“All sensible people are selfish, and nature is tugging at every contract to make the terms of it fair.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
Imagine if you will, that the year is 1887 and you are standing alongside the River Thames in Victorian London. In those days London was very different from today. The Thames was busy both with cargo and military ships—England was, after all, a major commercial power. The environment is pretty much as portrayed in films about the Dickens era, the atmosphere a stew of fog and low-hanging coal smoke. From where you stand at the edge of a pier, you can hear the clanking and banging of the cranes. Dock workers are shouting out in Cockney English. Barrels of wine, lengths of timber, sacks of coffee beans, and iron girders are all being downloaded from arriving ships. You can hear the clop-clop-clop of horses' hooves as they drag away the delivery wagons. Let your imagination run wild enough, and perhaps you'll catch a glimpse, through the dense smog, of Mary Poppins flying past, borne on the breeze by her little umbrella.
But now let's focus on a steamship making her way up the river. She is called The Moorcock, and she is heavily laden with cargo. The steamship has a very specific destination—a certain wharf where, ...