Punch,  50 (1866), 220.

Bait for the Iron Horse





Industry, Progress, Political Economy, Energy, Commerce, Nationalism, Economic Geology, Animal Development, Nutrition, Government

    Responding to John S Mill's recent parliamentary speech on the link between Britain's declining coal resources and waning industrial productivity, this poem begins by emphasising the need for 'The Iron Horse', an allegorical figure of industry, to 'graze' on coal, a resource that abounds beneath the earth. Warns that 'if we continue to consume' 'at our present pace' then the horse will be 'starved'. Emphasises the dependence of 'England's wealth, of England's might' and town lighting on coal, and criticises the fact that England sells coal abroad. Explains how the 'Prodigal' whose 'candle burnt, / At once at either end' shows how to 'expend' fuel but not to preserve prosperity. Asks Mill how much longer industrial technologies have to run with 'tons and tons' of coal being burnt each year. Faced with the prospect that the 'fire in the grate' may soon die out urges readers: 'Economise your coal!'.

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