Discoveries and Inventions of the Nineteenth Century

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Routledge, Robert. Discoveries and Inventions of the Nineteenth Century. 1876. London: Forgotten Books, 2017.[1]

In ch. 3, "Science and Wars-to-Come, 1880-1914," in Voices Prophesying War, I. F. Clarke labels Routledge's book as "a plain history of science" — with a significant discussion of weapons that provides context for the many works on future-war produced in the UK and Western Europe in the run-up to World War I. Routledge acknowledges how "the wise and good" look forward a time of perpetual peace (with an allusion to Isaiah 2.4 and Micah 4.3),[2] but until then

[...] we may consider that the more costly and ingenious and complicated the implements of war become, the more certain will be the extension and the permanence of civilization. The great cost of such appliances [...], the [p. 72] ingenuity needed for their contrivance, the elaborate machinery required for their production, and the skill implied in their use, are such that these weapons can never be the arms of other than wealthy and intelligent nations. We know that in ancient times opulent and civilized communities could hardly defend themselves against poor and barbarous races.... In our day it is the poor and barbarous tribes who are everywhere at the mercy of the wealthy and cultivated nations. [...] Englishmen have good reason to be proud of the position taken by their country, and may feel assured that her armaments will enable her to hold her own among the most advanced nations of the world. (Routledge, 1876, p. 115, quoted Clarke pp. 72-73)

Clarke comments here that "This compound of complacency, ignorance, and innocence was the primary condition for the great growth of war fiction during the last quarter of the nineteenth century," for a notable example, in such works as The Nation in Arms. The compilers will add that various "poor and barbarous races" might have different views of the attitude summed up by Hilaire Belloc with, "'“Whatever happens we have got / The Maxim Gun, and they have not'" (The Modern Traveller 1898)[3] and will call attention to the ending date for Clarke's chapter in 1914, the start of World War I, with its deaths, by the lowest estimates, of some 15 million people,[4] as might have been at least vaguely anticipated by the casualties of the American Civil War of 1861-65.[5]

RDE, finishing, 13Dec20