Interested in Language
The text I need to help with is:
"Regarding this matter of the size and ferocity of the seas, I possess a photograph that was taken about ten o'clock at night. This was photographed by the aid of flashlight, an operation in which the Captain assisted me. We filled an old, percussion pistol with flashlight powder, with an air-cone of paper down the centre. Then, when I was ready, I opened the shutter of the camera, and pointed it over the stern into the darkness. The Captain fired the pistol, and, in the instantaneous great blaze of light that followed, I saw what manner of sea it was that pursued us. To say it was a mountain, is to be futile. It was like a moving cliff."
W.H.Hodgson, Through The Vortex Of A Cyclone, 1907
Am I to understand they put the flashlight powder into an empty paper cone and then they crammed the whole thing in the percussion pistol?
Thanks for help
I've never heard of flashlight powder. It was probably what we call flash powder today. It's the stuff nineteenth century photographers used before flash bulbs were invented.
Combustion needs air. To make the flash powder flash as brightly as possible, he rolled up a tube of paper and stuck it down into the middle of the flash powder. That delivered more air to the powder so that it would ignite quickly and burn more brightly.
I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.