Mirror of Literature,  11 (1828), 107–08.

Points of the Compass



Extract, Short Fiction, Drollery

Publications extracted:

New Monthly Magazine


Gender, Climatology, Discovery, Serendipity, Engineering

    The narrator recounts the observation in Galt 1813 that women are treated less equably the further south one travels. Observes: 'It is not a little extraordinary how many of our most important discoveries owe their existence to chance. Every body knows the anecdote about Sir Isaac Newton and the apple; Dr. Jenner and the milkmaid [...] &c. &c.'. The narrator describes his or her own serendipitous discovery of Galt's principle 'that women are operated upon topographically by the climate', and recounts the changing behaviour of his or her sister-in-law on moving to different addresses in London. Relates that in the south of the city the sister-in-law was utterly subordinate to her husband, and that she 'actually went the length of justifying the Thames Tunnel, Tom holding fifteen shares in that watery excavation'. (108) The narrator describes the wife's increasing dominance as the couple moved to progressively more northerly addresses in the city, and concludes: 'No married man for whom I have a value shall run his head against the North Pole if I can prevent it' (109).

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