Pollution, Disease, Public Health, Analytical Chemistry
Reflects on the 'alarming' number of Londoners who drink or bathe in the water of the Thames, a river the author re-christens 'aqua mortis'. Considers the river so dirty that he regards the 'Black Sea' as its possible source. Remarks that it 'does not require much knowledge of chemistry' to determine the amount of organic matter in this water.
Notes the likelihood of receiving messages by electric telegraph but the impossibility of receiving 'those same messages, if folded up in a penny letter and sent through the Puritanical channel of St. Martin's-le-Grand [the site of the General Post OfficeGeneral Post Office
CloseView the register entry >>]'.
Reports on an article in the Hampshire IndependentHampshire Independent
Directory CloseView the register entry >> concerning the surprisingly high quality of the food given to convicts, and argues that this procedure is justified since 'scientific research' has shown that changing a 'rogue's diet' will 'renovate the whole man'. Suggests dishes for 'prison cookery' and other plans for 'correction by kindness'.
Noting how 'telescopic observation' has revealed 'tremendously lofty eminences with profound chasms' on the lunar surface, adds that these features are dwarfed by the irregularities on the King's Road, Eaton Square.
Responding to news of a 'Calculating German' in London, invites this mathematical wizard to answer such socio-politico-economic questions as, 'What is the number of political prisoners in Austria, Prussia, and the little despotic principalities of Germany?'.
Chemistry, Matter Theory, Christianity, Religious Authority, Government, Patronage
Noting how the material products of combustion and evaporation can be collected as a liquid or a vapour, ponders the possibility of collecting 'the spiritual products of the expenditure of episcopal incomes', an allusion to Edward Horsman'sHorsman, Edward
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> recent attack on the privileges and powers of bishops.
Explains why the hippopotamus at the Zoological Society GardensZoological Society of London —Gardens
CloseView the register entry >> should 'quit town' for the seaside. Reasons include the 'invigorating sea breeze' and competition in London from the 'largest Tortoise in the world'. The illustration shows a frightened hippopotamus wearing a bonnet, being helped into a bathing car amidst a crowd of spectators.
Describes the 'rage for experimental balloons' and urges that it must be stopped 'or else all sorts of extravagancies, animal and pyrotechnical, will be committed in the name of science'. Noting the ascent from Paris of a balloon carrying a donkey, suggests an advertisement for a balloon ascent by Charles GreenGreen, Charles
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> and the hippopotamus from the Zoological Society GardensZoological Society of London —Gardens
CloseView the register entry >>. Expresses concern that ballooning pursuits will get out of hand.
Following praise for Smithfield Market'sSmithfield Market
CloseView the register entry >> 'salubrity' and pure atmosphere, suggests the advertisement of a 'SMITHFIELD LIFE PILL', which would profit anyone 'who does not mind imposing upon the credulity of the British Public'.
The letter, written in a style to reflect the author's poor standard of literacy, expresses alarm at news of John J Mechi'sMechi, John Joseph
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> use of chemical fertilisers. Exclaims that 'instead of gooin to stable and varm-yar for manoorer, we shall be sending vor't to Potticarries' HallWorshipful Society of Apothecaries of London—Apothecaries' Hall
CloseView the register entry >>'. Ridicules Mechi's attempt to teach farmers scientific methods without appearing pedagogic, and threatens to 'sheak his roobub, his Epsom zalts, and stuff out o'his head'.
Noting railway companies' tendency to 'diminish' the truth about railway accidents, compares and contrasts two imaginary reports of one such event. The first, a 'Non-Official Report' of a 'Frightful Collision on the Slap-dash Railway', describes the collision between a late up-train and a much delayed early luggage train in the 'Great Hearse Tunnel'. The second, the 'Official Report' into the 'Temporary Stoppage of a Train on the Slap-Dash Railway', claims that the up-train was punctual and merely 'met with a slight check' from a luggage train. Other areas of disagreement include the explosion of the up-train's boiler, whether the company acted promptly, and the injuries inflicted on passengers.
Responds to a new bookHassall, Arthur
Hill 1850. A Microscopic Examination of the Water Supplied to the
Inhabitants of London and the Suburban Districts: Illustrated by Coloured
Plates, Exhibiting the Living Animal and Vegetable Productions in Thames and
Other Waters, as Supplied by the Several Companies; With an Examination,
Microscopic and General of their Sources of Supply, as Well as of the
Henley-on-Thames and Watford Plans, etc., London: Samuel Highley
CloseView the register entry >> by Arthur H HassallHassall, Arthur Hill
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> describing in words and illustrations, the 'disgusting [...] specimens of animal and vegetable matter' in water. Describes each image as a 'menagerie' of 'crustacea, and other abominations'.
Following a poet's claim that using the submarine telegraph 'is like using the lightning conductor for a steel pen, and the ocean for an ink-stand', compares the cliffs to a 'blotting pad' and the 'whole world' to a 'sheet of paper'.
The author complains of lack of progress in his algebraic studies which has undermined his understanding of the 'Representation of Numbers' and thus his attempt to solve the problem of the 'enlargement of the Suffrage'.
Punch, 19 (1850), 77.
Oh Where, and Oh Where, is the Aged Tortoise Gone?
Discusses Ebenezer C Brewer'sBrewer, Ebenezer Cobham
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> 'very useful little work' (Brewer 1848Brewer, Ebenezer
Cobham . A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things
Familiar, 2nd ed., London: Jarrold & Sons
CloseView the register entry >>) which gives, in fine and pleasant phraseology, answers to 'some very thousands of familiar questions'. Disagrees with some of Brewer's explanations: for example, denies that we 'feel a desire for activity in cold weather' and that this is due to 'fanning combustion in the blood'. Rather, insists that we feel a desire 'to sit cosily over a fire in cold weather'. Gives explanations of several familiar things recognised as not 'strictly correct in a philosophical point of view' but 'never disagreeable'. For example, the reason why lightning turns milk and beer sour is 'because the electric fluid does not know how to conduct itself', or because the electric and milky fluids cannot agree. Anticipates that the reader will 'exert his scientific powers' in finding the best solutions to such questions.
Compares England, a 'most ungrateful nation', to 'France and other nations' that are 'not so tardy in rewarding their benefactors'. Citing the example of Thomas WaghornWaghorn, Thomas
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, who 'was allowed to die almost in want', the author claims to know of 'numerous' other examples demonstrating that 'little encouragement [is] given in this country to men of science and enterprise'.
Announces the imminent release of 'Punch's Handbook of the Mountains of the Moon', containing 'elevations' to which the 'finger of science' has never previously been directed, and 'large cuts of the green cheese which is supposed to grow there'.
Government, Patronage, Engineers, Railways, Nationalism, Status
Responding to Robert Stephenson'sStephenson, Robert
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> refusal of a knighthood, attacks the English reward system for giving peerages to bankers and only a knighthood to 'an Engineer, who occupies the first rank in his noble profession in England'. This reward is only suitable for such accomplishments as being the 'Complete Letter-Writer of some grateful minister'. Glad that Stephenson has, by his action, prevented the 'science he honours' from being 'looked down upon'.
Believes that Britannia's dominance of the waves is demonstrated by the Dover-Calais submarine telegraph. Reports that she will soon extend her rule with 'twenty or thirty lines' and hopes that science will 'always guide' her hand in 'ruling the waves'.
Monstrosities, Zoology, Cultural Geography, Superstition
Discusses an 'Irish correspondent's report of the astonishing leaping abilities of the alleged 'American Sea Serpent'. Believes the beast, on hearing of the 'Irishman's love of the marvellous', paid him a visit 'to see how he can enlarge upon his dimensions'.
Reports on the breakage and subsequent restoration of the submarine telegraph connection between England and France. Believes that it is not the first time that the cause of the rupture—the softness of 'leaden conductors'—has weakened Anglo-French relations.
A mermaid regards the submarine telegraph as 'an enchanted wire' connecting 'nations that were foes of yore'. It is an invention that lies among the relics of 'wars of hoary centuries' and sends 'an electric breath / Warm like the grasp of a friendly hand'. Believes a 'kindly spirit guides its aim' and that there is 'language in that social flame', by which France and England can talk. The 'sea-sprites' sporting along the wire sing the mermaid's song for Anglo-French harmony.
Punch, 19 (1850), 117.
Effect of the Submarine Telegraph; or, Peace and Good-Will Between England and France
Continuing the theme of Anon, 'The Mermaid's Last New Song', Punch, 19 (1850), 116, shows two mermaids carrying an olive branch, while following the submarine telegraph cable between England and France. The telegraph is surrounded by the relics of past wars between these countries.
Reports on Alexander von Humboldt'sHumboldt, Alexander von (Friedrich Wilhelm
Heinrich Alexander von)
DSB CloseView the register entry >> reflections on European peace at the Universal Peace CongressUniversal Peace Congress (1850), Frankfurt CloseView the register entry >> in Frankfurt. Notes Humboldt's honest claim that the 'long accumulated elements of animosity' between nations may be weakened by Governments 'fostering the progressive and legitimate development and perfectibility of free institutions'. Regards him as a 'Visionary Enthusiast' for insisting that 'under the protection of a superior power, a long-nourished yearning after a noble aim in the life of nations' will be consummated.
Reporting on the likely presence of a 'continental invention' for improving 'international communication' at the Great ExhibitionGreat Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (1851)
CloseView the register entry >>, observes that John Bull will be able to show the 'Submarine Electric Telegraph'.
Punch, 19 (1850), 120.
The Sub-Marine Telegraph. Protection for the Electric Eel
Speaking on behalf of the 'sub-marine population' who live on the 'exertion of electric power', the gymnotus seeks protection from the Dover-Calais submarine electric telegraph, which is the result of 'the grasping spirit of Commerce perverting to its own purposes the might of unfeeling Science'. Insists that telegraphs will eventually 'annihilate our vocation' and, stressing its inability to produce the same amount of electricity as 'mercantile companies', asks Punch to request Britannia to protect those of her subjects 'on whom the stability of her Empire most essentially depends'. Punch points out that protection is supplied by gutta-percha insulation of the cable and the difficulty of receiving a shock from the invention.
An employee of the leading firm of brewers, Barclay and PerkinsBarclay and Perkins, firm CloseView the register entry >>, expresses ignorance of the reason why 'the 'lectric fluid carries a message through the bottom of the sea, without being put out'.
Reports remarkable occurrences in the vegetable and animal kingdoms, including 'shooting stars', the reappearance of the sea serpent despite Richard Owen'sOwen, Richard
DSB CloseView the register entry >> scepticism, and the ravaging of Green Park by mice.
Reports on an 'Irish gentleman' who reasoned that the sea serpent was an electric eel because he had received an electric shock from a sprat gorged by the beast. Points out that the same person might expect to be shot by the charge in a bird recently shot.
Punch, 19 (1850), 136.
Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe (New Series) No. 10: A Scientific Institution—During ye Lecture of an Eminent 'Savan'
Report from 'Punch's Own Correspondent'concerning his observations of the Irish sea serpent. Insists that 'zoological knowledge proved inadequate to its exact classification, that its 'conformation [...] sets every cannon of natural history at defiance', that 'comparative anatomy is all a delusion', and that Richard OwenOwen, Richard
DSB CloseView the register entry >> has deceived himself by regarding the serpent as an imposture. Having described the appearance of the beast, concludes that it is an hybrid of several different animals including the lizard, elephant, ape, and cockatoo.
Reports on fears that 'certain proceedings in Parks' threaten 'the lungs of the Metropolis'. Denies that the imminent Great ExhibitionGreat Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (1851)
CloseView the register entry >> will cause such an 'inflammation' of the city's lungs, but is concerned about the lung of St James' Park. Notes John Bull's susceptibility to consumption.
Military Technology, Steamships, Government, Invention
Criticises the AdmiraltyAdmiralty
CloseView the register entry >> for believing in the feasibility of the 'iron war-steamer', an invention which it thinks 'cannot exist a moment before any gun but a pop-gun'. Thinks the architect of the scheme must have been the 'son of a sea-cook' and hopes such schemes are consigned 'to the devouring element'. Rebukes the Royal NavyRoyal Navy
CloseView the register entry >> for having 'sunk a mint of capital' into the scheme and regrets that they cannot 'convert their ironmongery back into gold'.
Sanitation, Medical Practitioners, Disease, Pollution, Public Health, Patronage
Praises 'Sanitary heros' as 'men of intrepid souls and indomitable stomachs, who face typhus and nose sulphuretted hydrogen, who brave Death in the mouth of his own gravepit', and who deserve to be honoured by such awards as the 'Order of the Bath and Washhouse'. The Mr WalkerWalker, Mr
PU1/14/3/4 CloseView the register entry >> of the title is possibly an allusion to the Manchester surgeon who was killed on duty by fever (Anon, 'Sanitary Victims', Punch, 14 (1848), 24).
Cultural Geography, Education, Anti-Scientism, Religious Authority, Astronomy, Medical Practitioners, Surgery, Charlatanry, Mathematics, Race
Answering a question from an Irish Correspondent, attacks Patrick A MurrayMurray, Patrick Aloysius
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> for cursing those who study such subjects as mathematics and astronomy 'with Protestants and heathens'. Oblique attack on the curriculum at Maynooth CollegeSt Patrick's College, Maynooth CloseView the register entry >>, where the teaching of science, mathematics, and medicine is mixed with theology. Cynically advises 'you poor ragged PADDY' not to 'look at the stars through that villain, LORD ROSSE'SParsons, William, 3rd Earl of Rosse
DSB CloseView the register entry >> glass' but 'ask FATHER TIM to lend you a peep through his dirty old telescope'. In a similar cynical vein, regards the best medical advice to come from a 'chap from Maynooth who has learnt a little surgery along with his humanities'.
Responding to news that a shell can swiftly sink a 120-gun vessel, hopes the shell will be 'exhibited in 1851' (a reference to the Great ExhibitionGreat Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (1851)
CloseView the register entry >>) to 'hatch the dove' of 'perpetual peace'.
Notes that in phrenology a 'tender solicitude [...] for the diversion of the younger branches of the Royal Family' implies 'excessive philoprogentiveness and prodigious veneration, with a development of the organs of the intellect', but wishes no more to be said on this subject.
Aeronautics, Accidents, Ornithology, Medical Treatment
Describes a collision between Mme PoitevinPoitevin, Mme.
CloseView the register entry >>, the famous balloonist who was flying an ostrich, and Mme Epinard, the wife of an eminent Parisian banker. Later reveals how, at an inquest into the accidents, Mme Epinard was struck on the head by an egg falling from the ostrich.
Responding to news of the imminent visit to America by the statesman Henry P Brougham (1st Baron Brougham and Vaux)Brougham, Henry Peter, 1st Baron Brougham and
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, anticipates reports of 'a most extraordinary animal at sea' which 'shows such a wondrous power of self-adaptation to all circumstances'. The illustration shows Brougham as 'The Sea Serpent Crossing the Atlantic, as seen from the Yacht "Toby"—Capt. Punch'.
Identifies himself as 'a man of large landed property', and likens the difference between the 'noble brain' and the 'vulgar brain' to that between 'the finest cambric and the finest towelling'. Briefly describes his treatment at 'DOCTOR STRAIT'S Asylum, ClaptonStrait's (Dr) Asylum, Clapton CloseView the register entry >>'.(179) Explains how his violent behaviour was controlled by 'the system perfected by the noble DOCTOR CONOLLY'Conolly, John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> and describes the rituals and diet he had to endure on his 'return to reason'.(180)
Compares the 'tardiness' of the British telegraph to the superior American 'mode of transmitting messages'. Would have identified the 'electric fluid' used on American telegraphs as 'greased lightning' were it not for the greater activity and liberality of American telegraph companies.
Mr Punch offers his range of medicines to 'PUSEYITE CLERGYMEN', including his 'ILLUMINATIVE DROPS, for communicating that peculiar GLOW to the EYE which is the natural result of enthusiasm exalted by frequent vigils, meditation, &c.' and which will enable 'an Oxford graduate' to 'pass easily [...] for a zealous Roman ecclesiastic'.
Religious Authority, Medical Practitioners, Charlatanry, Quackery, Hospitals, Commerce, Mesmerism, Homeopathy
'[T]wo matrons', 'PHYSIC' and 'DIVINITY', discuss their reasons for feeling ashamed of their children who have turned into 'sad deceivers'. Physic, for example, complains of the way her children cure 'gout and stomach-ache by pawing and by flourishing' and are 'taken up with mesmerism, or joined the homeopathists', while Divinity laments the fact that her children 'pursue a system of gimcrackery, / Called PuseyPusey, Edward Bouverie
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>ism, a pack of stuff, and quite as arrant quackery'.
Believing 'Quack, quack, quack' to be the 'great motto of medicine', describes some aspects of quackery including 'one professor who invents an ointment for other people's bad legs'. Adds that quackery can be successful because the 'public will swallow anything from a puff to a pill', including Phineas T BarnumBarnum, Phineas Taylor
CBD CloseView the register entry >>. Believes that the 'puff and quack malady will cure itself' and that the public will lose interest in such humbugs as the 'balloon mania'.
Identifies the 'Clerk of the Weather', a figure reporting meteorological observations in The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >>, as a real person who sits all day and night watching a barometer and thermometer 'for the purpose of noting the results'. Presents meteorological 'data' using such crude methods as the temperature of the nose.
Reports on John Ross'sRoss, Sir John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> pigeons which, according to 'PROFESSOR MACTARTANCLAN, the distinguished Glasgow philosopher', show symptoms of having been 'domesticated with the Esquimaux' and have become 'national pets'.
Punch, 19 (1850), 239.
Rules for the Prevention of the Promised Plague Next Year
Disease, Cultural Geography, Sanitation, Public Health, Vaccination, Quackery, Exhibitions
Describes some of the measures being taken to deal with the anticipated 'second Plague of London' which will follow the 'invasion of foreigners' in the Great ExhibitionGreat Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (1851)
CloseView the register entry >>. Insists that these measures will ensure that 'foreigners' are thoroughly cleaned, have a 'certificate of good health', and possess the 'authentic marks' of a vaccination.