Punch,  32 (1857), 109.

Mary Ann's Notions

Mary Ann


Serial, Letter, Spoof

Relevant illustrations:



Education, Lecturing, Physics, Electricity, Heat, Magnetism, Gender, Patronage, Narcotics, Health

    Mary Ann tells Mr Punch about her visit to the Royal Institution, where she and her friends saw the 'dear' Michael Faraday give a lecture in the presence of Prince Albert. Describes the appearance and response of the Prince but complains about having been seated at the back of the lecture theatre in front of 'rows of old gentlemen, mostly with bald heads'. Considers the lecture 'lovely', and describes Faraday as somebody 'far more light and active than many a smoky stupid all-round collar-man that I know'. Intersperses her remarks on Faraday with warnings to Mr Punch about the dangerous medical consequences of smoking. Explains that governesses are not to bother children with discussions of gravitation because 'it is all Conservation of Forces', a concept that she attempts to support by confused reports of Faraday's experiments on heat, magnetism, and electricity. Concludes this description by noting 'what idiots men are to go on repeating gravitation [...] just because Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall out of a tree'. Goes on to explain Faraday's demonstration of the 'gold-leaf' experiment in electrostatics and notes how after the lecture, Faraday pleasurably conversed with the 'ladies' and showed them 'several little experiments' in electricity. Praises Faraday as 'a really great man, diving into the wonderful secrets of nature', but chastises other 'great men and statesmen' for not bothering to turn up to his lectures. The letter includes footnotes in which Punch objects to a 'silly little girl' taking liberties with Faraday's 'name or his teaching' and for not understanding 'one single link in Dr. Faraday's argument'. The illustration shows several fashionably dressed young women observing a suave Faraday experimenting with a gold-leaf electroscope on the bench of the Royal Institution.

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]