Punch,  5 (1843), 91.

The People's Hand-Book to the Polytechnic Institution



Essay, Drollery


Museums, Engineering, Invention, Amusement, Display, Machinery, Microscopy, Pneumatics

    Describes the setting and entrance fee to the Royal Polytechnic Institution, a building 'founded for the exhibition of objects of art among its curiosities and occasional objects of nature amongst its visitors'. Notes that the 'Hall of Manufactures' contains 'a whirlwind of machinery in full action' and discusses the analysis of the water contained in a tank used to display model ships by the professor of chemistry (an allusion to John Ryan). Discusses the 'Diving Bell', which the institution's guide-book claims is raised and lowered by a 'crab', and the 'wringing-machine', which is regarded as a promising way of removing the society's 'wet blankets'. Notes that on the Institution's roof, visitors are 'regaled' with microscopes, dissolving views, and electrical machines. Each 'exhibition' contains a 'joke': for example, the 'display of various animated tadpoles of restless habits, who perform an intricate quadrille amidst the cheers of the spectators'. Concludes that at the end of the demonstration 'the lecturer becomes nearly as exhausted as the receivers of his own air-pump'.

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