Punch,  37 (1859), 141.

A Smash for a Star-Teller



News-Commentary, Drollery


Astrology, Charlatanry, Periodicals, Prognostication, Superstition

    A scathing attack on the remarks of Richard J Morrison ('Zadkiel') contained in the latest edition of his Almanac— its thirtieth yearly issue. Ridicules his inference that the Royal Welsh Fusiliers' discovery of a copy of Morrison 1833 in a recently liberated bungalow in Lucknow, showed that the owner of the book believed the stars 'promised them eventual delivery' by the soldiers. Draws attention to Zadkiel's boast that the 'philosophers of our day, clothed as they are in [...] the phylacteries of their mathematical garments', and who 'treat with contempt the older science that exists', have not risen to his challenge to 'overthrow the doctrines of astrology', a challenge that Punch considers 'asinine'. Goes on to speculate on the possible ill health of the Athenaeum, whose editor conducted a long campaign against astrology, but who apparently fell, like Zadkiel, 'into the sere and yellow leaf of old age'. Having cited several examples of Zadkiel's latest prophecies (most of which make dubious claims about leading statesmen), wonders who are the 'increasing thousands' whom Zadkiel believes have purchased his almanac. Turning to Zadkiel's request that 'Nativities and Horary Questions' should be directed to his alias, Samuel Smith, Punch concludes that Zadkiel's need to veil himself with a more 'imposing' and 'mysterious' name proves his charlatanry. Attacks Zadkiel for exploiting gullible farmers who seek predictions concerning 'corn and cattle', and concludes by ridiculing Zadkiel's notion that, owing to a 'lunar influence', there are 'lucky days' on which to marry, ask favours, and perform other activities.

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

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