JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
The "coming event" here, as depicted in a satirical bent-future speculative cartoon by the ever-present Linley Sambourne (1844-1910) in the journal Punch in 1878, is electricity. The shadows cast by its own approach are many, and though we don't have a pre-historic campfire, we do see candles, and a gaslight, and oil lamps, and plain matches, all sadly scurrying their paths away from the sharp War of the Worlds legs of electricity. An interesting bit here is that what is generally seen as the common capstone for the invention of the electric light--with the first practical incandescent light bulb--was achieved by Thomas Edison about a year after this graphic was published. There are numerous inventions of different sorts of electric lights prior to that which Sambourne is no doubt referencing, and he certainly knew enough of his recent history of technology to guarantee that his vision of the importance and standard of electricity for the future was absolutely correct.
Source for the idiom in the title:
Lochiel, Lochiel! beware of the day;
For, dark and despairing, my sight I may seal,
But man cannot cover what God will reveal.
‘Tis the sunset of life gives my mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before.
I tell thee Culloden’s dread echoes shall ring
For the bloodhounds that bark for thy fugitive king.
--Thomas Campbell, (d. 1844) Loichiel’s Warning, (1802). .