Punch,  52 (1867), 95.

Controversial Shillelaghs

Abraham Brown


Letter, Spoof


Controversy, Charlatanry, Methodology, Chemistry, Astronomy, Mathematics, Phrenology, Mesmerism, Spiritualism, Astrology, Religion, Religious Authority, Controversy, Belief, Faith

    Begins by noting the 'wonder, pity, and contempt' with which such philosophers as John Tyndall, John F W Herschel, and Augustus De Morgan would respond to the claim that their enterprises were delusions. Contrasts this to the aggressive way in which 'Mr. Bumpass, the phrenologist, Mr. Colney, the mesmerist, Mr. Hatch, the spiritualist, and Mr. Zadkiel [an allusion to Richard J Morrison], the astrologer' would respond to 'assailants of their hobbies', each one calling his attackers 'Faradays and Brewsters and other names'. Asks Mr Punch to ask Henry E Manning into which of these two categories the aggressive Irish attackers of a 'Protestant lecturer at Wolverhampton' would fit and to explain why 'cultivators of such sciences as astronomy and chemistry' as well as geologists and medical practitioners do not abuse their abusers, whereas the 'votaries of phrenology, mesmerism, spiritualism, and the like, are generally exasperated by opposition'. Argues that the reason for this difference is that 'the former feel quite sure that they are in the right and the latter do not' and denies that those who believe 'in the marvellous' are 'not entirely satisfied of its truth'. Concludes by pointing out that those who abuse somebody for his religion have shaky grounds for their own faith.

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