The (Victorian) Experts Have Spoken

Part of plotting the Past Lives series was figuring out which steampunk inventions the Order created and used.  Fortunately I came up with a specific use for goggles first!

Can’t do steampunk without goggles

I tend to be skeptical of new technology, so it was hard to put myself in the place of Cassandra Masters’s uncle Harry Fullbright.  Harry, a very forward-thinking Victorian, has a home in Belgrave Square that’s filled with blueprints, inventions, and prototypes.  Writing about Harry made me wonder how the breakthrough inventions of the Victorian Era were viewed.  Here’s some of what I found:

  • “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.  The device is inherently of no value to us.” — Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  • “Drill for oil?  You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil?  You’re crazy.”  — Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
  •  “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” — Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.
  • “The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.” — Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinare to Queen Victoria, 1873.
  •  “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” — William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, 1899.
  • “Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.” — Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison’s light bulb, 1880.
  • “Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” — Dr. Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College, London
  • “Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time.  Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison. American inventer, 1889 

In the course of compiling these quotes, I discovered a rather well-known story about Queen Victoria refusing to believe in lesbians (“Such creatures do not exist”) is a complete fabrication.  Many of my older reference books list it as fact.  But click herefor the real scoop.

One thought on “The (Victorian) Experts Have Spoken

  1. Your reference says: “Some historians suggest that the male establishment avoided legislating on lesbianism, for fear of drawing women’s attention to its existence.” That sounds feasible, as the modern Right Wing seems to still operate under this assumption. Just look at the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

    The goggle picture is priceless!

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