Punch,  59 (1870), 77.

Thoughts of Great Men. (Now First Collected)  [5/6]



Extract, Spoof, Essay, Serial

Relevant illustrations:



L S *


Declinism, Invention, Patenting, Museums, Menageries, Education, Natural History, Gender

    A series of extracts that comment on contemporary themes. The first extract, from Edward Gibbon, describes the 'decline of the vast Aryan empire' as if it were the Roman Empire. The signs of decline include the fact that the 'treasures of art, the wonders of science, the marvellous products of inventive genius and the patent laws, reposed, neglected and forgotten in galleries and cabinets, in museums and mechanics' institutes' were 'all at the mercy of the barbarous invader'. The second extract, from Carl Linnaeus, describes the naturalist's observations of flowers in a peaceful meadow, his reverence for 'the wise Professor' who taught him to 'distinguish between the delicious mushroom and the deleterious toad-stool', and his need to return to his 'ten pound-tenement'. Linnaeus is thus compared to a Victorian fungus-eater. The illustration shows a women strolling on a beach, her costume making her resemble a giant snail.

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