The narrator describes how she was raised 'to ask questions about everything' and educated in 'all sorts of "ologies"' (x). She explains how, during her attendance of lectures at the Royal InstitutionRoyal Institution of Great Britain
CloseView the register entry >>, she met her husband to whom she displayed her chemical skills, but who was more interested in domestic matters and getting married than in such subjects as 'chemical affinities' and Michael Faraday'sFaraday, Michael
DSB CloseView the register entry >> lectures on the candle. She had to remind her fiancé of Mary F G Somerville'sSomerville, Mary Fairfax Greig
DSB CloseView the register entry >> argument that 'a woman may be deep in science, and make no worse wife for it'. Describes his anger at hearing about 'the scientific pretensions of the [female] sex'. (x–xi)
Responds to an article in the Morning HeraldMorning Herald and Daily Advertiser
CloseView the register entry >> concerning doctors' charges for simply uttering such phrases as 'ahem' in front of patients. Cynically notes that a doctor's skill makes his otherwise crude medical treatment worth its price, and suggests that practitioners should 'charge for their opinions, as expressed in interjections'.
Reports on a 'learned discussion' on the 'causes of rain' and discusses a suggestion that it is caused by the union of volumes of air, a theory which is associated with the 'puffing' actions of the press and the 'dampness of the atmosphere' caused by their 'airy nothings'.
Describes proposal to conquer 'despotism throughout Europe', including the idea of dropping natural science books by balloon onto the continent. The success of the scheme depends on the establishment of 'an extensive series of meteorological observations' for gauging the wind speed.
Human Species, Animal Development, Breeding, Monstrosities, Race
Imagines the consequences of the existence of 'a race of Genii' who are as superior to humans as humans are to poultry, and who are 'Humankind Fanciers'. Imagines human beings with greatly exaggerated features, including 'the legs of a negro enlarged to the dimensions of those of the hippopotamus', and 'young ladies' with 'the superfluity of a figure which characterised the Hottentot VENUS'. The illustration shows a chicken taking pity on his brethren hanging up by their tails in the window of a butcher's shop.
Responds to a report in The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >> of lectures on astronomy, galvanism, and other scientific subjects being given to the Wiltshire Militia. Imagines the hostility of veteran officers but upholds the importance of this innovation.
Steamships, Accidents, Railways, Pollution, Public Health, Homeopathy, Medical Treatment, Technology
Following news of the launch of a 'new weekly periodical', Wonderful ThingsWonderful Things
Directory CloseView the register entry >>, lists a number of developments that it would class among 'Wonderful Things'. These include 'A Government Steamer which can be at sea a whole week without being forced to put back for repairs', 'A Punctual Railway Train', 'A Glass of Thames water that you can drink without deodorising', and a 'Homeopathic practice which is not quite sine-cure'.
Subtitled 'Tie a Couple of Directors À La Mazeppa to Every Engine that Starts with a Train', shows two figures strapped to a locomotive in the style of Ivan S MazeppaMazeppa, Ivan Stepanovich
CBD CloseView the register entry >>, the seventeenth-century aristocrat who was banished from Poland to his native Russia, strapped to a horse.
Railways, Travel, Accidents, Surgery, Medical Treatment, Commerce
Identifying himself as a former 'extensive stage-coach proprietor', laments the passing of coach travel, especially because victims of coach accidents could usually find a surgeon to deal with their injuries. Compares this with the situation illustrated by a legal trial in which a surgeon sued a railway company for his costs when he attended a victim of an accident on the company's line. The spoof letter-writer urges surgeons to 'ascertain the solvency of the sufferer by a railway accident before rendering him any assistance', and points out that when he ran stagecoaches, he was willing to pay for doctor's bills. Tries to explain why the booming railway companies cannot afford to meet medical bills.
Announcing himself as an astrologer, explains how he has to advertise himself as an 'Astronomical Lecturer' in order to avoid prosecution, and asks why the 'Clairvoyante' Mrs Gerald MasseyMassey, Mrs Gerald
PU1/24/15/2 CloseView the register entry >> and the mesmerist Adolphe DidierDidier, Adolphe
WBI CloseView the register entry >> can 'make their guineas out of the faith of the aristocracy', but he is prevented from making money out of his 'humbler public'. Asks why, in the times of 'Free Trade', 'Spirit Rappers' unlike himself can 'go on without molestation'.
Subtitled 'By a Gentleman of the Predatory Profession', responds to the appearance of Illustrated Hue and CryIllustrated Hue and Cry
PU1/24/18/2 CloseView the register entry >>, a periodical which prints photographs of criminals. The illustration shows a criminal looking critically at a 'pictur' of himself on a 'Wanted' notice pasted to a wall.
Discusses 'the entertainment of turning the tables'. Insists that 'the circulation of the table is rather intimately connected with the circulation of the bottle' and that it results from 'that species of electricity, of which—although glass is said to be a non-conductor—the glass and the bottle are the principal agents'.
Announces the formation of a company that seeks to replace railway locomotives with tables which will drag railway coaches by the force of table-turning. Hopes that this will reduce accidents on the railway and explains that the tables will move by the 'volition' of the 'hands of the Company' of directors, who, as Punch already explained in Anon, 'How to Insure Against Railway Accidents', Punch, 24 (1853), 125, would, by being placed at the front of the train, reduce the likelihood of accidents.
Shows a large drawing room in which people are gathered around tables experimenting with the phenomena of hat-turning. The caption explains how to solicit motion from the hat and explains that the moustached figure in the foreground 'thinks that in the pursuit of Science he could perform the Experiment over and over again'.
Responds to a Morning PostMorning Post and Daily Advertising Pamphlet
CloseView the register entry >> report of a 'homeopathic conversazione' featuring a microscope. Notes that the report omitted to mention the magnification of 'an infinitesimal dose of medicine' and the destruction of a flea by this medicine.
Regards a surgeon's LancetLancet
Directory CloseView the register entry >> advertisement for an unwaged 'Gentleman' assistant as an illustration of the cheapening of 'medical science'. Speculates that the advertiser is a Poor Law medical officer who enjoys only 'mean and wretched [...] pittances'.
Reports on the alleged discovery in Hampshire of an enormous 'species of pterodactlye'. Reveals that the monster is 'the Charity Dragon' which has 'subsisted on the property of the Hospital of St CrossHospital of St Cross, near Winchester CloseView the register entry >>, near Winchester'.
Compares the circuitous routes by which mail is delivered to its destination, to similar processes in the electric telegraph, but points out that 'the law of the Electric Telegraph is a law of Nature which is unchangeable' but 'the law of the Post' is at the whim of the General Post OfficeGeneral Post Office
CloseView the register entry >>.
Playing on the ambiguity of the words 'turning' and 'motion', explains how politicians can benefit from the power of 'table-turning'. For example, observes how ministers should try to cause 'some definite motion on the part of the Cabinet', and how a few ministers sitting around a council table can cause the table to turn one way, without the need for others to join hands 'on any one subject'.
Discusses the possibility of making a fortune 'on the strength of a somnambulist's prediction respecting anybody's decease', and wonders why stock-jobbers have not 'availed themselves of clairvoyance', a power which could 'supersede the Electric Telegraph'.