Punch,  59 (1870), iii–iv.





Relevant illustrations:

wdct. [2]


C K *


Astronomy, Textbooks, Observation, Theory, Politics, Comparative Philology, Astrology, Prognostication, Periodicals

    Anticipating the solar eclipse predicted for December, describes the experiences of Mr Punch on the 'Shortest Day of the disturbed, disastrous, and dismal year, 1870'. Points out that 'Mr. Punch, the Philosopher, was not meditating on disturbances, disaster, or dismalness', but 'pondering on Eclipses, with the assistance of Mr. Norman Lockyer's Elementary Lesson-book [Lockyer 1868], and he had nearly persuaded himself that he partly understood something of the theory of those phenomena'. Notes Mr Punch's interest in a passage on the duration of solar eclipses and that such an event had not been visible from London since 1715—the year 'in which the Northern Lights vainly tried to eclipse the Star of Brunswick'. Mr Punch is then visited by the Greek god of the sun, Monsieur Helios, and the Greek goddess of the moon, Mademoiselle Selene or Diana. During their conversation, the latter demonstrates to Mr Punch how she will put Monsieur Helios 'out' on the following day, but Mr Punch asks for 'a bit of astrology, not astronomy' so he can learn 'what's going to happen in this Sublunary Wale'. Diana mocks Mr Punch's terrestrial concerns but tells him her predictions for the 'destiny of France'—a reference to the Franco-Prussian war. This information which is 'laid away in the golden casket' of Mr Punch's memory. The first illustration shows Mr Punch observing a solar eclipse—caused by Diana standing in front of the sun. Mr Punch reclines in a chair, holding binoculars in his hands. The second illustration shows Mr Punch causing the eclipse himself, by holding volume fifty-nine of Punch in front of the sun.

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

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