Punch,  56 (1869), 235.

The Jolly Geographers



Introduction; News-Commentary


Astronomy, Observation, Travel, Physical Geography, Progress, Superstition, Invention, Nationalism, Imperialism, Zoology, Comparative Anatomy, Hunting

People mentioned:

Joseph Banks , Daniel C Solander

    Begins by reminding readers of some of the principal facts associated with observations of the transit of Venus, including the recurrence of the event in 1874 and 1882, and that in 1769 James Cook led a succesful expedition on board HMS Endeavour to observe the transit. Explains that the transit will next be observable from the Antarctic and furnishes an extract from a speech given by Roderick I Murchison at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society held at the Royal Institution. Murchison appealed to George B Airy for strong support for the 1874 Venus transit expedition. He also complained that 'so important a branch of North Polar research [...] was slighted by too many of my countrymen' whom (according to the report) he accused of using 'the common aphorism of cui bono' as a 'sufficient apology' for not patronising scientific expeditions. Punch suggests that in reality Murchison probably referred to 'cui bono?' not as an aphorism, but as an 'asinism', in reference to the 'donkeys' who questioned the use of 'every new discovery', including 'electricity, gas, and steam'. Proceeds to discuss a speech made at the same meeting by Richard Owen, who described his Nile trip with Prince Edward, who 'shot specimens' for Owen. Adds that owing to the Prince, 'our British Cuvier' was able to observe a live 'Choreutica agilis', an 'uncommonly queer sort of fish'.

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