Punch,  3 (1842), 262.

Useful Knowledge. Read! Mark! Learn!



Essay, Drollery


Education, Geology, Physical Geography, Pollution, Public Health, Physiology, Industrial Chemistry, Manufactories, Discovery

    Believing that the 'dissemination of useful knowledge' promotes morality, seeks to contribute to the public good by exploring the subjects of 'water' and 'tin'. A long series of droll observations on water include the fact that 'it is found in large quantities in long hollows or channels in the earth, denominated rivers, which communicate with a great hole or cavity, commonly called sea', and that 'water, in combination with soap [...], has strong abstergent properties, a truth [...] not so universally acted on as it ought to be'. Concludes with droll observations on the provenance, nature and production of tin. For example, notes that tin is retrieved from the bed of the Bosphorus by Christian captives who return tin in wicker baskets and have their pockets 'carefully searched' in case they fraudulently conceal the metal about them. Invites philosophers who might regard the article as 'a tissue of nonsense' to reflect 'that the progress of discovery renders that which is one day science, stuff the next; and, that knowledge is equally useful morally, whether real or imaginary, provided people know no better'.

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