Punch,  59 (1870), 14.

The Clod and the Cable



Poetry, Drollery


Agriculture, Telegraphy, Imperialism, Progress, Education, Comparative Philology, Superstition, Magic, Chemistry, Scientific Practitioners, Electricity, Meteorology, Technology

    Describes a conversation between an 'agriculturist' and an 'instructor'. From PU1/59/2/5, the latter proves to be a female personification of science, holding a scroll announcing telegraphic communication between Britain and India. This refers to the recently completed Falmouth, Gibraltar, and Malta Telegraph, which provides the final link in the telegraphic cable between London and Bombay. The agriculturist begins by expressing his wonder at the speed of railways but notes that 'Ziunce still faster is stridun' owing to the speed of telegraphic transmission. He also notes that 'Electrical communicashun / Around all this globe now extends' and that conversations with 'friends' in Botany Bay will be 'As quick, purty nigh, as we'm able / Wi' voice droo a mouth-pipe to shout'. He recounts that, in his youth, 'people was used to be frightened' by thunder and lightning, but 'now we hears' it is 'but a gurt spark and loud snap'. Believes that the ability to use lightning for sending news is a wonder that outclasses those produced by the 'Magishuns' of ancient Egypt to impress the pharaohs. Concludes by comparing 'Ziunce' to 'Zorcery', since neither wizards nor chemists can 'alter the weather', and affirms his faith in St Swithun rather than science for bringing rain. The instructor agrees that rain 'Is not under human command' but points out that it is in a 'husbandman's power' to construct 'tanks' for irrigating his land.

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