Punch,  54 (1868), 16.

Our Combustibles of Common Life



Poetry, Drollery


Chemistry, Military Technology, Organic Chemistry, Politics

    Containing a description of modern explosives, this poem begins by noting how in the days 'Before Chemistry has started' there was no louder or more damaging explosive than gunpowder. Proceeds to 'Modern chemic science' and details the new explosives including 'the fulminates / Of mercury, and silver', the highly unstable 'chloride of ammonium, / To be named with small encomium', nitroglycerine and gun-cotton, 'all sorts of matches, / To be fired by rubs and scratches', and the volatile hydrocarbons that 'blow all to shatters'. Concludes by considering the consequences of the Romans and Athenians being armed with such weapons.

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