Mirror of Literature,  8 (1826), 247–49.




Fiction, Drollery; Letter, Spoof


Natural Philosophy, Theory, Idealism, Patronage, Astronomy, Geology, Vulcanology, Machinery, Mental Illness, Phrenology, Gravity

    The narrator reports that an old friend, Tom Twister, has 'devoted many of the latter years of his life to the study of natural philosophy', that 'he has formed a slight acquaintance with every science which treats of the modifications and states of matter', and that 'to so great perfection have his faculties arrived, that he perceives by intuition, what others discover only by ratiocination'. He has sought to 'connect the sciences into one harmonious whole' but has not yet succeeded, either from 'want of patronage or the futility of his reasoning'. He published a treatise on 'the existence of a lunar passage', which has yet to be attempted. He has more recently proposed 'making large incisions in the crust of the earth, till that mass of perennial fire, which Dr. Darwin supposed the interior of the globe to contain, was arrived at' in order to provide 'the genial warmth of an artificial summer'. He was once 'near discovering the perpetual motion', and spent a long period in a state of 'phrenetic insanity' when his attempt failed. He has posited that there is 'a secret, indefinable, incomprehensible, something, which connects humanity with terrene matter', so that someone 'formed of London clay, is doubtless more an epicurean than a peripatetic'. (247) His most recent scheme is related in a letter to the narrator. Having some knowledge of chemistry, he has 'compounded a lineo-protactivo-caustico-attractivo, that is, a certain glutinous substance which has great sympathy with the moon's attrahency'. He believes that, when applied to the location of some mental deficiency, the skull will be 'drawn from its former form'. (248)

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