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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/416

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the company, anxious to invest in what they believed would suddenly enrich them. Indeed, all England seemed to go mad, and the craze of the time is reflected in the writings of Pope and Swift. Pope says:

"At length corruption like a general flood
Did deluge all; and avarice creeping on,
Spread like a low-born mist, and hid the sun.
Statesmen and patriots plied alike the stocks,
Peeress and butler shared alike the box;
And judges jobbed, and bishops bit the town.
And mighty dukes packed cards for half a crown;
Britain was sunk in lucre's sordid charms."

The rise of the great bubble was accompanied by the formation of hundreds of minor ones. Among these we will mention a few which are pertinent to the subject of this paper:

A wheel for perpetual motion. Capital, one million pounds.

For extracting silver from lead.

For the transmutation of quicksilver into a malleable fine metal.

Puckles Machine Company, for discharging round and square cannon balls and bullets, and making a total revolution in "the art of war."

For carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, "but nobody to know what it is."

It is estimated that the proposed capital for floating these and similar schemes was three hundred million pounds. We find, in the annals of the time, that the Duchess of Marlborough persuaded her husband, John Churchill, the great general, not to increase his holdings, and to sell his shares; he, like a sensible man, took a sensible woman's advice and made one hundred thousand pounds. When we come to speak of the connection of women with modern delusions, we must remember this act of one of their sex.

At this time, nearly two hundred years after the singular outbreak of chimerical projects of Queen Anne's reign, we can match some of these bubbles almost exactly; for have we not had the Keeley motor, the extraction of gold from salt water, and is there not great activity in making the wonder of the public over some advance in science a source of money-making? The unscientific person is certainly open to a new danger in the increasing tendency to promote enterprises based upon some new scientific discovery, and it behooves the followers of science to suggest a remedy for this growing evil. I shall endeavor to do my part in this paper in pointing out the necessity of some oracular medium—a scientific oracle of Delphos—to which the common man can repair and get trustworthy information, for it is a melancholy fact that such infor-