Uncategorized 26 Sep 2010 03:18 pm
You can put this on the list of things I mean to read more about someday, right next to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wombat. (Yes, wombat. His name was Topsy. I’ll post about that later this week when I have a little time to sort through my links.) I was looking for something entirely different when I ran across this passage in Ostentation, or critical remarks on “Quakerism, or, the story of my life;” by Mrs. Greer; in which that lady’s parvenu attempts at aristocracy are ridiculed, and fiction exposed (1853).
Many persons will, I am well aware, censure me for resorting to ridicule, sarcasm, and irony, in the following pages, instead of sober, convincing argument. To such objectors I would say that many assertions are unworthy of other notice. When Dr. Paul Cullen asserted that the sun was but six feet in diameter, did the Professor of Astronomy, Sir William R. Hamilton, publish any learned work to prove that the doctor had rather underrated its dimensions?
Doesn’t Archbishop Cullen sound like quite a specimen? He also shows up in The Christian World and in volume 19 of Punch:
You silly Paddy… Don’t you know that we are English Protestants, hating you by nature, and that our wish is to tyrannise over you and keep you under? If your young men come to college with our young men, don’t you see, you idiot, that in the course of a few score years, your lads, being born to the full as clever as ours and six times more numerous, may win the prizes and scholarships, get the government-places and snug berths… and turn us out of what at present we hold. Of course we vote for John of Tuam and Paul Cullen… Believe, with Paul Cullen, that the sun is six feet in circumference, accommodate your mathematics to his Grace’s (God bless his most Reverend Lordship), and see how you’ll get on as an Engineer, my boy.
And here is likely the man himself quoted in The United Presbyterian:
“There was no lack of historians, philosophers, and writers of every sect, in imputing fanaticism to the Inquisition for not closing its ears to the petulant imprudence of Galileo when he obstinately sought to conciliate the phraseology of the Bible with the Copernican system. But now a new plan of astronomy is given to the public, by means of which it is evidently proved that the systems both of Ptolemy and Copernicus are equally false; that the sun is but one meter (six feet) in breadth; that the earth is in size six times larger than all the heavenly bodies united; that it has but one motion, the diurnal; that it occupies the centre of the planetary system, and of all space; with other similar propositions repugnant to the prevailing theory of the globe and stars… What may not turn out if in more tranquil times the learned, resuming their usual contemplations, begin to find that they must go back, not indeed to Ptolemy, but most certainly to Moses and the son of Sirach? The thing will always belong to the domain of uncertainty. .. It well becomes them to explain away the Word of God without even knowing the degree of credit due to human inquiries, and to open their mouths against Heaven without knowing anything of the earth they tread!”