Punch,  48 (1865), 169.

Mechanism for the Million



Essay, Drollery

Relevant illustrations:



C H B *


Machinery, Invention, Domestic Economy, Human Development, Mathematics, Industry, Spiritualism, Futurism

    The initial letter forms part of an illustration which, like the article itself, concerns the mechanisation of domestic chores. It shows a man enjoying the benefits of elaborate machines that perform various tasks including brushing hair, polishing shoes, and cutting food and passing it into the mouth. The author begins by praising the 'Gigantic [...] Strides of the Genius of Modern Mechanism' and then explains that after many 'experiments', he can inform the public that the trouble of its 'domestic affairs' can be reduced by mechanism. Proceeds to explain how this unspecified machine can temporarily remove 'a Mother-in-law' by putting her in a 'small room' that keeps on 'ascending and descending' for three hours. After a short poem detailing the tasks that can be performed by machinery, explains how it will perform the work of 'Those necessary nuisances, known as servants', without the danger of 'impudence' or 'broken glass'. Proceeds to explain how the daily routine can be improved by the machine, which has no 'Davenport humbug' (a reference to the mediums William H H Davenport and Ira E Davenport). Puffs the 'Hydraulic Teapot' and, in a short poem, explains the workings of the 'Egg-eating' machine. Concludes by boasting that Charles Babbage's 'Calculator is a mere mechanical infant to our gradually matured inventions' and anticipates that after 'thinking of machinery we shall at last arrive at thinking by machinery, and Man himself shall be, as presented in this initial etching, a mere machine'.

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