Punch,  57 (1869), 96.

Another Tradition Gone Down

"A Matter of Fiction Man"


Letter, Spoof


Gravity, Discovery, Scientific Practitioners, Steam-power, Invention

    Begins with an extract from the Athenaeum describing a 'remarkable manuscript' containing 'an interesting account', written by Isaac Newton to Martin Folkes, of the 'discovery' of gravitation, an account that makes no mention of the 'fall of an apple' having been the source of the discovery. The author of the following letter identifies himself as a 'lover of old traditions and stories' and expresses his dismay at the discovery of this manuscript. He hopes that other myths about Newton will not subsequently be shattered. However, he insists that he is 'prepared now for any heavy blow', including the shattering of such myths as James Watt 'watching the steam issuing from the family tea-kettle' (the alleged inspiration for his steam-engine). Concludes by urging that 'We ought to be ashamed of our credulity, and get rid of these old wives' fables without delay'.

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