Coal the Greater Land Distributions the United States

energy, britain, food, world, carried, little, vessels, london, discovery and million

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Even this small trade was done only because of the other exception to the general rule that all energy used was that to be obtained from the bodies of single men or animals. Small, clumsy vessels were carried over the ocean by means of wind pushing their sails. Wind or water power on a small scale on land for grinding corn, wind power on a small scale on sea for propelling vessels were the only powers that man could control. There were no roads, as we understand roads, after those of the Romans fell into decay, and few tracks. Such local traffic as did exist was carried on for the most part on rivers, since it is easier to propel a boat on water than to drag a cart on land. Such towns as deserved the name had to do with government, or with the slight commerce that was carried on. Normally there was in any given political area one city and one city only, the capital, the seat of government, where the organizations were perfected which with greater or less success pro tected the land, and allowed agricultural and pastoral pursuits and occupations to be carried on without interference. A few ports existed, because it paid to construct some kind of harbour accommodation where a number of vessels might come, but for the rest there were only small villages, which grew neither less nor greater. Liverpool itself remained for many centuries with a population not varying much from 700 persons, and this is an index of the whole set of conditions. They remained year in and year out, century in and century out, with very little change. Through all the centuries men were born and died in a world which was entirely dependent on agriculture and pastoral pursuits, a world in which the physically strong man counted for a great deal, because by the strength of his muscles he could do more than could be done not only by anyone else but by any other means.

Then into this world of agriculture and pasture and little market towns with a few ports and governmental cities there came, a little more than a century ago, the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Coal, which up till then had been used here and there merely for domestic purposes, came to be used to drive machines which would do far more work than the individual man or animal, or even a number of men or animals could do. Man harnessed energy outside himself to do the things which before then he had to do himself with his own hands. Here was a tremendous new store of energy, not food energy at all, by which things could be done which could not be done before. Man has been able to use energy on a far vaster scale. The materials for his food and clothing are brought from the ends of the earth—not the luxuries merely, like spices and tea but what forms the great bulk of his meals and dress. Only one-fifth of the wheat we use is grown in Britain. The vegetables a man eats are no longer grown in the field near his home. Fruits our grandfathers never heard of come from other lands. The materials for clothing are no longer produced hard by, but are brought in bulk from continents overseas. A man's clothing is prepared for him to the last stitch, so that there is very little clothes-making in the home. His food is to a very great extent made ready for his table, with the result that even in his home there is far less preparation of it, and in great cities food preparation on a large scale is such an industry that he may at almost any hour of the day or night obtain such a meal as suits his pocket or his palate.

These entirely new conditions of production and commerce have very greatly changed the whole aspect of social and political life, and will change it still further.

By the discovery thus made Great Britain at once profited. It was natural that the discovery should be made in Britain. Newcastle coal—sea coal—had long been used for purely domestic purposes ; there is evidence of its having been brought to London as early as the thirteenth century. Of all the coalfields in the world none are nearer the sea, and nowhere else could coal be shipped in small vessels at so little expense. It came to be used in lime-burning, in smith's forges, in smelting copper and lead, in making pottery, in drying malt, but purely for its direct heating effect. The first apparently trivial steps by which the discovery was made were neither so likely to have been made elsewhere nor so likely to have led to great results, for where the first discoveries were made, there it was more probable that men should make also the later.

By the employment of coal to generate steam, things were moved that it was not possible to move before, and things were moved at rates never before dreamed of. From the long struggle for sea-power which ended with the defeat of Napoleon, Britain emerged able and willing to profit by the enormously increased ability to control energy thus made possible, while other European states, with organizations of all kinds dis turbed, were not yet able to reap the advantages of the discovery. The importance of Britain, as the land where enormous energy was controlled, greatly increased. London, the centre to which all roads converged, was the place to which all railways were made to converge. As a result partly of her acknowledged position, a legacy from past history, partly from a new power won by the control of vast energy, London, the commercial capital of Britain, strengthened her position still further as the banking centre of the world. An advance was made whereby the organization of commerce in articles carried easily over land and sea by the new methods was made far more easy, and energy saved by every state that used the banking facilities in London, but by Britain most of all.

It has been calculated that the coal used in our factories alone, all other uses whatsoever being excluded, gives the equivalent of the energy of 175,000,000 hard working men, and in such a useful form as men could never supply. The power of Greece, whereby she achieved such great things in all directions of human progress, was largely based in the first instance on the work done by the servile class. On the average each Greek freeman, each Greek family, had five helots whom we think of not at all when we speak of the Greeks, and yet these were the men who supplied a great part of the Greek energy. In Britain, we may say, every family has more than twenty helots to supply energy, requiring no food and feeling nothing of the wear and tear and hopelessness of a servile life. With a population of 45 million men, women and children, Britain's factories are worked by 175 million man-power. Her railways and steamships use 90 million man-power more. In com parison with the energy supplied to machines in which things are made to move by purely mechanical means, the physical energy supplied by the fewer than 20 million men and women scarcely counts. We have become a nation of engineers, pressing buttons and pulling levers, oiling and packing, so that the great social machine will work smoothly and as easily as possible. The inanimate helots grind our corn, make our clothes, fetch our food from the ends of the earth, carry us hither and thither to work and play, print our news and our books of wisdom, and perform numberless services of which the Greeks never dreamed.

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