Punch,  50 (1866), 126.

Sermons in Air



News-Commentary, Drollery


Analytical Chemistry, Pollution, Sanitation, Health, Government, Politics

    Discusses a newspaper report of the researches of Robert A Smith, who found that air from a 'London Law Court' 'is very bad indeed' and more deficient in oxygen than 'any specimens found by him during the day, in any inhabited place above ground!'. Reflecting on the fact that this air is worse than that found in such unsavoury places as an 'East-end sweater's garret', the author explains how Smith established the quality of air in terms of quantity of oxygen, and suggests some unlikely ways in which the moisture on the window of the court (used by Smith in his analysis) could have been produced (for example, 'the quintessence of agonised witnesses'). Notes Smith's argument that the air in the court can only be purified by passing a sustained current of good air through it, and invites him to 'analyse some of the air of the House of Commons—after say, the debates on the Second Reading of the Reform Bill'.

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