the latinised form of the Spanish
_alambique_, which is simply the Arabic الانبيق (_al-ambiq_)—whatever
the derivation of the Arabic word may be.

استرلاب (_Asturlab_), although found in Masudi[150] and the “Arabian
Nights,”[151] is not a genuine Arab word. It was borrowed from some
other language by the Arabs, who possessed few or no scientific words
of their own. The “Nihayet al-Adab” tells us (in Lane’s “Arabic
Dictionary,” under _asturlab_) that the names of all instruments by
which time is known, whether by means of calculation or water or
sand, are foreign to the Arabic language. In most Arabic dictionaries
_asturlab_ is derived from the Greek ἀστρολάβος, a word which appears
to go back no further than the second century B.C., when it was
employed by the Egyptian astronomer, Ptolemy. But it was long suspected
that the instrument was of eastern origin,[152] and all doubt about
the matter was at length set at rest by Mr. George Smith’s discovery,
in the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh, of the fragment of an
astrolabe,[153] which cannot be dated later than the eighth century
B.C. Now the earliest recorded astronomical observation made by the
Greeks was the determination of the summer solstice by Meton, 430
B.C.[154] For the name of this fragment, therefore, we must look to the
language of the country of its birth; and there we find the Persian
_asturlab_, which is apparently formed from the primitive verbal root
_labh_ = taking,[155] and the Persian _astar_ or _sitára_ = Pehlevi,
_çtârak_ = Zend, _çtare_ = Sanskrit, _star_ = our own _star_. The Arabs
most probably took their _asturlab_, with so many other words, from
the Persian. The Greeks who followed Alexander the Great into Persia
found there much that was new to them. They saw for the first time
“the cotton tree and the fine tissues and paper for which it furnished
the materials.”[156] They handled the wool of the great Bombax tree.
They found naphtha, of whose properties Alexander was entirely
ignorant.[157] They obtained drugs and gums of which they knew
nothing. The philosopher Kallisthenes discovered in Babylon Chaldæan
astronomical observations extending back to 721 B.C.;[158] was shown,
we cannot doubt, the instrument with which they were made; and probably
heard for the first time the word _asturlab_ or _usturlab_.

For copper (or some alloy of it[159]) the _cyprium_ of Pliny (which
became _cuprum_ about the end of the third century A.D.) is ignored in
the tract, and the metal is called _æs rubicundus_. This phrase may
possibly represent the χαλκὸς ἐρυθρός of Homer (Il. ix. 365); but it is
far more probably the literal translation of the Arabic phrase used to
this day for copper نحاس احمر (_nuhas ahmar_) = red brass.

Four (so-called) sulphurs are mentioned by both Pliny and the writers
of the _Liber Ignium_, but their names are identical in only one
case, _sulphur vivum_. Two sulphurs are named in the tract from their
colour, after the oriental fashion, _sulphur splendidum_ and _sulphur
croceum_. Masudi speaks in the tenth century of “white, yellow,
and other kinds of sulphur,”[160] and “white and red sulphur” are
mentioned in the _Ayin Acberi_, a Persian MS. quoted by the Baron de
Sacy.[161] Several sulphurs, all named from their colour, are given in
the _Liber Secretorum_, translated from the Arabic or Persian, _cir._
1000 A.D.,[162] and similar sulphurs are found in the Syriac treatise
reproduced by M. Berthelot, ii. 159-60. Finally, the Hindus had four
sulphurs, white, red, yellow, and black.[163]

The Arabs had no special word for bitumen: _bitumen_ is not to be found
in the tract.

_Alkitran_, the Spanish _alquitran_, which is used five times, is pure
Arabic, القطران (_al-qitran_).

In three successive recipes we meet an Arabic word in its native form,
without any attempt to translate it—زنبق (_zembaq_). Its meaning is
doubtful, for a reason given by Baron de Sacy: “Le nom zambak est
commun à plusieurs plantes. Forskål le donne à _l’iris_ et au _lis

We have already met with two Arabic words which were adopted unchanged,
and are still used, by the Spaniards, alembic and alkitran. There are
other traces of Spain.

Roger Bacon observes in his “Greek Grammar” (p. 92) that the alloy
_auricalcum_ is in no way connected with _aurum_, gold, but is a
corruption of _orichalcum_. The Spaniards, however, retained in their
language the corrupt form auricalco, and auricalcum occurs twice in the

We may gather from Lebrixa’s explanation of “bitumen Judaicum”—“est
quod græce dicitur asphaltos”[165]—that the Spaniards had no special
word for asphalt; _asphaltum_ is used only once in the tract, recipe
10. But they used _petroleo_ for petroleum;[166] _petroleum_ is found
in recipes 2, 10, and 26. This word, in the form _petra oleum_, is used
in the Anglo-Saxon “Leechdoms,” published in the Rolls Series, which
Rev. O. Cockayne, the editor, dates at 900; ii. 289. The Spaniards did
not use the word _naphtha_, which is described by Lebrixa as “el fuego
como de alquitran.” _Naphtha_ does not occur in the tract, although it
is found in Latin and Greek authors of the first and second centuries
A.D.; in Pliny’s “Natural History,” ii. 109 (105); in Dioskorides, i.
101; and in Plutarch’s “Alexander,” 35. It appears as _naphathe_ in
the “Speculum” of Vincentius Bellovacensis, 1228; _l._ i. _c._ 92.
The commonest Spanish word for one or other of the asphalt family,
_alquitran_, occurs (as before mentioned) five times in the tract.

On referring to the Chemical Index, p. 68, it will be found that all
the foregoing Arabic and Spanish words occur in the Early Recipes. The
Middle Recipes contain only one Arabic word, _alambic_, recipes 27 and
30, which is also found in the Early Recipes, No. 34; and one Spanish
word, _petroleo_, recipe 26, which occurs twice in the earlier series,
Nos. 2 and 10. Now, Spain was the only European country in which
Arabic was understood during the Middle Ages. “In all Europe, outside
Spain, but three isolated Arabists of that time are known—William of
Tyre, Philip of Tripoli, and Adelard of Bath.”[167] Pagnino printed
an edition of the Qur’an at Venice in 1530, and it was immediately
suppressed by the Church; “a precaution hardly required,” says Hallam,
“while there was no one able to read it.”[168] Furthermore, we know
that a series of Latin translations of Hebrew and Arabic MSS. were
made in Spain between the years 1182 and 1350.[169] We may therefore
conclude with some little probability:—

1°. That the Early Recipes were translated from a lost Arabic original.

2°. That the translator was a Spaniard.

3°. That the translation was made between the years 1182 and 1225.

4°. That to this translation were added by other hands, before 1225,
the Middle Recipes, which practically contain neither Hispanicism nor
Arabism, and which make no mention of saltpetre.

5°. That the Late Recipes were inserted towards the close of the
thirteenth century.[170]

On accepting these conclusions, the difficulties raised by the
hypothesis of a Greek original vanish. The Spanish translator had no
need to translate the _alkitran_ of the Arabic writer, for the word was
Spanish as well as Arabic. Like all westerns, he called the Byzantines
Greeks, and a certain incendiary Greek fire. Neither Moslem nor
Spaniard was likely to speak of the sea-fire. Moslems would be loth
to recall the disasters at Cyzicus and elsewhere, when this incendiary
made havoc of their ships; Spaniards knew nothing about it. Owing
to the secrecy maintained by the Imperial Government, westerns knew
very little about Byzantine pyrotechnics. “At the end of the eleventh
century the Pisans ... suffered the effects, without understanding the
cause, of the Greek fire.”[171] The Princess Anna Comnena ascribes the
defeat of the Pisans in a naval battle fought in 1103, to an unknown
incendiary employed by the Greeks.[172] In both cases the incendiary
could only have been the sea-fire, for the Latins had been acquainted
with ordinary incendiaries for a thousand years. As late as 1204, the
Emperor Baldwin I., in a manifesto to all Christians, declares that the
Greeks used “machines and defences to protect their capital (in this
year) which no one (from the West) had ever seen before.”[173]

It is time to inquire who was Marcus Græcus. He has been fancifully
identified with many of the Marci of history and fable, and M. Dutens
discovered him in the second century A.D. The views of M. Dutens must
be noticed here, because they have been unwarily adopted by some good

There exists a Latin translation of a lost Arabic treatise on medicine,
_De Simplicibus_, supposed by some to have been written by Masawyah of
Damascus in the eleventh century,[174] while others, with M. Dutens,
assign it to Yahya ibn Masawyah, who attended the Caliph Mamoun on
his deathbed,[175] 833 A.D. The question before us is, does the _De
Simplicibus_ (whatever its date) contain any reference to Marcus? When
mentioning the use of syrup of cyclamen, Masawyah quotes the opinions
of other physicians: “The son of Serapion said (so and so) ... and a
Greek (physician) says (so and so)” (_dixit filius Serapionis ... et
dicit Græcus_).[176] On the last two words, _dicit Græcus_, M. Dutens
builds his theory that the Greek physician was no other than Marcus:
“Ce qui paroît fort probable, est que (Marcus Græcus) devoit vivre
avant le médicin arabe, Mesué, qui a paru au commencement du neuvième
siècle, puisque celui-ci le cite.[177] By this mode of reasoning,
which is generally called “begging the question,” Marcus Græcus may be
identified at will with any Greek who ever lived. M. Dutens continues:
“Fabricius croit que (Marcus Græcus) est le même dont Galen parle dans
un endroit de ses ouvrages, au quel cas il serait du temps requis pour
appuyer mon sentiment.” It would be strange indeed to find mention of
a Latin writer or book in a _Bibliotheca Græca_, and I have failed to
verify M. Dutens’ reference. In the editions of Fabricius’ work which
I have consulted he expresses no such belief, nor does he allude to
Marcus Græcus. In the list Fabricius gives of ancient physicians there
are several who bear the name of Marcus, but no Marcus Græcus. The
last of these Marci happens to be simply called “Marcus,” and of him
Fabricius says: “This Marcus, who is mentioned by Galen in his book on
compounding medicines, may possibly have been one of the foregoing”
(_Marcus, simpliciter, Galeno in compositionibus medicamentorum_
κατὰ τόπους, _l._ iv. _c._ 7, _quem credibile fuisse unum ex illis

The _Liber Ignium_ was written from first to last in the period of
literary forgeries and pseudographs, which produced the “Book of
Hermes,” “The Domestic Chemistry of Moses,” the alchemical works of
Plato and of Aristotle and of the Emperor Justinian, and so on; and
we may reasonably conclude that Marcus Græcus is as unreal as the
imaginary Greek original of the tract which bears his name.

Had the last editor of the _Liber Ignium_, who added the saltpetre
receipts, any knowledge of an explosive?

We need not linger over the Roman candle of No. 12, or the rocket of
No. 13: had their charges been explosive there would have been an end
of the candle and rocket, and of the men who fired them. The cracker
of No. 13 was a toy intended to “go off with a bang,” without hurt to
the bystanders. The case was to be as strong as possible and securely
fastened at both ends with iron wires. It was to be half filled with
rocket composition, a mixture which burned in a cracker-case precisely
as it burned in a rocket-case—with progressive combustion. Now Roger
Bacon had a similar toy, constructed with the very same object, _i.e._
“to go off with a bang,” the case of which was “merely a bit of paper.”
Why was there this marked difference, then, between the two cases?
Because the noise was produced in the one by the explosion of the
charge and in the other by the rupture of the case. Bacon’s charge
(as will be shown in Chap. viii.) was gunpowder, and the required
“bang” was directly produced by its explosion. Marcus’ toy was charged
with an incendiary, the combustion of which did not produce a “bang”
directly, but which produced one indirectly by ultimately bursting
open the thick, stout case. The gases generated by its combustion
“gradually developed until the case burst,”[179] just as a bladder
bursts “with a bang” when over-inflated. Had Bacon’s toy been charged
with an incendiary, the case, which was only a sheet of paper, would
have been set on fire by the heated gases long before their pressure
had reached the bursting point, and there would have been no “bang.”
Had Marcus’ toy been charged with an explosive, it would have exploded
destructively, and what was intended for a public diversion would have
proved a common danger, owing to the thickness of the case and the
iron wire coiled round it. There is nothing in the tract to show that
its authors had any notion of explosives, and their silence, without
any assignable motive, is strong evidence that they knew nothing about
them. It is incredible that pyrotechnists who seldom omit to call
attention to the effects of their incendiaries,[180] should have failed
to make some allusion to explosives if they possessed them. Their
silence was not owing to fear of the Church, for the decree of the
Second Council of the Lateran was directed against the very mixtures
which form the staple of the _Liber Ignium_, incendiaries.[181] The
12th and 13th recipes contain the ingredients of the future gunpowder;
they form the last link in the long chain of evolution which connects
the incendiaries of primitive times with gunpowder; but they were not
gunpowder, because they did not explode. The chrysalis, we know, will
become a butterfly if it lives; nevertheless it would be an abuse of
language and a misrepresentation of fact to call it a butterfly.

The reader can now appreciate the value of the argument that the
Greeks possessed an explosive between the seventh and thirteenth
centuries, _because_ Marcus Græcus describes one; and he can understand
why Marcus was not summoned in Chap. iii. to give evidence for the

A suspicion may be raised by the Arabic origin of the _Liber Ignium_,
that the people who approached so nearly to the manufacture of
gunpowder may have ultimately reached it. We pass, therefore, to a
consideration of Arabic incendiaries in the following chapter.



Although the Arabs had had relations with the Greeks, Romans, and
Persians for centuries, and were acquainted with the details of the
siege of Jerusalem, 70 A.D., the earliest allusion to their use of
machines is the tradition that Jodhaimah, King of Heerah, constructed
manjánik in the third century A.D.[182] The scarcity of timber in
Arabia may partially explain the lateness of their introduction, and
the position of Heerah, in the north-east province of Arabian Irak,
raises a suspicion that the Arabs learned the use of machines from the
Persians, who got them from the Greeks.

When the Prophet besieged Tayif in 8 A.H. (630 A.D.), the defenders
had recourse to heated projectiles.[183] We may safely assume that
they were the balls of hot clay spoken of in the 11nth Sura of the
Qur’an, in describing the destruction of the Cities of the Plain:
“we rained upon them stones of baked clay.”[184] Half a century
afterwards, 683, during the siege of Mecca, the Ka’aba was burned
down by incendiary compositions, discharged, not by Arabs, but by
Syrians, who doubtless understood the manipulation of naphtha and the
other combustibles used.[185] In 712 the howdah in which sat Dahir,
King of Alor in Scinde, was set on fire by a fire-arrow shot by a
Moslem naphtha-thrower[186]—the same nature of projectile that had
been used by the Persian archers at the taking of Athens, 480 B.C.
In speaking of the capture of Alor, both Mir Ma’sum Bhakkari, in his
“History of Scinde,” and Haidar Razi, in his “General History,” mention
the employment of _atish bazi_, or fire-throwing machines, “which the
Moslems had seen in use with the Greeks and Persians.”[187] Stones were
discharged from machines to so little purpose at the siege of Heraclea,
805, that Harun er-Reshid urged his generals to fasten incendiaries
to them. This was done with such effect that the resistance of the
besieged at once collapsed, the inhabitants being terror-stricken
at the sight of the flaming naphtha.[188] There is no trace of an
explosive here, yet a French Arabist would have us believe that muskets
were in use during this Caliph’s reign.

_Al-bunduqani_, the man who carries a _bunduq_, which in this
connection is a contraction for _qaus al-bunduq_, or simply _qaus
bunduq_,[189] was an epithet bestowed on Harun by the public, or
assumed by himself; and in translating one of the “Arabian Nights”
with this title, M. Gauttier remarks: “Bondouk signifie en Arabe
harquebuse, albondoukani signifie l’arquebusier.”[190] This argument
may be illustrated by a more familiar one: “Jonathan gave his artillery
unto his lad” (1 Sam. xx. 40); but artillery signifies cannon;
therefore, &c. &c. It may be remarked that _arquebuse_ is ambiguous.
“Avant d’être une arme à feu l’arquebuse était une arme à jet,” says
Dr. Dozy,[191] who is supported by M. Scheler: “l’arquebuse était à
son origine une sorte d’arbalète.”[192] Assuming, however, as Gauttier
evidently did, that _arquebuse_ meant a firearm, his argument only
establishes the use of firearms in the ninth century, if we take
_signifie_ as equivalent to _means now, in the year 1822, and meant
also in the time of Harun_. The question, therefore, turns upon the
meaning of the words _bunduq_, or _qaus bunduq_, in the time of the
great Caliph, and an anecdote told by Masudi leaves no doubt about what
that meaning was.[193] He tells us that in the time of Muhtadi Billah,
868-9, a negligent porter was sentenced by his master to be tied up
(apparently in a room or courtyard) and shot at fifty times by a man
armed with a _qaus bunduq_, which carried leaden _bunduq_. There is not
the slightest allusion to charge, cartridge, gunpowder, wad, or match,
nor to the operation of loading. The ammunition consisted solely of
leaden balls. Although the marksman sent his fifty _bunduq_ home, the
porter was so little the worse for his punishment that, when all was
over, he made a coarse but cutting remark to his tormentor. There can
be no question of firearms here: one, or at most two bullets fired by
so good a shot from any firearm ever constructed would have silenced
the porter for ever. The marksman was _al-bunduqani_, the _bunduq_ were
leaden balls, and the _qaus bunduq_ was a pellet-bow = stone-bow[194]
= كلوله كمان (golulé keman) = _golail_, used to this day by the Karens
of Burma, and known to everybody who has been in India. Such is the
explanation of _qaus bunduq_ given by the commentator Tabrizi in a note
on one of Motanebbi’s poems—a bow which discharges a ball as big as a
hazel nut.[195] The bow itself is a long-bow with two strings joined at
their centre by a bit of cloth or soft leather, which supports a ball
generally of baked clay or stone. If Hansard’s plate be correct, the
western stone-bow was a cross-bow with two strings.[196] The golail, as
we learn from one of the oldest of the “Arabian Nights,” was chiefly
used for shooting birds, squirrels, &c.: “he shooteth birds with a
pellet of clay,”[197] ببندقة من طين. Again, when the first Kalandar
missed his bird and hit the Wazir in the eye, he was using a _qaus
al-bunduq_,[198] قوس النبدق. The insult conveyed by the words of the
Sultan Kai-kubad, when speaking of the dead leader of the Mughals, lay
in the fact that the golail was not a soldier’s weapon, but merely a
sporting implement: “No one would condescend to shoot an arrow at a
dead body; it is only a pellet-ball that is fit for such (carrion) as
this.”[199] We need not pursue the matter further: in the primitive and
simple golail is found the musket carried by the Caliph Harun er-Reshid.

From a passage in the “Chachnama,” given in Barnes’ “Travels into
Bokhara,” it is clear that the Moslems in their invasion of India
relied upon incendiaries to meet the attacks made upon them with
elephants, which are very much afraid of fire. At the battle of Alor,
712, already mentioned, the Moslems “filled their pipes” (_hukkaha-e
atish bazi_ = grenades or siphons) “and returned with them to dart fire
at the elephants” (i. 67). This fact goes far to explain a difficulty
raised by the words _toofung_ (musket) and _tope_ (cannon) found in
some MSS., in place of the _khudung_ (arrow) and _nuft_ (naphtha)
given in other copies of Ferishta’s account of the battle fought near
Peshawur in 1008. He says: “On a sudden the elephant upon which the
prince who commanded the Hindus rode, becoming unruly from the effects
of the _naphtha balls_ and the flights of _arrows_, turned and fled.
This circumstance produced a panic among the Hindus, who, seeing
themselves deserted by their general, gave way and fled also.”[200]
The best critics reject the readings _musket_ and _cannon_ in this
passage. These words were unknown to other Indian historians, and the
circumstances of the case make the use of an incendiary exceedingly

“I am slow in believing this premature use of artillery,” says Gibbon;
“I must desire to scrutinise first the text and then the authority
of Ferishta.” “These readings must be due to interpolators,” adds
Professor Bury.[201] “It appears likely,” says General Briggs,
the translator of Ferishta, “that Babar was the first invader who
introduced great guns into Upper India, in 1526, so that the words
_tope_ and _toofung_ have been probably introduced by ignorant
transcribers of the modern copies of this work, which are in general
very faulty throughout.”[202]

Sir H. M. Elliot says: “The _Tarikh-i Yamini_, the _Jami’u-t Tawarikh_
of Rashidu-d Din, the _Tarikh-i Guzida_, Abu’l Fida, the _Tabakat-i
Nasiri_, the _Rauzatu’-s Safa_, the _Tarikh-i Alfi_ and the _Tabakat-i
Akbari_, though almost all of them notice this important engagement ...
and mention the capture of thirty elephants, yet none of them speak of
either _naft_ or _tope_.”[203]

Finally, we must remember that there is an abundant supply of naphtha
in the neighbourhood of Peshawur,[204] and that the practice of
throwing incendiary missiles was universal in Asia long before the
battle in question. The Ka’aba, as we have seen, was burnt down by
incendiaries in 683, and this tremendous event of course became
instantly known all over Islam. At the battle of Alor, 712, the
Moslems specially prepared incendiaries to repulse the attacks of the
elephants. Igneous projectiles were employed by Harun er-Reshid in 805
at the siege of Heraclea. The last day of the siege of Baghdad, 813,
is described by the poet Ali as “a day of fire”: “the machines played
from the hostile camps ... and fire and ruin filled Baghdad.”[205] So
well known were incendiary shell in Persia at the close of the tenth
century that Firdusi mentions them in the episode of Nushirvan and
Porphyry: “The Romans began the fight from the gates and discharged
arrows and pots (of fire).”[206] In 1067 Shems al-Mulk Nasr, when
besieging Bokhara, ordered incendiaries to be discharged against some
archers posted in the minaret of the Grand Mosque. The wooden roof of
the minaret took fire, the sparks fell upon the main building, and in
the end the whole mosque was burned down.[207]

We may rest assured, then, that the words Ferishta wrote in his
account of the battle near Peshawur, 1008, were _naphtha_ and _arrow_,
not _musket_ and _cannon_.

Far from possessing muskets in the ninth century, there is no evidence
to show that the Arabs had firearms, that is, arms charged with an
explosive, during the whole of the Crusade period, 1097-1291. So
strange and deadly an agent of destruction as gunpowder could not
possibly have been employed in the field without the full knowledge
of both parties; yet no historian, Christian or Moslem, alludes to
an explosive of any kind, while all of them carefully record the use
of incendiaries. The Arab accounts of these campaigns will be found
collected together in M. Reinaud’s _Extraits des Historiens Arabes
relatifs aux guerres des Croisades_, Paris, 1829; the Christian
accounts are scattered in various volumes; but they teach us no more
than we have learnt already in the two preceding chapters about
incendiaries and Greek fire: “les projectiles incendiaires ont pu
rester à peu près les mêmes pendant toutes ces Croisades.”[208]

At the siege of Nice, first Crusade, we read of the Saracens
throwing balls of pitch, oil and fat against the machines of the
Christians.[209] Fire-arrows bearing pitch, wax, sulphur, and tow were
discharged from the walls of Jerusalem during the siege in the same

During the second Crusade we find the Arabs making use of similar
incendiaries,[211] mixtures practically identical with that of
Æneas Tacticus, _cir._ 350 B.C., given in Table II. Shell full of
burning naphtha were used at the siege of Acre, 1189-91, in the third
Crusade;[212] and Richard of England, on his voyage thither, sank a
ship which an eye-witness had seen laded at Beyrut with ballista,
bows, arrows, and lances, and a large supply of Greek fire secured in
bottles (_ignem Græcum abundanter in phialis_),[213] a phrase which
reminds us of the 18th recipe of the _Liber Ignium_ of Marcus Græcus:
“put the mixture in a glass bottle” (_hoc in vase vitreo ponatur_). For
the sixth Crusade, we have the invaluable _Histoire du Roy Saint Loys_
of Joinville, who describes the terror excited by the incendiaries of
the Moslems, believed by all to be the work of the Powers of Darkness.
“Quant le bon chevalier Messire Gaultier mon compagnon vit ce feu, il
s’escrie et nous dist: Seigneurs, nous sommes perduz á jamais sans
nul remède. Car s’ilz bruslent nos chaz chateilz, nous sommes ars
et bruslez; et si nous laissons nos gardes, nous sommes ahontez....
Et toutes les fois que nostre bon Roy saint Loys oyoit qu’ils nous
gettoient ainsi ce feu, il se jettoit à terre, et tendoit ses mains
la face levée au ciel, et crioit à haulte voix à nostre Seigneur, et
disoit en pleurant à grans larmes: Beausire Dieu Jesuchrist, garde moy
et tout magent,” &c.[214] Yet the incendiaries which created all this
panic appear to have wounded but few and to have killed nobody!

Although no evidence is forthcoming to show that explosives were used
in Palestine during the Crusade period, there is good evidence, it
has been said, to prove that gunpowder was used by the Arabs in Spain
during the thirteenth century.

The first, I believe, to start the theory that the Spanish Arabs
possessed gunpowder at this early period was Michael Casiri, a
Maronite, who was librarian of the Escorial and published his
_Bibliotheca Arabico Hispana Escurialensis_ in 1760-70; and his method
of supporting his theory when translating the MS. of Shehab ben Fadhl,
which he dates at 1249, was the simple one of translating barud by
_pulvis nitratus_, the recognised Latin phrase for gunpowder.[215] Had
he translated _barud_ by _saltpetre_ no difficulty could have arisen,
since an Arab alchemist, Abd Allah, states that saltpetre was so called
in the West during the second quarter of the thirteenth century.[216]
There would be nothing surprising, therefore, in finding saltpetre
mixtures employed in Spain at this period; but saltpetre mixtures, such
as the last three given in Table II., are not necessarily explosive.
Not only is Casiri’s translation of _barud_ unwarrantable, but he
probably dates his MS. a century too early. M. Reinaud, a safe guide,
believes that the MS. is Al-Omari’s, and dates 1349,[217] eighteen
years after the siege of Cividale where the Germans used cannon,[218]
and three years after _Cressy_ where we certainly had guns.[219]

Casiri’s methods are well illustrated by his translation of an Arabic
passage relating to the siege of Baza, 1325, by Ismael ben Nasr, King
of Granada. The literal translation of the passage is as follows: “He
(the King) marched through the enemy’s country to the town of Baza,
which he invested and attacked. By means of a great machine provided
with naphtha (made up in) hot (burning) balls, he struck the arch of
an inaccessible tower.”[220] According to Casiri the passage reads:
“Shifting his camp, he besieged with a large army the town of Baza,
where, by applying fire, he discharged (_explosit_) with much noise
a great machine, provided with naphtha and a ball, into a fortified
tower.”[221] He introduces, it will be observed, an explosion
(_explosit_) into a passage which neither mentions nor suggests one.
The application of fire has no place in the original, and suggests the
ignition of an explosive charge. He changes the meaning of the original
by gratuitously inserting an _and_ between naphtha and ball, which
were one and the same thing. He leaves us to infer that the charge was
naphtha, though it was not explosive and could not project a ball. He
speaks of the explosion being accompanied by a loud noise, of which
there is nothing in the original. The incendiary balls are mentioned
in another Arabic account of this siege, translated by Conde in his
_Historia de la Dominacion de los Arabes en Espagna_, p. 593: “The
Arabs attacked the city night and day with machines and engines which
threw balls of fire with a loud noise” (_combatio la ciudad de dia y
noche con maquinas é ingenios que lanzaban globos de fuego con grandes

In this passage the discharge of the incendiary balls is said to
have been accompanied by “thunderings,” and at the siege of Niébla,
1257, we are again told that the Moors “launched stones and darts
from machines, and missiles of thunder with fire” (_lanzaban piedras
y dardos con maguinas, y tiros de trueno con fuego_).[222] From this
innocent metaphor, _trueno con fuego_, the Emperor Leo’s “thunder
with smoke,” has been wrenched the meaning that the Arabs possessed
a train of artillery. “Il n’y a rien à cela que de vraisemblable,”
says the Emperor Napoleon III.[223] Nothing, I venture to think, can
be more unlikely. The Arab writer is dealing with machines which, he
says in his own way, discharged stones and darts, and also igneous
missiles which burned with much noise. Another Arab, already quoted
(p. 4), gives a freer rein to his fancy: the projectiles “roar like
thunder; they flame like a furnace; they reduce everything to ashes.”
In plain words, they are incendiaries. The writer makes no allusion to
the effect of their momentum or shock; he impresses on us the effect
of their essential quality—their incendiary power, exaggerating the
noise made by their combustion. Joinville writes in a similar style of
Greek fire: “La manière du feu grégeois estoit telle ... Il faisoit tel
bruit à venir qu’il sembloit que ce fust fouldre qui cheust du ciel ...
et gettoit si grant clarté qu’il faisoit aussi cler dedans nostre ost
comme le jour, tant y avoit grant flamme de feu.”[224] Unless we make
due allowance for the luxuriant Oriental imagination, we may despair
of ever being able to reach the meaning of the Eastern writers. One of
them wants to explain that the ditch of a fort was deep and wide, and
he tells us it was “broad as the ocean and fathomless.”[225] Wishing to
state that on the arrival of the army on its banks, the Nerbudda, which
happened to be in flood, subsided quickly, another writer says: “You
might say that it (the river) was a remnant of the universal deluge.
As the miraculous power of the saintly Sultan accompanied the Army, all
the whirlpools and depths became of themselves immediately dry on the
arrival of the Army, and the Musulmans passed over with ease.”[226] A
similar indulgence in metaphor, although not so unbridled, is found in
European writers. For instance, Vegetius likens the projectile hurled
by an onager to a thunderbolt;[227] and the Princess Anna Comnena
compares the fiery particles blown by the breath through a popgun, or
spitfire, to lightning.[228]

It is hardly necessary to examine the accounts given by Conde of the
siege of Tarifa, 1340, and by Casiri of the siege of Algesiras, 1342,
since both sieges took place some years after that of Cividale, 1331.
The reader will find the two accounts ably analysed in Reinaud and
Favé, pp. 70-74.

If the Arabs had possessed an explosive in the thirteenth century, the
fact must have been known to their alchemists, and they show no such
knowledge. There is not an allusion to saltpetre in the Leyden Arabic
MS. of 1225.[229] Hassan er-Rammah, who died in 1295, knew nothing
of explosives. In speaking of saltpetre in the year 1311, Yusuf ibn
Ismaël al-Juni says: “The people of Irak use it to make a fire which
tends to rise and move. Saltpetre increases the ease and rapidity
of ignition.”[230] This sentence contains the sum total of Yusuf’s
knowledge of saltpetre mixtures. He was aware of the effects of their
progressive combustion, but he knew nothing about their explosive

By whomsoever gunpowder was invented, it was not by the Arabs.



In the third quarter of the eighteenth century, by order of Warren
Hastings, a committee of Brahmins collected a body of Gentoo (or
Hindu) laws from a number of ancient Sanskrit books. These laws were
translated into Persian under the superintendence of one of the
Brahmins, and the Persian version was translated into English in 1776
by Mr. N. B. Halhed, Bengal Civil Service. In his preface he states
that gunpowder had been known in India “far beyond all periods of
investigation,” a conclusion arrived at by a method now familiar to the
reader: “the word ‘firearms’ is literally in Sanskrit _agni astra_ ...
Cannon in the Sanskrit idiom is _shataghni_.”

_Agni_ is found in the Latin _ignis_ = fire; _astra_, Romocki explains,
is connected with the Slav _ostr_ = point (of an arrow, &c.); and
the compound _agniastra_ is simply a fire-arrow or rocket. In the
_shataghni_, or “hundred killer,” we have some weapon described in the
exaggerated style usual in early times and by no means confined to
India. When Sigurd struck an anvil with his sword Gram, “he cleft it
down to the stock thereof;”[231] and “if one smote a mountain” with
al-Mahik (the annihilator) the sword of Gharib, “‘twould overthrow
it.”[232] There is nothing to connect the _shataghni_ with fire: indeed
it seems to have been a mace, for in the “Raghuvansa” the demon is
said to have laid his iron-headed shataghni upon Rama, just as Kuvera
laid his club on Jamraj.[233] No mention of any projectile discharged
by an explosive is to be found in Manu’s “Code of Laws,” and to Manu
belongs a passage in the “Code of Gentoo Laws” (p. 53) which either
Halhed has mistranslated from the Persian, or the Persian translators
have mistranslated from the Sanskrit. Professor Rāy has unearthed
the original text of Manu (vii. 90), and gives the correct translation:
“The king shall not slay his enemies in battle with deceitful or barbed
or poisoned weapons, nor with any having a blade made red hot by
fire,[234] or tipped with burning materials.”[235] Halhed’s translation
is: “The magistrate shall not make war with any deceitful machine, or
with poisoned weapons, or with cannon and guns, or with any other kind
of firearms.” Mephistopheles was right:—

  “Mit Worten lässt sich trefflich streiten,
  Mit Worten ein System bereiten.”

Halhed’s mistakes might have been forgotten had they not been revived
and elaborated by Professor G. Oppert in an essay “On the Weapons,
&c., of the Ancient Hindus,” London, 1880. His argument is briefly
this: firearms are clearly mentioned in the “Laws of Manu” and two very
ancient Sanskrit poems; therefore at some very remote period the Hindus
possessed an explosive which, for whatever reason, fell into disuse

“Does the passage in Manu refer to firearms or not?” asks Dr. Oppert.
“In our opinion it certainly alludes to them” (p. 70). We need not
recur to the mistranslation of Manu already noticed.

The two poems on which Dr. Oppert relies for further evidence are
the _Nitiprakásika_ of Vaisampayana, and the _Sukraniti_ of Sukra.
According to the former, the Hindu deities, Sita, Indra, Krishna, &c.,
were authors of “books on polity.” Brahma’s contribution to literature
consisted of 10,000,000 double verses (p. 36). The constitution of an
army was as follows (p. 5):—

  Foot                       2,187,000,000

  Horse                         21,870,000

  Elephants                        218,700

  Chariots                          21,870

The “arms in use” of one species were forty-four in number; of another
species, fifty-five. Rabelais has only succeeded in cataloguing
forty-six arms in the introduction to the third book of “Pantagruel.”
Lest the ninety-nine arms in use might fail to ensure success, a spell
(of thirty-two syllables) is given (p. 10) which would bring certain
victory to him who repeated it 32,000 times. Both of these veracious
works, however, undoubtedly mention cannon and muskets, and a recipe
for gunpowder is given in the _Sukraniti_.[236]

Dr. Oppert makes no critical examination of the texts of these poems to
ascertain whether they contain the interpolations to be found in most
Oriental works. Of their age he only says that “no Chinese work ...
can, with respect to antiquity, be compared with the _Sukraniti_” (p.
45). As the reader will find in the following chapter, this implies a
considerable age.

It is hard to believe that gunpowder was known to a people whose
language contained no word for saltpetre;[237] that cannon were used by
men whose books make no allusion to gunpowder, with the exception just
mentioned. “It is peculiar,” says Dr. Oppert, “that powder should not
have been mentioned in Sanskrit works” (p. 63). The same peculiarity
is observable in Anglo-Saxon works, and is probably due to the same
cause. But the fatal objection to the existence of this very early
explosive is the admitted fact that after a time it was discarded and
forgotten. Writers who lightly tell us so are apparently unconscious
of the greatness of the demand they make upon our credulity. They ask
us, in effect, to accept the astonishing proposition, that a nation
voluntarily surrendered, without any assignable cause, an incalculable
“advantage” in the “struggle for existence”—the eager, continuous,
and unending preparation for self-defence which is, in Mr. Bagehot’s
words, “the most showy fact” in human history. It is infinitely more
probable that the passages in the two poems which mention gunpowder and
cannon were interpolated by the scribes of after-ages than that the
Hindus wantonly broke the first and strongest law of human nature, the
law of self-defence. There can be no reasonable doubt that the recipe
for gunpowder in the _Sukraniti_ is an interpolation. The proportions
are given in the first place as 5:1:1, and then it is added, “if the
powder is to be used for a gun,” let them be 4:1:1, or 6:1:1.[238] And
why not 5:1:1 also? This recipe was not written by a gunner: it is the
handiwork of some charlatan of the sixteenth or seventeenth century,
who imagined that, by making a certain mystery about the proportions
5:1:1, he should give a semblance of great antiquity to the recipe.
But he blundered badly about the proportions. The proportions 4:1:1
were only reached by the Swedes about the middle of the sixteenth[239]
century, and approached by the English about the middle of the
seventeenth,[240] and powder of such strength would have blown weak,
early bombards to pieces. Other sound reasons are given by competent
critics for rejecting from first to last the allusions to firearms
contained in the two poems. A critic in _Nature_ points out that a
work which mentions the Hunas (Huns or Europeans) cannot be of the
age apparently assigned by Dr. Oppert to the _Nitiprakásika_.[241]
“Oppert,” says Sir R. Burton, “shows no reason why the allusions
to, and descriptions of, gunpowder and firearms should not be held
modern interpolations into these absurd compositions.”[242] Mr. W. F.
Sinclair concludes from the strong resemblance between the firearms
described and those which we know were imported into India during
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, either that the MSS. date
no further back than the sixteenth century, or that the allusions to
firearms were interpolated at that period.[243] “One is naturally led
to suspect,” says Professor Ray, “that the lines (of the _Sukraniti_)
relating to gunpowder ... are interpolations.” The suspicion is further
enhanced when it is borne in mind that in the “Polity of Kamandaki,”
an ancient work of undoubted authenticity, “there occurs no reference
whatever to firearms, nor is there any in the _Agnipurana_, in which
the subject of training in the use of arms and armour takes up four
chapters.... The more rational conclusion would be that the _Sukraniti_
is a patchwork, in which portions of chap. iv. were added some time
after the introduction of gunpowder in Indian warfare during the
Moslem period.”[244] “The last chapter is apparently spurious,” says
Rajendralala Mitra, “as it describes guns as they existed a hundred
years ago.”[245] Finally, Herr von Romocki utterly rejects Dr.
Oppert’s theory.[246]

The military history of India confirms the conclusions of the writers
who have been quoted: not a fact is to be found there which lends any
support to the theory of early gunpowder in India.

The employment of gunpowder in Europe revolutionised the art of war
and affected, more or less, almost every human institution. “The
military art,” says Gibbon, “has been changed by the invention of
gunpowder.... Mathematics, chymistry, mechanics, architecture, have
been applied to the science of war.”[247] Gunpowder, says A. Comte,
“en emprimant à l’art de la guerre un caractère de plus en plus
scientifique, a directement tendu à intéresser tous les pouvoirs à
l’actif dévellopement continu de la philosophie naturelle.”[248] We
may reasonably assume that the discovery of so tremendous an agent as
gunpowder would have produced in India some few effects, at least,
similar in their general features to the effects it produced in Europe.
To mention one or two details: Sanskrit would have coined a word for
saltpetre, which it did not possess; the use of the bow would have
been curtailed; a lasting mark would have been put on fortifications;
and some few specimens of the early firearms might have survived. Not
a trace of these or similar changes is to be found; not a vestige of
early firearms has remained. General Cunningham thought that the state
of the ruins of certain ancient Kashmir temples proves the use of an
explosive in their destruction,[249] but more prolonged observation
shows that their condition is chiefly the effect of natural agencies.
“The fingers of Time, and moderate movements of the earth, have been
making openings in some of the other old Hindu buildings in Kashmir,”
such as the little temple of Payach and the splendid temple of Martand;
“and from their appearance it may be believed that these same agencies,
together with undermining work applied for wilful destruction, could
do what has been done.”[250] The plentiful supply of saltpetre to be
found in the valley of the Ganges has been brought forward as a proof
that the ancient Hindus must have had gunpowder, but the fact proves
nothing. How many centuries did coal lie within reach of man’s hand,
in England and elsewhere, before it was discovered and made use of?
The attractive property of the magnet was known to Plato in the fifth
century B.C., and Lucretius in the first century B.C. devotes a long
passage of his poem to it (vi. 909-1089); yet its property of pointing
north and south when free to move horizontally is first distinctly
mentioned (in Europe) in the twelfth century A.D.[251]

Early Indian gunpowder is a fiction.

The first gunpowder and firearms used in India were neither invented
nor manufactured by the Hindus: they were imported during the
Middle Ages from the West. The guns of Upper India entered through
Afghanistan; those of Western India were brought by ships. Let us
consider the latter first.

“If any reliance is to be placed on Moulla Daud Bidury, the author of
_Tohfutu-s Salutin_,” says General Briggs, “guns were used (in 1368)
by the Hindus (of Bijanagar), and in a subsequent passage (Ferishta
remarks) that the Muhammadans used them for the first time during the
next campaign. But I am disposed to doubt the validity of both these
statements.... Ferishta ... also observes that Turks and Europeans
skilled in gunnery worked the artillery. That guns were in common use
before the arrival of the Portuguese in India in 1498, seems certain
from the mention of Faria y Sousa.”[252]

The first observation suggested by this passage is, that Ferishta does
not say the Hindus had _guns_ on this occasion; he says they had عرابه
(_’arábah_),[253] a word which originally meant a _cart_. In the early
days of field artillery the guns were carried in carts,[254] from which
they were taken and laid on trestles when required for use. Wheeled
gun-carriages only came into general use in Europe during the reign of
Louis XI. of France (1461-83).[255] Things followed the same course in
India, and the word ’arába thus came in time to have two meanings; most
arába being simply carts, some being (so to speak) gun-carriages. Then
later writers arose who insisted that all ’arába were gun-carriages at
the early date of 1368, because _some_ ’arába were gun-carriages in
and after 1526. Ferishta (who died about 1611) fell into the trap, and
after him fell several modern historians.

Secondly, General Briggs’ conclusion about guns in India before 1498
seems somewhat unguarded. It is beyond dispute that firearms were used
on the west coast of India during the last quarter of the fifteenth
century, but the evidence we possess points to the conclusion that
they belonged almost exclusively to Arab and Portuguese ships. The
fact that Captain Cook cruised on the coast of Otaheite in 1769 in
a ship equipped with firearms, does not warrant the conclusion that
the natives possessed firearms. Ferishta was writing about events
which took place two hundred years before he was born, and there is a
particular reason for doubting the existence of firearms in Bijanagar
at this early period.

In 1441 ’Abd ur-Razzak, who had been sent to India by Shah Rukh on an
embassy to Calicut, visited Bijanagar, whose ruins may still be seen on
the banks of the Tumbhadra. He has given us a full and amusing account
of what he saw, bursting forth into poetry on the ugliness of the

  “I have loved a moon-faced beauty,
   But I cannot fall in love with every black woman.”[256]

He was present at the great review held during the festival of
Mahanawi, when “the number of people and the huge elephants resembled
the green sea and the myriads which will appear on the Plains of the
Resurrection.” Not an allusion is made to firearms, although he notices
the naphtha-throwers mounted on elephants.[257]

Ferishta tells us that in the year 887 A.H. (A.D. 1482), Mahmoud Shah
Begurra of Gujarat, hearing that Cambay was likely to be raided by the
pirates of Bulsar, collected a fleet containing “a force of gunners,
musketeers, and archers,” and defeated them. On this passage General
Briggs remarks: “This is the first mention of artillery and musketry
in the Gujarat history. They were probably introduced by the Arabs and
Turks from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.”[258] The firearms that came
from the Persian Gulf must have been few and far between. Writing in
1549, a Jesuit says: “The Persians use no bombards or arms of this

There is no mention of the Bulsar expedition in the “History of
Gujarat,” by Ali Muhammad Khan, translated by Mr. J. Bird.

The _Mirat-i Sikandari_, a history of Gujarat translated by Sir E. C.
Bayley, speaks of an attack made by Mahmoud on certain pirates as early
as 878 A.H. (A.D. 1473), but neither Bulsar nor firearms are mentioned.
We are told, however, that during a previous expedition in the same
year against the island of Sankhodhar, the infidels (Hindus) “resisted
bravely and kept up a sustained discharge of arrows and muskets” (pp.

Ferishta relates that during the siege of Champanir, 1484, a shell
(_hookah_) fell on the Rajah’s palace; but he does not state how it was
discharged, nor whether it was explosive or incendiary.[260]

On landing at Calicut in 1498, Vasco da Gama and his followers were
led through the streets with tomtoms beating, and from time to time an
_espingarda_, or musket, was fired off.[261] The town seems to have
possessed only one of these weapons. At least, the soldiers of the
guard who mounted over Gama after he had been arrested were not armed
with espingardas, but with swords, daggers, and bows,[262] and no
mention is made of there being any cannon in the town.

In 1502 a sea-fight took place in these waters between a Portuguese
man-of-war and a Moorish (Arab) ship, during which the Arab bore down
on the Portuguese, “pouring in her shot, and then made away.”[263]
The original says: “Una nube de flechas sobre nuestra gente y algunas
balas;” _i.e._ a cloud of arrows and some balls.[264] These balls were
undoubtedly cannon balls.

It is stated in MSS. 826-8, _Bib. Nat._, Paris, that in 917 A.H. (A.D.
1511-12) Modhaffer Shah of Gujarat sent to Kansuh, King of Egypt,
asking him for arms and cannon to enable the Gujaratis to defend
themselves against the Europeans; “the people of India not having
hitherto possessed Artillery of any kind.”[265] In answer to this
request, Hossain was sent to sea in command of a considerable fleet.
If Mahmoud possessed ships with guns in 1482, how came it that in 1511
the Gujaratis were sending round the world begging for firearms? Had
Mahmoud merely hired for the occasion from the Arabs the ships and
guns with which he crushed the Bulsar pirates? It is impossible to
say categorically; but two facts may be extracted from the foregoing
conflicting statements—first, that firearms were used by Arab and
Portuguese ships on the west coast of India before the Hindus possessed
them, and secondly, that there was an espingarda in the town of Calicut
in 1498.

Whatever doubt there may be about the exact date at which the natives
of Western India first procured firearms from the foreign ships which
visited their shores, there can be none about the first employment of
artillery in Upper India.

As has been already stated, the machines of the Greeks were adopted
at an early period by the Persians, from whom they were eventually
borrowed by the Arabs, Mughals, &c. The Hindus in turn adopted
the machines they saw employed by their invaders and named them,
according to their custom, after the part of the world they came
from—_maghribíha_ = _western_ (machines or manjaník). At the abortive
attack on Rantambhor, 1290, Sultan Jalalu-d Din ordered Westerns
to be erected.[266] The Hindus had collected materials for making
incendiaries before being besieged in the same fortress by Sultan
Alau-d Din in 1300. “Every day the fire of those infernals fell on the
light of the Moslems, and, as there were no means of extinguishing it,
they filled bags with clay and prepared entrenchments.... The Royal
Westerns shot large earthen balls against that infidel fort.... The
stones from the ballistas and catapults within and without the fort
encountered each other half-way and emitted lightening.”[267] During
the attack on Arangal, 1309, the Westerns “were played on both sides
and many were wounded.”[268] The mud walls were so strong and elastic
that the balls of the Westerns rebounded off them “like nuts which
children play with.”[269] Eventually the “western stone-balls” formed a
breach and the fort fell. Such is the account given by Amir Khusru who
died in 1315, of whom Sir H. M. Elliot says (vi. 465):—“He is full of
illustrations and leaves no manner of doubt that nothing like gunpowder
was known to him.” Near the close of the century, 1398-9, the Hindus
besieged by Timur in Bhatnir “cast down in showers arrows and stones
and fireworks upon the heads of the assailants.”[270] At the attack
on Chanderi, 1527-8, “the Pagans exerted themselves to the utmost,
hurling down stones and throwing flaming substances on the heads”
of Babar’s troops.[271] In 1528-9, the Hindus succeeded in igniting
with “fireworks, turpentine, and other combustibles” some hay which
the Mughals had collected in the fort of Lucknow. The heat became so
intolerable that the Mughals retired and the fort was taken.[272]

It is needless to enlarge the list of quotations: incendiaries pursued
much the same course in Upper India as in Greece and Arabia. No
reliable evidence of an explosive is to be found until the 21st April
1526, the date of the decisive battle of Panipat, in which Ibrahim,
Sultan of Delhi, was killed and his army routed by Babar, the Mughal,
who possessed firearms great and small.[273]

On the introduction of Artillery the word _maghribiha_ was gradually
replaced by the more definite word _feringiha_ = European. At Panipat
the Artillery of the left centre was commanded by Mustapha Rumi, whose
name is sufficient proof of his western origin. But traces of European
artisans are to be found long before this. When the King of Gor crossed
the Attok in the twelfth century, he had with him “skilful Franks,
learned in all the arts.”[274] The success of the attack on Chitor in
1591, by Buhadur, Sultan of Gujarat, was chiefly due to his engineer,
Labri Khan of Frengan = Frangistan, the country of the Franks.[275]
Speaking of the Mughal Artillery in 1695, Dr. Careri tells us that
it was “all, especially the heavy Artillery, under the direction of
Franks, or Christian gunners, who had extraordinary pay.”[276]

Haidar Mirza gives us one or two details about Babar’s guns which
deserve a passing notice.[277] There was a _zarb-zan_, or swivel gun,
carrying a ball of 500 _miskals_, and a heavier gun throwing a “brass”
ball which weighed 5000 _miskals_, and cost 200 _miskals_ of silver.
The former was drawn by four, the latter by eight pairs of bullocks.
Let us adopt the weight of the _miskal_ given in Steingass’ “Persian
Dictionary,”—1-3/7 drachms = 39.045 grs. troy, which makes the weight
of Babar’s large ball 34 lbs. nearly.[278] Its price, 200 _miskals_,
would then be 7809 grs. troy of pure (silver), or (since our standard
shilling is 87.27 grs. troy and its fineness 37/40) 96.7 shillings of
our present money. The price of a 10.18 lbs. ball of the same material
would consequently be 29s., including the cost of manufacture. The
price of the English 4” bronze ball of 10.18 lbs. given here in Table
X., is 26.468d., or about 22s. of our present money, exclusive of the
cost of manufacture. Adding 7s. to cover the cost of manufacture,[279]
its price would be about 29s. The value of the alloy in our shilling
has been neglected here, and Queen Elizabeth’s money may not have been
worth exactly seven times our money; but making full allowance for both
these errors, the prices of the two balls approximate as closely as can
be reasonably expected.

Gunpowder was not invented by the Hindus: its discovery by them would
have fallen little short of a miracle. The extinction of Buddhism
about the ninth century A.D., and the consequent establishment of
a dominant priestly class, were a deathblow to the cultivation of
physical science. By the seemingly innocent institution of _caste_, the
Brahmins succeeded in trampling science in the dust. One caste was not
permitted to touch this, another caste could not touch that substance;
and the higher the caste, the greater the number of forbidden objects.
The study of experimental science was consequently thrown back upon the
lowest and poorest classes, who had neither the means, the leisure, nor
the inclination to pursue it. Thus “the spirit of inquiry gradually
died out,” says a Hindu Professor of Chemistry, “and the name of India
was all but expunged from the map of the scientific world.”[280]



China, like India, affords an example of “arrested civilisation:”
the Chinese intellect and language became petrified while still
in a primitive stage of development. But, unlike the Hindus, the
Chinese betook themselves at an early period to historical pursuits.
“Debarred both by the nature of the material at their command and by
a lack of original genius from indulging in the higher branches of
imaginative writing, Chinese authors devoted themselves with untiring
energy and with very considerable ability to the compilation of
information concerning their own and neighbouring countries.”[281]
Among the results of their labours are the “Twenty-One Histories,”
from the third century B.C. to the middle of the seventeenth century,
sixty-six folio volumes, and a number of vast Encyclopædias, of which
the _Koo-kin-too-shoo_, &c., occupies 6109 volumes. From such immense
compilations and other sources Chinese scholars have supplied us with
much information about the present subject.

Although the invention of gunpowder is disclaimed for his countrymen
“by every (Chinese) writer who treats seriously” on the subject,[282]
the people cherish the legend that the invention was made by a Chinaman
in some forgotten past. The existence of this legend among a people
possessed of a deep veneration for antiquity is in no way surprising.
Every Chinese custom, art, and institution is supposed to be very
ancient, and what is not really old is readily invested with fictitious
antiquity. The world as we know it, they tell us, came into being
2,670,000 years before Confucius, who was a contemporary of the prophet
Daniel. “The more sober historians, however, are content to begin with
a sufficiently mythical Emperor, who reigned only 2800 years before the
Christian era.”[283] This insatiable craving for antiquity is shown in
all their works. “As with all other arts (the Chinese) have claimed for
the manufacture of porcelain an antiquity far beyond the actual facts
of the case. This exaggerated estimate of the antiquity of Chinese
porcelain was for a long time supported by the supposed discovery in
Egypt of certain small bottles made of real porcelain and inscribed
with Chinese characters, which were said to have been found in tombs
at Thebes, dating as early as 1800 B.C. The fact, however, that they
are inscribed with quotations from Chinese poets of the eighth century
A.D., and have characters of a comparatively modern form, shows that
the whole story of their discovery is a fraud.... During all periods
Chinese potters were constantly in the habit of copying earlier styles
and of forging their marks, so that very little reliance can be placed
on internal evidence. Indeed, the forgeries often deceive the Chinese
collectors of old porcelain.”[284]

According to the Jesuits, Chinese history is free from this defect.
Father Moyria de Maillac (commonly called Mailla), in the long
introductions to his _Histoire générale de la Chine_, begs us to put
our full trust in the Chinese historians, and pleads that, however
mendacious the lower orders of the nation, the better classes love
the truth, and the historians are honest and accurate. But such pleas
in bar of investigation and verification are of little weight unless
it can be shown that Chinese historians never drew (in good faith)
erroneous conclusions, never mistook the meaning of a document, were
never misinformed, and never made a slip in writing. As Gibbon clearly
saw,[285] the Jesuits were blinded by admiration of the Celestials;
their sharp, critical sagacity was blunted by the air of sincerity
displayed in Chinese books.[286] But this “accent de sincérité”
is ruthlessly treated by MM. Langlois and Seignobos: “C’est une
impression presque irrésistible, mais elle n’en est pas moins une
illusion. Il n’y a aucun critérium extérieur ni de la sincérité ni
de l’exactitude. ‘L’accent de sincérité,’ c’est l’apparence de la
conviction; un orateur, un acteur, un menteur d’habitude l’auront
plus facilement en mentant qu’un homme indécis en disant ce qu’il
croit. La vigeur de l’affirmation ne prouve pas toujours la vigeur de
la conviction, mais seulement l’habileté ou l’effronterie. De même
l’abondance et la précision des détails, bien quelles fassent une
vive impression sur les lecteurs inexpérimentés, ne garantissent pas
l’exactitude des faits;[287] elles ne renseignent que sur l’imagination
de l’auteur quand il est sincère ou sur son impudence quand il ne l’est
pas. On est porté de dire d’un récit circonstancié: ‘Des choses de ce
genre ne s’inventent pas.’ Elles ne s’inventent pas, mais elles se
transportent très facilement d’un personage, d’un pays ou d’un temps
à un autre.—Aucun caractère extérieur d’un document ne dispense donc
d’en faire la critique.”[288] In spite of their zeal for the truth,
Chinese historians are no more infallible than others, and it is
certain that they were unconsciously led into error at times by the
change in meaning which military words underwent in China as well as
elsewhere. Thus

Mao-yiian-i erroneously believed that _huo-p’áu_ meant _cannon_ in old
times, as it did in his own. But from a sketch he has fortunately given
of one (reproduced by Romocki, i. 41) it is clear that it originally
meant a machine for scattering blazing incendiary matter.

The first two questions that present themselves are: (1) Did the
Chinese make use of gunpowder in a very distant past? and (2) did they
possess an explosive shell in 1232?

The Chinese annals give no support to the hypothesis that gunpowder
was known in China in very early times. Currency was given to the
popular legends about it by such writers as Father Gaubil, who
declares that gunpowder had been in use for 1600 years when he
wrote, and Father Amiot, who fully accepts a much earlier date. With
reference to Koung-ming, who is said to have employed earth-thunder
(_ty-lei_) about 200 A.D., Amiot says: (_a_) “Les auteurs qui parlent
de Koung-ming ne le font pas l’inventeur de cette manière de nuire
à l’ennemi. Ils disent, au contraire, qu’il l’avait puisée dans les
ouvrages des anciens guerriers; ce qui est une preuve sans réplique
que les Chinois connaissaient la poudre à tirer ... bien longtemps
avant que cette connaissance fût parvenue en Europe.... (_b_) Les
anciens Chinois employaient la poudre (_chen-ho-yen_), soit dans les
combats, soit pour mettre le feu au camp des ennemis.... (_c_) Cette
poudre (_ny-foung-yo_) a une vertue qui, ce me semble, pourrait être
d’une très grande utileté dans nos armées; c’est que la fumée va
également contre le vent.”[289] In (_a_) and (_c_) of these extracts
the true note of legend is audibly sounded, and the tacit assumption
that _ty-lei_ was an explosive is to be noted. As to (_b_), Amiot was
unwittingly describing some early incendiary similar to that of Marcus
Græcus, No. 2: “Ignis quæ comburit domos inimicorum.” Such is Father
Amiot’s “preuve sans réplique” that the Chinese possessed gunpowder in
the times of the pre-adamite Sultans. It must be put aside; and with it
must be laid the evidence of Fathers Maillac and Gaubil. First, their
critical faculty became paralysed when dealing with Chinese history.
Secondly, they evidently did not understand the difference between an
explosive and an incendiary. Thirdly, without questioning their good
faith, they are open to the charges brought against them by MM. Reinaud
and Favé, when speaking of M. Quatremère’s dating Artillery in China
at the thirteenth century: “(Il) ne s’est pas aperçu que PP. Mailla
et Gaubil avaient traduits différement certains passages des Annales
chinoises, et qu’ils y avaient même ajouté tantôt des expressions de
leur cru, et tantôt des interpolations de la version tartare-mandchou,
version qui date seulement d’un peu plus d’un siècle, et qui, par
consequent, n’a aucune autorité.”[290]

Had the Chinese an explosive shell in 1232?

The following is a translation by M. Stanislas Julien of a passage
in the Encyclopædia entitled _Tung-Chien-Kang-Mu_, relating to
the siege of Pien-king (now Kai-fung-fu) in 1232, given by Reinaud
and Favé in the _Journal Asiatique_, Oct. 1849: “A cette époque on
faisait usage de _ho-pao_ ou _pao à feu_, appelée _Tchin-tien-louï_,
ou ‘tonnerre qui ébranle le ciel,’ On se servait pour cela d’un pot
en fer que l’on remplissait de _yo_. A peine y avait-on mis le feu
que le pao s’élevait, et que le feu éclatait de toute part. Son bruit
ressemblait à celui du tonnerre, et s’étendait à plus de cent _lis_
(_i.e._ thirty-three English miles); il pouvait répandre l’incendie
sur une surface de plus d’un demi-arpent (_i.e._ about one-third of an
acre).... Les Mongols construisirent avec les peaux de bœuf un couloir
qui leur permit d’arriver jusqu’an pied des remparts. Ils se mirent
à saper les murs, et y pratiquèrent des cavités, où l’on pouvait se
loger sans avoir rien à craindre des hommes placés en haut. Un des
assiégés proposa de suspendre à des chaînes de fer des pao à feu, et de
les descendre le long du mur. Arrivés aux endroits qui étaient minés,
les pao éclataient et mettaient en pièces les ennemis et les peaux de
bœuf, au point même de ne pas en laisser de vestige.” There is another
account of the shell in the _Wu-pei-chi_, published in 1621, but (as
one gathers from Mr. Mayers[291]) it is so similar in the details that
the two accounts cannot be taken as independent. They merely quote some
common document or repeat some common tradition.

Like the _Liber Ignium_ of Marcus Græcus, the _Tung-Chien-Kang-Mu_ is
not the work of one man or of one period. The original portions (the
“Old Recipes” of Marcus) were written by Ssu-ma-kuang, 1019-86, and
were named _T’ung-Chien_, or the “Mirror of History,” by the reigning
Emperor. The book was brought up to date by Chu-hsi, 1130-1200, and
was afterwards continued, with commentaries, by various writers, up
to the seventeenth century. The above-quoted passage belongs to the
commentators,[292] and was written by some one whose date, name,
and authority for his statement are alike unknown to us; but it was
presumably written long after the event it records.

We have seen in Julien’s translation what the encyclopædist actually
says, but what meaning did he intend to convey by his words? Did
he mean to say the shell exploded? The passage may be divided into
two clauses: in the first he explains generally the action of the
ho-pao, and in the second he gives a particular example of its use.
In the first clause he says that “no sooner was a light applied to it
than the fire burst forth on all sides” (_le feu éclatait de toute
part_): in the second clause he says, “the pao burst forth” (_les pao
éclataient_). But the effect produced by the shell shows that this
latter phrase is simply an elliptical way of saying, “the fire of the
mixture contained in the pao burst forth.” On this point Reinaud and
Favé are clear: “_Les pao à feu éclataient_ s’applique aux éclats de
la flamme qui sortait par les ouvertures,”[293]—holes in the shell
which were probably numerous. Mayers agrees: the pao were lowered
into the excavations, “when the fire burst out from them, utterly
destroying every fragment of the hides,” &c.[294] The Chinese writer
was describing an incendiary, not an explosive. Gunpowder would have
left in the hiding-place of the Mongols a tangled mass of charred human
remains and scorched cowhide: only an incendiary could have destroyed
its contents so that “not a vestige remained.” Father Gaubil and M.
Berthelot acquiesce in this conclusion:[295] Herr von Eomocki dissents
from it.[296]

There is nothing in the military history of China in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries to lead us to suppose that the Chinese possessed
an explosive during that period. In 1255 Prince Hulágu had 1000 Chinese
arbalisters in his pay to work his incendiaries,[297] and it may be
presumed that he would have learnt the secret of gunpowder from them
if they had known it; but he possessed no explosive. Father Carpini,
_cir._ 1250, states that when hard-pressed the Tartars had recourse to
incendiaries, and Rashid ed-Din, in his history of Hulagu’s campaign
of 1260, makes no allusion to explosives.[298] The Chinese had only
reached the same stage as Marcus Græcus in 1257: in this year they
had Roman candles.[299] During the siege of Siang-yang-fu, 1268-73,
“Khubelai sent to his nephew Abaka, in Persia, for engineers skilled
in making catapults, called mangonals[300] by Marco Polo. Two such
engineers were sent.”[301] We have three different notices of this
siege, Chinese, Persian, and Venetian, and “they all concur as to
the employment of foreign engineers from the West,”[302] but none of
them mentions the use of explosives by either side. “The Chinese at
that period,” says Sir John Davis, “were as little acquainted with
firearms as Europeans.”[303] When Chang-chi-ki’s fleet on the Kiang
River was destroyed a few years afterwards by Atchu, it was by means of
fire-arrows.[304] In a word, during the thirteenth century, the Chinese
made a free use of various incendiaries already noticed in the chapters
on the Greeks and Arabs; and they seem to have made no progress in the
manufacture of their missiles during the course of the fourteenth.[305]
Not until we reach the fifteenth century do we meet with gunpowder and

The Prince of Yen (afterwards the Emperor Yung Loh) is said to have
been “defeated by firearms” at the battle of Tung Chang, 1401;[306]
but whether these arms were furnished with incendiaries or explosives
is doubtful. The first trustworthy account of the use of artillery in
China is given in the _Kai-yii-tsung-kao_, published in 1790, by Chao
I, a man of considerable ability, and an accomplished antiquarian. He
states that in the beginning of Yung Loh’s reign, 1407, cannon were
acquired by the Emperor and employed during his campaigns in Cochin
China.[307] Whence came these cannon and their ammunition?

It is antecedently improbable that the Chinese either invented or
manufactured them; for although the Chinese exhibited considerable
intellectual power in some fields of investigation, they possessed
little genius for mechanical or chemical inventions, and what
mechanical ability they had was absorbed in other pursuits. When
actually possessed of powder, they seem to have been incapable of
making any improvement in its manufacture. “Si la poudre de Chine
vaut mieux que la nôtre,” says Father Incarville, the ablest of the
Jesuits I have consulted, “cela vien plutôt de la bonté des matières
que du soin que les Chinois prennent de la faire bonne; ils la grainent
très mal et ne savent pas la lisser.”[308] “Whatever their claims as
inventors,” says another writer, “it is certain that the Chinese have
made no progress in the art” (of making gunpowder).[309] Even their
fireworks were no better than European fireworks. They did not employ
stars, and their largest rockets had a length of only five inches, with
an internal diameter of eight lines.[310]

There is no trustworthy evidence, so far as I am aware, to prove that
the Chinese invented gunpowder. The statements of the Jesuits on this
particular matter are worthless for reasons already given,[311] and the
popular Chinese tradition is deprived of any little weight it might
otherwise have had by the disavowal of the invention by sober Chinese
historians. On the other hand, we possess a number of facts which point
to the conclusion that the Chinese obtained their first gunpowder and
firearms from the West.

  (_a_) It has been already pointed out that the mangonals
  used at the siege of Siang-yang-fu, 1268-73, were of
  western origin, and were worked by western engineers.

  (_b_) The residence of the Polos in China, 1275-92, was
  by no means an isolated fact. They were but the pioneers
  of a considerable body of mechanics, missionaries, and
  merchants who continued their relations with the country
  for at least half a century.[312] It may be doubted
  whether the merchants ever lost touch with China.

  (_c_) Yung Loh, the first Chinese Emperor who possessed
  _ts’iang_, or cannon, had agents in Malay, Delhi, Herat,
  and Mecca,[313] and his agent in the latter city could
  hardly have failed to hear of, and report on the use
  of firearms in the West. If such were the case, there
  was nothing to prevent the Emperor from obtaining small
  guns by land, or guns of any size by sea. There had been
  communication by land between China and Europe from the
  time of the early Roman emperors of the West.[314] It was
  seriously interrupted, no doubt, by the disorders which
  broke out in China at the close of the ninth century, but
  it was re-established when they came to an end in the
  middle of the thirteenth.[315] Mr. F. Hirth proves in his
  “China and the Roman Orient” that there was communication
  by sea between China and Europe at a very early date.
  Masudi speaks of the communication in his own time,
  the tenth century. The Arab and Chinese ships met, he
  says, at a port called Killat, half-way between Arabia
  and China, where they transhipped their cargoes.[316]
  There was constant communication between China and the
  west coast of India in the first half of the fifteenth
  century. Abd ur-Razzak says the men of Calicut were
  bold navigators, and adds that they were called (in
  compliment) “the sons of China.” When John Deza destroyed
  the Zamorin’s fleet there, it was commanded by a
  Chinaman, Cutiale.[317]

  (_d_) The Chinese made their charcoal from young shoots
  of the willow in the eighteenth century,[318] and “as
  they seldom change anything,”[319] they probably did so
  from the beginning. Twigs of willow are recommended for
  this purpose by Roger Bacon and Hassan er-Rammah (pp.
  149, 24.)

  (_e_) The Chinese strained the mother-liquor of their
  saltpetre through straw;[320] so also did Whitehorne (A.,
  p. 20).

  (_f_) They employed animal glue, or charcoal, to remove
  the insoluble impurities of the mother-liquor,[321] just
  as Bacon did, if the explanation of the word “Phœnix”
  given in Chap. VIII. be accepted (p. 154).

  (_g_) They incorporated the ingredients of gunpowder
  on a _marble_ slab,[322] as directed by Marcus Græcus,
  recipes 4 and 13, for incendiaries, and by Arderne for
  gunpowder (p. 177).

  (_h_) They passed their rocket composition through a
  sieve of fine silk,[323] the counterpart of Arderne’s
  “sotille couerchief” (Ib.).

  (_i_) They occasionally added camphor and mercury to
  their powder,[324] like Kyeser and many other westerns
  (Romocki, i. 157).

  (_j_) They called their powder _yo_, “the drug,” as did
  the Germans, Danes, and Dutch (p. 6).

  (_k_) They used varnishes,[325] of the same family as the
  _lutum sapientiæ_, Marcus Græcus, recipe 1.

  (_l_) An Encyclopædia, quoted in the _Pai-pien_, 1581,
  states that “on the walls of Si-ngan there was long
  preserved an iron _chen-tien-lui_ = heaven-shaking
  thunderer, which in shape was like two cups”[326]—the
  shell of Valturio (p. 221).

  (_m_) Bits of metal, _mitraille_, were added to the
  charge of Chinese shells,[327] after the manner
  prescribed in a German Firebook (Romocki, i. 189).

  (_n_) The shell were loaded with the _maximum_ charge
  that could be rammed into them,[328] as directed in the
  same Firebook (ib.).

  (_o_) For repairing and closing the interstices of their
  built-up bombards, the Chinese appear to have used the
  same materials the Scotch used for Mons Meg; and it is
  noticeable that the Chinese preferred “western iron” for
  this purpose: “Ils emploient pour les confectionner du
  cuivre rouge. Dans les interstices apparents, ceux qui
  emploient du fer se servent de fer doux et malléable pour
  consolider (ces machines). Le fer de l’Occident est le
  meilleur qui puisse être employé à cet usage.”[329] In
  the “Chronicles and Memorials of Scotland,” vol. vi., for
  July 1459, we find: “For the repair of the great bombard
  at Edinburgh, brass, copper and iron, _so much_” [_pro
  expensis factis circa eandem emendacionem (magni bumbardi
  ante castellum de Edinburgh) in ere, cupro et ferro_].

  (_p_) In 1520 the heavy guns of the Portuguese ships
  at Canton “attracted considerable attention, and soon
  acquired the name of ‘Franks.’... The Chinese seem to
  have subsequently availed themselves of the assistance of
  the Portuguese, and of their wonderful guns, to punish
  their own pirates”;[330] a circumstance which recalls
  the expedition of Mahmoud of Gujarat against the Bulsar
  pirates in 1482 (p. 116). These “Franks,” we learn from
  the _Wu-pei-che_, “were of iron, 5 or 6 _ch’ih_ (6 or 7
  ft.) long.... Five small barrels (chambers) were used,
  which were placed (successively) inside the body of the
  piece from which they were fired off.”[331]

  (_q_) The Chinese guns manufactured in 1618 were cast
  under the superintendence of the Jesuits at Peking.[332]

The general conclusion to be drawn from the foregoing inquiry is
virtually Gibbon’s, which may be expressed in somewhat firmer language
than he has used, since we possess many facts which were unknown to
him. It is highly probable that the invention of gunpowder was carried
from the West to China, by land or water, at the end of the fourteenth
or the beginning of the fifteenth century, and “was falsely adopted as
an old national discovery before the arrival of the Portuguese and the
Jesuits in the sixteenth.”[333]



Roger Bacon was born at Ilchester, in Somersetshire, in 1214, and died
about 1294. If the dedication be authentic, his _Epistola de Secretis
Operibus Artis et Naturæ et de Nullitate Magiæ_, the work with which we
are chiefly concerned here, was written before 1249.[334]

Bacon attacks Magic in this book on the ground that science and art can
exhibit far greater wonders than the alleged wonders of the Black Art,
and to prove his point he enumerates, in the first eight chapters, a
number of wonders which (he believed) art could produce and magic could
not. Everything is sufficiently clear until we reach the ninth, tenth,
and eleventh chapters, and they are unintelligible as they stand.
Now, it is past belief that a man of commanding genius should have
deliberately stooped to write page after page of nonsense. The three
chapters, therefore, must have _some_ meaning, hidden from us though it

It is unquestionable that Bacon believed he possessed secrets of
vast importance. At the close of Chapter VIII. he tells us by way of
warning that he may resort (in the following chapters) to certain
cryptic methods, “on account of the magnitude of his secrets” (_propter
secretorum magnitudinem_); and, fearing that ordinary cryptic methods
might be too transparent, he wraps up his secrets in an anagram in
Chapter XI.

If Bacon were in possession of such secrets, why, it may be asked, did
he not publish them openly? The reason was, as he explains repeatedly
and at length, that he firmly believed scientific knowledge to be
hurtful to the people. He protests in his works again and again against
the diffusion of scientific information. “The crowd,” he says, “is
unable to digest scientific facts, which it scorns and misuses to its
own detriment and that of the wise. Let not pearls, then, be thrown
to swine.”[336] Elsewhere he says: “The mob scoff at philosophers and
despise scientific truth. If by chance they lay hold upon some great
principle, they are sure to misinterpret and misapply it, so that what
would have been gain to every one causes loss to all.”[337] “It is
madness,” he goes on to say, “to commit a secret to writing, unless
it be so done as to be unintelligible to the ignorant, and only just
intelligible to the best educated”;[338] and so much in earnest was he
upon this point that he enumerates seven methods of baffling public
curiosity. A secret may be concealed by making use of:—

  (1) Symbols and incantations (_characteres et carmina_);

  (2) Enigmatic and figurative words;

  (3) Consonants only, without vowels;

  (4) Letters from different alphabets;

  (5) Specially devised letters;

  (6) Prearranged geometric figures;

  (7) Shorthand (_ars notatoria_).

These are among the means of veiling secrets, he tells us, and “ill
will it betide him who reveals them.”[339]

Bacon was not singular in holding the doctrine of secrecy in matters
of science, nor was it peculiar to the age he lived in: it arose
ages before his birth, and was held for ages after his death. To
any objections that might have been raised against the doctrine,
philosophers would probably have replied with Subtle and Mammon:—

                “... was not all the knowledge
  Of the Egyptians writ in mystic symbols?
  Speak not the Scriptures oft in parables?
  Are not the choicest fables of the poets,
  That were the fountains and first springs of wisdom,
  Wrapp’d in perpetual allegories?

  *       *       *       *       *

                      ... Sisyphus was damned
  To roll the ceaseless stone, only because
  He would have made Ours common.”[340]

A man who boldly, even fiercely, avowed such opinions as Bacon’s, was
bound in consistency to employ some cryptic method in recording his
own secrets; and when we closely examine the course Bacon actually
followed, we find that his practice was rigidly in accordance with his
theory—in fact, too rigidly. Those steeped in the Cabbala of Alchemy
in his own age may have grasped his meaning, but to those who came
afterwards it was obscure, if not hidden. Even to the early copyists
of his MSS. it was unintelligible. In one of the MSS. consulted by
Professor Brewer, the scribe has written on the margin of Chap. IX. of
the _De Secretis_:—_Hæc sunt œnigmata_; “these things are enigmas,”
and enigmas they have remained for seven centuries.

The presence of two anagrams in Chap. XI. is sufficient of itself to
arouse a suspicion that some cryptic method (of a different kind) has
been employed in Chaps. IX. and X., and this suspicion is strengthened
by their whole manner and diction. Their style is involved, and their
meaning (as they stand) unintelligible. Bacon passes from one subject
to another in bewildering haste; from the unfinished description
of one process to instructions about a second, which he leaves half
told in order to plunge into a third. Among directions of _seemingly_
primitive simplicity he interpolates such phrases as “catch my meaning
if you can” (_intellige si potes_); “you will see whether I am
speaking riddles or the plain truth” (_videas utrum loquor œnigmata
aut secundum veritatem_); and he warns us that the purport of Chap.
IX. may wholly escape us, unless we distinguish the (real from the
apparent) meaning of his statements (_in hoc capitulo decipieris, nisi
dictionum significata, distinguas_). These special peculiarities of
Chaps. IX. and X. can be only explained by the use of some cryptic
method, to which Bacon points plainly in Chap. VIII. He there names two
cryptographers, Ethicus and Artephius, in connection with the seven
cryptic methods already given, and he broadly hints that he may make
use of some of these methods (_forsan, propter secretorum magnitudinem,
aliquibus his utar modis_). It is needless to pursue the matter
further: Chaps. IX. and X. are not, as they appear to be, nonsense, but
the cryptic exposition of some secret which Bacon believed to be of
great value.

Few of the difficulties we experience in investigating the meaning of
these three chapters were felt by the correspondent to whom the Friar
addressed them as letters. He and Bacon had long been in communication
with each other, and as both knew the substance which formed the _real_
subject of these letters, Bacon was at liberty to call it chalk
or cheese or what he willed. They appear to have had some system
of numerical signs, the meaning of which is lost to us. The tenth
chapter begins with a reference to a letter received by Bacon from
his correspondent in the year 602 A.H., and as the date is given in
words, not figures, it can hardly have been mistaken by the scribes.
Now the year 602 A.H. began on 18th Aug., 1205 A.D., nine years before
Bacon was born. The number 602, therefore, is either a blind, or a
conventional sign or key. The same may be said of the number 630 in the
first line of Chap. XI., and of the totally unnecessary 30 which occurs
just before the anagram in the same chapter—“(_sit_) pondus totum
30,” _i.e._ let the total weight be 30. No one can have ever wanted to
know the total weight of the mixture in question: every one wanted to
know the proportions of the ingredients. Our ignorance of these signs
creates difficulties for us which did not exist for the initiated in
Bacon’s time.

As will be shown hereafter, Bacon has occasionally availed himself
in Chaps. IX., X., and XI. of Nos. 2 and 4 of the cryptic methods he
has given us; but these methods apply only to words and phrases, and
the wily Franciscan did not think it necessary to allude to the more
general method by which he set forth so much of his statement as is
contained in Chaps. IX. and X. We cannot discuss cryptograms here:
suffice it to say that some of the early methods were too tedious and
some too complicated to be employed throughout the whole length of
Chaps. IX. and X. The method he appears to have adopted (as the result
will show) was that known long afterwards as the “Argyle cipher,” of
which the following letter from Thackeray’s “Esmond” is an example. The
real contents of this letter are the phrases within brackets:—

“[_The King will take_] medicine on Thursday. His Majesty is better
than he hath been of late, though incommoded by indigestion from
his too great appetite. Madame Maintenon continues well. They have
performed a play of Mons. Racine at St. Cyr.... [_The Viscount
Castlewood’s passports_] were refused to him, ’twas said; his lordship
being sued by a goldsmith for _Vaisselle plate_ and a pearl necklace
supplied to Mademoiselle Meruel of the French Comedy. ’Tis a pity
such news should get abroad [_and travel to England_] about our young
nobility here. Mademoiselle Meruel has been sent to Fort l’Evesque;
they say she ordered not only plate, but furniture, and a carriage and
horses [_under that lords name_], of which extravagance his unfortunate
Viscountess knows nothing.

“[_His Majesty will be_] eighty-two years of age on his next
birthday.... All here admired my Lord Viscount’s portrait, and said
it was a masterpiece of Rigaud. Have you seen it? It is [_at the Lady
Castlewood’s house in Kensington Square_]. I think no English painter
could produce such a piece.

“Our poor friend the Abbé hath been to the Conciergerie [_where his
friends may visit him_. _They are to ask for_] a remission of his
sentence soon.

“[_The Lord Castlewood_] has had the affair of the plate made up and
departs for England.

“Is not this a dull letter?...”—Bk. III. Chap. 8.

This letter shows very clearly that the Argyle steganogram is one
which it is almost impossible to solve without the key, unless the
matter to which it relates is known beforehand[341]—a difficulty to
which Bacon’s correspondent was not exposed, for he knew well what
the subject of Bacon’s communication would be. Here, then, we should
have found ourselves left in utter darkness were it not for a ray of
light afforded by Chap. XI. There we are told that _something_, in
connection with saltpetre and sulphur, produces an explosion,[342]
and we know that this _something_ is charcoal. Since Chap. XI. is
concerned with the composition and effects of this mixture, what more
probable than that Chaps. IX. and X. should deal with its ingredients
separately—or at least with saltpetre and charcoal, for sulphur was
so simple and common a drug that Bacon was not likely to dwell upon
it? Now, towards the end of Chap. X. Bacon speaks without disguise
of charcoal under the name of the wood from which it is made,[343]
and mentions the two trees, hazel and willow, which give the best. He
significantly adds that when charcoal is added to proper proportions
of certain other substances, something noteworthy happens (_si vero
partes virgulti coryli aut salicis multarum justâ rerum serie apte
ordinaveris, unionem naturalem servabunt: et hoc non tradas oblivioni,
quia valet ad multa_). Since, then, charcoal is one of the subjects of
these two chapters, it becomes all the more probable that saltpetre
forms another. Bacon was writing but a few years after its discovery,
and nothing could be more natural than that the great alchemist should
bestow his attention upon the preparation of the new salt. This
hypothesis explains simply and completely the most remarkable feature
of Chaps. IX. and X.—the series of common and well-known alchemical
terms and phrases, referring undoubtedly to the preparation of either
saltpetre or gold, which are scattered and hidden among incoherent
maunderings about chalk and cheese, philosophic eggs and Tagus sand,
Adam’s bones and aperient medicine. But how could the preparation of
gold lead up to the recipe for an explosive with which Chap. XI. ends?
There is no connection whatever between gold and gunpowder, while the
connection between saltpetre and gunpowder is of the closest possible
kind. Before giving a recipe for gunpowder it was absolutely necessary
for Bacon to describe the method of refining the lately discovered
saltpetre, without which his recipe would have been worthless; and
he took advantage of the close similarity between the alchemical
preparation of gold and the refining of saltpetre to conceal the real
import of his tract. By the title of the last three chapters—“On the
Method of Making the Philosopher’s Stone”—and by constantly harping
on gold, he endeavoured to distract and deceive his ordinary readers,
leading them to believe that he was writing about gold when he was
really treating on saltpetre.

The unnamed substance saltpetre, then, is the principal subject of
Chaps. IX. and X., and our course is clear. We must treat these
chapters as we should treat Col. Esmond’s letter were the brackets
omitted[344]-we must make shift to insert them. We must bracket
together the phrases and sentences relating to the real subject of
these chapters, the familiar alchemical expressions relating to
saltpetre. On doing so we shall find a connected and rational method of
refining the salt.

In the following reproduction of Chaps. IX. and X. I have used the
Esmond brackets, but I have not thought it necessary to reprint _all_
the padding which connects them. All omissions, however, are shown
by dots. No word of the bracketed phrases has been changed, altered,
added, or suppressed, nor has the order of the words been altered.
Nothing has been done but to indicate by brackets the misleading


_De modo faciendi ovum philosophorum._

Dico igitur tibi quod volo ordinari quæ superius narravi exponere, et
ideo volo ovum philosophorum et partes philosophici ovi investigare,
nam hoc est initium ad alia. [_Calcem[345] igitur diligenter_] aquis
alkali et aliis aquis acutis [_purifica_], et variis contritionibus
cum salibus confrica[346] et pluribus assationibus concrema, [_ut
fiat terra pura penitus liberata ab aliis elementis_[347]], quam tibi
pro meæ longitudinis statura dignam duco. Intellige si potes, quia
proculdubio erit compostum ex elementis, et ideo est pars lapidis
qui non est lapis,[348] et est in quolibet homine et in quolibet
loco hominis.... Deinde oleum ad modum crocei casei et viscosi
accipias,[349] primo ictu insecabile, cujus tota virtus ignea dividatur
et separetur per distillationem; [_dissolvatur[350] autem in aqua_]
acuta temporatæ acuitatis [_cum igne levi,[351] ut decoquatur quatenus
separetur pinguedo sua_[352]], sicut pinguedo in carnibus.... Melius
est tamen ut decoquatur in aquis temporatis in acuitate [_donec
purgatur et dealbetur_]. Aqua vero salutaris exaltatio fit ex igne
secco vel humido; et [_iteretur distillatio_] ut effectum bonitatis
recipiat sufficienter [_donec rectificetur: rectificationis novissima
signa sunt candor et crystallina serenitas_[353]]; et cum cætera[354]
nigrescunt ab igne hoc albescit, mundatur, serenitate nitescit et
splendore mirabili. [_Ex hac aqua_] et terra sua argentum vivum
generatur, quod est sicut argentum vivum in mineralibus, et quando
incandidit hoc modo [_materia congelatur. Lapis vero Aristotelis, qui
non est lapis, ponitur in pyramide in loco calido_[355]].


_De eodem, sed alio modo._[356]

Transactis annis Arabum sexcentis et duobus, rogasti me de quibusdam
secretis. [_Accipe igitur lapidem[357] et calcina ipsum_] assatione
leni et contritione forti sive cum rebus acutis. [Sed _in fine parum
commisce de aqua dulci; et medicinam laxativam[358] compone de_]
septem rebus ... vel de quot vis; sed quiescit animus meus in [_duabus
rebus quarum proportio melior est in sesquialtera proportione_[359]]
vel circiter, sicut te potest docere experientia. [_Resolve_[360]]
tamen aurum[361] [_ad ignem et mollius calefac_]. Sed si mihi credas,
accipias unam rem, hoc est secretum secretorum, et naturæ potens
miraculum. [_Mixto[362] igitur ex_] duobus, aut ex pluribus, aut
[_Phœnice_[363]], quod est animal singulare, [_adjunge, et incorpora
per fortem motum; cui si liquor calidus adhibeatur,[364] habebis
propositum ultimum_[365]]. Sed postea cœlestis natura debilitatur si
aquam infundis ter vel quater. Divide igitur, debile a forti in vasis
diversis,[366] si mihi credas. [_Evacuato[367] igitur quod bonum est._]
Iterum adhibe pulverem, et aquam quæ remansit diligentur exprime, nam
pro certo partes pulveris deducet non incorporatas. Et ideo illam aquam
per se collige, quia pulvis exsiccatus ab ea habet incorporari medicinæ
laxitivæ.... [_Regyra cum pistillo,[368] et congrega materiam ut potes,
et aquam sepera paulatim_] et redibit at statum. Quam aquam exsiccabis,
nam continet pulverem[369] et aquam medicinæ, quæ sunt incorporanda
sicut pulvis principalis.

The phrases within brackets, which constitute the recipe, will be
found collected together and translated in their proper place in Chap.

It would be presumptuous to suggest that the foregoing solution of
Bacon’s Argyle steganogram is free from error; but I may express a hope
that the errors are few and inconsiderable—a hope founded upon the
completeness of the method disclosed. Whatever errors may be found,
there can at least be little doubt that the occult meaning of the two
chapters is the refining of saltpetre. One sentence, two sentences,
or even more, might be selected from the description of almost any
long chemical process which would apply with equal propriety to some
other process; but it is incredible that a long, varied, and connected
process, such as the refining of saltpetre, could be extracted by any
method from documents professedly devoted to the philosopher’s stone,
unless this process had been designedly inserted there, piecemeal or
whole, by the author himself. For the figurative interpretation given
of two or three words and phrases, we have Bacon’s own warrant. He
threatened to employ _verba œnigmatica_ and _verba figurativa_, and he
has been taken at his word; with the result that a rational chemical
process has been extracted from what was previously unintelligible.

Having said all he had to say about the ingredients, Bacon proceeds to
deal with their mixture in Chap. XI., in which he employs a cryptic
method without disguise:—


_De eodem, tamen alio modo._

Annis Arabum 630 transactis, petitioni tuæ respondeo in hunc modum....
Item pondus totum 30. Sed tamen salis petræ[370] LURU VOPO VIR CAN
UTRIET sulphuris; et sic facies tonitruum et coriscationem, si scias
artificium. Videas tamen utrum loquor œnigmatate aut secundum veritatem.

Omitting the anagram, the translation is:—“In this 630th year of the
Higira I comply with your request as follows.... Let the total weight
(of the ingredients) be 30. However, of saltpetre ... of sulphur; and
with such a mixture you will produce a bright flash and a thundering
noise, if you know ‘the trick.’ You may find (by actual experiment)
whether I am writing riddles to you or the plain truth.”

The mention of the flash and the noise indicates at once that we have
here to do with an explosive. But saltpetre and sulphur when mixed
together do not form an explosive. We may feel sure, therefore, that
the name of the one substance necessary to convert the incendiary
mixture of saltpetre and sulphur into an explosive, namely charcoal,
is included under some form in the anagram—either as _carbo_, or the
name of the wood from which it is made. The _et sic facies_ of the
second clause shows that there must necessarily be in the first clause,
and consequently in the anagram, some verb in the imperative mood,
such as _mix_ or _take_. We may expect a word for a weight (_libræ_,
_unciæ_, &c.), or the word _partes_. As regards the proportions, the
earliest we are acquainted with approximate more or less closely
to 2:1:1, Arderne’s recipe being merely a laboratory recipe. The
proportions of the ingredients, therefore, if included in the anagram,
will probably not differ much from 2:1:1.

Rearranging the letters of the anagram, we get—


or since U and V are interchangeable,

  R. VII PART. V NOV. CORUL. V ET; _i.e._
  r(ecipe) vii part(es), v nov(ellæ)[371] corul (i), v et.

The whole passage in the original therefore reads:—

  “sed tamen salis petræ recipe vii partes, v novellæ
      coruli, v et sulphuris,” &c.; that is—
  “but take 7 parts of saltpetre, 5 of young hazel-wood,
      and 5 of sulphur,” &c.;
  _i.e._ 1-2/5 sp., 1 char. and 1 sulph.

_R._ was the common contraction for _recipe_, and may be seen in Marcus
Græcus’ first recipe (Berthelot’s text). _Nov._ _Corul._ could have
presented no difficulty to Bacon’s correspondent, seeing that in the
previous letter, Cap. X., Bacon had spoken of _virgulti coryli_. There
he writes _coryli_: in his _Opus Majus_ he wrote _coruli_ (ii. 219,
Bridges ed.).

The second anagram (in Greek, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon letters) seems to
be a note to the first and need not detain us, since we have already
got the names and proportions of the ingredients.

In deference to those readers who may reject the preceding attempts to
read Bacon’s riddles, we now proceed to show, on grounds independent
of the steganogram and anagram, that Bacon was in possession of an

The igneous bodies of which Bacon speaks fall into two classes. The
first class are incendiaries. “Incendiaries,” he tells us, “may be
made from saltpetre, or petroleum, or maltha,[372] or naphtha, mixed
with other substances.... To these are allied Greek fire and many
other incendiaries[373].... (Burning) maltha, if thrown upon an armed
soldier, will cause his death.... It is difficult to extinguish, water
being useless for this purpose.”[374]

But side by side with these passages we find descriptions of igneous
compositions of a totally different kind. “There are other natural
wonders. We can produce in the air sounds loud as thunder and flashes
bright as lightning—nay, even surpassing the powers of nature. A small
quantity of (a certain) composition, no bigger than one’s thumb, will
give forth (on ignition) a deafening noise and a vivid flash.”[375] We
have, too, the passage, already quoted, in the eleventh chapter, where
he says that saltpetre and sulphur and _something else_ give forth (on
ignition) “a thundering noise and a vivid flash.”[376] Again: “Some
compositions (when ignited) make an unbearable noise.... No other sound
can be compared with it. Others produce flashes more fearful to behold
than real lightning.... We may exemplify these effects with a child’s
toy which contains within it a quantity of saltpetre (mixture) the size
of one’s thumb. In the bursting of this bauble, made only of parchment,
there are given forth a noise louder than the mutterings of thunder
and a flash brighter than the brightest lightning.”[377] It will be
evident on a moment’s consideration that the charge of this toy must
have been an explosive. Had it been an incendiary, the paper would
have taken fire long before the pressure of the gases generated by the
combustion had increased sufficiently to burst the case, and there
would have been no loud report.

The consequences of igniting these two classes of composition are
described so clearly as to preclude all possible misunderstanding:—the
incendiary _burns_ fiercely, while the other mixture gives forth
_a bright flash and a loud noise_. In the latter case, Bacon was
describing an explosion, and, as he has elsewhere spoken of saltpetre,
charcoal, and sulphur, the reasonable conclusion is that the explosive
was gunpowder.

It has been said that the first of the foregoing passages—“there are
other natural wonders,” &c.—describes a rocket. As everybody knows, a
rocket in its flight makes a whizzing noise and is followed by a trail
of heated gas and sparks. The whizzing noise can only be compared to
thunder by a total disregard of fact, for no sound resembles thunder
less. Does thunder whizz? The fiery trail can only be called a flash
by an equal disregard of fact: it gives a continuous light. But if
the rocket carries a bursting charge which explodes in mid-air, the
explosion may, with venial exaggeration, be said to produce a flash
like lightning and a noise like thunder. Bacon was alluding to a
bursting charge consisting of an explosive, and that explosive was

Was Bacon aware of the projective force of gunpowder? There is nothing
in his works (so far as I am acquainted with them) which suggests that
he was. He knew that gunpowder exploded, and he believed that an army
might be either actually blown up by it, or put to flight by the terror
inspired by its explosion;[378] but he seems to have gone no further.
He experimented, probably, with very small quantities of it; and the
behaviour of gunpowder when fired in large quantities under pressure is
so unlike its behaviour when fired in small quantities in the open air,
that its projective force could neither have been predicted by abstract
reasoning nor realised by even his powerful imagination.

If a surmise be permissible, Bacon did not invent, he discovered
gunpowder. Experimenting with some incendiary composition, prepared
with pure instead of impure saltpetre, the mixture exploded
unexpectedly and shattered all the chemical apparatus near it, thereby
laying the foundation of the mediæval legend about the destruction of
the Brazen Head. This suggestion, if correct, only adds one more item
to the long list of accidental discoveries. The laws of the structure
of crystals were discovered by Haüy’s accidentally letting fall a piece
of calc-spar, which broke into fragments. Malus, chancing to look
through a double refracting prism at the light of the setting sun,
reflected from the windows of the Luxembourg Palace, discovered the
polarisation of light. Galvani discovered galvanism by mere accident.
The decomposition of water by voltaic electricity was accidentally
discovered by Nicholson in 1801.

However, whether as discoverer or inventor, Roger Bacon made and fired
the first gunpowder. It fell to the lot of a persecuted English monk to
fulfil the prophecy of Prometheus, that in the latter day there should
appear “a wondrous being, who should call forth flashes brighter than
lightning and sounds louder than thunder.”[379]





To those who are not professional gunners, Artillery ammunition may
seem at the first glance to be a hopeless and chaotic jumble of endless
stores. This is no doubt partly owing to the necessary multiplicity of
the stores, but far more to the absence (in most books and lists) of
any synoptic digest, or plan, showing at one view the classification
of the whole and the pedigree of each article. To remedy this want the
following table has been drawn out, showing the stems to which belong
the various kinds of ammunition we are concerned with here. Many trees
of a somewhat similar nature might of course be constructed, fuller and
more scientific than Table IV.; but it has the advantage of being very
simple and sufficiently comprehensive for the present purpose.

Strictly speaking, the table ought to have included _all_ the
ammunition in use between the introduction of cannon and the
introduction of rifled arms in the middle of the last century; but
the principle has not been pushed to its limit, nor was it necessary
to do so in order to enable the reader to form a clear notion of the
broad divisions of ammunition. Machines lingered on for some time
after the invention of cannon: in fact they were used at the siege of
Constantinople in 1453. Their stone balls and pots of Greek fire are
not formally included, because what is said of stone shot for guns in
Chap. XIII. applies equally to stone balls for machines, and all that
it was considered necessary to say about Greek fire has been said in
Chap. III. Electric fuzes, and some few species of ammunition of little
interest or value, have been also omitted, because their inclusion
would have increased the size and complexity of the table without any
counterbalancing advantage.

Ammunition for rifled guns has not been included, because it is for the
most part an adaptation and development of smooth-bore ammunition.


                                                         ┌ Fire Arrows, &c.
              ┌ Hand ────────────────────────────────────│ Grenades, Incend. and
              │                                          └ Explos.
              │ Automatic ───────────────────────────────[ Rockets, War
              │          ┌ Charge ───────────────────────[ Gunpowder
              │          │
              │          │                       ┌         Darts, &tc.
              │          │                       │       ┌ Stone
              │          │                       │ Round │ Iron
              │ Cannon ─ │              ┌ Shock ─│ Shot  │ Bronze
              │          │              │        │       └ Lead
              │          │              │        │         Case
              │          │              │        └         Sharapnel
              │          │              │
              │          └ Projectiles ─│                ┌ Hot Shot
  AMMUNITION ─│                         │ Incendiary ────│ Fireballs
              │                         │                │ Shell
              │                         │                └ Carcasses
              │                         │                ┌
              │                         └ Explosive ─────│ Fireballs
              │                                          └ Shell
              │                                  ┌         Hot Wires
              │                                  │         Priming Powder
              │                                  │         Matches, Slow and Quick
              │ Igniters ────────────────────────│         Portfires
              │                                  │       ┌ Tubes
              │                                  │ Fuzes │ Time
              │                                  │       │ Percussion
              │                                  └       └ Concussion
              │                                          ┌
              └ Signals ─────────────────────────────────│ Rockets
                                                         └ Fixed Lights



  _Fire-Arrows and Fire-Pikes_

The system of attaching incendiaries to arrows, lances, &c., survived
the introduction of gunpowder and died a lingering death. In November
1588 the Government ordered the purchase of “20 Slurr Bows at 25s.
each, and 20 doz. of firework arrows for the said slurr bows at 5s.
the doz.”[380] From a list of naval stores for the year 1599, it would
appear that fire-arrows were discharged from long-bows as well as

  “Slurbowe arrowes with firewoorkes, 184;
          inde 19 without firewoorkes.
   Longbowe arrowes with firewoorkes, 4 shef. 1 arr.”[381]

Hansard gives a plate of an English archer, 1250, with _spicula
ignita_, or arrow tipped with wildfire.[382] Sir R. W. Payne-Gallwey
gives a sketch of a slur-bow. It is a cross-bow, with a barrel and
a single string which works in two slits cut in the sides of the

Fire-lances were used, perhaps for the last time, at the first siege
of Bristol, 1643. There, Prince Rupert tells us, “Captain Clerk,
Ancient Hodgkinson, and some others running in upon (the Royalists)
with fire-pikes, neither men nor horses were able to endure it. The
fire-pikes did the feat.”[384]

Fire-arrows had a longer spell of existence, and were used by the
Chinese against the French in 1860.[385]

_Hand Grenades_

Incendiary hand grenades are of great antiquity. We have seen that
earthenware grenades were used at the siege of Salonika,[386] 904.
Towards the end of the thirteenth century Hassan er-Rammah describes
grenades made of bark, papyrus, or glass—materials well adapted to
break up on impact and scatter about their burning contents.[387]
They were used at the passage of the Lys in 1382:—“Adonc vinrent
arbalêtriers et gens de pied avant; et si en y avait aucuns qui jetait
de bombardes portatives et qui traioient grands quarriaulx empennés de
fer,” &c.[388] By a common figure of speech Froissart calls the grenade
a bombard, just as the author of the “Avowing of Arthur” calls a shot a

   “... there came fliand a gunne
  And lemet as the leuyn....”[389]
  (A gun came flying by and gleamed like lightning.)

The plate from the MS. of Kyeser’s _Bellifortis_, 1405, given by Herr
von Romocki (i. 169), shows three projectiles which were unquestionably
hand grenades. Figs. 25 and 30 are provided with spikes, like
crow’s-feet.[390] Fig. 27 is a flask or bottle of the same family as
Hassan’s grenades, and was probably made of earthenware. It was by
an explosive earthenware grenade that Del Vasto was severely wounded
in 1528, during the sea-fight between the French and Spaniards off
Cape Campanella.[391] The Comte de Rendan was killed by a grenade of
unknown construction at the siege of Rouen, 1562,[392] and grenades
were freely used at the siege of Famagusta, 1572. Du Bellay tells us
that grenades were made in large quantities at Arles in 1536.[393] As
it is improbable that iron grenades could have been turned out in large
quantities in the first half of the sixteenth century, we may conclude
that they were either earthenware or some form of brittle brass. This
is rendered probable by Whitehorne’s remarks on the subject. He says
that “earthen bottles or pottes,” filled with incendiary or explosive
matter, had been formerly used; but he recommends “hollow balles of
metal, as bigge as smal boules and ¼ in. thick, cast in mouldes and
made of 3 partes of brasse and 1 of tinne.” Their charge consisted of
“3 partes serpentine, 3 partes fine corne pouder, and 1 part rosen.”
A little fine corned powder was used as priming; and he directs the
grenades to be “quickly thrown,” as they will almost immediately
“breake and flye into a thousand pieces.” The want of a proper fuze
rendered their use so dangerous that he advises trials to be made with
them, “to see how long they will tarry before they breake.”[394]

Major Ralph Adye mentions that grenades were supposed to be capable of
being thrown 13 fathoms, or 26 yards.[395]

Evelyn says in his “Diary” that on 29th June 1678, he saw at the
Hounslow Camp certain soldiers “called granadiers, who were dexterous
in flinging hand-granades.” In the _Archæological Journal_, xxiii.,
22, will be found a plate “Blow your Match,” after a sketch by Lens,
“limner to His Majesty” George II., which represents a grenadier of the
1st Regiment of the Guards in 1735, grenade in hand.



Incendiary rockets were known in the East from an early time, and they
are frequently mentioned at later periods; but we are told so little
about the loss they inflicted upon an enemy that one is inclined to
suspect their effect was confined to wounding a few men and frightening
elephants and horses. They are said to have been used by the Chinese
against the Tatars in 1232.[396] The _Malzufat-i Timuri_ and the
_Zafarnama_ leave us in doubt whether Timur’s rockets were used or
not at the great battle of Delhi, 1399.[397] The effect produced by
a single rocket led to the fall of the strong fort of Bitar in 1657,
but this result was purely accidental. The commander of the fort,
foreseeing that an assault would be made upon one of the bastions
which had been much damaged by artillery fire, ordered a hole to be
dug in it and filled with gunpowder, grenades, &c., intending to
blow up the besiegers when they entered. Just before the assault was
made, one of the besiegers’ rockets fell by accident into this pit
and fired its contents, creating thereby so much loss and confusion
among the garrison that the place was carried after a short struggle by
Aurangzeb’s troops.[398]

In the West, rockets were employed as early as 1380,[399] if not
earlier; but they were never looked on with favour, and they appear
to have been seldom, if ever, used between the earlier part of the
fifteenth century and our bombardment of Boulogne with Congreve rockets
in 1806. Dunois’ capture of Pont Audemer in 1449 was a consequence of
a fire that broke out in the town; but the fire appears to have been
caused by a hand-grenade or fire-arrow, not by a rocket. However, the
exact meaning of the word _fusus_ is so doubtful that the matter is not
worth pursuing.[400]

Towards the close of the eighteenth century rockets were almost
forgotten in the one European city where they were most likely to have
been remembered—Constantinople. In 1783-84 Tipu Sultan sent a mission
to the Sultan of Turkey, and of the presents which they offered “none
were so much admired as the Rockets, of which there were none in that

We find traces of the employment of rockets, both incendiary and
explosive, in India in this very year, when some “rocketeers ... threw
confusion and dispersion into the masses of the Mahrattas.”[402]
Nothing can be more probable: the army of the Mahrattas was an army
of cavalry, and horses are terrified by fire in any form. The Indian
rocket at this time had a tube of 8” length and 1.5” diameter,[403] and
it does not appear to have been a very effective missile. Speaking of
our loss during the attack on Seringapatam, 1792, Colonel Dirom says:
“(We had) a good many wounded, though in general but slightly, chiefly
by rockets.”[404] Within the next few years, however, rockets were
much improved, and an eye-witness speaks of the use of “rockets of an
uncommon weight” at the siege of Seringapatam, 1799.[405] These were
undoubtedly explosive rockets, for Col. Gerrard saw one of them kill
three and wound four of our men.[406]

Shortly after the taking of Seringapatam the Ordnance Office applied
to the Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, for the services of some one who
understood the manufacture of war rockets. The Laboratory referred
the Ordnance to the East India Company, who replied that they knew
of no one who possessed such knowledge.[407] This state of things
led Colonel Congreve to turn his attention to the subject. It is not
correct to say that he brought rockets from India,[408] for he never
was there. He knew of course—the whole world knew—that war rockets
were employed there: “I knew that rockets were used for military
purposes in India, but that their magnitude was inconsiderable and
their range not exceeding 1000 yards.”[409] His object was to make
large incendiary and explosive rockets with a range of 1000-3500 yards,
and he succeeded, perhaps, as well as the materials at his disposal
permitted. He never laid claim to the invention of war rockets: “What
I have done,” he says, “towards the perfection of this weapon is as
much my own as if the original invention of rockets in general were

Oberst-Lieutenant Jähns tells us that, from a certain point of
view, the Emperor Caligula’s rockets were on a level with those of
Congreve.[411] It may be doubted, however, whether Caligula’s rockets
would have produced the same effect as the Congreve rockets at
Copenhagen in 1807,[412] or at Walcheren in the same year, when the
French Commandant, General Monnet, protested against their use. They
did good service at the passage of the Adour in 1813, and at the battle
of Leipsig, where Captain Bogue, who commanded the Rocket Brigade,
was killed. A French infantry brigade in the village of Paunsdorf,
“unable to withstand the well-directed fire (of rockets), fell into
confusion, began to retreat,” and ultimately surrendered to the Rocket
Brigade.[413] Two years afterwards, at Waterloo, the rockets, under
Sergeant Daniel Dunnett, proved very effective.

Of late years rockets have fallen into disrepute everywhere, owing to
radical defects explained by Captain C. O. Browne, R.A.;[414] and their
use is unlikely to be revived until the chemists make some unforeseen
and astonishing discovery.



THE oldest recipe for gunpowder is Roger Bacon’s. If the solution
of his anagram which I have ventured to propose be accepted, the
proportions of the ingredients in 100 parts were:—

  _Saltpetre._        _Charcoal._        _Sulphur._
      41.2               29.4               29.4

The French recipe of 1338 being incomplete (Table VIII.), the next
complete recipe for gunpowder is that given in the MSS. of Dr.
John Arderne of Newark, who began to practise as a surgeon before
1350:[415]— “Pernez _j._ _li._ de souffre vif; de charbones de saulx
(i. weloghe) _ij._ _li._; de saltpetre _vj._ _li._ Si les fetez bien
et sotelment moudre sur un pierre de marbre, puis bultez le poudre
parmy vn sotille couer-chief; cest poudre vault à gettere pelottes de
fer, ou de plom, ou d’areyne,[416] one vn instrument qe l’em appelle
_gonne_.” This gives in 100 parts:-

  _Saltpetre._        _Charcoal._        _Sulphur._
      66.6´              22.2´              11.1´

The word _gonne_, in the sense of cannon, must have been commonly
known during the last quarter of the fourteenth century; for Chaucer
uses it with this meaning in the “Hous of Fame,” iii. 553, cir. 1380—

  “As swift as pelet out of gonne,
  Whan fyr is in the poudré ronne;”

and Langley uses it with the same meaning in the C text of his “Vision
of Piers Plowman,” xxi. 293, _cir._ 1393:—

  “Set bows of brake and brasene gonnes,
   And shoot out shot enough his sheltrums to blend.”

Now the explanatory phrase, “qe l’em appelle gonne,” shows that
_gonne_ was but little known when the above recipe was written. We may
therefore date it at 1350.

It will be observed that down to the word _marbre_, the recipe is a
literal translation of a receipt for rocket composition given by Marcus
Græcus.[417] Yet the two powders, although made of _nominally_ the
same ingredients in the same proportions, did not produce the same
effects when fired; for gunpowder will not propel a rocket, and rocket
composition will not project a cannon-ball. The difference in their
effects was probably due to the researches of Roger Bacon, who had
discovered the importance of using pure saltpetre and of thoroughly
incorporating the ingredients. It is improbable that Arderne’s recipe
represents the powder used in the cannon of his time. Its proportions
are so entirely out of keeping with those of the French powder of 1338
(Table VIII.) and those of Whitehorne’s powder of 1560 (Table VII.),
that we may regard it as no more than a laboratory receipt.

It needed but little experience to show how far short of perfection
serpentine powder fell.

While the fouling of dry, well-incorporated powder is comparatively
trifling, a damp or slow-burning powder, such as serpentine, leaves a
much larger residue. The consequence was that, after a few rounds, it
was exceedingly difficult to reload small arms, a considerable part
of the loose, floury charge sticking to the fouling.[418] The remedy
for this evil was the use of cartridges. Whitehorne mentions “bagges
of linnen or paper” for the charges of cannon in 1560,[419] and in
1590 Sir John Smythe speaks not only of cartridges, but of composite
cartridges for small arms—“cartages with which (musketeers) charge
their peeces both with powder and ball at one time.”[420]

There are payments for talwood (faggots) “for drying powder” in the
English store accounts 1372-74,[421] and in 1459 the Scotch Government
were endeavouring to keep their powder dry by storing it in waxed
canvas bags.[422] An official recommends the English Privy Council in
1589 to sell certain “bad powder” at Dorchester, adding, “the longer
it is kept the worse yt wilbe.”[423] The Navy were of course, then and
always, the chief sufferers from damp powder. Serpentine powder, Sir
Henry Manwayring tells us in 1664, was never taken to sea (after big
guns had become strong enough to stand corned powder) “both because
it is of small force, and also for that it will, with the aire of the
sea, quickly drie and lose its force.”[424] But corned powder was
by no means proof against damp. In the action fought off Grenada in
July 1779, Bishop Watson says “the English shot would not reach” the
French. The powder, it was found, “had concreted into large lumps, in
the middle of which the saltpetre was visible to the naked eye.”[425]
Between the years 1790 and 1811, 189,000 whole barrels of powder,
“which had formed into lumps from the damp of H.M.’s ships of war,” and
had consequently been returned into store as useless, were rendered
serviceable in the Government powder factory.[426]

Being merely a loose mechanical mixture of three substances with
different specific gravities, serpentine powder had a tendency, when
shaken in transport, to resolve itself into three strata, the heaviest
substance (the sulphur) settling down to the bottom, and the lightest
(the charcoal) remaining at the top. This meant, practically, that on
coming into the enemy’s presence the ingredients had to be incorporated
afresh. To save trouble, and to avoid the danger of a second mixing, it
was for a long time customary to carry the ingredients separately,[427]
or, at least, to carry the charcoal apart from the saltpetre and
sulphur. There was another argument, however, in favour of this
course. While serpentine powder, however tightly secured, gave out
a large quantity of impalpable dust which might cause an explosion
at any moment, no explosion was possible so long as the ingredients
were kept asunder. But whatever was the reason for resorting to such
an expedient, it is evident that the remedy was nearly as bad as the

Serpentine powder had another drawback,—it required very careful
ramming home. “Thrust the pouder home fair and softly,” says
Whitehorne.[428] “The powder rammed in too hard and the wad also,” says
Bourne in 1587, “it will be long before the peece goeth off.... The
powder too loose ... will make the shotte to come short of the mark....
Put up the powder with the rammer head somewhat close, but beat it
not too hard.”[429] By beating it too hard the interstices between the
particles through which the flame permeated the charge were diminished
in size, and if beaten sufficiently hard the mixture tended to become
a solid which burned away without exploding. Finally, the combustion
of serpentine, at the best, was so slow that a large volume of its gas
escaped wastefully through the vent.

These evils were in some cases much lessened, and in others quite
got rid of by the gradual introduction of corned powder, which is
mentioned in 1429 in the Firebook of Conrad von Schongau,[430] and was
in use for hand-guns in England long before 1560. Corned powder (1)
deposited less fouling than serpentine; (2) it was less susceptible
to damp, especially after the introduction of glazing;[431] (3)
it did not resolve into strata in transport; (4) it gave out less
dust; (5) it was much less affected by hard ramming; (6) owing to
the larger interstices between the grains,[432] it burned so quickly
that there was little or no waste of gas through the vent, and it was
consequently so strong that 2 lbs. of corned did the same work as 3
lbs. of serpentine powder.[433] It was, in fact, too strong for cannon
for a long period: Chemistry had outrun Metallurgy. “If serpentine
pouder should be occupied (used) in handguns,” says Whitehorne, “it
would scant be able to drive their pellets[434] a quoit’s cast from
their mouths; and if handgunne (_i.e._ corned) pouder should be used
in pieces of ordnance, without great discretion, it would quickly
break or marre them.”[435] Here we have the cause which necessitated
the general retention of serpentine powder for cannon until the first
half (or middle) of the sixteenth century, after which it is heard of
no more except for secondary purposes, such as priming, &c. We must
not overlook the importance of Whitehorne’s remark. He was an educated
man of sound, practical sense, who had been a student of Gray’s Inn,
and whose experience was not confined to the English Artillery, for he
had seen service in the Low Countries. What he says is a sufficient
safeguard against inferring too much from Schongau’s mention of corned
powder in 1429. It came slowly into use for hand-grenades and small
arms in the fifteenth century; but no country then possessed cannon
strong enough to stand its explosion, and it did not come into general
use for another century.

In addition to its being at first too strong for big guns, corned
powder had the disadvantage of being dearer than serpentine. The latter
was sold in 1569 at £80 the last (2400 lbs.); the former in 1570 at
£90.[436] The following Table gives the price of English powder at
various times:—


_Price of English Gunpowder per lb._

  | Nature.  | 1347 | 1378 | 1462 | 1482 | 1569 | 1578 | 1588 | 1595 | 1695 | 1865 |
  |          |      |      |[437] |[438] |[439] |[440] |[441] |[442] |[443] |[444] |
  |          | _d._ | _d._ | _d._ | _d._ | _d._ | _d._ | _d._ | _d._ | _d._ | _d._ |
  |Serpentine|13-3/4|13-2/3|  12  |  10  |   8  |  --  |  --  |  --  |  --  |  --  |
  |Corned    |  --  |   -- |  --  |  --  |   9  |  10  |  12  |  13  |10-3/4|   7  |
  |Fine      |  --  |   -- |  --  |  --  |  --  |  11  |  --  |  --  |  --  |  --  |

The remarkable uniformity in the prices of English powder has been
noticed by Prof. Rogers in his “History of Agriculture and Prices,”
iv. 631. He thinks that “fine” powder meant priming powder, because
infantry soldiers were usually served out with 1 lb. “common” (corned)
powder and ¼-lb. “fine” powder. It doubtless did at one time; but the
term was applied to all small-arm powder eventually.[445]

The prices of the first two powders have necessarily been calculated.
The price of charcoal in 1347 was .013d. per lb.; in 1378 it was
.02d.[446] The prices of sulphur and saltpetre in 1347 were 8d.
and 18d. per lb. respectively;[447] in 1378 they were (for large
quantities) 4d. and 20d. respectively.[448] From an English MS., quoted
by the Emperor Napoleon III., it appears that the cost of manufacturing
powder at Southampton in 1474 was .864d. per lb.;[449] and, as it is
the only fact available, I have been obliged to assume that this was
the cost of making powder in 1347 and 1378. But it is probably not
far from the truth. The proportions taken for the 1347 powder are
Arderne’s, 6-2-1; those for 1378, 3-1-1. From these data we have:—

                  1347.                                     1378.
                                  _d._                                   _d._
  6 lbs. saltpetre              108.    | 3 lbs. saltpetre              60.
  2 “ charcoal                     .026 | 1 lb.  charcoal                 .02
  1 lb. sulphur                   8.    | 1  ”   sulphur                 4.
                                ——————— |                              ———————
  Price of 9 lbs. of materials  116.026 | Price of 5 lbs. of materials  64.02
                                ======= |                              =======
    ”    ” 1 lb.  ”     ”        12.892 |   ”    ” 1 lb.  ”     ”       12.80
  Cost of making, per lb.          .864 | Cost of making, per lb.         .864
                                ——————— |                               ——————
       Price of 1 lb.            13.756 |        Price of 1 lb.         13.664

The price of French powder in 1375 was 120d. per lb.;[450] but in order
to be able to compare it with the price of English powder in 1378,
we must know the ratio of French to English money at that period. The
French Troyes livre then contained 5760 gs.; the English Tower pound
5400 gs. Therefore—

  1 livre (pure silver) = 16/15 pound (pure silver).

Under Philip of Valois (1328-50) the livre was debased to 1/12 its
original value,[451] and almost simultaneously the pound was debased
by Edward III. to 4/5 its primitive value.[452] Or 1 good livre was
worth 12 bad livres, and 1 good pound was worth 5/4 of a bad pound.

  12 livres = 16/15 (5/4 pound) = 4/3 pound; or 9 livres = 1 pound.

Dividing the price of 1 lb. French powder, 1375, by the price of 1
lb. English powder, 1378, we get 120/13.664 = 8.7; so that the French
powder at this period was somewhat cheaper than the English. As the
purchasing power of fourteenth-century money was about ten times that
of ours, the French powder of 1375 cost about 11s., and the English
powder of 1378, 11s. 4½d. per lb.

The high price of early gunpowder resulted from high freights and (in
the case of saltpetre) the rapacity of Eastern merchants. We may form
some notion of the price they exacted for their saltpetre which cost
them little,[453] from the price they put upon their naphtha which cost
them next to nothing. “Another fountayne there is towarde the Oryent
whereof is made fyre grekysshe, with other myxtyons (mixtures) that is
put thereto; the which fyre when it is taken and lyght is so hote that
it can not be quenched with water, but with aysel (vinegar), urine or
sande only. The Sarasynes sell this water dere, and derer than they do
good wyne.”[454]

The manufacture of gunpowder soon became a trade. We find a powder-mill
in Ausburg in 1340, in Spandau in 1344, and in Liegnitz in 1348.[455]
There was a gunmaker in Stockholm in 1430, who was very probably a
powder-maker too;[456] and it is certain that there was a powder-maker
there in 1464—Mäster Berend.[457] Nor were Governments blind to the
importance and the profit of the trade. Beckmann states that the
Archbishop of Magdeburg in 1419 only permitted the collection of
saltpetre on payment of a license,[458] and Clarke informs us that the
Pope and the Archduke of Bavaria engaged themselves in powder-making
at an early date.[459] Louis XI. appointed commissioners in 1477 to
collect all the saltpetre they could find, with power to force an entry
wherever they suspected it was stored.[460]

During the Ancient Period, say 1250-1450, when serpentine was
exclusively used, one powder could only differ from another in
composition, that is, in the proportions of the ingredients used,
supposing them to be equally pure; during the Modern Period, say
1700-1886, the powders used (in each individual State) differed only,
as a general rule, in the size of the grain;[461] during the Transition
Period, 1450-1700, they generally differed both in composition and

The proportions of the ingredients were quite arbitrary during the
Ancient Period, and not only Governments, but private manufacturers,
had their special recipes. As late as 1628 Norton says there were
“infinite recipes for making of powder, but most states have enjoyned a
certain proportion.”[462]

The introduction of corning, far from curbing the lawlessness of the
Ancient Period, made confusion worse confounded. _Then_ there was
but one variable—the proportions of the ingredients; _now_ a second
independent variable was introduced—the size of the grain. But a
reaction was at hand, which set in first in France, where corned
powder had been adopted in 1525.[463] It appears to have been noticed
during the second half of the fifteenth century that large-grained
powder was the fittest for big guns, and this fact the French utilised
in 1540 by officially restricting the service powders to three, of
uniform composition but different-sized grains.[464]

The largest-grained powder was used for the largest guns, and the
composition was 80.7 salp., 11.5 char., and 7.8 sulph., which closely
corresponded to Whitehorne’s (corned) hand-gun powder—78.3 salp.,
13 char., and 8.7 sulph.[465] It may be questioned, however, whether
the French, official injunctions notwithstanding, confined themselves
very religiously to powders of uniform composition. Boillot, whose
work was published at Chaumont in 1598, says the grain for big guns
was as large as a pea, that for medium guns the size of hempseed, and
that for serpents, &c., still smaller. But from a remark he makes on
reaching the manufacture of powder—“vous viendrez à la composition (de
la pouldre), mais par poix et mesure, selon que vous voudrez faire les
pouldres”[466]—it is clear that powders for all purposes were not of
the same composition.

During the first half of the seventeenth century the French official
powder was weaker than the above—75.6 salp., 13.6 char., and 10.8
sulph.—and for big guns had grains as large as hazel-nuts.[467] At
Pont-à-Mousson, just across the German border, powders of different
compositions were in use in 1620;[468] and east of the Rhine powder
for different guns probably varied in grain, and certainly varied in
composition. “Of the various powders now made,” says Furtenbach in
1627, “the following are generally employed:[469]—

  Saltpetre.    Charcoal.     Sulphur.
     69.0          16.5         14.5 for big guns;
     72.4          14.5         13.1 for small guns;
     75.7          13.0         11.3 for small arms.”

The information given to us about granulation by the early English
gunners is neither clear nor full.

When Whitehorne tells us that the method of corning “all sorts of
powder” was the same, namely, by means of a sieve and a few heavy metal
balls,[470] what meaning did he intend to convey by the phrase “all
sorts of powder”? There can be little doubt that he meant “powders
of whatever composition, and whatever the size of the grain to be
produced;” first, because it would be preposterous to assume that all
the sieves of his time had meshes of equal size; and secondly, because
there is abundant evidence to show that, long after Whitehorne’s time,
the powders for different guns in England (and elsewhere) varied both
in composition and grain. In 1620 Thybovril and Hanzelet tell us that
powder to be granulated is to be passed through a sieve with holes
“de la grosseur que vous desirez votre poudre”;[471] and eight years
afterwards Norton uses the very same ambiguous phrase, “a syve ... made
full of holes of the bignesse you desire your cornes.”[472] Did they
mean that the size of the grain in their time was purely arbitrary
and might be of any magnitude whatever? A passage in Boillot’s
(earlier) work explains their meaning much better than they have done
it themselves. He first tells us that the sieve is to have holes “de
telle grosseur que vous voudrez,” and he then goes on to explain the
proper size of grain for use in the different classes of ordnance,
as given here on a previous page. In a word, three or four kinds of
sieves (differing in the size of their meshes) were procurable—some
for graining powder for big guns, others for graining powder for medium
guns, &c. &c.—and having fixed upon the gun from which your powder
(when grained) was to be fired (and consequently upon the size of
the grain), you were to select those sieves which had meshes “of the
bignesse you desired your cornes.”

From the phrase used above by Norton, it is certain that several
powders, differing in grain, were in use when he wrote; from the
evidence of Norton,[473] Nye,[474] and others, it is equally certain
that several different receipts for making powder were in use during
their time. The conclusion is that during the first half of the
seventeenth century powders made in England for different guns varied
both in composition and size of grain.

The lawlessness in composition and grain during the greater part of the
Transition Period was the natural consequence of the absence of any
instrument to measure the comparative strength of different powders,
and enable gunners to establish some standard for the proportions of
the ingredients and the size of the grain.

The earliest instrument proposed for testing the strength of powder
was, I believe, Bourne’s “engine or little boxe,” which, he says, was
“very necessarie to be used.”[475] Whether he invented it himself or
not, it is impossible to say: he tells us, “some of (the inventions)
I have gathered by one meane and some by another, but the most part
of them hath been mine own.”[476] The engine was a wretched one. The
powder to be tested was ignited in a small metal cylinder with a heavy
lid (working on a hinge) which when raised could not shut of itself.
The angle through which the lid was raised by the explosion indicated
the strength of the powder.

A better instrument was that described by Furtenbach in 1627.[477]
It differed from Bourne’s “little boxe” in that the lid was only
laid upon the cylinder. When the powder exploded the lid was blown
upwards along two vertical wires which passed through it; but it could
not descend again of itself, being held in the place it reached by
iron teeth (like those which supported the lid of Bourne’s box). Nye
describes this instrument, and suggests that the comparative strength
of powders should be further tested by measuring the penetration of
pistol balls into clay, and the ranges of projectiles fired from a
small mortar.[478] This is, I believe, the first proposal of the
_mortar éprouvette_, 1647. The French certainly adopted them before
1686, often though it has been said that they then introduced them.
On the 18th September of this year Louis XIV. published an ordonnance
complaining of “the variety of eprouvettes” in use for testing powder,
and directing that for the future no powder should be accepted unless
3 oz. of it could throw a ball of 60 lbs. 50 toises (320 ft.) from the
Government pattern mortar.[479] In a previous ordonnance (April 16,
1686) the King had protested against the bad charcoal (_de méchante
qualité_) constantly employed; against impure saltpetre (_rempli de
graisse et de sel_), insisting upon the exclusive use of saltpetre “de
trois cuites”; and against insufficient incorporation (_dix ou douze
heures ... au lieu de ... vingt quatre heures_).[480] But he marred the
reforms he made by taking the unaccountable step of introducing one
powder, of the same composition and size of grain, for all arms.[481]
For this blunder the French afterwards paid in blood, especially during
the Peninsular war.[482]

About the beginning of the eighteenth century most countries had
reduced their powders to two or three, which were of the same
composition, and differed only in grain. In 1742 Benjamin Robins,
by his “New Principles of Gunnery,” placed gunnery upon a strictly
scientific basis, and by his epoch-making invention of the ballistic
pendulums[483] enabled gunners for the first time to measure the
muzzle-velocity of projectiles with considerable accuracy. It may have
been owing to the lessons taught by this instrument that, between
1742 and 1781, we changed the proportions of the ingredients of
our powder from 75—12½—12½ to 75—15—10. Profiting by the rapid
progress of electricity during the first half of the nineteenth
century, Sir Charles Wheatstone proposed in 1840 his electro-magnetic
chronoscope,[484] which registered to the 1/730 part of a second, to
replace Robins’ ponderous pendulum.

Wheatstone’s instrument was not adopted by our Government, but his
idea was followed up and improved upon by Captain Navez, of the
Belgian Artillery, who in 1847 brought forward his electro-ballistic
pendulum.[485] Only one instrument was now wanting to enable the
mechanical effect of the explosion to be directly and completely
observed—an instrument to measure the pressure upon the bore of the
gun; and this want was supplied in 1861 when Captain T. J. Rodman,
Ordnance Department, United States Army, produced his Indenting
Apparatus and his Internal Pressure Gauge.[486] The following Table
gives the results of some experiments with the new instruments:—


_Showing the connection between the Size of the Grain, Muzzle Velocity,
and Pressure on Bore._

  | Diameter of | Charge. | Weight of |  Muzzle   |   Pressure on    |
  |   Grains.   |   Lbs.  |   Shot.   | Velocity. | Bottom of Bore.  |
  |    Ins.     |         |   Lbs.    |   F.s.    | Tons per Sq. In. |
  |     .1      |    8    |    43     |   1261    |       21.5       |
  |     .15     |    ”    |     ”     |   1235    |       21.0       |
  |     .2      |    ”    |     ”     |   1199    |       18.8       |
  |     .25     |    ”    |     ”     |   1151    |       17.1       |
  |     .3      |    ”    |     ”     |   1146    |       15.3       |
  |     .4      |    ”    |     ”     |   1187    |       14.2       |

This Table shows that as the size of the grain slowly increases,
the muzzle velocity decreases very slowly, and the pressure on the
bore decreases very quickly. The consequence of this discovery was
the manufacture of various very large grained powders such as pebble
powder, &c., for heavy guns. But the thorough knowledge of the
mechanical effect of the explosion of gunpowder gained by the use of
the Navez and Rodman instruments, was of little avail to anybody, for
gunpowder had nearly run its course. Just twenty-five years after the
introduction of the pressure gauge M. Vieille put the French Government
in possession of a nitrocellulose explosive,[487] and gunpowder was
added to the list of things that were.

Throughout the whole gunpowder period enthusiasts seem never to have
been wanting who believed in the possibility of making smokeless
powder and noiseless powder. Castner’s powder, which contained only
3 per cent, sulphur, seems to have been the nearest approach to the
former, but no powder containing sulphur could be absolutely smokeless.
Whether early gunners suspected this or not I do not know; certain it
is, however, that sulphurless powder was under discussion centuries
ago. Rabelais (who may have heard soldiers talking about the matter)
alludes jokingly to “pouldre de canon curieusement composée, degressée
de son soulfre.”[488] In 1756 the French actually experimented with
sulphurless mixtures, one of which (80 per cent. sulph. and 20 per
cent. ch.) gave good results in range, with very little smoke. It
proved to be worthless for military purposes from the difficulty
of corning it, and from its crumbling to dust during ordinary
transport.[489] The belief in a noiseless powder was scoffed at by
Whitehorne: “There be many who bring up lies, saying that they can tell
how to make pouder that shooting in gunnes shall make no noise, the
which is impossible.” A century afterwards Sir Thomas Browne believed
means might be adopted, if not to stifle the sound altogether, at least
“to abate the vigour thereof, or silence its bombulation.”[490]

Tables VII. and VIII. give the composition of gunpowder at various


_English Gunpowder._

  |         | 1250[491]| 1482[492]| 1569[493]| 1578[494] | 1588[495]| 1595[496]| 1695[497]|
  |         | _cir._   | _cir._   |          |           |          |          |          |
  |Saltpetre|   41.2   |  66.6´   |  50.0    |   66.6´   |   71.4   |   75.0   |    75    |
  |Charcoal |   29.4   |  22.2´   |  33.3´   |   16.6´   |   14.3   |   12.5   |    15    |
  |Sulphur  |   29.4   |  11.1´   |  16.6´   |   16.6´   |   14.3   |   12.5   |    10    |

_N.B._—All these writers give the proportions of gunpowder in their
own times.


_Foreign Gunpowder._

  |         |France[498]|Sweden[499 |Germany[500]|Denmark[501]|France[502]|Sweden[503]|Germany[504]|
  |         |    1338   |   1560    |   1595     |   1608     |   1650    |   1697    |   1882     |
  |Saltpetre|    50     |   66.6´   |   52.2     |   68.3     |   75.6    |    73     |    78      |
  |Charcoal |    ?      |   16.6´   |   26.1     |   23.2     |   13.6    |    17     |    19      |
  |Sulphur  |    25     |   16.6´   |   21.7     |    8.5     |   10.8    |   10      |     3      |



The nature of the first Artillery projectiles was determined by the
nature of the small-arm missiles in use when cannon were introduced by
the Germans. To use the bulky and ponderous projectiles of the machines
in these small and feeble pieces was out of the question; nothing
remained, therefore, but to adopt the darts, bolts, or quarrels which
produced such deadly effect when shot from cross-bows:—

  "Of Arblasters grete plenté were,
  Noon armure myght her stroke withstonde."[505]


The iron darts feathered with brass—"garros ferrés et empanés en
deux cassez"—which are mentioned in the earliest document relating
to Artillery that has been found in France,[506] dated 1338, belonged
unmistakably to the same family as those used for cross-bows. The
brazen feathers were nailed to the shaft, and the missile, which
weighed about 7 oz.,[507] was wrapped in a leather covering, so as to
fit the bore tightly. Experience quickly proved these darts to be quite
unsuited for firearms; yet they dragged on a lingering and precarious
existence for quite 250 years. In the anonymous _Livre de Canonnerie et
Artifice de feu_, Paris, 1561, the title of the seventy-fourth chapter
is: “Pour tirer lances ferrées d’une bombarde, canon ou autre baston
à feu de cannonerie.”[508] To a return of the powder on board his
squadron, dated March 30, 1588, addressed to Government, Sir Francis
Drake added a P.S.: “Forgett not the 500 musketts, and at least 1000
arrows”;[509] and on the 8th April following the Privy Council ordered
him to be supplied with “muskittes, 200; arrowes for the said muskittes
with tamkines for eche, 1000.”[510]

_Round Shot._

On the failure of the darts, informal trials were begun everywhere with
balls of stone, iron, bronze, and lead, to discover which material was
best suited for ordnance.

Stone shot, which had been used in machines for countless centuries,
were on trial for cannon in France in 1346;[511] and, unless a ballad
written about this time refers to machines and not to guns, we
employed them at the siege of Calais the same year:—

  “Gonners to schew their art
   Into the town in many a parte
     Schot many a fulle great stone.
   Thanked be God and Mary mild,
   They hurt neyther man, woman, nor child;
     To the houses, though, they did harm.”[512]

Stone shot were in use in Italy in 1364,[513] and in 1378 Richard
II. ordered 600 stones to be bought for the cannon in the castle of
Brest.[514] They were employed more or less in England and elsewhere
until the Great Rebellion, and possibly even later.

The earliest mention of iron shot, perhaps, is that in the Arderne
MSS., say 1350;[515] although we should not be justified in inferring
from it that they were then in actual use. There were 928 iron shot
in the arsenal of Bologna in 1381,[516] but iron seems to have
been sparingly employed until the time of Charles VIII. of France,
1483-98.[517] The only iron projectiles mentioned by (or, we may
infer, known to) the authors of the Berlin Firebook, 1400-50,[518] and
of the _Tractatus de Pugnaculis_ of the same period preserved in the
Hof-Bibliothek at Vienna,[519] are iron bullets for handguns. When
used against troops in wooden buildings, &c., they both recommend that
the balls should be heated red-hot Hot (cannon) balls were introduced
much later, in 1579, by Stephen Bathory, King of Poland.[520] It was
a simple matter to discharge hot projectiles from a machine, but a
delicate operation to load a gun with them without exploding the
charge. In fact, it was impracticable until the thick wet wad had been

It appears from Petrarch’s _De Remediis Utriusque Fortunæ_,[521] which
must have been written in or before 1344, that bronze shot—_glandes
æneas_—were then in use among the Italians; and Valturio mentions
bronze shells—_pilæ æneæ_—in his work, which, although not published
until 1472, was already written in 1463.[522]

A document, dated 29th April 1345, proves that the French were
employing lead shot at this time;[523] and the accounts of Robert de
Mildenhale, Keeper of Edward III.’s Wardrobe, show that we sent to
Calais on the 1st and 2nd September 1346, 73 large leaden shot, 31
small shot, and 6 pieces of lead.[524] Finally, the accounts of John
de Sleaford, Clerk of the King’s Privy Wardrobe, prove that in 1372-74
workmen were employed in the Tower in making leaden “pelottes” for

In a battle at Taro, 1491, the Venetians are said to have fired upon
the French with shot of all three metals—iron, bronze, and lead.[526]

These trials naturally resulted in the general, but by no means
exclusive, adoption of stone as the best material for round shot;
because it was found that not only the use of metal balls was
considerably more costly than that of stone, but that the heavier
charges of powder necessitated by metal shot exerted a destructive
effect upon the feeble cannon.

The respective prices per lb. of iron,[527] gun-metal,[528] and
lead[529] in the second half of the fourteenth century were .856,
2.44, and .627 pennies, fourteenth century money. Multiplying by 10, to
get their approximate prices in our money, we obtain:—


_Comparative Prices of Metals, 1375 and 1865._

  |           | Price per lb., |            |  Price   |              |
  |           |     1375,      |            | per lb., |              |
  |  Metal.   |  multiplied    |  Ratio.    |  1865.   |              |
  |           |     by 10.     |            |   _d._   |              |
  |           |     _d._       |            |          |              |
  | Iron      |      8.56      | 8.5 to 5.7 | 1 to 1.5 | {Bar iron of |
  | Gun-metal |     24.4       |   2.03     |   12     | { average    |
  | Lead      |      6.27      |   3.13     |    2     | { quality    |

It will be noticed that the price of bronze, which had been brought
to perfection by the ancients, and whose manufacture was independent
of modern appliances, only fell to half its old price in five
centuries; that the price of lead, which had some dependence on these
appliances, fell to a little over one-third; while the price of iron,
whose progress depended essentially upon the use of coal, scientific
furnaces, &c., fell to between one-fifth to one-ninth.

The weights of (wrought) iron,[530] bronze,[531] and lead balls of
4” diameter are respectively 9.3, 10.18, and 13.8 lbs., and Master
Gunner Nye informs us that the weight of a stone ball of this diameter
was 3.375 lbs.[532] Therefore the respective prices of the iron,
bronze, and lead balls were 7.96, 26.468, and 8.65 pence, exclusive
of the cost of manufacture; while the price of the material of the
stone ball was much less than a farthing.[533] Again, for powder at
13.664d. per lb.,[534] and charges one-ninth the weight of the shot,
the prices of the charges for the stone, iron, bronze, and lead balls
are respectively 5.12, 14.07, 15.44, and 20.496 pence. We can therefore
form an estimate of the relative cost of one round with balls of the
four materials.


_Comparative Cost of One Round, 4.25″ gun; stone, iron, bronze, and
lead balls._

  |                    |  Stone.   |   Iron.    | Bronze.  |  Lead.     |
  |                    |   _d._    |   _d._     |  _d._    |   _d._     |
  | Price of 4” ball   |   0.25    |   7.96     |  26.468  |   8.652    |
  | Price of powder    |   5.12    |  14.07     |  15.44   |  20.496    |
  | Cost of one Round  |   5.37    |  22.03     |  41.908  |  29.148    |
  |   or in our money  |4s. 5-3/4d.|18s. 4-1/4d.| 34s. 11d.|24s. 3-1/2d.|

These figures do not profess to give the absolute price of one round,
but they represent pretty accurately the relative cost of a round with
the different projectiles.

The pressures per square inch exerted upon the bore of a gun are
directly proportional to the weight of the charges used, and these
charges were directly proportional to the weights of the projectiles
used. We have therefore the following comparative pressures:—


_Numbers proportional to the pressures per square inch on the bore of a
4.25″ gun when fired with shot of different materials._

  | Stone. | Iron.  |Bronze. | Lead.  |
  |  3.6   |  10    | 10.9   |  14.5  |

Table X. shows that the cost per round with stone was much less than
with metal shot, while Table XI. shows how great was the disparity
between the pressures on the bore in the two cases, which, as the
calibre (and therefore the absolute pressure) increased, became a
serious matter. With the very small, early guns, the greater cost and
heavier strain may not have been sensibly felt. The extra cost in
their case was not very considerable, and the increased pressure may
not have been even suspected until guns began to burst.[535] But that
these disadvantages made themselves unmistakably felt when the guns
grew larger is proved beyond a doubt by the fact that “great stone shot
and great cannon were introduced together.”[536] Leaden bullets were
retained for hand-guns, because it was comparatively easy to strengthen
them, and the metal, although dearer per bullet than iron, was much
easier to manipulate. Iron shot were doubtless used as a general rule
for breaching purposes, for which stone shot were ill adapted, owing to
their lightness and liability to break up. We even hear from time to
time of the use of bronze and lead cannon balls.


There were two ways, in early times, of firing a volley of small
shot at troops. The first consisted in mounting a number of small
bombards on one carriage and firing them all, or a certain number
of them, together. Gattaro speaks of 144 bombards mounted on the
same bed, and so arranged as to fire thirty-six at a time.[537] The
whole apparatus was called a _ribaudequin_, _barricade_, _orgue_,
_orgelgeschütz_, &c.; the two latter names being given to it because
it resembled “organ-pipes placed upon a broad carriage.”[538] By
the second method the bullets required for the volley were put for
convenience in a cartridge case or canister, and fired from a large
bombard. The bullets, according to General Köhler, were simply pebbles
of flint.[539] During the Indian Mutiny, I forget where, a volley of
“Pyramid” or “Pool” balls was fired by the mutineers from a clubhouse
upon our storming party with deadly effect.

Essenwein gives plates of an orgue, dated 1390-1400, and of a gun
firing case dated 1410.[540] Case was used at the siege of Belgrade,
1439,[541] and at the siege of Scutari, 1478.[542] Orgues were used as
late as the Great Rebellion. At the battle of Copredy Bridge, 1644,
the Cavaliers took “two baricadoes of wood, which were drawn upon
wheels, and in each seven small brass and leather cannon, charged with


Isolated attempts to fire shell from guns (as distinguished from
howitzers and mortars) had been made from time to time in the course
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but they proved, one and
all of them, abortive. The first methodical and successful shell-fire
from guns was carried on during the siege of Gibraltar, 1779-83, at the
suggestion of an English Infantry officer.

The distance from our nearest batteries to the Spanish lines when the
siege began was 1700 to 2000 yards,[544] and at this range our fire
was ineffective. Many of the mortar shell burst at the muzzle from
the heavy charges required for these long ranges, a gunner losing his
life on one occasion from this cause.[545] The shell that withstood
the shock flew wildly; the fuzes were “in general faulty”;[546] many
good shell were smothered in the sand of which the Spanish works were
constructed; those that burst produced but little effect;[547] and
round shot were of no avail against sandbanks twenty-two feet high.
As fire against the Spanish works was useless, it only remained to
direct it on the working parties. Against them our mortar fire was
as ineffective as against the works, and what was to be looked for
from guns provided only with round shot and case? Case would not
carry one-sixth of the range, and round shot against handfuls of men,
scattered here and there, were as worthless as shell. The difficulty
was still unsolved when Captain Mercier, 39th Regiment, suggested
firing the 5.5-inch shell of the royal mortars, with _short_ fuzes,
from the 24-pounder guns which had the same calibre as the mortars,
5.8-inch. A trial was made on the 25th September 1779 with (I believe)
the “Rock gun,” which was a 24-pounder; the “calculated fuzes,”[548]
it was found, “often burst (the shell) over the heads of the working
parties,”[549] and Merciers brilliant proposal was officially adopted.

When the siege was over, and men had time to think, it became clear
enough that excellent as was Captain Mercier’s plan as a makeshift
during the stress and strain of a siege, it had its weak points. The
strong charge necessary to burst the common shell tended to scatter the
fragments here and there in all directions, and the fragments were few
in number. Experiments were carried on in Prussia in 1761 to determine
the bursting charges which broke (mortar and howitzer) shell into
the greatest number of pieces. It was found that royal mortar shell
(_maximum_ bursting charge, 1 lb. 2 oz.) broke into eight pieces, with
a bursting charge of 1 lb., and into nineteen pieces with a bursting
charge of 14 oz., these figures being the means of six trials.[550]

In any case, the siege of Gibraltar proved beyond denial that we
possessed no recognised and effective projectile against troops in open
order beyond the range of case. To fill the void thus disclosed in our
ammunition, Lieutenant Henry Shrapnel, R.A., conceived the idea in
1784[551] of a gun-projectile, which he called “spherical case.” As he
was quartered in Newfoundland during the siege, it is improbable that
he was aware at this time of Capt. Mercier’s plan. At all events he did
not follow it, the principle of his invention being radically different
from that of common shell. The bursting charge of the latter was a
_maximum_, the bursting charge of the former was a _minimum_; the fuze
of the latter was bored long, the fuze of the former was bored short;
the fragments of common shell were projected by the bursting charge of
the shell, the fragments of the shrapnel by the charge of the gun from
which it was fired.

This absolutely new and original invention at first met the fate of
many other new inventions—it was long disregarded.[552] Not until
1803, when England was in grave danger, did the authorities bestir
themselves about it: a trial of Shrapnel’s shell was then ordered, and
the Ordnance Committee reported in their favour.[553] How great an
invention these shell were may be measured by their inextinguishable
vitality: they outlived official apathy; they overcame endless
objections; they survived countless modifications; they adapted
themselves to rifled guns; and at the present moment they are the best
projectiles available against troops in open order beyond the range of

The originality of the Shrapnel shell did not, of course, remain
unchallenged. Certain officers in France, Germany, and Belgium
discovered that the invention was an old one, and that Master Gunner
Samuel Zimmermann had employed Shrapnel no later than 1573. His MS.,
it may be observed, had been removed from Heidelberg to Rome during
the Thirty Years’ War; was sent back to Heidelberg in 1816; and was
not discovered by Hauptmann Toll until 1852, just ten years after
Shrapnel’s death.[554]

Zimmermann’s projectile was not constructed on Shrapnel’s principles.

It consisted of a leaden cylinder, with a time fuze fixed in the end
placed next to the charge of the gun. The back half of the cylinder was
filled with strong (_röschem_) powder; the front half with bullets;
and the missile was intended to act a few hundred paces (_etlich
hundert schrytt_) beyond the ordinary range of case, say, at 500-600
yards. A very small bursting charge would have sufficed to burst open
a leaden case: why, then, did the Master Gunner use the _maximum_
charge which was possible without unduly diminishing the number of
bullets—a charge, too, of specially strong powder? Because he intended
the bursting charge not only to open the case, but to accelerate the
velocity of the bullets—he could have had no other conceivable reason.

Whatever may have been the merits of this missile, it was certainly
not a Shrapnel, as will be seen clearly by placing the details of
construction of the two projectiles side by side.

  _Zimmermann’s Case_, 1573.               | _Shrapnel’s Spherical Case_, 1805.
  (_a_) A hollow leaden cylinder.          |(_a’_) A hollow iron sphere.
  (_b_) Thickness of cylinder unknown.     |(_b’_) Thickness of sphere a minimum.[555]
  (_c_) Contained a number of bullets.[556]|(_c’_) Contained a number of bullets.
  (_d_) Bursting charge a _maximum_.       |(_d’_) Bursting charge a _minimum_.
  (_e_) Bullets accelerated by explosion   |(_e’_) Bullets (as far as practicable)
          of bursting charge.              |       unaffected by explosion of
                                           |       bursting charge.
  (_f_) A very bad fuze.                   |(_f’_) A tolerably fair fuze.[557]
  (_g_) Range up to 500-600 yds.           |(_g’_) Range up to 3000 yds.

The annals of Artillery will be ransacked in vain for Shrapnel shell
before the nineteenth century, because the successful application of
Shrapnel’s principle was impossible until an extremely accurate time
fuze had been constructed, and no nation possessed a really good fuze
before that epoch[558]—nor in truth until long afterwards. The results
of the Shrapnel practice in 1819,[559] after Shrapnel and many others
had devoted their best energies to the improvement of time fuzes
for sixteen years, show how defective they still were. But although
the want of a sufficiently accurate fuze made the Shrapnel system a
practical impossibility before the nineteenth century, a man above his
fellows might have dreamt dreams of distant case fire ages before.

That Zimmermann was groping about blindly in search of the projectile
Shrapnel found in 1784, is proved beyond a doubt by the question
which the Feuerwerker puts to the Büchsenmeister: “Cannot a case shot
be made which will leave the bore whole and burst at a few hundred
paces’ distance?”[560] But Zimmermann failed in his search: what he
sought did not lie on the road that he took. Like Fronsperger,[561]
he placed his fuze next the charge, in consequence of which (as the
old man frankly confesses) most of his cylinders burst in the bore:
“Gemainlich im Stückh angegangen und zersprungen.” Boillot, a quarter
of a century later, had a better knowledge of gunnery: “adviserez que
le trou d’icelle (the fuze-hole) soit du costé de la bouche dudit
mortier.”[562] Zimmermann filled the front half of his cylinder with
bullets and the rear half with strong powder, obviously assuming
the stability of the missile in its flight. Now Prof. Greenhill has
given us a table showing the _minimum_ twist at the muzzle requisite
to give stability of rotation to elongated projectiles. If a common
shell’s length be 3 calibres, it requires a twist of 1 turn in 38.45
calibres; if its length be 4 calibres it requires a twist of 1 turn
in 27.6 calibres; and so on.[563] How far, then, would Zimmermann’s
ill-balanced, smooth-bore cylinder have travelled before it toppled
over, with the certain result that, when it did, the large bursting
charge would blow the bullets any way but the right way?

Zimmermann’s projectile failed, and his sole merit consists in vaguely
foreshadowing the Shrapnel, just as Roger Bacon dimly foresaw balloons
and ships driven by machinery—“Marine engines can be constructed and
worked by one man which will propel the largest vessels quicker than a
ship’s crew of oarsmen.... Flying machines can also be made.”[564] His
cylinder no more establishes Zimmermann’s claim to be the inventor, or
even the suggester, of Shrapnel shell, than Bourne’s method of shooting
“three times in a peece at one lading of her”[565] entitles him to be
regarded as the inventor of quick-firing guns.

We should have been spared much unprofitable controversy had foreign
critics thought fit to make themselves acquainted with the nature
and properties of Shrapnel’s Spherical Case before discussing its
history. Its history is simple. It was made in England, the invention
of an English Artillery officer who owed nothing to earlier gunners in
Germany or anywhere else.



_Hot Shot._

The Britons set fire to the Roman Camp during Cæsar’s second invasion,
54 B.C., by discharging hot balls of clay among the tents.[566] At the
attack on Placentia, A.D. 69, igneous missiles were employed (_glandes
et missilem ignem_), and probably destroyed the amphitheatre.[567] As
before mentioned, hot shot (for cannon) were invented by the Polish
king, Stephen Bathory, in 1579.[568] Their greatest triumph was the
destruction of d’Arçon’s floating batteries and a great part of the
Spanish fleet at Gibraltar, 13th September 1782.

_Incendiary Fireballs._

The gunners of old encountered great difficulties in their endeavours
to introduce igneous projectiles. Their use in the early guns was not
absolutely impossible, but it would have been fruitless; for to prove
effective an igneous projectile, whether incendiary or explosive,
must contain a considerable mass of combustible matter, and this
condition could not be fulfilled with guns of very small calibre.
When the calibre had greatly increased, during the last quarter of the
fourteenth century, any attempt to employ such igneous projectiles as
were in use with the machines must have ended in failure. The action
of the machines was similar to that of a sling, and the shells (or
envelopes) of their incendiary missiles were made just strong enough
to resist the pressure to which they were subjected on discharge,
although not strong enough to bear the shock of impact with the object
they struck. This broke them up and scattered their blazing contents
about. Such projectiles were evidently unfit for use in cannon;
for the explosion of the charge would inevitably break them up in
the bore, and their viscous contents would travel but a very short
way. Owing to these difficulties the machines held their ground to
the middle of the fifteenth century, if not longer, and the igneous
projectiles ultimately constructed for cannon were developments of the

In Fig. 31 of the plate from the MS. of Kyeser’s “Bellifortis,” 1405,
given by Herr von Romocki (i. 169), we are shown a projectile which
unquestionably belongs to the same family as the _tonneau_ which
terrified Joinville and his companions;[569] but this barrel could have
only been discharged from a machine. Whether Figs. 26 and 28 of the
same plate were thrown by hand or machine depended on their size, which
we do not know. From their construction, with a mere covering of cloth
or cordage, we may safely conclude that they were not gun-projectiles.

We are given a detailed account of fireballs in the German Firebook,
1400-50, belonging to the Royal Library, Berlin, MS. Germ. qu. 1018.
Missiles are there described which consisted of an interior ball
of gunpowder kneaded with spirits of wine, smeared over with thick
incendiary matter, rolled tightly in a cover of cotton steeped in the
same mixture, and secured by two metal bands at right angles to each
other. They could be either thrown by hand or fired from a bombard.
In the latter case a hole was bored through the ball and the plug
which was used in bombards to close the end of the powder-chamber next
the projectile, in order to admit the flame into the interior of the
ball. The success of the missile, it was thought, depended on the hole
through the ball being exactly opposite the hole through the plug, a
condition which could be only fulfilled in a breechloading bombard. The
inventor believed that the ball would explode, for he warns the gunner
to throw it before the flame reaches the composition, lest it “blow
his head off.”[570] It is obvious, however, that the gunner’s head
was quite safe, although he might burn his fingers, when using these
incendiary toys which are unknown to military history. The incendiary
projectiles actually used in the fifteenth century were comparatively
simple and of a different nature. Take, for instance, the incendiary
cannon-projectile used at the siege of Weissenburg in 1469, just six
years after Valturio had presented his book to the Sultan Mahomed
II.[571] It consisted of a stone ball, considerably smaller than the
bore of the gun, which was smeared over with thick incendiary matter
and wrapped in a cloth soaked in the same mixture. This process was
continued until the ball was the proper size for the bore.[572] Other
incendiary missiles were tried,[573] but none of them, so far as I am
aware, had anything in common with the unpractical projectile proposed
in the Berlin Firebook.

_Incendiary Shell._

A further step is taken in a later edition of the Firebook just quoted,
but of the same period,[574] 1400-50. A quill full of incendiary
matter is directed to be inserted in the hole through the ball above
described, and the whole was enclosed in an envelope or shell of
earthenware or iron. An earthenware ball could of course only be thrown
by hand: an iron ball would be fired in general from a bombard. The
metal shell was formed of two hemispheres of iron fastened together by
bands, with a small hole to admit the flame to the quill. A similar
envelope, of bronze, is suggested by

Valturio in his _De Re Militari_, 1463, p. 267;[575] but in this case
the shell is filled with powder, which in all probability was driven
in and compressed as tightly as possible with a mallet and drift.[576]
The German writer undoubtedly believed that his shell would burst,
for he uses such phrases as “chugel dye da springt” and “zerspringt
und zerslecht alls umb.” Neither his shell or Valturio’s would have
exploded except under the most exceptional circumstances.

The weakness of the shell leads Herr von Romocki to suppose that
Valturio’s plate is wrong or grievously exaggerated. I see no grounds
for this suspicion: the shell was purposely made weak, so that it
might break into two pieces on impact and leave the incendiary charge
free to do its work. The missile belonged to the same family as the
incendiary projectiles thrown into Roveredo by the Swiss in 1487.[577]
There the shell was filled with pitch and rosin: Valturio’s shell was
charged with powder, but it was probably compressed tightly into the
interior of the shell, and powder, especially serpentine powder,
will not explode under such circumstances. When experimenting with
gunpowder at New York, Doremus and Budd subjected good modern powder to
such hydraulic pressure as to compress it into a solid block without
interstices, and on ignition the mass burned quietly away.[578]
Valturio’s charge was probably reduced to a state approximating more or
less closely to that of the New York powder, and it would have exploded
but rarely and occasionally. But the mere fact that the shell was made
of bronze is a sufficient proof that it was an incendiary missile.
Even had the charge been explosive, a bronze envelope would have been
only ripped open by it, not broken into many pieces as iron would have
been; a fact which Valturio must have known. Finally, the gunners of
the fifteenth century were not in possession of a fuze that would have
enabled them to carry on fire with explosive shell. The construction of
such a fuze (as will be seen in the section on “Time Fuzes”) was the
work of the following century.

The Berlin Firebook does not profess to give us an account of
ammunition actually used in the field; it merely describes certain
ammunition proposed for use by a fireworker, or inventor, and it
adds his honest convictions of the way in which it would act if
manufactured. The excerpts given by Herr von Romocki from the Firebook,
in so far as they concern the projectile in question, are simply the
specification and opinions of an inventor, and there are no grounds
for supposing that his missile was ever made or ever tried. If these
projectiles had been used with effect in the field, their inventor
would surely have been the first to tell us of their success. There
is nothing remarkable in the above conclusion: the inventor followed
the custom of his age. The value of experiment generally, the absolute
necessity for experiment in gunnery, was unknown or altogether
underrated in the Middle Ages, and those fireworkers who may have
suspected its importance had neither the money nor the opportunity
to put their theory into practice. Would Sextus Julius Africanus and
Marcus Græcus have bequeathed to us certain preposterous recipes, had
they been at the pains and expense of making them and trying them?
It was Roger Bacon who wrote: “Experimental science ignores abstract
arguments; because, strong though they may be, their conclusions
are not perfectly certain until verified by experiment.... In these
studies experiment alone, not abstract reasoning, leads to certain
conclusions.”[579] Yet even he, with his “everlasting lamps,” has
not quite escaped the infection of the prevailing fashion: he never
tried these lamps. Bourne has left us a whole book of “Inventions
and Devices,” and at least one half of Boillot’s book is occupied by
similar inventions; but neither of them makes the slightest suggestion
that any one of his contrivances was ever made or ever tried. We may,
then, discard the wholly unpractical proposal of the Berlin Firebook,
and accept Valturio’s as the earliest incendiary cannon-shell of which
we have any detailed account.


Carcasses were invented in 1672 by a gunner in the service of
Christopher van Galen, the fighting Prince Bishop of Munster.[580]
They are mentioned in the _London Gazette_, 1980/1, 1684. They were
originally oblong, in order to contain a large quantity of incendiary
matter; but their flight was so erratic that it became necessary to
make them spherical. Their thickness was at the same time so much
reduced, in order to increase their internal capacity, that a large
proportion broke up in the bore. To remedy this defect during the siege
of Quebec, 1759, “the interval between the powder and the carcass
was filled with turf,” an arrangement which “produced every desired

_Explosive Fireballs._

Explosive fireballs were simply hand-grenades, which, according to the
classification of ammunition adopted here, have been already noticed,
p. 169.

_Explosive Shell._

The step from Valturio’s shell to common shell may seem to us now to
have been a short and an easy one, yet it took nearly a century to make
it; the obstacle that barred the way being neither the envelope nor the
bursting charge, but the fuze.

It is impossible to say exactly when, where, or by whom explosive shell
were first employed. The want of them had been long felt everywhere,
and numberless attempts to manufacture them were made. They may,
therefore, have come into being independently in several countries
about the same period; a supposition which receives considerable
support from the conflicting claims which have been set up, quite
honestly no doubt, to their first employment.

We have sound evidence of the manufacture of large mortars and shell
in England as early as 1543. In this year Bawd and Collet constructed
mortars of 11″ to 19″ in calibre, with cast-iron shell “to be
stuffed with fireworks or wildfire,” and a match (_i.e._ fuze) “that
the firework might be set on fire for to breake in smal pieces,
whereof the smallest piece hitting any man would kill or spoile
him.”[582] Stow, to whom we owe these facts, began life as a tailor,
and was not familiar with the intricacies of Artillery _matériel_;
but it is sufficiently clear that he speaks here of two kinds of
projectiles—incendiary shell filled with wildfire, and explosive shell
filled with firework. Whether these shell were ever used and, if so,
whether their action was successful, there is no evidence to show; but
in 1588 took place the sieges of Bergen-op-Zoom and Wachtendonck at
which explosive shell were used with much effect, for the first time
according to the evidence we at present possess. Reyd, whose _Belgarum
aliarumque Gentium Annales_ was published in 1600, tells us (lib.
viii., p. 182) that during the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom “an Italian
deserter to the Dutch devoted himself to the art, hitherto unknown, of
making hollow balls of iron or stone, which, when filled with a certain
composition and ignited, burst into innumerable fragments like grape
stones.”[583] Father Strada, S.J., in his _Hist. de la_ _Guerre des
Pays Bas, Brussels_, 1739, speaks as follows (iv. 415):—

[Sidenote: On bat la Ville avec une nouvelle espèce de balles qu’on
nomme Bombes.]

“Il n’y avoit rien qui épouvantait davantage les assiégés (in
Wachtendonck) que de certaines grosses boules de fonte creuses, et
remplies de poudre et d’autres matiéres inextinguibles, qui étant
poussées en l’air avec de gros mortiers, accabloient par leur pésanteur
tous les lieux sur qui ils tombaient, et en même tems, comme le feu
s’y prenoit par des buses qui y étoient attachées, ils rompoient en se
crévant et embrasoient tout ce qui étoit à l’entour, sans que l’eau le
put éteindre.

[Sidenote: L’inventeur de ces sortes de boulets.]

“Cette sorte de boulet, que nous avons vû ajoûter aux grenades, aux
pots à feu, &c. ... fut, dit on, inventée un peu devant le siége de
Wachtendonck par un artisan de Venloo.... Je sais que quelqu’un (_i.e._
Reyd) a ecrit qu’une pareille expérience avait été faite a Berg-op-Zoom
... avec un pareil succès par un Italien deserteur des troupes
d’Espagne. Au reste, le Comte Mansfeld se servit de cette machine qui
fut inventée à Venloo et faisoit dans Wachtendonck une déstruction des
maisons et des hommes aussi inévitable qu’elle étoit inopinée.”

These passages possess at least one quality of good evidence—they
differ about details and agree on the main points; and it is difficult
to see how they can be gainsaid or overlooked. We may take it, then,
until further evidence (which may possibly exist) is produced, that
explosive shell were first used in large numbers and with good effect
in 1588.



Charges of incendiaries and explosives confined in guns, shells, mines,
&c., are not fired directly: for convenience and safety they are
ignited by means of some intermediate agent, or agents, such as priming
powder, fuzes, &c., which are themselves in turn ignited by some other
agents. These collective agents are here called Igniters.

_Hot Wires, Priming Powder, Matches, and Portfires._

The small early guns, whose recoil was insignificant, seem to have
been fired directly by thrusting a hot wire into the powder through
the vent.[584] When guns grew bigger, this method had to be abandoned
and priming powder came into use.[585] For centuries priming powder
consisted of serpentine, or some slow-burning mixture, which was at
first laid in a train from some convenient spot to the vent, and was
afterwards simply poured on the vent. The advantage of the former
proceeding, in securing the safety of the gunners, is pointed out in a
very old French book:—“vous pourrez retirer affin que vostre baston
(_gun_) ne vous face dommage.”[586] In the latter case, the priming
was ignited in various ways:—by a hot wire; by a match fixed in a
lint-stock, which was “a staffe of a yard or two yards long;”[587] and
later by a portfire attached to a portfire-stick.[588]

The objection to priming powder was its liability to be wetted by rain,
or blown away by wind.[589]



  | Chinese.         | Arab.          | English.       | English.         |
  | 13th Century.    | 13th Century.  | 17th Century.  | 20th Century.    |
  | Cord soaked      | Cord of cotton | “Cottonweeke   | “Cottonwick      |
  | in a mixture     | and palm       | dipped         | boiled in        |
  | of sulphur and   | leaves soaked  | in gunpowder   | a solution of    |
  | water (and well  | in naphtha and | wet with water”| mealed powder    |
  | dried).[590]     | dried.[591]    | and dried.[592]| and gum, and     |
  |                  |                |                | afterwards       |
  |                  |                |                | dusted over      |
  |                  |                |                | with mealed      |
  |                  |                |                | powder before    |
  |                  |                |                | it is dry.[593]  |


Priming powder was ultimately replaced by small tubes, full of
combustible matter, which fitted into the vents of guns. Of the
multitude of these tubes only a few can be mentioned here. Tubes
filled with quickmatch, and primed with mealed powder and spirits of
wine, are said to have been in use in the first half of the eighteenth
century.[594] In 1778 Captain Sir Charles Douglas, R.N., invented the
gun-flint-lock. It was simply a flint-and-steel apparatus, fastened
to the ventplate of the gun and worked by a lanyard, which ignited a
tube placed in the vent. Captain Douglas introduced this lock into
his ship, the _Duke_, at his own expense, and it worked so well that
it was officially adopted for the Navy in 1790.[595] It was owing,
apparently, to the personal intervention of General Sir Alexander
Dickson that this lock was at length adopted for the Artillery in
1820.[596] In a letter to Sir Howard Douglas (son of Sir Charles),
18th April 1818, Sir Alexander gives his reasons for advocating the
change:—“By the employment of slow match only, the fire is frequently
retarded, and nothing can be more dangerous than lighted portfires in
a battery ... I have ever prevented, as much as in my power, the use of

A percussion tube, invented by Mr. Marsh, of the Royal Arsenal Surgery,
was approved for the Navy in 1831: the Artillery was not supplied with
a similar tube until 1846.

In 1841 Lieutenant Siemens, of the Hanoverian Army, laid a friction
tube before the officials of Woolwich Arsenal, which was tried and,
owing to whatever defects, was rejected. Just ten years later Mr.
Tozer, of the Royal Laboratory, made the copper friction tube now in
use. It was officially adopted in 1853.[598]

In 1860 there were no less than six tubes in the service:—(1) the
Common Quill Tube; (2) the Dutch Paper Tube; (3) the Common Metal Tube;
(4) the Percussion Tube; (5) the Friction Tube; and (6) the Galvanic

_Time Fuzes._

Nothing can be less satisfactory than Hassan er-Rammah’s allusions to
igniters, of which he possessed two—the _rose_ and the _ikreekh_ (اكريج).
The latter word strictly means a duct, channel, or tube; but just as
we frequently use _fuze_ for _fuze composition_, so the Arabs often
use _ikreekh_ for the composition it contained. Hassan, for instance,
speaks of “the sulphur with which one makes ikreekhs.”[600] It is
quite clear, however, from Reinaud and Favé’s Plate II., fig. 24, that
the ikreekh was of the nature of a fuze-case. Whether the composition
given here in column 1 of Table XIII. was used in the ikreekh or the
rose, I do not know. In fact our knowledge of these two igniters may
be summed up in the statement that they were used together in the same
(incendiary) shell, and that it was the rose which was lighted.[601]
The ikreekh possibly contained the fuze composition proper, and the
rose corresponded to our priming matter.

Judging from the plates of Kyeser’s _Bellifortis_ reproduced by Herr
von Romocki (i. 169), the igneous projectiles of 1405 were ignited by
some slow-burning composition, which was put on the top of the charge,
and filled up the loading hole flush with the exterior of the missile.
The breech-loading quill fuze of the second Berlin Firebook, mentioned
in the section on “Explosive Shell,” seems to have been only the
abortive proposal of an inventor.

The foregoing Arab and German igniters were for use in machine and hand
projectiles, and we now reach cannon fuzes.

The first igneous gun-missiles were incendiary, at once hand-grenades
and cannon-balls, and were ignited by means of some slow-burning
mixture, without a case, which was put into the shell on the top of its
charge. When the missile is “neere full (of good come pouder),” says
Bourne, “take some receite of soft fire worke that will not burne too
hastily and fill up the rest of the ball.”[602] That the fuze-hole was
originally placed next the cartridge is shown by Boillot’s repeated
directions to turn it towards the muzzle[603]—directions which would
have been superfluous had it not been previously customary to place
it next the cartridge; and by many other indications. By this mode of
loading the ignition of the fuze composition was ensured before the
projectile left the piece. There was perhaps no absolute necessity for
the use of this soft, slow-burning mixture, with incendiary shell so
placed; but it was probably found very useful in confining the charge
within the missile during flight.

The need of an explosive projectile to blow up earthworks, &c., was
more and more felt as time rolled on, and the use of such missiles
was clearly impossible with such igniters so placed. But the best way
of mending matters was by no means so clear. If an explosive shell
was placed in the bore with an igniter of soft, caseless composition
next the cartridge, there was in the great majority of rounds a burst
in the bore. If the shell was reversed, with the igniter towards the
face of the piece, either the composition did not ignite and the
shell was blind, or the soft composition set back into the shell from
the shock of the explosion[604] and again there was a burst in the
bore. Furthermore, in firing against works it was before all things
necessary that the shell should enter the revetment, &c., before it
exploded, and it was extremely difficult in practice to put into the
shell the exact amount of composition that would burn just longer
than the time of flight. To prevent the gases of the explosion from
forcing their way into the interior of the shell, it was necessary
to have the fuze-hole towards the muzzle when the shell was home. To
prevent the soft composition from setting back, and to ensure that it
was sufficient in quantity to burn longer than the time of flight, a
fuze-case was necessary. To ensure the ignition of the fuze (in its new
position) it was necessary to light it from the muzzle just before the
piece was fired, and this condition restricted the use of explosive
shell for centuries to mortars and (afterwards) howitzers. No one would
have dared to thrust a lit match down the bore of a gun which had been
loaded with loose powder by means of a ladle, and cartridges were not
in general use when the question of explosive shell arose. Bourne
says in 1587: “It is a great deal better for to charge a peace in time
of service with a cartredge than with a ladell,”[605] and he presently
proceeds to give his reasons for thinking so at great length.[606] In
the beginning of the following century, Diego Ufano only allows the use
of cartridges when a ladle is not at hand.

Such were the steps of the evolution of the fuze, as partially
explained by Hanzelet and Thybovrel in their _Receuil de plusieurs
Machines Militaires_, published in 1620: “Le souspirail de l’amorce
(the funnel of the priming = the fuze-case) est long ... et creux....
Ainsi ce canal éstant emply de composition lente, il ne permet que le
feu se prenne qu’il nait (n’ait) lentement consumé la matière mise
audit canal, et par ce moyen le feu ne peut toucher la poudre grainée
(the bursting charge) qu’il ne soit arrivé jusques au fond de la ditte
grenade. Cela sert pour avoir loisir de la jetter à la main, ou de
l’allumer et la mettre dans le mortier ou canon” (l. iv. c. 6).

One of the first indications of a fuze with a case is afforded by
a passage in Stow’s “Annals” for the year 1543, where he speaks of
“hollow shot of cast-yron, to be stuffed with fireworks or wild fire;
whereof the bigger sort had screwes of yron to receive a match”
(p. 584). Stow was evidently describing something which he did not
understand, but his meaning is made clear by Boillot. The fuze-case
was a hollow, cylindrical male screw which fitted a female screw in the
fuze-hole, and when fixed extended across the cavity of the shell: “En
laquelle (the shell) laisserez un trou ... auquelle ferés faire une
viz pour le bien boucher, laquelle sera de la longeur de la grenade”
(p. 163). Further on he speaks of the case as “un tuyau de fer blanc
ou cuivre ... bien adjousté au dit trou,” and directs it to be filled
“bien massif de pouldre sans graine.” It was lighted from the muzzle
of the mortar by a quick-match or hand-fuze,[607] as Nye directs half
a century afterwards—light the fuze first, “and then with great speed
give fire to the touch-hole” (chap. v.).

Diego Ufano describes experiments carried on during the latter years
of the sixteenth, or the early years of the seventeenth century, with
cased fuzes of a new patterns[608] proposed by the (then) Governor of
Genappe. The fuze, which was filled with moist powder or one of several
mixtures given by Ufano, was placed next the cartridge.[609] The first
shell fired burst at the muzzle, the second burst short. Two rounds
were then fired from an English 60-pr. (_carthaunen_), both of which
burst in the air and damaged houses and walls in their neighbourhood.
A third shell lodged in the ground at a distance of 250 yards,[610]
and on bursting sent its fragments back towards the gun, damaging a
guard-room[611] which stood 150 yards in rear of it. The experiments
then ceased, on the urgent representations of an Artillery officer
about the risk they were all running. The earlier fuzes implicitly
referred to by Ufano were doubtless the “buses” which, Father Strada
tells us, were employed at Wachtendonck in 1588. Their name, buses =
tubes or pipes, is sufficient proof that they were fuzes with cases. In
his “Gunner,” 1628, p. 156, Norton speaks of a “pype primed with slow
receipt” for exploding shell. We find the very same word applied to
fuzes in Danish official documents in 1644: “piber til Granater,” pipes
for shell.[612] Writing three years afterwards, Nye, Master-Gunner of
Worcester, speaks familiarly of _fuzes_ which were conical in shape,
for he compares them to “faucets for a spigot.”[613] He says: “The
match doth ofttimes fail, but fuzes are very certain to give fire.”

There were no means of regulating the time of burning of these pipes,
which were generally metallic. The composition had a constant (and
unalterable) length, corresponding roughly to that required for the
_maximum_ range at which shell could be fired. Whatever the range,
the oblong bombs were fired with a fuze that burned some fourteen
seconds, answering to about 1000 yards range; the spherical grenados
with a fuze that burned some twenty seconds, answering to about 2100
yards range.[614] In firing against works, &c., it was essential that
mortar shell—and until the siege of Gibraltar, 1779, all shell were
mortar or howitzer shell[615]—should not burst before impact. A shell
which burst in flight was a shell wasted, but it mattered little
whether it burst on impact or a few seconds afterwards.[616] But it was
occasionally necessary to use shell against troops, and it was then
that the radical defect of the tube became fully manifest. In this case
it was desirable that the fuze should fire the bursting charge the
instant the shell touched the ground,[617] and this was impracticable
with the primitive pipe. While the long fuze was burning down to
its end, the explosion might be prevented, or its effects might be
neutralised in many ways. The shell might be thrown bodily into a pond
or the sea;[618] the fuze might be extracted;[619] or it might be
extinguished with water.[620] But in the vast majority of cases the
explosion of the shell was neutralised in a much homelier and less
heroic way; those near whom it fell waited for no command to quit its
neighbourhood in all haste.

It was long before any real progress was made in the adjustment of
fuzes to burn a certain time, chiefly because the early gunners had no
timekeeper. A striking illustration of this fact is found in the _Artis
Magnæ Artilleriæ_, &c., of Siemienowicz, published in 1650. Wishing
to give his readers an idea of the action of a certain fireball, he
explains that it burned in the time one takes to recite deliberately
the Apostles’ Creed.[621]

The first, so far as is known, who urged the adjustment of fuzes was
Sebastian Hälle,[622] in 1596, and he fared as fare most of those who
see further than their fellows. The many failed to see the object
which he saw clearly; therefore (they said) the object did not exist,
and he was a dreamer. A century after his death, however, gunners
began to discover that his dreams were substantial enough; and in 1682
Zeug-Lieut. Buchner dilates upon the advantages of a fuze that will
burn _ein gewiss Tempo_[623]—a certain time. The mere fact that there
were at least three different kinds of fuze in use towards the close of
the seventeenth century—paper, wood, and iron[624]—proves that the
search for a serviceable fuze was going actively forward. The excellent
plates given by Buchner and Mieth show clearly that their fuzes were
bored. In both cases the rate of burning was tested with difficulty,
owing to the want of a practical timekeeper. Buchner recommends the use
of a pendulum, or very careful beating time (or counting);[625] Mieth
alludes to the pendulum, but evidently put little trust in it, for he
adds, “The correct time can be only found by trial shell.”[626]

By the middle of the eighteenth century we had beechwood fuzes, which
were cut. The rate of burning was determined “by burning two or three,
and making use of a watch or string by way of pendulum.”[627] It was
observed about this period that when fuzes were cut very short, either
the flame failed to reach the bursting charge and the shell went blind,
or the thin disc of fuze composition set back into the shell from the
shock of the discharge and the shell burst in the bore. To obviate
this Muller proposed to provide special fuzes, with a quicker-burning
composition than usual, for use at short ranges.[628] This plan was
temporarily adopted, for we find that there were three different
fuzes in our service in 1779, one that burned an inch in 5 seconds, a
second that burned an inch in 4.5 seconds, and a third that burned an
inch in 4 seconds. It is evident, however, from a remark made by the
Inspector of the Royal Military Academy, Captain George Smith, R.A.,
in his “Universal Military Dictionary” (from which these details have
been taken) that the standard of shell fire in the year 1779 was a
low one. “When the distance of the battery from the object is known,
the time of the shell’s flight may be computed to a second or two.”
Extreme regularity of burning, then, was not expected: an error of “a
second or two” in the time of flight was of trivial importance. But an
event happened in Gibraltar in this very year which suddenly raised
the standard to a height that no one could have foreseen—the adoption
of Captain Mercier’s method of shell-fire from guns, with short fuzes.
This system ended with the siege; it was never resorted to, probably,
outside the gates of Gibraltar; and, more probably still, when the
siege was over things fell gradually back into the unruffled quiet of
routine. But the calm was only momentary, for in 1803 appeared Shrapnel
shell, and with them reappeared Captain Mercier’s forgotten system of
“calculated fuzes.”

From the first moment it was beyond all doubt that the ultimate success
of Shrapnel could be only assured by the use of what no Artillery then
possessed—a thoroughly good time-fuze. Writing to Major (afterwards
General Sir Thomas) Downman, R.A., on the 29th Feb. 1804, Shrapnel
remarks that in firing at short ranges the fuze composition “gives
way into the shell once in ten times,”[629] thus producing a burst
in the bore; and as a remedy he suggests cutting all fuzes 1¼″
long and then sawing a cut through the bottom of the fuze, in a plane
passing through its longer axis, _up_ to the desired length. However,
notwithstanding all precautions, of the 1090 shell fired during the
Woolwich experiments with Shrapnel in 1819, 74 burst in the bore, 71
burst in the butt, and 111 were blind, _i.e._ 23.4 per cent. were
failures.[630] No efforts were spared to improve these fuzes or replace
them by better ones, and a large number were proposed, or constructed,
during the second quarter of the last century. In 1850 there were no
less than nineteen time-fuzes in our service: three of metal and
sixteen of wood. Of the latter, ten were Shrapnel fuzes, viz. an 8″, a
5½″ and a 1″ fuze, which were uncut; and seven fuzes which were cut
ready for use, and lettered A for .1″, B for .2″,—G for .7″.[631]
This medley of fuzes was gradually superseded by a wooden time-fuze
proposed in 1849 by an officer who had a genius for ammunition, Captain
(afterwards General) E. M. Boxer, R.A., and adopted in 1850. In the
final pattern of this fuze, adopted early in 1854, England possessed
probably the best fuze in Europe.


_Time-Fuze Composition._

  |         |Arab.[632]|German.[633]|English.[634]|Swedish.[635]|English.[636]|German.[637]|English.[638]|
  |         | Late     | Late       | Early       | Late        | Middle      | Early      | 20th        |          |
  |         | 13th     | 16th       | 17th        | 17th        | 18th        | 19th       | Century.    |
  |         | Century. | Century.   | Century.    | Century.    | Century.    | Century.   |             |
  |Saltpetre|  71.43   |    52.1    |     69.8    |    69.85    |    75.0     |    72.1    |    76.4     |
  |Charcoal |  21.43   |    25.6    |     12.7    |      .5     |    6.25     |   10.7     |    14.1     |
  |Sulphur  |   7.14   |    22.3    |     17.5    |    21.65    |   18.75     |   17.2     |     9.5     |

_Percussion and Concussion Fuzes._

The earliest proposal for igniting the bursting charges of shell by
percussion appears to have been made in 1596 by Sebastian Hälle.[639]
A similar proposal was made in 1610 by Graf Johann von Nassau in a MS.
now in possession of the Royal Library, Berlin (MS. Germ. fol. 4),
where two hand-grenades are described which explode on being let fall
on the ground. The second differs from the first in having a safety
apparatus to prevent premature explosions, but both are based on the
same principle as Hälle’s: flints and steel so arranged as to strike
together on impact with the ground.[640] In 1650 Siemienowicz gives
a description (with plates) of similar grenades, without a safety
arrangement,[641] which Mieth regarded as “curiosities” specially
adapted to hurry those who meddled with them into the next world.[642]
Yet Buchner mentions them in 1682,[643] and Anderson in 1691,[644]
without any (expressed) misgivings of their danger. We may rest assured
that these man-traps were never used on actual service.

The use of percussion powder to ignite the bursting charges of shells
was first definitely proposed, I believe, by Johann Jürgenson von
Trachenfels in 1655;[645] just seven years after Glauber had drawn
attention to such mixtures in his _Philosophischen Öfen_.[646]
Trachenfels’ proposals were never put into practice, and no attempt was
made to apply percussion powders to military purposes for more than a
century. Fulminating silver, discovered by Berthollet towards the close
of the eighteenth century, could not be utilised owing to the violence
of its detonation. After Howard’s discovery of fulminating mercury in
1800, a number of percussion mixtures were made; but seven years passed
before Rev. Alexander Forsyth proposed to use them for the priming
of firearms,[647] and eleven years more elapsed before it occurred
to Colonel Peter Hawker to enclose percussion priming in a copper
cap.[648] The percussion musket did not make its appearance until 1842.

The first English concussion fuze[649] was invented by Quartermaster
Freeburn, R.A., in 1846; the first percussion fuze by Commander
Moorsom, R.N., in 1850.



The following tables tell their own tale:—


_Signal Rockets._

  |              |Chinese.[650]|Greek.[651]|Arab.[652]|English.[653]|English.[654]|
  |              |    13th     |   13th    |  13th    |    17th     |    20th     |
  |              |  Century.   | Century.  | Century. |  Century.   |  Century.   |
  |  Saltpetre   |    61.0     |   69.2    |   69.5   |     60.0    |    61.6     |
  |   Charcoal   |    18.3     |   23      |   15.7   |     25.5’   |     23      |
  |   Sulphur    |    18.3     |   7.8     |   14.8   |     14.4’   |    15.4     |
  | Mi-to-sing?  |    2.4      |    --     |    --    |      --     |     --      |


_Fixed Lights._

  |              |    Arab.[655]  |      English.[656]     |
  |              |  “Light of the | “Light, Illuminating   |
  |              |     Moon,”     |   Wrecks, Mark IV.,”   |
  |              | 13th Century.  |     20th Century.      |
  |  Saltpetre   |      71.4      |           72           |
  |   Charcoal   |      15.2      |           21           |
  |   Orpiment   |      13.4      |          6.7           |



  |                    |    Arab.[657]  | English.[658]|
  |                    |Golden Garlands,|Tourbillions, |
  |                    | 13th Century.  |20th Century. |
  | Saltpetre          |      62.5      |      58      |
  | Charcoal           |       25       |      12      |
  | Sulphur            |      6.25      |      13      |
  | Steel filings      |     3.125      |     4.8      |
  | Cast iron borings  |      --        |     12.2     |
  | Bronze filings     |     3.125      |      --      |


[1] Escorial MS., No. 1249, given in Casiri’s _Bibliotheca
Arabico-Hispana Escur._, ii. 7.

[2] _Hist. du Roy Saint Loys_, Paris, 1668, p. 39. He calls the
projectile “ung tonneau,” which it probably was. See the section on
“Incendiary Fireballs.”

[3] Estimated for gunpowder at 3373° C.


  “... to be the mark Of smoky muskets.”

  —_All’s Well that Ends Well_, iii. 2.

[5] Chaucer’s “Legend of Good Women,” 637. Professor Skeat points out
that the word “gonne” applies to the projectile in this line.

[6] Only the whirring of the shot.

[7] Only the faint light of the time fuze.

[8] Sacy’s _Chrestomathie Arabe_, Paris, 1827, iii. 68.

[9] Cod. MS. phil. 63, in the library of the University of Göttingen,
quoted by Romocki, i. 134.

[10] Froissart’s original account of the battle of Cressy in the Amiens
MS. will be found in Kervyn de Lettenhove’s ed. of the “Chronicles,”
Brussels, 1870, and in the Appendix to Polain’s ed. of the _Vrayes
Chroniques de Messire Jehan le Bel_, Brussels, 1863. See also “Cannon
at Cressy,” by the present writer, in _Proc. R. A. Inst._, vol. xxvi.

[11] “Toxophilus,” p. 67.

[12] “Sometimes we put a new signification to an old word, as when we
call a Piece a Gun. The word Gun was in use in England for an Engine
to cast a thing from a Man, long before there was any Gunpowder found
out.”—“Table Talk,” p. 107.

[13] “Language and the Study of Language,” 1867, p. 126.

[14] _Cordite_, for instance, is frequently miscalled “smokeless

[15] As _Artillery_ for ages represented both _bows_ and _cannon_.


                       “Si forte necesse est
  Indiciis monstrare recentibus abdita rerum,
  Fingere cinctutis non exaudita Cethegis
  Continget, dabiturque licentia sumpta pudenter.”—A. P. 48.

[17] _e.g._, whether Artillery means bows and arrows or cannon in 1
Sam. xx. 40; but this is an exceedingly simple case.

[18] Except one disputed Sanskrit text which will be found in Rāy’s
“Hindu Chemistry,” pp. 97-8.

[19] “Les terres d’où l’on tire le kien, ou la couperose de Chine,
fermentent comme celles du salpêtre; on y est souvent trompé, ce
n’est qu’au goût qu’on peut distinguer les unes des autres.”—Père
Incarville, a Chinese missionary, in Reinaud and Favé, p. 251.

[20] Supposed to be of Greek origin.

[21] _Journal Asiatique_, Oct. 1849, p. 283.

[22] Reinaud and Favé, p. 142. On the next page, 143, _sarcosti_ is
spelled (by the same writer) _salcosti_.

[23] “Tunc aquam illam (salt water) coque in vase vitreo.”—Albert
Groot in Zetzner’s _Theatrum Chemicum_, 1613, ii. 433.

[24] The Greeks had a corresponding distinction between natural and
artificial salt. Herodotus calls the salt crystallised by the sun at
the mouth of the Borysthenes ἅλες αὐτόματοι, automatic, or spontaneous
salt, as distinguished from ἅλς ὀρυκτός, dug-out, or rock salt; iv. 53
and 185.

[25] Berthelot, iii. 153.

[26] Ib., i. 239. The forgeries in question may have been the work of
several writers, but this does not affect the date given above.

[27] The Arabic works of the real Jabir are given by Berthelot in iii.
126 _ff._; the Latin works of the false Jabir (or Geber) in i. 336 _ff._

[28] Ib., i. 199, recipe 60.

[29] Ib., i. 308.

[30] Owing to the great number of Arabic words borrowed by the Persians
it is extremely difficult to judge from a translation whether a lost
original was Arabic or Persian, the more so as the Arabs borrowed
largely from the Persian. Far more honour for scientific work has been
paid to the Arabs, far less to the Persians, Syrians, and Hindus, than
was their proper due. Renan says that Al-Kindi was the only Moslem
philosopher of pure Arab blood.—_Discours et Conférences_, p. 391.

[31] Udoy Chand Dutt, “Materia Medica of the Hindus,” pp. 89-90. I
presume that _sora_ (being of foreign origin) was a corruption of the
Persian شوره (_shora_) = saltpetre.

[32] “Hindu Chemistry,” by Praphulla Chandra Rāy, Professor of
Chemistry, Presidency College, Calcutta, 1902, pp. 99-100.

[33] Yavakshara was apparently the “barley” used in a saltpetre mixture
of the Arabic treatise (in Syriac characters) given by Berthelot, ii.

[34] Romocki, i. 51.

[35] هو زهر حجر اسيوس ... هو ثلج الصين عند القدماء من اطباء مصر
ويعرفونه عامة المغرب والطباوها بالبارود Reinaud and Favé, p. 14. The
phrase, “flower of the stone of Assos,” was a thousand years old when
Abd Allah used it, for we find it in Lucian’s _Tragodopodagra_ (ἄνθος
Ἀσίου λίθου, l. 162), a work written A.D. 180-200. But, like so many
other words, it completely changed its meaning in the lapse of years.
Abd Allah used it to designate saltpetre: Pliny the elder (“Nat.
Hist.,” xxxvi. 17) tells us it had the property of utterly consuming
dead bodies, except the teeth, in forty days—a property saltpetre does
not possess.

[36] _Majus Opus_, London, 1733, p. 474.

[37] See chapter iv.

[38] This process was carried out in the East, or wherever the natural
saltpetre was collected; not at Waltham Abbey. The facts are taken from
the “Handbook of the Manufacture of Gunpowder,” by Capt. F. M. Smith,
R.A., London, 1871.

[39] F´, &c., means a repetition of F, &c.

[40] See chapter iv., recipe 14.

[41] Taken from Reinaud and Favé, p. 237.

[42] _i.e._ the lapis assius = saltpetre.

[43] The way in which this process has been obtained will be explained
in chapter viii. The phrases within brackets there are simply written
consecutively here, word for word, except a few conjunctions rendered
unnecessary by the punctuation.

[44] Thucydides, vii. 43.

[45] Diodorus Siculus, xx. 88.

[46] Vergil, _Æn._, ix. 705; Lucan, _Phars._, vi. 199.

[47] Tacitus, _Hist._, iv. 23.

[48] _De Re Militari_, chap. viii. See Table II.

[49] xxiii. 4.

[50] Thucydides, ii. 77.

  “E lor porge di zolfo e di bitumi Due palle, e’n cavo rame ascosi lumi.”

  —TASSO, _Ger. Lib._, xii. 42.

[51] Ib., iv. 100.

[52] Ib., vii. 53.

[53] In _Bibliotheca Script. Græc. et Rom. Teubneriana_. Leipsig, 1874.
Chap. xxxv. p. 79. See Table II.

[54] _Poliorketikon_, xxxv. 79.

[55] _De Re Militari_, iv. 8.

[56] Recipe 26 (see Chap. iv.).

[57] “Bellifortis,” in Romocki, i. 154.

[58] Whitehorne, Chap. xxix. fol. 40.

[59] Official “Treatise on Ammunition.”

[60] _i.e._ Pine-wood charcoal.

[61] A gum.

[62] Salt recovered from salt-water by natural or artificial heat.

[63] Cream of tartar = bitartrate of potash.

[64] Kallinikos was probably a Syrian-Greek; Hertzberg, _Gesch. der
Byzantiner_, &c., p. 58.

[65] Τότε Καλλίνικος ἀρχιτέκτων ἀπὸ Ἡλιουπόλεως Συρίας, προσφυγὼν τοῖς
Ῥωμαίοις, πῦρ θαλάσσιον κατασκευάσας, τὰ τῶν Ἀράβων σκάφη ἐνέπρησεν
καὶ σύμψυχα κατέκαυσεν. Καὶ οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι μετὰ νίκης ὑπέστρεψαν καὶ τὸ
θαλάσσιον πῦρ εὗρον. _Corp. Script. Hist. Byzant._, ed. Niebuhr:
“Theophanes,” A.M. 6165, A.C. 665; i. 542.

[66] Ἰστέον ὅτι ἐπὶ Κωνσταντίνου Πωγωνάτου ... Καλλίνικός τις ἀπὸ
Ἡλιουπόλεως, Ῥωμαίοις προσφυγὼν, τὸ διὰ τῶν σιφώνων ἐκφερόμενον πῦρ
ὑγρὸν κατεσκεύασε, δι’ οὗ καὶ τὸν τῶν Σαρακηνῶν στόλον ἐν Κυζίκῳ
Ῥωμαῖοι καταφλέξαντες τὴν νίκην ἤραντο.

[67] K. K. Müller, in his _Eine griechische Schrift über Seekrieg_,
1882, p. 44, pertinently remarks that Jähns, who accepts this early
date, can give no example of the use of sea-fire before the seventh

[68] “Traitors are often to be suspected even about your person”
(ὑποπτεύονταί τινες προδόται καὶ παρά σοι πολλάκις ὄντες). Leo’s
“Tactics,” xxi. 35.

[69] _Revue des Deux Mondes_, 15th Aug. 1891, p. 805.

[70] Μετὰ βροντῆς καὶ καπνοῦ “Tactics,” xix. 51.

[71] By Friar Bacon. See Chapter viii.


“... nec fulmine tanti Dissultant crepitus ...”—_Æn._, xii. 922.

[73] Siphons, of whatever kind, were known before sea-fire. On hearing
of the Moslem preparations to attack him in 671, Constantine Pogonatus
ordered the siphon-bearing warships (δρόμωνας σιφωνοφόρους) to be put
in commission.—Theophanes’ “Chronography,” i. 542.

[74] “Alexander,” _c._ 35; tr. by Stewart and Long.

[75] “Natural History,” xxxvi. 53.

[76] See Boivin’s notes on the “Kestoi” in _Vet. Mathematicorum ...
Op._, ed. Thévenot, 1693, p. 357; and Gelzer’s _S. J. Africanus_, 1880,
i. 13.

[77] In the _Deipnosophists_ of Athenæus a juggler is represented as
producing automatic fire, c. 16, e.

[78] Πίσσα καὶ δᾷδες καὶ ἄσβεστος _Corp. Script. Hist. Byzant._, Pt.
xxii. p. 537.

[79] Χύτρας τε ἀλλ’ οὗς ἀσβέστου πλήρης κ.τ.λ. “Tactics,” xix., § 54,
in _Meursii Op._, vi.

[80] Recipe 24 (see Chapter iv.).

[81] Nürnberg MS., in Romocki, i. 125, recipe, “ignis qui in pluvia.”

[82] Generally ascribed to Albert Groot, but much more probably by one
of his pupils. Berthelot, i. 91.

[83] Romocki, i. 154.

[84] Ib., 130.

[85] Cedrenus seems to convey that the manufacture of incendiaries was
the privilege of the Lampros family, but it was presumably carried
on in some Government establishment (ἐκ τούτου κατάγεται ἡ γενεὰ τοῦ
Λαμπροῦ, τοῦ νυνὶ τὸ πῦρ ἐντέχνως κατασκευάζοντος); ed. Bekker, Bonn,
1838, i. 765.

[86] Herr von Romocki was, I believe, the first to offer this

[87] See p. 13, and Table II., col. _Liber Ignium_.

[88] Dr. Bury in Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” &c., vii. 540.

[89] Πῦρ τε διὰ τῶν σιφώνων τῷ ἀέρι φυσήσαντες, p. 536.

[90] Ἐμφυσᾶται ... λάβρῳ καὶ συνεχεῖ πνεύματι κἆθ’ οὕτως ὁμιλεῖ τῷ πρὸς
ἄκραν πυρί. “Alex.,” xiii. 3.

[91] “From the fir and such like evergreen trees may be prepared a
fiercely-burning mixture” (ἀπὸ τῆς πεύκης καὶ ἄλλων τινῶν τοιούτων
δένδρων ἀειθαλῶν συνάγεται δάκρυον εὔκαυστον). Ib. See Æneas’ mixture
in Table II. Anna’s recipe is intentionally incomplete.

[92] Οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐθάδες ἦσαν τοιούτων σκευῶν ἢ πυρὸς, ἄνω μὲν φύσει τὴν
φορὰν ἔχοντος, πεμπομένου δ’ ἐφ’ ἃ βούλεται ὁ πέμπων κατά τε τὸ πρανὲς
πολλάκις καὶ ἐφ’ ἑκάτερα. “Alex.,” _l._ xi., _c._ 10.

[93] The earliest notice of steam, as a motive power, is found in
the _Pneumatica_ of Heron of Alexandria, _cir._ 130 B.C. No further
progress seems to have been made until the publication of the
_Pneumatica_ of Giambattista della Porta in 1601. Perkins’ steam-gun
was exhibited in 1824.

[94] Ἐχέτω δὲ πάντως τὸν σίφωνα κατὰ τὴν πρώραν ἔμπροσθεν χαλκῷ
ἠμφιεσμένον. “Tactics,” xix. § 6. There is no ambiguity about the word
ἠμφιεσμένον, which is commonly applied to clothing, _e.g._ ἄνθρωπον
ἐν μαλακοῖς ἱματίοις ἠμφιεσμένον = “a man clothed in soft raiment,”
Luke vii. 25. I mention this because it has been stated and restated
that the siphons were _made_ of bronze, instead of being “clothed” or
“cased” with bronze.

[95] Ἐσκευασμένον πῦρ ... διὰ τῶν σιφώνων πεμπόμενον. Ib., § 51.

[96] See p. 34 _n._

[97] Ὁι δὲ σίφωνες οἷς χρῶνται εἰς τοῖς εμπρησμοῖς κατασκευάζονται
οὕτως. “Spiritalia,” in _Vet. Mathemat. Op._, ed. Thévenot, p. 180.

[98] “Nullus usquam in publico sipho, nulla hama, nullum denique
instrumentum ad incendia;” _l._ x., _c._ 48, ed. Titze, p. 252.

[99] Ὄργανον ἐις πρόεσιν ὑδάτων ἐν τοῖς ἐμπρησμοῖς.

[100] Πρὸς δὲ τοὺς προσφερομένους πύργους εἰς τὸ τεῖχος, ἵνα ὦσι
στρεπτὰ μετὰ λαμπροῦ καὶ συφώνια καὶ χειροσύφωνα καὶ μαγγανικά. In
Meursii, Op. VI., 1349. In his “Lex. of Byzantine Greek” Sophocles
gives λαμπρόν = φῶς, πῦρ.

[101] Ἡ δὲ τζάγγρα τόξον μέν ἐστι βαρβαρικὸν καὶ Ἕλλησι παντελῶς
ἀγνοούμενον. “Alex.,” ii. _c._ 8.

[102] Ἐν ἑκάστῃ πρώρᾳ τῶν πλοίων διὰ χαλκῶν καὶ σιδήρων λεόντων καὶ
αλλοίων χερσαίων ζῴων κεφαλὰς, μετὰ στομάτων ἀνεῳγμένων, κατασκευάσας,
χρυσῷ τε περιστείλας αὐτά, ὡς ἐκ μόνης θέας φοβερὸν φαίνεσθαι, τὸ διὰ
τῶν στρεπτῶν κατὰ τῶν πολεμίων μέλλον ἀφίεσθαι πῦρ, διὰ τῶν στομάτων
αὐτῶν παρεσκεύασε διιέναι. “Alex.,” xi. 10. The obscurity in style of
both the Royal writers was no doubt intentional.

[103] Berthelot, _Revue des Deux Mondes_, Aug. 15, 1891, p. 800.

[104] American official “Hist. of the War of Rebellion,” ser. 1, vol.
xxviii. pt. 1, p. 33.

[105] “Greek Fire,” in “Ency. Brit.,” ninth ed.

[106] _Revue des Deux Mondes_, Aug. 15, 1891, p. 792.

[107] Webber’s “Metrical Romances.”

[108] _Liber Gardrobæ_ of Ed. I., in Tytler’s “Hist. of Scotland,” i.

[109] Barbour’s “The Bruce,” bk. xvii., quoted by General R. Maclagan
in _Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal_, xlv. 30 _ff._

[110] Froissart, vol. i. pt. 2, _c._ 21, p. 332; _c._ 26, p. 337.

[111] Diedo, “Hist. of the Republic of Venise,” ii. 228 _ff._; Paruta,
_Storia della Guerra di Cipro_, 88 _ff._

[112] In Coleridge’s “Dict. of the Oldest Words in the English

[113] State Papers, Dom. Series, iii. 353.

[114] See Table II.

[115] E. Pears, “Fall of Constantinople,” 1885, p. 211.

[116] “Hist of Greece,” iii. 492.

[117] “Voyages,” &c. Trans. par Baratier, 1734, _c._ 6, p. 50.

[118] “Struphnos ... turned into money not only the bolts and anchors
of the ships but their sails and rigging, and left the navy without a
single large ship” (ὁ Στρυφνός ... δεινότατος ὢν μὴ μόνον γόμφους καὶ
ἀγκύραις χρυσίου ἀλλάξασθαι ἀλλὰ καὶ λαίφεσιν ἐπιθέσθαι καὶ ἐξαργυρίσαι
πρότονα, ἀπαξάπαντος πλοίου μικροῦ τὰ νεώρια Ῥωμαίων ἐκένωσε). _Nicetæ
Hist._, “De Alex. Isaac. Ang. Fr.,” _l._ iii. p. 716. Sea-fire is not
actually mentioned, but the man who made away with the fittings of the
ships was not likely to spare the ammunition, if saleable.

[119] Ville-Hardouin, _La Conquête de Constantinople_, ed. Bouchon,
1891, p. 111.

[120] See p. 14.

[121] Οἴονται δέ τινες καὶ τηλεβόλους καὶ τηλεβολίσκους ὑπὸ Γερμανῶν
ἀρχὴν αποδεδειγμένους κ.τ.λ. Chalcocondyles, _Corp. Script. Hist.
Byzant._, ed. Niehbuhr, Bonn, 1843, _l._ ii. p. 72.

The tradition was widespread. Ariosto (1474-1533) says:—

  “La macchina infernal ... Prima portata fu tra gli Alamanni.”

  —_Orlando Furioso_, xi. 23.

[122] Δεινὸν γάρ τοι ὁ τηλεβολίσκος καὶ οὐδὲν τῶν ὅπλων ἀντέχει ὥστε μὴ
διαχωρεῖν διὰ πάντων καθικνούμενος. Ib., _l._ vii. p. 346.

[123] Herodotus, viii. 52, in his description of the taking of Athens
during the invasion of Xerxes, 480 B.C.

[124] Μετὰ βροντῆς καὶ καπνοῦ. Leo’s “Tactics,” xix. 51. See p. 38, and
Jähns, 515.

[125] “Dans notre opinion, les diverses compositions incendiares
employées par les Arabes et par les Grecs, antérieurement à l’année
1225, ne contiennent pas de salpêtre.”—Reinaud and Favé, _Journal
Asiatique_, Oct. 1849, p. 282.

[126] Paris MSS. 7156 and 7158, which may be dated 1300.

[127] These lines are attached by Berthelot to No. 6.

[128] I have inserted these two words from the Nürnberg MS. (Romocki,
i. 124), instead of the unmeaning “horatactinæ.”

[129] Berthelot reads “primo.”

[130] “Take” is here “accipe” instead of the “recipe” used in the nine
preceding recipes.

[131] Berthelot reads, “lauri.”

[132] Better, “in scrophulis contra lapides,” Berthelot’s reading.

[133] This is the reading of the Paris MS. 7156. Ptolemy is here spelt
as Chaucer spells it, _Tholome_; “Boece,” ii. 7.

[134] Probably a scribe’s blunder for _cynoglossi_.

[135] There seems to have been some _lacuna_ in a previous recipe.

[136] There is no Index to the original. The above has been made for
the convenience of the reader.

[137] i. _c._ 4. There is a marked similarity between certain numerals
to be found in Kyeser’s “Bellifortis,” 1405, and those used in the
Nürnberg MS. Romocki, i. 124, 150.

[138] See p. 16. He was born near Malaga.

[139] Berthelot, iii. 2.

[140] “Golden Prairies,” Paris ed., viii. 177.

[141] i. 128-132.

[142] Not a genuine Greek word, although used by Herodotus.

[143] Gibbon, vi. 103, Bury’s ed.

[144] Romocki, i. 7 _n._

[145] Reinaud and Favé, p. 49.

[146] Jähns, 512 _n._

[147] “Hist. Hierosol.,” _l._ vii. _c._ 33.

[148] _Hist. Rerum Anglicarum_, _l._ iv. _c._ 19. A work carried up to
the year 1198.

[149] In his summary of Masudi’s “Book of Indication and Admonition,”
appended to the “Golden Prairies,” Paris ed., ix. 311.

[150] Ib., i 198.

[151] “Tale of the Tailor,” i. 280, 285, Burton’s ed., 1894.

[152] “Archæologia,” xxxiv. 261.

[153] “Assyrian Discoveries,” p. 407.

[154] R. Grant, “Hist. of Physical Astronomy,” p. 435.

[155] Prof. Whitney, “Language and the Study of Language,” 1867, p. 259.

[156] Humboldt’s “Cosmos,” ii., pt. ii. p. 523, Bohn’s ed.

[157] Plutarch, “Alexander,” 35.

[158] Humboldt, ib.

[159] “Le mot χαλκος et le mot _æs_ en latin comprennaient à la fois le
cuivre et ses alliages colorés en rouge ou en jaune.”—Berthelot, ii.
122 _n._

[160] “Golden Prairies,” Paris ed., iii. 49.

[161] _Chrestomathie Arabe_, iii. 456.

[162] Berthelot, i. 306.

[163] Rāy’s “Hindu Chemistry,” p. 50.

[164] _Chrestomathie Arabe_, ii. 482.

[165] _Dict. Lat.-Hispanico_, 1570, but written half a century before.

[166] Minsheu, “Span.-English Dict.,” 1623.

[167] Mr. Fitzmaurice-Kelly, “Hist. of Spanish Literature,” p. 19. He
is speaking of the Crusade period.

[168] “Literature of Europe,” &c., _c._ ix. § 4.

[169] Berthelot, i. 232.

[170] Ib., i. 130, 135.

[171] Gibbon, vi 11, Bury’s ed.

[172] _Alexiad_, xi. 10.

[173] “Urbem machinis et propugnaculis munit (Alexius), quorum similia
nemo viderit unquam.”—Duchesne, _Hist. Franc. Script._, v. 279.

[174] “Ency. Brit.,” xv. 805.

[175] “The Golden Prairies” of Masudi, Paris, 1873, vii. 100.

[176] “J. Mesuæ ... Opera,” Venice, 1581, p. 85. Fabricius thought
this Greek physician might have been Gereon (_qui forte est Gereon_),
_Bibliotheca Græca_, Hamburg, 1718-52, xiii. 172. I cannot follow
MM. Reinaud and Favé and Herr von Romocki in identifying him with
Dioskorides. The evidence (from the description of the cyclamen and
the preparation of the syrup) seems to point the other way. The past
tense, _dixit_, in the passage in the text, would seem to show that
Ibn Serapion was dead when it was written. The present tense, _dicit_,
indicates similarly that “Græcus” was then living, a contemporary of
Masawyah’s. Yet Dutens speaks of his having lived “avant le médicin

[177] _L’Origine des Découvertes_, 1796, p. 198.

[178] _Bibliot. Græc._, xiii. 320. His _Bibliot. Latina_ contains no
allusion to Marcus Græcus. Galen died in 200 A.D.

[179] Guttmann, “Manufac. of Explosives,” 1895, i. 8-9.

[180] Recipes 1, 2, 10, &c.

[181] “Artem illam mortiferam et Deo odibilem balistariorum et
sagittariorum adversus Christianos et Catholicos exerceri de cetero sub
anathemate prohibemus.”—_Concil. Rom._, ann. 1139, _c._ 30.

[182] Caussin de Perceval, _Essai sur l’hist. des Arabes_, ii. 17.

[183] Muir’s “Life of Mahomet,” p. 432; Caussin de Perceval, iii. 257.

[184] Devout Moslem commentators explain “baked” to mean “baked in
hell.” See Sale’s trans. _ad loc._

[185] Masudi’s “Golden Prairies,” Paris ed., v. 166.

[186] “Chachnama,” in Elliot, i. 170.

[187] Ib., vi. 462.

[188] Masudi, ii. 350.

[189] See Burton’s note, “Arab. Nights,” xii. 38.

[190] I have been unable to find a copy of Gauttier’s “Arab. Nights,”
Paris, 1822, and quote him as given in Burton, xii 38.

[191] _Supplement aux Dictionaires Arabes_, Leyden, 1877, under قوس.

[192] _Dict. d’Etymologie Française_, Brussels, 1888.

[193] viii. 17-18.

[194] “Hailstones full of wrath shall be cast as out of a stone
bow.”—“Wisdom of Solomon,” v. 22. “Oh for a stone bow, to hit him in
the eye!”—“Twelfth Night,” ii. 5.

[195] Sacy, _Chrestomathie Arabe_, iii. 68.

[196] “The Book of Archery,” London, 1840, p. 236.

[197] Burton’s ed., 1894, ii. 338.

[198] Burton’s ed., 1894, i. 98.

[199] Elliot, iii. 526.

[200] Elliot, vi. 219.

[201] “Decline and Fall,” &c., vi. 226 _n._

[202] In Elliot, vi. 455.

[203] Ib.

[204] Ib., 456.

[205] In Masudi’s “ Golden Prairies,” c. 93:—

وكثر الحريق والهدم ببغداد وعملت المنجنيقات نين القريقين

A large number of instances of the actual use of incendiaries in Asia
will be found in General Maclagan’s “Early Asiatic Fire Weapons,”
_Jour. Asiatic Soc. of Bengal_, xlv. p. 30 _ff._

[206] _Shahnama_, Mohl’s ed., vol. vi. p. 212, _l._ 628:—
همي قير و قروره انداحتند زدروازها جنك برساختبد

[207] Schefer, _Chrestomathie Persane_, i. 48-49.

[208] Reinaud and Favé, p. 65.

[209] William of Tyre, _Hist._, &c., Paris, 1844, p. 123.

[210] Bongars, _Gesta Dei per Francos_, p. 178.

[211] Albert d’Aix, in Reinaud and Favé, p. 62.

[212] Boha ed-Din, ib.

[213] T. Gale, _Hist. Anglicani Scriptores_, Oxford, 1687, ii. 327.

[214] Paris ed., 1668, p. 39 _ff._

[215] ii. 7. Milton uses the phrase, _nitrati pulveris igne_, in his
juvenile Latin poem, “In Quintum Novembris,” _l._ 120.

[216] See p. 17. He was a Spanish Arab, born near Malaga.

[217] Reinaud and Favé, p. 66 _n._ If this Arab is identical with
Shaykhun al-Omari, the Egyptian grand amir, he died in 758 A.H. (1356
A.D.). Sacy’s _Chrest. Arabe_, i. 272.

[218] Jähns, p. 775.

[219] See “Cannon at Cressy,” by the present writer, _Proceed. R. A.
Inst._, vol. xxvi.

[220] وعمل الحركة الى مدينة بسطة فاخذ فى حلفها ونشر الحرب عليها ورمى
بالالة العظمى المتحدة بالنفط كرة محماة طاقة البرج المنيع—_Bib. Arab.
Hispan._, ii. 7.

[221] “Ille castra movens, multo milite, hostium urbem Baza obsedit,
ubi machinam illam maximam naphta et globo instructam, admoto igne, in
munitam arcem cum strepitu explosit.”—Ib.

[222] Conde, p. 559.

[223] iii. 83-4.

[224] _Hist. du Roy Saint Loys_, Paris, 1668, p. 69 _ff._

[225] Elliot, ii. 219.

[226] Elliot, iii. 79.

[227] _Saxa fulminis more contorquet_, De Re Militari, iv. 22.

[228] Ὥσπερ πηηστήρ, Alex., xiii. 3.

[229] Reinaud and Favé, in _Journal Asiatique_, Oct. 1849, p. 281.

[230] وهم يستعملونه في اعمال النار المتصاعدة والمتحركة فيزيدها خفة
وسرعة التهاب.

Reinaud and Favé, p. 78. The fire which “rises and moves” is of course
rocket composition.

[231] _Völsunga Saga_, translated from the Icelandic by Magnusson and
William Morris, p. 51.

[232] Burton’s “Arab. Nights,” 1894, v. 242.

[233] Elliot, vi. 471 _n._

[234] _e.g._ the red-hot ploughshare wielded with much effect by Bailie
Nicol Jarvie at the Clachan of Aberfoyle.

[235] “Hindu Chemistry,” pp. 97-8.

[236] Given by Rāy, “Hindu Chemistry,” p. 96.

[237] See p. 15.

[238] Rāy’s “Hindu Chemistry,” p. 96.

[239] See Table VIII.

[240] See Table VII.

[241] Oct. 21, 1880.

[242] “Camoens,” &c., ii. 632 _n._

[243] “Indian Antiquary,” 1878.

[244] “Hindu Chemistry,” pp. 96-7.

[245] “Notices of Sanskrit MSS.,” v. 135.

[246] i. 36.

[247] “Decline and Fall,” &c., iv. 166, Bury’s ed.

[248] “Philosophie Positive,” vi. 114.

[249] _Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal_, xvii. 244.

[250] General Maclagan on “Early Asiatic Fire Weapons,” ib., xlv. 64.

[251] Among other books, the _De Naturis Rerum_ of Nekham, 1157-1217,
Rolls Series, p. 183.

The editor, Mr. Thomas Wright, remarks in his preface, xxxv.:—“The
mariner’s compass, in a rude form, was in use among the sailors in
Western Europe at an early period, and ... instead of being borrowed
from the East, as is generally supposed, it seems to have been invented
in this part of the world. Of course I do not mean to say that it
was not invented in other parts also.” It is explicitly noticed in
a Chinese Encyclopædia finished in A.D. 121 (Sir J. Davis, “The
Chinese,” &c., ii 185). But Chinese chronology is always suspicious,
and, even if this date be correct, there is no evidence to show that
the invention ever reached the West. The Chinese seem to have guarded
their discoveries and inventions with a jealous eye. Their valuable
and accurate astronomical observations were only laid open to Europe
by the Jesuits, more than two thousand years after they were made. The
printing press was not invented in Europe until the fifteenth century,
yet Feng Tao had invented block-printing in China in the tenth (Giles’
“Chinese Literature,” p. 210). According to their own account, the
Chinese have used tea since the year 2737 B.C. It was not heard of in
Europe until after A.D. 1517, and did not become generally known until
the seventeenth century. Brunetto Latini (1230-94), quoted by Davis,
gives a curious, but only too probable a reason for the slow progress
of the compass in Christendom: “No master mariner dares to use (it),
lest he should fall under the suspicion of being a magician.”

[252] Ferishta, “Hist. of the Rise of Mahomedan Power,” &c., trans. by
General J. Briggs, 1829, ii. 312.

[253] See Prof. Dowson’s note in Elliot, iv. 268.

[254] Grose gives two plates of these “Ancient Gun Carts” in his
“Military Antiquities,” i. 407. They are mentioned in the Acts of the
Scotch Parliament, 52 of James II. and 55 of James III.

[255] Favé, _Hist. et Tact. des Troit Armes_, p. 12. Grewenitz, _Traité
de l’Organ., &c., de l’Artillerie_, p. 28. Wheeled gun-carriages were
so little known to the general public as late as 1548, that Rabelais
specially mentions some “pieces d’Artillerie sus roue” in his account
of a sham fight at Rome in this year. “La Sciomachie,” in his works,
ed. by Burgaud des Marets and Rathery, ii. 568.

[256] Elliot, iv. 100.

[257] Elliot, iv. 117.

[258] iv. 65.

[259] “Nullis bombardis nec aliis hujus generis tormentis utuntur.”
_Epist. Indicæ_, M. Gaapari Belgæ, p. 38.

[260] iv. 69.

[261] “Hũa espingarda a quai hia tirando amte nos.” Roteiro da Viagem,
&c., 1838, p. 57. Trans. in Charton, _Voyageurs Anciens_, &c., iii. 247.

[262] “Tous armés d’épées, de guisarmes, d’écus, d’arcs et de flèches.”
Charton, ib., 252. Guisarmes, which I have translated by “daggers,”
is a word of obscure origin, but it means some small _arme de main_.
We find in Ducange, under _gisarma_, “cultellos et alia arma minuta.”
Diez, _Etymologisches Wörterbuch_, ii. 217, _giusarma_.

[263] Faria y Sousa, trans. by Capt J. Stephens, 1695, i. 58.

[264] Faria y Sousa, _Asia Portuguesa_, i. 48.

[265] “Car les peuples de l’Inde n’avaient en jusque là ni canons ni
autres pièce d’Artillerie—مدافع صكاحل وبندقيات.” _La Foudre du Yemen_,
trans. by S. de Sacy in _Notices el Extraits des MSS. de l’Acad. des
Inscriptions, &c._, iv. 420. For _mukáhal_, see Hyde’s _Syntagma
Dissertationum_, 1767, ii. 128. Prof. S. Lane-Poole gives the date as
1508; “Mediæval India,” p. 176.

[266] Ziau-d Din Barni, in Elliot, iii. 146.

[267] Amir Khusru, ib., 75.

[268] Barni, ib., 202.

[269] Khusru, ib., 80.

[270] “Malfuzat-i Timuri,” ib., 424.

[271] “Tuzak-i Babari,” ib., iv. 276.

[272] Ib., 286.

[273] Ib., 251 _ff._

[274] Suraj Prakas, in Col. Tod’s “Annals of Rajast’han,” ii. 8.

[275] Ib., i. 310.

[276] Dr. Careri in Churchill’s “Collection of Voyages,” 1744, iv. 237.

[277] Elliot, v. 131-2. Babar’s ironical description of the Bengalis
as gunners is taken quite seriously by some writers: “The Bengalis are
famous for their skill in Artillery.... They do not direct their fire
against a particular point, but discharge at random,” Elliot, iv. 285.
Such a procedure is not altogether unknown in Europe. When shooting,
Mr. Tracy Tupman was wont to shut his eyes firmly and fire in the air.

Were these gunners friendly Bengalis employed by Babar, or hostile
Bengalis working their own guns? If the latter, their guns were
probably made by Portuguese deserters. We know that two artisans
deserted in 1503 to the Zamorin of Calicut, for whom they offered to
make guns of the same nature as the Portuguese, “which they afterwards
did.” Castenheda in Kerr’s “Collection of Voyages,” ii. 454, quoted in
Elliot, vi. 467.

[278] The 71 grs. avoir. given to the _miskal_ by Burton and Clarke
(“Persian Handbook”) would make Babar’s large shot weigh 50 lbs.—an
impossible weight, as every officer will admit who remembers our 18
Pr. S.B. bullock batteries in India. Babar could not have dragged 50
Prs. from Caubul to Panipat. Burton admits that the miskal “varies
everywhere.” “Arab. Nights,” 1894, vii. 324.

[279] _i.e._ two men’s wages for one day. See p. 205.

[280] “Hindu Chemistry,” pp. 107-8.

[281] Prof. R. K. Douglas, “China,” in _Ency. Brit._, v. 663.

[282] “Gunpowder ... among the Chinese,” in _Journal of North China
Branch of Roy. Asiatic Soc._, N.S. vi., 1869-70, p. 74, by W. F.
Mayers, F.R.A.S., Chinese Consular Service. “Gunpowder came from the
outer barbarians,” says the _Wuh-li-siao_, published in 1630.

[283] Prof. H. A. Giles, “Hist. of Chinese Literature,” 1901, p. 4.

[284] Mr. J. H. Middleton, “Pottery,” in _Ency. Brit._, xix. 633.

[285] “Decline and Fall,” &c., iv. 231 _n_ (Bury’s ed.).

[286] The Jesuits, “either seduced by some appearance of truth, or
thinking it prudent to conciliate the people whom they were attempting
to convert, adopted their marvellous relations regarding the antiquity
of their science, and spread them over Europe.”—Mr. R. A. Proctor,
“Astronomy,” _Ency. Brit._, ii. 746.

[287] “Un bon exemple de la fascination exercée par un récit
circonstancié est la légende des origines de la Ligue des trois cantons
suisses primitifs (Gessler et les conjurés du Grütli) _fabriquée_ au
XVI^e. siècle par Tschudi, devenue classique depuis le ‘Guillaume Tell’
de Schiller, et qu’on a eu tant de peine à extirper.”

[288] _Introd. aux Études Historiques_, pp. 136-7.

[289] _Mémoires concernant l’Hist., &c., des Chinois_, viii. 336.

[290] In _Journal Asiatique_, Oct. 1849, p. 258.

[291] In _Journal Asiatique_, Oct. 1849, P. 91.

[292] Reinaud and Favé, in _Journal Asiátique_, Oct. 1849, p. 284 _n._

[293] Reinaud and Favé, in _Journal Asiatique_, Oct. 1849, p. 291.

[294] As before, p. 91.

[295] _Sur la Force des Matières Explosives_, ii. 354.

[296] i. 48.

[297] Howorth’s “Hist. of the Mongols,” iii. 97.

[298] Reinaud and Favé, in _Journal Asiatique_, Oct. 1849, pp. 296, 308.

[299] Romocki, i. 51.

[300] This word, which Diez (_Etymolog. Wörterbuch_) derives from
μάγγανον, betrays the western origin of the machine. It was well known
in England:—

“Set Mahound at the mangonel, and millstones throw.”

—“Piers Plowman,” C text, _cir._ 1393, passus xxi.

[301] Howorth, i. 125.

[302] Yule, in “Marco Polo,” ii. 152.

[303] “The Chinese,” &c., ii. 181.

[304] Howorth, i. 129.

[305] Mayers, p. 93.

[306] Mayers, p. 93.

[307] Ib., 94-5.

[308] Reinaud and Favé, p. 254.

[309] _Ency. Metropol._, art. “China,” p. 593.

[310] Incarville, in Reinaud and Favé, p. 259.

[311] These Fathers were strangers to the “doute méthodique” of MM.
Langlois and Seignobos, and they certainly did not scan the pages of
their vast Chinese Encyclopædias with the doubting eye of Heine:—

“Augen gab uns Gott ein Paar, Dans wir schauen rein und klar; Um zu
glauben was wir lesen, Wär’ ein Auge gnug gewesen.”

[312] Sir Henry Yule, in _Ency. Brit._, v. 628.

[313] Mayers, p. 95.

[314] Gibbon, iv. 230, and Appendix 12, by Dr. Bury.

[315] Reinaud and Favé, p. 201 _n._

[316] “Golden Prairies,” Paris ed., i. 308.

[317] Elliot, iv. 103.

[318] Incarville, in Reinaud and Favé, p. 254.

[319] Sir J. Davis, “The Chinese,” &c., ii. 182. “Ils ne sont point
envieux de rien faire de nouveau,” Incarville, as above, p. 259.

[320] Incarville, as above, p. 252.

[321] Ib.

[322] Father Amiot, in Reinaud and Favé, p. 181.

[323] Incarville, as above, p. 247.

[324] Amiot as above.

[325] Ib.

[326] Mayers, as before, p. 91.

[327] Amiot, as before, p. 183.

[328] Ib.

[329] _Hoang-chao-li-ki-thou-chi_, trans. by Pauthier in his edition of
“Marco Polo,” p. 475 _n._

[330] E. H. Parker, “China,” &c., 1901, p. 83.

[331] Mayers, p. 96.

[332] Professor R. K. Douglas, “China” (“Story of the Nations” series),
p. 74.

[333] “Decline and Fall,” &c., vii. 11 _n_ (Bury’s ed.).

[334] “Roger Bacon,” in _Ency. Brit._, by Professor Adamson.

[335] “Quand le sens littéral est absurde, incohérent ou obscur ... on
doit présumer un sens détourné.”—Langlois et Seignobos, _Introd. aux
Études Historiques_, p. 127.

[336] “Vulgus (arcana sapientiæ) capere non potest, sed deridet et
(abutitur) in sui et sapientum dispendium et gravamen. Quia non sunt
margaritæ sapientiæ spargendæ inter porcos.”—_Compendium Studii_, p.

[337] “Vulgus deridet sapientes, et negligit secreta sapientiæ, et
nescit uti rebus dignissimis; atque si aliquid magnificum in ejus
notitiam cadat a fortuna, illud pervertit et eo abutitur in damnum
multiplex personarum et communitatis.”—_De Secretis_, cap. viii.

[338] “Insanus est qui aliquid secretum scribit nisi ut a vulgo
celetur, et ut vix a studiosissimis et sapientibus possit

[339] “Multa mala sequuntur eum qui revelat secreta.”—_De Secretis_,
cap. viii.

[340] Jonson’s “Alchemist,” Act II.

[341] “Cipher” in Rees’ “Cyclopædia” and Klüber’s _Kryptographik
Lehrbuch_, Tübingen, 1809. In a note to these chapters in the
_Theatricum Chemicum_, Zetzner says: “Hic tamen jacta esse
Steganographiæ fundamenta certissimum est.”

[342] “Tonitruum et coriscationem.”

[343] Æneas Tacticus adopts the same mode of expression, Table II.

[344] That is, supposing we knew the subject of his letter, or had
evidence which made it probable that it was so and so.

[345] To lull suspicion he calls natural saltpetre chalk, a _verbum
figurativum_. Other MSS. read “sal.”

[346] “Tere ipsum fortiter cum aqua salis communis.... Ablue in aceto
acerrimo.” The section “Nitri Separatio” of “Aristoteles, de Perfecto
Magisterio,” in the _Theatrum Chemicum_, ed. by Zetzner; a collection
of alchemical tracts of the Middle Ages, iii. 68.

[347] Almost literally translated by Whiteborne: “clarified and from
earthe and grosse matter diligently purged.” See A, p. 21.

[348] _i.e._ the lapis Assius = saltpetre. We have here unmistakably a
_verbum œnigmaticum_. The efflorescence of the stone of Assos, which
was unknown to the crowd, was of course “not a stone,” although called
so. The philosopher’s stone, which was well known by name to the crowd,
was likewise “not a stone,” although called so:—

“... ’tis a stone And not a stone; a spirit, a soul, and a body.”

—Jonson’s “Alchemist.”

Bacon avails himself of the ambiguity of the phrase, “stone which is
not a stone,” to support the delusion created by the title of the
chapter, and confirm the unwary in the belief that the philosopher’s
stone is under discussion, instead of saltpetre.

[349] He passes suddenly from chalk to cheese—yellow cheese, laughing
openly in his reader’s face.

[350] _i.e._ the cleansed natural saltpetre.

[351] “Put the jar on a gentle fire.”—Hassan, A, p. 24.

[352] “The mother liquid is boiled until the scum ceases to
rise.”—Waltham Abbey process, C, p. 19.

[353] “Clear and fair and of an azure colour.”—Whitehorne, F, p. 21.

[354] _i.e._ the scum and impurities.

[355] _i.e._ “to drie throughly.”—Whitehorne, I, p. 22.

[356] This repetition corresponds with Whitehorne’s second process;
beginning at F´, p. 22.

[357] _i.e._ the crystals just obtained.

[358] A powder to purge, or to purify and clarify. “Prenez de la chaulx
vive et de l’eau de pluye ... et les brouïllez bien ensemble, et
puis le laissez reposer ... et se fera forte lexive.... Prenez de la
lexive dessus dicte, et mettez vostre salpetre dedans,” &c. “Livre de
Canonnerie,” &c., which although not published until 1561, appears to
belong to the end of the fifteenth century.—In Reinaud and Favé, pp.

[359] Bacon does not name the two substances he alludes to, but
Whitehome names two and prescribes the same proportions: “Two parts of
unslacked lime and three of oke asshes.”—See A, p. 21. Did Whitehorne
have access to Bacon’s MSS.?

[360] Treating ostensibly on gold, Bacon is obliged to use _resolve_
for _dissolve_.

[361] The alchemical preparation of gold had much in common with the
refining of saltpetre. In the “Nitri Preparatio” of Bernard’s and
Penoti’s _Theatrum Chemicum_, iii. 78, we read: “Fac postmodum de eo
per omnia ut dicam in preparatione auri, id est, destilla per alambicum
et congela,” &c.

[362] _i.e._ to the laxative.

[363] A _verbum œnigmaticum_. The Phœnix is a singular animal, as Bacon
justly observes, inasmuch as it springs from its own _ashes_. Its name,
therefore, may be figuratively used with perfect propriety to denote
_animal charcoal_, an efficacious agent in clarifying solutions of
impure saltpetre.—Bloxam’s “Chemistry,” 8th ed., p. 488.

[364] Bacon appears to have poured the hot solution upon the laxative,
precisely as Clarke directs in his “Natural History of Nitre,” London,
1670, p. 42: “Pour the hot liquid on ashes ... ’tis no matter how soon
you let it run off the ashes again.”

[365] _i.e._ the removal of the insoluble impurities.

[366] “Then pour it into the other jar.”—Hassan, A, p. 24.

[367] _i.e._ into a crystallising jar.

[368] “The solution is kept in constant agitation by poles while
cooling.”—Waltham Abbey Regs., H, p. 20.

[369] “The mother liquid, from which the saltpetre flour has been
deposited, is boiled down and crystallised.”—Bloxam’s “Chemistry,” 8th
ed., p. 488.

[370] _Salit petræ_ is the reading of Zetzner’s _Theatrum Chemicum_,
1613, v. 962, which is adopted by Reinaud and Favé, p. 123; of Manget’s
_Bibliotheca Chemica_, 1702, i. 624; of the _Verosimilia Sacra et
Profana_ of Hoven and Molfenger, 1732, ii. 93; and of the copy used by
Romocki, i. 93. Prof. Brewer’s MS. reads _sal petræ_.

[371] “Atque mala vites incidere falce _novellas_.”—Vergil, “Bucol.,”
iii. 11. The word, however, may be simply _novæ_.

[372] “Maltha, quæ est genus bitumenis.”—_Opus Majus_, London, 1733,
p. 474.

[373] “Possumus artificialiter componere ignem comburentem,
scilicet, ex sale petræ ... ex oleo petroleo ... ex maltha et
naphta et consimilibus.... His vicinus est ignis græcus et multa
comburentia.”—_De Secretis_, cap. vi.

[374] “Maltha ... projecta super hominem armatum comburit eum.... Ignis
comburens fit ex eo qui cum difficultate potest extingui, nam aqua non
extinguit.”—_Op. Maj._, as above.

[375] “Sunt alia stupenda naturæ. Nam soni velut tonitrua et
coruscationes fieri possunt in aere; imo majori horrore quam illa quæ
fiunt per naturam. Nam modica materia adaptata, scilicet ad quantitatem
unius pollicis, sonum facit horribilem et coruscationem ostendit
vehementem.”—_De Secretis_, cap. vi.

[376] See p. 156.

[377] “Quaedam vero auditum perturbant.... Nullus tonitrui fragor
posset talibus comparari. Quædam tantum terrorem visui incutiunt, quod
coruscationes nubium longe minus et sine comparatione perturbant....
Experimentum hujus rei capimus ex hoc ludicro puerili, quod fit in
multis mundi partibus, scilicet ut instrumento facto ad quantitatem
pollicis humani ex violentia illius salis qui sal petrae vocatur,
tam horribilis sonus nascitur in ruptura tam modicæ rei, scilicet
modici pergameni, quod fortis tonitrui sentiatur excedere rugitum,
et coruscationem maximam sui luminis jubar excedit.”—_Opus
Majus_, London, 1733, p. 474. “Offenbar ist hier das Schiesspulver
verstanden.”—L. Schneider, “Roger Bacon,” 1873, p. 110. Two centuries
before, when referring to Bacon’s remarks on the destruction of the
Midianites by Gideon, Borrichius had said: “Hic apertissime loquitur
Bacon de nitrato illo sclopetorum pulvere.”—_De Ortu &c., Chemiæ_,
1668, p. 126.

[378] This is M. Berthelot’s view; _Sur la Force des Matières
Explosives_, Paris, 1883, ii. 358; and it is probably the right one.


... δυσμαχώτατον τέρας· ὁς δὴ κεραυνοῦ κρείσσον’ εὑρήσει φλόγα, βροντάς
θ’ ὑπερβάλλοντα καρτερὸν κτύπον.

—ÆSCHYLUS, _Prometheus Vinctus_, 921.

[380] “State Papers,” Domestic Series, 1581-90.

[381] “Archæologia,” xiii. 27, 397-400. The term _slur-bow_ is, I
presume, akin to the German _schleuderbogen_.

[382] “The Book of Archery,” London, 1840, Pl. xvii., No. 5.

[383] “The Cross-bow,” 1903, fig. 84, p. 129.

[384] Rupert’s Diary, in Warburton, “Prince Rupert,” iii. 163.

[385] Napoleon III., iii. 261.

[386] Ὀστράκινα σκεύη—earthenware vessels. J. Cameniata, p. 527.

[387] Reinaud and Favé, in _Jour. Asiatique_, 1849.

[388] Froissart’s “Chronicles,” ed. Bouchon; ii., ch. 181, p. 235.

[389] St. 65, ed. Robson.

[390] According to Sir Walter Scott, the Scotch in the beginning of the
last century still called crow’s-feet _calthrops_, a word which goes
back to “Piers Plowman,” cir. 1393:—“The Rev. Dr. Heavysterne from
the Low Countries sustained much injury by sitting down suddenly and
incautiously on three ancient calthrops” (“Antiquary,” ch. iii.).

[391] “Fictili globo incendiarii pulveris.”—P. Jovii, _Hist. sui
Temp._, i., c. 18.

[392] _Mém. de Castelnau_, ed. Bouchon; xiii., p. 154.

[393] _Mém. de Messire du Bellay_, ed. Bouchon, vii., p. 632.

[394] Fol. 41. These brazen grenades of Whitehorne’s correspond to
the “Kobber-Granater” shown in the books of the Copenhagen Arsenal at
the beginning of the seventeenth century. Blom’s _Kristian d. IV.’s
Artilleri_, pp. 268-69.

[395] “The Bombardier,” 1802, p. 147.

[396] _Danduli Chronicon_, Muratori, xii. 448, in Elliot, vi. 469.

[397] In Elliot, vol. iii.

[398] In Elliot, vii. 125.

[399] In the war of Chiozza. During the attack on the Torre della
Bebbe, “furono tirate molte rochette.”—Muratori, xv. 769.

[400] “Ecce quidam adolescens ... quid Græcus ignis potest experiri
vellet ... fusum sulphure ignitum ... ad quamdam domum, stipula et
stramine coopertam, maximo impetu traxit. Iterum, alium et alium
transjecit. Acriori incendio edes accense concremantur.”—_Œuvres de
R. Blondel_, pub. by “Soc. de l’Hist. de Normandie,” ii. 74. Little is
known of Blondel’s life, but he was alive in the year 1460. I believe
_fusus_ to be the _fusée de feu_ of the _Livre de Canonerie_, Paris,
1561 (Reinaud and Favé, p. 140), and this incendiary was not a rocket.

[401] “Hist. of Tipu Sultan,” by Husain Kirmani, trans. by Col. Miles,
p. 145.

[402] “Hist, of Tipu Sultan,” by Husain Kirmani, p. 109.

[403] “Narrative of the Conquest of Mysore,” Hull, 1804, p. 50.

[404] “Narrative of the Campaign with Tippoo Sultan,” London, 1793, p.

[405] “Narrative of the Conquest of Mysore,” p. 52. Their charge was 1
lb. of powder, and their range about 1000 yards. “Description of Indian
and Oriental Armour,” by Lord Egerton of Tatton, 1896, p. 32.

[406] “Ammunition,” pt. ii. p. 174, by Capt. C. O. Browne, R.A.

[407] Sir W. Congreve’s “Concise Account of the Rocket System,” London,
1807, p. 42. He held his commission in the Hanoverian army.

[408] Jähns, p. 523; Romocki, i. 69 _n._

[409] Congreve, as above, p. 1.

[410] Ib., p. 42.

[411] “In dieser Hinsicht standen also die Feuerwerker der Zeit des
Caligula wol schon auf derselben Höhe wie Congreve, dessen ‘Geheimnis’
zu Anfang des 19 Jahrhunderts so angestaunt wurde!” (p. 516.)

[412] “Furchtbare Wirkung.” Decker’s _Gesch. des Geschützwesens_, &c.,
1822, p. 79.

[413] “Capt Bogue and the Rocket Brigade,” by Col. F. A. Whinyates,
late R.H.A., in “Proceed. R.A. Institution,” vol. xxiv.

[414] “Ammunition,” as above, pp. 175-76.

[415] Sloane MSS., 335, 795; and Freind’s “Hist. of Physick,” 1758, ii.

[416] “Bombardes, basilics, jettans boullets de fer, de plomb, de
bronze.”—Rabelais (d. 1553), iv., c. 61.

[417] Recipe 13. Extracts from Arderne’s MSS. given by Hewitt, “Ancient
Armour,” ii. 284, leave little doubt that Arderne was acquainted with
the _Liber Ignium_ of Marcus Græcus.

[418] In the Peninsular War, our men could fire over 100 rounds, the
French only 50, without washing out the barrels of their muskets.
Marquis de Chambray, _Œuvres_, v. 293-4.

[419] Fol. 33.

[420] “Certain Discourses ... concerning Divers Weapons,” p. 20.

[421] Sir H. Nicolas, “Hist. of Royal Navy,” ii. 479.

[422] “Pro tribus petris cere ... ad cerandum canubium ad arificiendum
pulveris bumbardorum in castro de Edinburgh,” &c. “Chronicles of
Scotland,” published by the Deputy Clerk-Register, vi. 495-97. In these
documents a cross-bow is called, “arcus cum circulo.”

[423] “Acts of (English) Privy Council,” N.S., xvii. 392.

[424] “Seaman’s Dictionary,” under “Powder.”

[425] “Chemical Essays,” 1781, ii. 10. This led to a Parliamentary

[426] “A Statement of Facts,” &c., by General Sir W. Congreve, 1811,
pp. 18-19.

[427] Brackenbury, iv. 292.

[428] Fol. 33.

[429] “Art of Shooting in Great Ordnance,” p. 2.

[430] Jähns, p. 804.

[431] Mieth mentions glazing in 1684; _Artilleriæ Recentior Praxis_,
Franckfurt, pt. ii. c. 55.

[432] This is the only reason given by Clarke for the introduction of
corned powder. “Natural History of Nitre,” 1670, p. 88.

[433] “Das knollen bullfer ij pfund mer tud denn gereden bullfer iij
pfund.” Firebook, 1400-50, in Romocki, i. 182.

[434] “‘Of a verity the shooting of the foemen doth begin to increase,’
exclaimed the Rev. Gabriel Kettledrummle; ‘peradventure some pellet may
attain unto us even here. Lo! I will ensconce me behind the cairn, as
behind a strong wall of defence.’ ‘He’s but a coward body after a’,’
said Cuddy; ‘he’s but a daidling coward body.’” “Old Mortality,” chap.

[435] Chap. xxiv.

[436] Prof. J. E. Thorold Rogers, “History of Agriculture and Prices,”
1866, iii. 578-79.

[437] Rogers, “History of Agriculture and Prices,” iii. 556.

[438] Ib., 558.

[439] Ib., 578.

[440] Ib., 581.

[441] “Acts of Privy Council,” 1588, N.S., xvi. 146.

[442] Ib., 28th December 1595, xxv. 137.

[443] Rogers, v. 752.

[444] Waltham Abbey.

[445] “Fyne corne powder for small shot.” “Acts of Privy Council,” 8
Ap., 1588; xvi. 25.

[446] Rogers, i. 454.

[447] Rev. J. Hunter in _Archæologia_, xxxii. 382, who quotes the
payments made by Wm. de Stanes in the Wardrobe Accounts of Edward III.

[448] Rogers, ii. 754.

[449] Ib., iii. 205.

[450] Ib., iv., _Pièces Justificatives_, No. 6, p. xliv.

[451] Hallam’s “Middle Ages,” i. 211. On the accession of Louis XI.
(1461) “the livre was only about 1/15 of its original value ... and in
1789 the livre had come to be only 1/78 of its weight in the time of
Charlemagne. “Money,” by Prof. Bastable, in _Ency. Brit._, 9th ed.,
xvi. 727.

[452] “Treatise on the Coins of the Realm,” by (the first) Lord
Liverpool, reprinted London, 1880, p. 40.

[453] In 1580 saltpetre was selling in the north-west of India at a
half-penny a pound. “Manufacture of Gunpowder,” Col. W. Anderson, 1862,
p. 16.

[454] Caxton’s “Myrrour and Description of the Worlde,” 1480, Part II.,
c. 21.

[455] M. Berthelot in _Revue des Deux Mondes_, 15th August 1891, p. 817.

[456] _K. Vitterhets Hist. och Antiq. Acads. Handr._, Stockholm, iv.

[457] Kapten F. A. Spak’s _Öfversigt öfver Artilleriets Uppkomst och
Utveckling i Europa_, p. 12.

[458] “History of Inventions,” Bohn’s ed., ii. 509.

[459] “Natural History of Nitre,” London, 1670, p. 21.

[460] Napoleon III., iii. 205.

[461] There were exceptions, such as blasting powder.

[462] “The Gunner,” p. 145.

[463] Jähns, 804 _n_.

[464] Napoleon III., iii. 232.

[465] Chap. 24.

[466] _Modelles, Artifices de feu_, &c., pp. 95, 97.

[467] Napoleon III., iii. 329.

[468] “Receuil de Plusieurs Machines Militaires et Feux d’Artifices
pour la guerre.” De la diligence Thybovril et J. Appier dit Hanzelet;
Pont-à-Mousson, 1620, liv. iv. p. 12.

[469] “Nun werden unterechiedliche Pulver gemacht, jedoch aber allein
drey Sorten zum meistens gebraucht.” _Halinitro Pyrbolia_, Ulm, p. 6.

[470] Chap. xxiii. fol. 28.

[471] “Receuil de Plusieurs Machines Militaires et Feux d’Artifices,”
&c., Pont-à-Mousson, 1620, p. 14.

[472] “The Gunner,” p. 145.

[473] “The Gunner” p. 145.

[474] pp. 4, 5.

[475] “Inventions and Devices,” 1578; No. 54, “Art of Shooting,” &c.,
p. 28.

[476] Ib., Preface.

[477] _Halinitro Pyrbolia_, Ulm, 1627, p. 9.

[478] Chap. xvi. p. 29.

[479] Napoleon III., iv. 54.

[480] Ib., 53.

[481] “Traité ... de fabriquer la Poudre,” &c. Bottée and Riffault,
1811, p. lij.

[482] Marquis de Chambray, _Œuvres_, v. 293-4.

[483] “Dieses Pendel wurde mit Recht als ein epochmachende Erfindung
bezeichnet.” Gen. H. Müller, _Entwickelung der Feldartillerie_, Berlin,
1893, i. 23. To save the time of any of my readers who wish to read
Gen. Müller’s remarks on our Artillery, I may mention that they will
not be found under the heading “England,” but under the comprehensive
heading _Die kleineren Staaten_, grouped with Greece, Switzerland, &c.,
ii 272.

[484] See Wheatstone’s own account of his instrument in the _Comptes
Rendus de l’Acad. des Sciences_, 1845, tom. xx. pp. 1554-61.

[485] “Nous reconnaissons, avec l’abbé Moigno, que M. Wheatstone a eu
le premier l’idée de la belle application dont il est ici question....
Il a fallu du temps et du travail pour rendre féconde, dans les
expériences d’Artillerie, la belle idée de M. Wheatstone.” Cap.
Navez, _L’Application de l’Electricité à la mesure de la Vitesse des
Projectiles_, Paris, 1853. PP· 4, 5.

[486] “Report on Experiments on the Properties ... of Cannon Powder,”
Boston, Mass., 1861, pp. 174, 299. Table VI. is taken from this Report.

[487] 1886.

[488] Bk. IV., _c._ 62.

[489] Romocki, ii. 7-10.

[490] “Vulgar Errors,” 1648, Bk. II., c. 5.

[491] Roger Bacon’s powder, see chap. viii.

[492] Doctor Arderne’s powder, a laboratory receipt.

[493] Whitehorne’s “ordinary” common powder, chap. xxiii., fol. 28.

[494] Nye, pp. 4, 5.

[495] Sir James Turner’s _Pallas Armata_, 1670, p. 188.

[496] Robins’ “New Principles of Gunnery,” 1742, p. 120.

[497] Bishop Watson’s “Chemical Essays,” 1781, ii. 16.

[498] MS. in _Bib. Nat._, Paris, given in Lacabane’s _Bib. de l’École
des Chartes_, 2 ser., i. 51. The quantity of charcoal is not given.

[499] Spak’s _Öfversigt öfver Artilleriets Uppkomst_, &c., Stockholm,
1878-81, p. 66.

[500] Ib., p. 62. Spak gathers from Fronsperger that the manufacture
of powder in Germany was in a very backward state during the second
half of the sixteenth century: “att kruttillverkning i Tyskland äfven
under senare hälften af 1500-talet befann sig på en särdeles primitiv
ståndpunkt, framgår af Fronspergers beskrifning öfver krutets korning.”
A Brandenburg MS. of 1597 gives a powder of 73.5 : 13.7 : 10.8, but
this must have been for small arms. C. von Decker’s _Geschichte des
Geschützwesens_, &c., 1822, p. 87, powder No. 31.

[501] Blom’s _Kristian d. IV.’s Artilleri_, Copenhagen, 1877, p. 49.

[502] Napoleon III., iii. 329. The grains of this powder were as large
as hazel nuts.

[503] Spak, p. 166.

[504] Castner’s cocoa powder, ballistically the best powder ever made.
Romocki, ii. 31.

[505] "Romaunt of the Rose," 4196, attributed to Chaucer.

[506] _Original Parchemin parmi les titres scellés de Clairambault_,
xxv. fol. 1825; Bib. Nat., Paris (in Brackenbury, iv. 291).

[507] Estimated by Sir H. Brackenbury.

[508] Reinaud and Favé, p. 168.

[509] “Calendar, State Papers,” Dom. Ser., 1581-90, March 30, 1588.

[510] “Acts of the Privy Council,” New Ser., xvi. 25.

[511] Napoleon III., iii. 96.

[512] Wright and Halliwell’s _Reliquiæ Antiquæ_, London, 1841.

[513] Muratori, _Rer. Ital. Script._, xv., col. 182.

[514] Rymer’s _Fœdera_, vii. 187.

[515] No reliance can be placed on the document given in Libri’s _Hist.
des Sciences Mathém. en Italie_, iv. 487, which states that there were
cannon and iron shot in Florence on the 11th February 1326. Libri
was expelled from the French Academy, and sentenced to ten years’
imprisonment in 1850 for falsifying and selling public documents which
he had stolen from various institutions.

[516] Napoleon III., i. 358.

[517] Beringuccio calls iron shot “cosa nova all’ uso della guerra;
perchè non prima (che io sappi) furono vedute palle di ferro in Italia
per tirarle con artiglierie, che quelle che ci condusse Carlo Re di
Franchia contra Re Ferdinando l’anno 1495.”—_Pyrotechnia_, Venice,
1559, p. 247.

[518] MSS. germ, qu., 1018.

[519] Meynert’s _Gesch. des Kriegswesens_, &c., Vienna, 1868, i. 378.

[520] _A Rege ipso institutum_; Heidenstein, _De Bell. Moscovito_,
1588, p. 40. They were in use in Denmark in 1592. Blom’s _Kristian d.
IV.’s Artilleri_, p. 266.

[521] Geneva, 1645, p. 303.

[522] _De Re Militari_, Verona, 1472, lib. 10, c. iv. p. 267.

[523] Napoleon III., iii. 80.

[524] Mr. J. Burtt, in _Archæol. Journal_, xix. 68.

[525] W. L. Clowes, “The Royal Navy,” 1897, i. 149.

[526] Benedict. Veron., _De Rebus Carol_. VIII., in Eccardi, _Script.
Rer. Germ._, ii (Jähns).

At the siege of Bilqan in Persia by the Moguls under Prince Hulágu in
1256, stones not being procurable for the machines, wooden shell filled
with lead were employed with good effect.—_Heft Iqlim_, Persian MS. in
Bib. Nat., Paris, No. 356, fol. 500.

[527] Average price, 1371-80. Rogers’ “Hist. of Agriculture and
Prices,” i. 484.

[528] 90.5 per cent. copper and 9.5 per cent. tin; copper at 2s. 34d.
per lb. (average, 1303-53); tin at 3.41d. per lb. (average, 1371-80).
Mr. Rogers notices the rareness of copper, 1350-1400. Ib., i. 484; ii.
531. The bronze of an Egyptian mirror, _cir._ 1750 B.C., was found
by M. Berthelot to consist of 91 per cent. copper and 9 per cent.
tin.—_Introd. Alchimistes Grecs_, p. 221.

[529] Ib., i. 605 (average, 1371-80). There is some little uncertainty
about the exact price of lead owing to the “fother” having three
meanings. “In the Book of Rates it is said to be two thousand
pound-weight; at the mines it is twenty-two hundred and a half; and
among the Plummers at London, nineteen hundred and a half.” “The New
World of Words,” 6th ed., by E. Phillips, London, 1706. I have taken
the 2000 lbs. of the Book of Rates.

[530] There was no cast-iron in the fourteenth century.

[531] I have taken the proportions for bronze as given for shell by G.
della Valle in his _Vallo_, Venice, 1521: 75 per cent. copper and 25
per cent. tin, which had a sp. gr. of 8.4 and cost 2.6d. per lb.

[532] This gives a sp. gr. of 3.1, and shows that the stone was
probably limestone, although Nye objects to “freestone” for shot and
recommends “marble, pibble stones, and hard blew stones,” p. 58.
“Pibbilston” is found in Wiclif´s Bible, Prov. xx. 17, _cir._ 1383.

[533] Limestone sold in 1664 at 3s. 6d. a ton; Rogers, v. 508. But the
wages of a gunstone-maker in Queen Elizabeth’s reign were 6d. a day, or
about 3s. 6d. of our money. Brackenbury, v. 2 _n._.

[534] See p. 185.

[535] The early gunners suffered terribly from the bursting of their
guns. James II. of Scotland was killed in 1460 by the bursting of a
gun, and a bombard burst near Paris in 1479, killing fourteen men, and
wounding fifteen or sixteen. _Libre de Faits_, Jean de Troyes, ed.
Bouchon, p. 340. The Emperor Babar tells us of a gun that burst in
India in 1527-8, killing eight men. Elliott’s “Hist. of India,” iv.
272. And so on.

[536] Brackenbury, v. 30.

[537] Muratori, _Rer. Ital. Script._, xvii., col. 558.

[538] R. Norton, “The Gunner,” &c., London, 1628, p. 158.

[539] _Entwickelung des Kriegswesens_, Breslau, 1886, iii. 266.

[540] _Quellen zur Geschichte des Feuerwaffen_, 1872, A, viii., xix.

[541] Ducas, _Hist. Byzant._, Bonn, 1831, p. 211.

[542] Sabellicus, _Hist. Venet._, Dec. iii., lib. 10 (Jähns).

[543] Clarendon’s “Hist. of the Great Rebellion,” p. 522. Boillot calls
orgues “barriquades,” _Modelles Artifices de feu_, &c., Chaumont, 1598,
p. 189.

[544] See Admiralty survey of Gibraltar, by Capt. Aldrich, R.N.

[545] “Die Granate vor dem Stück crepirt ... wodurch ein Artillerist
das Leben verloren habe.” _Neues militärisches Hannovranisches
Journal_, Stück iv., p. 225, kindly communicated to me by Major W.
Balck, German General Staff. Apparently by an eye-witness.

[546] Drinkwater’s “Siege of Gibraltar,” 1786, p. 87.

[547] “Die Bomben fielen so tief in den Sand, dass die Stücke niemand
schaden konnten.” _Hannovranisches Journal_, as above.

[548] Capt. Sayer’s “Hist. of Gibraltar,” 1862, p. 291.

[549] Drinkwater, p. 89. The Hanoverian officer, speaking of the trial,
says: “Versuch, welcher der Erwartung vollkommen entsprach.” Of the
effect of the fire on the enemy he says: “ Die Brandröhren (waren) so
genau bestimmt, dass die Bombe oft den Feind über den Köpfen crepirte
... und incommodirte den Feind unaufhörlich.” _Journal_, as before.

[550] “Universal Military Dictionary,” by Capt. G. Smith, R.A., 1779,
art. “Shell.”

[551] Writing on 5th April 1813, Shrapnel said it was “nearly thirty
years” since he began his experiments. “Synopsis of Reports and
Experiments by the Ordnance Select Committee: Shrapnel Shell,” 1858.

[552] “Ammunition,” by Capt. (afterwards Col. Sir V. D.) Majendie,
R.A., 1867, i. 350 _ff._; “Memoirs of Sir J. Sinclair,” ii. 244.

[553] Shrapnel’s shell failed at the first trial, 3rd June 1803—they
were too thin. After the second trial, 29th June 1803, “about a dozen”
were recommended to be supplied to ships for each carronade.—Ord. Sel.
Committee, “Shrapnel Shell,” p. 2.

[554] _Die Shrapnels: eine Erfindung des 16-ten Jahrhunderts_, in
“_Archiv für die Officiere der K. Preuss. Artillerie, &c._,” Berlin,
1852, Band 32, p. 160. Toll does not allude to Shrapnel personally. He
gives the text of Zimmerman’s MS., which I quote above.

[555] One of Boillot’s mortar shell, which nobody has yet claimed to
have been a Shrapnel, was of _minimum_ thickness, “afin qu’elle rompe
plus facilement”—_Modelles, Artifices de feu, &c._, Chaumont, 1598, p.

[556] Some of Boillot’s mortar shell contained bullets, not only inside
but outside, where they were stuck into some glutinous substance with
which the shell was covered. Ib., p. 167.

[557] Capt. May, R.A., reported that before reaching the Great Belt,
1807 (on the voyage to the siege of Copenhagen), Shrapnel’s own fuzes
were found to be so affected by the damp as to be unserviceable, and
that others had to be improvised.—Ord. Sel. Com., “Shrapnel Shell,”
for 19th June 1809.

[558] “Ehe die Zünder nicht zu der Vollkommenheit gekommen waren, genau
tempirt werden zu konnen, was erst gegen das Ende des vorigen (18-ten)
Jahrhunderts eintrat, konnte uberhaupt von der Erreichung einer
Wirkung, wie sie Shrapnel vor Augen hatte, gar nicht die Rede sein; und
es ist das unstreitbare Verdienst Shrapnels, dass er die Vervollkommung
der Zünder zur Erreichung bis dahin nicht gekannter Kartätschwirkung
benuzte.”—“Notiz über die Geschichte der Shrapnells,” by Hauptmann
Meyer, in _Archiv für d. Offic. d. K. Preuss. Art._, _&c._, 5 Band,
zwieter Heft, p. 157.

[559] Given further on.

[560] “Mag auch nicht ain Hagel gemacht werden der ganntz vom Rohr fert
und sich erst uber etlich hundert Schrytt nachet oder feer wie man will
von einander thut und sich austhaylet?”

[561] Napoleon III., iii. 264.

[562] _Modelles_, _&c._, p. 163.

[563] “Hydrodynamics,” in _Ency. Brit._, p. 457.

[564] “Instrumenta naviganda possunt fieri sine hominibus remigantibus,
ut naves maximæ, fluviales et marinæ, ferantur unico homine regente,
majori velocitate quam si plenæ essent hominibus.... Item possunt fieri
instrumenta volandi.”—_De Secretis_, _c._ iv.

[565] “Inventions and Devices,” No. 42, fol. 31-2.

[566] Cæsar, _De Bell. Gall._, v. 43. See also p. 90 here.

[567] Tacitus, “Hist.,” ii. 21.

[568] See p. 202.

[569] See p. 4.

[570] “Das es dir den hals nit abstoss.” Romocki, i. 189.

[571] Romocki, i. 192 _n._

[572] Napoleon III., iii. 156. Whitehorne describes a similar fireball,
in which tow is used instead of cloth.

[573] Jähns, 810.

[574] “Ungefähr aus derselben Zeit.” Romocki, i. 189.

[575] Valturio’s plate is reproduced, ib., p. 193.

[576] “Ye vester darynn gestozzen, ye pesser.” Berlin Firebook, in ib.,
p. 192.

[577] “Es waren eiserne Kugeln von geringer Cohärenz, die, mit, Pech
und Harz gefüllt, angezündet, aus den Mauerbrechern geschossen wurden.
Beim Aufschlagen zerschellten diese Kugeln und die Stücke, von deren
jedem eine heftige Flamme emporloderte, wurden umhergeschleudert. Das
kleineste von ihnen konnte schwer verletzen, weil das Pech hinderte,
es abzuschütteln. Niemand vermochte vor diesem Feuer auf den Mauern zu
bleiben.” Bembo, _Opera_, 1556, i. 15, in Jähns, 810.

[578] Romocki, ii. 21.

[579] “Haec vocatur scientia experimentalis quæ negligit argumenta,
quoniam non certificant, quantumcunque sint fortia, nisi simul adsit
experientia conclusionis.... Sola experientia certificat hic, et non
argumentum.” _Opus Tertium_, _c._ 13.

[580] Daniel’s _Hist. de la Milice Française_, 1724, i. 240.

[581] Major Ralph Adye, R.A., “The Bombardier,” &c., 1802.

[582] “Annals,” &c., p. 584, for the year 1543. Stow died in 1605. The
15½″ mortar, under Firemaster Thomas Wright, which accompanied a
small force sent by Cromwell in 1651 to reduce the Royalist castle of
Elizabeth in Jersey, may have been one of Bawd and Collet’s. Between
five and ten rounds were fired daily for several days without any
damage to the piece, although the carriage broke down completely on
two occasions. The range was 1540 yards, and the shooting accurate.
The first round, we may feel certain, was laid with extreme care. “I
proffered to lay a wager of ten pounds with Captain Dover,” says the
Firemaster, “that my first shot should strike the Castle, ... and by
God’s providence it did strike one side of the great Tower, where
the Granado brake” (_i.e._ exploded). The second shell “brake verie
kindly,” and for the third he “altered (the) degrees of elevation.”
Captain Dover may have paid his bet, but the Ordnance Office forgot
to remit Wright’s pay; hence the “Perfect Narrative of the Particular
Service performed by Firemaster Thomas Wright,” &c. &c., 1651. The word
_explode_ is not found before the seventeenth century—see Dr. Murray’s
“New English Dictionary”—and was sparingly used in Wright’s time.

[583] “Italus a Parmensi ad Foederatos perfugiens, inauditam artem
jactabat parandi vasa, cavatosque e ferro aut lapide globos, qui in
obsessas urbes adigerentur, impleti ejus naturæ materiâ, ut simul ignem
concepissent, in innumeros quasi acinos dissilirent.”

[584] See the accounts of the bailiffs of St. Omer in 1342, in Napoleon
III., iii. 77.

[585] Ib., p. 149.

[586] Reinaud and Favé, p. 158.

[587] Whitehorne, _c._ 25.

[588] Portfires go back to about 1700. Muller’s “Treatise on
Artillery,” p. 202.

[589] The battle of Uddevalla in Sweden, 1677, was decided by _armes
blanches_, a prolonged storm of rain having put a stop to all firing.
Crichton and Wheaton’s “Scandinavia,” p. 109.

[590] Père Amiot, in Reinaud and Favé, p. 183.

[591] Hassan, ib., 37.

[592] Nye, p. 68 _bis_, where it is called “priming.”

[593] “Quickmatch,” in official “Treat. on Ammunition,” p. 430.

[594] Muller’s “Treatise on Artillery,” 1768, p. 203.

[595] General Sir Howard Douglas, “Naval Gunnery,” 1860, p. 458. Sir
Charles Douglas also introduced into his ship (at his own expense) the
quill tubes he had invented for naval use, and flannel cartridge cases
which at that time were used “for artillery cartridges of all sorts.”
Captain G. Smith, “Univer. Mil. Dict.,” 1779; “Laboratory.”

[596] “Artillery Equipment,” Colonel F. Miller, _V.C._, R.A, Pt. II.,
p. 84. It is uncertain to what extent flint-locks were adopted for the
Artillery. “Ammunition,” by Sir V. D. Majendie, i. 192.

[597] “Naval Gunnery,” as before.

[598] The above facts are chiefly taken from the “Treatise on
Ammunition,” by the late Colonel Sir V. D. Majendie, R.A., 1867; and
the work on “Artillery Equipment,” by the late Colonel F. Miller,
_V.C._, R.A.

[599] “Elementary Lectures on Artillery,” by Major C. H. Owen and
Captain T. L. Dames, Woolwich, 1861.

[600] Reinaud and Favé, p. 44.

[601] “Quand tu voudras attaquer ton adversaire, mets le feu à la
rose,” ib., 38. “Tu mets le feu aux roses et tu lances la marmite,”
ib., 43.

[602] “Inventions and Devices,” 1578, p. 39.

[603] For instance: “Adviserez que le trou d’icelle (the shell) soit du
costé de la bouche dudit mortier.” _Modelles, Artifices du Feu_, &c.,
1598, p. 163.

[604] As happened centuries afterwards with Shrapnel’s fuzes when cut

[605] “Art of Shooting in Great Ordnance,” p. 13.

[606] Ib., pp. 30, 31.

[607] Among the stores detailed by Firemaster T. Wright in his “Perfect
Narrative,” &c., of his expedition to Jersey, 1651, are found “1000
Fuzes for shels, 600 hand Fuzes.”

[608] “Invention die bishero noch nit ist gebraucht worden.”
_Archeley_, 1621, p. 119. The Spanish _Tratado de Artilléria_, 1613,
I have not seen and rely upon the French and German translations,
both by J. T. Brey, the former entitled _Artillerie_, &c., the latter
_Archeley_, &c. Either of them has been carelessly executed—perhaps
both of them.

[609] “La bouche du tuyeau sur la poudre de la charge de la ditte
pièces.” _Artillerie_, p. 119.

[610] “150 schritt”—geometrical paces, I presume: 1 geom. pace = 5 ft.

[611] _Wachthaus._ The French translation has _corps de garde_.

[612] Blom’s _Kristian d. IV.’s Artilleri_, p. 277.

[613] P. 63 _bis_.

[614] Pr. Lieut. W. Ritter von Breithaupt, _Der Entwicklungsgang und
die darauf gegründete Systematik der Zünderwesens_, &c., 1868, p. 18.

[615] “Gegen das Ende des 16 ten Jahrhunderts fiel man darauf,
Granaten aus Kanonen zu schiessen. Da aber die ersten Versuche nicht
mit gehöriger Vorsicht, und überhaupt mit zu starker Pulverladung
angestellt wurden, so misslangen sie, und man behielt die sicherere
Art, sie aus Haubitzen zu werfen, bei.” Major C. von Decker,
_Geschichte des Geschützwesens_, &c., 1822, p. 74.

[616] In firing against buildings, “ist es nicht eben von nöthen auf
das Tempo genau Achtung zu geben.” Mieth, _Artill. Recent. Praxis_,
Leipsig, 1683, lib. iii. c. 34.

[617] In firing against troops, “the fuze must have such a length as
... to set fire to the powder as soon as the shell touches the ground.”
“Universal Mil. Dict.,” Captain G. Smith, R.A., 1779; “Laboratory.”

[618] A Chinese shell was thrown from the deck of one of our vessels
into the sea, I forget by whom, in the attack on the Peiho Forts, 1860.

[619] As was done more than once during the dynamite outrages in London
some years ago.

[620] At the siege of Gloucester, during the Great Rebellion, a grenado
fell near Southgate; “but a woman coming by with a pail of water, threw
the water thereon and extinguished the phuse thereof, so that it brake
not.” Vicars’ “Jehovah Jireh,” 1646, i. 402.

[621] “Per tempus quo quispiam non festinanter Symbolum Apostolorum
recitare possit,” p. 174. Watches were invented by Huygens in 1674,
and independently by Hooke in 1675. Ball’s “Mathematical Recreations,”
1892, p. 216.

[622] _Zur Geschichte der Artillerie_, by Hauptmann C. Schneider, in
_Oesterreichische Mil. Zeitung_, Wien, 1863, No. 79.

[623] _Theoria et Praxis Artill._, Nürnberg, 1682, Part II., p. 62.

[624] “Brände von Holtz, Papier oder Eisen,” ib.

[625] “Man das Tempo entweder durch einen perpendicul oder nach einem
perfecten und gewissen Tacte erkundigen muss,” ib.

[626] “Das rechte Tempo nun zu finden, kan auf keine audere Weise, als
aus den ersten Würffen erlernet werden.” _Artill. Recent. Praxis_, l.
iii., c. 34, p. 45.

[627] “Treatise on Artillery,” 1768, p. 204.

[628] Ib., p. 203.

[629] MS. letter kindly lent to me by Col. F. Whinyates, late R.H.A.

[630] Gen. Piobert’s notes, communicated to Prof. Turquem and Capt.
Favé, the translators of Gen. C. von Decker’s _Expériences sur les
Shrapnel_, Paris, 1847, p. 320.

[631] “Ammunition,” by Col. Sir V. D. Majendie, i. 235. The Prussians
had a similar series of fuzes about the same time; Breithaupt, _Der
Entwicklungsgang ... der Zünderwesens_, p. 21. On the 21st Nov. 1808,
Shrapnel proposed to carry the bored fuzes in canvas bags painted
different colours. Ord. Sel. Com., “Shrapnel Shell.”

[632] Hasans er-Rammah in Reinaud and Favé, p. 25. This composition was
called “priming,” and belonged to the “slow receipt” family.

[633] Napoleon III., iii. 275.

[634] Nye, p. 63, _bis_.

[635] Spak’s _Öfversigt öfver Artilleriets Uppkomst_, &c., p. 157.

[636] Muller’s “Treatise on Artillery,” 1768, p. 203.

[637] J. G. von Hoyer’s _Allgemeines Wörterbuch_, Tübingen, 1804.

[638] 5″ fuze, official “Treatise on Ammunition.”

[639] _Beitrag zur Gesch. d. Artillerie_, Haupt. C. Schneider, Wien,

[640] See plate in Romocki, i. 343.

[641] _Art. Mag. Artilleriæ_, &c., pt. i. bk. 4, c. 3. They were called
“blind shell” because they gave out no light in their flight.

[642] “Wer ein wenig Vernunft hat und nicht gar tumm ist, wird klar
sehen dass dieselbe Invention einen sehr bald in die andere Welt
schicken kan.” _Artill. Recent. Prax._, c. xi. p. 13.

[643] _Theor. et Praxis Artill._, pt. i. p. 68.

[644] “Cutting the Rigging,” Proposition iii.

[645] MS. in Royal Library, Berlin, q. in Romocki, i. 347.

[646] Cap. 48.

[647] See his Patent, No. 3032, 11th April 1807.

[648] We are told by Mr. Greener that “all the gunsmiths in England”
laid claim to the invention of the cap: “The Gun and its Development,”
3rd ed., 1859, p. 110. How many of them, if any, established their
claim I do not know; but it is absolutely certain that the notion of a
copper cap struck Colonel Hawker in 1818. He gave a sketch of what he
wanted to the celebrated Joe Manton, who made him some caps and adapted
a gun for their use. “Instructions to Young Sportsmen,” by Col. Peter
Hawker, 11th ed., 1859, p. 76.

[649] The concussion fuze was set in action by the shock of discharge;
the percussion fuze by the shock of impact with the target.

[650] Reinaud and Favé, p. 180.

[651] Marcus Græcus, recipe 33.

[652] Hassan er-Rammah in Reinaud and Favé, p. 24.

[653] 1, 2, and 3 oz. rockets in Nye, p. 82.

[654] Signal rocket, official “Treat. on Ammunition.”

[655] Hassan, as above.

[656] Official “Treat. on Ammunition.”

[657] Hassan, in Reinaud and Favé, p. 27.

[658] Kentish’s “Pyrotechnist’s Treasury,” 1878, p. 187, No. 13.


  Abd Allah ibn al-Baythar (_d._ 1248), 16

  Abd ur-Razzak on Bijanagar (1441), 115

  Accent de Sincérité, 126

  Africanus, Sextus Julius, 40

  Agniastra, 105

  Al-Bunduqani, meaning of, 91

  Alor, taking of (A.D. 712), 91

  Amiot, Father, on Chinese powder, 128

  Ammianus Marcellinus on fire-arrows, 30

  Anagram, Friar Bacon’s, suggested solution of, 157

  Anna Comnena, Princess, on crossbows, 48

  —— on sea-fire, 44

  —— on siphons, 43

  Antiquity, Chinese veneration for, 125

  ’Arába (_Persian_), its double meaning, 114

  “Arabian Nights,” mention of astrolabe in, 78

  —— mention of _qaus bunduq_ in, 93-4

  Arabic language, general ignorance of, in Middle Ages, 82

  —— words in _Liber Ignium_, 77

  Arangal, siege of (1309), 119

  Arderne’s recipe for powder (_cir._ 1350), 177

  Arquebuse, original meaning of the word, 92

  Arrows for muskets (1588), 200

  Artillery, original meaning of the word, 7

  Assos, flower of the stone of, 17, 151

  Assyrians, early use of incendiaries by the, 29

  Astrolabe = Asturlab = Usturlab, origin of, 78

  Astronomy, Chinese, 113, 126

  Babar’s projectiles, size and price of, 122

  Bacon’s (Friar) charcoal, 149

  —— mode of refining saltpetre, 25, 151

  —— recipe for gunpowder, 157

  Baghdad, siege of (A.D. 813), 96

  Baldwin I. on Byzantine defences, 84

  Balls, hot clay, British and Arabic, 90, 217

  Barbour’s “Bruce,” mention of incendiaries in, 50

  Barúd (_Arabic_), successive meanings of, 6

  Baza, siege of (1325), 100

  Bengali gunners, Babar on, 121

  Benjamin of Tudela on Byzantines, twelfth century, 53

  Bergen op Zoom, siege of (1588), 226

  Beringuccio on iron round shot, 201

  Berwick, Greek fire at (1319), 50

  Bijanagur, alleged use of cannon at (1368), 113

  Bilqan, siege of (1256), 203

  Bitar taken by a single rocket (1657), 172

  Bokhara, siege of (1067), 96

  Bombshells originally oblong, 238

  Bourne’s “box” for testing powder (1578), 192

  Bows, cross-, 48

  —— slur-, 168

  —— stone-, 93

  Boxer’s (General E. M.) wooden time-fuze (1849), 243

  “Brazen Head,” legend of Bacon’s, 161

  Breteuil, Greek fire at (1356), 51

  Bristol, fire-pikes at siege of, (1643), 169

  Bronze, Egyptian, 1750 B.C., analysis of, 203

  —— price of, at various times, 204

  Bullets, hot, for small arms, 202

  Bunduq (_Arabic_),successive meanings of, 6

  Calthrops = crowsfeet, 170

  Cannon, invention of, ascribed to the Germans, 54

  Cap, percussion, invention of (1818), 245

  Carcasses, invention of (1672), 224

  Carriages, gun-, field-, introduction of (1461-83), 114

  Cartridge-cases, Artillery, flannel (1770-80), 230

  Cartridges, Infantry, early composite (1590), 179

  Case, early use of, 208

  —— Zimmermann’s, 212-13

  Casiri’s translations, 99

  Caxton on price of naphtha (1480), 187

  Chalcocondyles on early cannon, 54

  Charcoal, hazel and willow wood for, 62, 137, 149

  Charleston, siege of, 1863, incendiaries at, 49

  Chen-tien-lui, Chinese projectile, 130, 138

  China, early communication of, with the west, 136

  Chinese historical works, 124, 126

  —— snow, 17

  Chronoscope, Wheatstone’s electro-magnetic (1840), 194

  Combustion, progressive, 3

  Compass, Mariner’s, 112

  Comte, A., on the invention of powder, 111

  Concussion fuze, invention of English (1850), 245

  Conde’s metaphor, _trueno con fuego_, 101

  Congreve, on his rockets, 175

  Constantine VII., on sea-fire, 34, 46

  Copredy Bridge, action at (1644), 208

  Corning (graining) powder, first mention of (1429), 182

  Cracker of Marcus Græcus, 87

  —— of Friar Bacon, 87, 159

  Creed, Apostles’, used to measure time, 239

  Cressy, English guns at, 7

  Crusades, no explosive used during the, 97

  Crusoe’s (Robinson) wildfire, 52

  Cunningham, General, on decay of Indian temples, 111

  Cuprum (copper), origin of word, 80

  Dahir, King of Alor (712), 91

  Darts for cannon, 199

  Delium, siege of (424 B.C.), 31

  Dickson, General Sir A., on port-fires, 230

  Discoveries, accidental, 162

  Douglas, Captain Sir C., R.N., inventions of, 230

  Drake, Sir Francis, demands arrows for muskets (1588), 200

  Dunnett, Sergeant D., rockets at Waterloo under, 176

  Dunois’ capture of Pont Audemer (1449), 173

  Dutens on Marcus Græcus, 84

  Encyclopædias, Chinese, 124

  Espingarda, meaning of, 117

  Europeans in China in early times, 135

  —— in India in early times, 114, 121

  Existence, the struggle for, 108

  Explosion, meaning of, 3

  Famagusta, Greek fire at (1571), 51

  Feringiha, meaning of, 121

  Firdusi, mention of incendiaries by, 96

  Fire-arrows, defects of, 30

  —— early use of, by Greeks (429 B.C.), 29

  —— early use of, in Greece (480 B.C.), 55

  Fire-ships, early use of (413 B.C.), 31

  Firework, an Arabic and English, 247

  —— soft or slow, as time-fuze, 233

  Flexible instruments, Byzantine, meaning of, 48

  Flint and steel as percussion fuze (1596), 244

  Forsyth, Rev. A., applies fulminates to priming (1807), 245

  Fother, an ancient English weight, 203

  Fouling of serpentine powder, 179

  Franks, Portuguese guns called, by Chinese (1520), 139

  Freeburn, Quartermaster, R.A., invents concussion fuze (1846), 245

  Friction tube invented by Mr. Tozer (1851), 231

  Fulminates, first use of, in priming (1807), 245

  Furtenbach’s instrument for testing powder (1627), 193

  Fuze, concussion, first English (1846), 245

  —— hand (1651), 236

  —— percussion, earliest proposal of (1596), 244

  —— —— first English (1850), 245

  —— time, Boxer’s wooden (1849), 243

  —— —— calculated, the phrase (1779), 210

  —— —— early Arabic, 231

  —— —— early Danish, 237

  —— —— early English (1543), 235

  —— —— proposed adjustment of (1596), 239

  —— —— length of early, constant, 237

  —— —— nineteen in English service (1850), 242

  —— —— short, difficulties with, 241

  —— —— short, Shrapnel’s mode of cutting, 242

  —— —— Shrapnel’s, rendered useless by damp (1807), 213

  —— —— Ufano’s experiments with (_cir._ 1600-13), 236

  Gama, Vasco da, in Calicut (1498), 117

  Gauttier on _al-Bunduqani_, 92

  Geber. _See_ Jabir

  Gentoo Laws, code of, 105

  Gibbon on firearms in China, 140

  —— on gunpowder, 111

  —— on Jesuits in China, 126

  Gibraltar, hot shot at siege of (1779-83), 217

  —— shell-fire from guns at, 209

  Glazing gunpowder, mentioned in 1684, 182

  Golail, a two-stringed long-bow, 93

  Gold, alchemical preparation of, resembled that of saltpetre, 153

  “Golden Garlands,” an Arabic firework, 247

  Grain, influence of size of, of gunpowder, 195

  Gram, the sword of Sigurd, 105

  Greek fire, a Crusader’s term, 49, 76

  —— —— composition of, 31

  Greenhill, Professor, on stability of projectiles, 215

  Grenados, spherical shell, 238

  Guisarme, meaning of, 117

  Gun, or gonne, triple use of, 7

  —— pressure on bore of, with different projectiles, 206

  —— nature of earliest missiles for, 199

  —— flint-lock for, invention of (1778), 230

  Gun-carriages, field, introduced (1461-83), 114

  Gun-metal, composition of, 203-4

  —— price of, 204

  Gunpowder, Arderne’s recipe for (_cir._ 1350), 177

  —— Friar Bacon’s recipe for (_cir._ 1248), 157, 177

  —— Chinese, badly made, 134

  —— composition of, at various times, 197-98

  —— compressed, 222

  —— corned (grained), advantages of, 182

  —— —— too strong for guns at first, 183

  —— damage to, by damp, 180

  —— definition of, adopted here, 3

  —— effects of invention of, 111

  —— fouling of serpentine (ungrained), 179

  —— French adopt one kind for all arms, 194

  —— ingredients of, carried separately at first, 181

  —— invention of (_cir._ 1248), 162

  —— Louis XIV.’s Ordonnances about, 193

  —— price of English, at various times, 184

  —— ramming-home serpentine, 181

  —— silent, 197

  —— smokeless, 196

  —— sulphurless, 196

  —— tests of, 192-94

  Gunstone-maker’s wages in the sixteenth century, 205

  Halhed on early Indian firearms, 105

  Hälle on time-fuzes and percussion shell (1596), 239, 244

  Harquebuss, _see_ Arquebuse

  Hassan er-Rammah (_d._ 1295), 17

  Havre, experiments with naphtha at (1758), 49

  Hawker, Colonel P., invents percussion cap (1818), 245

  Heraclea, siege of (805), 91

  History, Chinese, the Jesuits on, 126

  Homer, no mention of incendiaries in, 29

  Hookah (_Persian_) = grenade or fire-pot, 94, 117

  Huo-p’áu (_Chinese_), meanings of, 6

  Igor, Russian Admiral, defeated by Greeks (941), 34

  Ikreekh (_Arabic_), for igniting shell, 231

  Incendiary, earliest, consisted of sulphur and pitch, 30

  —— meaning of word, here, 3

  Index, chemical, to Marcus’ _Liber Ignium_, 68

  Iron, price of, at various times, 204

  Jabir, the true and the false, 14

  Jesuits superintend gun-casting at Peking (1618), 140

  Jodhaimah possesses first Arabic machines, 90

  Joinville on Arabic incendiaries, 4, 98, 102

  Ka’aba, burning of the (683), 90

  Kallinikos, the inventor of sea-fire (670-80), 33

  Kallisthenes in Babylon (331 B.C.), 80

  Khalid, Prince, the first Arab writer on incendiaries (_d._ 708), 72

  Khubelai Khan sends for western gunners (1270), 133

  Lateran Council, decree of, against incendiaries (1139), 88

  Lead, price of, at various times, 204

  Leipsig, battle of (1813), English rockets at, 176

  Leo VI. on sea-fire, 46

  Leo’s metaphor, _thunder and smoke_, 38

  _Liber Ignium_ of Marcus Græcus, a composite work, 83

  “Light of the Moon,” Arabic fixed light, 246

  Louis XIV., Ordonnances of, about powder, 193

  Lys, Passage of (1382), hand-grenades at, 169

  Machine, meaning of, here, 3

  Maghribiha, meaning of, 119

  Mahmoud Shah Begurra of Gujarat (1482), 116

  Mangonals in China, 133

  Manjánik (_Arabic_) = machines, 90

  Manu’s “Code of Laws,” 106

  Marcus Græcus, a mere name, 86

  Marsh’s percussion tube (1831), 231

  Masawyah (Mesué), Arab physician, 84

  Masudi on autumnal rains, 77

  —-— on _qaus al-bunduq_, 92

  Match, time-fuze called so by Stow, 235

  Mecca, siege of (A.D. 638), 90

  Mercier, Captain, 39th Regiment, proposes shell-fire from guns (1779),

  Mercury, fulminate of, first used in priming (1807), 245

  Metaphors, difficulties created by, 4, 101

  Meyer, Hauptmann, on Shrapnel shell, 214

  Mieth on early percussion shell, 244

  Mills, powder, 187

  Mithkal (or Miskal), a Persian weight, 122

  Modhaffer Shah of Gujarat (1511), 118

  Money, English and French, in fourteenth century, 186

  Mons Meg, materials for repairing, 139

  Moorsom’s (Commander, R.N.) percussion fuze (1850), 245

  Mortar _éprouvette_, 193

  Moyria de Maillac, Father, on Chinese historians, 126

  Naphtha, Plutarch on, 39

  Nassau, Graf. Johann von, proposes a percussion shell (1610), 244

  Navez’s (Captain) electro-ballistic pendulum, 195

  Niébla, siege of (1257), 101

  “Nitiprakásika” on arms and armies, 107

  Norton, time-fuzes called “pypes” by (1628), 237

  Nye proposes mortar _éprouvette_ (1647), 193

  Oppert, Professor, on early Hindu gunpowder, &c., 107

  Orgue, meaning of, 207

  Paris, use of incendiaries in (1870), 49

  Pellet, for bullet, 183

  Pendulum, ballistic, of Robins, 194

  —— electro—ballistic, of Navez, 195

  —— for timing fuzes, 240

  Percussion powder, earliest, 245

  Persia, late in adopting firearms, 116

  Peshawur, battle near (1008), 94

  Petroleum mentioned in Anglo-Saxon work (_cir._ A.D. 900), 82

  “Piber til Granater,” early Danish time-fuzes, 237

  Pien-king, siege of (1232), 130

  Pikes, fire, at the siege of Bristol (1643), 169

  Placentia, attack on (A.D. 69), 217

  Platæa, siege of (429 B.C.), 29

  Pont Audemer, taking of (1449), 173

  Porcelain, dates of, forged by Chinese, 125

  Portfires (_cir._ 1700), 229

  Pressure on bore, comparative, with different projectiles, 206

  —— gauge, Rodman’s, 195

  Printing press, invention of, 113

  Projectiles for cannon, nature of earliest, 199

  Pype, early time-fuze called a, 237

  Quicklime, Pliny on, 39

  Rain, autumnal, in _Liber Ignium_, 77

  Ramming home serpentine powder, on, 181

  Rantambhor, attacks on (1290 and 1300), 119

  Rāy, Professor, on the Sukraniti, 110

  Ribaudequin, 207

  “Richard Cœr-de-Lion,” metrical romance (1272-1307), 50

  Robins’ ballistic pendulum, 194

  Rockets at Leipsig (1813), 176

  —— Chinese, 135

  —— Marcus Græcus’ (_rec._ 13, 32, 33), 62, 67

  —— Tipu Sultan’s, 174

  Rodman’s pressure gauge, 195

  Roman candles, Chinese, 132

  —— Marcus Græcus’ (_rec._ 12), 61

  Romerentin, Greek fire at (1356), 51

  Rose (_Arabic_), for igniting shell, 231

  Round, one, comparative cost of, with different balls (_cir._ 1375), 205

  Sal coctus, 13

  —— Indicus, 15

  Salonika, siege of (904), 40

  Saltpetre, approximate date of discovery of, 28

  —— Indian, price of (1580), 187

  —— modes of refining:—
    Hassan er-Rammah’s, 24
    Marcus Græcus’, 23
    Friar Bacon’s, 25
    Waltham Abbey’s, 18
    Whitehorne’s, 20

  Sauverchala (_Sanskrit_), meaning of, 16

  Sea-fire, composition of, 41

  —— unknown to Westerns, 41, 84

  Seringapatam, rockets at (1792, 1799), 174

  Shahnama, mention of incendiaries in, 96

  Shatagni (_Sanskrit_), meaning of, 105

  Shell, common, first use of, 227

  —— —— number of pieces into which it broke, 210

  Shell-fire from guns (1779), 208

  Shot (cannon), hot (1579), 217

  Shrapnel’s fuzes indifferent, 213-14, 242

  —— mode of cutting short fuzes, 242

  Shrapnel shell, experiments with (1819), 242

  —— principles of, 211, 213

  Siang-yang-fu, siege of (1269-73), 133

  Sieves for coming powder, 190

  Silver, fulminate of, 245

  Sincérité, Accent de, 126

  Siphon (_Greek_), meaning of, 46

  —— two kinds of, 43

  Slur-bow, 168

  Smith, Captain G., R.A., on shell fire, 241

  Sora (_Indian colloquial_), meaning of, 16

  Spanish words, &c., in _Liber Ignium_, 81

  Spell, Indian, to ensure victory, 107

  Steganogram, Friar Bacon’s, suggested solution of, 151

  Stirling, siege of (1304), Greek fire at, 50

  Stone, best, for round shot, 205

  Stone-bow, a golail, 93

  “Stone which is not a stone,” 151

  Stow on shell (1543), 225

  Strada, Father, on bombshells, 226

  Struphnos, Admiral, sale of naval stores by (1200), 53

  “Sukraniti,” recipe for powder in the, 109

  Sulphurs, several (so-called), in early times, 80

  Talwood, 179

  Tampions for musket-arrows (1588), 200

  Tayif, siege of (A.D. 630), 90

  Tea in China and Europe, 113

  Tell, William, legend of, 127

  Temples, Indian, causes of decay of, 112

  Testing powder. _See_ Gunpowder

  Theophanes on invention of sea-fire, 33

  Toll, Hauptmann, on Shrapnel shell, 212

  Tourbillion, a firework, 247

  Tozer’s friction-tube (1853), 231

  Train of powder to fire early guns, 228

  Translations, specimens of, 9

  Trombes, or tronckes, 51

  Tubes, friction (1853), 231

  —— percussion (1831), 231

  —— quill, for navy (_cir._ 1778), 230

  _Tung-kian-kang-mu_, Chinese Encyclopædia, 130-31

  Uddevalla, battle of (1677), 229

  Ufano’s experiments with fuzes (_cir._ 1600), 236

  Valturio´s bronze shell (1463), 138, 221

  Wachtendonck, siege of (1588), 227

  Watches invented (1674), 239

  Weissenburg, siege of (1469), 220

  Wheatstone’s electro-magnetic chronoscope, 194

  Whitehorne on silent powder, 197

  —— on serpentine and corned powder, 183

  Wildfire, history of the word, 51

  Words, changes in the meaning of, 6

  Wright, Mr. Thomas, on mariner’s compass, 112

  Xerxes’ fire-archers, 55

  Yavakshara (_Sanskrit_), meaning of, 16

  Yo (_Chinese_), successive meanings of, 6

  Yung Loh, Chinese Emperor (1403), 133-34

  Yusuf ibn Ismaël al-Juni on saltpetre (1311), 103

  Zarb-zan = swivel gun, Babar’s, 121

  Zembaq (_Arabic_), doubtful meaning of, 81

  Zimmermann’s projectile (1573), 212-13

  Edinburgh & London

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gunpowder and Ammunition their Origin and Progress" ***

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