One of the twelve characters is 'The Mesmerist'. The illustration depicts a man mesmerising a maid-servant and the caption notes that 'Jenkins the power of causing sleep can boast / For to a horrid pass he's brought the Post'. The reference is to Punch's spoof Morning PostMorning Post and Daily Advertising Pamphlet
CloseView the register entry >> journalist, Peter Jenkins, who personified the paper's sycophancy (Altick 1997Altick, Richard D. 1997. Punch: The Lively Youth of a
British Institution 1841–1851, Colombus: Ohio State University
CloseView the register entry >>, 77–78).
Medical Practitioners, Medical Treatment, Education, Anatomy
These 'Questions for Circulation Among Medical Students' relate to the more disreputable and dissolute part of medical students' life. Questions include 'Scientifically speaking, what are the advantages of a game at billiards over an anatomical demonstration?'.
Medical Treatment, Invention, Light, Psychology, Education, Mechanics, Mathematics, Light
The author of the introduction presents the testimony of 'three undergraduates and one bed-maker' for the 'patent Self-Acting Americano herbo-medicated vapour-bath'. W Grenorn, a student expected to do badly in his examinations, describes how the machine expanded his mind 'under the action of vaporeal caloric', and helped him to understand hydrostatics and optics, and avoid failure. Walter Newun claims the machine had made him Senior Wrangler.
Societies, Comparative Philology, Human Species, Archaeology
Detailed description of the 'unrolling of a mummy' by 'Adam Rummedge, M.D., F.R.S., F.S.A., &c', at the 'Western Literary and Scientific Institution'. The figure beneath the thick layers of clothing turns out to be an ancient Hackney Coachman. The corpse is described as if it were an ancient relic. For example, the article notes that while embalming was practised by the ancient Egyptians and the royal family of England, 'it was not customary to embalm Jarvies [the family name of the Coachman] or Hackney Coachmen', and concludes that the coachman probably wanted to be 'buried in his ordinary attire' and that 'the saturation of his whole frame by alcohol, consequent on continual dram-drinking, had enabled it to resist decomposition'. The illustration shows the heavily dressed coachman.
Describes the mechanics' institution lecturers' examination of Jonas Clump on his knowledge of mechanics. The lecturers' report betokens their defective education and includes such remarks as '[Clump] is a wedgeable dealer in Clare Market [...], know'd what the wheel and axle was. Had had many opportunities of seeing of it; had often examined it under his own go-cart. Hadn't cal'clated its power; in fact, rather looks to his hoss for the power'.
A response to Anon 1833Anon. 1833. Insects and their Habitations: A Book for
Children, London: John W. Parker
CloseView the register entry >>. Punch claims that it knows too much about 'insects and their habitation' and describes, in its own non-technical and droll terms, several common insects with which it has 'formed a practical and by no means agreeable acquaintance'. The spider, for example, is described as a species 'partial to lodging houses; especially to those portions of them which are tenanted by single gentlemen', while the moth is described as 'an insect of Hebrew origin, from its attachment to old clothes'.
Remarks on the 'mildness of the season' and reports on the occurrence of some agricultural, botanical, and other phenomena usually witnessed in spring. Grumbles that 'none of our Natural Philosophers, Astronomers, Astrologers, Meteorologists, Murphies [a reference to the weather prophet, Patrick MurphyMurphy, Patrick
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>], or Clerks of Weather, have foretold, or satisfactorily accounted, for such a signal deviation from the usual march of the seasons'.
Announces a 'GIGANTIC UNDERTAKING' which it believes will be 'the wonder of the world'—a British-built and financed 'MONSTER STEAM-ENGINE' for pumping water from the Bay of Naples into the active volcano, Mount Vesuvius.
Summarises the contents of a new parliamentary bill for improving railway travel. Proposals include such pedantic items as preventing a husband and wife from sitting in the same carriage 'for fear of their falling out during the journey'.
Discusses a letter in The TimesThe Times
Directory CloseView the register entry >> in which the correspondent complains of his physician's failure to break down his bill into specific quantities. Thinks the correspondent believes that 'medicine has a marketable value [...] and that skill and science can be sold by weight and measure'. Suggests a model doctors' bill which includes such items as 6s. 8d. for 'replying, in the negative, to your question, Whether oyster-sauce was good for you?'.
Anaesthesia, Medical Treatment, Analytical Chemistry, Reading, Periodicals
Claims that the new medicine, morphine, is processed from files of Punch's nemesis, the Morning PostMorning Post and Daily Advertising Pamphlet
CloseView the register entry >>, and that the journal will be renamed 'the Morning Morpheus' and be issued with two sheets to help its readers sleep.
Medical Treatment, Human Species, Quackery, Mental Illness, Crime
Describes four patent medicines 'for the patronage of the British Public': 'Kalopoietic Sternutatory, or Beautifying Snuff'—a potion for removing warts and other unsightly features from the nose; 'Metamaphoseon, or Transforming Eye Water'— a potion for changing the colour of the eyes and for correcting poor vision; 'Figure Pills'—a medicine for removing bodily deformities and 'all unshapely extremities'; and the 'Moral and Intellectual Elixir'—an 'unfailing remedy for all MENTAL MALADIES from INSANITY and FATUITY to MANIA'. The latter potion is touted as a cure for criminality and ignorance and recommended to 'Metaphysicians, Philosophers, and all Persons engaged in the investigation of Truth'.
Responds to news that a 'professor of mesmerism' tried to defend his brother from charges of theft by claiming that he 'committed the felony when in a state of "mesmeric coma"'. Thinks ParliamentHouses of Parliament
CloseView the register entry >> should establish a committee for enquiring into the latter state and thus prevent wrongful imprisonment and transportation. Expresses concern that the 'man of mesmerism be suffered to tamper with [...] the moral principle', and with the possibility that John ElliotsonElliotson, John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> can turn somebody into an 'unconscious robber', whilst conjurors can plant subversive ideas in the minds of the working-classes. Agrees that mesmerism, 'like poetry is "a true thing"' and is 'mysteriously subtle in its operation', but asks for 'heavy penalties upon those who practise this newest Black Art'. Expatiates further on the 'social danger' posed by the fact that mesmerism removes 'all human responsibility'. (100) However, regards one of mesmerism's key 'advantages' as the possibility of making 'a faithful narrator' of the 'hidden doings' and actions of the people's 'magistrates and rulers' (101).
Notes that one of the society's resolutions is that 'Natural History teaches that butterflies lay eggs' and that 'butterfly hunting, besides being a salutary, and wholesome exercise to youth, is conducive to the extirpation of grubs'.
Descibes the charter of a new league formed to 'protect the cultivators of earth-grown water-cress against the competition of the artificial vegetable produced in ordinary slop-basins'. Various arguments are advanced against growing vegetables in slop basins.
Extracts from an 'old volume in the British MuseumBritish Museum
CloseView the register entry >>, entitled "Formes and Fashiones by Geometry"'. The extract explains how to 'construct ye militari Hatt' and flower pots by transformations of a triangular figure. The illustration comprises geometrical diagrams showing the construction of the hat.
A series of questions and answers designed to inculcate knowledge of algebraical concepts. The answers involve puns on the mathematical word in the question. For example, the 'limits of roots' are the 'sides of garden-pots and flower-boxes'.
Pharmaceuticals, Medical Treatment, Matter Theory, Chemistry, Psychology
Expresses his feelings about a lost love, Betsy, in terms of pharmaceutical preparations. Remembers a time when she was as 'delicious' as artificial fragrances and 'was all Almond-mixture'. Now he regards her as 'a fierce and foaming combination / Of turpentine and vitriolic oil', and 'Brimstone's very incarnation'. Seeks to resolve his problems through various chemical substances including 'aromatic vinegar', prussic acid, and arsenic. Declares he has 'no faith in physic's agency' because 'Humbug is its Active Principle, / Its ultimate and Elemental Basis'.
Laments the fact that 'certain unfortunate animals have had their characters grossly misrepresented; and divers eccentric creatures have assumed a place among the recognised mammalia'. Examples of these 'unfortunate animals' include the elk, which was 'transformed into the unicorn', and William PittPitt, William
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, who was 'transformed into the "Heaven-born minister"'. This is a prelude to a discussion of the identity of the mysterious individual, 'Miles' Boy', who is subsequently identified as the statesman Henry P Brougham (1st Baron Brougham and Vaux)Brougham, Henry Peter, 1st Baron Brougham and
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>.
A series of questions and answers designed to inculcate knowledge of algebraical concepts. The answers involve puns on the mathematical word in the question. For example the meaning of the 'negative sign' is 'a shake of the head'.
Politics, Government, Human Development, Narcotics, Disease, Class, Medical Practitioners
Discusses Brougham's contributions to the House of CommonsHouse of Commons
CloseView the register entry >> debate on the Factory Bill. Insists that Brougham is unaware of the fact that 'women employed in the factories could not suckle their children' and challenges Brougham's argument that because this practice has not proved injurious to aristocratic mothers, it should be safe to factory women. Adds that Brougham found it difficult to believe that factory women could not hire wet nurses for their children. The author points out that such mothers do hire wet nurses, 'and their names are "Opium", "Godfrey's Cordial", and "Gin"'. Laments Brougham's 'ignorance of this fact' and invites him to consider a speech of Anthony A Cooper (Lord Ashley)Cooper, Anthony Ashley, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury
(formerly styled 'Lord Ashley')
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> describing the staggering quantities of opium and 'other preparations' administered by factory women to their children to keep them still—a practice that leads to children falling victim to hydrocephalus. Concludes by wondering whether Brougham would have been so 'insulting' to factory women had he known this, and would not have compared factory women to those aristocratic ladies who can hire family physicians.
A series of questions and answers designed to inculcate knowledge of algebraical concepts. The answers involve puns on the mathematical word in the question. For example the 'plane faces of solid figures' are 'the countenances of fat cooks'.
Describes several 'antediluvian delicacies' for 'public patronage' including 'Icthyosaurus Jelly', 'Paté de Mastondonte', 'Fossil Pot Pourri', and 'Megatherium Soup'. Adds a testimonial signed Widdicombe, which claims that the 'delicacies' are 'perfectly identical with the dishes of the same name which I tasted ages ago'.
The letter shows the author's low degree of literacy and describes the author's wife, the principal of the college, as 'F.R.S.', or 'Fond o' Rum Srub'. The other members of staff at the college include such characters as 'Perfesser of the Theary an Practis ov Pi-Crust', and the 'Regus Perfesser ov Puddens'. Announces that 'a laberetory will be opened in the kitchin, vich vill be enlarged by openin the cubberbds'.
Reflects on the news that the Great WesternGreat Western, steamship CloseView the register entry >> steamship is too large to be launched from the dock in which it was constructed. Amused by the fact that the crew proceed with their drill routines despite the fact that the ship is in dry dock.
A series of questions and answers designed to inculcate knowledge of algebraical concepts. The answers involve puns on the mathematical word in the question. For example, the definition of an 'infinite series' is 'the numbers of Punch' .
Mesmerism, Animal Magnetism, Heterodoxy, Politics, Government
Reports on a 'strong proof' of the 'much disputed science' of mesmerism—the correct prediction, by a boy in a mesmeric state, that the Prime Minister Robert PeelPeel, Sir Robert, 2nd Baronet
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> would not discontinue income taxes.
Series of questions and answers on 'auscultation and percussion', in which the answers involve puns on medical terms. For example, an instance of 'the "Purring Tremor"' is given as 'a cat in the fidgets'.
Punch, 6 (1844), 174.
"The Cuckoo's Nest", or the British and Foreign Institute
Travel, Discovery, Natural History, Medical Treatment, Cultural Geography
Objects to Punch's mockery of James S BuckinghamBuckingham, James Silk
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>. Describes Buckingham's ill-fated proposal to take families on a trip to circumnavigate the globe—a scheme that was expected to lead to the discovery of 'unknown animals' and new medicines, and to teach the children of the families the languages and cultures of foreign lands. Punch ironically claims the 'greatest veneration' for Buckingham.
Medical Practitioners, Expertise, Charlatanry, Status
Seeks to settle a dispute over 'the respective merits of the Physician and the General Practitioner'. Notes that the general practitioner regards himself as superior owing to the greater number of letters that follow his name and his Oxbridge education. Points out that the physician deals with a particular (internal) class of disease and that the kinds of ailment he attends render his treatment more 'gentlemanlike [...] than that of others'. Distinguishes the physical features of the two types of practitioner, notably the drab attire of physicians and the 'sports coloured' clothes worn by the general practitioner. Illustration tries to reflect these differences. Notes that meetings between physicians and general practitioners end in mutual charges of charlatanry.
Bemused by the claim that the bridge is 'nearly completed' when only brick buttresses can be seen. Expects the bridge will witness large (and remunerative) traffic and the mixing of people from the fashionable Lancaster Place and those from the insalubrious York Road.
Mystified by the fact that officials at the Zoological Society GardensZoological Society of London —Gardens
CloseView the register entry >> no longer accept the shilling fee, but instead ask a series of polite questions, suggesting that the officials do not like to 'come down to the vulgarity of ready-money'.
Steam-power, Manufactories, Class, Political Economy, Heroism, Progress, Industry
Describes the replacement of the 'May-day of the milkmaids' with the 'May-day of Steam'. Notes that the 'master-manufacturers' have realised 'our fairy visions of Genii and Magi' and 'do all things by the potency over elemental power', while steam has 'heaped up wealth [...] into a few mountains of gold, making the poor poorer, and the rich richer'. Describes how all the men, women, and children who worked at a factory decorated steam engines with flowers and green boughs. After the memory of James WattWatt, James
DSB CloseView the register entry >> had been toasted, one workmen argued that although the steam engine had 'created great misery by the monstrous inequalities of fortune it produced [...] its onward progress must produce unmitigated good' and the end of social inequality.
List of inventions of distinguished figures in Victorian society. Inventions reflect the more disreputable characteristics of the patentee. For example, Home Secretary James R G Graham'sGraham, Sir James Robert George, 2nd
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> 'New Grinding Machine to be used in Union Workhouses, for the diminution of Pauperism by Friction'.
Medical Practitioners, Medical Treatment, Commerce
Describes the discussion of cases at a society whose members consist of medical practitioners and whose object is 'the mutual comparison [...] of notes, for general edification'. Members favour prescribing expensive medicines and charging high fees for treating such benign complaints as 'a sinking in the stomach' and 'singing in the ears'.
Punch, 6 (1844), 230.
A Soliloquy, and the Commencement of a "Scene". From an Unpublished Drama, Entitled "The Chemist"
Chemistry, Instruments, Alchemy, Human Development, Gender, Psychology
Begins by introducing the protagonist, Galenius, who, on shutting up his shop for the night, descends to his 'laboratory to turn the gas off' and being so dissatisfied with his condition, sees a 'large brass mortar and pestle', and begins a soliloquy. He wishes his mortar and pestle would continue in their silent slumber, and reflects on the variety of good, evil, pleasant, and disgusting substances that are mixed in the mortar. He describes how it 'holdest that within [...] which doth mirror / The characters of men', including 'deceptive Opium', 'Magnesia, / Fair, faultless, and insipid,—like a woman / With a clear skin, but an ungarnished mind'. Concludes by suggesting that while 'deadly malice lurks unseen beneath' the apparatus, it returns 'no injury, but sendest / Harmonious sounds into thy smitter's ear'. Later, Galenius is called to bed by his wife, and he promptly leaves, remarking to 'Nature' that it has made woman a 'plague' that is 'worse than physic'.
Medical Treatment, Medical Practitioners, Heterodoxy, Quackery, Disease
Announces that a government board of physicians has confirmed that 'Universal Vegetable Pills, Pills and Ointment, and Life Pills' can cure 'all diseases'. Distinguishes 'ordinary medicines', which are poisonous 'when taken unnecessarily', from 'Medicine for the Million'. Regards the attestation of this medicine by 'every cobbler, tinker, tailor, clod-hopper, and mechanic' to be trustworthy. Advises readers to take the medicine instead of 'having recourse to medical men'.
Responds to news that the Kensington Railway failed to open. Denies knowing where the line begins or ends but will board a carriage 'trusting to chance and the stoker for being taken somewhere'. Observes that the line is for people going over the Hungerford Suspension BridgeHungerford Suspension Bridge
CloseView the register entry >> who 'are desirous simply of being upon the move without any regard to what they are going for, and where they are going to'.
Punch, 6 (1844), 239.
Punch's Provincial Intelligence: Opening of the Suspension Bridge at Clifton
Reports on an 'experimental trip' across the Clifton Suspension BridgeClifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol CloseView the register entry >> which, it observes with concern, 'consists only of two piers, with no communication between them, the chains not having been fixed'. Notes that a procession was formed, including 'a potato-basket containing the chief engineer', 'a clothes-basket with the Committee', and 'a ridicule for the dividends'.
Reports that Professor Leadenhead argued that the Earth's end was imminent owing to the Russian annihilation of the poles (i.e. Poland), and that the revolving planet would also be 'cut through' by its axes. The chairman sought to challenge claims that 'glass was a non-conductor of caloric' by 'conducting a quantity of "warm with" [i.e. spirits mixed with water and sugar] to his lips, through the medium of a glass tumbler'.
Describes some of the events occurring at this absurdly unsuccessful railway line putatively owned by Punch. The events include a meeting to decide on the destination of the train, and the engine running backwards and forwards on the line purely 'for the amusement' of 'juvenile vagrants'.
Suggests the aristocracy's sudden interest in jewellery (itself prompted by the costly order made by Emperor Nicholas INicholas I, Emperor of Russia
CBD CloseView the register entry >> of Russia from a London jewellers) illustrates their possession of developed organs of 'snuff-box-ativeness'.