John Ayrton Paris (1785-1856), writer and physician, became a member of the Linnean Society in 1810, and served as president of the Royal College of Physicians from 1844 until his death. Intended for children and originally composed for the author's family, this three-volume work about science was first published in 1827. Dedicated to the writer Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) and with illustrations by George Cruikshank (1792-1878), it aims 'to blend amusement with instruction', since youth, as Paris writes, 'is naturally addicted to amusement'. Topics covered in Volume 3 include optical illusions, centrifugal forces and the compound nature of white light; the science behind these is demonstrated using concave mirrors, Catharine wheels and a thaumatrope (which Paris is sometimes credited as having invented). A fascinating and popular text in the history of science education, the engaging narrative seeks to prove 'how profitably, and agreeably, the machinery of fiction may be worked for the dissemination of truth'.