Punch,  53 (1867), 120–21.

Sayings and Doings at Dundee

Isaac Newton Bacon, Leibnitz Villas, Humphry Davy Road, Lower Banksia


Letter, Spoof


Societies, Scientific Practitioners, Physics, Natural Philosophy, Light, Electricity, Heroism, Matter Theory, Botany, Astronomy, Extra-Terrestrial Life, Instruments, Animal Husbandry, Disease, Hunting, Mathematics, Machinery, Utilitarianism, Hygiene, Sanitation, Patronage, Palaeontology

People mentioned:

Isaac Newton , Francis Bacon (1st Viscount St Alban) , Gottfried W Leibnitz , Humphry Davy , Joseph Banks

    Begins by puffing his scientific credentials, boasting that he was 'Cradled in the lap of physical science, and nursed in the arms of natural philosophy', that in youth he inferred 'prismatic colours' from soap-bubbles and learnt about Benjamin Franklin and electricity by flying a kite. Adding that he also makes informal studies of 'Diatoms' and of Rutlandshire fauna, he analyses the proceedings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Baffled by some of the enterprises conducted by the association, wonders whether its 'Lunar Committee' comprises inhabitants of the moon sent to investigate the greater natural knowledge of terrestrial beings, or whether it consists of philosophers from earth sent to explore the customs and 'scientific progress' of their lunar neighbours. He is equally baffled by a paper on the 'behaviour of the Aneroid Barometer' (a reference to Stewart 1867), retorting that he had always found it to be a 'well-conducted instrument'. He also challenges Alexander S Herschel's claim that shooting stars were 'dissipated' (i.e. dissolute)—presumably refering to Herschel's contribution to Glaisher 1867. Proceeds to question the association's interest in the grouse disease (a reference to Tristram 1867), although he thinks it would benefit mankind if the association were to find 'some means of "arresting" the plunderers of boxes and hampers of "native birds"'. Puzzled by the news that machines were to transport delegates from Errol to Fingask, suggests that this may have been referring Charles Babbage's 'Calculating Machines'. (120) Goes on to note James E T Rogers's paper linking the reduction in pauperism in Oxford workhouses to personal hygiene and the number of people 'engaged in public calendars' (a reference to Rogers 1867). In a postscript, the author ponders the association's decision to award a grant to a 'Fossil Flora'. (121)

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