Punch,  34 (1858), 113.

Specimen of a Select and Comprehensive Cyclopaedia of the Most Profound Knowledge, Compiled by Punch and Judy, for the Express use of Adults Only



Fragment, Spoof


Mathematics, Ancient Authorities, Instruments, Mesmerism

    In defining 'A', observes that it 'denotes a universal affirmative proposition, such as Manchester and Meanness are synonyms', 'an unknown quantity' in algebra, and points out that 'Amongst the Romans A signified 5000, amongst the Greeks number 1, so absurdly vague were those puerile people of antiquity in their ideas'. Under 'Abacus', observes that it was 'a table used by ancient mathematicians, covered with dust or sand on which they drew figures with their fingers' and 'an instrument for facilitating operations by means of counters, but so complicated that we prefer sending the reader down to Oxford or Regent Street' where shop windows demonstrate the principle. Adds that 'Abacus Pythagoricus is a table of numbers ready cast up to facilitate working in arithmetic', which has now been 'rigorously excluded from schools'. In defining 'Abadir', notes that it was the 'name of the stone which Saturn swallowed under the absurd supposition that it was his own little boy Jupiter', an explanation which Punch belives only electro-biology can explain.

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