Punch,  59 (1870), 250.

Food for the Female Mind



Letter, Spoof


Physiology, Physical Geography, Geology, Lecturing, Gender, Language, Time, Aesthetics, Environmentalism, Pollution, Education

    Begins by noting Thomas H Huxley's series of lectures to women on science and art, given in South Kensington. Presents an extract from the lecture on 'Physiography' (which was published 'in a newspaper') describing the denudation of the Thames basin. Huxley predicts that the 'surface of Britain would everywhere be washed down to a plain level with the sea in less than 5,000,000 years'. The writer is alarmed by how old the world will get 'if it lasts long enough' and notes how 'terrible' it is 'even now'. Considering Huxley's estimates of the age of the earth to be reliable, argues that 'poets and other writers' will have to stop referring to 'Mother Earth', because it 'makes out the earth to be an old woman': 'no woman, young or old, ever tells her age' but Huxley has calculated the age of the earth to be 'some millions of years at least'. Laments the prospect of Britain becoming a 'plain old thing' in 5,000,000 years, but points out that it is surprising that Britain 'still preserves any beauty at all, what with the tall chimneys, and one horrid object and another'. Concludes by praising Huxley's lectures as 'so interesting' and in a postscript the author expresses her fondness for 'mental food'.

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