Punch,  59 (1870), 261.

Strawberry Leaves  [3/10]

Horace Walpole


Essay, Drollery, Serial


Spiritualism, Astronomy, Observation, Travel, Patronage, Government, Cultural Geography, Lecturing, Light, Instruments, Spectroscopy, Supernaturalism

    In a letter from Horace Walpole to 'Sir Horace Mann', given to Punch by its 'private spiritual medium', it is reported that the 'Eclipse philosophers' have 'gone forth to seize the precious two minutes'—a reference to the solar eclipse expedition of 1870. Suspects that the philosophers' wives have gone with them to 'dust up the sun and moon and make them fit for inspection', but refuses to give himself a headache trying to understand the purpose of the expedition. Explains that he told a little girl that the reason why the sun and moon are round was because if they were square 'their corners might have been knocked off in eclipses'. He claims that the 'Government dawdled terribly in giving assistance which the astronomers required', and praises the great 'zeal and sense' of the American astronomers who 'seldom talk wisely, and never act foolishly'. Later notes an 'astronomical talk' given by a geologist, Sir Wrock Tapper, at the house of a 'vulgar' woman Miss V——. Explains that the lecturer offered to 'fetch a spectroscope', but Miss V—— refused, stressing that 'she hated ghosts and all their belongings'. The author adds that he has heard that the polariscope 'reveals whether light be original or borrowed' and wishes such an instrument could be 'invented for the benefit of a book critic'.

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