Of turkey-gobblers and young ladies!

In 1862, a young man at the Brooklyn Times wrote: “The study of astronomy is of about as much use to a young lady as a knowledge of cookery is to a hen.” Lavinia, then a 22-year old Brooklynite, skewered him in The Principia:

Thank you, sir! We would like to know whether you also proposed the theory that the study of Natural Philosophy is about as much use to a young gentleman as knowledge of book-keeping is to a turkey-gobbler. Of course, it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to you if a young lady shouldn’t chance to know whether the earth was square or round, if the moon was made of green cheese, or whether the sun revolved around our globe, provided she could make first-rate buck-wheat cakes and gingerbread! That is quite evident—but for us girls, we’re not sure that we should admire a gentleman who knew nothing outside his Day-book and Ledger, more than one of further intelligence. But “tastes differ!” L.G.

Sources consulted: Lavinia Goodell, “Young Ladies vs. Astronomy,” The Principia (Feb. 27, 1862).

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