Punch, 56 (1869), 143.
Mother England on the Torpedo
Military Technology, Invention, War, Electricity, Electrochemistry, Zoology, Cultural Geography, Nationalism
Written from the perspective of the slightly illiterate Mother England. Begins by complaining about how 'little good in these times one can often mention', but praises the torpedo as a 'capital invention', noting how it is 'to serve our arbours for protection'. Notes that the invention, like a flatfish, uses electricity to produce thunderous results, the torpedo destroying ships by the fusion of a 'galvanic spark [...] With nitrio-glycerine, gun-cotton, powder'. Considers the torpedo to be the best way to 'deal with all detestable invaders' and compares the use of the invention to that of boys who attack 'wopses' nests with fireworks'. Regards the torpedo as a much more effective weapon than the 'Saint Chassy Pot' (the Chassepot rifle), and proceeds to urge that foreign naval powers be destroyed by several means, including poisoning, burning, and sinking. Hopes that the torpedo will cause the 'end of war and battle' and enable life 'in peace and out of danger', but ends by warning 'all you foreigners' that those who 'dares to lay a finger on this peaceful nation' will meet with 'Wrack, ruin, olesale, sweepin, hinstantaneous death, annihilation' thanks to the torpedo.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005-07
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