Punch,  53 (1867), 55.

Political Geology. Lecture by Professor Benjamin



Introduction, Drollery; Address, Spoof


Politics, Geology, Government, Palaeontology, Lecturing, Analogy

    Drawing on the analogy between geological and political events, begins by introducing the 'interesting lecture on political geology' given at 'St. Stephen's British School Rooms' (i.e. the Houses of Parliament) by 'Professor Benjamin' (i.e. Benjamin Disraeli). Reports that the lecturer started by noting the 'various theories' that had been 'propounded in connection with the upheavals and depressions which characterise our administrative system', and urges that 'a profound knowledge of Political Geology' was needed to decide whether the 'elevation of that large section of legislative wisdom' found 'in the vicinity of Derby' (an allusion to Edward G G S Stanley (14th Earl of Derby)) was due to 'a sudden convulsion of conservatism, or from a gradual subsidence of Gladstonian soil'. Drawing an analogy between the sensitivities of the electorate and of the soil, notes that the lecturer claimed that the 'London clay' would be 'worked up for a variety of purposes' but that beneath the clay was 'the Residuum' which was 'extremely plastic' and 'if judiciously manipulated' could be used to consolidate 'our national institutions'. The lecturer then drew an analogy between dirt-beds and Toryism. The former usually comprise trees fossilised in limestone, the trees retaining the same attitude and places that they had when alive. Like dirt-bed timber, Toryism is 'converted into something strongly at variance' with its normal condition, while retaining the places that it occupied in its 'palmy days' (a possible reference to its period in opposition to Henry J Temple (3rd Viscount Palmerston)). The lecturer concluded by urging his young audience to appreciate the lessons of 'Political Geology' and to consider such problems as the reason why 'radical shells were now found on the summit of the most conservative mountains'. Believes that only 'Ministers' can solve such mysteries.

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]