Announces that the 'leaping qualities of numerous Railway engines' are being used to form the basis of a railway steeplechase. Adds that 'steam jockeys' are to guide their locomotives over five-barred gates laid across railway tracks. The illustration shows three locomotives attempting to jump over gates.
Manchester complains about the abandonment of the Health of Towns Bill and asks Russell (a reference to the Prime Minister, Lord John RussellRussell, Lord John, 1st Earl Russell
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>) for 'consolation'. Russell acknowledges Manchester's 'dirty condition' and sends an apron.
Medical Treatment, Class, Veterinary Science, Medical Practitioners
Discusses an advertisement that it believes supports a distinction between the medicine practised on the rich and that on the poor. Argues that the 'assistant of the medical officer' of a poor law union doesn't need much expertise in medicine and midwifery, and is thus able, by reducing the population, to 'carry out the great object of the Poor Law'—reducing pauperism.
Public Health, Disease, Sanitation, Medical Treatment, Government
Describes a conversation between the major English towns about their diseases. Leeds, for example, claims that he's 'with an epidemic troubled' and fears his 'hospitals must soon be doubled', while London complains of the neglect of its sewers, cesspools and sinks, and that it has all the ailments of the other towns and cities 'put together'. London despairs of 'physic' and wants 'a very sweeping reformation, / Not only of my streets, but Corporation'. One illustration shows an allegorical figure of death—a black skeleton wielding a scythe—amongst urban waste which includes 'Parr'sParr, Bartholomew
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> Pills'.
Reports on the imminent visit of 'scientific gentlemen' to observe an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Explains why it is possible to gain an equally impressive display of 'hot coals and smoking cinders' while sitting in a third-class railway carriage near the engine.
Contemplates asking a geologist to 'ascertain the cause' of the frequent eruptions of 'flame and water' in the Strand and believes the cause must be 'an exhausted volcano' rather than imperfect gas pipes or water mains. Deeply worried by the prospect of walking over volcanoes 'every day of our lives'.
Describes the widespread use of telescopes during the 'summer and autumn sun' at Margate. Notes that uses of the telescope include observing people on steam-boats and, on inverting the instrument, gaining close-up views of food. Illustrations show a telescope being poked out of a window and consequently knocking over a passer-by, and a plethora of telescopes poking out of windows in a seaside hotel.
Following news about advertising on German railway carriage blinds, argues that quack medical treatments, including both 'pills which profess to cure everything' and mesmerism, are 'blinds, which are drawn purposely to keep the public in the dark'. Advises German companies to follow the English example and try to make a profit out of these blinds.
Communicates A Mackenzie'sMackenzie, A
PU1/13/8/3 CloseView the register entry >> claim that the mud in 'certain parts of the Rose Lake' is 'so magnetic' that boatmen have 'greatest difficulty rowing over it'. Likens the boatmen to aldermen, who also appear to exhibit a 'secret sympathy' with mud.
Punch, 13 (1847), 87.
A New Chapter for "The Seven Champions of Christendom"
In a reference to the City of London'sCorporation of London
CloseView the register entry >> refusal to be part of the Health of Towns Bill, describes 'How ST. GEORGE and ST. ANDREW in Holborn encountered and slew the great Dragon CLEANLINESS, that would have drawn them into a certain bath, wherein he sojourned'. Describes how the dragon lived 'in a bath', resorted to a 'terrible hill called Sanitary Law', and performed such terrible deeds as drying up Holborn's cesspools and stopping people from wallowing in its sewers. After the defeat of the dragon, the people 'abode in their filth' and their 'dung-heaps waxed larger than ever'. The illustration shows this conflict between the knights of foul substances and the dragon of cleanliness (a wash-bucket).
Announces the invention of a portable cannon and discusses other products of the 'portable age'. Believes the invention might be 'giving cold shoulder to the musket, and discusses its impact on such aspects of culture as duelling and portraits of field marshals. Adds that the weapon will make killing so easy that 'persons will be ashamed to lend their hands to it'.
Responding to an advertisement from a bankrupt selling 'Rough Ice' to 'Tea-Dealers and others', suggests that he was 'performing a series of scientific operations to ascertain how, by adopting the properties of ice [...] he could restore himself into a solvent state'.
Steamships, Invention, Engineering, Nationalism, War
Celebrates the floating of the SS Great BritainSS Great Britain CloseView the register entry >>, a ship formerly grounded 'On the bleak coast of Ireland'. Recollects the vain attempts to float the ship which 'lay, like a sheer-hulk, whose sailing is o'er', but adds that 'kind summer hath come, with its blessings so free, / And she floats, Our Great Britain, the Queen of the Sea!'. Asserts that the ship sustained storm and shoal, but was ready, 'When the world's fleet was shattered against the French main'.
Railways, Psychology, Metaphysics, Physiology, Human Species
Likens the human mind to a carpet-bag, owing to the fact that 'with good packing it will contain any amount of useful contents'. Compares the human being to a railway by claiming that, 'the engine is the mind, the stoker appetite, and reason the engineer'. Likens metaphysics to a 'French dinner', since 'you may enjoy the results' but should avoid the 'processes by which they have been attained'.
Explains that 'Punch was the real cause of the SS Great BritainSS Great Britain CloseView the register entry >> being got off', owing to the fact that it placed jokes in its caissons. The illustration shows Mr Punch and leading statesmen on a steamboat tugging the Great Britain.
Responds to news in 'our scientific contemporary, The BuilderBuilder
Directory CloseView the register entry >>', that metal cards should be introduced 'for visits and invitations'. Discusses the difficulties of this plan, including the fact that if a card were left and 'a storm should arise, the electric fluid might pass over ordinary street railings and things of that sort, to find, in the hands of an unhappy flunky', some 'metal more attractive'.
Presents an imaginary conversation between various diseases following news of the formation of a sanitary commission for the metropolis. Diseases resent this intrusion. Typhus, for example, describes the sanitary reformer Thomas S SmithSmith, Thomas Southwood
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> as 'an ugly hand to deal with', while Cholera, who has been making 'miasma and gases' in his Fleet Ditch 'laboratory', suspected a change for the worse 'when they began to attack the precious principle of self-government'.
Discusses news that the SS Great BritainSS Great Britain CloseView the register entry >> is 'lying upon the gridiron at Liverpool'. Believes this is 'as bad as a five-barred gate to a vessel like the Great Britain' but suggests that allowing the ship 'a few bars' rest' on a gridiron is desirable after enduring a 'heavy' launch.
Punch, 13 (1847), 113.
Our Fast Man on Literary and Scientific Institutions
Written from the perspective of the 'Fast Man', Punch's hedonistic character. He is extremely gratified that 'two or three of your Literary and Scientific Societies' have been 'smashed'. Deflecting accusations of 'arresting the enlightenment', the narrator boasts that he has 'flummoxed the Literature and Science shops' with such popular amusements as 'casinos'. Points out that 'clerks and shopmen' would prefer 'conjuring tricks' to 'chemical experiments' and hopes that the 'Wizard of the North' (the magician, John Henry AndersonAnderson, John Henry
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>) will 'snuff out' Michael FaradayFaraday, Michael
DSB CloseView the register entry >>. Insists that scientific knowledge is useless to mechanics and tradesmen, and that such people thirst for a 'half-and-half' rather than knowledge. Objects to training the 'habits of thought', since the 'Human Mind prefers a lark to a lecture'. Punch adds that the Fast Man's conviction that he has destroyed scientific and literary societies suggests that he is 'essentially an Ape'.
Reports the 'disk-over-y' of spots or 'a sort of a rash' on the sun's disk. Explains that the 'enormous harvest upon which the sun has lately been luxuriating' has caused a 'repletion' in the sun and consequently in the number of spots. The illustration shows the sun with a human face, covered in an eye-patch and a few large black spots.
Advises substituting 'musical instruments for the common whistles, and appropriate tunes could then be played in order to meet the various emergencies of railway travel'. Illustrations and text indicate how a giant rattle, a trombone, and drums might be used for this purpose.
Railways, Telegraphy, Accidents, Steam-power, Commerce, Travel, Transport
Adapted from William Shakespeare'sShakespeare, William
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>Midsummer Night's Dream, the drama gives reasons why the 'course of Railways never did run smooth', including the fact that 'gradients were "unkimmon" steep', and the 'explosions' that 'lay hold of it'. Adds that it is 'Swift as the Telegraph, short as dividends' and 'ere the stoker can aloud cry "Ease her!" / The boiler bursts and blows us up'.
Suggests a solution to the taxing problems of 'communicating between the guards and passengers' on railways: a wooden figure, 'known in the nursery by the name of scaramouches', whose face and limbs can be made to express appropriate signals 'by means of a string'.
Reports on the crowds that flocked to London to see an eclipse of the sun. Regards the event as 'successful', but points out that it distracted attention from 'the total eclipse of another golden orb'—that of Queen VictoriaVictoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>—by the 'eccentric planet, PEELPeel, Sir Robert, 2nd Baronet
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>'. The latter eclipse is due to Peel's 'broad and expansive movement', which drove away 'several little satellites of small note that used to take their rise about the Bank of EnglandBank of England
CloseView the register entry >>'. The illustration shows Peel as the dark side of the moon eclipsing the sun, on whose face is seen Victoria's profile and name.
Reports on a 'hoax played off upon the public', who flocked to Blackheath to observe the eclipse, only to experience continuous rain. Argues that although the sun 'could scarcely have been suspected of such an imposition', its 'character has not been lately quite as spotless as it ought to be'. The illustration shows a crowd attempting to observe the eclipse in the rain.
Reports on news that Mr MunsbyMunsby, Mr
PU1/13/16/1 CloseView the register entry >> has 'discovered the true Lotus in the Nitraria tridentata' near Tunis. Rejects this claim and insists that the 'true Lotus grows in England', and 'wraps a man in sweetest indolence, making him careless, if not entirely oblivious, of the wants and miseries of his own country'. Explains why the lotus is 'the golden fruit of the TreasuryTreasury
CloseView the register entry >>', of which 'HER MAJESTY'S ministers' have 'taken a bellyful'.
Expresses irritation at 'the number of ridiculous suggestions' for signalling between passengers and guards on railway trains, including 'pulling the guard off his perch by a rope tied around his waist', and 'a speaking-trumpet' running 'throughout the whole train of carriages, with a tube terminating in the ear of every passenger'. The illustration depicts a guard having to deal with a signal from Henry P Brougham (1st Baron Brougham and Vaux)Brougham, Henry Peter, 1st Baron Brougham and
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, a statesmen ridiculed for his verbosity.
Expresses astonishment at the amount of medicine that a Mr GarlickGarlick, Mr
PU1/13/16/3 CloseView the register entry >>, medical officer for Halifax, has supplied to his poor-law patients. Equally baffled by Garlick's complaint that the daily remuneration from this trade is only £20. Advises poor-law guardians that to prevent such a loss of money caused by a medical officer's wrong-doing, they should hire homeopathic doctors as medical officers, and thus only have to pay out for 'infinitesimal doses' of medicine.
Calls for a 'check to be kept on the alleged discoveries of the amateur astronomers', not least because the editors of the newspapers to which these practitioners send their work have 'no opportunities for testing [... a] correspondent's veracity'. Regards the appointment of somebody commissioned to keep a register of celestial objects as 'very conducive to the interests of science', a vast improvement on the 'loose system of keeping our astronomical accounts which is now in force', and a way of checking whether a star is in its 'proper place' or 'a mere optical illusion of the alleged discoverer'.
Military Technology, Invention, Narcotics, Measurement
Reports on Christian F Schönbein'sSchönbein, Christian Friedrich
DSB CloseView the register entry >> invention of a process for giving 'papier-mache all the transparency of glass'. Regards the invention as opportune owing to the rapid sinking of ale and wine bottles 'under that mysterious internal disorder' that makes quarts of the present shrink into the pints of the eighteenth century. Text and illustration explore the disastrous effect of making bottles, glasses, and mirrors from Schönbein's material. Believes the material will give employment to 'much of the bad paper now afloat in the market'.
Reports on a proposal to 'admit the whole of the gas lights on London Bridge' to the star catalogue, and adds that each lamp will be given a 'patent of precedence' enabling it to 'rank with ordinary stars of the first magnitude'.
Applauds the book under review because it believes that the 'class of animals having a tendency to formidable and destructive habits' should participate in 'harmless amusement[s]'. Relishes the prospect of seeing bulls skipping and elephants playing skittles, since such activities will keep the animals 'out of mischief'. Illustrations depict these strange activities.
Describes his 'modification of the Daguerreotype' that is sensitive to the 'faintest candlelight' and 'a dark lantern'. Claims that it can be used to detect thieves breaking into the 'strong box' of a counting house (which it believes is full of money, despite the 'commercial distress' in the country), and thus supersede the 'services of the Detective Police'.
Notes that Alexandre D D P DumasDumas, Alexandre (Alexandre Dumas Davy de la
CBD CloseView the register entry >> resolved never to believe in animal magnetism until he put some somnambulist to sleep 'without his being aware of my intention'. The writer adds that, coincidentally, in his last novel he 'put hundreds to sleep without even my publisher knowing my intention'.
Punch proposes adding to its establishment 'a gentleman' who will record 'fluctuations of heat and cold' by using his fingers, toes, and the end of his nose. Notes the unsatisfactory nature of observations made by this means but presents deductions from rain collected in an umbrella stand and from 'twenty-yaws against our drawing-room window'.
Reports that 'penny-a-liners' fear being superseded by reporting via the electric telegraph. Dismisses this possibility, pointing out that the electric telegraph only furnishes 'rather wire-drawn' reports.
Discusses decline of the railway surveyors, the individuals who 'sprung up like mushrooms' when the soil was made fertile by 'railway speculation', but have subsequently fallen into such financial hardship that they 'are scarcely able to construct a bridge to carry them safely over their last week's washing-bill'. Observes that their 'ingenuity is now required' to overcome the problems of fulfilling their hopes of 'becoming, in time, BRUNELSBrunel, Isambard Kingdom
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> or STEPHENSONSStephenson, George
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>'.
Reports on the 'excitement' and 'trouble' caused 'by an attempt to assimilate the time by all the clocks on all the railways'. Observes that the method is to 'send a clerk every half hour from GreenwichRoyal Observatory, Greenwich CloseView the register entry >>, to every station on every line' and 'set every clock by the time observed in that perfect paragon of punctuality'. Notes that this has caused a discrepancy between the time on Liverpool's railway and town hall clocks, and a 'derangement of the Bill system'.
Publishing, Reading, Creation, Evolution, Cosmology, Cultural Geography
Reports on the sorry fate of Chambers 1844[Chambers,
Robert] 1844. Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation,
London: John Churchill
CloseView the register entry >>, a book that both publishers and authors are disowning. Notes that since the statesman Henry P Brougham (1st Baron Brougham and Vaux)Brougham, Henry Peter, 1st Baron Brougham and
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> kept the book for 'several weeks' he was regarded as its author and it 'sold another edition'. Describes how the book 'ran about town' trying unsuccessfully to attract scientific or literary men, and being 'threatened with the police', and that the 'Vicissitudes of the Vestiges of Creation'would make a 'pathetic little book'. Punch would 'take it in' with cheese, provided Mr Punch was not accused of being the author. Discusses possibility of giving this 'friendless little literary orphan' its own parish but adds that it 'does not know its father'. Urges the book to go to Ireland and wonders why 'no Irishman has yet declared himself the author'. Illustrations variously show Vestiges being kicked by a mob, pushed under a Brougham-shaped door-knocker, and as an orphan outside the 'Foundling Hospital'.
Praises the widespread social benefits of chloroform. For example, observes that chloroform 'will render quite agreeable the parting with / Any useless member that a patient has been smarting with', lull 'with its magic power' both 'Scolding wife and squalling infant', and that it should be sniffed when 'plagued with any kind of bore'.
Notes the rising influenza epidemic and 'fast approaching' cholera. Asks the 'Traitor of Tamworth [Robert PeelPeel, Sir Robert, 2nd Baronet
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>] what he has to answer in the teeth of these calamaties'.
Disease, Government, Public Health, Sanitation, Commerce
Describes the journey of 'Cruel Death', dressed as a 'Sewer Commissioner' and armed with a 'lancet'. He sees 'Cholera at work, on Russian and Turk', and orders the sending of influenza to England, where he saw his agents 'Typhus and Co.' conducting a 'roaring trade'. Death blesses 'his friends, the wiseacres, / Who at centralisation grumble', and chuckles to himself knowing that the disease has 'the wholesome scent of "self-government"'. Offers a 'fig for your SMITHSSmith, Thomas Southwood
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> and CHADWICKSChadwick, Sir Edwin
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, / With their Health of Town petitioners', noting that he still has 'Seven hundred good Sewer Commissioners' to the fore. Typhus expresses his enjoyment of living in a sewer 'Where knock me-down-gases each the other surpasses'. Describes how Typhus informed Death that 'our roaring trade has been knocked on the head / By these sanitary fellows', who will 'wash out [...] Any hard-working Fever' that 'haunts' each 'sewer and drain'. Typhus suggests that the only solution is for Death to compel the Prime Minister, Lord John RussellRussell, Lord John, 1st Earl Russell
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, to make 'sewers Banks [...] Of Plague-issue and Poison-deposit', and warns Death that he won't receive from the 'Whig administration' his 'claim to compensation'. King Death and Lord Typhus leave Britain disgusted with its administrative 'innovations' and 'sanitary ravages'.
Describes how Punch contributors sought to overcome their symptoms of influenza and still undertake their literary work. Notes that the 'celebrated BR—WN' (a reference to William M ThackerayThackeray, William Makepeace
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>) was taking a 'warm bath', whilst the 'Fat one' (probably an allusion to Mark LemonLemon, Mark
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>), despite his contraction of such diseases as 'the Yellow Fever' and 'Jungle Fever', was 'more jocose and brilliant than ever'. The illustrations show how Punch contributors dealt with their conditions. Most are seen tucked up in bed, but Thackeray (the only identifiable figure) is seen in a steam bath.
Describes some of the effects of the influenza on the 'public service', including the fact that Somerset HouseSomerset House
CloseView the register entry >> has been a 'perfect hospital' and everyone 'in attendance [...] has been speaking through a worsted comforter', while 'postmen [...] have come gasping and tottering to our doors in a most deplorable state'.