Punch,  6 (1844), 230.

A Soliloquy, and the Commencement of a "Scene". From an Unpublished Drama, Entitled "The Chemist"



Drama, Drollery


Chemistry, Instruments, Alchemy, Human Development, Gender, Psychology

    Begins by introducing the protagonist, Galenius, who, on shutting up his shop for the night, descends to his 'laboratory to turn the gas off' and being so dissatisfied with his condition, sees a 'large brass mortar and pestle', and begins a soliloquy. He wishes his mortar and pestle would continue in their silent slumber, and reflects on the variety of good, evil, pleasant, and disgusting substances that are mixed in the mortar. He describes how it 'holdest that within [...] which doth mirror / The characters of men', including 'deceptive Opium', 'Magnesia, / Fair, faultless, and insipid,—like a woman / With a clear skin, but an ungarnished mind'. Concludes by suggesting that while 'deadly malice lurks unseen beneath' the apparatus, it returns 'no injury, but sendest / Harmonious sounds into thy smitter's ear'. Later, Galenius is called to bed by his wife, and he promptly leaves, remarking to 'Nature' that it has made woman a 'plague' that is 'worse than physic'.

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