The Challenger and Her Challenge
Exploration, Oceanography, Zoology, Meteorology, Astronomy, Hydrography, Observation, Exhibitions, Patronage, Government
Charles W Thomson
Written from the perspective of HMS Challenger , which describes its physical appearance and points out that its voyage is neither 'a cruise to train' seaman, nor an expedition to 'practise manoeuvres, or study steam-tactics'. Rather, it is heading for an expedition to 'sound Ocean', 'to dredge up samples precise of [Neptune's] mattress's stuffing', to 'study the dip and dance of the needle', and 'test the currents of ocean and air'. After learning whether the 'Austral Antarctic Aurora' outdoes the aurora in the Isle of Kerguelen, it will 'look on at the transit of Venus'. Notes how the ship has turned into a 'peripatetic / Polytechnic marine exhibition'. To John Bull's question regarding the funding of the expedition, the ship replies that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Robert Lowe, decided that the expedition would 'cost no more than keeping my hull in commission' and would 'pay by results'. Proud to be sailing on a 'grand cruise of science' on which 'high souls have reliance', despite the fact that Lowe has 'no objection to knowledge / So long as it don't cost a bob'. Wants to challenge the notion that 'nothing of nothing can come'.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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