Claims that the 'achievements of modern industry' and science have 'realized, and more than realized' many of the dreams of early fairy tales, and seem to 'cast on them almost a prophetic lustre'. The tale of Aladdin's ring with which he communicates with the distant genii, for instance, provides 'sincere anticipations' and catches 'the dim outline of the future time' when messages are conveyed by 'the electric telegraph'. (36) In the ceaseless circle of transmutations which force undergoes, science reveals 'a fairy world in which unknown existences lurk under familiar shapes, and every object seems ready, at the shaking of a wand, to take on the strangest transformations' (38). As the 'great discoverers' and 'leaders in science' such as Michael FaradayFaraday, Michael
DSB CloseView the register entry >> and Richard OwenOwen, Richard
DSB CloseView the register entry >> all recognize, however, this fairy world consists merely of '"phenomena" [...] a learned word for "appearances"', and the 'true reality of nature remains beyond' even the 'instructed sight' of the scientific observer (39). The recognition of a mysterious 'hidden essence in all things', which is part of an all-pervading unity, 'surrounds science in our day, in spite of the stringent severity of its attitude towards facts, with an unquenchable halo of poetry' (40–41). Suggests that the 'perfect Order' in nature, for which 'we must look deeper than to our sensuous experience', is best apprehended in a passage from Percy B Shelley'sShelley, Percy Bysshe
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> poem Alastor; or The Spirit of SolitudeShelley, Percy
Bysshe 1816. Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude and Other
Poems, London: Baldwin, Cradock and Joy
CloseView the register entry >> (42).
Reflecting on his lack of wealth and failure to attract an eligible partner, the narrator wonders 'at the great law of natural equality which seems to level all mankind to one standard, notwithstanding all those artificial ones which we ourselves have raised' (46). He also describes Esther Olliver's father as 'a little shrivelled-up old gentleman, with a machine inside to keep him going' (44).
Mechanics, Artisans, Education, Reading, Class, Status
Correcting the images of 'working men [...] embodying profound observations in studiously bad grammar' found in the novels of Charles J H DickensDickens, Charles John Huffam
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, Charles KingsleyKingsley, Charles
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> and Elizabeth C GaskellGaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, Stephen suggests that 'Any one who is accustomed to watch the way in which real mechanics and labourers talk, speak, and argue, and to observe the tone of the books and newspapers which they really like to read, will see there is more difference, and a more durable difference, between minds which have and have not been formed by a liberal education than between the bodies of a sedentary invalid and a trained invalid' (78). The 'real intelligent mechanic is not an uncouth Titan, struggling against Etnas which society has piled up against him', merely 'a sturdy, ingenious, sensitive man, with a little knowledge and narrow and slightly made opinions' (78–79).
After extolling the illicit pleasures of the theatre, the author describes how, during his youth, a censorious schoolmaster friend who 'objected to theatres upon principle [...] saw no harm in going to a play-house during Passion-week to hear an astronomical lecture, illustrated by an Orrery. That was what he called amusement and instruction combined'. Reflects, however, on the 'effect which such a lecture has upon a cheerful, brilliant building', with 'the silent stage, half filled with a few tables, and the lecturer's apparatus [...] like a deserted shop'. The audience for the lecture was made up of 'country people, who probably thought they were seeing an ordinary play, or persons who came to perform a solemn duty by learning something about the "solar system". If their faces were any guide to their feelings, they looked bewildered and unhappy, with the exception of one individual, who seemed to despise the wonders of the universe'. The author soon recognized the lecturer, who 'with a jaunty air [...] patronize[d], without clearly explaining, the Infinite', as the 'broken-down manager' of an 'insolvent theatre' (probably a reference to George BartleyBartley, George
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>). Indeed, his 'style of playing with the Orrery—an apparatus, by the way, which was most creaking and unmanageable' was 'like that of a juggler handling the cups and balls'. The lecture came to a premature end when a drunken and 'discontented mariner, who had drifted into this unhappy port in search of amusement' began shouting, 'when's the broad-sword combat goin' to begin?', and loudly demanded his money back. (89)
Remarks that friends who have died 'loving you, love you still; and you love them always. They are not really gone, those dear hearts and true; they are only gone into the next room: and you will presently get up and follow them, and yonder door will close upon you, and you will be no more seen' (126). Also eulogises the recently deceased Prince AlbertAlbert [Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha],
prince consort, consort of Queen Victoria
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> as a 'Wise, just, moderate [...] friend of science' (128).
Machinery, Steam-power, Medical Practitioners, Medical Treatment, Invention, Quackery, Commerce
After commenting that if everyone who had ever written 'nonsensical' love letters 'would order a copy of this month's Cornhill from the publishers, what reams, and piles, and pyramids of paper our ink would have to blacken!', the narrator reflects, 'Not Hoe'sHoe, Richard Marsh
CBD CloseView the register entry >> engines, gigantic as they are, would be able to turn out Magazines enough for the supply of those gentle readers!' (136). Dr Brand Firmin reports that he was 'sure to prosper in his newly adopted country. He and another physician had invented a new medicine, which was to effect wonders, and in a few years would assuredly make the fortune of both of them'. Philip Firmin, however, muses that his physician father 'was never without one scheme or another for making that fortune which never came'. (144)
Begins by asserting that 'there is hardly anything in the whole range of science better ascertained, or more simple' than the 'fundamental principles' of nervous activity (153). The nervous system resembles 'an elaborate telegraphic system' (156) in which 'the living telegraph flashes along its wires not only messages, but the force also which ensures their fulfilment' (160). It is from the brain and spinal cord that these fibrous wires emanate. However, even though 'the grey matter of the brain' is 'the laboratory of reason; the birthplace of thought; the home of genius and imagination; the palace of the soul', it is in fact 'a structure of the very lowest form. Mere cells and granules—Nature's first and roughest work' (158). Draws attention to recent considerations of the 'reflex function' of the nervous system by which 'actions having all the appearance of design may be produced' even though they are accompanied by 'no feeling and no will' (160). The reflex function suggests that 'we live an automatic life, in which various actions are carried on merely by virtue of the mechanical powers in the organs, and the arrangement of the nerves and cells within the spinal cord'. While this may be the case with the lowest animals, 'Man is the least automatic of all animals, through the greater preponderance of his conscious part, which uses the automatic organs as its ever ready instrument'. Indeed, this machinery of 'automatic action' is only 'the superstructure of our conscious, our human, life' and is ruled by 'the dictates of consciousness and will'. (163) The 'unconscious operation of nervous power' which controls functions such as respiration allows the human mind to be 'emancipated, and placed in its fit relations; devoted to other interests and burdened with nobler cares' (164). Concludes that a 'sort of constitutional monarchy exists within us' in which 'the brain is King', although 'no power in this small state is absolute' and the maintenance of 'the "constitution" of our personal realm' depends upon each of the different powers and organs being 'lawfully directed to a common end' (166).
Describes the 'pisicultural laboratory' (197) established at Huningue in Alsace by the French government 'for carrying on a new and curious species of industry [...] namely, the breeding of fish by artificial means'. The 'great laboratory' follows the 'new method of fish-breeding' developed in the 1840s by the 'peasant fisherman' Joseph RémyRémy, Joseph
WBI CloseView the register entry >>. (195) Insists, however, that while 'to the French nation belongs the merit of making a commercial use of the discovery', 'the far higher honour of the successful application of pisiculture to the requirements of science must be awarded to the hard-headed sons of Scotland', who used the 'artificial method' of breeding to settle the long standing 'parr controversy' (196). Observes that 'In addition to serving as a commercial depôt, the naturalist has rare facilities at Huningue to study the development of the fish', and in following 'the progress of the egg' may test the observations of Louis AgassizAgassiz, Louis (Jean Louis Rodolphe)
DSB CloseView the register entry >> concerning the growth of the embryos of various fish (198).
Mental Illness, Nomenclature, Physiological Psychology, Superstition, Spiritualism, Medical Practitioners
Discussing a recent case before the Lunacy CommissionLunacy Commission
CloseView the register entry >>, Stephen argues that the legal rights of 'suspected lunatics' should not be placed 'at the mercy of a set of mad doctors' with 'each man standing up for his own theory' or else imprisoning 'every one who was extravagant and vicious' (229). He insists that 'madness cannot be defined' in such hard and fast terms (221), and suggests that questions such as the criminal responsibility of the mad should be dealt with by 'an unprofessional tribunal of some sort', which, working under 'the disadvantages which the imperfect state of science at present imposes', should generally give suspected lunatics 'the benefit of a doubt' (229). Madness is not simply a matter of 'singularity' or deviation from common perceptions. For instance, someone who is 'prey to wretched superstitions, like the fetish worshippers in Africa, or the believers in rapping spirits in our own country' is not mad, because they proceed upon the same 'general principles of thought' as the rest of the population, although they 'apply them in totally different ways'. Rather, as the 'operations of the mind are at present known to us exclusively through bodily functions' (223), madness is best understood as 'an insensibility to the general principles of human nature' (things such as the universal dislike of pain) that is 'caused by a bodily disease' (225–26). The precise nature of this somatic disease is at present unknown, although it could be an 'obscure inflammation of the brain' (229), or even 'some morbid condition of the spinal marrow' (230). Concludes that the problem of defining insanity is 'one which the growth of science will certainly diminish and possibly will ultimately remove' if 'the specific nature of madness should be discovered, and symptoms should be detected affording an infallible test of its existence' (230).
In a letter from New York, Dr Brand Firmin informs his son, 'I am engaged in pursuing a scientific discovery here (it is medical, and connected with my profession), of which the results ought to lead to Fortune, unless the jade has for ever deserted George Brand Firmin' (267).
Recounts how, 'I had been dreaming over Mrs. Blackburn'sBlackburn, Jemima
DNBS CloseView the register entry >>BirdsBlackburn, Mrs
Hugh 1862. Birds Drawn from Nature, Edinburgh: Edmonston
CloseView the register entry >>. Do you know her book? Well, if you do not, get MudieMudie's Circulating Library
CloseView the register entry >> to send it to you, or, better still, buy a copy for your children, and yourself. [...] Scarcely ever before have our feathered relatives (for we are all somehow connected, of course—birds and beasts) found such an interpreter [...] the Queen of the Birds—the bright-eyed, purple-vested, golden eagle—ought forthwith to decorate her portrait-painter in ordinary'. (282) These 'queer, grotesque, uncanny-looking' illustrations of several species of birds inspire the author to unpack his 'guncase', purchase 'five dozen of Eley'sEley, William
WBI CloseView the register entry >> death-dealing cartridges (green—No. 2)' and take 'a return ticket from Euston Square to St. Mungo' (283). However, once there the winter weather is so cold that he declares, 'I do not believe that the rarest duck in creation would now tempt me to wet my boots' (293), and he prefers to remain in his 'easy chair' with 'the last pages of [a] romance to finish' (292).
In reflecting on his commercial principles, George Robinson asks himself, 'Of what use is all this about adulteration? If Mrs. Jones will buy her sausages at a lower price per pound than pork fetches in the market, has she a right to complain when some curious doctor makes her understand that her viands have not been supplied exclusively from the pig? [...] If there be dishonesty in this, it is with the purchaser, not with the vendor' (309).
Resting in a 'refreshment-room' amidst 'the world of brutes assembled in the Zoological GardensZoological Society of London —Gardens
CloseView the register entry >>', the narrator notices a 'middle-aged lady of thoughtful aspect [...] perusing a thick volume, which I recognized', accompanied by 'a curly-pated urchin' who amuses himself with 'a box of toy animals' by 'knocking them together, to try which was the strongest, and then throwing the fragments away, only keeping such of the wooden effigies as were able to resist the shock' (311). After reflecting on the history of zoological gardens, and noting that the lady's 'green-covered bookDarwin, Charles
Robert 1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural
Selection; or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life,
London: John Murray
CloseView the register entry >> teaches that the world of plants and animals is a world of incessant change', he complains aloud at the 'knot of French professors and English imitators [...] presuming to take the reins out of Nature's hands, and to mould at its will the wonders of creation!' (312). At the mention of the final word, the lady reveals the 'classical Phrygian cap' beneath her bonnet, and hands the narrator a card 'inscribed with my name and official title [...] NATURAL SELECTION! ORIGINATOR OF SPECIES!'. The boy too introduces himself as 'STRUGGLE-FOR-LIFE, sir, at your service'. (313) In the form of a dialogue the two direct the astonished narrator through the evidence for 'descent' and 'genealogy' being 'the clue to the proper classification of all the living things we see around us' (317). Indeed, with the aid of 'a telescope through which you can look back in time for thousands and thousands of generations ago' (315), he views the 'enormous transmutation of habits, aspect, and organization' that have produced species such as the domestic horse. Asserting that there 'is no purpose' in nature (316), the lady assures the still bewildered narrator that 'Nature—the grand totality of organized beings—is a genealogical tree, each of whose branches has produced, produces, and will produce, different leaves and fruit', and tells him that she and the boy are 'the gardeners who train its growth' in accordance with 'relentless and inflexible' laws (317). Responding that 'what you state of the world of brutes is applicable by implication to the world of men' thereby condemning the 'milder qualities of humility, forbearance, modesty, [and] self-denial' to extinction, the narrator comments, 'the future which you promise is not cheering. Strength is to prevail throughout' (317). At this point, however, he realises that he had fallen asleep and has in fact been 'dreaming' the entire narrative. Upon leaving the refreshment-room he asks the now bonneted lady her opinion of Charles R Darwin'sDarwin, Charles Robert
DSB CloseView the register entry >> book, and she replies that it 'is conscientiously reasoned and has been patiently written. If it be not the truth, I cannot help respecting it as a sincere effort after truth'. (318)
Disputing John A Roebuck'sRoebuck, John Arthur
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> contention that 'the labouring man is "a mere brute animal"', Stephen nevertheless concedes that 'Roebuck's constituents at Sheffield [...] earn immense wages by manual labour, and spend what they earn in chronic drunkenness and low debauchery' (341–42). He observes that the 'rapid growth of our manufactures has been to several of our large towns just what the gold discoveries were to California and Australia. Society has been disorganized and disarranged, and of course individual character suffers from it' (342).
Descriptive account of the 'great northern coal-field' (343) which surrounds the 'carbonaceous metropolis' of Newcastle (344). Considers many of the industrial processes connected with the extraction of coal, and details the career of a 'mining engineer' who was 'a working man in the pits with George StephensonStephenson, George
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, although he held at that time a position superior to him' (345). The author's descriptions take on an ethnographic tone when he descends into the darkness of the mine. For instance, in order to view the real conditions endured by the 'begrimed human beings who [...] seem to belie the appellation of "white men"' (343), he adopts the 'disguise' of 'a pitman's habiliments' (347) and is guided through 'the recesses of this carbonaceous Pandemonium' (349) by an 'obliging' miner who 'knows its passages as well as we know the streets around Belgravia or Cornhill' (347). Also notes that because of the lack of space in the mine, 'men of little bodies and short legs are most at home here, hence comes that dorsal curve and bow of the legs which distinguish the hereditary pitman' (348).
Considers recent explorations of the Australian interior undertaken by Augustus C GregoryGregory, Sir Augustus Charles
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, John M StuartStuart, John McDouall
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> and Robert O BurkeBurke, Robert O'Hara
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> which have yielded new information on the physical geography and climate of the vast continent. Comments that the inhospitable countryside being 'rapidly improved' by the establishment of 'a sheep-station' is 'a subject for Darwinian speculation'. The 'grazing is said to improve the grasses, and to introduce or foster new species. The mere cropping does something; the manuring and the stamping of the sheep's feet have an effect. [...] In this fashion, causes may be reacted on by their effects, until originally trifling influences produce considerable improvement'. (356) Also notes that during a time of 'wilful ignorance of our own territory', the Victoria River on the north-west coast was 'ascended for nearly 200 miles by officers of the BeagleHMS Beagle CloseView the register entry >>' (357). Gives a long narrative of 'the greatest, and the most tragical of all Australian explorations—that of Burke', comparing it to the expedition of 'FranklinFranklin, Sir John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> during the flourishing days of polar exploration' (359). After noting the widely different diets of the explorers and the indigenous peoples they encounter, concludes that it is 'still an open question how far to the northward the Anglo-Saxon race can thrive in the peculiar climate of Australia' (364).
Reflecting on Philip Firmin's appointment as sub-editor of the European Review and the entangled nature of his fortunes, Arthur Pendennis remarks, 'in order to bring about this event [...] the Trevgarvans have to be born from the earliest times: the Plinlimmons have to spring up in the remotest ages, and come down to the present day [...] all mankind up to the origin of our race are involved [...] and we actually arrive at Adam and Eve, who are but fulfilling their destiny, which was to be the ancestors of Philip Firmin'. His wife, Laura, replies that 'If you mean to say that there is no such thing as a Superior Power watching over us, and ordaining things for our good, you are an atheist—and such a thing as an atheist does not exist in the world, and I would not believe you if you said you were one twenty times over'. Her response, however, is only a sample of 'lady-like logic'. (403)
Although the men who used to believe that, 'with microscopes and chemical analysis to aid them', the 'little bit of matter' that constitutes the brain would reveal 'the whole secret of life' were 'deluded by a false hope', their 'pursuit of the hidden secrets of the soul' has in fact 'richly cheated us into an acquaintance with the vital laws of consciousness'. This serendipitous discovery of 'fruitful fields of unsuspected worth' is often the 'method' of science: the 'philosopher's stone trapped men into chemistry; the hope of astrologic lore into the knowledge of the stars'. (409) Modern knowledge of the brain makes it 'undeniable that material actions depend on mind', that the nervous system is 'ruled and moved directly by our mind'. Indeed, this is 'the law of all matter—to be ruled and moved by mind', and although 'Of the mind that rules and uses the rest of nature we are not conscious [...] it is not therefore non-existent'. (410) After describing the structure of the brain, Hinton asserts that it is 'a double organ' and 'we have as truly two brains as we have two eyes or two hands'. This doubleness of the brain 'has given rise to some curious speculations', such as Arthur L Wigan'sWigan, Arthur Ladbrooke
WBI CloseView the register entry >> contention that 'the mind is double also'. While 'we may not accept this idea', the 'influence of our double brain' can be felt in mental states such as 'day-dreaming' and 'those strange experiences called "double consciousness"'. (415) Also considers the 'unconscious action in the brain' which Thomas LaycockLaycock, Thomas
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> has shown to be a 'constant and [...] important part of our experience' (417). Indeed, actions of the brain 'not involving any of the higher faculties, as thought or will' are a 'chief source of the power of habit, and the fatal bondage under which the victim of habitual vice is laid', and this is how 'that irresistible influence of the desire for drink, which is now recognized as nothing less than a distinct form of insanity by the best pathologists, becomes established' (419). Certain 'exaggerated' involuntary actions that 'indicate merely the reflecting of a stimulus from the hemispheres of the brain' have recently 'furnished ground for much wonderment and some imposture, and have been set forth, under the name of "electro-biology", and so on, as the basis of new sciences'. Hinton insists, however, that when 'hats or tables are endowed with abnormal energy by the laying on of hands; or when a patient, first reduced to a passive and absorbed condition, acts out the part suggested to him;—we simply have exhibited to us, isolated, and as it were dissected out, certain elements which are essential to our nature'. (420) In 'our present state of ignorance' the mind can be most 'reasonably postulated' as 'some power which operates on the nervous system from above' (421). Concludes that the brain was clearly not 'designed' for 'a world that demands incessant work and worry', and that through this physiological fact, 'our Maker vouch[es] that this world is such an one' about which we 'need not fret ourselves, and our interests in which we might hold lightly' (425).
Mining, Industry, Public Health, Gas Chemistry, Monographs, Amateurism, Force, Display, Lecturing, Experiment, Light
Complains that in 'a country containing the first scientific men of the age' the lives of thousands of miners are still taken by a 'terrible and unconquered foe—this fearful Fire-damp'. It is 'a hydro-carbon, known as light carburetted hydrogen gas [...] highly explosive [...] according to its predominance in the atmosphere', and 'Chemical books inform us of its chemical nature and relations, but we very soon exhaust the little any one can say about it'. In fact, the author notes that beyond giving details of Humphry Davy'sDavy, Sir Humphry, Baronet
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> experiments to test 'the inflammability of different proportions with a common candle [...] and mere chemical technicalities, all the books in chemistry we have seen are unsatisfactory'. This 'silence', however, does not 'much discredit the authors or compilers, since a man must necessarily have observed and studied in and around gaseous coal-pits before he can acquire any satisfactory information on so obscure a subject'. Indeed, it is the 'local observation and reflection upon ascertained facts' by mining operatives such as the 'late Mr. T. J. TaylorTaylor, Thomas John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>—(from whom we have learnt more respecting this gas than from any other man)' that has provided most scientific information about fire-damp in 'recent years'. (427). Also praises the 'ready ingenuity' of a miner who knew that by 'keeping his head near the ground he inhaled less gas' and thereby saved his life during an outburst of fire-damp (431). Notes that 'most people have seen [the atmosphere's] crushing effect exhibited by lecturers in experiments with the air-pump; such effects would require to be multiplied four and a half times in order to display the force of this gas: in philosophical phraseology, its force is that of four and a half atmospheres' (430).
Hospitals, Medical Practitioners, Medical Treatment, Class, Status, Pharmaceuticals, Surgery, Anaesthesia, Machinery, Patronage
Gives a rare glimpse of the interior of one of 'our metropolitan hospitals', the 'external aspect' of which is 'familiarly known to all who are accustomed to traverse the streets of London' (462). Describes the arrangement of the admissions ward at St Bartholomew's HospitalSt Bartholomew's Hospital
CloseView the register entry >>, noticing that 'the medical and surgical staff of the hospital [...] are men of great eminence, holding the first rank in their profession, so that the poorest man, woman, or child that seeks for help is given the benefit of the best advice in the kingdom, and [...] is enabled gratuitously to command services which many a wealthy man cannot purchase' (463). Also comments that 'the dread operation-room' was 'once the theatre of agony almost too great for the human frame to endure, but [is] now shorn of half its terrors by the blessed influence of chloroform' (472). Concludes by pressing the hospital's 'claims to consideration on the part of the wealthy and benevolent' (477).
Asserts that 'since the appearance of Dr. Abercrombie'sAbercrombie, John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>Inquiries Concerning the Intellectual PowersAbercrombie,
John 1830. Inquiries Concerning the Intellectual Powers and the
Investigation of Truth, Edinburgh: Waugh and Innes
CloseView the register entry >>, which created such a profound sensation thirty years ago', 'the science of mind, healthy and diseased, has been placed, as it were, in the field of the intellectual microscope'. Indeed, the 'careful observation of the First Beginnings of brain disease' has become 'a subject in which the public is greatly interested', and 'there is a vast amount of latent brain disease in the community, only awaiting a sufficiently exiting cause to make itself patent to the world'. (481) In some conditions of mind 'prayers are turned into curses, and the chastest into the most libidinous thoughts', although it 'does not necessarily follow that, because a man is thus haunted by another and evilly-disposed self, that he has reached the stage of lunacy, if his reason still retains the mastery'. However, the purpose of the article is to warn that even the most trivial mental aberrations may be the first beginnings of an 'impending lunacy', which, if left to 'progress unperceived', may soon become incurable (482–83). With the 'struggle for life [...] ever straining men's minds to the breaking point' it is imperative that even the slightest manifestation of mental abnormality receives immediate medical attention (483). Suggests that the 'more the fact of the physical nature of insanity is acknowledged—the more it is recognized as an ailment which can be reached by physical agents—the greater will be its chances of successful treatment' (485). The remainder of the article discusses the various 'unusual physical signs' by which the 'latent seeds of insanity very often become known to the world' (486).
Regular Feature, Editorial—Short Fiction, Drollery, Serial
After announcing that 'the Unseen Ones are round about us' (508), the mysterious Count de Pinto relates how Sir Joshua ReynoldsReynolds, Sir Joshua
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> visited him 'this very morning' (509), and then tells his incredulous companion that there 'are several spirits in the room now, whom you cannot see' (510). At this, the narrator reflects, 'Perhaps I was in a dream. Is life a dream? Are dreams facts? Is sleeping being really awake? I don't know. I tell you I am puzzled. I have read The Woman in WhiteCollins,
Wilkie 1860. The Woman in White, 3 vols, London: Sampson
CloseView the register entry >>, The Strange StoryLytton, Edward George
Lytton Bulwer 1862. A Strange Story, 2 vols, London: Sampson
CloseView the register entry >>—not to mention that story stranger than fiction in the , [Robert Bell], 'Stranger than Fiction', Cornhill Magazine, 2 (1860), 211–24—that story for which THREE credible witnesses are ready to vouch. I have read that Article in The TimesAnon. 1862b. 'A Sitting with Mr. Forster', The
Times, 13 March 1862, p. 6
CloseView the register entry >> about Mr. FosterFoster, Charles H
WBI CloseView the register entry >>. I have had messages from the dead; and not only from the dead, but from people who never existed at all. I own I am in a state of simple bewilderment' (511). When the two visit a 'bric-à-brac shop' on High Holborn that contains a guillotine (511), they witness 'with an awful distinctness—a ghost—an eidolon—a form—A HEADLESS MAN seated, with his head on his lap', although the narrator concedes that at the time he 'may have been under the influence of that astounding MEDIUM into whose hands I had fallen'. Concludes with the promise that the reader 'will be astonished still more' by the next instalment. (512)
Discovery, Medical Treatment, Anaesthesia, Patents, Quackery, Medical Practitioners, Intellectual Property, Boundary Formation, Commerce
In another letter, Dr Brand Firmin tells Mrs Brandon that in 'New York and Boston he had tried experiments which had been attended with the most astonishing success. A remedy was discovered, the mere sale of which in Europe and America must bring an immense revenue to the fortunate investors' (532). He asks her to 'show the accompanying cases to Doctor Goodenough—to any of his brother physicians in London', as he wishes to confer upon his mother country 'one of the greatest blessings with which science had endowed mankind'. Goodenough, however, 'had such a mistrust of his confrère that he chose to disbelieve any statement Firmin made', telling Brandon, 'I don't believe [...] the fellow has nous enough to light upon any scientific discovery more useful than a new sauce for cutlets'. Indeed, upon reading Firmin's 'pamphlet' he declares that although 'there is a great deal in it [...] Firmin has nothing to do with the discovery, which has been made at Boston'. In fact, Firmin 'had only been present in the Boston hospital, where the experiments were made with the new remedy', but still 'proposed to sell it as a secret remedy' called 'Firmin's Anodyne'. He had simply 'taken another man's property, and was endeavouring to make a flourish with it', and 'what Dr. Firmin chose to call his discovery' was actually 'Chloroform'. (533)
Complains about newspaper 'puffs of some ingenious Yankee who is ready to gratify the curiosity of all the lords, ladies, and eminent statesmen in London about the condition of the spirits of their deceased friends and relations, at the charge of a guinea a head' (537), and claims that if 'Mr. HomeHome, Daniel Dunglas
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> is not a mere charlatan' and that 'at the command of a well-dressed and well-mannered American, chairs and tables will skip like rams', then the 'swell-mob' (538) must logically also accept the authenticity of the 'fortune-tellers, astrologers, and reputed witches' who ply their dubious trade amongst 'the poor' (537). Advising that we 'disbelieve the assertion [...] that Mr. Home flew around the ceiling of the room' (539), Stephen uses his knowledge of jurisprudence to 'draw out into shape the arguments by which the half-instinctive judgement on the subject, usually given so emphatically, may be defended' (540). Immediately excluding stories of supernatural occurrences from 'the scientific knowledge which is the exclusive possession of a special class set apart for the purpose' (541), he asserts that such stories do not 'belong to the department of science, for no one has ever claimed to reduce them to order and system. They are mere unconnected matters of fact' (543). Considering the 'general condemnation of supernatural stories, of which the advocates of superstition are apt to complain of as an injustice', Stephen argues that 'an alleged fact may properly be considered incredible, and put on one side without examination of the particular evidence adduced in support of it, if the tacit theories on which the allegation is based are themselves opposed to those which other parts of our experience have tacitly established' (545). After all, in a court of law 'No jury would hesitate for a moment to hang a man upon a doubt whether ghosts might not have interfered with the evidence', and any number of witnesses would not be able to convince them otherwise (546).
Criticises the AdmiraltyAdmiralty
CloseView the register entry >> for not investing in 'the construction of iron-cased sea-going' ships (553), and instead 'expending our treasures upon the construction of mere coast-defence vessels, which are incapable of bearing our flag across the seas, and of vindicating our honour upon foreign shores' (550). Both France and America have built 'numerous small iron-cased vessels of various classes' while Britain has lagged behind (559). In particular, the experience of civil war has led to that 'fierce Republic' across the Atlantic 'baptizing in blood and fire novel engines of destruction with names that import warning and menace to us' (558).
Regular Feature, Editorial—Short Fiction, Drollery, Serial
Spiritualism, Supernaturalism, Mesmerism
While drinking several bottles of port-wine at the 'Gray's-inn Coffee-house' (635), the 'ill-looking rascal' the Count de Pinto tells the narrator of his love for his deceased grandmother (634). During the conversation Pinto 'pulled up his coat-sleeve' to reveal 'the very name of the kind old creature written in red on his arm' (a séance trick used by Charles H FosterFoster, Charles H
WBI CloseView the register entry >>). The dead woman then communicated with them by 'three quiet little taps on the table', and when asked if they may have another magnum of port-wine 'the table distinctly rapped "No"'. The narrator tells the reader 'this I declare UPON MY HONOUR', and states, 'I appeal to Mr. Hart, the landlord—I appeal to James, the respectful and intelligent waiter, if this statement is not true?', although he later concedes that the 'room happened to be very dark'. (637) He also tells how, when Pinto had to write him a cheque, 'I saw a hand come quivering down from the ceiling [...]. I saw that hand take a dip of ink and write across the paper'. He then asserts, 'Does anybody doubt me? I have that pen now. [...] It is in my inkstand now, I tell you. Anybody may see it'. (638) In addition, the seemingly immortal Pinto relates how, when living in revolutionary Paris, he performed 'some chemical experiments [...] with my friend Dr. MesmerMesmer, Franz Anton
DSB CloseView the register entry >>' (640).
Mental Illness, Medical Practitioners, Hospitals, Class, Medical Treatment, Anaesthesia, Professionalization
Begins by asking whether 'the respected reader', when 'you talk with [...] a madman', 'has not [...] sometimes reflected, with a grim self-humiliation, how the fellow is of our own kind; and homo est?'. Those 'outside [...] the asylum' ought to be 'thankful that we have to pay the barber for snipping our hair, and are entrusted with the choice of cut of our own jerkins'. (641) Mrs Brandon visits the chambers of Dr Goodenough after he has been 'visiting his hospital and his fifty patients, among whom [...] there were more poor than rich' (652). After once more lambasting that 'immortal scoundrel Brummell Firmin', he nevertheless tells his visitor, '"by the way, in two more cases at the hospital I have tried that——". And here the doctor went off into a professional conversation with his favourite nurse, which I could not presume to repeat to any non-medical man' (653). Having seen chloroform used by 'hospital surgeons [...] under her eye', Brandon herself later uses the 'bottle which she had received from America not long since' to anaesthetize the violent Tufton Hunt, and burns the unpaid bill with which he had threatened to bankrupt Philip Firmin (659). She afterwards recalls that 'she never should have thought about that Chloroform, but for her conversation with Dr. Goodenough, that evening, regarding a case in which she had employed the new remedy under his orders' (660).
Exhibitions, Materialism, Industry, Theology of Nature, Engineering, Military Technology, Steamships, War, Progress, Romanticism, Anti-Scientism, Morality, Christianity
Complains that the International ExhibitionInternational Exhibition (1862), London CloseView the register entry >> of 1862 represents an 'apotheosis of unrelieved materialism' in which 'the most sordid (and useful) "manufactures" [are] in the place of honour'. The visitor's 'religious, poetical, supernatural tendencies' are 'crushed by the immensity of materialism here displayed' and 'the awful preponderance of matter gifted with mere base use'. (671) By contrast, 'Heaven's work was visible' at the original Great ExhibitionGreat Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (1851)
CloseView the register entry >> in 1851, and the exhibits there 'were as much part of the natural creation as the work of man's hand'. Now, the 'court [...] devoted to marine architecture and military engineering' is full of 'some very pretty objects for contemplation', but it remains haunted by the 'reproachful ghost' of our earlier 'good intentions' for peace. Although a 'model of an "ironside"' is undoubtedly a product of 'invention and skill' (676), and 'the guns, the Whitworths and Armstrongs' are 'as great an effort of human skill, probably, as any vase that ever was fashioned', they have 'swept the seas of half their poetry, and cut all the romance, all the heart, all the inspiration, out of naval warfare'. Indeed, our 'seamen, sons of sea-kings, rulers of the waves' will find it hard to 'be heroes and stokers at the same time!—to find glory in the collision of a sort of hermetically-sealed sardine-boxes!'. (677) Similarly, the 'shirt spun by our women's own hands of old has a virtue in it which nothing from Manchester looms can pretend to; and thus it is with everything else, more or less' (679). Suggests the need for 'establishing a School of Moral Engineering' (680), and setting up a new exhibition dedicated to 'our newest improvements in Christianity, our latest discoveries in the science of holy living and dying' (681).
Tells the 'story of the Alcohol controversy' for 'the benefit of readers quite unaccustomed to physiological terms', and endeavours to 'show at what amount of scientific demonstration we have really arrived' regarding the characteristics of alcohol. The 'great chemist and physiologist' Justus von LiebigLiebig, Justus von
DSB CloseView the register entry >> and the 'famous English physician' Robert B ToddTodd, Robert Bentley
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> both 'reckoned alcohol as a heat-producing food' with beneficial properties for the 'treatment of acute diseases—such as inflammations and fevers'. (707–08) More recently, however, chemists have expressed 'great revulsion' for the view that alcohol is a food, and 'teetotallers' have become 'radiant with triumph' at the suggestion that it is instead 'nothing more nor less than a poison'. Reports that the 'spectacle is not very edifying to the general public, who are puzzled at these rapid changes of medical belief; more especially as one of the most eminent surgeons of the day—Professor MillerMiller, James
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, of Edinburgh—has completely espoused the new doctrines'. Warns against 'casting away the traditions of the greatest teacher of clinical medicine, and one of the most philosophical physicians of the present century' [i.e. Liebig and Todd] (709), and insists that 'our teetotal friends', who are 'very fond of throwing hard words at the "slavish habit", as they call it, of moderate drinking' (711), fail to recognize the 'essential distinction between the effects of small and large doses' of alcohol on the nervous system (716).
Compares those 'dreadfully scientific' naturalists who when 'they see a creature new to them [...] are seized with a burning desire to cut it up, to analyze it, to get it under the microscope, to publish a learned work about it, which no one can read without an expensive Greek lexicon', and who 'stake their reputation on the number of tubercles in a second molar tooth, and [...] quarrel with each other about a notch on the basisphenoid bone', with the more homely '"field naturalists", who delight in penetrating to the homes and haunts of the creatures which they love'. While the latter class of naturalists are generally 'put down by newspaper critics', many of their findings, such as François le Vaillant'sVaillant, François le
WBI CloseView the register entry >> account of long-necked giraffes in Africa, have eventually confounded the cynicism of more 'scientific' observers. (736) Gives a detailed description of the gardens at Walton HallWalton Hall, Yorkshire CloseView the register entry >>, the home of Charles WatertonWaterton, Charles
DSB CloseView the register entry >>. Waterton's plan was to 'offer a hearty welcome to every bird and beast that chose to avail itself of his hospitality [...] by affording them abundant food and a quiet retreat', and the extensive gardens were 'laid out to suit the idiosyncrasies of various species' (737). The gardens have provided 'opportunities of gaining knowledge' about birds which are 'unequalled, and great benefits have been conferred on the world by the information that has been obtained' (740).
Economic Geology, Geology, Creation, Gas Chemistry, Light, Industry, Progress
Reports on the 'discovery of the oil springs of the New World' and the many new applications that are being developed for petroleum, but notes that however 'Far into nature [...] science may be said to have penetrated, we are still unacquainted with much that is going on in the interior, and even in the crust of our planet, where, it may be, the work of creation is yet in progress'. (747) In Canada, 'many scientific fanatics' have become extremely 'sanguine' about the potential of 'petroleum gas' to 'light up all the great cities of Europe as well as of America', although the author remarks, 'Science is certainly performing wonders in the world, but it transcends our acuteness to perceive how any artificial apparatus can be made to distribute luminiferous gas at as small a cost as Nature's old-fashioned solar lamp' (747–48). Also reflects that 'amidst the innumerable inventions and improvements which characterize our times, we look back with absolute amazement at the slowness with which men of former generations turned to account the gifts of nature. [...] Whatever other faults or shortcomings may be laid to our charge, we can hardly be accused of neglecting any source of material wealth' (752).
Regular Feature, Editorial—Short Fiction, Drollery, Serial
Mesmerism, Spiritualism, Supernaturalism, Reading
After revealing that he possesses 'in rather a remarkable degree what we have agreed to call the mesmeric power', the Count de Pinto relates how in the previous century he discovered the treachery of his Parisian secretary, Goby de Mouchy, by setting an 'unhappy girl to sleep. Then she was obliged to tell me all' (755). Upon discovering de Mouchy's perfidy, Pinto set up a remarkable chain of events which saw his secretary somnabulised and 'WILLED' to proceed to the apartments of Joseph I GuillotinGuillotin, Joseph Ignace
CBD CloseView the register entry >>, where he took his own life with the inventor's new machine of execution (756). Before finally leaving the narrator, Pinto tells him, 'Only of this be sure. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy"' (758). The narrator soon wakes up beside 'one of those awful—those admirable—sensation novels, which I had been reading, and which are full of delicious wonder', and realises that he has dreamt the whole encounter. He is, however, 'rather sorry to lose' the company of the mysterious medium. (760)