Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Sensation and Science


THE morbid craving for excitement, which is characteristic of mental indolence, as well as of effete civilisation, has led to the introduction of Sensation (as it is commonly called), not merely into our newspapers and novels, but even into our pulpits. It could not be expected that our popular scientific lectures would long escape the contamination. We have watched with regret its gradual introduction and development, and have often meditated an article on the subject. But now, when a splendid opportunity has come, we feel how unfit we are for the task. None but a Spurgeon can effectively criticise a Spurgeon; none but a Saturday Reviewer could be expected to tackle with delicacy and yet with vigour the gifted author of the “Girl of the Period.” So we must content ourselves with the spectacle of the Rev. Prof. Haughton as criticised by himself. We have not been able to attend his recent lectures at the Royal Institution, but we have it on excellent authority that they were racy (i.e. sensational) in the extreme. Happily we find in the British Medical Journal what is described as an authorised version of them. A few extracts from this will enable us to dispense with a great deal of comment. We shall first take the Science, and then permit the Sensation to speak for itself.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sensation and Science . Nature 4, 177–178 (1871).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing