How surprised Henry Ellison who was born in 1811 would be by today’s world; machinery in Ellison’s time would have been power driven by steam and by electricity. People had observed aspects of electricity such as lightning, and experienced it from electric fish; they had observed static electricity raising hair for example; it was the English scientist William Gilbert who invented the words electric and electricity after he had studied the effects of rubbing amber to create an attraction to other small objects. I never realised that the word ‘electric ‘ is derived from the Greek word for amber – if it ever comes up in the pub quiz I bet not many people will know that!

Here is Ellison’s poem:

 

On the Effects of Machinery

Were all these means and rich appliances
Meant merely to enable Man to make
More money, not for the diviner sake
Of his immortal Being, that, through these,
It might enlarge with spiritual increase!
Then could I wish that ye might ever wake
And watch, and Mammon’s wages only take,
And make but gold, who for it mar your peace–
These things were meant to give Man’s soul more time
To look about it, and unto the heights
Of spiritual Being oftener climb–
To bring with the reach of all delights
Confined yet to the few, and give sublime
Direction to the Spirit’s daily flight!

 

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