Cornhill Magazine,  5 (1862), 746–53.

What are the Oil Wells?

[James A St John]




Economic Geology, Geology, Creation, Gas Chemistry, Light, Industry, Progress

    Reports on the 'discovery of the oil springs of the New World' and the many new applications that are being developed for petroleum, but notes that however 'Far into nature [...] science may be said to have penetrated, we are still unacquainted with much that is going on in the interior, and even in the crust of our planet, where, it may be, the work of creation is yet in progress'. (747) In Canada, 'many scientific fanatics' have become extremely 'sanguine' about the potential of 'petroleum gas' to 'light up all the great cities of Europe as well as of America', although the author remarks, 'Science is certainly performing wonders in the world, but it transcends our acuteness to perceive how any artificial apparatus can be made to distribute luminiferous gas at as small a cost as Nature's old-fashioned solar lamp' (747–48). Also reflects that 'amidst the innumerable inventions and improvements which characterize our times, we look back with absolute amazement at the slowness with which men of former generations turned to account the gifts of nature. [...] Whatever other faults or shortcomings may be laid to our charge, we can hardly be accused of neglecting any source of material wealth' (752).

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