In December 1/80, a patent was granted to Mr. John AItkeN, of Edinburgh, surgeon, for his invention of a new method of loading fire-arms, of whatever dimensions or forms, with two or more charges of powder and ball, and of discharging them in succession, by fire communicated through correspondent perforations, or touch-holes. This consists in lodging several charges of powder and shot in the fire-arms, whether cylindrical, conical, chambered, or otherwise ; the hindmost extremity, or breech, being closed, while the anterior one, or muzzle, is open. The extension of the fire, in a posterior direction from the charge next the muzzle that is first inflamed, is intercepted by intermedia placed between the several charges, which are firmly rammed about or above the shot; and which are formed of any substance that possesses suffi-cient resistance, is compact, incombustible, and properly shaped. In the smaller fire-arms, namely, pistols, musquets, bluderbusses, etc. the patentee chiefly employs leather, or other thick stuffs. In the larger ones, such as cannons, mortars, etc. he makes use of various pastes, as being more commodious, and more easily procured. The charges are ignited through touch-holes, by the lock, or match, as occasion may demand, according to the size and condition of the tube.
A patent was likewise granted to James Wilson, Esq. of St. Martin's in the Fields, for his improvement in the construction of fire-arms, by which the powder will be effectually screened against the influence of the weather, at a less expence than by other method. His invention consists chiefly in fixing a semi-circular piece of brass or iron, about one line in breadth, over the touch-hole, and which rises upwards with a bevil from the side that joins the barrel. Thus the wet or moisture, which in common fire-arms insinuates itself be tween the barrel and the hammer or upper pan, where the powder is most exposed, is effectually prevented, and carried off on either side of the arch, or semi-circular piece of metal, by the channel, which is formed by the bevil when in contact with the barrel. This' improvement is also applicable to old pans.