— Albert, Prince Consort husband of Queen Victoria 1819 - 1861
Inaugural Address of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, London (1851).
Context: Nobody who has paid any attention to the peculiar features of our present era will doubt for a moment that we are living at a period of most wonderful transition which tends rapidly to the accomplishment that great end to which, indeed, all history points—the realization of the unity of mankind.... The distances which separated the different nations and parts of the globe are rapidly vanishing before the achievements of modern invention, and we can traverse them with incredible ease; the languages of all nations are known, and their acquirement placed within the reach of everybody; thought is communicated with the rapidity and even by the power of lightning... The knowledge acquired becomes at once the property of all of the community at large... no sooner is a discovery or invention made, than it is already improved upon and surpassed by competing efforts: the products of all quarters of the globe are placed at our disposal, and we have only to choose which is the best and the cheapest for our purposes, and the powers of production are entrusted to the stimulus of competition and capital.... Science discovers these laws of power, motion and transformation; industry applies them to raw matter which the earth yields us in abundance, but which becomes valuable only by knowledge.