• Ted Underwood


“The source of all labour is the sun,” Chambers’s Journal informed its readers in 1866. “All the labour done under the sun is really done by it.” The glide from “done under” to “done by” concisely dramatizes the appeal of this claim, which was by the 1860s a commonplace of British journalism. The light revealing the world and the labor shaping it are two aspects of a single protean power. The sun, as the source of that power, binds the natural order to the order of economic production—at once personifying natural force as a worker, and elevating work to an ontological principle. In the words of the scientific lecturer John Tyndall: “every mechanical action on the earth s surface, every manifestation of power, organic and inorganic, vital and physical, is produced by the sun. … He builds the forest and hews it down, the power which raised the tree, and which wields the axe, being one and the same.”1


Eighteenth Century Natural Force Natural Philosopher Natural Power Middle Rank 
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© Ted Underwood 2005

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