Punch,  51 (1866), 2.

Our Coal and Our Country

Optimist, Hinnom Place, Bethnal Green


Letter, Spoof


Government, Economic Geology, Energy, Commerce, Nationalism, Environmentalism, Futurism, Electricity, Architecture, Pollution

    Begins by noting how 'provident and philosophical alarmists' have urged 'the Legislature' to consider England's dwindling coal measures, but then concentrates on the future of the nation's 'superficies'. Argues that with the present growth of factories and population, the 'face' of the earth, as well as its 'bowels' will be 'used up'. Anticipates that the surface of England will become a 'hotbed studded with aggregations of bricks and mortar' and spoiled by factory smoke, and that the 'country may be completely spoiled long ere the coal that sustained its progress is nearly gone'. However, the author expresses his confidence in the discovery of solutions to these problems: he anticipates the discovery of a cheap way of storing atmospheric electricity and the adoption of a system of 'vertical elevation instead of lateral extension' in buildings. The higher these buildings rise, he concludes, 'the less will Posterity be troubled with any amount of smoke which it may be unable to consume'.

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