Punch,  50 (1866), 183.

Posterity and Coal

Carpe Diem


Letter, Spoof


Political Economy, Industry, Nationalism, Commerce, Energy, Force, Economic Geology, Politics

    Begins by explaining how 'Professor Porson' (a reference to Richard Porson) prompted him to reflect on John S Mill's recent parliamentary speech (an extract of which was discussed in PU1/50/17/2). Notes, following William S Jevons, as quoted by Mill, that coal supplies will diminish, with the result that steam, and with it English manufacturing industry and 'wealth and greatness', will be transferred to 'lands still abounding in coal'. Adds that Mill also insisted that 'we owe posterity a debt which we contracted with priority' and that 'we ought to set to work at reducing the National Debt for posterity'. Argues that 'we should insure the gratitude of posterity if we could provide it with coal, more effectually than we could by reducing the National Debt', but suggests that importing a 'stock of coal' from 'our American possessions' would not solve this because 'the foundation of magazines of force for posterity [...] would necessitate the expenditure of a corresponding amount of force, which we are unable to create'. Although accepting the 'impossibility of the creation of force', suggests that the 'nature of things' might 'prove equal to the occasion' and 'afford posterity some substitute for coal'.

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