Discusses the alarm and near panic caused by the foul state of the Thames, a 'fetid and unwholesome' river which is thought to 'generate disease or pestilence in the Metropolis' ([v]). Goes on to describe proposals to discontinue proceedings in the House of CommonsHouse of Commons
CloseView the register entry >> until the 'danger to the public health' is reduced by improving the capital's drainage.
Punch, 35 (1858), [vi]–[vii].
Animal Behaviour, Zoological Gardens, Military Technology, Astronomy, Telegraphy, Accidents
Under the subtitle 'Cant in 1809', attacks the 'ridiculous project' for illuminating London streets with 'what is affectedly called "Gas"', and the support that the project has commanded among Englishmen. Resists the proposal to make John Bull pay for illumination by 'an invisible something (or nothing)', which is likely to be poisonous and spread disease, and to cause explosions. Claims that the use of gas will damage the trade of oil merchants and will force 'gas associations' to invade the 'Englishman's house'. (1)
Representation, Pollution, Public Health, Disease, Analytical Chemistry, Microscopy
Describes a picture of the Thames to be painted by Edward W CookeCooke, Edward William
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>. Notes that in representing the river 'as faithfully as possible', 'chemical analysis' had revealed that Thames water was in fact 'an artificial compound of pestiferous ingredients'. The picture is also to include the pollution produced by factories.
Punch, 35 (1858), .
Father Thames Introducing His Offspring to the Fair City of London
Subtitled '(A Design for a Fresco in the New House of Parliament)', shows a bank of the Thames with factories in the background. On the left, the allegorical figure of London looks on with some consternation as four figures emerge from the river: a disgusting-looking 'Father Thames', and gruesome figures representing 'Diphtheria', 'Scrofula', and 'Cholera'.
Based on a poem by Alfred TennysonTennyson, Alfred, 1st Baron Tennyson
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, considers the heating of the Thames on its way to the sea and wishes that its stink would poison 'A Bishop, Peer, or M.P.' Expresses good wishes to those boys who play and swim in the river and considers the 'touch of a despot's hand / To the works of a Board [Metropolitan Board of WorksMetropolitan Board of Works
CloseView the register entry >>] that is nil'. Ends by asserting that he will never be struck dead by the 'appetite' of the river's stink.
Argues that humans should be able to tolerate the Thames if fish can live in it, and attacks the plan of Joseph PaxtonPaxton, Sir Joseph
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> to deodorize the sewers with lime on the grounds that whitebait would be killed. Concludes by calling for 'no more abuse of the gentle River'.
Pollution, Public Health, Disease, Medical Treatment, Government
Describes a rumoured government 'Smelling Expedition' to gauge the quality of the Thames, an expedition which consisted of politicians who had written their wills. They were allegedly accompanied by surgeons and 'every medical appliance to relieve them' of the effects of the stench. Speculates on ways of honouring such 'brave smellers'.
Describes the announcement at the Bombay Geographical SocietyBombay Geographical Society
CloseView the register entry >> of a 'specimen of the Walking-leaf from Java'. Considers that the species was originally in France and 'took French leaf, and walked off', and that 'cutting one's stick' derives from the properties of the leaf—viz. that it '"cuts its stick" and walks away'.
Pollution, Public Health, Sanitation, Government, Politics, Futurism
The reminiscences of an old parliamentarian evidently written late in the nineteenth century. He describes the 'mighty, deadly, subtle, and irresistible' enemy of the Thames that had been 'increasing upon us for years' and which Members of ParliamentHouses of Parliament
CloseView the register entry >> kept trying to 'do something' about. Describes some of the measures taken to disinfect and deodorize the building, but these had little effect on the 'subtle poison'. (18) Proceeds to describe the 1889 session, when the Thames stench had become so bad that politicians were leaving in droves for healthier climes, eventually forcing Parliament to close.
Astonished by the rate at which letters can be sent via David E Hughes'sHughes, David Edward
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> 'printing telegraph', observes that 'ladies might object to corresponding through such a channel', because they would not like to be 'wire-drawn', and that it would ruin penny-a-liners. Believes that the wire will destroy the 'imaginative profession' of those who report on 'vegetable and meteorological phenomena'. Ends by pointing out that penny-a-liners might be saved because of a break in the cable chain.
Disease, Sanitation, Pollution, Government, Commerce, Public Health
Noting the battle over who should pay for the 'purification of the Thames', warns that Father Thames may force Englishmen to pay by the appearance of cholera, by which time it will be too late to argue over the 'pestilential tax'. Observes that it is only when the disease is 'at our thresholds' that we regret the 'accumulation of filth' on the river bed.
Summarises the views of several fictional investigators hired to 'inquire into the unpleasant state of the river Thames'. The investigators include chemists, gas engineers, and medical practitioners, who all offer their analyses of the toxic gases and offer ways of utilising the sewer gases. For example, Mr Meter of 'the Economical Gas Company' contemplates using sewer-gases as artificial lighting, Professor Blowpipe, 'Professor of Chemistry in the University of Smithfield' challenges this view with a chemical explanation, Mr Wiseacre doubts the possibility of using the gases to make soda water, Sir Simon Sage challenges the possibility of using them as fertilisers, 'PETER BLACK, M.D., F.R.S.', judges workers employed on the Thames to be 'more healthy than ordinary labourers', and Mr Sump and Mr Pump disagree over the effectiveness of deodorisation.
Opens by describing the motionless state of the Atlantic telegraph cables on the ocean bed, but then observes that the cable 'Has a second time failed [...] And why, the sages are wholly unable [...] to explain'. Notes that this is to be expected of sages 'Being out of their depth when they get where [the cable] lies'. Concludes by arguing that the failure of the cable is plain 'to the simple'—it is due to 'The [Sea] Serpent enormous' who 'Cuts the Cable right through with teeth sharp as a knife'.
Disease, Medical Treatment, Medical Practitioners, Quackery, Politics
Begins by describing how his apoplexy, an ailment which he believes is brought on by excessive use of the brain and eating, is relieved by resting his brain and stomach, and exercising. Wonders how a doctor would treat him if the latter technique fails to relieve apoplexy, a dilemma prompted by his reading of an article in The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >>, outlining the use of bloodletting and of quaffing brandy and water as rival treatments of apoplexy. Goes on to question how the proposed medical bill will distinguish between qualified and unqualified practitioners for administering such treatments. In a postscript agrees that 'PROFESSOR GULLOWAY's' pills (an allusion to Thomas HollowayHolloway, Thomas
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>) and other quack medicines should be destroyed.
Medical Treatment, Medical Practitioners, Politics, Government, Commerce, Quackery
Ironically applauds the clause in the medical bill 'now passing through ParliamentHouses of Parliament
CloseView the register entry >>' obliging medical practitioners to pay a compulsory registration fee at a rate set by the proposed General Medical CouncilGeneral Medical Council
CloseView the register entry >>. Warns that this clause will allow the council to increase the fee to such a level as might drive poor doctors out of practice. Urges that if the fee is not to be punitive, it should be fixed at a shilling, and observes that this is quite high enough a price to pay for enabling a medical practitioner to 'maintain a lawsuit against any patient who will not or cannot pay him his bill' and to obtain the practice of any neighbouring quack disqualified by the legislation.
Pollution, Public Health, Sanitation, Disease, Government, Politics
Argues that ParliamentHouses of Parliament
CloseView the register entry >> appears to care more for itself than 'the health of other people', a claim based on the fact that the Houses of Parliament have been furnished with deodorising and other sanitary features. Notes that these measures were taken at the public expense, but Punch points out that it might be because Members of Parliament believe that 'Heaven will help those [...] who help themselves'. Attacks MPs for wasting public money in this way and then opposing the idea of cleansing the Thames on the grounds that it is costly.
Quackery, Medical Practitioners, Periodicals, Pharmaceuticals
Criticises a morning newspaper for upholding the value of Thomas Holloway'sHolloway, Thomas
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> pill, a position which might induce a 'fool' to take the pills. Proceeds to another extract in which Holloway's pills are praised as 'miracle-working', but which Punch thinks contains 'not one word of truth'. Doubts whether the newspaper could know that the pills have the curative effects that they claim, and berates 'that portion of the press' that publishes testimonials in support of Holloway's pills.
Shows an aged Father Thames reclining on a pipe which channels water into a river. Standing near Father Thames is a man who holds his nose with one hand and a brush dripping with lime in the other. In the background stands Mr Punch.
Reports on the opposition of chemists and druggists to the 'Sale of Poisons Bill', and the discussion following the complaint of William S Best (2nd Baron Wynford)Best, William Samuel, 2nd Baron Wynford
Cokayne 1910–59 CloseView the register entry >> that the public health bill 'gave no remedy against the Manufacturers who carry on their filthy and noxious trades' on the south bank of the Thames (42).
Punch, 35 (1858), 47.
How Father Thames Appeared to the Cabinet, On the Road to the Whitebait Dinner, and What he Said to Them
On their journey to their 'annual white-bait lark', the cabinet meet the 'grisly form' of Father Thames who is covered with slime and whose mouth pours 'fetid stench and sulphurous flames'. He points out that Father Thames has accelerated other parliamentary legislation but complains that statesmen have given him up, thus forcing the poison from the Metropolitan Board of WorksMetropolitan Board of Works
CloseView the register entry >> to flow in his veins.
Tells Michael FaradayFaraday, Michael
DSB CloseView the register entry >>, 'of Chemists first', of the desperate need to cleanse the Thames and asks whether chemistry can help. Suggests that the slush be used as manure and in the manufacture of 'Sweet essences', but stresses that it simply wants a river that is clean rather than sweet. Adds that the Thames might provide a local source for guano and therefore for fertiliser. Concludes by drawing attention to the shortcomings of conventional means of cleansing rivers and so asks Faraday to 'Do what thou can'st, if science can'.
Discusses Alexis B Soyer'sSoyer, Alexis Benoît
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> invention of a device for enabling soldiers to prepare finely-cooked meats and vegetables, an invention that Punch thinks will strengthen the insides of the British soldier and thus give him 'a stomach for the fight'
Quackery, Medical Practitioners, Medical Treatment, Government, Homeopathy
Proceedings of a meeting of the fictional 'Charlatan's Institution' to discuss ways of opposing the new medical bill. The chairman draws attention to the clause in the bill which penalises those who falsely claim to be medical practitioners, a claim which meets with general disapproval. Proceeds to describe the more articulate responses. These include Dr Billwall, who denies the possibility of proving that somebody is a doctor and asks for the Act to be 'dashed', Mr Corners, who rejects any legislation that would interfere with his 'bills—either those which they stuck up or those which they stuck in', and the inarticulate Dr Jones, who praises Robert Grosvenor (1st Baron Ebury)Grosvenor, Lord Robert, 1st Baron Ebury
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> for allowing them to 'take whatever name or title they chose'. In conclusion, members of the meeting resolve to complement Ebury with a box of 'homeopathic globules'.
Argues that the recently laid Atlantic telegraph supports the well-known claim that 'JONATHAN was descended in a straight line from JOHN'. Adds that the channel of communication will help 'keep the members of a great family constantly alive in each other's affections'. Observes that the shipping firms of Mr CollinsCollins, Mr
PU1/35/7/2 CloseView the register entry >> and Samuel CunardCunard, Sir Samuel
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> were considered too slow for sending messages. Believes that now the 'Union is again restored' and Britain and America now have family ties, but hopes the sea serpent does not 'snap those ties asunder'.
Pollution, Agriculture, Commerce, Nutrition, Engineering, Public Health
Asks 'sewage' why it pollutes rain and urges it to take its rainfall to the river and its sewage to the soil. Explains that by channelling its 'daily sewage' in 'modest tubes' rather than 'monstrous tunnels' to meadows it will purify 'Your rain-brooks', feed cows, fertilise soil, and make profit for farmers. Stressing the amount of dairy produce that could be made from this use of sewage, considers it a waste to throw 'A thousand pounds a day' into 'the German Sea'. The key focus of the poem, however, is an attack on Joseph W BazalgetteBazalgette, Sir Joseph William
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> and his Metropolitan Board of WorksMetropolitan Board of Works
CloseView the register entry >> for building expensive sewage tunnels that will overflow on 'rainy days', and lose valuable sewage and leave rivers 'stinking'. Calls on rate-payers to cry 'SEWAGE TO SOIL AND RAIN TO RIVER' and to demand 'Pipes and profit'.
Responds to news of a man who ejected a needle from his body (without having known how it got there). Expects to hear news of somebody who 'had been throwing crooked pins off his stomach without being aware of ever having bolted them', and suggests that the man may have taken the needle inside him during a fit of 'temporary insanity'. Focusing on the story of a shower of toads, suggests that it might rain cats and dogs too, and that the toads 'are real wonders that cannot be satisfactorily accounted for on natural principles like photographs and electrotypes and electric telegrams'. Adds that such stories are 'calculated to nourish a pleasing thought that the supernatural is not all humbug' and to 'encourage the expectation that we shall one day have a genuine ghost appearing regularly in public at certain times, and perhaps delivering lectures on spiritualism at a scientific institution'. Concludes by noting that this would 'dumfound the intelligence of the nineteenth century', although it 'may have much the same reason for disbelieving in ghosts as the intelligence of other centuries had for believing in them'.
Punch, 35 (1858), 72.
The Anglo-Saxon Twins: Connected by the Atlantic Telegraph
An adaptation of 'Yankee Doodle Dandy', this song celebrates the connection between Britain and America by the Atlantic telegraph cable. Notes that the 'mighty job' was accomplished 'In spite of wind and weather' and has produced a cable from which 'the cause of Freedom gains'. Affirms that 'In firm amalgamation' with 'brother JONATHAN [...] we Anglo-Saxons can [...] whip creation' and better fight 'the Soldier and the Priest'. Adds that by combining forces, the nations can 'preserve from fetters. / A no small some [sic] of human mind, / In science and letters'. Expects the advancement of a 'Free Press' in both countries and that the cable will quickly resolve 'broken peace' and enable trade in 'corn and cotton'. Concludes by reiterating the power of the telegraph to make Britain and America 'Siamese Twins' and to 'Drive all tyrants frantic'.
Likens the Atlantic telegraph cable to a 'wedding-ring' joining Britain and America, a union that has 'long been ardently desired'. Playing on the analogy between telegraphic and marital connection, notes 'many and great obstacles' that 'had to be surmounted', that 'the course of love as usual did not run quite smoothly' and that 'it long seemed doubtful if the splice could be effected'. However, believes that the union has now been 'successfully accomplished' and goes on to describe the six-day ceremony in celebration of this engineering feat. Concludes by noting that Britain and America 'have both henceforward unity of interest, and must go hand in hand in all they undertake'.
Discusses the proposal to move Christ's HospitalChrist's Hospital
CloseView the register entry >> to the countryside owing to the effects of 'sulphuretted hydrogen' in Newgate Street. Later notes claims that the health of boys at the school is 'remarkably good', which suggests that its sanitary condition 'has much improved' since the days when it was notorious for ringworm and other disorders.
Reports on the dwindling employment opportunities for medical practitioners caused by the 'continued fine weather'. Claims that doctors will sing in the streets of their lack of work and wonders how they will find the two guineas which the medical act requires them to pay for compulsory registration.
Imagines 'MECHI' (a reference to John J MechiMechi, John Joseph
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>), who stands 'upon a turbid river's bank', lamenting the fact that the 'phosphates' in the river are 'going to the sea' instead of being use to fertilise soil and thus to make 'riches'. Mechi thinks that ammonia is the 'sweetest [...] of all things flowing here' and instead of 'flying off to scent the thankless air', would like to see it 'to a proper acid wed' and 'then my fallow fields should form thy bridal bed'. Points out that 'mother Earth', which gave birth to the chemicals, will be left 'barren', and that 'while we had cesspools, we had you, we had manure'.
Puns that a peerage should be given to 'ALDERMAN WIRE' (a reference to London alderman David W WireWire, David Williams
WBI CloseView the register entry >>) as the 'fittest memorial' to the laying of the Atlantic telegraph.
Punch, 35 (1858), 76.
Common Objects at the Sea-Side—Generally Found Upon Rocks at Low Water
Depicts several men and women, facing away from the viewer, who are bending down on a beach in search of marine specimens. The consequence of their pose is that from distance, the bent figures resemble the objects they seek—shells.
Punch, 35 (1858), 77.
The Atlantic Telegraph—A Bad Look out for Despotism
In the foreground John Bull is seen on a cliff, holding one end of the Atlantic telegraph, lengths of which coil around his body. The other end of the cable is being held on the distant American cliff by Jonathan, the personification of the United States of America. In holding each end of the wire, John Bull and Jonathan manage to sink a vessel containing a classical god of the sea (probably Poseidon). John Bull tells Jonathan to 'Hold fast' to which Jonathan agrees. The caption refers to the belief that the telegraph will destroy tyranny and despotism (see, for example, Anon, 'The Anglo-Saxon Twins: Connected by the Atlantic Telegraph', Punch, 35 (1858), 72).
Mental Illness, Psychology, Hospitals, Medical Treatment
Discusses a report of a ball for inmates at David Skae'sSkae, David
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> lunatic asylum, near Edinburgh (a reference to the Royal Edinburgh AsylumRoyal Edinburgh Asylum
CloseView the register entry >>). Draws attention to the claim that the inmates danced with 'peculiar propriety, decorum, and grace', but argues that this is not 'wonderful', since 'Dancing is the natural expression of at least certain forms of insanity'. Gives examples of animals and humans who dance during states of delirium. Referring to a book which proposed to treat the insane by inducing them to make sketches while their hands were being guided by spirits, suggests that the insane should dance so that 'insanity may run out at the tips of their toes'. Recommends using dancing as 'the main treatment' in lunatic asylums.
Surgery, Accidents, Medical Practitioners, Medical Treatment, Expertise
Shows a young dentist, whose medical diploma prominently adorns his surgery wall, approaching a patient from whom he has just removed a tooth. The dentist points out that he 'must have made some mistake: there's nothing the matter with this tooth. Never mind, try again!'.
Steamships, Pollution, Sanitation, Public Health, Commerce, Agriculture, Controversy
Suggests that the SS LeviathanSS Leviathan CloseView the register entry >> be 'maintained as a kind of sewer-vessel, for the purification of the Metropolis'. Recommends that on filling the vessel, it should then dump its contents in the 'middle of the ocean', and then return to be filled again. Believes this plan will help the ship out of its precarious financial situation and 'effectually sink all the disputes now raging as to the best system of drainage'. Adds that means might be found for turning the rich sewage into 'profitable account for agricultural purposes'.
Discusses a report of a legal case in which a medical witness argued that a man had died owing to inadequate intake of animal food, and in which the Chief Baron of the Exchequer, Jonathan F PollockPollock, Sir Jonathan Frederick, 1st
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, suggested that the vegetarian diet of policy holders should be taken into account by insurance firms. Thinks the judge's remarks are a salutary warning to those 'deluded and infatuated' vegetarians who 'bring themselves to untimely graves', but points out that most judges are far from being vegetarians.
Shows two fisherman, here represented as 'First Tourist (Zoological)' and 'Second Tourist (Piscatorial)', meeting in a room containing a stuffed fish. The 'First Tourist' describes to the 'Second Tourist', in formal natural historical terms, which marine specimens he has found in the district, whilst the 'Second Tourist' simply wants to know 'What bait did you use, now?'.
Noting that the Atlantic telegraph cannot transmit more than 'five words a minute', suggests that ladies should 'imitate this great economy in verbal expenditure' because gentlemen would thereby pay more attention to them and their words would, 'as in the case of the Atlantic telegraph[,...] go a great deal further'.
Explains a geometrical proposition to his bride, which concludes with him noting that 'Equal angles, so to term them, / Each one opposite its brother! / Equal joys and equal sorrows, / Equal hopes, 'twere sin to smother. / Equal—oh divine extatics— / Based on HUTTON's mathematics!' The last is a reference to Hutton 1798Hutton,
Charles 1798. A Course of Mathematics in Two Volumes: Composed,
and More Especially Designed, for the Use of Gentlemen Cadets at the Royal
Military School, Woolwich, 2 vols, London: G. G. and J. Robinson
CloseView the register entry >>.
Discusses the grammatical infelicities in a message sent by the Atlantic telegraph. Considers the 'frequent omission of verbs, prepositions, articles, and pronouns' to be 'as remarkable as it is cheering', and to indicate that the author is black. Believes the employment of a black man on the Atlantic telegraph 'will afford a practical proof of the essential humanity of the African race' and of the American's recognition of their duty towards them.
Noting the public attention 'towards the subject of insanity', discusses a Neue Preussische ZeitungNeue Preussische Zeitung (Kreuz Zeitung)
COPAC CloseView the register entry >> report of the 'violent and frantic language' of some Jesuit missionaries, language which Punch thinks medical men would ascribe to mental illness. Expresses concern that the behaviour has reportedly spread to the local parish priest.
Recommends that the Atlantic Telegraph CompanyAtlantic Telegraph Company
CloseView the register entry >> connect Britain and American with two or three cables, because the sea serpent could snap the existing one. Draws attention to the fact that any nation waging war on either Britain or America would, owing to the telegraph, face the other country. Thinks the telegraph can 'keep the peace'.
Discusses a report in the Banffshire JournalBanffshire Journal
COPAC CloseView the register entry >> describing an attack on a boy by an animal that appeared to be a cross between a polecat and a domestic cat—a species that Punch thinks is a zoological impossibility.
Suggests that a Scotsman is like a compass needle in that he is an 'infallible' point to steer by and always 'goes South' as much as the needle 'goes North'. Observes: 'He is the magnetic attraction reversed'.
Describes the celebrations held in honour of the 'triumph of the telegraph'. Reports on the large number of cases of lunacy amongst even the 'wisest men in England'. The celebrations include hoisting the SS LeviathanSS Leviathan CloseView the register entry >> to the top of Primrose Hill where it was exploded 'at an altitude of fifteen thousand fathoms', and illuminating the country with special arrangements of gas lamps. (110)
Owing to the variation of clocks, introduces speeches made in 'honour of the laying of the Atlantic cable' to be held next week in New York. The speeches illustrate the small financial contribution of the British to the cable enterprise, uphold Benjamin FranklinFranklin, Benjamin
DSB CloseView the register entry >> and Cyrus W FieldField, Cyrus West
CBD CloseView the register entry >>, but also praise 'the Almighty dollar, and its kindred rights of free expectoration, annexation, and wopping your own nigger'.
A spoof advertisement from a recently-qualified medical student who offers to certify as insane 'anybody, who may be troublesome, or sadly in the way'. Notes that his fees vary 'according to the wealth and respectability of the party he is called upon to pronounce insane'.
Sanitation, Pollution, Public Health, Medical Treatment, Hydropathy, Engineering
Argues that introducing public fountains into London would have the 'greatest moral and sanitary benefits', not least in helping Father Thames 'lead a pure and unpolluted life'. Also recommends the 'hydropathic cure' for Father Thames, which would involve removing his mud, letting him lie on 'one of DR. ARNOTT'sArnott, Neil
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> hydraulic couches', and other applications of water.
Following news of the 'Roman Inquisition' kidnapping a Jewish child and reinstating his Christian faith (for he was originally baptised), distinguishes between vaccination and baptism in that 'Catholicism is not communicable in the same way as cowpox'.
Introduces some effusions from governors of various American states 'in honour of the Atlantic Cable'. These effusions uphold Cyrus W FieldField, Cyrus West
CBD CloseView the register entry >> as an heroic figure in the enterprise and the Atlantic cable as an unprecedented accomplishment, and an invention that has harnessed natural forces, defied the ocean, and bound the Old and New worlds together.
In response to news of the failure of the Atlantic telegraph to transmit messages, reassures readers that the telegraph's power of speech has not gone and, according to 'eminent physicians in electricity', that this deficiency is 'only a case of suspended animation'. Adds that 'the patient' is 'fast mending' and will soon be able to enable the Old and New worlds to communicate.
Notes that the dining-book of the Wellington ClubWellington Club
CloseView the register entry >> states that 'all orders for dinners, complaints, &c., &c., are to be addressed' to the superintendent, Mr Thyer. Punch drolly suggests that Thyer is in the business of supplying medical complaints. Suggests there are 'many bad debts' connected with his establishment because 'the recovery of the debt would, in malignant attacks, be more than doubtful if it depended upon that of the patient'. Advises Thyer to bring his menu 'a little more cheerfully into the character of the Bill of Health' and to stop his 'complaints' following too closely on the 'dinners'.
Describes the 'attacks' which ultimately killed 'JOHN COMPANY, E.I.S.', a reference to the demise of the East India CompanyEast India Company
CloseView the register entry >> as a consequence of the India Act of 1858. Suggests that the deceased died of advanced age, an 'imprudent' life, and moreover, 'intestinal attacks'. Adds that 'an attack of inflammation (Inflammatio Populi) made terribly short work of him'.
Following the appearance of 'the Comet', laments that fact that nobody has satisfactorily explained what the comet is. Notes that although astronomers have seen through the comet they cannot fathom its mystery. Presents the theory that, owing to their ghost-like appearance, comets may be 'ghosts of departed planets', or, because they have tails like tadpoles, are planets in the first stage of development.
Criticises a speech by Richard OwenOwen, Richard
DSB CloseView the register entry >> at the Leeds meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of ScienceBritish Association for the Advancement of Science
CloseView the register entry >> for being too long, but then praises it for conveying knowledge and suggesting new ideas, rather than being boring and platitudinous like most speeches. Extracts from the speech a section in which Owen describes the ability of men to approach divine wisdom by discerning 'in a series of conditions, their co-ordination to produce a given result'. Explains Owen's erudition as the result of an 'habitual (and wonderfully successful) search after natural truth' and contrasts his speech to the 'customary gabble about "sanitary improvement", "educational progress", and "elasticity of the revenue"'. A version of Owen's address was published as Owen 1859Owen, Richard
1859. 'Address', Report of the Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the British
Association for the Advancement of Science; Held at Leeds in September
CloseView the register entry >>.
Discusses the poor life of the comet who is having to put up with being hunted 'to death' and 'chevied down until he goes to earth, or rather sinks below it'. Observes that 'All England has in fact been star-struck for the nonce, and amateur astronomers have been plentiful as partridges', and describes how the comet's movements have been 'continually reported' in the Court CircularCourt Circular
Directory CloseView the register entry >> and other papers. Expresses no surprise that the comet 'looks so red in the face' given the amount of scrutiny from naked-eye observers. As a once 'bright rising star', Punch expresses sympathy for the comet and laments the idea of the 'comet and planet Punch' being stared at every night.
Tells Apollo, the 'Patron of artists', that the 'sons of art abuse thee'—the 'Photographers, on Science basely trading, / The Sun thou rulest to their ends pervert, / And make it do the drawing and the shading / Of pictures cheap and scandalous as dirt'. Calls on Apollo to look on the gruesome faces and 'gross' scenes which photographers portray with 'thy rays', and to 'quell these horrid Pythons of the mud' and to 'smite' these 'foul offensive brood of reptiles' with 'thy sharp shafts'.
Implicitly likening the tail of the comet to that of a bird, describes the pursuit of the comet as if it were a hunt for a game bird. For example, notes that Giovan B DonatiDonati, Giovan Battista
DSB CloseView the register entry >> used the 'brace of pointers which belong to Major Ursa' to point out the tail 'some few weeks ago', and that the 'long tail' has been so carefully watched 'that of those who have been nightly taking telescopic shots at it, few have missed hitting it at the first go off'. Describes the amount of 'night poaching' of the 'sidereal preserves' and asserts that Donati should claim the tail for himself. Expresses no surprise at a newspaper report of the comet's tail presenting a '"winged" appearance', not least because so many opera glasses have been directed at the comet.
Physiology, Miracle, Chemistry, Scientific Practitioners, Experiment, Expertise, Religious Authority, Faith
Discusses a report in The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >> of the apparent liquefaction of the blood of St JanuariusJanuarius, Saint (or San Gennaro)
(d. c. 305)
CBD CloseView the register entry >> in Naples. Claims that this is a 'miracle capable of being attested by the evidence of the men of science', not least because the 'laws which regulate the fusion of solids' are known. Believes that 'a thermometer, a jug of hot water, an ice-pail, and a commission of chemists' is 'all that is needful' to determine whether or not this is a miracle.
Invites the comet to express annoyance at being the object of 'popular stare'. Notes that unlike 'genteel ladies', the comet possibly cannot bear being on view and consequently turns 'red in the face' —an allusion to the comet's appearance.
Punch, 35 (1858), 151–52.
Awful Tale of an Eel: From Our Special Penny-a-Liner
The spoof letter-writer discusses his response to the extraordinary news of a boy who allegedly vomited an eel, which may have been growing in his stomach. Describes his journey to the site of the incident, paying special attention to the geological features of the surrounding countryside.
Describes, with some venom, the last years in the life of a retired physician. Expresses little doubt that the physician is 'hearty, hale, and stout, / In good condition' and that he will 'creep' to his grave 'like a slug'. Reveals that the physician has discovered a cure for consumption and urges him to divulge his secret to 'the mass', so that he can enjoy the act of 'doing good' and being paid 'in that bank aloft'. However, concludes by telling the 'old quack and public bore' to hang himself up 'behind the door'.
Medical Practitioners, Quackery, Politics, Government, Commerce
The spoof letter-writer praises the new medical act on 'behalf of the undiplomatic [i.e. unlicensed] part of the Medical Profession'. Seeks to show how favourably it will work for unlicensed practitioners by citing the 'illiberal observations' of physician George RossRoss, George
WBI CloseView the register entry >>, who holds that quacks will be able to proceed as before and that the act does not sufficiently penalise those who practice illegally. Thanks Robert Grosvenor (1st Baron Ebury)Grosvenor, Lord Robert, 1st Baron Ebury
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> and other politicians for helping to create legislation which will restrict the 'amount of those Bills which heretofore we have been enabled to run up to any sum in certain cases by the threat of exposure'. Points out that this clause will simply force 'undiplomatic' medical practitioners such as himself to 'charge ready money'. Focusing on the thorny issue of registration fees, stresses that such fees, while giving medical practitioners 'the privilege of suing their insolvent patients', will be of no use to them and only enable the public to distinguish the 'diplomatic' from the 'undiplomatics' practitioners—a task for which the public 'does not care twopence'. Concludes that the act is simply one for 'Fining Medical Men Two Guineas' and hopes the 'diplomatists' like it. Expects that few will actually register and 'so lose their precious status' and their hard-earned qualifications.
Discusses an announcement stating that on a certain evening the comet will only be visible from 'the Northumberland Cricket Ground'. Doubts whether this refers to Giovan B Donati'sDonati, Giovan Battista
DSB CloseView the register entry >> comet and suggests that it might be an animal or a theatrical star.
Botany, Zoology, Natural History, Expertise, Class
Discussing a Banffshire JournalBanffshire Journal
COPAC CloseView the register entry >> report of a shoemaker, argues that his claimed mastery of 'ornithology, zoology, conchology and botany' indicates that he possesses 'brains which would raise him at least to the level of a journeyman, and above that of cobbler'.
Presenting Punch as a 'scientific journal' of the 'first rank', reports that it has received extensive correspondence on the supposed effect of the comet on humans, including the suggestion that it might explain the 'strange fact' of Edward G G S Stanley (14th Earl of Derby)Stanley, Edward George Geoffrey Smith, 14th
Earl of Derby
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> 'keeping office'. Relates, 'for the benefit of the scientific world', a story which it considers much more credible. It concerns a 'MR. SM—TH' who, much to his wife's consternation, breaks his life-long habit of being punctual for his evening meal, and arrives home drunk early in the morning. (163) He explains that he has been to Cremorne Gardens to transact some 'mosh-hic-moshhicportant businesh' with 'ish fellow of—Shroyalshiety' (i.e. Royal SocietyRoyal Society of London
CloseView the register entry >>) who wanted to observe the comet. The illustration shows a star field with an outline of great bear connecting some stars, and a comet streaming away from the tail of the bear. The caption reads '"Extremes Meet", As Exemplified on the Night of Saturday October 2nd'. (164)
Regards Christopher ColumbusColumbus, Christopher
CBD CloseView the register entry >> as ranking higher than the Atlantic telegraph in bringing continents together, not least because Columbus had but one pole to guide him' while the telegraph had 'a positive and a negative pole', and while Columbus 'discovered an America', the telegraph 'is still at a loss to find an Europe (a new rope)'.
Electricity, Music, Instruments, Surgery, Medical Treatment, Technology, Domestic Economy, Futurism
Praising electricity for 'taking the circuit of the entire globe' and talking 'without being heard' (references to the Atlantic telegraph), announces two 'recent marvels of electricity'—'piano-forte playing, and tooth-extraction'—which, 'according to your manipulation', shows that electricity 'becomes either an instrument of pleasure, or an instrument of torture'. Discusses the successful attempt by Léon HumarHumar, Léon
PU1/35/17/3 CloseView the register entry >> to make five pianos play simultaneously by means of electricity. Anticipates the possibility of several more pianos being played at once by electricity, but does not look forward to the sound created by multiple piano-playing, 'regarding one piano at a time' to be 'quite enough'. Thinks the benefits of electrical tooth-drawing balance the evils of electric piano-playing. Wonders 'what will not electricity do next?' and anticipates the day when electricity 'will cook our dinner, sew on our buttons, write our letters, make our clothes, whip our children, black our boots, shave our stubbly chins, and even help us with a pinch of snuff', and help us into bed. However, does not think electricity will 'help us pay our Income-Tax'.
Considers it as likely that the Paris-based society for donkey eating ('a sort of Cannibal Society for Eating Ass-flesh') will become popular, as that 'the Comet's tail' will be 'deposited in the British MuseumBritish Museum
CloseView the register entry >>'.
Describes how an 'amateur astronomer', after eating and drinking in a pub, 'discovered the existence of a second Comet', which was the same magnitude as Giovan B Donati'sDonati, Giovan Battista
DSB CloseView the register entry >>, but only visible 'by the help of a champagne-glass'.
Class, Health, Disease, Domestic Economy, Human Development
Having surveyed the indulgent lifestyles of his superiors, the clown thinks that they have much to learn on the 'zubject of health', especially because their expensive and wasteful lifestyles lead to gout, their 'ball-rooms chock full o' foul gas' are worse than 'crowded dwellings', their crinoline dresses are too heavy for their backs, and 'They wun't nuss their babbies as Natur commands'. Concludes by advising his social superiors that 'Mt friends as our labour in luxury maintains, / To live on your means you must use your own braains, / Without self-reliance you'll never larn how / Your puddun to at in the sweat of our brow'.
Begins with an extract from The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >> remarking on the great attention gained by the disappearing comet. The poem opens by wondering whether the comet is departing so suddenly because it has been offended by 'flippant jests' and 'the tribute of a stare'. Observes how people remarked on its beauty, 'That night you stuck your tail before Arcturus', and wonders what will 'delay your moving' along 'the Grand Orrery, of NEWTON'sNewton, Sir Isaac
DSB CloseView the register entry >> grooving'. Believes that the comet regards all the people who observed him, including the 'Sage with ardour mounting / Tower whence his GalileoGalilei, Galileo
DSB CloseView the register entry >>-glass is thrust', as 'not worth the counting'. Imagines a 'bold atom' asking the comet what it will see in two thousand years time, and its suggestions for what it will see include the planet as 'an extinct volcano, white and dumb', 'Priests still leading, as the blind the blind', and 'Earth's choicest youth fierce rushing to the slaughter'. Speculates on the rules and customs of societies at this future time, including whether law will 'be still the rich man's shield and buckler' and whether Europe will have 'ceased to "make Religion / A rhapsody of words"—and some unclean'. Concludes by informing the departing comet that it has 'no right to make a light strain sad'.
Discusses the case of a 'respectable' Keighley medical practitioner who appeared to have published 'a nonsensical puff' through a 'quack advertiser'. Explains that the author of the puff was not this practitioner but his namesake, and urges the practitioner that Punch's previous remarks on the puff should not aggrieve him. Concludes by arguing that such jokes at the expense of quacks are also jokes at the expense of the quack's customers.
Discusses the behaviour of 'His Brightness the Comet' as if it were a monarch. Observations include the fact that the comet 'was attended by a brilliant suite', that it 'starred most successfully for a limited number of nights', and that it may return in two thousand years time.
Expresses no surprise at the departure of the comet given that it was strongly 'put upon', and argues that this comet, like those recorded in history, has been associated with 'baleful influence', and has been viewed as the 'author of all our eccentricities'. Notes that 'Whatever we have done in any way amiss, our excuse for it has lately been "Oh, it's the Comet!"', and supports this claim with several cases of political, religious, domestic, and artistic mishaps on which 'the Comet has had influence', but which clearly have nothing to do with the celestial body. For example, it notes that a 'MR. SCAMPE, in his dismay at the idea of London being burnt up by the Comet, took precautions to ensure [sic] his house for more than twice its value; and finding that the Comet failed to set alight to it, he fired it himself, and swore the Comet did it'. Turning to 'scientific speculation' regarding the effect of the comet on 'planet Punch', claims that the planet has 'not moved from its orbit of philanthropy and fun' and is as attractive and bright as ever.
Human Species, Religious Authority, Animal Behaviour, Descent
Following accusations by vestrymen that PuseyPusey, Edward Bouverie
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>ites were engaged in 'Monkish Practices', suggests, while shrinking from speaking irreverently of the 'reverend gentlemen', that monks can be seen as 'little else than monkeys'. Supports the claim with several comparisons between Puseyites and monkeys: insists that Puseyites are 'strongly prone to imitation, which everybody knows is of a monkeyish descent', and involves the Puseyite aping 'the Priest's bearing and demeanour'; the Puseyites 'evince considerable activity', not least the rapidity with which they alternate 'bows and genuflexions'; Puseyites, like monkeys, 'evince a mania for mischief', in particular their 'monkey-like' enjoyment of the quarrels which ensue from their 'dissensions in the Church'; and Puseyites, like monkeys, exhibit a 'Restlessness of disposition', in particular their habits of 'for ever shifting and changing' their position and their 'Roming tendency'. Concludes by noting that while ladies 'may make pets' of monkeys, such animals irritate husbands, not least when they are 'up to such tricks as the Confession'.
Discusses the operations of the Joint Stock Lollipop CompanyJoint Stock Lollipop Company
CloseView the register entry >> which has been 'formed to supply the juvenile population with lozenges free from poison'. Explains that lollipops are adulterated with the same 'indigestible' material, Plaster of Paris, that is used in the construction of phrenologists' busts. Notes that this substance, used as a substitute for sugar, causes 'Immediate death'. Announces that the Lollipop Company has been formed to produce lollipops free from Plaster of Paris and thus to allay the 'feeling of alarm' which is to be expected from consumers of lozenges.
Following Anon, 'Sweets without Poison', Punch, 35 (1858), 206, shows a skeleton standing in an apothecary's shop, dressed in an apothecary's outfit. He stirs a mixture with pestle and mortar, and around him lie containers of such poisonous substances as arsenic and Plaster of Paris.
Following an article in The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >> (Anon 1859bAnon. 1859b. 'Aerolites', The Times, 12 November
CloseView the register entry >>), discusses some of the characteristics of 'aëroliths'. Describes the landing of such an object in Connecticut in 1807, noting that if it had fallen in the sea it might have killed the sea serpent, inflicting 'an irreparable loss on the Natural History of the Future'. Relates that the impact of aëroliths on the surface is noisy and that they are 'small planetary masses' which, after being attracted to the earth, reach the planet's surface like 'overdone' roast apples. Describes the mundane metallic constitution of the objects, but suggests that they may also contain precious metals. Adds that 'if Jupiter were to go to pieces, he would come down in a golden shower, which would be too much of a good thing for DANAE, represented by the Earth'.
Laments the range of products that tradesmen now adulterate, while the chorus chimes in with the complaint that 'we all look so glum' thanks to 'the Plague of Adulteration'. Goes on to give some specific examples of how foods and drinks are made from unwholesome substances, such as butter from 'pig's lard mixed with fat', and concludes by reaffirming that 'Nought's sold but Adulteration' and claiming that owing to the adulteration of drugs, 'every chemist's now a thief'.
Astronomy, Ancient Authorities, Superstition, Prognostication
Noting the ancient belief that 'stars were supposed to be the representatives' of eminent people, suggests the possibility that the early-November flurry of 'falling stars' are symbols of 'the Mayors then going out of office'.
Argues that 'Thieves, according to Phrenology, should have the organ of adhesiveness as well as that of acquisitiveness in excess, since they are as strongly disposed to stick together as their fingers are to other men's goods'.
Discusses a Morning PostMorning Post and Daily Advertising Pamphlet
CloseView the register entry >> article about a young man in New York who murdered his parents and servants—victims who, according to the author of the Post article, were later to be 'in a fair way to recovery'. Rejecting the possibility that a miracle has happened, suggests that the author had been subjected to a 'reflex-action' which made him use the latter phrase (one which he evidently used a good deal) instead of 'as well as could be expected'.
Anticipates that because the 'Adulteration Mania' has apparently reached its nadir, then matters can only improve. Believing that the supply will stop when the demand ceases, does not doubt that lunatics will be the only people left buying 'sweetmeats' and other 'compounds of adulterating tradesfolk'.
Discusses the bird show at the Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace
CloseView the register entry >>, and expresses general disappointment with the exhibition, especially since the birds 'were either bashful or stupid', 'those who could talk would not talk', and 'those who could sing either lost their voices, or else were labouring under a very severe cold'. Directs special criticism at an 'impostor' starling, whose talking and singing skills left much to be desired. Notes that the 'Hooded or Royston Crow' was the 'great "star"' owing to its extraordinary age, although the costly bird was unaccountably hidden from view. Punch's descriptions of the other birds includes that of the 'Long-Eared Owl', the 'great success of the exhibition', which appeared to take particular interest in killing two canaries and could be 'cheered' on mentioning the word 'mouse'.
Argues that 'this wholesale adulteration' has the particular benefit that since 'drugs are so diluted, and poison so mixed up with more innocuous ingredients', it becomes difficult to use them successfully to poison oneself. Points out that 'Death would much more probably ensue from a pennyworth of peppermint, or a lollipop or two'. Expresses hope that 'these facts' will be spread widely by the press and dramatists, and then considers the effects of adulterated (and therefore weakened) poisons on melodrama: it would, for example, thwart villany, and give rise to plots where characters were murdered with 'an adulterated dinner'. Proceeds to discuss how novelists could 'give publicity' to the truths of adulteration, including the construction of plots 'wherein all the troubles and the torments of the heroine and hero might be brought on or cleared off by a judicious introduction of adulterated articles'. Concludes by noting the Lancet'sLancet
Directory CloseView the register entry >> exposure of the adulteration of tea, coffee, and milk.
The narrator begins by portraying a 'fawning toady' addressing an aristocratic woman concerning reports (in the event erroneous) that surgeon Benjamin C BrodieBrodie, Sir Benjamin Collins, 1st Baronet
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> was to be elevated to the peerage, but then counsels: 'The Peerage will still be kept pure / From contact with a titled surgeon'. Thinks that 'Some recognition might be fair / Of those who use the ars medendi', and sees no reason why 'The Scalpel' should be 'laid away in ermine' if 'the good sword may claim its fee / In titles'. Questions peers as to whether 'our laws' have done as much good as Brodie's forceps, and upholds the claim that 'clear-eyed Honour gladly decks / The man who heals good people's bodies'. Concludes by assuring peers that Punch will still bow to them but 'greets SIR B[enjamin]., and not LORD BETCHWORTH' (a reference to Brodie's family seat at Broome Park, Betchworth, Surrey).
Punch, 35 (1858), 235.
'Le Renard Dans Les Filets' (Not after La Fontaine)
Education, Universities, Chemistry, Cultural Geography
Discusses a statement made by Lyon PlayfairPlayfair, Sir Lyon, 1st Baron Playfair of St
DSB CloseView the register entry >> during one of his first lectures as the newly-appointed professor of chemistry at the University of EdinburghUniversity of Edinburgh
CloseView the register entry >>. Playfair had expressed his intention to make 'considerable alterations' in the modes of chemistry teaching at the university and stressed that he had sacrificed a more lucrative position in London for his present one. Punch praises Playfair's 'magnanimity', and draws attention to his chemical work, and the excitement that his 'example' has produced 'on the part of those who will probably not imitate it'. Points out that the last time the English-Scottish border was crossed was by the 'hindmost of a party of "blue-bonnets"' who had English cattle in front of them, and English yeomen and constables after them. Expects that the Scots will 'make the most' of Playfair.
Adulteration, Nutrition, Analytical Chemistry, Class
Reports on a meeting of 'the liveried attendants of the aristocracy' to discuss 'recent disclosures respecting the adulteration of food'. The meeting resolves to communicate with 'a distinguished chemist' to analyse the amount of alum and 'daff' in hair-powder.
Discusses a proposal to lay telegraphs within 100 yards of 'every man's door'. While Punch accepts the benefits of being within 'five minutes' of pleasant invitations and news, deplores the consequences 'of being within five minutes of every noodle who wants to ask you a question, of every dun with a "little account", of every acquaintance who has a favour to beg'. Claims that the present arrangement of telegraphs saves him from 'Mrs. P's anxieties' and other questions, but 'with a House-Telegraph, it would be a perpetual téte-à-téte' with her, and would lead to such undesirable consequences of being 'always in company [...] with all our acquaintance', of being unable to gain solitude, and of 'being able to oversee and overhear all that is being done or said concerning us all over London!'. Concludes by denying that society is 'quite ripe for the House-Telegraph yet'.