Mirror of Literature,  5 (1825), 11–12.

Signs of the Times



Extract, Drollery

Publications extracted:

Repository of Arts


Microscopy, Disease, Steamships, Aeronautics

    The author claims to have 'clearly discerned all the primary causes of the rise and fall of empires in apparently the most trivial circumstances'. The 'signs of the times' which accompany these causes are 'not of such a magnitude as to be visible to the common eye, nor even to that of the philosopher, unless through the medium of a microscope'; for as in human disease, 'so in the body politic the germs of ruin may exist' and be invisible to all but those with 'minute sagacity'. (11) The writer reports that he has observed these signs of the times in the habits and manners of British sailors, who may now, for instance, be seen 'steering up the street, like a steam-vessel in the wind's eye, without making a single tack [...]. In short, Jack[-tar] has now become an amphibious animal'. In consequence of these habits, 'Men-of-war have made way for steam-vessels, with a chimney for a mast, and a column of smoke for a pendant. Naval officers command them, with a thermometer for a speaking-trumpet'. The author fears that balloons will be adopted next: 'Then adieu to the greatness of Old England! [....] We shall have too many and too powerful competitors on that element, which is alike open for all'. (12)

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