Quote of the Week

I was reading How the Scots Invented the Modern World
The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It by Arthur Herman and came across the quote below.

But first, a smidgen of history for context.

The author is talking about the system of roads and canals the Scots created, and the work of William Telford on the Ellesmere Canal.

“However with Ellesmere Telford surpassed the work of all his predecessors. At two crucial points in the canal he built massive aqueducts on a scale and size not seen since Roman times. The second, Pontcysyllte (which simply means ‘great crossing’), rose 127 feet above the Dee River, on a one-hundred-foot raised bank, with an iron trough carrying boats and barges along a nearly quarter mile span. Two hundred years later it is still there and still in use, its meticulously made metal joints as perfect and trouble-free as the day they were laid.

(emphasis mine.)

the author continues:

“Pontcysyllte revealled Telford as something new in the emerging industrial world: a visionary, an artist in cast iron and stone who grasped the potentially titanic scale and power of the new technologies. Telford humbly saw himself as the servent of progress and capitalism. ‘I admire commercial enterprise,’ he wrote, ‘it is the vigorous outgrowth of our industrial life. I admire everything that gives it free scope, as wherever it goes, activity, energy, intelligence — all that we call civilization — goes with it.’

“But money was not everything, either for civilization or for Telford. ‘I hold that the aim and end of all ought not to be a mere bag of money, but something far higher and better’ — perhaps even through his bridges and canals, a kind of immortality.”

(p. 323)

Immortality through one’s art. There’s a big thought for today.

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