We all just stumbled around in ignorance, I suppose.
An essay I read included a reference to Laurence Oliphant, which pinged some neurons though I couldn’t remember why. Rather than wrack my brain or forget about it, I googled him and there, at the bottom of the page, was the reminder that Oliphant is a character in The Difference Engine. Of course.
(Side note, which I intend to expand/expound upon, but may not because I am lazy: re-reading The Difference Engine after having my hands on material from that period, was weird and fun. I knew those addresses! And I wondered where some of the personalities were hiding.)