Godfrey'sGodfrey, Nathaniel Stedman
WBI CloseView the register entry >> latest pamphlet on table-turning, asks the clergymen a
series of questions about the vocal and conversational abilities of tables,
including the discovery of 'a stuttering table'.
The action takes place in 'the Villa of MR.
PATERFAMILIAS', a character whose wife looks up to him as 'the
impersonation of all that is profound in science'. He is constantly writing
The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >> and
his son, 'MASTER NEWTON (so called
ISAAC)Newton, Sir Isaac
DSB CloseView the register entry >>', possesses 'a great turn for the philosophy
of common things'. Mr Paterfamilias argues that attending 'DR.
BACHOFFNER'sBachhoffner, George Henry
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> chemical course' at the
Royal Polytechnic InstitutionRoyal Polytechnic Institution
CloseView the register entry >>
is much better for the mind than
Astley's Royal AmphitheatreAstley's Royal Amphitheatre, Lambeth CloseView the register entry >>. He
laments his son George's lack of interest in science and relishes his other son
Newton's experimental pursuits and scientific reasoning. (4) Mr Paterfamilias's
daughters, whom he thinks should spend their time 'a little more rationally',
grumble about the mess caused by Newton's pursuits. Reading a 'Blue Book' on
'the Ventilation and Warming of Houses', Mr Paterfamilias warns his wife and
daughter that they are emitting 'poisonous exhalations' and resolves to start
experiments on methods of ventilating his house. (5)
Societies, Crime, Medical Treatment, Charlatanry, Medical
Explores the consequences of the formation of a society for prohibiting 'the
sale of fermented liquors, except for medicinal purposes'. Believes that
legislation 'treating strong drinks as drugs' would 'be a boon to the medical
profession' because doctors would have the power to 'prescribe thousands' for
every draught that they now prescribe. Speculates on the terms in which doctors
would permit the consumption of large quantities of liquor for treating
A monthly diary forwarded to Punch by 'MR.
BUCKET' (a reference to a character in
Charles J H
Dickens'sDickens, Charles John Huffam
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>Bleak House). It records the author's participation
in a wide range of 'quack' pursuits including his involvement in homeopathic
organisations, teetotalism, and vegetarianism, his foundation of a 'Hydropathic
establishment', his demonstrations of electro-biology, his fraudulent and
highly profitable shows of mesmerism, 'Table Turning' and 'Spirit-Rapping', and
his dubious work casting horoscopes. Illustrations represent the author's work
as a hydropathist, mesmerist, and exhibitor of magic lanterns.
Includes stage directions describing the 'Ventilating Apparatus' that Mr
Paterfamilias has installed in his house by 'the distinguished practical and
consulting chemist, MR. BELLOWS'. However,
'colds are prevalent' in his family, despite the 'triumph' of 'scientific
principles of ventilation'. The drama consists of Mr Paterfamilias's attempts
to give scientific justification for his now cold and draughty house, from
which his family's health has suffered. Later, Mr Paterfamilias discovers that
his scientifically-minded son, Newton, has damaged the apparatus, causing it to
blow poisonous gas and smoke into the house. (12)
Describes some of the wares sold by 'MESSRS.
GREENWOOD, VARNISH, VENEER
AND CO.', a company, patronised by 'CLERGYMEN OF THE
CHURCH OF ENGLAND' (a reference to
Godfrey'sGodfrey, Nathaniel Stedman
WBI CloseView the register entry >> book on table-turning), that specialises in various items
of furniture that communicate 'by the new system of Spirit-Rapping'.
Medical Treatment, Health, Temperance, Government, Politics
Criticises the attempt 'to put a legislative stop' to alcohol consumption
'except for medicinal purposes'. Describes some of the loopholes in such
legislation and argues that an Act of
ParliamentHouses of Parliament
CloseView the register entry >> prohibiting spirit drinking
would have to specify the 'imaginary maladies' which are 'not within the
exceptions allowed by the statute'.
Describes his invention for testing books whose religious 'orthodoxy or
moral fitness' is 'called in question'. The 'Orthodoxometer or Theoloscope'
exploits table-turners' claim that tables are apparently unable to rotate when
pious books are placed on them but rotate violently when 'profane or heterodox
literature' lies on them. It requires 'practised table-movers to place
themselves en rapport with the table' and to record the behaviour of the
table after suspect books are placed on it. Includes a list of results which
correlate title of work with movement of table/degree of profanity. Hopes his
invention will end theological controversy and be 'seized or distrained upon'
Opens with a dispute between Mr Paterfamilias and his wife over the need for
coal in the house. Mr Paterfamilias prefers gas illumination to the
'unscientific' practice of coal-illumination, but Mrs Paterfamilias cites
Henry Letheby'sLetheby, Henry
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>
evidence revealing the problems associated with gas lighting. (22) Later, Mrs
Paterfamilias objects to the high cost of installing Mr Paterfamilias's
purified illuminating gas apparatus and her husband tries to defend the economy
and cleanliness of gas illumination. Finally, Mr Paterfamilias has to deal with
his cook's resistance to the idea of installing 'patent gas-cooking
apparatuses' in the house. (23)
Opens with Mr Paterfamilias's preparations for a dinner party at which he
intends to show off his illuminating gas apparatus. Mr and Mrs Paterfamilias
discuss the pressure 'oscillation', cost, and decided smell of the gas. Later,
the dinner-party guests offer their wisdom on the gas smell, including the
'analytical chemist', Mr Bellows, who proceeds to test the purity of the gas by
an elaborate chemical procedure. During the dinner party, guests debate the
possibility that the gas-cooking apparatus has spoilt the taste of the food,
and Mr Bellows offers advice on the oscillations of the gas lighting. Following
the extinction of the lighting, Mr Paterfamilias's scientifically inclined son,
Master Newton, is found to have caused the problem by taking water out of the
meter for the purposes of analysing it.
Discusses an advertisement for 'ALI
AHMED's Cough Pill' and other remedies. Cautiously recommends
the treatments, but worries that their efficacy depends on the patient having
the diet common to the region whence the treatments derive—the desert.
Expresses concern about the composition and corresponding effects of the
Concerns Mr Paterfamilias's new interest in food adulteration. Having learnt
about the horrors of food and drink adulteration from a 'valuable periodical',
he argues that greater chemical instruction would enable more people to detect
adulteration. Paterfamilias's daughters grumble about their
scientifically-inclined brother, Newton, and his dangerous and cruel
experiments, and he shocks his wife by identifying the substances with which
foods and drinks are adulterated. Later he decides to solve the problem by
brewing his own beer, a process that whets the appetite of Newton who baffles
his mother with long scientific words.
Medical Practitioners, Charlatanry, Commerce, Quackery
Urges medical men to 'do something towards reforming their Profession',
complaining that a 'doctor's remuneration' is based on the 'smallness and not
the magnitude of his services'. Illustrates this argument with the case of two
fictional and contrasting doctors: Dr Head administers a 'judicious dose' to a
patient, cures his patient, but only gets paid five shillings; Dr Block tries a
wide range of ineffective treatments on the same patient who makes him wealthy.
Urges that physicians be allowed to charge according to the 'importance' of the
disease, a move it is believed will 'expedite' rather than retard the cure of
Continues the story of Mr Paterfamilias's home-brewing experiments, in which
members of his family, including his scientifically-inclined son, Newton,
participate. The first phase of the experiment produces an unsatisfactory
result (a small quantity of pale malt) but later that night, after Mr
Paterfamilias has left the beer to ferment, Newton's 'inductive
experimentalism' gets the better of him when he peers into the fermenting
vessel and is struck by the exploding gases. Newton is later discovered by
other members of his family and is chastised by his father as a 'rash but
gifted child' (59).
Geology, Animal Development, Palaeontology, Medical Practitioners,
Medical Treatment, Homeopathy
Introduces a St Valentine's day poem that reflects the 'character and
pursuits' of the person to whom it is addressed. Presents a poem from Mary
Shale to 'MICHA SLATE, ESQ.,
Professor of Geology', which uses geological metaphors to express
feelings: for example, the author regards her lover as 'harder than the igneous
rocks' and asks, 'Why dost thou leave my merits for the faults / In veins of
metal?'. She recollects her emotional response to his talk of 'Submergence and
denuded banks' and wonders whether he would have 'dragged my fossil form today'
had she cast her lot in 'Oxford clay'. Adds that although she feels 'each day a
keener smart, / The "non-progressive" theory is thine' and bids him farewell
because he is more interested in geology than in her.
Continues with a similar poem from Matilda Meagrim to Eusebius Jones, a
surgeon. The author fears that her lover's heart will be 'stopped [...] by
fibrinous ossification' and worries that whenever she presents parts of her
body for 'friendly inspection', he treats them as subjects for harsh medical
inspection. Concludes by stressing that her illness cannot be cured by
commonplace medical treatments but by 'CUPID's own
Describes the aftermath of the disastrous home-brewing experiments tried by
Mr Paterfamilias and his family. Mr Paterfamilias has written up his 'domestic
experiences' for communication to the 'British public', but his wife points out
that his letters to
The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >>
concerning ventilating apparatus were never published. She goes on to criticise
his experiments but he, adamant about doing something 'for the public good',
proposes to publicise his fermentation experiments. (70) Later Mr Paterfamilias
argues over the cost of home brewing with a neighbour and discovers that his
experiments have produced vinegar.
Discusses the alleged abilities of Professor Zoroaster, a practitioner of
the science of 'Astro-Phrenology', which he performs 'on moral and Christian
principles'. Notes that he quotes scripture 'on behalf of fortune-telling by
the stars', but wishes him confined to a cell.
Domestic Economy, Health, Nutrition, Physiology, Medical
Continues the story of Mr Paterfamilias and his family. Describes Mr
Paterfamilias's new interest in 'Diet and Regimen' and his concern to reform
the 'hours', dress, and diet of his daughters. (80) His recommendations include
a walk in the morning, 'uninterrupted' cold sponge baths, and 'calisthenic
exercises' (81). Later Mr Paterfamilias shows his medical skills by
successfully resuscitating a drowned Dorking fowl.
Responds to news of the invention of an instrument for 'indicating persons'
thoughts by the agency of nervous electricity'. Claims that the instrument has
been used to tease out the thoughts of an
Old BaileyOld Bailey Sessions Court
CloseView the register entry >> barrister.
Denies that the price of the instrument is worth 'anybody's thoughts' but
thinks the instrument will be useful in probing the thoughts of those statesmen
involved in the 'Turkish question'.
Continues the story of Mr Paterfamilias and his attempt to carry out his
'Domestic Reform Bill in his own person and that of his daughters'.
Describes a scene in which Mr Paterfamilias's daughters are seen wearing proper
clothes (including 'high frocks' and 'lambswool stockings') and exercising with
a Coldstream guard. Continuing his domestic reform, Mr Paterfamilias insists,
despite his wife's protests, that it is healthy to wear a moustache and a
broad-leafed felt hat. His wife is appalled at his changes to their family's
clothes and routine.
Electricity, Physiology, Natural Law, Human Species, Gender, Analogy,
Discussion of a new book on 'electricity and the human body, and the modes
of developing it' which plays on the fact that terms such as 'shocks',
'attraction', and 'repulsion' apply to both electricity and social behaviour.
Explains that the laws governing the 'phenomena of mutual attraction and
repulsion' depend on such factors as hair colour and 'sparks' given off by the
eyes. Adds that treating 'the body as an electrical machine', the most
'eligible form' of the 'softer sex' is that which possesses an 'hour-glass'
shaped apparatus. Notes that the human machine energetically decomposes water
and can be most effectively insulated by removing its money.
Animal Behaviour, Politics, Cultural Geography, Race,
Written to represent the author's limited literacy, provides a decidedly
unfavourable description of the appearance and habits of the Russian
bear—a thinly-veiled representation of Russia itself, with whom Britain
is on the verge of declaring war. Description includes such remarks as 'the
Rooshan Bear is notorious for its cruelty and windictiveness to the human
specie' and 'extends his ravidges and deprefations into the adjinin'
territories in all directions'.
Cruelty, Animal Behaviour, Human Species, Railways, Travel, Class,
Applauds new legislation which extends the protection to animals and
welcomes news that the
Cruelty Prevention Society of
ArmaghCruelty Prevention Society of Armagh
CloseView the register entry >> is 'about to extend its operations to the case of travellers
by railway'. Laments the fact that such humans, not least third-class railway
passengers, will not benefit from these measures.
Questions the authenticity of a report of a giant tree discovered in
California and, not wishing to thwart the imaginative powers of 'the gentlemen
of the press', urges them to 'invent' a tree 'which shall throw into shade'
such 'arborescent myths' as 'Nine Elms'.
Suggests some likely answers to questions from examination papers in
mathematics, geology, and chemistry, 'set at a Ladies' School'. The answers
play on stereotyped notions of women's domestic interests. For example, the
suggested answer to 'What is an isosceles triangle?' is 'The shape of a nasty
little wretched sandwich that one gets at MRS.
ASTERISK'S evening parties'.
Describes a Russian invention for sinking the British fleet in the Baltic.
It involves exploding lumps of rock floating on ice, the rocks being covered
with gunpowder which is detonated by galvanic currents sent down heavily
insulated telegraph wires.
Reports that Russians are resorting to gaslight owing to dwindling supplies
of tallow candles, and notes the use of the more expensive gas-lighting in
Paris and London, expecting both capitals to be shrouded in darkness.
Steam-power, Pollution, Public Health, Government, Meteorology,
Noting contemporary praise of steam power, questions the efficacy of
Mr Spooner'sSpooner, Mr
PU1/26/16/1 CloseView the register entry >>
expensive steam-powered machines for ventilating the
CommonsHouse of Commons
CloseView the register entry >>, specifically, the use of burnt air in the process and the
connection of the machines to a sewer. Likens the House of Commons to 'a huge
monster breathing foul air' whose members breathe the monster's 'unsavoury
gases', and criticises the strong gusts of air that flow through the building.
Following the notion that 'things natural and moral' are connected, wonders
whether the changing temperature inside the House of Commons is connected to
the 'climate of England'
Condemns the adulteration of confectionary, and criticises the
Directory CloseView the register entry >>Analytical Sanitary CommissionLancet—Analytical Sanitary Commission
CloseView the register entry >>
for failing to observe an 'analogy between the articles and purchasers' of
adulterated food: that the 'simple greens' of food colouring 'are verdigris',
which are poisonous, and 'well suited to the other not less simple greens who
possess copper and spend it on such trash'. The illustration shows Mr Punch and
another figure, who holds a large bottle labelled 'Poison'.
Military Technology, War, Technology, Electricity, Electrochemistry,
Describes a new weapon invented by Russia to defeat the British fleet in the
River Neva. It consists of two charcoal electrodes, separated by a distance
larger than the width of a ship which, when connected to a massive galvanic
battery, produces an intensely hot and bright spark. Notes that any vessel
sailing between the electrodes will be destroyed. Adds that
'PROFESSOR HOCUS has also submitted to the
EmperorNicholas I, Emperor of Russia
CBD CloseView the register entry >> a plan for
poisoning the British Public by poisoning the East wind'.
Discusses a 'fierce conflict' between the 'Guardians of the Poor' and the
medical officers they employ over the allegedly 'paltry' remuneration of the
latter. Notes that the Poor Law guardians in Greenwich expect to be commended
CommissionPoor Law Commission
CloseView the register entry >> for having kept medical officers' salaries so low.
Ironically considers which of the competing examples of exploitation of medical
officers would be most likely to win Punch's 'palm'.
Describes 'the Improved Pocket Chaff-Machine', an invention aimed at 'young
Gentlemen going to the Derby' which will 'supply Chaff of the newest, as well
as the most ancient description' and produce 'amusing questions of domestic
Railways, Accidents, Military Technology, War, Imperialism
Speculates on a reputed 'engine of destruction' that will 'annihilate war
itself'. Considers the railway engine to be 'the greatest engine of
destruction' and suggests that were the English government to build railways
throughout 'the whole of his mighty Empire' there would be little resistance to
the ensuing 'wholesale slaughter' and wars would end.
Depicts Mr Punch's dream during a visit to the newly-opened
CloseView the register entry >>. In the foreground, in front of Mr Punch, stand Egyptian and
Roman figures. The illustration is dominated by two gigantic seated Egyptian
figures (in the style of the tomb of Rameses II), around which are shown
several scenes from the exhibition, including visitors observing prehistoric
Human Species, Health, Mental Illness, Political Economy,
In this discussion of moves towards reducing the hours of business, the
author compares unfavourably the achievement in 'economising the labourer' to
that in economising labour. Argues that 'men should not be "used up"' as if
they were replaceable machines. Warns that 'wear and tear of the human machine
may lead to mischief beyond the power of remedy' and laments the neglect of
labourers' 'immaterial' constituent by employers.