Punch,  33 (1857), 132.

The Two Giants of Time



Illustration, Drollery; Poetry

Relevant illustrations:



Steam-power, Electricity, Physics, Force, Progress, Morality, Crime, Telegraphy

    Describes a dialogue between 'Steam' and 'Electricity' concerning their benefits to the 'human race' and promotion of 'mankind's felicity'. Both 'Forces' ponder the ambiguities of their legacies. Electricity boasts of the speed with which 'tidings' from 'far lands' speed 'Through a wire, with a thought's velocity', but also observes that the world 'doesn't get on much better'. Steam ponders the fact that he has enabled men to cross 'land and sea [...] At the rate of a bird', but also increased the speed with which they 'kill and bleed'. Responding to Steam's claim that 'we help morality', Electricity agrees that 'Through us have been caught, and to justice brought, / Many scoundrels', and, referring to the Indian Mutiny, Steam hopes they will be able to revenge the crime of the 'Sepoy savages' by strangling them. They conclude in unison, claiming that they have failed in their promise to regenerate the nations because, while 'Locomotive powers alone are ours', they 'can't cause people to change their courses'. The illustration shows two Ancient Roman warriors: the first figure has a telegraph apparatus for its head, holds a telegraph pole, and is wrapped in wire, while the second figure has a railway locomotive for its head.

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

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