Punch,  41 (1861), 216–17.

A Starry Chain of Magic





Astrology, Spiritualism, Mesmerism, Phrenology, Charlatanry, Commerce, Cultural Geography, Nationalism, Astronomy, Prognostication

    Inveighs against a series of advertisements from astrologers, clairvoyants and phrenologists published in the New York Herald. Questions John Bright's claim that inhabitants of the United States are 'far more advanced in the intellectual race than the benighted English' on the grounds that they cultivate 'a science which in England we have long branded by the rude name of Imposture' (216). Proceeds to ridicule the terms of business and alleged prophetic and divining powers claimed in nine advertisements by astrologers, clairvoyants, and phrenologists. In many cases it compares their trades to those practiced by 'the lowest class of so-called dentists' (216). In other cases, it burlesques the scientific pretensions of the advertisers. For example, responding to the claim of a Mrs Milton to cure rheumatism by clairvoyance, it considers this process 'worthy [of] young America', but then wonders whether she 'also cuts corns Mesmerically, and hair Astrologically, when Berenice's Hair is in Trine occult opposition and projection with the "streaming locks so lovely pale" of the current Comet'. (217)

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