Punch,  59 (1870), 165.

A Few Notes on Social Science



News-Commentary, Drollery

Relevant illustrations:



J S *


Societies, War, Zoology, Animal Behaviour, Natural History, Race, Comparative Anatomy, Astronomy, Psychology, Mental Illness, Political Economy

People mentioned:

John Lubbock

    The initial letter forms part of an illustration showing an aged philosopher sitting at a desk in his study, with a copy of 'Animated Nature' open before him. Begins by suggesting that 'Philosophy at Liverpool', a reference to the recent meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, was 'a great success' because 'People have been hearing so much about War that they are glad to meet where bellicose topics are excluded'. Assesses the virtues of Brighton as the host city for the next association meeting, noting that the 'Marine Section could have its specimens fresh out of water'. Urges readers to peruse reports of the papers in the Athenaeum, and comments on some of the papers presented. For example, claims that the paper on 'Mothaemoglobin' (a reference to a paper by E Ray Lankester, a version of which was published as Lankester 1871) concerned 'the instinct, or disease, which induces moths to burn themselves in the Globes of lamps'. Notes that, in the 'Moon-Section', it was claimed 'that Plato [a reference to the lunar crater of that name] is found to be habitually covered with a great number of spots', which 'seemed easily accounted for' given that 'He is very difficult to read, and when a student lays down his pipe to turn to the lexicon, baccy will often escape'. In the 'Biological Section' there was a paper 'proving that "in certain persons over-study has a tendency to cause insanity', which contained the caveat that such persons were 'infinitesimal' in number compared with the 'number of those in whom under-study has already developed something like idiotcy'. The article alludes to a number of other presentations at the meeting, versions of which were later published as Carruthers 1871, Cobbold 1871, Humphry 1871, Birt 1871, Davis 1871, and Stoney 1871. Concludes by presenting Mr Punch's congratulations to the 'Philosophers of Liverpool'.

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