The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mr. Punch's History of Modern England Vol.
II (of IV),--1857-1874, by Charles L. Graves

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Title: Mr. Punch's History of Modern England Vol. II (of IV),--1857-1874

Author: Charles L. Graves

Release Date: February 24, 2014 [EBook #45003]

Language: English

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[Pg   i]

Mr. Punch's History
of Modern England

Vol. II.(of IV)—1857-1874

[Pg  ii]

Brittania unveiling statue.

Paulina (Britannia) unveils the statue: "'Tis time; descend; be stone no more!"
Winter's Tale, Act V., Scene 3.
Reproduced from the Cartoon by John Tenniel.

[Pg iii]

MR. Punch's History
of Modern England



In Four Volumes

VOL. II.—1857-1874

London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne

[Pg  iv]

Published by arrangement with the Proprietors of "Punch"

[Pg 1]








[Pg 2]



[Pg 3]



"Whether splendidly isolated or dangerously isolated, I will not now debate; but for my part I think splendidly isolated, because this isolation of England comes from her superiority."

These words were used by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1896, but they were prompted by a retrospect of the Victorian age, and may serve as a motto for the policy which governed England in her relations with foreign countries in the period surveyed in this volume.

There was serious friction with France in the early days of the Empire owing to the distrust of the Emperor's warlike preparations and his manipulation of the opportunities presented by his assistance of Italy in 1859. In the war of North and South in America, England as a whole "backed the wrong horse," and English diplomacy mishandled the obligations of our neutrality. We were on the verge of war over the Trent case, and the slackness of the Government in failing to detain the Alabama burdened the country with a costly legacy of moral and intellectual damage—to say nothing of pecuniary loss.

Popular sentiment was strongly anti-Prussian in the war on Denmark in 1864; misgivings of Prussian aggression were heightened by the crushing defeat of Austria in 1866 and the French débâcle in 1870. Yet the old diplomacy, whatever its shortcomings, kept us out of European wars. The Court as[Pg 4] well as the Government strove hard for peace in 1859; the Queen's influence was successfully exerted to prevent interference on behalf of Denmark in 1864, which had been foreshadowed in a menacing message to Austria from Lord Palmerston. After the defeat of the Austrians at Sadowa in 1866, Disraeli justified abstention from unnecessary interference in European politics, on the ground that England had outgrown the European Continent, and was really more of an Asiatic than a European power. With Gladstone the restraining motive was economic rather than anti-imperialist, though his distrust of a "spirited foreign policy" became more pronounced in later years. But under Liberals and Conservatives alike, non-intervention in European wars remained the unbroken rule, and the only serious military operations undertaken between 1857 and 1874 were those involved in the suppression of a great revolt within our own dominions. The Chinese quarrel was the only cloud on the horizon in the beginning of 1857. Parliament was dissolved as the result of the vote of censure passed in the Commons, but Palmerston was returned with a strong majority, and the pacificists under Cobden lost their seats, Punch expressing the hope that Cobden might be "master of himself though China fall."

The war with China was not a glorious page in our annals: it remained in abeyance during the Mutiny and was not concluded till 1860. Indirectly it was one of the means of saving India by the diversion of the troops intended for the Far East, and already at Singapore, to the relief of Bengal at the urgent summons of Lord Canning, the Governor-General of India. The first mention of the outbreak in Punch followed close on the tragedy of Meerut early in May. In his "Essence of Parliament" we read:—

Lord Ellenborough delivered an alarmist speech about the mutinies in our Indian Army. Among other terrors, he was hideously afraid that Lord Canning, the Governor-General, had been taking some step which showed that he thought Christianity a true religion, but this damaging accusation was happily explained away. Lord Lansdowne was almost sure that Lord Canning could not so far have misconducted himself.

[Pg 6]

The charge was capable of complete disproof, but unluckily, as with the greasing of the cartridges, the Sepoys were unconvinced. A fortnight later Punch realized that the time for levity was passed:—

An Indian debate followed, but it is no subject for light treatment, for while members were droning about cotton, and Mangles [the Chairman of the East India Company] was puffing the Company as having done miracles for India, news was hurrying over the sea that native regiments were in mutiny, had seized Delhi, and murdered all the Europeans there, without distinction of age or sex. It is a good time to be erecting a Shropshire memorial to Clive, if only to remind England that she once had a man who knew not only how to gain, but how to keep Oriental conquests.

[Pg 5]

Lion fighting a tiger


Heroes of the Mutiny

The issue of July 25 is full of the bustle of preparation, the hurried dispatch of Sir Colin Campbell to take command, and the embodying of the militia. It should be noted that one of the very first of the Mutiny cartoons revealed a disposition on the part of Punch to recognize that the mischief was deep-seated and had its origin largely in the arbitrary methods of the East India Company. On August 15 there appeared the picture of "The Execution of 'John Company,'" with Punch blowing up the offices in Leadenhall Street, and fragments labelled "avarice," "blundering," "nepotism," "supineness," "misgovernment," etc., flying from the mouth of a gun. But there was no hesitation in Punch's support of the most drastic measures for stamping out the mutiny. The word of the moment was "Cry Havelock! and let slip the dogs of war." On August 22 appeared the cartoon "The British Lion's Vengeance"—on the Bengal Tiger seen crouching over the bodies of an English woman and child. On September 12 Britannia is shown smiting down the mutineers; in the same number, however, in the lines "A word to the Avenger," reprisals are deprecated: "Spare the Indian mother and her child." On October 10, under the title "O God of Battles, steel my soldiers' hearts," the Queen is shown kneeling with widows and orphans in mourning garb, while a week later Sir Colin Campbell is drawn in fetters of red tape—his greatest difficulty in India.

At home, while Punch welcomed the recruiting from drapers'[Pg 7] shops, and the filling of their places by women, he noted the snobbery of certain tradesmen who thought they would lose caste by enlisting. He also recognized that the appeal for recruits was seriously prejudiced by the callous treatment of ex-service men in the past.

Throughout the Mutiny Punch was hostile to Canning, and his "Clemency," representing him as unduly tender to the mutineers and invariably interfering on their behalf. This criticism reaches its height of injustice to the statesman who uttered and acted on the noble maxim "I will not govern in anger," in the mock proclamation which appears in the issue of October 24. There was probably better ground for the imaginary conversation between the Duke of Cambridge, as Commander-in-Chief, and Lords Lucan and Cardigan, in which the two latter noblemen sneer at the services of Havelock. This disparagement, be it noted, was not confined to the Crimean cavalry commanders; Mr. Gladstone declined to vote for the grant of a pension, and was in consequence associated by Punch with the Manchester School, whose pacificist organ, the Star, had been savagely burlesqued in the issue of October 31. Meanwhile the tide had turned in the war by the capture of Delhi and the first relief of Lucknow. The toll of heroic lives among our leaders had been heavy—Henry Lawrence, Nicholson and Havelock at the end of the year—but Punch was true to his old democratic instincts in recording the exploits of all ranks. He was eloquent in his appeal for the assistance of Miss Salkeld, sister of Lieutenant Salkeld, who lost his life in the blowing in of the Kashmir gate at Delhi. But he does not forget Salkeld's humbler associates, who with him "rushed upon death to make way for the bayonets of England when the great stronghold of treason was stormed":—

Let it not be forgotten, when Salkeld's noble deed is told, and thought is taken for those whom he loved, that other gallant men met death in the same proud exploit. Sergeant Burgess sprang forward, took the match from Salkeld when he was struck, and firing the train, fell mortally wounded. Sergeant Carmichael had already perished in an attempt to fire the fuse. Surely England[Pg 8] has a heart warm enough, and a purse deep enough, to do all that money can do in memory of such men as those whose names are thus set before her.

In the first month of 1858 we read the fine tribute to Havelock:—

He is gone. Heaven's will is best:

Indian turf o'erlies his breast.

Ghoul in black, nor fool in gold

Laid him in yon hallowed mould.

Guarded to a soldier's grave

By the bravest of the brave.

Strew not on the hero's hearse

Garlands of a herald's verse:

Let us hear no words of Fame

Sounding loud a deathless name:

Tell us of no vauntful Glory

Shouting forth her haughty story.

All life long his homage rose

To far other shrine than those.

"In Hoc Signo," pale nor dim,

Lit the battle-field for him,

And the prize he sought and won,

Was the Crown for Duty done.

Lucknow was recaptured in March, 1858, but the pacification of Oudh by Sir Colin Campbell, now Lord Clyde, and the clearance of Central India by Sir Hugh Rose, afterwards Lord Strathnairn, occupied the whole of the remainder of the year: indeed, order was not completely restored till the close of 1859, or more than a year after the rule of "John Company" had been abolished and its executive powers transferred to the Crown.

John Bull's Foreign Policy

The process begun under Palmerston was completed by the Derby-Disraeli administration after long and acrimonious debates and recriminations, cabals and intrigues, in the course of which Punch vehemently assailed the East India Company, disgraced but impenitent, for its misdeeds, Bright for his impracticable independence and pro-Indian sympathies; Ellenborough and Canning; Palmerston and Disraeli. Palmerston[Pg 9] in particular had fallen from favour because of the Conspiracy Bill introduced after the Orsini attempt to assassinate the French Emperor. The plot had been hatched in London, but Punch bitterly resented the notion of making this a ground for depriving England of her position as the "sanctuary of Europe," and held that Palmerston had brought defeat on himself by knuckling down to Louis Napoleon. The fury of the Moniteur against England's alleged harbouring of criminals only excited Punch's derision. Relieved from the Indian tragedy, he was now free to revert to his old inveterate distrust of Louis Napoleon, and to preach for years to come the need of a strong navy. The lines on "John Bull's Foreign Policy" in the autumn of 1858, addressed to the Peoples of Europe, frankly admit that self-interest mingles with his love of Liberty:—

To hold you down, your despots arm,

And keep me always in alarm.

Confound them!—they mean me no good;

Abolish, well I know they would,

My Constitution, if they could.

I, too, must arm in self-defence;

And armaments involve expense:

Expense taxation means—my curse;

Despotic power alone is worse:

Your masters thus myself amerce.

Oh, how I wish I could retrench!

But I must keep pace with the French,

And for the Russians stand prepared,

The cost whereof I should be spared,

To shake your yokes off if you dared.

Rise, therefore, and your rights assert,

Ye Peoples, trodden in the dirt.

Strike for your freedom, nations brave,

Whom monarchs absolute enslave:

And so enable me to save.

So along with appeals to Lord Derby to make up his mind like a man to Reform, we find repeated and even more urgent appeals to England to keep up the Channel Fleet. The imposing[Pg 10] display of force at Cherbourg by Louis Napoleon in the autumn of 1858 only enhanced Punch's misgivings and prompted the suggestion of an alliance with the United States. Punch greeted Sir Francis Head's renewed scare-mongering about a French invasion with ridicule, but he was more seriously impressed by French pamphleteers and novelists who spoke of war with England as inevitable.

The defeat of the Derby-Disraeli Government over their Reform Bill in the spring of 1859 brought back Palmerston and Russell at a critical time in the history of the struggle for Italian unity. Of that cause both these statesmen were true friends, but the sympathy of England was impaired by distrust of Louis Napoleon, and this nervousness and anxiety as to his intentions is repeatedly illustrated in the pages of Punch. Victor Emmanuel is shown as the Piedmontese farmer between the two Eagles, Austria and France. Again the French Emperor's phrase "L'Empire c'est la paix" is satirized in a cartoon showing him as a porcupine bristling with bayonets. England's line should be one of extreme watchfulness: "We'll keep our powder dry." On the eve of the outbreak of the war between France and Austria Punch gives his "Neutral Advice" in the following lines:—

Let France delight to go and fight

If 'tis her folly to:

Let Austria cry for "territory!"

With that we've naught to do.

Our shout must be "Neutrality!"

To England peace is sweet;

But, friends, that she may neutral be,

Let's man our Forts and Fleet.

Caricature porcupine


"L'empire c'est la paix"

He may be an inoffensive animal, but he don't look like it.

Napoleon III and Cavour

After Magenta the share in the fighting between Italy and France is symbolized in the fable of the Giant and the Dwarf: Victor Emmanuel was to do all the fighting while France, forsooth, claimed half the honours of war. No opportunity was lost of putting the worst construction on Louis Napoleon's patronage of Savoy. His pacific statements are constantly contrasted with his policy of aggrandisement. In the autumn[Pg 11] Punch quoted the New York Herald's tribute: "We are seriously of opinion that if Louis Napoleon were not Emperor of the French, he would have made a first-rate newspaper editor. His style is like that of the American papers." The report that Cavour had retired in disgust inspired a bitter attack on the two Emperors in July:—

Count O'Cavourneen, the bubble is breaking,

You've had the last scene, Solferino's red hill,

The cannons no longer the echoes are waking,

Count O'Cavourneen, what, Minister still?

O hast thou forgot the diplomacy clever

In which thou didst bear so distinguished a part,

Thy vow to clear out all the Hapsbugs for ever?

The vermin still linger, Cavour of my heart.

Cavourneen, Cavourneen, the dead lie in numbers

Beneath the torn turf where the living made fight;

In the bed of My Uncle the Emperor slumbers,

But Italy's Hapsbugs continue to bite.

Well done, my Cavour, they have cut short the struggle

They fired all the pulses of Italy's heart;

And in turning thy back on the humbug and juggle,

Cavour, thou hast played a proud gentleman's part.

[Pg 12]

Soldier being questioned by officers

Militia Officer: "Ah, this is Smithers! Why, you're getting very fat, Smithers. Let's see—this is your fifth training, isn't it?"

Stout Private: "Yes, sir. After we was disembodied, sir, the Adj'tant he took an' reintestined me, sir!!!"

(Note.—Militiamen, after serving four trainings, can be "Re-attested" for another five years.)

Italy and her friends were alike profoundly dissatisfied with the terms of the Peace of Villafranca, by which Savoy and Nice were handed over to the French Emperor, whose further "intentions" kept England in a simmer of indignant anxiety for years to come. The scare of a French invasion revived, the volunteer movement took on increased activity, and the anxiety of financiers was revealed in the grotesque incident of the four Liverpool brokers who wrote to Louis Napoleon asking him what his "intentions" were. They were faithfully dealt with by Punch in his burlesque verses on "The Four Fishers"—who caught nothing, and in an imaginary parallel letter to Queen Victoria.

[Pg 13]

Officer taking roll call


Captain of Rural Corps (calling over the Roll): "George Hodge!" (No answer.) "George Hodge!—Where on earth's George Hodge?"

Voice from the Ranks: "Please, sir, he's turned Dissenter, and says fighting's wicked."

The Invasion Scare

As for the invasion scare, Punch treated it contemptuously in the cartoons representing the French Emperor with a poodle at Calais facing the British Lion at Dover, and the French Eagle drowning in mid-Channel. These cartoons, by the way, and Punch's support of the volunteer movement in general, led the pacificist Star to declare that "Punch is a disgrace to the country in which it is tolerated." But Punch was not a panic-monger. While he vigorously upheld Lord Lyndhurst's plea for a strong Navy, which John Bright vigorously opposed, he welcomed the evidence of goodwill shown by a French publicist, M. Chevalier, who vindicated England against the charge of Chauvinism, and maintained that her attitude was merely defensive. As for the volunteers, Punch commended their patriotism, resented the patronizing contempt of the Regulars, and while ridiculing fancy costumes, was all in favour of a rational uniform:—

[Pg 14]

Some talk of Alexander,

And some of Hercules,

But John Bull's rising dander

Needs no such aids as these.

He shoulders his long Enfield,

And at his drill appears,

Till "ping-wing-wing," the bullets sing,

Of the Rifle Volunteers.

And when he is commanded

To find himself in clothes,

Like a trump unto his tailor

For a uniform he goes.

With his easy knickerbockers,

And no stock his neck that queers,

For a run, jump, stand, they're the boys to command,

Are the Rifle Volunteers!

Let the Horse Guards trust to pipe-clay,

And General Routine,

Till the Linesman's shakoed, belted,

And pack'd to a machine;

With winds and waists unfettered,

And the use of eyes and ears,

In wide-awake tile come the rank and file

Of the Rifle Volunteers!



Colonel Punch (Inspector of Volunteers): "Look here, George, I want those brave fellows to learn their duty."

H.R.H. Commander-in-Chief: "Of course you do, old boy, and so do I; and I'll see that they do learn it, too!"

[Pg 15]

Battlefield scene


Aide-de-Camp: "Good gracious, sir! Why don't you order your men to lie down under this hill? Can't you see that Battery playing right on them?"

Colonel of Volunteers: "So I did, sir. But they won't lie down. They say they want to see the Review!"

Punch and the Volunteers

In later years, when the menace of Napoleonic "intentions" ceased to preoccupy the public, the attitude of Punch towards the volunteers became more critical and less sympathetic, but throughout 1860—allowing for a little amiable chaff of the contrast between their physique and their bellicose spirit—he lent the movement cordial support, applauding the institution of cadet corps in schools, and the provision of facilities to enable footmen and tradesmen to attend drills and be instructed in rifle-shooting. The review in Hyde Park was duly chronicled in a cartoon representing the Queen resting a rifle[Pg 16] on Punch's head, and the poem in honour of the London Volunteers may be set against the genial satire of Keene's zealous little captain leading his men "through fire and water," or the references to the street boys' catch-word "Who shot the dog?"

The year 1860 found England with the Chinese war still on hand; it was not ended till the autumn, with the capture, destruction and looting of the Chinese Emperor's Summer Palace at Peking as an act of vengeance for the barbarous treatment of the British envoys. But India was completely pacified, and Lord Clyde returned home to receive the laurel. The Prince of Wales's visit to Canada was already decided on; Lord Lyndhurst was still clamouring for a strong fleet; the Queen's speech promised the introduction of another measure of Reform, nominally redeemed by Lord John Russell's "nice little Bill" satirized by Punch in March and overwhelmed with ridicule on its withdrawal in June:—

Amendments sore long time I bore;

Parental love was vain;

Till by degrees the House did please

To put me out of pain.

Abroad the outlook was still concentrated on Italy and the progress of her unification. In October, 1859, Punch had hailed the coming of freedom; but it was

"no rosy dawn,

No true Aurora; but a lamp

Which in a moment may be gone,

Extinguished by a tyrant's stamp."

He deplored the exigencies which confined England's aid to the mere expression of goodwill to the brave men who were fighting for liberty. But by the summer of 1860 events were moving apace. It was the time of the famous Sicilian Expedition of Garibaldi, whom Punch acclaimed as the great champion of United Italy:—

Honour to Garibaldi! Win or lose,

A Hero to all time that Chief goes down,

Whatever issue his emprise ensues,

He, certain of unquenchable renown,

Fights for a victor's or a martyr's crown.

[Pg 17]

Garibaldi and Lincoln

The flight of "Bombalino"—Francis IV, son of "Bomba," King of Naples—is celebrated in a pæan on Garibaldi, the Irish Papal Volunteers are ironically praised for their valour in "The Wake of the Irish Brigade," and a cartoon "The Right Leg in the Boot at Last" shows Garibaldi helping Victor Emmanuel to put his leg into the boot of Italy, with the comment, "If it won't go on, Sire, try a little more powder." Punch, we may add, condoled with Garibaldi on the report that Dumas was to write his life, and recorded the description of him given by a young English lady as "a dear old weather-beaten angel."

Savoy and Nice had been annexed to France, and Louis Napoleon's letter to the Comte de Persigny, the French Ambassador in London, disclaiming any aggressive intentions, revived Punch's distrust. The cartoon of August 11, 1860, represents the Emperor as a wolf in sheep's clothing—with the heads of two little dead lambs, labelled Savoy and Nice, peeping out—in the act of posting a letter to Mme. Britannia, "care of M. le Comte de Persigny." But already the eyes of Europe were beginning to be drawn across the Atlantic. The protest of South Carolina is dealt with mainly in a light-hearted spirit, but with an ominous anticipation of the sequel. The verses on "The Beginning of Slavery's End" are wholly serious and entirely on the side of the North:—

This is America's decision.

Awakening, she begins to see

How justly she incurs derision

Of tyrants, while she shames us free;

Republican, yet more slaves owning

Than any under Empire groaning,

Or ground beneath the Papacy.

Lincoln had been elected President, and apart from references to his achievements as a rail-splitter, and the facetious suggestion that the White House should be renamed "Lincoln's Inn," he is welcomed as an honest man and with a respect which, all too soon, was replaced by the spiteful calumny which did not cease until the tragedy of his untimely end. The outbreak of civil war in the United States was immediately followed by the proclamation of Britain's neutrality. Punch's misinterpretation[Pg 18] of the issues involved and his misreading of the attitude of the cotton spinners of Lancashire is dealt with in another section. The comments on Bull's Run and the burlesque correspondence from Charleston are lamentably lacking in good feeling, and the report that the Duc de Chartres and the Comte de Paris had joined the army of the North only furnished Punch with materials for disparaging the French Princes and the cause they had espoused. The famous affair of the Trent, involving the seizure of two Southern envoys on a British ship, which brought England to the verge of war, is treated seriously, but with a profound conviction of the justice of our claim. In the cartoon, "Waiting for an Answer," Britannia is shown standing at the breech of a great gun:—

She waits in arms; and in her cause is safe

Not fearing war, yet hoping peace the end,

Nor heeding those her mood who'd check or chafe,

The Right she seeks; the Right God will defend!

At home Reform had been indefinitely postponed; Lord John Russell had gone to the Lords with an earldom, and Punch, lamenting the cooling of his reforming zeal, recalls the analogies of Chatham, Pulteney, and Holland, who, "to put on earl's ermine laid down their earlier fames." Reorganization of the Navy and a large increase in the number of ships were promised and taken in hand, and Punch records his inspection of a training ship at "Sherrysmouth" and the favourable impression created by the discipline and spirit of all on board. Germany's desire for a fleet is noted and treated with consistent ridicule. As an instance of her activity "it is reported on the very best authority (not less than that of Messrs. Searle, the great boat-builders of Lambeth) that a four-oared cutter will be launched in a very few days." That was in September, 1861, and three weeks later Punch appears in a cartoon as an old salt, handing a toy yacht to a small but plethoric German with the remark: "There's a ship for you, my little man; now cut away, and don't get in a mess." This is followed up with a set of verses ending:—

The moral, my dears, we all understand,

All fat little Germans will stick upon land.

[Pg 19]

The Suez Canal

Nor was Punch happier in his comments on the Suez Canal. In the "Essence of Parliament" for May 6, 1861, he writes:—

The Lords had a discussion about the Canal of the Future, that is to say, the impossible trench which M. Lesseps pretends to think he can cut through the Isthmus of Suez. The Government opinion upon the subject is, that if the Canal could be made, we ought not, for political reasons, to allow it, but that inasmuch as the Canal cannot be cut, the subject may, and the wise course is to let the speculators ruin themselves and diddle the Pacha. This seems straightforward and benevolent enough.

In Italy Victor Emmanuel had been declared King by the new Parliament, but Punch was not at all certain of the stability of his throne. Cavour died on June 6, but the death of the greatest of Italian statesmen is passed over with a brief though sympathetic reference. In August we find Punch uttering a serious warning to Victor Emmanuel, on the ground that he had sold the cradle of his race, and expressing the fear that Sardinia would be ceded to France as well as Savoy. This was the year in which the crown of Greece was offered to Prince Alfred (the late Duke of Edinburgh). Punch declined it both for him and his next brother, Prince Arthur (the Duke of Connaught). "Let the present King (Otho) mind his own business better," Punch advises. The Greek Crown, it is derisively added, was not worth five bob. The offer, however, was not definitely and officially refused until the following year.

The Trent affair was settled, but throughout 1862 Punch exchanged his impartial unfriendliness to both antagonists for a distinct bias against the North and Lincoln. For the moment his distrust of Louis Napoleon was merged in disapproval of the Empress Eugénie for her alleged interference in politics and support of the Papal pretensions. The visit of the Japanese ambassadors in the summer inspired imaginary dispatches, in which allusion is made to their interest in English arsenals and factories. Punch, by this time, had at any rate learned not to depict them as negroes, as he had done only a few years earlier. The police-ridden condition of Poland excites his indignation;[Pg 20] but he is careful to disclaim sympathy with sentimental "National" movements, maintaining much the same view as that expressed in his lines on "The Nonsense of the Nationalities" three years before:—

No more talk of national races,

Panslavic, Hellenic, all stuff!

Of rant, gestures wild, and grimaces

On that point, we've had quite enough.

John Bull you will vainly appeal to,

That in his own person contains

Both Saxon and Norman; a deal, too,

Of Danish blood runs in his veins.

[Pg 21]

Racoon caricature

(Colonel Bull and the Yankee 'Coon)

'Coon: "Air you in arnest, Colonel?"

Colonel Bull: "I am."

'Coon: "Don't fire—I'll come down."

The cultivation of the Welsh vernacular provoked Punch's outspoken hostility, as we notice elsewhere. And it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Punch's strong sympathy with Poland in 1863 was in part due to the fact that Russia, her oppressor, was the only Continental nation friendly to the North in the American war. The exploits of the Alabama only tended to enhance English sympathy with the South, and Mrs. Beecher Stowe's letter, in which she complained that England was throwing her weight into the scale on the slave-owners' side, was not favourably received; while Punch considered it "bad form" for Americans in London to celebrate Independence Day. It is almost needless to say that Louis Napoleon's suggestion for a Congress at Paris was treated with scant courtesy: any suggestion from that quarter was sure to be regarded as suspect.

But the eyes of England and of Europe were diverted from the great struggle in America, already at its height, by events nearer home. The Fenian trouble had already begun in Ireland in 1863; the Schleswig-Holstein controversy was working steadily up to the arbitrament of war. It was of this "question" that Palmerston said that only three men in Europe ever understood it, of whom one (the Prince Consort) was dead; another (a Danish statesman) was mad, and the third (he himself) had forgotten it. Palmerston was inclined to be "interventionist," but was restrained by his colleagues and the influence of the Queen. Punch somewhat reluctantly acquiesced in the view that non-intervention in foreign disputes was the best policy, but[Pg 22] his comments with pen and pencil reflect the extreme unpopularity of Prussia. In May appeared the cartoon in which Punch is shown presenting Prussia with the Order of "St. Gibbet." In the same month he bitterly protested against the bestowal of the Order of the Black Eagle on Prince Alfred by the King of Prussia:—

Black Eagle, murder's proper meed!

Well doth its colour match the stain

Of guilt, that dyes that coward's deed

Who female slew and infant Dane,

Black Eagles are for blackguards right,

White feather who with black combine.

No English Prince shall be a Knight

Of such black Chivalry as thine.

The proclamation of General Falkenstein, commander-in-chief of the Prussian troops in Jutland, regulating the scale of contributions to be levied on Danish landlords, is quoted in the issue of June 4 as a villainous edict, worthy of cut-throats and felons. Earlier in the year Punch had fallen heavily on Professor Max-Müller for his letter, "A German Plea for Germans," in The Times. The Prussians and Austrians were depicted, accurately enough in view of the sequel, as bandits quarrelling over their spoil, and this free criticism was bitterly resented throughout Germany. When Müller was tried and executed for the murder of Mr. Briggs in the autumn of this year, the judge was accused of anti-Prussian bias. Meanwhile Punch found little worthy of comment in the American war beyond the allegations of malingering among Federal troops, and the report that Irishmen were induced to emigrate, with promises of help, in order to furnish recruits for the Northern army.

[Pg 23]

Gladiatorial battle


The end of the American war came in 1865. Of its magnitude and of the deeper issues involved; of the achievements of the heroes on either side—Sherman and Grant and Farragut, Stonewall Jackson and Lee—Punch showed himself strangely deficient in appreciation. The amende to Lincoln was handsome and complete, but it was not made until after the assassination of the greatest of Americans:—

[Pg 24]

Yes, he had lived to shame me from my sneer,

To lame my pencil and confute my pen—

To make me own this hind of princes peer,

This rail-splitter a true-born King of men.

It is truly said that Lincoln lived through four long-suffering years—years of ill-fate, ill-feeling, and ill-report—and lived to hear "the hisses change to cheers, the taunts to tribute, the abuse to praise," and took both with the same unwavering mood. Unhappily, as we have seen, by the change in Punch's view not being expressed until Lincoln was dead, the tribute lost its grace.

The toll of great or eminent men taken by 1865 was heavy, and memorial verses abound. Cobden, successively eulogized as a Free-Trader and attacked and even execrated as a Pacificist, died in the spring, and Lord Palmerston, the greatest of the Elder Statesmen, in the autumn. As we have often had occasion to notice in this chronicle, Punch had alternated between admiration of Palmerston's nerve and dislike of his Parliamentary opportunism. But no jarring note is struck in his eulogy; there is nothing elegiac in the cheerful dactyls—after the model of Tom Moore—in which he pays homage to Palmerston's wisdom, his courage, and his humour, and skates over the thin ice of his masterly inactivity in the cause of Reform:—

We trusted his wisdom, but love drew us nearer

Than homage we owed to his statesmanly art,

For never was statesman to Englishmen dearer

Than he who had faith in the great English heart.

The frank merry laugh, and the honest eye filling

With mirth, and the jests that so rapidly fell,

Told out the State-secret that made us right willing

To follow his leading—he loved us all well.

Our brave English Chief!—lay him down for the sleeping

That nought may disturb till the trumpet of doom:

Honour claims the proud vigil—but Love will come weeping,

And hang many garlands on Palmerston's tomb!

General Eyre

Relations with France were improved in 1865, the year of the fiftieth anniversary of peace with England, by the interchange[Pg 25] of fraternal visits between the Fleets, duly celebrated by Punch. The death of the King of the Belgians, Leopold I, deprived Queen Victoria of one of her greatest and most trusted friends. As for Germany, the acquisition of Kiel laid the foundation of the naval policy formulated in the boast of Wilhelm II: "Our future lies on the water."

At home the Fenian outbreak in Ireland was spreading, but Punch refused to treat it as a serious menace, to judge from the burlesque list of its supporters published in the autumn. Much more space is devoted to the negro outbreak in Jamaica and the campaign against General Eyre, which affords a curious parallel to the Amritsar riots and the action of General Dyer. Eyre was much censured for his severity in suppressing the rising; the agitation to bring him to trial was kept up for three years by the Jamaica committee, of which J. S. Mill was a prominent member; but Punch defended Eyre throughout and heaped scorn on the "fanatics" and "noisy quacks" who thought so much of the blacks that they could not think of the whites. He admitted that the vengeance had been terrible; that a great slaughter had been made; but held that it had been justified by the needs of "a small white population, eight times outnumbered by the negroes, and suddenly confronted by the foulest horrors of savage warfare." The Grand Jury of Middlesex threw out the Bill in 1867, confirming the view already expressed by the Shropshire magistrates, but nevertheless Eyre was committed for trial a year later under the Colonial Governors' Act. Punch reprinted Eyre's speech in Court, and never swerved from the firm conviction that he had saved Jamaican society, white and black, by his promptness and resolution. He compared his long martyrdom with that of Warren Hastings, and predicted that Englishmen, who listen too much to noisy and gushing men, would in time make amends. The result was inconclusive, for while Eyre's career was ended by his recall, his legal expenses were paid by Government in 1872. He had undoubtedly saved the situation, but could not be acquitted of excessive severity.

The second of the three wars which consummated the aggrandisement of Prussia was brought to a speedy end in the summer[Pg 26] of 1866 by the "twelve days" campaign which culminated in the defeat of Austria at Königgrätz (Sadowa). England, with Lord Russell as Premier, once more stood aloof, but English hostility to Prussia, and, above all, Bismarck—already recognized as the most formidable power in Continental politics—made itself widely felt. Punch expressed this general resentment in his comments on the rumour that the Queen was to visit Germany in the autumn. As a friend of Italy he could not disapprove of the arrangement by which Venetia was annexed to her dominions; as the unrelenting critic of Louis Napoleon he could not refrain from disparaging his attitude of neutrality tempered by a hope of "picking up the pieces." But England, though not embroiled in Continental disputes, was not without her own troubles. The Russell Cabinet had fallen over Reform, there had been riots in Hyde Park (of which we speak elsewhere), and before the Derby-Disraeli administration came in, the Liberals had been forced to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland in order to deal effectually with what Mr. Gladstone did not hesitate to describe as the wicked conspiracy of Fenianism. Punch's summary of the proceedings in Parliament on Saturday, February 18, and the historic session on Sunday, 19, when the Suspension Bill became law, is not without interest. J. S. Mill supported the Government; Bright's speech in the character of the candid friend was described by Gladstone as "containing what was in part untrue, in part open to question, and generally out of place," a strange inversion of their rôles in 1886. It is noteworthy that the demand for land legislation and the disestablishment of the Irish Church was heard in the debate, and that the trouble in Ireland was largely ascribed by the Government to the presence of Irish-Americans, released by the cessation of the American war, who had come to Ireland to promote Fenianism and were "regularly paid by somebody." They were "wanted," but to make a general capture of these miscreants it was necessary to dispense with the law which forbade arrest without warrant and imprisonment without appeal to the judges. There is a distressingly familiar ring about these arguments, and the reference to the fact that the Fenians had already begun to murder.

[Pg 27]

Nascent Imperialism

To turn from the centre to the circumference, one may note a pleasant hint of nascent Imperialism in the little geography lesson, doubtless well needed, which Punch gives his readers on December 1, 1866:—

Mr. Punch is pleased to see that a decoration has been given by the Queen to the Finance Minister of Victoria. Victoria is one of the Australian colonies, it is at the southern extremity of the continent, Melbourne is the capital, and the inhabitants are far in advance of England in regard to civilization—for instance, they have compulsory education. The Hon. George Vernon came over on a mission to our Government. Victoria wants an armour-plated ship, for which she will partly pay, and a training ship, and Sir John Pakington has assented. The Minister, for his various services to the colony, has received the Bath Cross. Should it not have been the Victoria Cross? This little goak is the bit of sugar with which Mr. Punch rewards his readers for learning more than most English people know about one of our noblest colonies. If his readers are good, they shall have another colonial lesson some day. For we have other colonies besides Victoria.

Another lesson in geography had been suggested earlier in the year by the final success of the Great Eastern in laying the cable, a success due as much to the enterprise of Cyrus Field, the American capitalist, as to the genius of Brunel.

In 1867 there was a further recrudescence of Fenianism, and the "physical force" men extended their operations to England. For this was the year of the sinister attempt to blow up Clerkenwell prison, and the rescue of Fenians from the prison van in Manchester, in which a police-sergeant was shot, with, as a consequence, the execution of the "Manchester Martyrs," funeral processions and celebrations, the echoes of which have reverberated down to these days.

The Reform League expressed sympathy with the Fenians, and an English lady of rank associated herself with their cause; but Punch regarded such support with unqualified contempt and even abhorrence. Real military operations on a modest scale were conducted by England in one of her small wars—that against the recalcitrant King of Abyssinia—and an autumn session was held to vote supplies. It was suggested that Sir Robert Napier, who commanded the expedition, was not at first[Pg 28] adequately rewarded, but he was raised to the peerage in the following year as Lord Napier of Magdala. There seems to have been less divergence of opinion over the protest that the cost of the war was entirely borne by income-tax payers. Disraeli having succeeded Lord Derby as Premier, and Mr. Ward Hunt having gone to the Exchequer, Punch contented himself with observing, à propos of the new Budget, that the money for the deficit of upwards of a million and a half "is, of course, to be taken from the Middle Class, which never defends itself," and returned to the charge on May 9 in his lines on "The Great Untaxed in their Glory":—

Napier came, saw, and conquered; the battle was o'er;

There's an end of the war and of King Theodore.

The prestige is recovered that England had lost,

And the popular voice cries "A fig for the cost!"

Lo, the tyrant's abolished, the captives are free!

And there isn't a fraction to pay on our tea,

Or our sugar: how sweet so cheap glory to win!

No additional tax on tobacco or gin!

Let us drink, then, success to Disraeli and Hunt,

Who exempted the many from finding the blunt;

And laid all the expense of the War on the few—

For the Income-Tax payer will pay all that's due.

Ah, tremble, ye tyrants, whom England can crush,

At a price which her millions won't care for one rush;

In the scale as a feather the money will weigh,

For a national war when a part has to pay.

French and German Ambitions

Meanwhile the upper classes had been spending their money freely at the great French Exhibition of 1867, that crowning manifestation of the art and opulence, the magnificence and cynicism of the Second Empire, with Schneider as high priestess of the revels, and all the rank and fashion of Europe paying homage at her shrine. Punch, however, took a friendly personal interest in the exhibition, for Leech's drawings were exhibited there. The Federation of Canada, an event of first-rank importance to the British Empire, with a Constitution framed mainly on the lines of Lord Durham's Report in 1840, was overshadowed by the more spectacular and dramatic events of the[Pg 29] year 1867. Disraeli succeeded Lord Derby on his resignation in February, 1868, and Punch handsomely acknowledged "the genius and perseverance" which, after thirty years of strife, had thus been rewarded; but the new Premier only held office till December, when the Liberals were returned with a majority of 112. The peerage which he declined for himself, but accepted for his wife, who was created Viscountess Beaconsfield, inspired a graceful tribute from his old critic Punch. Parliament, before the prorogation in July, had been mainly occupied with the battle over Gladstone's Irish Church resolutions, which brought about the Government's downfall. It is worthy of note that in 1868 it was the Militarism of France, not of Germany, that excited Punch's misgivings and animosities, to the extent of his describing the Emperor's proposed Army Loan of 440 million francs as a measure to establish a reign of "terror and preponderance." A map, which was said to have been published by order of the Emperor, illustrating French ambitions, gravely exercised Punch later in a year which witnessed the Revolution in Spain and the flight of the notorious Queen Isabella, events which awakened little sympathy or interest in England. Yet the eviction of Isabella opened the door to the Hohenzollern candidature for the throne of Spain, the proximate cause of the war of 1870. But the seeds of conflict lay deeper—in the relentless diplomacy of Bismarck, bound sooner or later to manœuvre Napoleon III into a position from which he could not escape without resort to the arbitrament of war. In 1869 the celebration of the centenary of Napoleon I and the proposed inauguration of a Constitutional régime furnished Punch with material for some plain-spoken advice to Napoleon's successor and namesake. Distrust of Louis Napoleon still dominated Punch's outlook on foreign politics and clouded his vision. Strange to say the growth of the Prussian fleet is not only praised, but welcomed:—


John Bull used to laugh to scorn the idea of a Prussian Navy, and chuckled hugely when Punch christened it for him "The Fleet of the Future." But lo, "the wheel of Time has brought about his [Pg 30]revenges," and the Fleet of the Future is the Fleet of the Present! Prussia has a fleet—and no chaff! A respectable force of steam ironclads, backed by a serviceable knot of unarmoured sailing-frigates and corvettes, with a first-class naval arsenal and dockyard, on the Jahde, is a very different thing from the solitary "gunboat on the Spree," which we used to poke our fun at twenty years ago.

Britannia, through her Punch, rejoices to weave among her naval azures a new shade—Prussian blue; and will be glad, in all fair quarrels, to hail it alongside the true blue of the British man-o'-war's-man.

But the mood of welcome was tempered with misgiving, and the possibility of an eventual naval war with Germany filled Punch with gloomy forebodings, which, in view of subsequent developments, approach to something like prophetic strain:—


We trust we shall ever preserve our friendship with the countrymen of Hans Breitmann. We allowed Denmark to be robbed of Schleswig-Holstein, and tolerated the total theft of Hanover; so that there seems to be no conceivable offence that can hook us into a war with Prussia and Germany. That view is a pleasant one to contemplate for thinking people, who, but for it, would be rendered very uneasy by the following statement in a Times' leader on "The Cruise of the Lords of the Admiralty":—

"It has been imagined that the introduction of steam-power would render naval tactics of extreme importance in any future engagements, but when on one occasion the ships were ordered to go into action, it was found that a few minutes sufficed to envelope the whole fleet in so dense a cloud of smoke that signals were no longer visible, and all that any vessel could do was to fire as rapidly as possible into the darkness around her."

Now, those Deutschers are confoundedly clever fellows; particularly at chemistry. Gun-cotton, which was discovered by one of them, is a substance they are at work on perfecting. No doubt they will soon make it available, so as to supersede powder, for naval gunnery. Gun-cotton goes off without smoke. In the happily almost impossible event of a war with them, our ships, enveloped in smoke of our own clumsy making, would blaze away at theirs in the dark, at random, with useless guns of precision, whilst they would fire with unerring aim at the flashes of our guns, and the end of our first sea-fight with them would be, that the British would be sent to the bottom by the German Fleet.

[Pg 31]

Death of Lord Derby

The same month witnessed the passing away of Lord Derby, "the Rupert of Debate," a statesman somewhat out of his element in a period of non-intervention; a great country-gentleman, sportsman, and scholar. Punch, whose memorial verses in these years did not err as a rule on the side of brevity, compressed his tribute within the compass of a sonnet, in which there is a happy reference to Lord Derby's love of Homer and of children, for he was the patron of Edward Lear, the laureate of the best, because the most unalloyed, nonsense:—

Born, 1799. Died, 1869.

Withdrawing slow from those he loved so well,

Autumn's pale morning saw him pass away:

Leave them beside their sacred dead to pray,

Unmarked of strangers. Calmer memories tell

How nobly Stanley lived. No braver name

Glows in the golden roll of all his sires,

Or all their peers. His was the heart that fires

The eloquent tongue, and his the eye whose aim

Alone half quelled his foe. He struck for Power,

(And power in England is a hero's prize)

Yet he could throw it from him. Those whose eyes

See not for tears, remember in this hour

That he was oft from Homer's page beguiled

To frame some "wonder for a happy child."

The resignation by Lord Malmesbury, formerly Foreign Secretary, of the Conservative leadership of the House of Lords about the same time met with no such consideration. Lord Malmesbury had never been a favourite of Punch, who insinuated that the Tory leader had gone because he was obliged to, and quoted Artemus Ward's saying: "He told me to get out of the office—I pitied him and went."

The fateful year of 1870 opened with the attempt to establish a "Liberal" Empire in France with Ollivier as Prime Minister, a concession which Punch hailed as a "Magna Charta for France"; almost simultaneously Lord Clarendon, our Foreign Minister, with Gladstone's cordial approval, launched his suggestion of a partial simultaneous disarmament, a proposal[Pg 32] rendered futile by the attitude of Bismarck. Lord Clarendon died on June 27, and his successor, Lord Granville, was informed by the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office that he "had never during his long experience known so great a lull in foreign affairs." Yet war had already been declared by France when Punch, on July 23, issued his somewhat cynical manifesto of neutrality under the heading: "Prussian Pot and French Kettle":—

In this unhappy event of a war between France and Prussia, we shall of course do all we can to preserve the most perfect neutrality. We certainly feel it. Our sympathies with the one side and the other are, strong as they are, exactly equal.

As regards the Prussians we take a warmly admiring interest in the course of aggrandisement which their King and his Bismarck have been pursuing of late years, but most chiefly do we applaud its first step—the attack on Denmark, and the forcible annexation therefrom of the two Duchies. The immense number of Danes slain by the Prussian needle-guns commands our approbation only less than our wonder; but what crowns the sentiments with which we regard the spoliation and destruction of the Danes is the piety wherewith the author of those achievements solemnly expressed his thankfulness for having been permitted to accomplish them. One brother once knelt with Mrs. Fry in Newgate. The other might have knelt with Mrs. Cole.

On the other hand, with respect to France, we cannot but feel how much we owe to the French Imperial Government for the improvement which, by the menacing armaments it has kept up now for so many years, it has occasioned us to make in our national defences. But we have higher reasons for sympathy with France than considerations which are merely insular and selfish. The great principles of Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality have been professed by France more enthusiastically and more loudly than by any other European nation; and we behold their standing reduction to practice in the occupation of Rome, and the declaration that the chief of Italian cities shall never belong to Italy.

The foregoing reasons should satisfy any Prussian and any Frenchman of the perfect impartiality with which Englishmen must contemplate hostilities between their respective nations.

[Pg 33]

Two riders with an apparition


As a matter of fact, public opinion in England at the outbreak of the war was in the main inclined to favour Germany; the publication of the Draft Secret Treaty submitted to Bismarck[Pg 34] by Louis Napoleon in 1867, providing in certain contingencies for the occupation of Belgium by France, and now communicated by Bismarck to The Times went a long way to sterilize sympathy with France; and it was not until after Sedan that compassion for France overwhelmed and obliterated the old distrust of the Emperor's intriguing ambitions. When the cry, "nous sommes trahis" was raised, Punch blamed the French nation more than the Emperor, whom he had portrayed in a famous cartoon with the ghost of Napoleon appearing to him as he set out for the front. As the wheels of war drove more heavily on French soil and Paris was threatened with famine, one notices the growing desire that Germany should grant generous terms, mingled with a sense of impotence. This mood is well shown in the verses, "Between the Hosts," printed in the number of December 17:—

Like him of old, when the plague's arrows sped,

And life sank blighted by that scathing rain,

We stand between the living and the dead,

Lifting our hands and prayers to Heaven in vain.

While those that faint upbraid us from dim eyes,

And those that fight arraign us as they fall,

And French and German curses 'gainst us rise,

And, hating none, we rest unloved of all.

And so we stand with a divided soul,

Our sympathies for both at war within,

Now eager for the strong, to reach his goal,

More often wishing that the weak could win.

Only one feeling will not leave our minds,

Hate of this hate, and anguish of this woe;

And still war's scythe-set car rolls on and grinds

Guilty and guiltless, blent in overthrow.

And first we interpose a useless hand,

And then we lift an unavailing voice,

While still Death holds his way with sword and brand,

Still the Valkyrier make their fatal choice.

Still stormed on by ill-will from either side,

Be we content to do the best we can—

Give all that wealth, peace, goodwill can provide,

[Pg 36]

For war's poor victims who their helpers ban.

We have no right to wait for men's good word,

No right to pause before men's unearned hate:

No right to turn the ear, when threats are heard

Of what will, some day, be the neutral's fate.

"Do right and fear not" must be England's stay,

As it has been, let wrath say what it will.

So with love's unthanked labour let us pray,

And do our best to ease war's weight of ill!

[Pg 35]

Horseman with soldiers

Paris, March 1st, 1871.

1871—and its Sequel

In the autumn the consideration shown by some German troops in Champagne is welcomed; by the end of the year the reply of Göttingen University to an appeal protesting against the threatened destruction of the scientific and art treasures of Paris—a document breathing the familiar spirit of unctuous rectitude—roused Punch to indignant satire in "A Deutscher Dove-Coo," the name of the principal signatory being Dove. So a month later the pseudo-Walpolian letters issued as "Strawberry Leaves" reflect the popular disgust with which German brutality was viewed, but at the same time the popular dislike of England's participating in the war. When the siege of Paris ended at the close of the month, Punch congratulated Thiers on his statesmanship, but rebuked the Parisians for their fickleness in heaping insult on their fallen Emperor. The Germans entered Paris, but in the cartoon of March 11, and the accompanying verses "Vae Victis" a warning was addressed to Germany which has turned out to be a true prophecy. The triumph is admitted, but the sequel is clearly foreshadowed:—

Yet listen, conqueror, while the shade,

That should sit near thee in thy car,

Whispers how quickly laurels fade,

How swiftly shift the sands of war;

How, sixty-five years since, there came

A mightier Emperor than thou,

Upon Berlin to put the shame

Which thy hand puts on Paris now.

Even as thy heel is on their head,

That on thy folks' head set their heel,

So, ere threescore more years have sped,

[Pg 37]

The woe thou work'st thy sons may feel.

"Who smite with sword by sword shall fall,"

Holds for kings as for subjects true;

God's mills grind slow, but they grind small,

And he that grinds gives all their due.

The courtesy of Germany in coming to an amicable settlement over the loss of some British colliers sunk in the Thames is acknowledged; but anxiety as to her further aggressions was not allayed by her desire to possess Heligoland, and was undoubtedly enhanced by the publication of that brilliant realistic romance, The Battle of Dorking, while the fratricidal tragedy of the Commune, and the ruthless measures of suppression[Pg 38] employed, augured ill for the recovery of France from the abasement of defeat. These events and the lessons they conveyed to England were not overlooked by Punch; they served to temper his light-heartedness with moods of misgiving. Yet the wonderful elasticity—due, as even official Republican historians admit, to the industrial prosperity created under the Second Empire—which enabled France to pay off what in those days seemed a crushing war indemnity long before the time fixed, emboldened Punch in the spring of 1873 to indulge once more in a prophecy of the reversal of the verdict of 1870. When the German occupation ended, France is shown undauntedly confronting Germany with the words: "Ha! We shall meet again."

Two female figures


Germany: "Farewell, Madame, and if——"

France: "Ha! We shall meet again!"

Germany was not the only foreign power that caused anxiety during the Gladstone administration of 1868-1874. Russia availed herself of the troubles of 1870 to revive the Near Eastern question by refusing to recognize her treaty obligations in the Black Sea; but the friction thus created was allayed by the compromise effected by the Black Sea Conference. And Russia's expedition to, and occupation of, Khiva in 1873 gave rise to further uneasiness. But non-intervention remained the order of the day throughout. The Ashanti expedition of 1873, whether in respect of its aim or its scale could not be regarded as forming an exception. But it furnished Punch with occasion for much plain-spoken criticism of War Office red tape and mismanagement. He saw in Sir Garnet Wolseley "the right man in the wrong place":—

In our deep penny wisdom, and horror of waste,

We shipped off the General minus his men,

So that if in a fix he should find himself placed,

He might merely lose time writing home back again.

Gladstonian Legislation

Happily these misgivings were falsified in the sequel, and early in 1874 Punch was able to record, amongst other evidences of the satisfactory conclusion of the campaign, the arrival in England of King Coffee's State umbrella. The Gladstone administration may not have been efficient in the conduct of military operations, but in the sphere of Army Reform it[Pg 39] deserved well of the country for the abolition of purchase, in the teeth of strong opposition from the Horse Guards' element, and the reorganization of the service on lines which substantially endured for a generation or more. For these improvements we have to thank a civilian, Cardwell, whose name is indissolubly associated with the changes brought about in 1870. The second instalment of Gladstone's scheme for the pacification of Ireland—the Land Act of 1870—was supported by Punch, but did not achieve its purpose, since it left the vexed question of dual ownership unsettled; and it was another Irish measure—the University Bill—that brought the[Pg 40] Government down. The legislative achievements of the Gladstone Administration had been immense and salutary in many directions, but the universality of its activities undoubtedly contributed to its growing unpopularity and lent force to Disraeli's famous electioneering cry of "plundering and blundering." Punch, who had in the main supported Gladstone, advised the Cabinet to resign after their defeat, but the Prime Minister resumed office temporarily and did not dissolve till January 1874.

Mr Punch lecturing politicians


Dr. Punch: "My dear young friends, you have done next to nothing this half. Therefore, a little task during the vacation will be good for you. You, Master Benjamin, must get up a 'definite policy.' You, Lowe, will write a paper on the 'Application of the Screw.' Ayrton, you will have to get by heart the whole 'Book of Etiquette.' Miall, you must attend Church regularly. Whalley, you're going to America—stay there! Plimsoll, you must learn to—ahem—moderate your transports. And as for you, William Ewart, the idler you are the better!"

England 2,000 Years Hence

Much had been done in this, the central mid-Victorian age, to abate the evils and abuses which kept the "Two Nations" apart in earlier days. Yet at the opening of the new Disraelian régime, with its imperial aspirations, it may not be amiss to reproduce the verses, somewhat in the vein of Thackeray's musings on Vanitas Vanitatum, in which Punch bade farewell to the Comet of 1858:—


Dare a bold atom ask, with brain half dizzy,

What you will see two thousand years to come,

This planet still an ant's nest, black and busy,

Or an extinct volcano, white and dumb?

Will you behold, if keeping that appointment,

(Made for you, Sir, by Airy and by Hind)

Men still anointing Kings with holy ointment,

And Priests still leading, as the blind the blind.

Earth's choicest youth fierce rushing to the slaughter

That two crowned Fools may wreak their idiot pet;

Or wiser Christians' blood poured out like water,

That Jews may gamble with a nation's debt.

Will that day's Patriot be a mouthing truckler,

Setting proud Freedom's hymn to Freedom's dirge;

Will Law be still the rich man's shield and buckler,

The good man's terror, and the poor man's scourge?

Will you find Life a hot and blindfold scrimmage,

Men straining, struggling, scrambling, for red gold;

And Faith still worshipping the Golden Image

[Pg 41]

Reared by King Beelzebub in days of old?

Will all that world, with coronet and plaudit,

Reward Success, while Merit's scorned and passed;

Will man ignore that great and dreadful Audit,

When Lies shall fail—the first time, and the last?

Who knows? Off, glorious Star-horse, clothed with thunder—

Thou hast no right to make a light strain sad;

Yet he wrote well, who wrote in awe and wonder—

"An undevout Astronomer is mad."

[Pg 42]


Turning from England's international outlook to home affairs, we are confronted in the earlier stages of the period under review by the powerful negative influence of Lord Palmerston. A great Foreign Minister, a capable and humane administrator when he was at the Home Office, he had little belief in legislative remedies, and his refusal to grapple with Reform became progressively distasteful to his Liberal supporters. The old party system had been confused and shattered by the secession of the Peelites, as the result of the Repeal of the Corn Laws, and Palmerston was maintained in power in fact, if not in name, by a coalition. His death ended the régime of masterly inactivity and cleared the way for the reconstruction of parties and the prolonged duel between the two great protagonists—Disraeli and Gladstone.

The Reform Bill of 1867, the chief constructive achievement of Disraeli's first Premiership, was a great advance on that of 1832, but the boon was robbed of much of its grace by the party strategy which was summed up in Lord Derby's famous phrase about "dishing the Whigs." Meanwhile Ireland had been forced into prominence by the outbreak of Fenianism, the Liberals had been reunited under Gladstone by his Irish Church policy and on his accession to power in 1868, we enter on the golden age of Gladstonian finance, with a low income tax—it dropped to 3d. in the year 1873—high wages and industrial prosperity.

Labour and Intervention

It was also, as we have seen, the age of non-intervention in foreign politics. Strange to say the strongest appeal to the Government to interfere by force of arms in a foreign quarrel was made by a deputation of working men, introduced by Professor Beesly, in May, 1863, with a view to expounding to the Prime Minister the resolutions in favour of Poland voted by a Trade Union Meeting in St. James's Hall:—

[Pg 43]

One of the deputation, Mr. Cremer, a joiner, after Pam had given the deputation the requisite sympathetic and evasive answer, jovially observed, in plain English:—

"We are men of action, my Lord, and have come to the conclusion that the only way to aid the Poles is to call on Russia to desist from her present conduct, and if she will not attend to that call, thrash her into compliance."

We append Punch's comments because they are typical of his gradual adoption of a more critical attitude towards the working man. It should be remembered that there was no Labour Party in the House of Commons until 1884. Before that time working men like Mr. Burt and Mr. MacDonald, the two miners returned in 1874, were returned by an arrangement with the Liberals and sat on the Liberal benches:—

If the honest working men were so thoroughly well represented as to command a majority in the House of Commons, they would not, of course, want to thrash foreign powers into compliance with their demands, and tax others to pay the expense of their own war. Would they subject their wages, one and all, to Schedule D, then, in order to thrash Russia into liberating Poland? If so, they are fine fellows. If not, the parts performed by the handicraftsmen who joined in the deputation to Lord Palmerston are about on a par with those of Quince, the carpenter; Snug, the joiner; Bottom, the weaver; Flute, the bellows mender; Snout, the tinker; and Starveling, the tailor, in A Midsummer Night's Dream; our British carpenters, joiners, and other working men partake in a very delusive dream in the expectation that England is going to fight for the Poles. The income-tax makes cowards of us all, except the working men who do not pay it.

Many of the abuses and evils at which Punch had tilted so vigorously had been removed and remedied. The Corn Laws had been repealed; the Factory Acts had improved the conditions of labour. Obsolete and barbarous laws had been removed from the Statute Book. The Game Laws had been modified, and the administration of justice was marked by a humaner spirit. The principle that property had its duties as well as its rights was being steadily enforced, and, at the close of the period under review, class privilege was curtailed by the institution of open competition in the Civil Service and the abolition of purchase in the Army.

[Pg 44]

This brief and imperfect list may help to explain the conversion of Punch, the strenuous and impassioned advocate of the masses during the 'forties and 'fifties into the champion of the middle classes, and the very candid friend of the working man and Trade Unions as revealed in the later 'sixties and early 'seventies.

Group in a bar

The Public House

The Gang System

Life on the land showed little signs of progress in the opening years of this period as illustrated by Punch's legal pillory. But the vagaries of clerical and aristocratic magistrates, culled with chapter and verse from provincial newspapers, which excited his wrath in 1858, almost disappear in the 'sixties, no doubt in consequence of a more humane interpretation of the Sunday Observance Act. In 1869, the debate on "The Recreation[Pg 45] of the People" at the Church Congress revealed a growth of clerical tolerance and common sense which extorted the high approval of Punch. Still, the "Sunday Question" was far from being solved when it impelled the convivial Punch to print in the same year the companion cartoons contrasting his vision of what might be with the squalid reality of what was.

The incubus of Sabbatarianism, so far as it affected farmers and labourers, was at any rate much lightened in these years. But a far more serious evil was the gang system, under which a gang, chiefly of children, some as young as five, but mostly boys and girls under fourteen, were hired by a gang-master, who made as much as he could by taking them about the country and letting out their labour to farmers. It was not[Pg 46] until 1867 that the good Lord Shaftesbury carried the Agricultural Gangs Act by the provisions of which no child under eight might be employed in an agricultural gang, and girls were placed under the protection of a licensed female gang-master. It was a modest instalment of reform, long since extended by our Elementary Education Acts; it is to the credit of Punch that he hailed it as placing a check on "a system so abominable that nothing but the intensest hypocrisy can call this a Christian nation while it exists." Against those who deliberately perpetuated ignorance by enslaving the young he carried on a truceless war. He was slower to condemn the ignorance of rural superstition when it could be paralleled by the credulity of the educated, and his observations on the sentence passed on a Devonshire shoemaker may be taken to heart fifty years later:—

A paragraph in a contemporary, headed "Superstition in Devonshire," contains the following defence, addressed by an old shoemaker named Burch to the Barnstaple magistrates, before whom he was charged with assaulting an old woman by scratching her on the arm:—"Gentlemen, I have suffered five years' affliction from her. I have been under her power, and more than a hundred people advised me to fetch blood of that woman to destroy the spell. I have lost fourteen canaries, and from forty to fifty goldfinches; as fast as I got them they died, and I have had five complaints brought upon me at once."

On hearing this declaration:—

"The Mayor said that it was most extraordinary that such ignorance and superstition should prevail in the present enlightened age."

In the present enlightened age persons of position in society and of education believe that they shake hands with spirits at dark séances. His Worship the Mayor of Barnstaple cannot have known that, or he would not have called the belief in witchcraft ignorance and superstition. If spiritualism is true, sorcery is possible, and, as there is no legal remedy against it, old Burch may be considered to have been justified in taking the law into his own hands for self-protection. Accordingly, since he was fined 2s. 6d. and costs, and, as he couldn't pay the money, sent to prison, perhaps a subscription to get him out of gaol, and make him amends for the trouble he has got into, will be raised among affluent and superior "spirit circles." For if one medium can float about a room, why may not another ride upon a broomstick?

[Pg 47]

Farmhand talking to employer


Suffolk Farmer: "Two shill'ns a week more? Never! That'll never do! Out of the question!"

Suffolk Ploughman: "You're right there, Mas'r Wuzzles, sart'n sure! It 'on't dew. Our Sal sahy there'll be eight shillin' and threepence for bread, three and sixpence for rent and coal, and half-a-crown for club, clothes, boots and shoes for the owd 'oman, five kids, and me. No, that 'on't dew—that, that 'on't, b'um by. But it'll be enow to begin with!"

The Old Man and the New Rich

Though no friend of feudalism, it is curious to note that in the vehement protest against enclosures, the closing of rights of way, etc., which he published in 1869, Punch is careful to distinguish between the old and the new rich. The closing of Nightingale Wood, between Southampton and Romsey, which "from time immemorial had been open by gracious permission to rural ramblers," was the occasion for an outburst culminating in the statement that "the brutes now fast closing the sylvan scenery of England to Englishmen, are, with the exception of an ignoble duke or two, rich rogues of speculators and financiers, who have ousted the old territorial aristocrats and squires, having bought fields and forests with the reward of their rascality."

In the selfishness of the "profiteer," as we now call him,[Pg 48] Punch sees a sure provocative of Communism. He would clearly have applauded the distinguished but eccentric judge who in a later day erected on his country estate boards with the notice "Trespassers will not be prosecuted."

It remains to be added that the grievances of tenants and farm labourers, though far less frequently mentioned than in earlier years, did not altogether escape the vigilance of Punch. In 1861 he printed an ironic petition from a tenant to his landlord asking to be as comfortably housed as his horses. In 1868 he alludes to the scandalous housing conditions on the estate of a noble landlord in Essex—an estate which of recent years has been noted for its humane and liberal management.

Prison v. Workhouse

Far more space, however, is devoted to the administration of the Poor Law, the economics and evils of Industrialism in the manufacturing centres, and the efforts of practical philanthropy. Throughout the 'sixties and right on into the early 'seventies Punch never wearies of insisting on the folly of making life in prison more comfortable than that in the workhouse. His campaign begins with an onslaught on the guardians of the Durham Union, who appeared to think that there "ought to be a correspondence between the spiritual nutriment of paupers and their material diet":—

Under this impression it evidently was that they advertised the other day for a chaplain, offering the salary of £20 a year. Their advertisement was answered by a tender from one John Smart, who turned out to have been a clergyman's footman, and conceived that he had learned to exercise the functions of a parson from his master. He had, he said, "had a good deal of private practice, but not public."

It is painful to find a respectable man-servant reduced to apply for employment in the capacity of a Workhouse chaplain. Cannot an inferior class of clergyman be ordained on purpose to administer to paupers a coarser kind of spiritual food? Deep indeed must be the humiliation experienced by a footman in exchanging plush and gold lace for the canonicals of a chaplain whose salary is £20 a year.

It was the time of the garrotting scare. Hence the point of Punch's comment:—

The frying pan as compared with the fire is much less comfortable than the Model Prison in proportion to the Union-Workhouse.

[Pg 49]

The former of those two establishments relatively to the latter is considerably milder than Purgatory may be imagined to be, in contrast with the other place which the prisoners mentioned. Quod, in comparison with the Abode of Want, is quite a tolerable sort of Limbo. What is the moral of this arrangement, in the apprehension of the classes who have to live by their own exertions? Whatever you do, keep out of the Workhouse. Garrotte anybody rather than apply to the Union.

Punch still disapproved of the gallows; the strongest argument in its favour was the manifest truth that the cheapest thing you could do with a worthless rascal was to hang him. But he saw a better way in rendering penal servitude exemplary:—

At any rate, for the prevention of garrotte robberies and all other crimes, one step might be taken somewhat analogous to the treatment proverbially recommended for that other complaint, the influenza, which is just now likewise so prevalent. "Stuff a cold," says the popular adage, "and starve a cough." At present the moral reverse of this rule is observed in penal economy. You stuff a convict and starve a pauper. Wouldn't it probably answer better to allow paupers sufficient food and put criminals on low diet? Thus you may be enabled to get on without the gallows.

It was stated, and accepted by Punch in 1860, that since 1856 there had been a decrease in crime of 25 per cent. owing to the establishment of Reformatories. But the series of papers in the Morning Post in 1863 on the Middlesex Industrial School at Feltham—where the boys were subjected to a devotional drill, made to lift and lower their hands in prayer and sing grace "to the sharp order of a master," and mercilessly caned and birched by a tall, muscular drill master for acts of insubordination—gave Punch furiously to think:—

The Middlesex Model School at Feltham is an institution for the reformation of young thieves, but its arrangements for developing the religious sentiment in the youthful mind appear to be such as may be conceived to have been devised for mutual edification by the inmates of an asylum for idiots.

Flogging is a fine thing; but how strange that its application is limited to boys and soldiers and sailors: to children of tender age[Pg 50] and members of an honourable profession! Wouldn't it be at least as suitable to garrotters, and even to cruel swindlers, whose exemplary torture, in comparison with the misery caused by their crimes, would be the lesser evil of the two?

The painful disclosures resulting from inquiries into workhouse conditions are repeatedly referred to and make strange reading in a comic journal. At a meeting held in Willis's Rooms by the Earl of Carnarvon and the Archbishop of York early in 1866, the brutalities to which the sick poor were subject in the infirmaries of most of the London workhouses were illustrated in such hideous detail, that Punch declared "it would be cheaper to put paupers out of their misery than it was to let them die in misery, and it would at least be just as moral."

The parsimony, the self-indulgence and the barbarous procrastination of the guardians of St. Pancras are castigated a few months later, when a motion to postpone the consideration of the appointment of an extra paid nurse for three months was carried by six votes to five. There were forty guardians; but most of them were absent at the quarterly dinner of the Burial Board. Punch, therefore, had good excuse for saying that "these nine-and-twenty parochial humbugs, instead of minding their business, were engaged in stuffing their most ungodly digestive organs with funeral baked meats."

Ignorant Guardians

The Derby-Disraeli administration had come into power in the previous month. So when Mr. Gathorne Hardy had succeeded Mr. C. P. Villiers as President of the Poor Law Board, the alteration in the methods of procedure in regard to investigating workhouse abuses provoked a well-timed and damaging attack on the attempt to whitewash Bumbledom. It is a dreary subject, but the principles which ought to govern a Departmental inquiry could not be better expressed. And Punch was happily able to fortify his humanitarian zeal with ridicule when, in quoting from the description of the horrors of Walsall Workhouse given by the Lancet, he gives two stories showing that workhouse mismanagement in those days, at any rate, was largely the result of crass ignorance:—

It was suggested in one workhouse board-room that a bath ought unquestionably to be supplied, when a guardian got up and stated[Pg 51] "he were agin it." He never had one in his house in his life, and he didn't see why a pauper should enjoy what he didn't want. On another occasion the absence of a proper light at the entrance door was dwelt upon, and a gas-lamp was proposed. This was seconded by another worthy, who, approving of the gas-lamp, said, "and I'd have it lighted with ile."

Now the first of these gentlemen may be a regular saint. He never bathed, and he regarded his neighbour as himself. To be sure, if he was a saint he was also a pig; but swinishness has not seldom been combined with sanctity. The other guardian, who didn't know better than that a gas-lamp could be lighted with "ile," was himself so destitute of all enlightenment that he may be excused as a simply irresponsible clown.

The euphemisms of Poor Law inspectors, who used colourless words such as "inadequate" and "insufficient" when "barbarous," "brutal" and "horrible" would have been nearer the mark, had been exposed by the British Medical Journal in 1868. If destitution was not a crime, why, asked Punch, was the pauper treated worse than the criminal? These abuses, in the exposure of which he joined hands with serious medical journals, explain and justify the intense and even passionate desire of self-respecting poor people to avoid the Union.

Though no lover of Jews, Punch in 1869 contrasts Jewish guardians favourably with their so-called Christian brother officials. Dickens's picture of old Betty in Our Mutual Friend is hardly overdrawn, and a year after Dickens's death Punch was still contrasting the comforts of prison life with the usual conditions of life amongst the submerged poor.

The State had not yet awakened to a sense of its responsibilities to the "legal poor." Much was being done by practical philanthropy, and it may be fairly said that no appeal to Punch for assistance or encouragement was left unanswered. Wholehearted in his support of Ragged Schools, he comes forward in 1858 to plead the cause of their logical corollary—Ragged Playgrounds:—

Deprive a boy of healthy, fair and open games, and you drive him to resort to unwholesome, foul and sneaking ones. Deny him any playground but a hole-and-corner court, and you'll find that he'll betake himself to hole-and-corner games in it. In default of[Pg 52] wholesome cricket, he'll become a dab at chuck-farthing; and will get from pitch and toss to still worse kinds of time-slaughter.

If we mean then to teach the ragged young idea, we must give heed somewhat to the ragged body likewise. And the first thing to be done is to provide it with proper play space.

Punch, therefore, may be regarded as one of the pioneers of the admirable "Play Centres" movement. In the same year we find him applauding the conversion of an old thieves' public house in Westminster into the headquarters of the Ragged Schools, and appealing for funds to maintain it. Drinking fountains had been established in Manchester and Liverpool, and Punch expresses a desire to see them introduced into London. Here, at any rate, he was prepared to welcome the saying that what Lancashire thinks to-day, England will think to-morrow.

In the domain of social reform Punch's great bugbears were patronage, condescension and misplaced missionary efforts. Towards Exeter Hall philanthropy the old and rooted hostility remains throughout this period, and in 1865 we find Punch pleading vigorously for a greater interest in social reform at home to supplement the fashionable enthusiasm for foreign missions. For missionaries of the type of Livingstone he had nothing but praise, but that "perfect Christian gentleman," as Sir Bartle Frere described him, had severed his connexion with the London Missionary Society in 1857, and thenceforth had been subjected to "much hostile criticism from narrow-minded people."

[Pg 53]

Boy talking to Brittania


Little London Arab: "Please 'm, ain't we black enough to be cared for?"

(With Mr. Punch's compliments to Lord Stanley.)

The benefactions of George Peabody roused Punch's interest from the very first. In 1862 and 1863 his pages abound in questions as to what was being done with the Peabody Fund. But in 1864 the first block of "Peabody dwellings" was opened in Spitalfields, soon followed by others in Chelsea, Bermondsey, Islington and Shadwell; and in 1866, on learning that Mr. Peabody had increased his gift to the London poor from £150,000 to a quarter of a million, Punch was ashamed at the lack of public recognition of his generosity. The letter from a "London correspondent" is more than an expression of[Pg 54] gratitude—it is a valuable contribution to the study of Victorian sociology.


"I will confess to you that I indulged myself with the thought that it would be a graceful conclusion to the reference sure to be made to American affairs in the Queen's speech, if a few words of cordial recognition were devoted to the munificence of this great American citizen. Of course, I was immediately ashamed of myself for thinking such a thing possible; and I hope you will overlook the ignorance of etiquette, routine and precedent—the shadowy creatures that hold us back when we are yearning to obey some noble impulse—betrayed by such a disordered fancy. When I read the Speech, all feelings of disappointment about Mr. Peabody evaporated, for I found that from the beginning to the end of the Royal oration there was not a line to commemorate the name and the fame of the Great Minister [Lord Palmerston] lying so near in the sacred silence of the Abbey. The shadowy creatures were again appalled by my audacious expectation, and held out menacingly a noose of ruddy tape.

"I then waited to see whether Mr. Childers, in proposing a public loan in aid of the erection of houses for the labouring poor, would introduce Mr. Peabody's name. He did, and handsomely; and I am not without hope that before the vessel of State gets into the chopping seas that lie in its track, the captain, or perhaps the first lieutenant, may say something on this American question which would give unqualified satisfaction on both sides of the Atlantic. You will not misunderstand me. You will not suppose that when I speak of thanking Mr. Peabody, I am thinking of gold boxes, or addresses beautifully engrossed on vellum and enclosed in polished caskets, or public banquets, or services of plate. His gift towers above all ordinary gifts, as St. Paul's rises over all meaner edifices; but it does seem to me that it should be acknowledged and gratefully recorded by the voice of the eloquent speaker and the pen of the eloquent writer, be it in Parliament or in the pulpit, from the public platform or in the columns of the omnipotent Press. To some extent this has been done, but not commensurate with the magnitude, the rarity, and the disinterestedness of the gift.

"When I read the unprofitable proceedings of Convocation, the discussions about canons and catechisms, rubrics and conscience clauses, I think to myself that Mr. Peabody may be doing more for the souls of the poor, by providing for their bodies, than both Houses of Convocation will do, though they should sit to the end of the century, and enjoy a fresh gravamen at each sitting.

"If I were the Bishop of London, out of the fund with which his [Pg 55]name will be imperishably associated, in every district containing a Peabody block of buildings, or dwellings for the poor, such as Alderman Waterlow understands how to build, I would provide a working clergyman, sure that he would find eager listeners in men and women, translated from styes of filth and disease, and degradation, to homes abounding in cleanliness, and health, and comfort, through the direct bounty or beneficent example of the man who has arisen to the rescue and deliverance of the poor of London—George Peabody.

"Perhaps the best commemoration of their benefactor by the Peabody settlements would be a day's holiday in the country every summer, on his birthday, if it falls in one of the leafy months."

The neglect of which Punch complains cannot be laid to the door of the Queen. When Mr. Peabody was about to return to America in March, 1866, she acknowledged his munificence in an autograph letter, saying how gladly she would have conferred upon him either a baronetcy or the Grand Cross of the Bath (both of which he declined), and asking his acceptance of a miniature portrait of herself.

Peabody's gifts to London amounted in all to £500,000, and set an example which native millionaires have done well to follow. But he was an even more munificent benefactor to his own country, where he gave at least a million to education. When he died in London in 1869 Punch, in his memorial verses, contrasted the feelings aroused in the two nations with those of the "mourners" of most rich men:—

No common mourners here such office fill—

A mother and a daughter, grand of frame,

Albeit one in blood, oft twain in will,

And jealous either of the other's fame.

But by this bier they pause from jar and boast,

Urged by no rivalry but that which strives

Him that lies here to love and honour most,

Ranking his life highest among the lives.

Of men that in their tongue and blood claim part:

And well may child and mother mourn for one

Who loved mother and child with equal heart,

Nor left, for either, Love's best works undone.

[Pg 56]

The beneficent use of great wealth on a great scale seldom evades ultimate acknowledgment. Punch said no more in his tribute to Peabody than that great and humane American deserved. But minor endeavours were not overlooked, even where they led to no immediate results. Such, for example, was the proposal of F. D. Maurice and others to found a Working Women's College in 1864. Classes for women had been held at the Working Men's College from 1855 to 1860. The larger scheme was not realized, but has been revived within the last year by the establishment of the Working Women's College at Beckenham. Such again was the establishment of the London Dressmaking Company in 1865, under the patronage of Lord Shaftesbury and the Bishops of London and Oxford, to which Punch gave a vigorous puff-preliminary in his editorial columns.

In 1858 the fate of Emily Druce had shown that the plea of Hood's "Song of the Shirt" was in danger of being forgotten. But sweated labour was not confined to the cheap clothing trade. In 1863 West-End milliners came under the microscope of Parliament and Mr. Punch:—

Public indignation has been excited by the accounts of the death of Mary Anne Walkley, a girl employed by Madame Elise, of Regent Street, wife of one Isaacson, and a notorious dressmaker. "Long hours in an overcrowded room and sleeping in an ill-ventilated bedroom," said Sir George Grey, "caused the young girl's death." What is to be done? Lord Shaftesbury in the Lords, and Mr. Bagwell in the Commons, called attention to the system under which such girls are killed; and the man Isaacson, who seems to fill a similar office to that of Mr. Mantalini, and who writes English of which that gent would be proud, issued a letter full of impertinence and bad grammar, in defence of Mrs. Isaacson's place. Thereupon the parish requested other testimony, and Dr. Lankester examined the premises, and found the dormitories rather better and the workroom rather worse than had been expected.

[Pg 57]

Lady viewing her reflection in a mirror


Madame La Modiste: "We would not have disappointed your Ladyship, at any sacrifice, and the robe is finished à merveille."

These tragedies and the efforts which they prompted serve as a convenient transition to a more general survey of Labour problems, Labour legislation, and Labour organization and representation as they are revealed and discussed in the pages of Punch from 1857 to 1874. Under the recently established[Pg 58] and rapidly extending joint reign of steam and coal, it was only natural that rural life should recede into the background. Railway construction had drawn off many labourers from agriculture, and the influx of labour into the manufacturing districts continued apace. In the prospectus of the Dressmaking Company given above, the work-hours are given as ten. But in 1859 the movement among working-men for a nine-hours' day had already been started. Strikes were common, but Punch discourages them on the ground that the men always lost in the long run, and that the "agitators"—the name "Labour Leaders" had not yet emerged—were the real criminals. The Examiner took the same line in 1861 when it wrote "the submission of workmen to the tyranny of their Unions is at once one of the most curious and lamentable phenomena of our time." Yet the existence of genuine distress is not denied, and in a little parable in verse entitled "Men and Bees," profit-sharing between masters and men is recommended as the true solution.

On what was still, in spite of Factory Acts and other measures, the greatest blot on our industrial system—the employment of child labour—Punch spoke with no uncertain voice. Early in 1860 he gives Lord Brougham a good mark for taking up the question in the Lords:—

Lord Brougham, always true to his humane instincts, brought before the Lords the case of the young children employed in Bleach Works. It is a cruel one. Infants of seven and eight years old are at work for eighteen hours, and are sometimes four nights without sleep. The brutalities by which the poor little children are kept sufficiently awake for the purposes of their task-masters are shocking. Years ago, when the cruelties of the climbing-boy trade were exposed in the Lords, a noble Lord told a good story, made their Lordships laugh, and by getting the Bill thrown over for a year, left a new batch of children to the mercies of the Sweep. There was nothing of this kind to-night, and Lord Granville promised information. He will be good enough to remember that Lord Brougham has tendered information, which proves that our friend Mammon is, as usual, doing the work of Moloch.

Climbing Boys and Girls

Here, at any rate, there is no sympathy for the greedy capitalist, who comes off as badly as the "agitator." The mention of the chimney-sweeps is timely. In 1864 the employment[Pg 59] of the climbing boys had been prohibited by Act of Parliament for twenty years. Yet the Act had been so systematically evaded that in that year more than 3,000 children were still kept at labour in that filthy and unhealthy form of slavery. The subject was brought up in the House of Commons in April by Mr. Digby Seymour, and furnished Punch with an excuse for assailing those "sentimental and pious ladies" who "prefer subscribing to societies for converting little Hottentots to using influence to suppress the atrocities committed upon little white children at home." A month later Lord Shaftesbury intervened in the Lords: the details which he brought forward were too shocking for reproduction, but "fine ladies who mew over the sorrows of the Circassians, and devout ladies who send missionaries to the Chinese, had better know what is done in their own houses, and within a few feet of their own beds, with the children of white English folk."

The kidnapping of little boys had been revived, and at a meeting held in York the following agreement was signed by the assembled sweeps:—

"We, the undersigned Master Sweeps of the City of York, mutually agree, from and after this date, not to employ Climbing Boys and Girls in our business; that the Act of Parliament on their behalf made should be strictly complied with; and that we ought no longer to risk the heavy penalties it prescribes, both against householders and ourselves."

It thus appears that, in York at least, the employment of climbing girls had become almost or quite as common as that of climbing boys.

Lord Shaftesbury's "Chimney Sweepers Regulation Act" (1864) provided that a chimney sweeper convicted of causing or allowing any person under the age of twenty-one to ascend or descend a chimney or enter a flue for the purpose of sweeping it or extinguishing a fire might be sent to prison for a term not exceeding six months with or without hard labour. But master chimney sweeps still continued to "snap their sooty fingers at the law." In the issue of March 2, 1867, Punch reproduces the following business "card":—

"William Burges, Chimney Sweeper, No. 36 Bolton Street, Chorley, flatters himself with having boys of the best size for such [Pg 60]branch of business suitable for a Tunnel or Chimney, and that it is now in his power to render his assistance in a more extensive manner than he usually has done. He also carries his boys from room to room occasionally, to prevent them staining or marking any room floor with their feet."

In short, there was good ground for the complaint that while a great deal had been said about our working men, but little notice had been taken of our working children. A discussion of the "half-time system" at a working men's club in which another enlightened and benevolent peer, Lord Lyttelton, took part, is accordingly welcomed as sensible and opportune:—

"By this system," said Lord Lyttelton, "which compelled every parent who chose to send his child to work also to send him or her half the day to school, a very useful compromise had been effected between the demands of labour and education.... This system, as carried out in the manufacturing towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, had resulted in the increased education, and consequent improved life and conduct, of their inhabitants, as had been manifested during the late cotton famine, and in many other ways."

Gentlemen of England who live at home at ease perhaps have little notion of how hard some children work, and how needful it appears to make some effort to relieve them. From a Blue-Book he produced at the meeting we have mentioned, Lord Lyttelton

"Gave an instance of a little girl engaged in a brickyard near Birmingham from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., only having fifteen minutes for breakfast, and thirty minutes for dinner, no time for tea, and during one day she would have to catch and throw to her neighbour fifteen tons of bricks."

What a mercy it would be to such poor little working children if their fathers were compelled to send them every day to school!

White Slaves in the Black Country

Towards the end of the same year the Town Council of Sheffield met to consider the report of the Children's Employment Commission relative to the overworking of children in the trades of that town:—

According to that Report, a boy, only nine years old, living at Wadsley, four or five miles from Sheffield, was obliged by his father to work as cellar-boy in one of the furnaces, on most days of the week from six in the morning to six or seven in the evening, and on Saturdays from three in the morning till three in the afternoon.[Pg 61] This enforced labour at a high temperature would, if only occasional, appear to be equivalent to a somewhat long compulsory innings in the Turkish bath. Imposed nearly every day, it may be considered by some who do not consider too deeply, to constitute a combination of the Turkish bath with Turkish tyranny, and tyranny about as barbarous as ever was practised in Turkey.

Boy at an interview


The "Good Parson" (to applicant for instruction in the Night School): "Have you been confirmed, my boy?"

Boy (hesitating): "Please, sir—I—don't know."

Parson: "You understand me; has the Bishop laid his hands on you?"

Boy: "Oh, no, sir, but his Keeper have, sir—very often, sir!"

Naturally, such outspoken comments gave offence, and in 1866 and again in 1868 Punch was very much in the black books of the Black Country for what he said on the state of morals, manners and education among the workers of that region of coal and iron. The controversy began with some lines, "The Queen in the Black Country," which were inspired by the inauguration of Prince Albert's statue at Wolverhampton. These gave pain to certain susceptible inhabitants of that town. Punch's reply was to quote from the report of the Children's Employment Commission of 1864 on the trades in the Wolverhampton district,[Pg 62] showing that all the large employers lived far away from the workpeople they employed; that a few ministers of religion were almost the only representatives of the upper class resident in the "Black Country"; that large numbers of children, youths, young persons and women worked the same long hours as the men, from 6 or 7 a.m. to 9, 10 and 11 p.m.; that among them little girls were often kept bellows-blowing fourteen hours a day.

Laws to Protect Children

In January, 1868, Punch was accused of being a Rip Van Winkle, who had been asleep for half a century, because when Bishop Selwyn was translated from New Zealand to Lichfield he had published some verses ending up with the question, "What's the savage o'er sea to the savage at home?" His answer was to say that he wished he could, like Rip Van Winkle, fall asleep not over the Black Country only, but over every manufacturing district of England, to wake in fifty years and find education for ignorance, thrift and comfort for improvidence and squalor, gentleness and refinement for coarseness and brutality among men and women; health and happiness for sickliness and suffering, premature decrepitude and deadening of mind among children. But the facts were too strong for him:—

We never said, or meant to say, that things were as bad in the Black Country now as they were fifty, forty, or twenty years ago. We are quite ready to believe, with a more courteous and kindly Black Country correspondent than Mr. Lawley, that much has been done, and that much is doing, for religion, education and civilization in that region as everywhere else.

If Mr. Punch has been unfair to the Black Country, he has, at least, been sinning in good company. Hear what Mr. Justice Keating spoke from the Bench, in a Black Country case, not three weeks ago:—

"I cannot help noticing the most deplorable state of matters shown by the evidence of these girls. We call ourselves a Christian people and pride ourselves upon being a civilized nation. These two girls have said that they could neither read nor write; that they had never in their lives been at school, church or chapel; that they had never heard of the Bible; and, as the learned counsel had suggested, in all probability they had never heard of a Divine[Pg 63] Being. We send out missionaries to the heathen, but what avails all this when we see such a state of things at home?"

The introduction of the Metalliferous Mines Bill in the Lords in July, 1872, prompted Punch to express his ironic satisfaction:—

Would you be surprised to hear that we already protect women and children to this extraordinary extent? No children under 15 are sent down into the mines, and women are not worked more than twelve hours, and—will you believe it?—not at all on Sundays.

In the same month the Lords read a second time the Bill for protecting children against those who cruelly train them to become acrobats. There is hardly a single mention throughout all these years of efforts to secure humane treatment for working children in which the honoured name of Lord Shaftesbury is not prominent, as it was in this debate. There was, as Punch says, no sentimentality about this interference, and we ought not to leave children to be tortured for the delectation of the lower class of folks, well-dressed or not, who are pleased by unnatural acrobatic feats.

It gave Punch no pleasure to write sermons on Blue Books, least of all when the Blue Books only gave him the blues. He usually abstained from the discussion of merely painful subjects. But just indignation often forced him to make exceptions. Thirty years after the passage of the first, and nine after the passage of the second Chimney Sweepers Regulation Act, a very bad case of evasion occurred in the North of England:—

We take this paragraph from the Pall Mall Gazette:—

"Chimney-sweeps, who continue, in defiance of the law, to employ 'climbing boys' may take warning from a case which has been tried at Durham. A Gateshead chimney-sweeper was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for the manslaughter of an unhappy little lad who was suffocated in attempting to carry out his orders in clearing a flue."

Apart from the individual ruffianism in this case, Mr. Punch asks whether the Act which was intended to deliver little children from the most hideous cruelties is becoming a dead letter in any part of the kingdom. Is there any other place than Gateshead where[Pg 64] little lads are rammed into foul flues to be suffocated? The present generation may not remember the struggle that had to be fought out, over and over, before the children could be protected. It had to be waged against habit, prejudice, greed, ridicule; but the victory was won. James Montgomery,[1] the poet, with one ghastly but damaging volume, The Chimney Sweep's Magazine and Climbing Boy's Album, gave thousands a nightmare that lasted for years, but he carried the Act. There was a poem in the book, too, by Blake, the painter, that did yeoman's service. We got the Act, and believed that the system of atrocious cruelty was at an end. But the above paragraph wakes painful doubts.

We should call the sentence on the fellow who killed the child ridiculously mild, could anything ridiculous connect itself with such a theme. We wish that this master chimney-sweeper of Gateshead could have been sentenced to two years' imprisonment, varied by twenty sound lashes with the cat every quarter day, except the last, when he should have had fifty, as a parting testimonial of the public sense of his character.

A Child Heroine

This was written in the issue of March 15, 1873. Just a year later, at the close of the Ashanti campaign, an appeal was made, and not in vain, to Punch to recognize the heroism of another working child:—


"Dear Mr. Punch,

"There will be a great deal of war-paint going round soon, in the shape of titles, honours, and decorations, official rewards for 'killing, slaying and burning.' Will you give a decoration to the little motherless girl of ten, Louisa Row,[2] who 'undertook the[Pg 65] cooking' for her father, 'a labourer,' and his family, and died in the execution of her duty?

"She has not killed anyone, black or white, except herself; she has not burned anyone's huts, or anyone's villages—she has only burned herself. She will get no glory, unless you, with a stroke of your pen, will put one little star of honour upon her unknown grave.

"The Author of Olive Varcoe."

Will our correspondent accept this inscription for her poor little martyr's tombstone?

Duty's small Servant, without prize or praise,

How soon on thy hard life hath death come down!

Take this brief record of thy childish days—

Gold, tried with fire, makes the best Martyr's Crown.

Punch's record as the champion of the working children leaves little room for criticism. And we have seen in several of the extracts given above that his severest censures are directed against the employers of labour, the greed of gain, the worship of Mammon. But if he cannot be convicted of partiality to capital, he was not always fair to labour. Even in his most democratic days he showed a distrust of "delegates." The working man's grievances were admitted, but his salaried spokesmen, when they were drawn from his own order, were condemned, with very few exceptions, as untrustworthy mischief-makers. How acute this distrust had now become may be gathered from the acrimonious article which appears in 1861 under the heading "A Dig at the Delegates":—

A Delegate is generally a lazy, idle lout, who likes to sit and talk much better than to work; and who, considering himself as being "gifted with the gab," tries to foster small dissensions and causes of dispute, that he may have the pleasure of hearing himself prate about them. In other words, he is a drone that goes buzzing about the beer-shops, and living upon the honey that the working bees have toiled for. His business is to set a man against his master, and to keep afloat the Unions that tend to nurture Strikes, by giving men a false idea of their own strength, and underrating the resources and resistance of employers. Having duped the shallow-pated to elect him as their mouthpiece and being paid by them to lead a lazy life in looking to what he is pleased to call [Pg 66]their interests, the Delegate grows fat on their starvation and their Strikes, and what is death to them becomes to him the means of life. Fancied grievances and most unreasonable demands the Delegate endeavours to encourage and support, for squabbling brings him into notice and his tongue into full play, and raises his importance in the pothouse-haunting world. A claim for ten hours' pay for only nine hours' work is just the sort of trade demand that a Delegate delights in; for he knows that its injustice must prevent its being listened to, and he will have the chance of swigging nightly, gratis, pots of beer while denouncing the iniquity of rapacious masters, in all the frothy eloquence of a public-house harangue.

As nobody but a fool would submit to have his earnings eaten into by a sloth, it is the business of the Delegate to clap a stop on cleverness, and keep the brains of working men down to the muddle-pated level of those who are his tools. He, of course, fears the quick sight of any workman of intelligence, lest it may see through his iniquitous designs. He, therefore, gets the best hands marked on the Black List, and does the utmost in his power to reduce the active, skilful and industrious working man to the standard of the stupid, slothful, sluggish sot.

[Pg 67]



Mrs. North: "You see, Mr. Lincoln, we have failed utterly in our course of action; I want peace, and so, if you cannot effect an amicable arrangement, I must put the case into other hands."

There have always been people who trade on discontent, and would find their occupation gone were it removed. But to represent such motives as animating the majority of Trade Union delegates was a gross exaggeration; and it was both unfair and unjust to draw so hard and fast a distinction between the rank and file of the working classes and those whom they chose to represent them. The weakness of Punch's position was severely tested during the war of North and South in America and the Lancashire cotton famine, of which that war was the cause. Just as Punch failed to recognize the existence of idealism in the leaders of the North, and consistently maligned and misrepresented Lincoln until his death, so he failed to render justice to the idealism of the cotton operatives, who espoused a cause which was not only unpopular and unfashionable, but the promotion of which entailed the maintenance of that blockade which caused widespread distress and misery in Lancashire. Punch's attitude towards America in the earlier stages of the conflict showed a complete inability to comprehend the great issues involved, and an impartial dislike of both sides tempered by a sentimental leaning towards[Pg 68] the South. It must be remembered that at this time the cause of the South was favoured by nearly all classes, that it appealed to Mr. Gladstone; that the Duke of Argyll and John Bright were almost the only statesmen who backed the North; and that amongst London newspapers of any weight the Spectator stood almost alone on that side. Punch's reading of the war at the close of 1861 is shown in the cartoon which represents King Cotton as Prometheus, bound with the chains of Blockade, and with the American Eagle preying on his vitals. The verses which accompany the picture emphasize the suicidal folly of the eagle, but the question of slavery or the Union is not even mentioned. A fortnight later the point of the "other [Cotton] Kings" is explained by another cartoon in which John Bull, addressing the combatants, says, "If you like fighting better than business, I shall deal at the other shop."

Here the verses drive home the argumentum ad pocketum in the crudest way. Cousin Jonathan is told not to be an ass, or "bid Mrs. Britannia stop ruling the wave":—

We'll break your blockade, Cousin Jonathan, yet,

Yes, darn our old stockings, C. J., but we will.

And the cotton we'll have, and to work we will set

Every Lancashire hand, every Manchester mill.

We're recruiting to do it—we'll make no mistakes:

There's a place they call India just over the way;

There we're raising a force which, Jerusalem, snakes!

Will clean catawampus your cruisers, C. J.

"Distressed Millionaires"

Events entirely failed to justify these truculent words. A year later the cotton famine was at its height, and an appeal for funds is headed "Welly Clamming," with the explanation, "Everywhere we hear this, the Lancashire Doric for 'nearly starving.'" Punch applauds the zeal of the Quakers in relieving the distress caused by famine, fever and frost, and simultaneously reproduces this extraordinary advertisement from the Manchester Guardian:—

Travel: A gentleman, whose son, aged 17, is thrown out of occupation by the Cotton Famine, would be glad to meet with one[Pg 69] or two other young gentlemen to accompany his son on a Tour, for five or six months, in the Mediterranean or elsewhere.

Address F. 127 at the Printers.

The advertiser, according to Punch, appears to be "one of those distressed millionaires who, because their mills have ceased working, declare themselves destitute mill-owners, and devolve on the squires and farmers and the British public the duty of rescuing their unemployed workpeople from starvation."



When a ship was sent to Liverpool bearing the contributions of the United States to the relief of Lancashire in February, 1863, Punch welcomed the gift without reserve, as linking the two worlds anew by the chain of fraternal goodwill. But a very different spirit is shown in his acid comments on the[Pg 70] debate in the House of Commons initiated by W. E. Forster, who attacked the Government for not interfering to prevent ships of war being supplied by our builders to the Confederates, and said that we incurred great danger of war. The facts and the sequel fully justified Forster's protest, but Punch was not content with backing up Palmerston's defence of the Government, and treated with contempt and ridicule Bright's insistence on the sympathy of the working classes with the North:—

Here it may be mentioned that Mr. Bright[3] alluded in his speech to a meeting held the day before at the St. James's Hall, where he had been in the chair, and a crowded assembly of workmen testified the utmost sympathy with the North. This meeting is grandiloquently described by the Yankee organ here, but shall describe itself for Mr. Punch's readers. It was chiefly composed of Trade Union men, and when a person who had chosen to be free and act for himself ventured to speak, although on the same side as the other orators, these lovers of liberty interrupted him with cries of "He's not a Society man!" Mr. Bright made a fervid and eloquent speech in favour of the North, and a shoemaker came next, who abused Mr. Punch, said "that a monster in human shape had been guest of the Lord Mayor," and that "the Devil, in the shape of The Times newspaper, was carrying out an infernal purpose." A joiner then called Lord Palmerston a liar, and a Professor Beestley, or some such name, attacked the "wicked press," meaning the respectable journals. An address to Mr. Lincoln was agreed to, assailing the "infamous Times," the "arrogant aristocracy," the "diabolical" South, our "unscrupulous moneyocracy," and the "infamous rebellion," and terminating with some gushing bosh about the vivifying Sun of Liberty. This document is penned in New York Herald style, and probably owes its origin to Yankee inspiration. To this kind of meeting, and this kind of language, Mr. Bright referred, complacently, in the House of Commons. The North must be in a bad way when such allies are coveted.

Libelling Lincoln

The South was in a much worse way when a "respectable journal" was reduced to explaining away the undoubted and[Pg 71] disinterested support of the North by Lancashire cotton spinners and other British working men as Trade Union tyranny, to say nothing of that worst infirmity of political controversy—the vulgar perversion of an opponent's name. Punch was on stronger ground in criticizing the spread-eagling of the northern Press, as when the New York Herald declared that:—

They (the American people) know that when this rebellion began the aristocrats of England took advantage of the chance to destroy us, and joined heart and hand with the slaveholding rebels. They know that this rebellion was born in Exeter Hall, nurtured by the English aristocracy, armed from English arsenals, and supported by English sympathy and assistance.

Punch, though no lover of Exeter Hall, could not refrain from ironically vindicating its innocence, and makes for the rest some good debating points against the Herald. But there is little "neutrality" in his statement that Southern loyalty was as staunch as that of the North, "though not so truculent or atrocious"; and when he falls foul of the Yankees—a word invariably used in a disparaging sense—for calling the confederates "rebels," he did not know that the magnanimous Lincoln would never allow them to be called by that name in his presence. He is made to do so, however, in Punch's parody of one of Lincoln's speeches—a truly lamentable performance, in which the President claims dictatorial powers, calls for whipcord to whip the rebels, abuses the "rotten old world," talks with the utmost cynicism of the blacks, and in general behaves like a vulgar buffoon. The true Lincoln is to be found in the immortal Second Inaugural delivered on March 4, 1865.

As for the British working men, though Punch had undoubtedly endeavoured to discount the strength of the tide of feeling which continued to run strongly against the slave power, in spite of the terrible suffering brought about by the blockade, he quoted with approval Lord Palmerston's formidable and damaging indictment of the manufacturers in the House of Commons on July 30:—

"We know," he said, "that in the county most fortunes have been made by the manufacturers. I do not agree with the Hon. [Pg 72]Member for Stockport that it has all been invested in the mills. On the contrary they have accumulated much more than their mills could have cost. There are enormous capitalists in the county, some of whom, I am sorry to say, though they have starving populations at their gates, and anticipate worse distress as coming, have actually, for the sake of profit, sold and sent out of the country the cotton which they ought to have used for the employment of the people. I say, why are these people to be exempt, and not to be made to contribute to the distress which they see around them?"

This speech, Punch observes, enraged Cobden, who was furious with Palmerston for his unjust, reckless and incorrect charge; but his reply was inconclusive, as he could only say that a large proportion of Lancashire mill-owners had not sold their stocks of unsold cotton to foreigners for the sake of the high prices which the fibre commanded. Cobden returned to the charge a couple of days later in a speech which is a most extraordinary prospective plagiarism of the election address of any anti-waste Independent Liberal candidate in the year 1921, as may be judged from Punch's summary:—

The present is the most extravagant government that ever existed in peace time.

This is all Lord Palmerston's fault.

He is always interfering and getting up sensations.

If the Liberals do not disentangle themselves from this system they will "rot out of existence."

The Tories keep Lord Palmerston in Office and have more confidence in him than in their own chief.

He is puffed by a clever and noisy claque.

All the questions dear to Radicals and Dissenters have gone back under his leadership.

This sort of thing must not go on next year.

Our Noble Selves

The honours of the debate, which did not enhance Cobden's reputation, rested with Palmerston, but apart from his extreme frankness in dealing with the Lancashire mill-owners, he owed his triumph to his unrivalled Parliamentary opportunism. The Governments of neutral states cannot play heroic rôles in a great war. More scope is left to opposition leaders. Lord Derby distinguished himself by his liberality and energy in organizing relief measures, but the Lancashire working man[Pg 73] was the most heroic figure in English public life from 1861 to 1865, though Punch had only a glimmering of the truth. The note of complacent satisfaction over the tranquillity and prosperity of England as compared with the disturbed state of Europe is frequently sounded, and the Exhibition of 1862 is taken as the occasion to blow the national trumpet in "Our Noble Selves":—

All the world we invite to behold a grand sight

Of not only goods, chattels, and treasures,

But of law that's obeyed because mended or made

By men who bring forward good measures.

Let them come then, and see what a people are we,

Steady-going, not headlong and skittish.

What a world this of ours would be, O foreign Powers,

If all nations behaved like the British!

This is Liberty Hall; no restriction at all

On the freedom of speaking and writing;

The result is that, say any fool what he may,

Foolish language occasions no fighting.

'Tis the easiest job to disperse any mob,

Without being so much as pumped on

By a fire-engine hose, off the multitude goes,

Mind, Order reigns bloodless at Brompton.

This mood is, however, tempered by moments of self-criticism. The social millennium had not arrived when in 1862 a statue was erected in Bolton to its benefactor Crompton, the inventor of the spinning-mule, while his descendants were living in destitution:—

The spinning mule made Bolton. Samuel Crompton made the spinning mule.... He died in 1827, at the age of 74, and now Bolton, whose master-manufacturers cheated him living, honours him dead with a statue.... But Samuel Crompton left more behind him than the great invention and the memory of his wrongs and struggles. He begat sons and daughters as well as invented mules. He died a pauper, and they have fared as the children of those who die paupers are apt to do.... One of his sons is living dependent on charity, as his father died. Somebody bought him a suit of clothes that he might make a decent appearance at the inauguration of his father's statue. Besides this son, there are living some half a dozen grandchildren, some dozen great-grandchildren,[Pg 74] of the inventor—all, with one exception, in poverty of the meanest, most pinching kind. Not one of them, son, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, was invited to the inauguration of Samuel Crompton's statue.

Boy at station booking office


London Arab: "Please, sir, can't I have a shill'n's 'orth?]

A sum of £2,000 had been collected for the statue: a few weeks after its inauguration Lord Palmerston sent £50 to the surviving son. Assuredly there have been few more remarkable examples of asking for bread and being given a stone. And mill-owners were not the only masters whose methods exposed them to criticism. When in 1863 the engine-driver and fireman of a luggage train were fined 15s. each at the Oxford City Court for being found drunk and incapable on their engine, Punch admits the moderation of the punishment, but asks his readers to ponder the story told by the delinquents, and put the saddle on the right horse:—

They declared in the presence of the Company's Officers and without contradiction, that their day was fourteen hours, and that owing to extra pressure, they had only had seventeen hours sleep the whole of last week.... On whom should fall the blame and punishment? On the men, outworn, and driven to stimulants as a substitute for sleep or a support under exhaustion, or on the managers of the Company, who thus overwork, or, in other words, underpay their servants?

[Pg 75]

Puzzled railwayman


Overworked Pointsman (puzzled): "Let's see! There's the 'scursion' were due at 4.45, and it ain't in; then, afore that were the 'mineral'—no! that must ha' been the 'goods,' or the 'cattle.' No! that were after—cattle's shunting now. Let's see. Fast train came through at—con-found!—and here comes 'the express' afore its time, and blest if I know which line she's on!

[Pg 76]

The cartoon published nine years later, in 1872, showed that Punch was still dissatisfied with the conditions of railway servants. A propos of the railways, it is worth recording that in 1860 there were cheap excursions to Brighton and back for 3s. Also that in 1868 Punch commits himself to the view that an increase in railway fares means less revenue—an interesting parallel to the recent controversy.

In 1865 the cattle plague led to a sharp rise in the price of meat; but the attempt to introduce and popularize cheap jerked (or charqued) beef from South America—sold at threepence a pound—was not successful, though Punch appealed to the public to give it a fair chance in a set of verses with the refrain:—

Oh, the jerked beef of La Plata,

A platter give me of jerked beef.

"Progress at high prices," in Punch's opinion, was dearly bought. When two demonstrations were held by working men at Worcester this summer to protest against the high price of meat which was attributed to a monopoly amongst the farmers and butchers, and a resolution was adopted to abstain from the consumption of meat for a certain time, Punch saw in this move a tacit acknowledgment that the high price was owing to demand, and cordially endorsed the comments of The Times:—

There can be no doubt that the present high price of meat is mainly to be traced to the fact that the consumption on the part of the working classes has of late years enormously increased, owing to their prosperous condition, good wages, and cheap bread. A general resolution on their part to limit the consumption would soon bring down the price.

Honest Fault-finding

The strike against the butchers was one in which the working classes might safely combine to turn out. "They will not injure themselves, nor hurt their wives and families: on the contrary, all the while the strike lasts they will be putting by money. The public will support instead of discouraging them." But it is impossible to take the commendation seriously in view of the last sentence; "whilst others, I trust, are endeavouring, by total abstinence from butchers' meat, to reduce the butchers[Pg 77] to reason, I remain medicinally, of course, always 'A Beefeater.'" Much more effective, because untainted by irony, are the plain-spoken verses on the British workman as painted by his flatterers, his detractors and his candid friends:—

While Democrat orators praise him and puff him

As the land's bone and sinew, and Nature's own nob:

Aristocrat talkers calumniously cuff him,

As shiftless, and soulless, sot, spendthrift, and snob.

'Twixt the daub of his bully, the daub of his backer,

The true British Workman's been able to stand,

And at once to disclaim both the brighter and blacker,

As alike wide of truth, from the right and left hand.

The success of "Tom Brown" (Tom Hughes), who was elected for Lambeth in 1865, encouraged the enthusiastic friends of the British workman in the hope that he would now be painted without fear or favour, but Tom Brown's honest unvarnished portraiture was more than his sitter could stand:—

While a fact is a fact 'twill do no good to blink it,

Put up with the shadows Tom Brown dares to show,

Your face may be darker than you like to think it,

If the shadows ain't fast, wash, and let's see them go.

While your Union pickets still waylay and "ratten"

The knob-sticks, who work on their own honest hook,

While on your hard earnings strike-delegates batten,

And machines and machine-work are in your black book;

While men who earn more by the week than their curate

Are content in one room of a hovel to pig;

While shop-drinks and Saint Monday their old rate endure at,

And the wife and the young 'uns come after the swig;

While limb's rest and soul's light to your infants begrudging,

You drive them to workshop, to mine, loom or wheel,

To drag through long years of unnatural drudging

As though minds could die out, and yet bodies not feel;

While such are the shadows your features that darken,

Needs must that the blacks in your picture appear;

And they're no friends who bid you your own praises hearken,

When an honest fault-finder is craving your ear!

[Pg 78]

Later on, however, Tom Brown was himself taken to task for flattering the working man.

On the question of housing and sanitation Punch refused to believe that landlords were altogether to blame. Social reformers and legislators found themselves up against stubborn facts, and none were more stubborn than the Briton's prejudices in favour of vested rights and a man's house being his own castle, wherein he is free to do what he likes with his own:—

These stubborn facts are, no doubt, at the bottom of much that is worthy of respect in John Bull's character. They have not a little to do with his Magna Charta and his Habeas Corpus. But they occasionally stop the way all the same; obstruct the efforts of the Local Board or Nuisance Removal Committee, crouch like lions in the path of the Officer of Health, trip up the heels of the Inspector of Nuisances, and crop out in back slums, by-lanes, and blind alleys for district visitors and zealous clergymen to break their shins over.

Village Sanitation in 1865

These remarks form the preface to a series of extracts from the verbatim report of a Visiting Committee appointed in 1865 to inspect a little seaside village. The name of the place is withheld, but Punch pledges his word for the absolute veracity of the reporter, adding that what the Committee found in the way of stinks, putrid wells, foul accumulations, and purblind or pig-headed people was to be found in nineteen out of every twenty English villages, seaside or inland, rural or suburban. The houses in a sample street were occupied by an old gardener, a small pork butcher, three pilots, three sailors' wives, and two coast-guardsmen. The description of the well in the pork butcher's house is enough, in Dickens's phrase, to sicken a scavenger. But the complacent fatalism which marked all these householders rises to a pitch of sublimity in the immortal phrase of the first coast-guardsman:-

"Had the cholera in '44: ain't afeared of it. Considers as it's a natural went for the overplush of mankind. When his time comes, knows as he 'as got to go. Considers as his time wasn't come in '44. Always keeps his house very clean: does all the scrubbing himself, and paints his bedsteads and chests of drawers with red lead and turps twice a year."

[Pg 79]

According to the local doctor, all the inhabitants of these houses were drinking water strongly impregnated with lead, but "they appear to like it so I can't help it, especially as the landlord refuses to alter the pumps." The first pilot considered that he had a right to drink his own sewage if he liked it. The second coast-guardsman "couldn't abear chloride of lime," and, in general, disinfectants were dreaded more than bad drains. An optimistic speaker on Social Science in October, 1859, had declared that the advance of education was certainly very marked. "Classes once illiterate now show a love of literature, the taste for which has even reached our cabmen, who in demeanour and civility are not the men they were." Punch was sceptical about the cabman and printed an ironical poem on his progress modelled on "She wore a wreath of roses." The passages we have quoted show that six years later pork butchers, pilots and coast-guardsmen left a good deal to be desired in their knowledge of practical hygiene. But Punch does not acquit the landlords or Government officials, and, though no lover of despotism abroad or at home, there were moments when he felt that a little more "paternal government" would not be a bad thing. As he put it a little later: "when Mr. Punch is reminded of tanks, cisterns, bins and butts for miles along a tainted shore being overlooked by a mythical Inspector of Nuisances instead of being looked into, in his utter bewilderment he is tempted to exclaim, Wanted a Bismarck."

With the death of Palmerston the question of organic reform re-emerged, but the Russell administration, hampered by the disaffected Adullamite Liberals—brilliantly led by Lowe—and restrained by Whig caution, handled their Bill in a half-hearted spirit which courted defeat. Russell resigned at the end of June, 1866, and was succeeded by Lord Derby with Disraeli again as Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is on record that Gladstone, shortly after Palmerston's death, agreed with Denison, the Speaker, that there was no strong feeling for reform in the country. Yet within a few months the diagnosis was completely falsified. Immediately after the fall of the Russell administration[Pg 80] came the historic Hyde Park riots and a vigorous agitation throughout the country. "The artisans, who had seemed apathetic towards the franchise when it was dangled before them, became angry when it was refused." Punch's account of the rioting and its sequel is liberal of censure, but cannot be regarded as either impartial or judicial or as appreciative of the significance of the episode:—

Monday, July 23.—It did not seem to suit the Fates that our friends the Conservatives should slide into the recess quite so quietly as had been anticipated. Sir George Grey, the late Home Secretary, had ordained that the proposed Reform Demonstration should not be allowed to take place in Hyde Park, but his Ministry went out in time to save him any further trouble in the matter. Mr. Walpole had to vindicate the law, and his gentle soul has been a good deal perturbed by events. One Beales insisted on holding the meeting, and Sir Richard Mayne locked the Park Gates. The result was inevitable. The artisan class attended in large numbers, and of course behaved perfectly well; but, equally of course, the processions were supplemented by a vast mass of Roughs, who behaved perfectly ill. Mr. Punch is unable to compliment the Reform League, inasmuch as its acts tended to violate order, and its "experiment of right" could have been tried with a hundred men instead of with thousands. Nor can we compliment the authorities who endeavoured to defend an untenable post, inasmuch as law could have been asserted by the arrest of a few individuals. He does not make a great noise about the breaking down of some railings, and the destruction by some roughs of trees and shrubs, nor would he put London in a state of siege because a good many windows have been broken, but all this sort of thing is really the fault of one Beales, who knew that a mob would follow the working man. Rough and Bludgeon came largely into contact, to the discomfort of the former, and the Beaks looked to the rest, Mr. Knox having especially distinguished himself by firmness and moderation, coming down sternly on ruffians and being lenient to mere fools.

But Mr. Walpole had to defend himself in the House, and also had to see a Reform deputation, before whom he wept, and some of whom managed to misunderstand him, or pretended to do so, whereby there was another meeting summoned, as if with Government sanction, but after explanations, in and out of the House, the idea was given up. So ended the campaign, and Mr. Punch is almost ashamed of the fuss which has been made over an affair of broken heads, while two great nations are mourning over slaughtered myriads.

[Pg 81]

Man roughly handling another


Working Man: "Look here, you vagabond! Right or wrong, we won't have your help."

"One Beales"

"One Beales," as Punch contemptuously describes him, was a political agitator, but of a very different type from the "delegate" as depicted in a previous page. He was an Etonian, a scholar of his college at Cambridge, a barrister of the Middle Temple, and a revising barrister for Middlesex, who died in the odour of legal sanctity as a County Court Judge. But as a member of the Emancipation Society in the Civil War, a member of Mill's Jamaica Committee in connexion with the case of General Eyre, and above all as President of the Reform League, and advocate of Manhood Suffrage and the right of public meeting, he had incurred Punch's unremitting hostility. "Beales and his Bubbly-jocks" were constantly held up to[Pg 82] ridicule. But they were very far from being ridiculous. The League served as a spear-head for the discontent aroused by the failure of Russell's Reform Bill, which it had cordially supported. The meeting in Trafalgar Square on July 2, 1866, had been prohibited, but Sir Richard Mayne, the first Commissioner of Police, withdrew the prohibition, and the meeting, attended by nearly 70,000 persons, passed off quietly. Beales is declared to have shown great courage and coolness on July 23. The meeting assembled near the gates of Hyde Park; the invasion of the Park and the pulling down of the railings occurred as the crowd were returning to Trafalgar Square, but the leaders were in no way responsible. The police were roughly handled and had to be reinforced by the Guards before the crowd was driven out; but an amicable arrangement was reached between Beales and Walpole next day as to the discontinuance of any further meetings except by arrangement with the government. The Reform League had done its work; its mission was virtually ended when Disraeli's Reform Bill passed in 1867 and it was formally dissolved in March, 1869, three days after Beales had resigned the presidency. No amount of belittling of Beales can disguise the fact that he and his League gave a great impetus to the Reform movement—the Lord Mayor of London actually presided over one of its meetings in the sacred precincts of the Guildhall—and forced on the introduction of the Bill of 1867. During its progress through Parliament another great meeting convened by the Reform League was held in Hyde Park in May, 1867. The Home Secretary issued a notice warning all persons against attending it, but was practically over-ruled by the Prime Minister, who announced that nothing would be done to hinder it. The meeting, attended by 200,000 people, passed off without any disturbance or untoward incident, and Walpole soon afterwards retired. As Walpole, in consequence of his Hyde Park associations, had become one of Punch's regular butts, it is only fair to his memory to say that the story of his having broken down and wept before a deputation is denied by the D.N.B. Punch's review of the episode quoted above is thoroughly typical of his temper in this period of transition; of his independence, his readiness to acknowledge[Pg 83] the moderation and sanity of British working men, his anxiety to distinguish between them and the hooligan fringe; and at the same time of his distrust of their leaders and of any organization which in his view savoured of extremism. There were "bubbly-jocks" in Beales's following, but he was no bubbly-jock, as Wilkes was no Wilkesite, and in many ways though by different means was working towards the same end as Punch himself. Beales had no gifts as a mob-orator. His real strength lay in his knowledge of the law; and it was on the legal ground that he worsted Lord Derby and Walpole. There are some who think that modern democracy was born on July 23, 1866. Be that as it may, the Hyde Park riot was a great landmark in our political history.

The Future of Coal

It is pleasant to turn from Punch's not very happy handling of the Hyde Park incident to his wiser, if fanciful comment on the warnings of the philosophical alarmists who predicted the speedy exhaustion of our coal supplies, and asked What, then, would Posterity do for force and for fuel? Punch suggests another conceivable fear to balance that of the coal pessimists. If our population continued to increase at the same rate, not only would the bowels of the land be consumed, but its entire face be covered up with towns and factories. For his part he feared neither the one nor the other event:—

If the coal ever runs out, something equivalent to it will doubtless turn up, or else turn down. Somebody will discover a cheap way to set the Thames on fire, or to draw below, and store, atmospheric electricity. By a system of vertical elevation instead of lateral extension, our architecture will be adapted to our area, and our cities, no longer expanding, will continue to ascend. The higher they rise the less will Posterity be troubled with any amount of smoke which it may be unable to consume. The future of England will then be as fresh as a daisy, still as familiar a flower as ever.

The growth of industrialism was not to be dreaded if it was humanely and wisely controlled and directed. That is the moral which Punch draws from the opening of the new docks at Barrow-in-Furness in September, 1867. The occasion was indeed "worth a crowd and a crow":—

[Pg 84]

A Barrow that has grown, one may say, from a barrow into a coach-and-four in ten years! A Barrow that has swelled almost within the memory of the youngest inhabitant from the quiet coast-nest of some five score fishermen into the busy, bustling, blazing, money-making, money-spending, roaring, tearing, swearing, steaming, sweltering seat of twenty thousand iron workers, and the crime and culture, the dirt and disease, the hard-working and hard-drinking, the death and life, the money and misery they bring along with them!! A Barrow out of which they are tipping 600,000 tons of iron every year!!! A Barrow big enough to hold a Monster-Iron-Mining-and-Smelting Company, with two Dukes among its directors, to say nothing of Lord knows who, in the way of Lords, and Lord knows how many millionaires!!!!

The two Dukes—one of them, Devonshire, a Second Wrangler into the bargain—were both present, and also the first of living orators, Mr. Gladstone. But the person who interested Mr. Punch most was the master-spirit of the great iron company, "one Schneider," and he is not slow to improve the occasion:—

He has hitherto been known to fame among public men chiefly as an ex-M.P., turned out of his seat at Lancaster for gross and shameless bribery. He has seen so much done by energy and money that he probably thought the one as legitimate a lever into Parliament as the other. But he has been punished for his mistake. He has now an opportunity to repair it. His name is the same as that of the President of the French Legislative Assembly, the energetic, far-sighted M. Schneider, whom Mr. Punch has already honoured as the head and heart of the admirably-conducted firm which has made the iron manufacturing district of Le Creusot, a model as yet to be imitated among the great English industries of the same kind....

And now for Mr. Punch's proposition. Suppose M. Schneider were to set himself in real earnest to wipe out the recollection of Lancaster by the redemption of Barrow? What if he were to prove himself the ditto of M. Schneider of Le Creusot, not in name only but in deed, and to make Barrow-in-Furness the Creusot of England, in morals, manners, civilization, education, domestic comfort and culture, as well as in industry, energy and money-making? Here is a work worthy of the noblest ambition, the most determined energy, the highest intelligence, and certain of the richest reward—a reward not to be gauged by dividends, it is true, but beyond the measure of millions. Let there be two Schneiders known in the world for their noble conception and perfect discharge of the duties of a great captain of industry, and let one of them be an Englishman.

[Pg 85]

Reform Bill of 1867

Henry William Schneider, who started the Barrow Steel Works and was for many years one of the directors, died in 1887. His namesakes of Le Creusot still continue their dynasty. Early in 1870, the year of the Franco-Prussian war, Punch again repeats his comparison of Le Creusot with the greatest and best managed English iron-works to the advantage of the former, on the basis of statistics which had not been contradicted by M. Rochefort or any other of M. Schneider's bitterest enemies.

Divergent contemporary opinions on the Reform Bill of 1867 found vent in a number of famous phrases. Disraeli, who had guided its passage through the House, claimed to have "educated his Party"; while Lord Cranborne (afterwards Lord Salisbury) described the measure as "a political betrayal which has no parallel in our annals." Lord Derby's contributions to political phrase-making were threefold. The Bill was a "great experiment," a "leap in the dark" (commemorated in one of Punch's most-famous cartoons), and he had "dished the Whigs." Lowe's advice that we must now set to work "to educate our future masters" was the weightiest of all. In view of the compromises and manoeuvring by which the passage of the Bill was secured, there is good warrant for the verdict of later historians:—

Even in English politics few great changes have come about with less evidence of principle or conviction on the part of those mainly concerned in it, with more appearance of mere opportunism and concession to the expediencies of the moment. It was difficult to be enthusiastic over a Reform Bill framed by a ministerial party which did not want reform, under pressure from an opposition which did not want the Bill.[4]

Working Men Candidates

Punch, whose attitude towards Disraeli on his return to power had turned from satirical distrust to reluctant admiration of his commanding ability, welcomed Reform, but his welcome was accompanied by grave misgivings as to the growing strength of the Trade Union movement, and throughout 1867[Pg 86] cartoons and comments in prose and verse abound in condemnation of the intimidation practised at Sheffield by trade union agents. The report of the Royal Commission appointed in January, 1867, proved the existence of terrorism, but exculpated forty-eight out of the sixty trade unions in Sheffield from complicity in outrage, and showed that it had been denounced by the principal trade union leaders. Picketing, even when "peaceful," had been pronounced illegal, and trade unions had no protection against embezzlement by their own officials on the ground that their rules were in restraint of trade. On the other hand Lord Elcho's Master and Servant Act had placed the workman on a level with his employer in regard to breaches of contract, and rendered the remedy mutual. It cannot be said that the successes of the trade unions in the legislative field were greeted with enthusiasm by Punch. Nor did he show much sympathy with the efforts to secure direct representation of Labour in Parliament. Mr. George Odger is congratulated on retiring from the contest at Chelsea at the end of 1868, in compliance with the decision of the arbitrators to whom he and his Committee referred the question whether it was better for the Liberal cause in Chelsea that he or Sir H. Hoare should quit the field. The arbitrators were Mr. James Stansfeld, Tom Hughes, and Mr. Peter Taylor. But when the chairman of Mr. Odger's Committee declared that "it was the old story over again, that working men acted with undue faith in those they considered they might trust," Punch felt called upon to address "a serious word to working men." The arbitrators were all men of the most advanced Liberal principles, the highest character, and the strongest fellow feeling with working men. Their impartiality was above suspicion. So Punch proceeds in his most magisterial vein:—

The fault of working men has been, not the putting "undue faith" in friends of this kind, but the not putting faith enough in them; and the tone in which the Chairman of Mr. Odger's Committee, and—Punch is sorry to see—Mr. Odger himself, comment on the decision of Messrs. Stansfeld, Hughes and Taylor, confessing at the same time that they are not informed of the grounds of it, is a striking illustration of this fault. There is nothing so hard[Pg 87] in the practical education of working men as the teaching them to prefer disagreeable truth to flattering falsehood, and not to turn from the friends who have the pluck to tell them such truth to the schemers who mislead them by such falsehood. It is this difficulty which has wrecked more working men's movements, co-operative, educational, self-helping, than any other—the difficulty of getting working men to know their true friends from their sham ones, and to trust the former, even when their vanity is fretted, or their wish or whim of the moment thwarted, for any reason, however weighty, or in any cause, however sacred.

If Mr. Odger, as Punch averred, had marred the grace of his withdrawal by the manner of it, so Punch marred his candour by asperity. Tom Hughes here decided against Mr. Odger. Little more than a year later he supported Mr. Odger as the "working-man candidate" for Southwark, and provoked a vehement protest from Punch against the "mischievous nonsense" he had talked at an election meeting. This open letter begins with a handsome acknowledgment of the services of his old friend, the author of "the truest and manliest book extant on English public-school life"; and of his pluck and straightforwardness and recognition that men, "whether gentle or simple, are, on the whole, made of the same clay, pulled by the same strings, worthy of the same rights, and liable to the same duties"; of "his courage in telling necessary if unpalatable and unpopular truths." None the less "the working-man candidate" sticks in Punch's gizzard.

He had no objection to working men standing for Parliament, but "they should be very careful in their choice of fighting-ground." At Maidstone, in 1870, "they chose it as badly as possible":—

It is true that Mr. Applegarth, the working man's candidate, retired before the final struggle, finding—according to his own statement—"that he was too late in the field to make headway against the popular feeling in Sir John Lubbock's favour!" He had better have said, "Finding that he had no business ever to have come forward." What right, Punch asks him, had he, or any man who wishes to see the best wisdom of England in the House of Commons, in the field which Sir John Lubbock had occupied in advance of him? All working men who are worth their salt must admit that no claims that [Pg 88]could be set up on behalf of their order could stand a moment's comparison with those of Sir John Lubbock on the support of the best and broadest Liberalism. Let them choose constituencies where they will have to fight pseudo-Liberalism and genuine Toryism, and welcome. But in the name of their cause and ours, don't let them put stumbling blocks in the Parliamentary path of such men as Sir John Lubbock, or they will only do what they have more than once done already—make way for the fox, while the lion and the bear are worrying each other.

The underlying assumption that "the best and broadest Liberalism" sufficed for the needs of the working classes has long since gone by the board. Here at any rate Punch failed to foresee the inevitable march in representation summed up in the three stages: Liberal, "Lib.-Lab.," Labour. There is, however, a considerable advance on the views expressed in his letter to Tom Hughes in his welcome to Messrs. Burt and Macdonald on their election in 1874:—

Earliest among the early birds, Punch was glad to hail his friends, Messrs. Burt and Macdonald, representatives of Underground Britain, Members for the Mine, sample black diamonds, "picked Wallsends." They have sought and found the fairest audience in the world. Punch will take his Davy that any light theirs can throw on dark places will be gladly received; that all they have to say to the purpose will be attentively—nay, respectfully—listened to, and weighed as carefully as was ever corve at pit-bank. And really these pioneers of the pick—hewers, we presume, of a way for other Working-men Representatives, equally stout and worthy—are about the only novelty, as far as Punch can presage, of the new Parliament, always except the Parliament itself, with its sudden swap of sides and strangely altered balances of Power.

Truckling to the Working Classes

This friendly greeting, anticipating without misgiving the extension of Labour representation, must not blind us to the fact that throughout the period under review Punch was gradually becoming more and more confirmed in his championship of the middle class as the backbone of the country, the real power of the nation. The appeal in support of the funds raised to support the children of Ernest Jones, the Chartist poet, who died in 1868, is generously worded. But Chartism was long extinct, and Jones, a man of good family, had quarrelled with[Pg 89] most of the other leaders on his release from gaol in 1850, and his former colleagues had "freely denied both his disinterestedness and his sincerity." Landor had pronounced his verses noble, and Punch appealed to both Conservatives and Liberals on the broad ground that a brave man had died poor.

The well-deserved rebuke administered to "van-demons," "persons whose only notion of enjoyment consists in getting drunk, and then howling songs and playing horns as they drive homeward from their drinking-bout," can be paralleled from the protests repeatedly uttered in 1920 against the char-à-banc nuisance with its attendant "bellowing and braying." But a much more combative note is struck in the verses on the tendency to kow-tow to the working man published in 1872, at a time when the rise in prices, especially in that of coal, and the hardships of the middle classes and the small income-tax payer coincided with unusual prosperity among the working classes and particularly amongst the miners:—


Hamlet, Act v., Sc. 1.

"Why should the Poor be flattered?"

Art foolish, Hamlet, trow?

All else are torn and tattered,

None else are flattered now.

Your Clown, our race accusing,

Declared our wits astray:

We beat him at abusing

Ourselves. Behold our way!

Our Queen mis-spends her income,

Her Court's all fashion's slaves,

The Lords are feeble Ninkum-

Poops, and the Commons, knaves.

Our soldiers are no fighters,

Our sailors cannot sail,

Our bishops shame their mitres,

Our merchants cheat and fail.

[Pg 90]

Our architects are Vandals,

Unfit to rear a stone;

Our music-writers Handels

To no ears but their own.

Only the so-called Worker,

The Stalwart Son of Toil,

Never from that a shirker,

Never in brawl or broil.

That sober, saving Being,

The nation's "heart and core,"

Him we are all agreeing

To flatter—and much more.

"Why should the poor be flattered?"

You pause for a reply—

But, if our brains are battered,

Dear Hamlet, don't ask why.

When critics complained of the extravagance of the rich in their entertainments and house-decoration and found in the newspaper accounts of this luxury an explanation of industrial discontent and strikes for higher wages, Punch did not hesitate to fall back on the disputable argument that the consumption of luxuries involved the profitable employment of those who produce them:—

Suppose, instead of flowers and dessert at £200, including peaches at a guinea a-piece; suppose, instead of a house decorated by Mr. Owen Jones, and a set of aluminium plate, millionaires were to spend their money in founding schools and scholarships, for instance, and in educating their poor relations' children, and sending them to the Universities; even suppose they expended it in almshouses, and Peabodying the destitute, the mechanical working-classes would have far less cause to be satisfied with them than they are now. It may be that there is a wiser and a better use for riches than lavish expenditure on the productions of market-gardening and decorative art; but the consumption, at any rate, benefits producers, and enables employers in those lines of business to pay the artisans and labourers the higher wages. So the working-classes, at least, need not grumble.

[Pg 91]



[Pg 92]

The complaints of the income-tax payer, when it stood at 3d. or 4d., leave us cold, and envy rather than compassion is excited by the bitter cry of the consumer who had to pay 30s. or even 36s. a ton for coal or 1s. 3d. for meat. Otherwise there is an extraordinary similarity in the comments and protests which fill the pages of Punch in the years 1871-1873 to those which have been so painfully familiar since November, 1918. The prosperity and extravagance of the miners is constantly referred to. They are accused of being overpaid and, in consequence, of not working steadily. The "vicious circle" is neatly summarized in a doggerel verse:—

Strikes follow strikes; the reason why,

High wages rendered prices high;

Then Working-Men for wages higher

Struck, and to still more pay aspire.

Such aspiration what will crown?

It is "Excelsior!" upside down.

When Lord Lyttelton, at a harvest festival at Hagley, compared the conduct of the agricultural labourers with the extravagance of the workmen in the Black Country, Punch, disavowing all criticism of the Black Country as dangerous, made bold to ask how it was possible for a Northern pitman to save his means:—

He has only a house found him, rent-free, all the coals he requires, medical attendance and medicine when he or any member of his family is ill, and, at the lowest, seven shillings a day. For this miserable wage, and for these trumpery advantages, the artisan of the pit is expected to do, actually, six hours' work daily. How, thus crushed and starved, can he save anything? If a malignant aristocrat suggests that many an educated gentleman manages on far less, working, moreover, twice as hard, bringing up a family in the right way, and even paying for life assurance, Mr. Punch scorns to argue with a bloated Dives, who would compare a white-handed swell with Nature's nobleman, the hardy son of toil, and the real strength and glory of the nation. Heave a coal at the head of the insolent cynic.

In 1873 the wages in some collieries had gone up to 10s. or 15s. a day:—

[Pg 93]

Victims of the Income Tax

To be content with from 10s. to 15s. a day is to be satisfied with, say, some £234 a year. If that is to be earned by mining here, there can be no inducement for any skilled miner to betake himself to gold or diamond diggings. He can live in clover, on enough to satisfy all his wants, by raising black diamonds at home. For a miner, an income of the above amount is a salary much more adequate than £5,000 for a Law Officer of the Crown. The miner has no appearances to keep up in a mine. He need not incur any expenses but those which are necessary for his personal wants and pleasures, including champagne and dog-fighting; which, the former luxury as well as the latter amusement, he can manage to afford well enough by a judicious economy above-ground, of lodgings, furniture, and clothes.

Coals went up to 50s. a ton in London this year and the cry of the middle classes, of whom Punch was now the great champion, was echoed with great fervour in an article on a speech by Sir William, then Mr. Vernon Harcourt:—

Mr. Vernon Harcourt, in some of his late speeches, has placed himself in striking contrast with most of the other leading politicians, both Liberal and Conservative, by speaking the truth. For example, at the Druids' Dinner the other day, in discussing the impost by which the incomes of a part of the people are taxed to pay the expenses of the whole, instead of attempting to defend confiscation with sophistry, and to stifle complaint with sneers, he condemned the false and dishonest apology, alleged by financial swindlers' advocates on behalf of the Income-tax, that it weighs only on the rich who are well able to pay it, and he maintained that, on the contrary, it falls "with the greatest severity on the poorest of all the classes of the community—that which, upon limited means and small profits, has to keep up a state of respectability." The lie which Mr. Vernon Harcourt refuted is one of those lies which Statesmen are very apt to tell in talking to simpletons; lies coupled with truths, from which the generality of people at public meetings have not sense enough to disentangle them. It is quite true that the rich are well able to pay the Income-tax; but to say that the Income-tax weighs only on them is telling a falsehood which transcends common lying. The rich, as a rule, can afford to live up to their incomes, and it matters nothing to wealthy people whether their incomes are taxed, or duties are imposed upon the luxuries on which they expend them. The class rightly described by Mr. Harcourt as the poorest of the country consists of persons under the necessity of living as much within their incomes as possible. They need to make all the provision that ever they can against[Pg 94] ruin constantly staring them in the face. The Income-tax, substituted for indirect taxation, wrings from them the savings they ought to put by, and, by way of compensation, offers them the advantage of buying cheapened superfluities, which, how cheap soever, are too dear for them at any price. Thus are their slender incomes in large measure confiscated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and amends are made them with facilities to squander the rest.

Lady shopping at greengrocers


My Lady: "I'm afraid I must give up the pine-apple, Mr. Green! Eight shillings is really too much!"

Successful Collier: "Just put 'un up for me, then, Master. 'Ere's 'arf a sovereign; and look 'ere—yer may keep the change if yer'll only tell us 'ow to cook 'un!"

Colliers and Cormorants

References to the champagne-habit among the miners abound throughout this year. A picture shows a miner buying a pine-apple which a lady could not afford. Their practice of travelling first-class is also reprobated. But the bitterest explosion of Punch's wrath against the pampered aristocrats of industry was provoked by a speech in which John Bright complacently dwelt on "the growth of material prosperity and comfort in every class." To this Punch vehemently demurred:—

[Pg 95]

Clerks of all kinds, Civil servants, fund-holders and annuitants with fixed incomes, landowners, doctors, lawyers, and professional men in general, is that so? Do you find it so?

When Mr. Bright said "every class," did he not mean to say, or, at least, should he not have said "certain classes"? It is quite true that the shoddy class, and the class of great speculators, have prospered exceedingly, to as great an increase of their material comfort as increasing wealth could procure them. A proportionate growth of material comfort and prosperity has obviously been experienced by the operatives and mechanics, otherwise called the Working Classes—although there are classes who may be said to do some little work, other than manual labour, to be sure. Do not coal-miners for a fair day's work obtain at least a full two days' wages; do they not drink champagne; and have not they and the rest of our flesh-and-blood amongst them, drunk us out of the Alabama difficulty? They have grown in content too—the Striking Classes. They and the other classes that grasp with one hand and squander with the other, and go on grasping and squandering, and thereby raising prices higher and higher every day, they, all of them, indeed are without doubt increasingly prosperous and comfortable, but they are not everybody. There are a very great many other people besides, who constitute everybody else, and these, so far from being more prosperous and comfortable than they once were, can now no longer afford the luxuries, or even the necessaries, they then could, but have to go without.

The ugly phrase about the Alabama claims was not Punch's own coinage, but he was not in a mood to mince his words where the miners were concerned. The charges against overpaid workmen and profiteers have a strangely familiar ring. And so has the reference, though not under the now familiar name, to the practice of "Ca' Canny," which, however, had been in occasional use for many years before Punch suggested, in 1874, that it might be met by reprisals:—


The Sheffield Daily Telegraph informs consumers, already subjected by producers to excessive extortion, that at Motherwell:—

"At a mass meeting of Scotch miners on Thursday, 3,000 colliers resolved to work only four days per week, and only eight hours per day, in order to reduce the output, and to keep up prices."

But suppose the butchers and poulterers combined against them, as they combine against the public, what then? And could not [Pg 96]the vintners agree to raise "these rapacious colliers' Champagne to some four or five pounds a bottle? Perhaps they will try.

Already Lord Shaftesbury had spoken plainly on the results of that "enormous increase of wages which had lately taken place in nearly every class of working men," even going to the length of endorsing the view that high wages, when unaccompanied by self-control, were the curse of the working classes:—

Of course, where economy and prudence were practised the condition of the Working Man should be improved by higher wages; but there was recklessness and improvidence. The sudden increase of money had been productive of the greatest possible mischief, and so long as these habits continued he could not but think that an increase of wages was a positive infliction to the Working Man, his wife, and his children.

This bold statement prompted Punch to reduce the argument to an absurdity, or something near it, by suggesting that the true way of planting the spirit of self-control in the minds of the people would be simply to lower their wages to the requisite standard. Simultaneously he vindicates the character of the working classes for thrift and sobriety in the following ironical eulogium:—

The Working Classes, it is surely not too much to say, spend every little increase of wages they obtain by their harmless strikes chiefly in the education of their children, and in the purchase of the appliances needful to make home happy. If they are at all extravagant is it not in books, and in the dress which some of them are a little too apt to lavish on their wives? For the vast improvement evident in their habits we have to thank not only the Licensing Act, but also the Trades' Unions Act; and moreover the Conservative Reform Bill, which has rendered them, as Mr. Lowe said, our masters—if not their own.

Two prisoners talking


First Ruffian: "Wot was I hup for, and wot 'ave I got? Well, I floor'd a woman and took 'er watch, and I've got two years and a floggin'."

Second Ruffian: "Ha! I flung a woman out o' the top floor winder; an' I've on'y got three months!"

First Ruffian: "Ah, but then she was yer wife!"

Punch and Capital Punishment

The reference to working men's wives is especially ironical, for Punch was at this time engaged in a vigorous campaign of protest against the very lenient sentences passed on men for brutal assaults on their wives. References to this subject abound in these years in prose and verse and cartoons, culminating in the year 1874. He strongly supported resort to flogging in such cases. We have already noticed the modification, indeed the[Pg 97] practical abandonment, of his old hostility to capital punishment. The cause of this conversion is curious. It is hardly too much to say that it was largely the result of a remarkable speech made by John Stuart Mill—a true humanitarian if ever there was one—on the measure introduced in April, 1868, to make executions private. Punch, though he often differed from Mill, had the greatest respect for his fearless independence and integrity, and was evidently profoundly impressed by Mill's speech[5] in reply to Mr. Charles Gilpin (the Member for Northampton),[Pg 98] who had argued in favour of the abolition of capital punishment, and we find the following admirable summary of it in his "Essence of Parliament":—

The speech of the night was that of Mr. Mill, who approved of many of the labours of the "philanthropists," but said that they ought to know when to stop. To deprive a criminal of the life of which he had proved himself unworthy—solemnly to blot him out from the fellowship of mankind, and from the catalogue of the living—was the most appropriate and the most impressive mode in which society could deal with so great a crime as murder. Imprisonment would be far more cruel, and less efficacious. None could say that this punishment had failed, for none could say who had been deterred, and how many would not have been murderers but for the awful idea of the gallows. Do not bring about an enervation, an effeminacy in the mind of the nation; for it is that to be more shocked by taking a man's life than by taking all that makes life valuable. Is death the greatest of all earthly ills? A manly education teaches us the contrary; if an evil at all, it is one not high in the list of evils. Respect the capacity of suffering, not of merely existing. It is not human life only, not human life as such, but human feelings, that should be held sacred. Moreover, taking life for murder no more implies want of respect for life than fining a criminal shows want of respect for property. In countries where execution is morbidly disliked there is no abhorrence of the assassin. Mr. Mill added that we had been in danger of reducing all our punishments to nothing; and, though that disposition had stopped, our penalties[6] for brutal crimes (for which he earnestly recommended the Scourge) were ridiculously light, and ought to be strengthened.

The Organ Grinder Nuisance.

It will be noted that Mill here met the argument which Punch had advanced in earlier years as to the relative severity of long imprisonment and capital punishment, and answered it on the humanitarian ground that the former was more cruel as well as less efficacious. Mill, as we notice elsewhere, had more than anyone else shaken Punch's hostility to woman suffrage, but the effect of his speech on capital punishment was even greater. It must not be forgotten, however, that Mill[Pg 99] had been in the forefront of the movement for securing the prosecution of General Eyre for his drastic suppression of the riots in Jamaica. Punch supported General Eyre throughout, and it may well have been that on the question of capital punishment he was influenced by the principle fas est et ab hoste doceri, even though the opponent was undermining his own position. On more general grounds one can well understand that Punch, as an independent observer and thinker, would admire and be impressed by the candour and detachment from party ties which marked Mill's political career.

The change in Punch's views on the claims of Labour, especially organized labour, has already been sufficiently illustrated. But it did not prevent his espousing the cause of workers where the conditions were bad, the hours long and the pay inadequate. Punch's protracted campaign against the organ grinders was no doubt to a considerable extent due to Leech's sensitive nerves, and to sympathy with brain-workers such as Babbage, the mathematician, who declared that "one quarter of his entire working power had been destroyed by audible nuisances," but his support of Mr. Bass's Bill in 1864 was largely based on the fact that the business was conducted by undesirable aliens, and that the Italian padrone was an employer of sweated labour. In 1871 there is a cartoon satirizing the strong measures taken by the police against a demonstration of child match-makers at a time when adult agitators were allowed to preach Revolution and Communism in Hyde Park, and in the same year and month, when a post-mistress was convicted of theft and forgery, the evil is traced to the temptation to which underpaid officials were subjected. Punch had already predicted that in any national emergency the patriotism of the mercantile marine could be implicitly relied on, a prophecy splendidly realized in the Great War, and in 1873 he lent a vigorous helping hand to Samuel Plimsoll in his campaign against the "Coffin-Ships":—

Let horrified shipowners never so oft

His charges, indignant, fling back,

I call him the cherub who sits up aloft

To keep watch for the life of Poor Jack!

[Pg 100]

Simultaneously Punch printed a cartoon assuming that "Jack" would never again be sent to sea in one of "Davy Jones's decoy ducks." This was rather premature, as Plimsoll's campaign to secure the compulsory load-line which began in 1870, and in which he showed more zeal than discretion, did not lead to legislation until 1876. But with all his faults Plimsoll earned his title of "The Sailor's Friend" and justified Punch's salutation.

Woman wishing farewell to sailor


Polly: "Oh, dear Jack! I can't help crying, but I'm so happy to think you're not going in one of those dreadful ships!"

Jack: "What, Davy Jones's decoy ducks! No, no, lass—never more. Thanks to our friend Master Plimsoll, God bless him!"

[1] No mention is made in the otherwise full and sympathetic notice of James Montgomery in the D.N.B. of this, not the least honourable of the services of that Sheffield worthy. Though his verse, especially in the epic vein, was unequal, the D.N.B., differing from Lord Jeffrey who slated it in the Edinburgh, agrees with Punch in according James Montgomery the title of poet, reserving that of "Poetaster" to Robert or "Satan" Montgomery, who also dealt in epics, and was the victim of Macaulay's famous and ferocious castigation in the Quarterly.

[2] "A painful death by burning has happened at Torquay. Louisa Row, aged ten, lost her mother a few weeks ago, and undertook the cooking for her father, a labourer, and the rest of the family. She had well performed the duties devolving upon her since her mother's death, until one day she went too near the grate, her frock was ignited, and she was terribly burned. The poor child lived several days after the accident. At the inquest a verdict of 'Accidental death' was returned."

[3] The variations of view in Punch's estimate of John Bright form an interesting study. In the main, while admiring his courage, Punch found him too fond of asserting an impracticable independence. The masses distrusted him as a cottonocrat; the middle-classes as an out-and-out democrat and therefore an advocate of mob-rule. Punch himself had described Bright as an inciter to class-hatred in 1860.

[4] The Political History of England, Vol. xii., by Sidney Low and Lloyd Sanders, p. 207.

[5] It is strange that in the full account of Mill's Parliamentary activities given by Sir Leslie Stephen in his article on Mill in the D.N.B. no mention is made of this speech. Nor can I find any reference to it in Bain's Reminiscences.

[6] Mill's actual words were "flogging—a most objectionable punishment in ordinary cases, but a particularly appropriate one for crimes of brutality, especially crimes against women." (Hansard, 3rd series, Vol. cxci., p. 1,054.)

[Pg 101]


The annals of Church and State history were rich in events of prime importance during the years 1857-1874. When one reflects that this short period witnessed the removal of Jewish disabilities, the publication of Essays and Reviews, the much-canvassed appointments of Temple and Stanley, the resounding controversies which arose over Colenso and Jowett, the Mackonochie and Purchas trials, and the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, it will be seen that Punch, in view of the keen interest he had taken from the very first in the relations of Church and State and Society, found an almost embarrassing wealth of material for comment and criticism. On all these subjects he had a good deal to say, and he said it with very much the same mixture of intolerance and common sense, of rationalism and reverence which marked his utterances in earlier years. He professed to represent the majority of English Protestants: he was avowedly Erastian in his maintenance of the supremacy of the Law Courts in all cases; he was the unrelenting enemy of Extreme Ritual, the Confessional, and any attempts to revive monasticism; and on occasion he was ready to bang the "No Popery" drum as loudly as ever.

When Béranger died in 1857, his burial prompted a tribute in verse which begins with the lines:—

Ah Béranger, you brave old singer,

Of all the things you hated worst,

That felt your lash's lustiest stinger

Tyrant and Jesuit were first.

In Punch's view there was nothing to choose between the two. But his hostility was not confined to one Order: it embraced Vaticanism in the widest sense, and there were many moments when he anticipated, and acted on, Gambetta's phrase,[Pg 102] "Le cléricalisme, c'est l'ennemi." Thus, to take one instance, the demonstration of Irish Roman Catholics at Blackheath at the close of 1862 moved him to fury. It was the time of the French occupation of Rome, and the spectacle of these "Irish Yahoos" hurrooing for the Pope and groaning for Garibaldi was altogether too much for Punch. He would have quenched their zeal for the "temporal absolutism" of the Pope with water from a fire-engine, and he described the demonstrators as "prepared to shed the last drop of their blood if the perpetual enslavement of the Romans should require that precious sacrifice." The French, by their intervention, were only "propping by force the rule of superstition." This was just after Garibaldi had been wounded at Aspromonte, and when the bullet was removed Punch said that this, at any rate, was a true relic. Rome—Papal Rome—was to him the Scarlet Lady, a red rag to John Bull.

As a set-off to this special hostility to the Roman Communion, it is only fair to admit that other Churches and Sectarianism generally came in for a great deal of shrewd and, at times, bitter criticism. Punch was by no means an orthodox Churchman. Kingsley and Maurice and Stanley were his heroes. He stood for comprehension and toleration, and fair play for the "Higher Criticism." He had far more sympathy with underpaid curates than opulent bishops—indeed, he had little respect for the episcopal bench, if we except Temple and Tait.

The Sabbatarianism of Evangelicals, Presbyterians, and Nonconformists generally, continued to excite him to indignation or derision—as when in 1858 Sunday walking was tabooed by some Scots fanatics, who also sought to stop all Sunday sailings, or when early in 1861 a controversy arose in Scotland as to whether the sale of milk was permissible on that day.[7]

In 1868 the Lord's Day Observance Society addressed a memorial to the Brighton Railway Company against Sunday trains, which ended as follows:—

"Lastly, as recognizing the Christian principle of a particular Providence, we cannot conceal from ourselves the conviction of the[Pg 104] signal instances of the Divine displeasure in two accidents on the Sabbath Day, one of which in the Clayton Tunnel ended in the hurrying of several lives in a moment of time into eternity and which, in a financial point of view, resulted in a loss to the proprietary of not less than £50,000."

[Pg 103]

Preist talking to woman


Punch acidly comments on the authors of this "pretty specimen of snuffle," that they evidently know no more about the Grand Prix than they do about the Tower of Siloam.

The notion that Sunday should be a day of gloom and that religion should be divorced from cheerfulness found no support in Punch. A few years later, that is in 1871, he records with amazement the utterance of a Scottish minister who, at a children's soirée held at Kincardine, forbade them to applaud, and told them "there would be nothing of that kind, and no laughter in Heaven." In the same year, under the heading of "Sabbatarian Progress," we read:—

The Sunday Closing Bill's referred

To a select committee,

We view concession to absurd

Fanaticism with pity.

It was the same year that Punch got into hot water over a picture of Keene's. In it an old lady remarks to a guest: "They're all alike, my dear. There's our Susan (it's true she's a Dissenter), but I've allowed her to go to Chapel three times every Sunday since she has lived with me, and I assure you she doesn't cook a bit better than she did the first day!!" The Young Men's Christian Association at Dover, in consequence of this flippancy, decided that they would not take in Punch as being a paper hostile to religion. Punch displayed a ribald impenitence, making great play with the speeches delivered by the Mayor, Mr. Knocker, and a Mr. Mowll, and the hostile decree was rescinded shortly afterwards.

Glaring Contrasts in the Church

When the scandal of the sale by public auction of pews in fashionable churches came up in 1858 it was used as a stick with which to beat Puseyism. But when the Bishop of Exeter, on April 23, made an eloquent appeal in connexion with the want of church accommodation for the people, denounced the[Pg 105] pew system as illegal, and declared that to seat only fifty-eight per cent. of the inhabitants of London 670,000 sittings would be required, Punch, forgetting his ancient feud with "Henry of Exeter," congratulated him on these gleams of real liberality. But what chiefly concerned Punch as a Church Reformer were the glaring contrasts which existed in the "richest and poorest Church in the world." He was disgusted at the "snobbery" of the archbishops in kindly sanctioning a Registry for Curates, like a Registry for Servants:—

... It would appear from these figures [quoted from The Times], that Curates are expected to perform the cure of souls about as cheaply as the salters work the cure of herrings. Well, Floreat Ecclesia! and Heaven bless the Bishops! Of course, it's all just as it should be, or the Registry of Church Servants would never have been sanctioned. The Bishops have full knowledge of the present scale of wages at which Curates may be hired, and by sanctioning the registry they, of course, approve the scale. So,[Pg 106] Floreat Ecclesia! and Heaven bless the Bishops! The Curates are the men-of-all-work in the Church, and receive as recompense a maid-of-all-work's wages. Proportionally, their pay is really not much more: for they have to live like gentlemen, which kitchen servants have not.

Two women talking to a Bishop


"Ah, Bishop, what a heavenly sermon that was of yours last Sunday, about worldliness and the vanities of the flesh!—it nearly made me cry! And I say, Bishop, how hard it hit you and me!!!"

When the question of revising and shortening Church Services was discussed in the same year, Punch suggested as an alternative the discontinuance of all sermons except on special occasions. But the most pointed of his criticisms throughout this period are directed against Ritualism and in particular the use of the Confessional. High Anglican Ritualism was to him the Chambermaid of the Vatican. As for the Confessional, it was "a dangerous and disgusting practice."

Father Ignatius

In the autumn of 1858 Punch printed a cartoon on "Soapy Sam's" dangerous flirtation with the Scarlet Lady, accompanied by a letter advocating more drastic treatment of those who practised the Confessional, and later on in the year Tait, then Bishop of London, is applauded for his intention to deal faithfully with Ritualists and credited with saying: "You must not bring your toys to Church." Punch's attacks on the Ritualists exhibit a steady crescendo in freedom and even brutality through the 'sixties, and, admitting the sincerity of his dislike, little excuse can be found for the publication of such tasteless pictures as that, for example, of the sentimental young lady who observes to her sister, à propos of a sandalled curate, that "it is no use working slippers for him, and mother says he doesn't wear braces." Throughout the years 1864 and 1865 the vagaries of Brother, or Father Ignatius (the Rev. Joseph Leycester Lyne) are held up to unqualified contempt. But this "Histrio Anglicanus," as Punch called him, invited ridicule by his extravagances and those of his troop of mimic monks. The point of Punch's attack was that they were not real members of a monastic order, but mountebanks who played at being Romanists and occasionally imposed on Roman Catholics by their "profane tomfoolery." Father Ignatius, moreover, was doubly obnoxious to Punch, for he was not only a mock monk, but an extreme obscurantist who fulminated against the Higher Criticism and all liberal theologians. No quarter was therefore[Pg 107] given to him in verse or prose. He is treated in "Spoiling the Game" as a dangerous lunatic:—

Brother Ignatius wears a monk's gown

(A strait waistcoat were suitable wear),

Brother Ignatius shaveth his crown—

'Twould be well were his whole head shaved bare.

Clerical vestment being admired


Ardent Ritualist: "Oh, Athanasius, it's charmingly becoming!"

At this time Father Ignatius was established in Norwich; it was in after years that he moved to Llanthony Abbey in the Black Mountains, a most appropriate choice of residence; and the campaign of contempt reached a ribald climax in the issue of July 15, 1865, which contained "A Modern Gregorian Tone: a Chaunt pointed according to the Use of Norwich." This Chaunt, which was founded on an actual dissension amongst the brotherhood, gives an extremely diverting account of the mutiny provoked by the rigorous dietary imposed by the Superior—with dispensations in his own favour. It is "funny without being vulgar." But the prose article on the next page,[Pg 108] "Ignatius and his Monkeys," deviates into scurrility at the outset:—

It is not true that Brother Ignatius and the monks, his associates, have removed from their monastery at Norwich to the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park, and there taken up their abode in the Monkey House.

Where Punch showed a want of justice as well as of perspective was in treating all or nearly all Ritualists as if they were on the same level with Father Ignatius. In 1869, when Mr. Mackonochie maintained the claim of "Church Courts for Church Causes," Punch was not content with declaring that parsons were unfit to do legal justice; he challenged them to declare whether they were prepared to emulate the example and martyrdom of Becket; he bade them get their heads shaved or betake themselves to Rome. The "Pastoral to Mr. Mackonochie and Co." shows a slightly more conciliatory spirit, and admits that they were gentlemen and scholars, and did a great deal of practical good and hard work among the poor. None the less Punch charges them with playing a game—"a game dangerous to your own morality and that of your party-spirited followers, who almost believe in your infallibility." Hence Punch's final advice: "If you cannot become wholly Roman or wholly Greek, set up for yourselves, but do not remain the ecclesiastical mermen you are at present."

The Purchas case was treated lightly at first in the lines on "The Dean and the Parson":—


Dean (Sings)—

The Judges have spoken. Now don't be irascible:

Off with your Tunicle, Stole, Alb and Chasuble.

Parson P. (Sings)—

That's true, Mr. Dean, but they also declare

That a cope in Cathedrals all clergy must wear

On high days and Sundays—

Dean (Sings fortissimo)—

What me wear a cope!

On Sunday or Anyday

Go to the ———— Pope. (Exeunt in opposite directions.)

[Pg 109]

A Ritualist A B C

But Punch was seriously annoyed by the report of a meeting of Ritualists at which it was unanimously resolved to disobey the judgment of the Privy Council; and made no secret of his satisfaction when the Archbishop of Canterbury "turned down" the protest of 5,000 Anglicans headed by Pusey. A little earlier he had published an A B C for youthful Anglicans, showing a considerable knowledge of, but absolutely no respect for vestments. It may suffice to quote two entries:—

T is the Thurible, whose very smell

Incenses the people and makes them rebel.

Y is the Yeoman who now never enters

His old Parish Church, and has joined the Dissenters.

These jocularities, though not delicate, may pass. The worst examples of Punch's controversial zeal were prompted by the Confessional; and the worst of all is the set of verses headed, "A good sound Confession," describing how a priest was soundly horsewhipped and kicked downstairs by an irate husband who returned home to find his wife on her knees before her Confessor. The priest, be it added, unctuously professes to have enjoyed his flagellation as an exquisite mortification.

It is pleasant to turn from these exhibitions of virulent if honest antipathy to the treatment of those controversies in which freedom of thought was involved. Punch's earlier verses on Essays and Reviews, published in 1861, are more distinguished for their wisdom than their elegance of versification:—


Denounce Essayists and Reviewers,

Hang, quarter, gag them or shoot them—

Excellent plans—provided that

You first of all refute them.

By all means let the Hangman burn

Their awful book to ashes,

But don't expect to settle thus

Their heterodox hashes.

Some heresies are so ingrained

[Pg 110]

E'en burning won't remove them,

A shorter and an easier way,

You'll find it—to disprove them.

Be this, right reverends, your revenge,

For souls the best of cures,

Essay Essayists to upset

And to review Reviewers.

The long and ignoble campaign, as a result of which Jowett was for ten years deprived of the emoluments of his office as Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, roused Punch in 1863 to a satiric and imaginary account of the proceedings in the "Small Debts and Heresies Court at Oxford."

Jowett, it need hardly be explained, was doubly obnoxious to the heresy-hunters. He had long been suspect for the liberality of his religious opinions; he had also contributed to Essays and Reviews:—


A little book [8] Professor Jowett made,

And argued not as one of truth afraid;

But Oxford Dons alike fear truth and Jowett,

And their proceedings not a little show it.

Punch goes on to give utterance to the wishes of the obscurantists:—

Oh for a holocaust of heretics

With Jowett in one common van to mix,

For leave to burn, hang, quarter, disembowel,

Maurice and Williams, Temple, Wilson, Powell!

To teach admiring minds those Acts who follow

That Oxford toleration's wide of swallow,

As wide as from Geneva to Maynooth,

But one thing it won't tolerate—the truth!

Punch returned to the charge just a year later, at the time of the vote in Convocation on the question of Jowett's salary:—

[Pg 111]


Heresy's seed is rank! Shall Jowett sow it?

Tell me not, sciolists, Greek's not theology:

As if there's not a heterodox philology

That can be wrapped up cunningly in articles,

Impregnate accents, propositions, particles,

Poisoning texts as strychnine poisons wheat.

The silly crows, no doubt, scoff at alarming;

"What's toxicology to do with farming?"

And peck, and peck and drop dead as they eat.

E'en so Greek roots poisoned may be by Jowett,

And who's to know it.

Jowett and Colenso

When the proposed statute to give Jowett a decent remuneration for his services was rejected, Punch suggested that the Crown might make suitable amends for their persecution of the Regius Professor by making him a Bishop (March 26, 1864). The question of the salary was satisfactorily settled in 1865. The suggestion of the Bishopric was well meant rather than wise: a far more suitable sphere of activity and influence awaited him as Master of Balliol (1879-1893).

The famous case of Bishop Colenso, which synchronized with the Oxford heresy-hunt of Jowett and other contributors to Essays and Reviews, is dealt with very much in the same spirit. By way of introducing the subject to a generation who do not know Colenso as an arithmetician and take for granted the method of applying scientific criticism to scripture history, which he was the first English Bishop to adopt, it may be as well to state that while Bishop of Natal he had incurred the displeasure of his metropolitan, Dr. Gray, the Bishop of Cape Town, by the publication of his critical studies of the Pentateuch. Dr. Gray claimed the right to try and depose Colenso for heresy, and did so. Colenso protested against Gray's jurisdiction and appealed to the Crown, with the result that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council pronounced the whole of the proceedings null and void. The episode created a stir by the side of which the Kikuyu controversy is reduced to insignificance. Colenso's searching historical criticisms did not merely alarm orthodox theologians; they estranged his friend, the[Pg 112] broad-minded F. D. Maurice. Punch was with Colenso in his refusal to acquiesce in Dr. Gray's claim to override the secular courts; he respected Colenso's fearless courage and honesty; but for the rest he declined to enter into the theological issues involved and hovered on the outskirts of the dispute:—


Truth is great; must prevail;

Reason, Parsons, don't rail;

You will hinder, not help, her defence so.

But confute the man's sums;

You may then snap your thumbs

And make faces at Bishop Colenso.

Much neater and better, however, is the summary of the correspondence between the Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury given three weeks later:—


My dear Colenso,

With regret,

We hierarchs, in conclave met,

Beg you, you most disturbing writer,

To take off your colonial mitre.

This course we press upon you strongly:

Believe me,

Yours most truly,




My dear Archbishop,

To resign

That Zulu diocese of mine,

And own myself a heathen dark

Because I've doubts of Noah's Ark,

And feel it right to tell all men so,

Is not the course for




[Pg 113]

Dean Stanley and Père Hyacinthe

Stanley was appointed to the Deanery of Westminster in 1863, and the lamentations of the Record, the organ of ultra-orthodox Evangelicalism, gave Punch his opportunity:—

That the wisdom and justice of the appointment of Canon Stanley to the Deanery of Westminster might be clear to everybody, the Record gives its certificate that such appointment is "a melancholy fact." Disapprobation by the Record having been thus signified, of course every sensible person must now be convinced that the Dean is the right man in the right place.

Comments of this sort add to the liveliness of newspaper controversy, but they do not conduce to the popularity of those who indulge in them. But at any rate they are an improvement on Punch's references to the "viperine expectorations" of the editor of the Tablet in earlier years.

The welcome extended to Père Hyacinthe in 1869 showed that Punch was not restricted in his sympathies to Protestant heretics only. But we fear that his welcome was not entirely disinterested. In his verses on "Hyacinthus Redivivus," Punch attacks Pius IX for favouring Père Hyacinthe as long as he was a winning card, and then rending him as a heretic. The lines are friendly, but reading between them one can detect a warning to M. Loyson to shun the dangers that beset the fashionable preacher in New York, whither he was then bound. We cannot resist the feeling that Punch was more pleased by the Pope's embarrassment in dealing with this modernist than anxious to see Romanism reformed from within.

In the high affairs of Church and State the year 1868 was a great landmark. After a long debate Gladstone's Resolutions on Irish Disestablishment were carried against the Government on April 5. The discussions were followed closely in Punch's "Essence of Parliament," and two interesting points are brought out. Disraeli maintained that the House had no mandate, as we now say, to deal with the Irish Church. They ought not to be asked at eight days' notice to repeal the Union. On the other hand, Gladstone argued that it would be ultra-democratic, if not anarchic, to say that Parliament could not act without appeal[Pg 114] to the constituencies. The Government were beaten by 328 votes to 272, but remained in office till the autumn, when they appealed to the country. By the return of a Liberal majority Gladstone was left free to introduce the first instalment of his scheme for pacifying Ireland. This view is clearly set forth in Punch's doggerel stanzas headed, "Out and In":—

Gone is Dizzy,

From the busy

Cares of State repose he can.

In comes Gladdy

Who of Paddy

Means to make a loyal man.

Punch acquiesced in the measure, but showed some anxiety lest it should be interpreted as a concession to Fenian intimidation. His cartoon, which bore the inscription "Justice to Ireland," shows the figure of Justice blindfolded, with sword and scales, enthroned in the background. In front and at her feet Gladstone, laying the Irish Church on a flaming altar, says: "This is a sacrifice to Justice, not to Papists or Assassins. And if they——" Turning their backs on him are a sulky-looking priest and a Fenian desperado levelling a gun. The Bill for Disestablishing and Disendowing the Irish Church was introduced by Gladstone on March 1, 1869. A month later Punch published another cartoon entitled, "Disendowment and Disarmament." Here a Fenian says to a priest: "Be jabers, your Riv'rence, it's spoilin' our thrade they are entirely"; and his Riv'rence replies: "Thrue for you, me boy." During the course of the debates the "Essence of Parliament" contains an entry with an unpleasantly familiar ring:—

Thursday (April 29). Another and another Irish murder. The desire of Members to know that the Government is doing something cannot be blamed. The Irish Secretary stated that the Executive would proceed with the utmost vigour, but deprecated the entering into details. There is a Ruffian called the Mayor of Cork, who has presided at a dinner to two of the released Fenian convicts, and who eulogized O'Farrell, who wounded the Duke of Edinburgh. Mr. Gladstone said that the fellow's language could not be too severely condemned.

[Pg 115]

Queen talking to a woman


Ghost of Queen Elizabeth: "Agreed, have they? Ods boddikins! Gads my life, and marry come up, sweetheart! In my time I'd have knocked all their addlepates together till they had agreed!"

[Pg 116]

John Bright, who had joined the administration as President of the Board of Trade, donned a court uniform and (if Punch is to be believed) actually danced a quadrille at a Court Ball with the Princess of Wales as partner, is applauded for his eloquence in the House and rebuked for his unbridled vehemence outside it. Ministers mustn't bully, but think of their colleagues. They must, in short, wear a muzzle, and if Bright could not bear to wear one, he certainly had no right, Punch argued, to be where he was. The debates in the Commons were fiery and protracted, and those who regarded the measure as one of confiscation secured important concessions, but the battle was really joined in the Upper House. Lord Derby maintained a non possumus attitude, but the eloquence of Magee (then Bishop of Peterborough) and the arguments of Cairns did not avail to prevent thirty-six Conservative Peers from voting with the Government. But, even so, the Lords' amendments threatened a constitutional crisis, only averted by the compromise arrived at by Granville and Cairns in July, 1869. The Bill became law and was put into operation on January 1, 1871. That Punch entertained misgivings as to its effect in encouraging intimidation may be gathered from his cartoon, "How not to do it," in which "Pat" threatens Britannia with unspeakable things if she does not release those noble patriots, the Fenian prisoners.

"Mr. Disraeli's Religion"

The prevalence of religious cant and snobbery and sensationalism is frequently chastised in the 'sixties and 'seventies. In the spring of 1866 Punch copies an advertisement in which a young man wished "to find a home with a pious family, where his Christian example would be considered sufficient remuneration for his board and lodging." And in January, 1870, he pilloried an even more glaring example of complacent and well-connected religiosity: "A Gentleman, born and bred, kinsman of an Earl ... will preach Christ." The infection of the pulpit by sensation is deplored in 1867 à propos of an announcement in the Islington Gazette:—

"Caledonian Road Chapel.—Next Sunday Sermons will be preached, afternoon, by Mr. Geo. B. Clarke, a Black Brother, from Jamaica, Son-in-law of the late excellent Paul Bogle. Evening,[Pg 117] by Mr. Henry Varley the Butcher, from Notting Hill, whose 'words sink, like flame-tipped darts, into the souls of his hearers.'"

It is easy to make too much of isolated instances of self-conscious and self-advertising rectitude. There is far greater justification for the animated protest which Punch registered against the attempts made to discredit Disraeli at the time of his first Premiership on the score of his religion or irreligion. Disraeli had to some extent anticipated this criticism when in his first speech as Premier, on March 5, 1868, he said that he knew that in his position there were personal and peculiar reasons which would aggravate the burden and augment the difficulties. On this Punch made the following comment:—

People can interpret these words as they please. Those who give them a significance connected with birth, and who have intelligence enough to take a large view of pedigree, may note that they were uttered by a man descended from one of the Hebrew families expelled from Spain by the Inquisition, and who settled in Venice as merchants.

The campaign of curiosity met with no encouragement from Punch, who returned to the subject a few weeks later under the heading, "The Modern Inquisition":—

Perhaps the Premier, who has now got to make a Bishop of Hereford, will write one more letter and satisfy the British Booby on the subject of "Mr. Disraeli's Religion," which appears to afflict divers. Scarcely a day passes but some new conjectural impertinence, or some particularly unnecessary information is tossed out. Mr. Disraeli knows that Punch has not refrained from a great lot of good-natured allusions to the nationality of which the former is so justly proud; and it is possible that we may have many another cartoon of which he will be the smiling or scowling hero. But we protest—and we are as good a Protestant as Mr. Hardy—against sneaking into a gentleman's study, and taking notes as to whether Prayer Book, Missal, Watts's Hymns, Koran, or Shaster, be most thumbed, and publishing inferences. We do not see whose business it was to announce that Mr. Disraeli had no particular religion until he was five, and that he was then taken by Samuel Rogers to Hackney Church, especially as we believe the latter statement to be false, Mr. Rogers and his father having been regular attendants at the Unitarian Chapel at Hackney, of which the celebrated Dr. Price[Pg 118] was, in older days, Minister. Nor do we see why the pastor of Hughenden should gratify vulgar curiosity by proclaiming that the Premier has been a regular Church-goer for seventeen years, and was a Communicant at Easter. Is this England or America? We do not habitually admire French legislation, but the late edict against ransacking Private Life is not without its merits. Somebody will be asking about our religion next, and will need all his own to bear the consequences.

In earlier years Punch, as we know, had overlooked Lord Shaftesbury's great services as a practical philanthropist in view of his Sabbatarianism. But he had learned to dissociate Lord Shaftesbury from the "snuffling sect" of Puritan killjoys, and in 1868 indulges in a eulogy of his Protestant zeal against Popery and Ritualism. The ballad on the insurrection in Spain, in the early winter of that year, shows no abatement of Punch's distrust of Romanism. The end of the Temporal Power in 1870 was welcomed as the logical, inevitable, and desirable consummation of Italian unity: it made Italy, not the Vatican, mistress of Rome, and it was in keeping with the consistent policy of the paper that the Pope's pretensions as a peace-maker in 1871 should be roughly disputed. England, it is claimed, was the true pacificator of Europe, and Professor (afterwards Sir John) Seeley's observations in "How to keep the Peace" suggest the possibility of a League of Nations.

The end of this period was marked by the passing of a great divine, a famous bishop and the greatest of missionaries. In the memorial verses printed on April 13, 1872, Punch recognized the true saintliness, the love of truth, the nobly righteous indignation of F. D. Maurice:—

The life of love he lived, the truth he spoke,

The seeds of good he sowed on earth remain.

In many brave hearts, eased from Evil's yoke,

The fruitful soul of Maurice lives again.

Incidentally it is noted that Maurice never received any preferment, bishopric, canonry, or deanery.

Wilberforce and Livingstone

The lines given below on Wilberforce, who is coupled with Lord Westbury, are largely inspired by the de mortuis note. The writer begins by recording the worst that had been said[Pg 119] of both—the slyness of the sleek priest, the sneers and scorn and mincing tones of the bitter lawyer. But now we know better, and recognize that the dove was blended with the serpent in both:—

And so, Life's judgment set to right by Death's,

Lay busy Bishop and keen Judge to rest;

And, by their coffins, think with bated breaths,

How good the worst of us, how bad the best.

Mr. Punch in a cartoon


Chorus of Old Washerwomen: "There! Take'em away—we can't be worrited with them things."

"If the seventy-five members of the Pan-Anglican Synod have not a single word to say upon any of the great questions, theoretical or practical, which concern the very existence of the Church of England, their impotent caution and misplaced decency will do more to endanger it than any external attack with which it is at present threatened."—Pall Mall Gazette.]

Writing of Livingstone, always one of his heroes, Punch does not agree with the view that his was a wasted life, or that[Pg 120] a greater work of reclamation was to be done at home, and applauds the unselfishness, fearlessness, and vision of one who died in sight of evening rest and honours fairly won:—

By their own scale great souls gauge things and men;

Their ways and weights are not our weights and ways;

Only their vision goes beyond our ken,

Reaching to larger lights—diviner days.

It was in this larger vision that Punch found the Church of England wanting, and when the first Pan-Anglican Synod met in 1867, he took as the text of his cartoon the acid comment of the Pall Mall Gazette just quoted.

The question of Public Worship Regulation was already in the air, though it did not lead to legislation until the return of the Conservatives to power. On July 12, 1873, Punch published a cartoon à propos of the protest against Ritualism and the Confessional. Mr. Miall, M.P., a leader of the Liberation Society, is shown with two archbishops expressing his delight to find them so earnestly co-operating with him for the destruction of the State Church. A fortnight later Punch complained that Dr. Thomson (the Archbishop of York) had misread the cartoon. What Punch really meant was to suggest that by neglecting the representations of real Churchmen, and by tolerating the antics of Ritualism, the hierarchy were playing into the hands of the Church's enemies. But he still hoped that the Archbishops would stiffen their backs and carry out the spirit of Tait's threat against those who brought their toys to church. So when Archdeacon Denison, who supported the Confessional, denounced certain Bishops for their ultra-Protestantism, Punch suggested that Denison's friends should present him with a triple cap (with bells).

[7] Within our own times the milking of cows on Sunday was objected to by Scottish Sabbatarians.

[Pg 121]


The worst of education, as Peacock remarks, is that there is no beginning and no end to it. But the subject is set about with other pitfalls and difficulties. It is one of the most important things in life; its annals have been adorned by great and even heroic names; yet the calling has never been free from gibes at the dominie and the gerund-grinder. And again, by the irony of fate it has been responsible for an unconscionable amount of dull and pedantic and cranky literature. There is no greater benefactor than a good schoolmaster; there is no greater bore than the "Educationist." Punch, though a comic journal, has not escaped the infection in dealing with the subject, but it is to his credit that on the whole he has resisted the temptation to indulge in untimely facetiousness, and has not been afraid to be serious when the occasion demanded.

Contending zealots, assisted by Parliamentary apathy, had effectually barred the progress of national education throughout the period treated in the previous volume. But the awakening had begun in 1858, though more than twenty years were to pass before Forster's Act was placed on the Statute Book. The debate on the Paper Duty in June, 1858, showed, at any rate, that all parties were at one in condemning this tax. Disraeli, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, could not afford to remit it, but Punch read the signs of the times aright in his comment: "The House voted £563,435 for Educational purposes in order to qualify the people to read the books which the removal of the paper duty will place in their hands." It was reserved for Mr. Gladstone to make good this forecast. His famous series of Free Trade Budgets between 1859 and 1865 were quite as much the effect as the cause of national prosperity, but in 1865 "no one ventured to doubt Gladstone's financial omniscience. Everyone who paid less for his pound of tea or his newspaper could look upon him as a personal benefactor."[9]

[Pg 122]

The judicious use of opportunity rather than genius may have been the secret of Gladstonian finance; but no such reserves are called for in appraising the merits of the series of Acts dealing with national education passed during his first Premiership. If one needs a practical illustration of the immense advance made in education in ten years, one need only compare the provisions of the Act of 1870 with the account of what Punch calls an "anti-educational demonstration" in the Commons in July, 1860, when Palmerston was Prime Minister:—

There was a Bill for making it compulsory on the employers of the labour of children under twelve years old, to have a certificate that the child was learning to read and write, and had twenty hours of teaching per month-nothing like an hour a day. But so monstrous an Innovation frightened the House. Mr. Henley was pious, and said that people were not to eat unless they worked, but were not commanded to read and write; Mr. Buxton was humane, and said there were thousands of children too idle, wicked or stupid to learn, and their vested rights were not to be interfered with; Mr. Hardy took the old Tory view, and said that the children of the poor were taught quite enough to enable them to do the duties they were intended for; and Mr. Baynes, as a Dissenter, declared the Bill to be needless, and that the work of education was going on admirably. Yielding to these irresistible arguments, the Bill was thrown out, a majority of 122 to 51 deciding that the children of the English poor want no assistance in the battle with the World, the Flesh and the First Whig.

It was this debate, by the way, that prompted Punch to recall the derivation of Parliament by a French etymologist from the two verbs parler and mentir.

Education Act of 1870

A good beginning had been made with the Act providing efficient inspection of endowed and Grammar Schools in 1869, but the Elementary Education Act of 1870 was a measure of first-rate importance, which has affected our national life more vitally than any other passed in the last fifty years, unless we except the People's Representation Act of 1918. From the moment of its introduction Punch realized its far-reaching influence. On March 26, 1870, he published the cartoon, "The Three R's, or Better Late than Never." Here we see Forster[Pg 123] addressing a group of small school children, town and country types: "Well, my little people, we have been gravely and earnestly considering whether you may learn to read. I am happy to say that, subject to a variety of restrictions, conscience clauses, and the consent of your vestries—you may!" The conflict that led to the final compromise is indicated by two groups in the background: one amicably gathered round John Bull; the other including a bishop, a coronetted peer, a sour-visaged minister of the Chadband type, and an austere female.

Man interviewing boy


Clerical Examiner: "What is your name?"

Incorrigible: "Biler, sir."

Clerical Examiner: "Who gave you that name?"

Incorrigible: "The boys in our Court, sir."

The issues involved are set forth in a "long and grave letter" addressed by Punch to "Master Gutterblood" in town, and "Master Chawbacon" in the country. Writing as their friend and well-wisher, sincerely anxious to see them properly taught, he deplores the obstacles hitherto put in their way by the "black-coats"—Parson, Priest and Nonconformist Minister. He applauds Forster's plan, and specially condemns the action of the secularizing party who would exclude all religion from schools, since the bulk of English people were in favour of some simple religious teaching:—

[Pg 124]

Those who are now barring your road to school are not the Churches, but those who insist that no Church at all shall have a hand in your teaching when you have got there. I have been accustomed to think that it was the Established Church's jealousy of the Dissenters that kept you ignorant, now it looks as if you were to be kept in the dark by the Dissenters' jealousy of the Established Church, working with those who distrust and dislike equally Church and Dissent, and all forms of religious Creed.

[Pg 125]

Mr. Punch talking to policeman


Mr. Punch (to Bull A.1): "Yes, it's all very well to say 'Go to school!' How are they to go to school with those people quarrelling in the doorway? Why don't you make 'em 'move on'?"

It was a fair summary of the opposing interests which clashed during the progress of the Bill through the House. Punch's impatience is shown in the further cartoon "Obstructives." "Those people" are a group of clerics of various Churches blocking the school doorway. A fortnight later Punch was able to announce in his "Essence of Parliament" that the very qualified compulsion proposed by Parliament had been approved by large majorities, and to publish his third cartoon on the solving of the problem. Master Forster (with his slate) is saying to Britannia, the Schoolmistress, "Please, M'm, I've done it, M'm." And when Britannia asks, "And how have you done it, William?" he replies, "Please, M'm, I've reduced all the fractions to the lowest common denomination." To this is added the stage direction "The good Boy enters the Cabinet." The Bill passed through both Houses, and when Parliament rose on August 10 and the Queen's Speech made special reference thereto, Punch comments, "Excuse us, your Majesty, but permit us to say 'Hooray!' and to add a cheer for Mr. Forster." He welcomed a measure which affirmed the principle that the State was bound to provide gratuitous instruction for all the children in the realm, but resented the educational luxuries which leading "Educationalists" were anxious to introduce. So we find a burlesque list of these fancy subjects, including hieroglyphics, croquet, bézique, etiquette, given in the following year with the remark: "There are people old-fashioned enough to think that it might be as well to give our poor neglected children only plain joints at first—the 3 R's—and let the entrées stand over for the present." The introduction of the "Fourth R"—Religion—prompted the "Educational Epigram" a year later:—

[Pg 126]

Milk is for babes, wrote one that knew.

Sectarian Educators, you

Who dogmas teach which Doctors question,

Are you not giving babes strong meat,

So much too tough for them to eat

The upshot must be indigestion?

Lady talking to boy


Rector's Wife: "And what's your father, my boy?"

Boy: "My father's a 'Hagitator,' an' he says he won't have me learnt no catechism, 'r else you'll all of yer 'ear of it!"

In the following summer we have a picture by Charles Keene of a beery working man protesting against temperance propagandism at schools, and resolving to withdraw his small son from the reach of these subversive doctrines, while humorous capital is made out of the "Conscience Clause" at the expense of the "agitator." The provision of gratuitous meals to elementary school children was not yet even mooted, but Punch strongly supported the philanthropists who in 1867 gave weekly dinner parties in Marylebone to seven or eight hundred children, following the example set by Victor Hugo during his sojourn in Guernsey.

[Pg 127]

boy speaking to shopkeeper

Scene—Toy-shop. (Enter highly educated Youth of Twelve).—"Oh, I want some toy, or conjuring trick, or something that would do for an old gentleman of fifty or thereabouts; my grandfather, in point of fact,—you know the kind of thing. I dessay."

Children and their Tormentors

Turning to preparatory or boarding schools, we have to note that academies of the type of "Dotheboys Hall" had not altogether disappeared, to judge by the advertisement which Punch pilloried under the heading of "Children and their Tormentors":—

"Boarding Schools wanted, in London, for a boy, nine years, and two girls, six and seven years old, requiring firm discipline, having become wild and unruly, through neglect occasioned by family misfortunes. No holiday could be given, as holidays destroy any good effected at school. The father, quite a gentleman, can only pay 20 guineas each. This advertisement is only intended for schools of pre-eminent efficiency for such cases, and prosperous enough to be able and willing to accept such terms, and undertake the needed task of reformation for the sake of the schools' own additional credit of success. Particulars and references, by letter only."

[Pg 128]

As for its conducing to the "credit" of a school to help unnatural fathers thus to get rid of their children, surely no one but a squeers could indulge in such a thought. If through neglect at home, a child becomes unruly and requires to be "reformed," it is right that at a proper age it should be sent to school, if proper means are wanting for teaching it at home. But a girl of six years old can scarcely be so "wild" as to require, for her taming, utter banishment from home: nor can she be much bettered by being badly fed for twenty pounds a year, and, worse still, taught to grow up without knowing what "home" means.

The name of "gentleman" had been strangely taken in vain a year earlier, as we gather from an extract which sounds like an echo from The Fairchild Family:—


On Saturday last a man named Thomas Edwards was hanged for murder at Liverpool, when, according to a report of the execution which appeared in the Daily Telegraph:—

"To the discredit of some person, a drag, containing gentlemen's children, was brought near the gallows."

Fine fun for gentlemen's children during the Christmas holidays, to see a man hanged. Just the spectacle to amuse little boys—but perhaps there were some little girls too among these gentlemen's children. Well, in that case, the gentlemen have taken a good step towards getting their girls, as well as their boys, off their hands. Nothing is more likely than that the juvenile spectators of Thomas Edwards' death-struggles will get to play at hanging, and effectually hang one another.

In 1868 Punch was exercised in mind by the pernicious influence on the ingenuous youth of "penny dreadfuls," and the activities of educational faddists. Precocious pedantry, as we show on the previous page, is satirized in 1863. There is a curious foreshadowing of Madame Montessori's hostility to fairy tales in Du Maurier's "Little Christmas Dream." Du Maurier had a genius for the delineation of nightmares, and in this picture he quite excelled himself. Earlier in the same year Punch made excellent capital, again with the aid of Du Maurier's pencil, out of Lord Malmesbury's statement that it was useless to teach modern languages at the public[Pg 130] schools, "as parents can easily procure such instruction for their children by hiring foreign nurses." The artist depicts four disgusted Harrow boys, who have returned for the holidays, taking an educational walk with their German and French instructresses, while a young and untutored yokel looks on with grim amusement.

[Pg 129]

Boy pursued by fabulous animal


Mr. L. Figuier, in the Thesis which precedes his interesting work on the World before the Flood, condemns the practice of awakening the youthful mind to admiration by means of fables and fairy tales, and recommends, in lieu thereof, the study of the Nature History of the World in which we live. Fired by this advice, we have tried the experiment on our eldest, an imaginative boy of six. We have cut off his "Cinderella" and his "Puss in Boots," and introduced him to some of the more peaceful Fauna of the pre-Adamite world, as they appear restored in Mr. Figuier's book. The poor boy has not had a decent nights rest ever since!

Group of boys with their nurses


Lord Malmesbury considers that it is useless to teach modern languages at the Public Schools, "as parents can easily procure such instruction for their children by hiring foreign nurses." Observe the delight of four young gentlemen who have returned from Harrow for the holidays, and discover that their parents have procured French and German instruction for them. Also observe the envy of the young and untutored clown.

A notable landmark in the annals of preparatory and public school education is reached in 1869, when Punch quoted the following epoch-marking advertisement:—

"Grammar School, W—— R—— Wanted immediately, a Second Assistant Master, to teach thoroughly writing and arithmetic, also junior English subjects. Must be a good cricketer and round-arm bowler. Character to bear the strictest investigation. Salary £40, increasing to £60."

[Pg 131]

Punch on Co-Education

The resounding fame of W. G. Grace, who began his great career in first-class cricket in 1863, at the age of 15, and had just reached his majority, was doubtless responsible for this new educational departure. The salary was certainly not exorbitant, but the advent of the cricket-master moves no sympathy in Punch. He admits the force of the proverb that "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," but asks "does not Jack at some schools play a little to excess?" and speculates on the amazement which the schoolmaster abroad would feel in reading this announcement. On the other hand, over-pressure and "cramming" were equally distasteful to Punch, who was seriously perturbed by the sensational accounts given in 1870 of the breakdown of Woolwich candidates.

Group of boys and girls


Mr. Punch is of opinion that a polite and easy bearing towards the opposite sex (tempered, of course, with propriety and discretion) cannot be inculcated at too early an age. He therefore recommends that whenever an Institute for Young Ladies happens to meet an Academy for Young Gentlemen, they should all be formally introduced to each other, and allowed to take their walks abroad in company.

Co-education had not yet emerged on the horizon of practical educational politics, and the plea put forward in a picture by Du Maurier for a mixed "crocodile" cannot[Pg 132] be seriously entertained. The artist suggests that whenever an Institute for Young Ladies happens to meet an Academy for Young Gentlemen they should all be formally introduced to one another and allowed to take their walks abroad in company. The question of corporal punishment was raised by a lively correspondence in The Times, towards the close of 1872, on the Winchester practice of "tunding" with a ground-ash or cricket-stump. The action was general, the father of the boy whose punishment by a prefect had started the correspondence, the headmaster, Dr. Ridding, "in English less classical than queer," and sundry old Wykehamists all joining in. Punch was at first scandalized by the brutality with which the prefects exercised their disciplinary powers, but the spirit and good sense showed by the victim caused him to modify his view:—

His punishment, while he feels it unjust

He takes without blather or ban:

Yes, out of the lot who've kicked up a dust,

The boy is the Man.

At the beginning of the same year the invasion of the public schools by the new plutocracy, as described by a correspondent in the Morning Post, who assumed the unfortunate pseudonym of "Pavidus," impelled Punch to some outspoken comment. "Pavidus" complained that the standard in tips and pocket-money had been unduly raised by the young cotton-lords—boys who came back with £5 as a minimum. Punch finds the root of the evil in the perversion of the public schools from their original intention—to educate the sons of poor gentlemen—and suggests that if the "nobs" don't like their sons associating with young plutocrats, they should get up poor schools of their own and keep the high-bred paupers select. A similar situation has arisen since the war, but the difficulty has been solved without snobbery or squealing. Parents who cannot afford to send their sons to schools with which their families have been associated for generations, send them elsewhere, but they do not "make a song about it."

Pair of boys talking to boy on pony


Arthur (on pony): "Hollo! What have you got on your heads?"

Juvenile Swell: "Why, you see, every snob wears a cap or a wide-awake now; so the men of our school have returned to the old Chimney Pot!"

(As paterfamilias we are sorry to say that we have observed this monstrosity many times this Christmas.)

University Reform

There remain the Universities, the apex of the educational pyramid. The Universities Commission was not appointed till[Pg 133] 1872. Its report on the income and property of Oxford and Cambridge was not published till October 1874, and the Universities' Act was not passed till 1877. Punch's contributions to the discussions which arose over University Reform nearly always take the form of hostile criticism of the champions of "no change," and he devotes by far the greater amount of space to the castigation of Oxford conservatives and non-resident reactionaries. The vote on the institution of the non-Collegiate or "unattached" system in 1868 furnished Punch with the materials for a comprehensive indictment of all his pet Oxford aversions. In the wail of the Mediævalists, headed "An Oxford Miserere," Punch ranges himself on the side of the reformers; Sir John, afterwards Lord Coleridge, who had taken an active part in the successful movement for the abolition of religious tests in the Universities; Conington, the distinguished[Pg 134] Latinist and editor of Virgil; Raper, the well-known Fellow of Trinity College, who, under more than one President, was the power behind the throne; and Jowett, who with Stanley and Maurice, had always been supported by Punch in his espousal of "modernist" views.

When Mr. Meyrick, an Oxford Don, expressed his satisfaction that our Educational System was not that of the Germans, Punch was unable to echo his complacency, and went so far as to wish that "our Dons and Fellows were but as these Germans"; but it may be pleaded in extenuation of his offence that the doctrine of "Kultur" was less vocal in the 'sixties, and that German professors and teachers were not then so firmly harnessed to the car of "Machtpolitik." Punch little thought that some fifty years later Admiral Tirpitz would admit that the most formidable opponent of Germany was the "polo-playing Englishman." The notion that pastime was overdone finds vent in the "Chant for College Athletes":—

How doth the busy Undergrad

Improve each shining hour,

Loving each new athletic "fad"

To show his muscles' power!

In feats of strength and games of skill

His time must all be passed,

Heedless that, 'spite of cram, he will

Be sorely plucked at last.

Affluent College Servants

Over-athleticism, however, was not the only ground of complaint against education at the older Universities in the 'sixties. The high cost of living for undergraduates, owing to the extortion of local tradesmen and the perquisites of college servants, provoked a correspondence in The Times in the winter of 1865. Punch ironically affected to defend the retail "profiteers." His College butler in "The Undergraduates' Rebellion" associates himself with the College Dean as the victim of a mutiny of meanness, and the accompanying cartoon rubs in the point, a stout butcher addressing an equally stout Don, engaged in cutting a loaf, with the[Pg 135] words, "Wery low them letters in the papers, Mr. Dean! Wery 'ard on both of us, Sir—my beef and your bread-an'-butter!" Punch's satire was justified by the fortunes notoriously made at the time and for many years afterwards by College cooks and butlers, whose incomes sometimes exceeded those of the Heads of Houses. More than ten years later a Christ Church "Scout" bitterly complained of the passing of the good old times. As he put it, "Instead of taking food home out of College, I has to bring it in."

[8] This probably refers to his work on the Epistles of St. Paul (1855).

[9] Oman's England in the Nineteenth Century, p. 155.

[Pg 136]


Railways, their dangers and inconveniences, continue throughout this period to furnish Punch with a never-ending theme of criticism and complaint; nor need we altogether wonder when it is remembered that it was not until 1861 that communication between guard and engine driver was established on the Eastern Counties Railway, and then at first only on express and fast trains;[10] and again, that it was not until 1873 that sleeping carriages were first introduced. The murder of Mr. Briggs by Müller on the North London line on July 9, 1864, created a scare amongst nervous passengers, which even the introduction of the corridor carriage has not altogether allayed. But, from the point of view of a Londoner, the most notable feature in railway development was the extension of intra-urban facilities which grew out of the Act of 1853, though the construction of the Underground did not begin till the spring of 1860, and it was not opened for traffic, in its original and limited range, till January, 1863. The completion of the Inner and the addition of the Outer Circle followed; the Swiss Cottage extension was not opened till 1868; but Highgate and many other suburbs remained isolated until the coming of the tubes.

The "Tuppenny Tube" was not opened till June, 1900, but nearly forty years earlier we read in Punch that "amongst the new railway projects, it seems there is to be a tubular underground from Regent's Circus to the Bank." The plea for cheap workmen's trains to the suburbs in the spring of 1870 only surprises us now by its having waited so long to be granted.

[Pg 138]

In the realm of imaginative forecast, one may note Du Maurier's nightmare picture of aerial trains to Paris in 1870, and the burlesque charter for an aerial railway company in 1872. But the project of a Channel tunnel had long been seriously considered, though the experimental borings were not made till 1876.[11] Ten years earlier Punch had indulged in some fantastic speculations on the result of the preliminary trials conducted by French and English engineers, with Sir John Hawkshaw at the head of the latter.

A patent for pneumatic tyres had been taken out in the 'forties; bicycles and tricycles came in at the end of the 'sixties; but twenty years were to elapse before the boneshaker and the "ordinary"—that wonderful and perilous machine—gave place to the "safety." In 1868 and 1869 references abound to velocipedes—the word "bicycle" had not yet established itself—and in the Almanack for 1869 there is a picture of a strange mechanism called the "Rantoone," a tricycle with two large wheels behind and a small guiding wheel in front. It is also mentioned in Henry Kingsley's Boy in Grey, and Crawley's Manly Games for Boys. But the bicycle, as we know it, the most momentous addition to the resources of locomotion between the coming of the steam engine and the advent of the petrol-driven motor, was only looming in the future; it was little more than a plaything in the period under review.

[Pg 137]


Man on tricycle attending a hunt

The Cover Side. 10.45 a.m. Spriggins comes up with the Hunt on his favourite "Rantoone."

The hunt moves off

10.50. "For'ard Away!" Spriggins gets along famously.

The tricycle runs out of control

10.55. "Tally-Ho!" Spriggins realizes the sensation of being "run away with."

Rider falls from tricycle

10.56. "Yoicks!" Spriggins learns what a "cropper" means.

Rider with damaged trike

11.56. Five miles from everywhere.

Telegraph wires first began to spread their overhead network in London in 1859; the District Telegraph Company was started in 1860. Ten years later Punch celebrates the reduction of the fee for a twenty-word telegram to one shilling. Of the use of telegraphy in war he expressed considerable scepticism, on the ground that it would lead to endless contradictory rumours.

Man fleeing from shadowy figure


That Tummas met as he was a-comin' whoam—"Ta looked like a man a ridin' 'pon nawthin'!"

The Atlantic Cable

The most notable advance in telegraphy, however, was that of the long-distance cables. The year 1858 abounds in references to the second and third attempts to span the Atlantic. Frequent failures delayed the achievement of the enterprise for several years. In 1865 Punch published a series of reports[Pg 139] purporting to come from the Great Eastern, then engaged in laying the cable, but it was not until the summer of 1866 that he was able to record the completion of the task:—

A Parliamentary week never ended with a more gratifying incident. A Minister, Mr. Hunt, stated that the Atlantic Telegraph had been laid to America, an ex-Minister, Mr. Childers, confirmed the fact, and an Honourable Member held in his hand a signal that had just arrived. Mr. Punch instantly sent Mr. Johnson a peremptory signal to liquor severely.

Undoubtedly the record of the marvels of applied science kept by Punch, and the forecasts of further extension in which he indulged, come home to us more closely in connexion with inventions for use in warfare. The unrealized projects of Captain Warner have been described in the previous volume. A liquid-fire bomb or incendiary shell, and an incendiary rifle-bullet attracted attention early in 1859. But the lessons of the American War of 1861-1865 gave Punch occasion to think sometimes[Pg 140] seriously, and even with flashes of remarkable insight, on the possibilities of future warfare. His old distrust of armoured ships as "ferreous freaks" was not entirely dispelled by the triumph of the monitor; he gives us a picture of a new iron-clad mistaken for a Noah's Ark, and speaks of the new types as flat-irons. He admits that the action between the Merrimac and the Monitor conclusively proves that one iron-clad ship is a match for several wooden ships carrying more and heavier guns; but if there are to be no ships of war but iron ships, and iron ships are mutually shot-proof, he is impelled to the further conclusion that naval war in the future may end in an inconclusive stalemate:—

Ships being rendered practically invulnerable, any two vessels of war belonging to hostile nations will, hereafter, meeting on the high seas, each find itself unable to injure the other and therefore be obliged to part in peace, the result of their collision having been as nearly as possible the opposite to that of the conflict between the Kilkenny Cats.

From such a prospect Punch professes to derive hope; but there is more sagacity in the "Farewell to the Fleet" which followed three weeks later, a valediction which in its last stanza crudely anticipates the pre-and post-war warnings of Admiral Sir Percy Scott:—

Now farewell, my trim three-decker,

Sails and spars and all farewell;

Iron's proved of wood a wrecker,

Where 'twill steer us who can tell?

In glorious Nelson's days, d'ye mind them,

Our tars were sailors every inch:

Stout hearts, with pigtails stout behind them,

And ne'er a man to skulk or flinch.

But now—my dear eyes! British sailors

Half soldiers and half stokers are;

And if we manned the fleet with tailors,

'Twould in a month be fit for war.

[Pg 141]

Bomb-proof, hull-sunk, iron-roofed, we steam on,

Nor ball nor boarder fear we now;

And when our foe we run abeam on,

He sinks at once beneath our prow.

Them Yankee swabs, from shot a-shrinking:

Fight under water, so they tells;

Dear eyes! our Navy soon, I'm thinking,

Will be a fleet of diving bells.

Sailors in suits of armour


The Navy of the Future

But by far the best illustration of the way in which the course of the war caused Mr. Punch to think furiously, fantastically, but by no means foolishly, is to be found in the fantasy headed, "A Flying Island wanted":—

Will somebody please invent for us an Island of Laputa?

It would save a mint of money in plated ships, and Armstrong guns, and Shoeburyness experiments. Although we are at peace, a most expensive war is raging between gunmakers and shipbuilders, and so far as one can learn, there seem but little hopes of stopping[Pg 142] it. First the guns will gain the day, and then the ships will be built stronger until they are ball-proof, then bigger guns will come, and then still stronger ships; and so the battle will go on, and victories alternately be won by either side, and the Queen's powder be burnt at a most tremendous rate, so long as Mr. Bull agrees to stand the shot.

If the Invention War goes on much longer than it has done, we quite expect to hear of the construction of a cannon that shall throw a ball as big as the Ball upon St. Paul's, and of a mortar that shall pitch a shell as large round as the dome. Indeed, we fancy that in course of time conical shot will equal the Big Pyramid of Egypt, and that guns will be invented of sufficient power to throw such shot across from Brighton to Boulogne.

Now, if somebody would just invent a Flying Island, and present us with the patent, this costly fight between artillerists and shield-makers would probably soon cease. There would be no need then of our Army and our Navy, our big guns and our block ships, our field pieces and forts. Whenever any nation dared to pick a quarrel with us, all that we should have to do would be to let our Flying Island drop upon their heads, and squash their fleets and forces flat at one fell swoop.

The development of long-range artillery has fulfilled Punch's fancy. And we have become a flying island; but, unfortunately, the power of swooping from the skies is shared by other countries. As for ascents into the upper air, it was in the same year (1862) that the long unbroken record in altitude was made by Coxwell and Glaisher in the old-fashioned balloon. There is a reference to the Aeronautical Exhibition held at the Crystal Palace in 1868; but the disaster which befell the Belgian, de Groof, in July, 1874, while attempting to descend from a balloon in a newly invented parachute, elicited a decidedly obscurantist comment:—

(Killed in attempting to Fly, July 9, 1874)

He who provides for all beneath the sky,

Made men to walk, as He made birds to fly;

Then let man stick to earth, and have the sense

Not to fly in the face of Providence!

The Coming of the Typewriter

Cigarettes had come in with the Crimean War. In 1858 Punch suggested an improved passport with a photograph. To[Pg 143] the same year belong the introduction of the word "dipsomaniac," spirit-drawing (a forerunner of spirit-photographs), Punch's first mention of Schweppe's soda water and of synthetic substitutes for food, and his prediction of the formation of a Camel Corps. Aerated bread, and the magnetic hair brush—supposed to restore the pigment to grey hair by drawing out the iron in the blood—were among the novelties of 1860; hair-brushing by machinery was introduced in 1864, and the sewing machine makes its debut in Punch in 1866. An even more epoch-making invention, which ranks among the most momentous products of the age in its far-reaching results on commerce, journalism, literature and the whole social system, was the type-writer, exhibited in London in 1867:—


It is surprising what discoveries are made in the dead season. Here is one, for instance, the account of which has recently been snipped out by the scissors of many a sub-editor:—

"Writing superseded. Mr. Pratt, of Alabama, is the inventor of a typewriting machine, lately exhibited to the London Society of Arts, which is said to print a man's thoughts twice as fast as he can write them with the present process. By a sort of piano arrangement the letters are brought in contact with carbonized paper, which is moved by the same manipulation."

Every author his own printer! What a happy state of things! No more struggles to write legibly with nibless tavern-pens; no more labour in deciphering the hieroglyphs of hasty writers. Literary work will be in future merely play—on the piano. The future Locke may write his essays by a touch upon the keys.

In this inventive age there really is no saying where discovery will stop. Now that authors are to put their thoughts in print with twice the pace that they can write them, perhaps ere long they will be able to put their works in type without so much as taking the trouble to compose them. A thought-hatching easy chair may very likely be invented, by the help of which an author may sit down at his ease before his thought-printing piano, and play away ad libitum whatever may occur to him. Different cushions may be used for different kinds of composition, some stuffed with serious thoughts, fit for sermons or reviews, and others with light fancies, fit for works of fiction, poetry, or fun. By a judicious choice of cushions an author will be able to sit down to his piano, and play a novel in three volumes twice or thrice a week, besides knocking off a leader every[Pg 144] morning for a newspaper, and issuing every fortnight a bulky epic poem, or a whole encyclopædia complete within a month.

On the whole, this is not a bad though fantastic summary of the possibilities of a machine which, whatever its influence on the manufacture of novels, the multiplication of unnecessary books, and the art of letter-writing, has at least proved a wonderful time-saver and revolutionized the prospects of the "superfluous woman." In spite of its terrible ticking, it has proved a great lubricator of life; and, à propos of lubricants, we have to note the advent in the early 'seventies of synthetic butter, under its modern name:—

There are probably very few members of that generally bread-and-butter-eating community, the British Public, who have not frequently partaken, without knowing it, of the article described in the following extract from a letter of the Morning Post's Correspondent at Paris:—

"Butter, like all alimentary substances, has vastly increased in price. An enterprising merchant exhibits what he calls 'Produit nouveau, Margarine Mouriès, remplaçant le beurre pour la cuisine. Economie incontestable sur le beurre; il coûte moitié moins cher, et on en use moitié moins.' This butter is made from the fat of beef, and costs 10d. per pound."

In merry England, however, this article does not merely replace Butter for the kitchen, but also for the breakfast-parlour, where it is eaten, not under the name of Margarine, in bread-and-margarine, but that of Butter, in bread-and-butter. It is bought for Butter, and it is sold for Butter; only the buyer believes it to be what it is sold for, whereas the seller well knows that it is a product of beef-suet; and he serves his customer with the latter commodity at the price of the former. The "enterprising merchant" of Paris, who sells Margarine as a substitute for Butter, and does not sell his customers by selling it as Butter, and at Butter's value, has very likely found honesty to be the best policy. That policy might, perhaps, be adopted with advantage by an enterprising British Cheesemonger.

Beef-fat is, we fear, a euphemism for the principal ingredient in the synthesis of margarine as originally compounded, and it was a consciousness of this fact that more than anything else prompted the dishonesty of the British cheesemonger.

The list of useful novelties may be completed with postcards,[Pg 145] which date from the year 1870. Punch recognized their drawbacks, and recommended people who used them to write in cypher or in Greek characters, which was less a counsel of perfection fifty years ago than it would be to-day.

England's debt to America in the domain of invention was not confined to mechanical labour-saving appliances. The inventiveness of the American journalist repeatedly extorts the reluctant admiration of Punch from 1857 onwards. In the summer of 1858 he culls a gorgeous example of the high art of sensational reporting from a New York paper in which it was stated that six people were butchered by a man who blew his brains out, yet "at the latest date all the sufferers were in a fair way of recovery." Yet in their own way the English penny-a-liners were capable of fine work. In December of the same year Punch quotes the following from the account of an agricultural show in a daily paper:—

"Yesterday the gold medal pen of pigs was denuded of one of its finest specimens, one of those most extraordinary animals having expired from its obesity during the previous night. There were other demises from apoplexy amongst the porcine confraternity during the show."

The Press Surpasses Itself

It was in the Victorian age, again—though unknown to Punch—that the reporter of an Irish paper concluded his description of a burglary with the words, "after a fruitless search, all the money was recovered except one pair of boots." But the supremacy of the New World in this field was conclusively established in the year 1869, the annus mirabilis for ever memorable by its association with the greatest of all American advertisements. Fragments of this classic are familiar even to the present generation, but we are, thanks to Punch, able to give the original text in its entirety:—

Among those of our institutions that are especially getting Americanized is a part of our Press, professing to afford us information which it calls "reliable" and also abounding in announcements on which we may rely if their phraseology strikes us as the language of truth and honesty. Some of these notifications are formed on models, whereof a contemporary quotes an example:—

[Pg 146]

"A wonderful Medicine. The following advertisement is from a recent issue of a New York paper:—'If you want a really pure unsophisticated "family pill," buy Dr. R——'s liver-encouraging, kidney-persuading, silent perambulator—twenty-seven in a box. This pill is as mild as a pet-lamb, and as searching as a small tooth-comb. It don't go fooling about, but strictly attends to business, and is as certain as an alarm clock.'"

Puffery, resembling, if not quite equalling, that above instanced, in wit and humour, is fast gaining ground among us. America has taught us how to advertise. Thank Barnum. We have been, and are continuing to be, Americanized. We are progressing.

Lady eavesdropping


Angelina Squills (the doctor's daughter) by a judicious use of her father's stethoscope, is able to detect and enjoy the delicate tenor voice of the interesting young curate who lodges next door.

One is glad that Punch recognized the "wit and humour" of this unique document, though he says nothing of its magical choice of words. Dr. R—— was Dr. Rumbold. But whether or no he composed the advertisement I have not been able to discover—or, indeed, anything about him. Perhaps it was his swan-song; like the Old Masters, who according to Artemus Ward executed the execrable paintings exhibited at his lecture[Pg 147] as their crowning and final achievement: "they did them and then they died."

The Next Generation

Sufficient materials have already been accumulated to enable the reader to form an estimate of Punch's credentials as a prophet or "intelligent anticipator." They would not, however, be complete without the "Forecast of the Next Generation" which appeared in 1872, and which is interesting not so much from its prophecies as from its comprehensive catalogue of Victorian shortcomings, failings and abuses:—

The next generation will possess an army properly clothed.

The next generation will all be able to read and write.

The next generation will wear light clothes in summer.

The next generation will remove some of the public-statues and edifices which their predecessors have erected.

The next generation will find life supportable without so many Vestries.

The next generation will not make calls.

The next generation will ride to and fro in decent cabs.

The next generation will have other sorts of fish in daily consumption besides red herrings.

The next generation will speak French and German, and, possibly, know something of their own language and literature.

The next generation will not wear high black hats in the month of July.

The next generation will see the officers of the army walking about the streets in uniform.

The next generation will have other public places of amusement open to them on Sundays, besides public-houses.

The next generation will be better cooks.

The next generation will have no theatres with fees.

The next generation will leave the table with the ladies.

The next generation will not avoid Hotels.

The next generation will find they can get on pretty comfortably without the Lord Privy Seal, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Judge Advocate General, etc.

The next generation will not be ashamed of Leicester Square.

The next generation will be able to cross the Channel with less bodily discomfort.

The next generation will journey by railway more safely and more punctually.

The next generation will still have the National Debt, duns, dentists, domestics, humbugs, quacks, impostors, absurd fashions, adulteration, swindlers, and the Income Tax.

[10] In January, 1868, reference is made to carriages with circular holes between the compartments in order to facilitate communication.

[11] The scheme was originally proposed by a French engineer named Mathieu in the very beginning of the century, and taken up in 1833 by Thomé de Gamond, who worked at it for more than twenty years until an International Committee was formed. Operations were interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War, but resumed in earnest in 1872. M. de Gamond died in poverty in 1876.

[Pg 148]


Foul State of the Thames

Though nothing comparable to the Hausmannizing of Paris by systematized and uniform reconstruction was accomplished in London in the mid-Victorian period, great changes and improvements were introduced. Bridges were built, the river was partially purified and the Thames Embankment carried out. The state of the "ancient river, shining as he goes, mail-clad in morning to the ancient sea" of Henley's phrase, was a hideous scandal in the 'fifties. Father Thames may on occasion have appealed to the eye, but he continually affronted the nose. In 1858 the growth of London was estimated to reach 5,816,900 by 1901. Yes, says Punch, but what if the Thames is not purified? In June of that year the nuisance, aggravated by a dry summer, was painfully brought home to legislators in session at Westminster. Constant protests were raised in both Houses, and when Lord John Manners asserted that the Central Board of Works stopped the way, Punch would have liked to see Thwaites—the chairman—and his "gabbling colleagues" committed to prison until they had purged their contempt for our river.

A month later the drought and the bad drainage produced a regular panic, and on July 15 Disraeli introduced a Bill authorizing the cleansing of the Thames and giving the Board of Works power to raise a special rate (which Punch called the Stinking Fund) and a free hand in construction. The stench of the river continued to inspire a succession of poems, paragraphs and articles throughout the rest of the year, including an address to the Thames (after Tennyson), and beginning,

Bake, bake, bake,

O Thames, on thy way to the sea!

And I would that thy stink could poison

A Bishop, Peer or M.P.

[Pg 149]

The subsequent discontinuance of these tirades is a tolerably safe indication that the nuisance was being seriously grappled with. Eight years later, in the autumn of 1866, Father Thames, though still a disreputable figure, is allowed by Punch to use the tu quoque argument against a Parliamentary critic at a time when electoral corruption was calling loudly for reform.



Hon. Member (on Terrace of Parliament Palace): "O, you horrid, dirty old river!"

Father Thames: "Don't you talk, Mister Whatsyername! Which of us has the cleaner hands, I wonder?"

The new suspension bridge in St. James's Park is attacked in 1857 for its ugliness. "We can't make a monument, and now it seems we can't make a bridge." The new erection is[Pg 150] described as a grotesque failure, but at least the ornamental water had been purified. Punch was more hopeful of the new Blackfriars Bridge, built by Cubitt, when he attended the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone in July, 1865, and when it was opened in November, 1869—just a hundred years after the opening of Mylne's bridge—he celebrated the event in an imaginary dialogue between the Queen, Mr. Cubitt and Dr. Johnson. The introduction of Johnson was thoroughly appropriate, for the doctor had attacked Mylne's bridge, or the "Pitt Bridge," as it was originally called, as contravening sound principles of engineering, and events proved that he was right. Over the new Westminster Bridge, begun in May, 1854, and opened at 4 a.m. on the morning of May 24, 1862—the day and hour on which Queen Victoria was born—Punch abandoned his pessimism, pronounced Page's design beautiful, and scouted the suggestion of a fussy M.P. who wished to have palisades erected to prevent would-be suicides from jumping over. It was this bridge to which another M.P., Sir W. Fraser, was anxious that the name Sebastopol should be attached.

London Statues

Statues are a subject of mixed comment, mostly unflattering. But a good point was scored in 1858 at the expense of Tom Duncombe, the eccentric Radical M.P. and man of fashion, who was incensed at the erection of a statue to Jenner in Trafalgar Square, and sneered in the House at the "Berkeley cow-pox-doctor":—

Mr. Punch cannot conceive what the veteran dandy Tom was thinking about. Could he be aware that the discovery of vaccination, which has saved myriads on myriads of lives, and which Parliament rewarded, in 1802 and 1807, with grants of £10,000 and £20,000, has the still higher merit of preserving a face from ravages very inimical to lady-killing?

The Guards' Memorial, unveiled in February, 1861, is only faintly praised:—

It is no worse and perhaps it is a trifle better than the many statuesque caricatures that, in the name of Art, are supposed to adorn our much-abused London. The truth is, that the English[Pg 151] sculptors have already displayed such a cruel affection for the Metropolis, that it has been quite a spoiled child with them.

When a fine memorial was made, we were not able to keep it; and Punch greatly regrets in 1873 that Foley's statue of Outram, temporarily erected in Waterloo Place before its removal to India, was not allowed to remain there, as it was "the finest statue, the only fine statue ever erected in London." Punch, however, had forgotten that ten years earlier he had applied the epithet "fine" to Joseph Durham's statue of the Prince Consort in the Royal Horticultural Society's garden.

But of all London statues the most unfortunate and the most ignominiously treated was that of George I in Leicester Square. The Square throughout the 'sixties was a standing eyesore; an unkempt wilderness, where garbage of every kind was shot. The dilapidated condition of the statue in 1865 harmonized with its dingy surroundings and prompted a parody of Cowper:—

I am Monarch of all I survey,

My right leg is minus a foot,

My left has been taken away,

And another they haven't yet put.

In the "Lay of Leicester Square" Punch, after a survey of the great days of Leicester House, where "Prince Fred 'gainst Bubb Dodington once held the stakes," describes its lamentable condition at the moment he wrote:—

In dirt and neglect Soho's Slums I outvie

Than my seediest foreigner seedier am I.

Things had come to such a pass that "well bred spectres" no longer could haunt Leicester Square:—

I, Leicester Square garden, so called from the days

When my beds were made, shrubs pruned, and grass duly mown,

In my dirt and disorder maintain the old ways—

While my leg-less lead King, from his war-horse o'erthrown,

Proclaims in his downfall that highest of laws,

"Vested rights are still rights, whate'er nuisance they cause."

[Pg 152]

Later on in the year there is a cartoon aimed at Ayrton, the unpopular Chief Commissioner of Works in which "Ayrton the (B)Ædile" is shown pointing to the battered statue from which the figure of the rider had been removed, and saying "Ha! Now that's a style of Art I flatter myself I really do understand."

From this derelict condition Leicester Square was rescued by the enterprise and munificence of Baron Albert Grant, whose chequered career was largely redeemed by an act which gave us the Square as we know it. Under the heading, "Grant in Aid and a Check that wants Crossing," Punch gratefully records his intervention and the difficulties which delayed the execution of the scheme.

The greatest of all the improvements that belong to this period was the Thames Embankment, which had formed part of Wren's scheme for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire. Not until nearly two hundred years had elapsed was Parliamentary sanction obtained for carrying out the plan. It was vigorously opposed in the House of Lords by the Duke of Buccleuch, and Punch, on July 5, 1862, published a cartoon with the heading, "Sawney stops the way." John Bull, driving a bus labelled "Embankment," is confronted by a fully armed and kilted Scottish chieftain waving a banner inscribed, "Buccleuch and No Thoroughfare," while Punch as conductor remarks, "Drive on, John; never mind the Scotchman." John Bull drove on, and early in August, 1868, Punch celebrated (though somewhat ironically) the completion of the footway opening of the Embankment from Westminster to Essex Street. As Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who was responsible for the plans and their execution, was engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works, Punch could not resist the opportunity for ridiculing his old bête noire Sir John Thwaites, the chairman, and his colleagues, the feu de joie loosed off by a sergeant and two bombardiers R.A., and the subsequent junketings at Woolwich. The Victoria Embankment from Blackfriars to Westminster was not opened to the public till 1870, the Albert Embankment on the south side from Westminster Bridge to Vauxhall in the same year; while the Chelsea Embankment from Battersea Bridge[Pg 153] to Chelsea Bridge was finished in 1874. Taken together they constitute the greatest addition to the amenities of London made in our time, to say nothing of the reclamation of swamp and slime from the river and their conversion into what is perhaps the finest roadway in London. Cleopatra's Needle was originally presented to England by Mehemet Ali in 1819. Engineering difficulties stood in the way of its removal from Egypt for nearly sixty years. The question is discussed by Punch in 1869, but it was not till 1877 that the munificence of Sir Erasmus Wilson and the skill of John Dixon solved the problem of its transportation to its present site.

Women discussing man down inspection hole


Old Lady: "Well, I'm sure no woman with the least sense of decency would think of going down that way to it."

London Railways

Punch had no regrets when the old Hungerford Market (built in 1680, rebuilt in 1831), an unsuccessful rival to Covent Garden, was swept away in 1862 to make room for the new Charing Cross Terminus. But he was at best a lukewarm supporter of the extension of London railways, underground[Pg 154] and suburban. The progress of the excavations and the "horrible mess" in the New Road, elicited a growl at the "Underground" and the delays in the construction of the "Sewer Railway." It was suggested that Dr. Cumming had found out that the opening of the line would bring on the end of the world before the date he had fixed for that catastrophe; that garrotters had found the excavations a convenient hiding-place, and so forth. Blundering, jobbing, squabbling, and litigation are also assigned as reasons for delay. In the following year, 1863, protests against further extensions of the underground trains reach a climax, and Punch denounces the vandals who want to ravage Sloane Square and Regent Street. In particular the viaduct crossing Ludgate Hill roused his indignation, and the anti-utilitarian point of view is maintained in the illustration of the "Highly ornamental tank" with which the railway company proposed to block out the view of St. Paul's, while the issue of Stanford's Railway Map of London is made the occasion of a vehement tirade against the devastation of London: "The railway man shall not be monarch of all he surveys." Punch, we may add, admitted the decrease in railway accidents, but attributed it to the pressure of public opinion and the penalties exacted from companies for negligence in safeguarding passengers from loss of life and limb.

Eheu Fugaces!

The pulling down of historic buildings or the removal of historic landmarks invariably moved Punch to regret or indignation. He cordially approved, it is true, of the relief of the Park Lane block in 1864 by the cutting of Hamilton Place, and the removal of the narrowest and most dangerous bottle-neck in the streets of London. And he acquiesced in the removal of Charterhouse School to the country in the interests of the boys, publishing, without fully endorsing, the arguments of those who prophesied that in its new surroundings the school would come to be known as Magna Charterhouse. But in general he lamented the demolitions and destructions which accompanied the triumphal march of commerce. Even the dismantling of the Colosseum in Regent's Park in 1868 evoked a melodious lament:—

[Pg 155]

I remember, I remember,

When I was a little boy,

How I came home in December

My fond parents to annoy.

But my pretty maiden Aunty

Was kind and gave to me

A sort of show galanty

A funny thing to see.

I remember, I was taken

By my Aunt's peculiar cabby,

For to hear the rafters shaken

By the Choir in the Abbey.

Nor the service, nor Te Deum

Nor the sights of Christmas time,

Could approach the Colosseum,

Save, perhaps, the Pantomime.

I remember, I remember,

All those Ruins in the grounds,

And the classic broken pillars

(Sold for something like three pounds.)

And the statues! One of Jason

Was a noble work of art;

They were knocked down to a mason,

Who removed them in his cart.

A little less than a year later a similar note is sounded when an announcement appeared advertising the sale of the "Supper Colonnade" at Vauxhall "to be sold cheap, a remnant of the past which has witnessed many a scene of merriment with lords and ladies of high degree." The disposal of relics, even dignified relics, has often been a problem to administrators. Parliament debated in 1860 what was to be done with the Duke of Wellington's funeral car, and it was ultimately stowed away in the crypt of St. Paul's. The old "Star and Garter" at Richmond was burned down in January, 1870, and Punch was moved to a poetic valediction in the name of the old frequenters who associated it with the days of their courtship. The doom of Temple Bar was pronounced in the same year, but Punch admits that those who lamented its doom were in "a small and mouldy minority." But there are no[Pg 156] reserves in the protest uttered in 1871 against the pulling down of the City churches registered under the heading of "The Pick-axe Age":—

Go ahead, Gentlemen Governors. Pull down any secular building that seems to be in the way, and, as Sir Epicure Mammon says,

"Now and then a Church."

Temple Bar is doomed. Now Mr. Lowe wants to destroy the Church of St. Clement Danes, where Dr. Johnson used to worship. All right. St. Mary-le-Strand is an obstruction to vans and drays. Let us erase that. More room is wanted in Trafalgar Square, especially as Mr. Bruce hands it over to legislators of the rough kind; down with St. Martin. Then, though St. Margaret's has historical reminiscences, especially of Commonwealth days, and gives scale to the Abbey, there would be room for a large grass-plot for the people, with Ayrton-statues, were St. Margaret's invited to remove. The Abbey itself suggests an extinct superstition, and its architecture insults that of the Houses; do we want the Abbey? Then, what a splendid sweep for the carriages of the "self-made men of the City," civic knights, and the like, if St. Paul's Cathedral no longer blocked the road from Cheapside to Ludgate Hill! Go ahead, Gentlemen Governors. We can't do much in the way of building up fine things, but we are out-and-outers at knocking them down.

Historic Landmarks

And he returns to the charge a few months later in an ironical plea for the destruction of Wren's churches—St. Mildred's, Poultry; St. Dionis, Backchurch; St. James's, Aldgate; St. Martin's, Outwich, and St. Antholin's, Sise Lane. "Sir Christopher's Cathedral, as it is also a mausoleum, will probably be spared until some railway or tramway shall want the site." When the destruction of Northumberland House was projected in 1873 Punch, in a fit of feudal enthusiasm, deplored the vandalism and commercialism of the Philistine Board of Works, and pointed out that there was still time to save the time-honoured house of the Percys. When the demolition was carried out in the following year, and the lion was removed to Syon House, he was consoled by the reflection that it would be at least out of the reach of ignoble and mean-minded vandals. On the other hand, he had rejoiced greatly when in 1866, as the[Pg 157] result of a deputation headed by Lord Stanhope and Dean Stanley, Parliament voted a sum of £7,000 for the restoration of Westminster Chapter House. In 1873 St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell, an inn which had been a favourite resort of Johnson, Garrick and "Sylvanus Urban," was taken over by the order of St. John of Jerusalem, and Punch compares the public spirit of these Templars favourably with the zeal of the "good Templars" whom he regarded as fussy fanatics. There was no controversial acrimony, however, in his plea for the preservation of the Tabard Inn, Southwark, and the poem "For the Tabard" was written by one who had not merely read but loved his Chaucer.

Men at shooting event


Boisterous Relative: "Hullo! Gus, my hearty, why I haven't seen you for ages! How are you? Give us your hand, my——"

Gus (alarmed): "Hoy! Keep off! Keep back, stand o' one side! Don't come near me—— How d'e do. Glad 'see you, but keep off at present, will you—— I've just adjusted my sights!"

The preservation of the amenities of London and the suburbs found a strong champion in Punch. We note a change of temper in 1864 in his comment on the rowdy behaviour of[Pg 158] members of the "lower classes" who frequented St. James's Park, and the suggestion that it should be renamed "St. Giles's." In earlier days Punch had warmly resented the exclusion of working-men in fustian from this same park. But no class prejudice impairs his satisfaction in November, 1864, when Wimbledon Common was preserved for the nation and the "small bore man" by the good offices of Lord Spencer:—


There is for us, and shall be, one retreat,

If but that only one, saved stucco-free,

Wimbledon, evermore for pilgrims' feet

Kept sacred, noble Spencer, thanks to thee!

Thy generous charter gives us scope to flee

Still thither from the hubbub and the heat.

In the following year he appeals to other Commons—Wandsworth, Barnes and Streatham—to follow the lead of Wimbledon, and when in 1866 Victoria Park was threatened with the erection of the Imperial Gas Company's works, Punch wrote:—

Let Companies shape their projects to scrape

Up wealth, and dividends share,

But dim their eyes if ever they tries

To rob a poor man of fresh air.

Alexandra Palace Destroyed

When the Alexandra Palace on Muswell Hill was opened in the summer of 1873, its gardens, statues and catering were praised in a welcome to "Alexandra" after the manner of the Laureate. Two days after this welcome appeared, the new Palace was destroyed by fire, and on July 5, 1873, Punch rather cruelly published a review of a poem composed on the event by Joseph Gwyer, potato-salesman of Penge. A few of the stanzas are worth rescuing from oblivion if only for their artless simplicity:—

On Muswell Hill there lately stood,

The Alexandra Palace great and good,

Both to our own and foreign land,

[Pg 159]

It claimed from each a prestige grand.

With works of art it did abound,

Which were wont the ignorant to astound,

The sightly dome for miles was seen

Surrounded by the pastures green.

But on the 9th of June the palace caught on fire,

Each moment seemed to send the flames much higher,

Flinging around with consternation spell

Such sad results as no mortal could foretell.

The shouts of alarm at this dread afray

Many were stricken and did prostrate lay,

As if they'd been wounded by some deadly foe,

So painful was the unexpected great blow.

While some were witnessing this awful view,

Others were anxious as to what they should do,

Some it was seen appeared quite romantic,

While the poor stall-girls seemed nearly frantic.

In two short hours it was a blaze

Which took some years to build and raise

Grand Alexandra's noble Dome,

Alas! all vanished the Ninth of June.

The Pantheon, mentioned in the previous volume, though shorn of its early glories, was still a feature of London in the 'sixties, and "Jack Easel," in January, 1862, describes a visit to the Pantheon, "once dedicated to the Tragic Muse, now a temple of all the gods," combining a bazaar, an aviary and a picture gallery, chiefly frequented by ladies—"Belindas in Balmorals." The pictures were a very mixed lot, including King Alfred and the Cakes, Actæon, and the Dead Body of King Harold. But the Pantheon in its last days was chiefly remarkable for an assemblage of wondrous knick-knacks, cheap bijouterie, antique vases, antimacassars, Buhl caskets, bonbonnières, china candlesticks, cheese-cakes, daguerreotypes, decanters, Gothic go-carts, German glass, rag dolls and ratafia.


Of more robust interest is the elegy in April, 1865, on the "Transit of Tattersall's," when the old mart for selling[Pg 160] horses in Grosvenor Place at the side of St. George's Hospital, founded by "Old Tatt," was pulled down and a move made to Knightsbridge Green. "Old Tatt," originally studgroom to the Duke of Kingston, leased the premises at Hyde Park Corner from the Earl of Grosvenor in 1766, set up as a horse auctioneer, and founded his fortunes by the purchase for £2,500 of the famous racer Highflyer from Lord Bolingbroke:—

Good bye, old Corner, where so long

Turf swells have loved to band,

Since first old Tatt his broad-brimmed hat

Showed in the well-known stand.

Where, ninety years of hopes and fears,

And nine to back of that,

The sporting swell with nags to sell

Still found a Tit for Tatt.

If walls have ears, what startling tales,

Those old rooms must have heard:

What sermons they might preach, the stones

That paved that old court-yard!

By those oak-pales the first Oaks' stakes

Were put down long ago:

Germ of that Epsom growth that now

All ring-fence doth outgrow.

There the first Derby favourite

Was measured by the yard:

And there a century's Sellengers[12]

Fortunes have made or marred.

Till the world grew so fond of "books,"

So giv'n to make the same,

That the old ground too small was found,

For the Turf's "little game";

As from his Grosvenor Place old Tatt

Started to win life's race,

Young Tatt, on fortune bent, again

Takes flight from Grosvenor Place.

[Pg 161]

At Knightsbridge, lo, a fair glass roof

Stands for the dark old sheds:

We've tiles as shiny 'neath our feet,

As those upon our heads:

But still we love the haunts where first

The Turf's keen breath we drew:

And what recalls those ancient halls

We best love in the new—

The old brown fox, that from his box

Still peers with artful face,

A hint that to the sharp as well

As swift, is given the race.

We miss the verdant lawn, where paced

Crowds of green men and still:

The gravelled walk, which losers oft

More gravelled, used to fill:

And sadder loss than all—no more

The old cow crops the lawn:

Meek monitor of draughts to come

From milch-cows yet undrawn!

Good bye, old yard, and may the new

As long its honours wear;

And though they leave the Corner still,

May Tatts be on the Square!

Even so small an event as the giving up in 1865 of his business by Farrance, the confectioner's at Charing Cross, was not allowed to pass without due homage:—

Other Farrances may rise,

Quite as bilious as before,

But the old familiar pies

(Veal and Ham) will glad our eyes

Nevermore, O nevermore!

Towards new or projected buildings Punch was seldom benevolent. When it was announced that a new National Gallery was to be erected on the site spoiled by the old, he was[Pg 162] sceptical of the result, but he greeted the tardy appearance of the lions in Trafalgar Square in 1867, and welcomed the opening of the Albert Hall on March 28, 1871, as providing a building unrivalled for space, sound and light—a eulogy hardly fulfilled as far as acoustics are concerned. But it has a splendid echo, it can hold 10,000 people, and as a scene for the activities of massed brass bands there is nothing to touch it, in London at any rate. Over the Holborn Restaurant, which in 1874 replaced an institution contrived to pay a double debt to bathing and dancing, Punch waxed positively fulsome, but his praise was chiefly inspired by the cuisine; in those days good restaurants for the middle classes were few and far between.

The buildings for the International Exhibition of 1862, planned by Captain Francis Fowke, R.E., did not altogether commend themselves to Punch, who was inclined to cavil at the bad arrangements, and to compare the structure unfavourably with the Crystal Palace, but Fowke's plans had been scamped owing to lack of funds, and he was not responsible for the artistic shortcomings of the building. Punch's comments are chiefly remarkable for his prophetic observations on our choice of executive officials:—

We are certainly a wonderful people, and work, as perhaps our foreign friends will think, in a paradoxical sort of way. It was a gardener who planned our Crystal Palace for '51, and eleven years later we are indebted for the design of another Exhibition to a soldier. A barrister superintends the casting of our great bells, and we have an architect who is an authority on fortification. Well, perhaps when our coasts are invaded a bishop may be a Secretary at War, and a physician presiding at the Admiralty.

[Pg 163]

Lions in Trafalger Square

"Thank you, Sir Edwin. England at last has 'done her duty.'"

The somewhat chequered career of "Big Ben" is followed with sympathy and interest throughout this period by Punch, who claimed to have given him his name. Those who lived in London during the years when his voice was hushed, and welcomed the breaking of his war silence on Armistice Day, will read, not without emotion, the lines which appeared on November 29, 1873:—

[Pg 164]


"The great clock of the Houses of Parliament is stopped for a day or two, in order that the 'going train' may be cleaned by Messrs. Dent. During the present month its accumulated error has on no occasion exceeded a second."--Pall Mall Gazette.

Big Ben, that beats from Barry's Tower

The march of time and tide,

To Britain's Commons, and the world

Of London far and wide,

Stops—and the town that marked the hush

Of his deep voice with pain,

Is glad to hear 'tis but a halt,

To clean his "going train."

O, brave Big Ben, that keep'st true step

Thus with the tide of time,

Long may'st thou to the Commons set

Example so sublime;

That England, both of House below

And Clock above, may say,

'Tis no vain boast that to the world

She shows the time of day!

May headlong Wits, that on the seats

Under the Clock may show,

Learn by its even beat above

To tune hot brains below.

And never hold up hands unless

The voice of truth to swell;

Nor strike, except at the right hour,

And then strike strokes that tell.

Cabs v. Omnibuses

Complaints against the public vehicles of London and their drivers continue, but are hardly pitched in so strident a tone as in earlier years. Still the brigandage of competitive 'buses is severely denounced in 1858; the extent of the evil may be gauged from the drastic regulations issued in the autumn of 1860, so drastic as to excite compassion for the conductor who faithfully carried them out.

Punch's hostility to the "growler" and its bibulous and[Pg 165] rapacious driver as the first of all London nuisances remained implacable. A report was circulated at the close of 1869 that their final disappearance was imminent; it was nearly fifty years too "previous," but the wish being father to the thought, Punch indulged in a premature farewell to this "unseemly vehicle". With the advent of "clean cabs and civil drivers" he anticipated that no one would ever think of entering an omnibus, little thinking that a time would come when, with clean and swift 'buses, only the affluent would think of entering a taxi-cab.

Passenger paying cabman

Swell (to corpulent cabman): "Haw, here's sixpence—get yourself—glass—beer."

Cabby: "Thank you, sir, all the same; but I never take it. I'm a follerin' Mr. Bantin's adwice for corpulence, sir. He says, I may take two or three glasses o' good claret, or a glass or two of sherry wine, or red port, or medeiry, any sort o' sperits—"

(Swell, deeply touched, makes the sixpence half-a-crown.)

The placidity which one associates with mid-Victorian life was rudely disturbed in London by the garrotting scare in the 'sixties. Complaints of the inefficiency of the police and attacks on the Commissioner are frequent in those years. Yet street accidents were far fewer, and, on the whole, it cannot be[Pg 166] maintained that London has become safer to live in. The mention of the police reminds one that the tall hat was discarded in 1865 for the helmet, a sensible change which was at first met with undeserved ridicule. The possibility of a strike of policemen at the end of 1872 seemed to Punch so incredible that he declined to treat it seriously.

Heavily armed man


Tomkins (loq.): "Let 'em try it on again, that's all."

[12] St. Legers.

[Pg 167]


[Pg 168]
[Pg 169]



If the word "amazing" had not lost most of its significance through overwork since August, 1914, we should be inclined to apply it to the frankness with which Royalty and the Court were criticized and discussed by the Press in the 'forties and 'fifties. Punch, as we have seen, took a leading hand in the game, though he contrived to combine loyalty to the person of the Queen with the most outspoken attacks on the exercise of Court patronage and the extravagance of courtiers. But he did not stop here. The Prince Consort was mercilessly ridiculed for his Germanism, his notions of sport, his passion for tailoring, and, most serious offence of all, his alleged intervention in high politics. After ten years of anti-Albertianism, Punch dropped, to a considerable extent at any rate, the game of baiting the Prince, cordially admitted his services in connexion with the Exhibition of 1851, and for the rest of the period surveyed in our first volume granted him a comparative immunity from hostile criticism.

The change, or conversion, was not due to expediency or to a change of editorship or of the staff. It had already begun several years before the death, in 1857, of Punch's most democratic contributor, Douglas Jerrold. It was typical of a change in the enlightened middle-class opinion of which Punch was the mirror. The Monarchy had gained in popularity, and though there was no great revulsion of feeling about the Prince until after his death, he had earned respect by his active interest in education and philanthropy and the sagacity in counsel which was most freely acknowledged by those who came in closest contact with him. The charges of undue intervention and interference were effectually dealt with by Ministers at the time, though Punch failed to acknowledge his vindication, and the Life of Lord Beaconsfield shows that a much stronger case can[Pg 170] be made out against the Queen on this count when she was no longer able to rely on the advice of the Prince.

The change in Punch's conception of his rôle as regards the Court did not come in the twinkling of an eye. But from 1858 onwards he is less of the licensed Court Jester, more of the unofficial Laureate. The old Punch, who had his eye on Tsars and Kaisers (like the Skibbereen Eagle) and autocrats is not dead yet. He has a tremendous fling in the "Essence of Parliament" in July, 1858, à propos of a contemplated revision of the Prayer-book:—

Lord Stanhope, a Peer exceedingly well entitled to be heard upon any such subject, then obtained an Address for cutting out of our Prayer Books the savage and abject forms of worship which our forefathers, at certain moments of excitement, thought it well to prescribe on certain anniversaries, as Guy Fawkes Day, the Martyrdom Day, and Oak Apple Day. When one reflects that the people who composed such things adulated the dirty old coward and fool, James the First; looked on while the body of the greatest of our English kings (except Alfred)—we mean, of course, King Oliver the First, and unfortunately the Only—was dragged from its grave to the gallows; and ecstatically murmured the Nunc dimittis when the friend of Nelly Gwynn, by no means his worst friend, returned to betray the public honour of England, and debauch that of her private life; one only wonders that such ecclesiastical profanities have been tolerated so long. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of London, Oxford, and Cashel, expressed the sentiments that might be expected from enlightened gentlemen; but the offensive services found defenders in the poor old Bishop of Bangor, in the Bishop of St. Asaph, who has Mr. Punch's royal licence henceforth to sign himself A Sap, and in a brace of foolish Peers, called Marlborough and Duncannon: opposition which was the only thing wanting to show that every man of decent intellect feels alike on the subject.

Marriage of the Princess Royal

The disparaging allusion earlier in the same year to Prince Albert's Prize Pig and the attack on the bestowal of a K.C.B. on Colonel Charles Beaumont Phipps, the Prince Consort's Treasurer and Equerry to the Queen, are quite eclipsed by this explosion. But Punch was always ready to speak disrespectfully of a dictator. Constitutional monarchy he could respect and even admire, as Herbert Spencer said of the moderate proficiency of an amateur billiard-player. The new voice, the[Pg 171] voice of the unofficial Laureate, had already been heard in his "Epithalamium" on the Princess Royal in 1858, over whose engagement, when it was first announced, he had been far from enthusiastic:—

Farewell, young Royal Lady,

Ne'er may your life wax shady,

Still may your path be shiny,

All rosy—nothing spiny.

Macbeth, when sitting stately,

You were beholding lately,

A point, which I may mention,

Perhaps won your attention:

The line of Kings, descending

From Banquo, never ending;

I hail you the Queen Mother,

[Pg 172]

Young Bride, of such another.

May the first line long sit in

The royal seat of Britain,

On Prussia's throne the second,

From you to doomsday reckoned.

United in alliance,

May those two lines defiance

Bid evermore to treason,

By governing with reason.

The prophecy in the third and fourth stanzas gives one a shiver: but the word doomsday may pass in the sense of the day of doom. Simultaneously the critic appears in "A Few Queries touching a late wedding":—

Can't our penny-a-liners be loyal,

Without writing themselves down flunkeys?

Can't our crowd gape at ciphers royal,

Without such percentage of "drunkies"?

When we want a wedding cantata

For our Princess Royal's espousal,

Why for Tennyson Catnach barter,

An owl for a singing ouzel?

When English Fiddlers find fingers,

And an English composer chords,

Can't we find six English singers,

Who at least could pronounce the words?

Must we still in ruts of old stick,

All alike, both high and humble,

Our nobs the slaves of Goldstick,

Our snobs the slaves of Bumble?

Woman in horse drawn carriage


(A stoppage of a few minutes is supposed to take place.)

Dreadful Boy (on lamp post): "Oh! My eye, Bill! 'Ere's a rose bud."

[Pg 173]



In the same vein is the protest in the spring of the same year, against the journalistic flunkeyism of the report of the opening concert in St. James's Hall (described as "vast in dimensions, elegant in proportion and splendid in decoration") which was "honoured by the presence of H.R.H. the Prince Consort, a large number of our aristocracy, and a very numerous company belonging for the most part to the better classes of society"—an English revival of the term[Pg 174] optimates which Punch very properly disliked and deprecated.

The reorganization of the Government in India brought the Queen a new title, and in his congratulations we see Punch at his best:—

To thee is given another land,

Another title of renown,

Another sceptre in thy hand,

And on thy head another crown.

To India now at last appears

Hope that before she ne'er had seen.

She smiles upon thee through her tears,

And looks for aid to England's Queen.

To thee, her last of Monarchs, first

She looks for justice, and the reign

Of mercy, nor will she have nursed

A fond belief, and hoped in vain.

No more a victim and a prey,

She trusts, with reason why she should,

Like all that live beneath thy sway,

She will be governed for her good.

This unofficial competition with the Laureate, however, did not prevent Punch from applauding Tennyson's additional stanzas to the National Anthem, which some critics had impugned for their metrical laxity. A little later on, à propos of the Queen's alleged refusal to wear a crinoline in 1859, Punch in a mood of mixed loyalty and levity contributed a new version of his own:—

Long live our gracious Queen,

Who won't wear Crinoline,

Long live the Queen!

May her example spread,

Broad skirts be narrowèd,

Long trains be shortenèd,

Long live the Queen!

O storm of scorn arise,

Scatter French fooleries,

[Pg 175]

And make them pall.

Confound those hoops and things,

Frustrate those horrid springs,

And indiarubber rings,

Deuce take them all!

May dresses flaunting wide,

Fine figures cease to hide;

Let feet be seen.

Girls to good taste return,

Paris flash modes unlearn,

No more catch fire and burn,

Thanks to the Queen!

The Empress Eugénie, it should be added by way of explanation, had already fallen under the lash of Punch's satire for supporting the crinoline, and starting absurd fashions, amongst which he specially notes the "occipital bonnet"—worn at the back of the head.

Punch and the Royal Princes

The Princess Royal was already off the Queen's and Mr. Punch's hands. The birth of her son in 1859—grande et conspicuum nostro quoque tempore monstrum—is duly celebrated in some lines "On an auspicious event" in which the Duchess of Kent is saluted as a great-grandmother. But in 1859 and 1860 Punch, who liked to take himself very seriously as an instructor of youth, is mainly concerned with the education of the Royal Princes. Prince Alfred (the Duke of Edinburgh) was already a middy, and his tour in Egypt and Palestine prompted severe comments on the obsequiousness with which he was fêted in the near East. As for the Prince of Wales, the dangers of sycophancy were (according to Punch) much less than those of over-pressure. In the cartoon entitled "The Royal Road to Learning," the Prince in cap and gown is shown surrounded by a group of stout, spectacled, bald and bottle-nosed professors and dons bowing and scraping before the Royal youth. Punch protests, too, in spirited doggerel against the process which threatened to make the Prince Jack-of-all-trades and lord of none. It is at any rate a consolation to think that the Prince of Wales evaded and survived the alleged attempt to convert him into a walking encyclopædia. The Prince's visit to Canada and the United States as "Baron Renfrew" in[Pg 176] 1860 is followed with close interest and sympathy, and the frequent references in text and illustrations suggest many curious parallels with the experiences of his grandson in 1920. Punch welcomed the Prince's release from his arduous studies and was gratified with his reception; he did not acquit the American Press of sycophancy, but was obviously pleased when the New York Herald said that his "genial and unpretending" disposition had "gained him the affection of many true and worthy hearts." Perhaps the greatest compliment was paid him by an Irishman who accosted him in his railway car and said: "Come back four years from now and we'll run you for President."

[Pg 177]

Royal prince with subservient academics


But to us the most interesting comment on the visit is Punch's twice-repeated suggestion that the Prince might do a great deal worse than bring back an American bride. He made it on the Prince's departure in July in an Ode, with the apology, "If the Laureate won't do his work, Punch must," in which he says:

Transcendent charms drive even monarchs frantic,

A German Princess must he marry?

And who can say he may not carry

One of Columbia's fascinating daughters

O'er the Atlantic?

And he returns more seriously to the charge three months later:—


A Law which Nature contravenes,

A rule of Rank and State,

Forbids our Princes, Kings and Queens,

With British spouse to mate.

The safety of the Realm commands

Them Protestants to wed;

And therefore is their choice of hands

Extremely limited.

Their Cousins are our Royal race

Confined, almost, to woo,

Who, by the nature of the case

[Pg 178]

Are German Cousins too.

Now German Cousins far removed

All very well may be,

But Cousins German oft have proved

Too near the parent tree.

Near cousins o'er the German tide,

What need remains to seek,

Now steamers cross the Atlantic wide,

Almost within a week?

Of Yankee Land the Beauty pales

All Continental Fair;

Might not a bride be found for Wales,

A distant Cousin, there?

Royal Speeches Criticized

From this onward for a great many years Punch was not content with supplementing the inactivities of the Laureate, but seldom allowed any event in the Royal annals—births, deaths, engagements or weddings—to pass unchronicled in serious rhyme. The art of eulogy is difficult, and the most that can be said of these efforts is that they were generally graceful and appropriate, and that their loyalty seldom degenerated into fulsomeness. On the subject of royal speeches Punch showed good sense as well as great frankness, in connexion with the public utterances of the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his visit to Ireland in 1861:—


Royal personages, in answering loyal addresses, of course speak only that which is set down for them. If they made speeches of their own they would be continually committing themselves, unawares, to this statement and that, and unwittingly treading upon the corns of various people right and left. At least, to avoid making mistakes of this sort, they would have to take an amount of trouble in composing their replies so great that it would very much interfere with their ordinary business, and entirely spoil their pleasure. It is therefore necessary that Princes should be provided with attendants having the office to compose, and put into form, the platitudes in which they are called upon, from time to time, to acknowledge the compliments which are paid to them. But then the platitudes ought to be expressed in proper terms, such as it may become a Prince to utter; that is, in language which a decently educated person would naturally use. Now, is anybody who has been brought up in any school better than a Commercial Academy capable of delivering himself[Pg 179] in such a style as that of the subjoined slip-slop which the Prince of Wales had to read in answer to an address presented to him by the Kingstown Commissioners?—

"Gentlemen,—I most heartily thank you for the gratifying terms in which, on your own behalf and that of the inhabitants of Kingstown, you greet me on my arrival at your port, after a voyage performed with such ease and expedition in the admirable vessel considerately placed at my disposal by its enterprising proprietors."

His Royal Highness is also actually made to say:—

"During former visits to Ireland, and particularly in the course of a tour made some years ago through the country, I had considerable opportunities of witnessing the beauty of her scenery."

Some clue to the authorship of the preceding instances of haberdashers' eloquence may perhaps be found in those characteristic forms of speech, "considerable" opportunities, and "witnessing" the beauty of her scenery. These are the notorious idioms of that sort of penny-a-lining which is the least worth a penny. The advisers of the Prince of Wales should cause their own private secretaries to write the speeches which they give the Prince to make, and not employ for that purpose the undermost reporter engaged on the Court Circular. At least let the Queen's son be allowed to speak his Mother's English.

As there is a Poet Laureate, so likewise ought there to be a Royal Professor of Prose, whose office, however, shall not be merely honorary, but shall consist in plainly wording the simple ideas which Royalty is occasionally called upon to express. Mr. Punch could mention some young men who, at a sufficiently high wage, would accept the work.

Whether the hint was taken or not, the fact remains that for a good many years Royal oratory has ceased to deserve such criticism. It may not be Ciceronian; it does not inflame or transport the hearer, but at least it is free from the cheap haberdashers' eloquence which aroused Punch's wrath sixty years ago.

The visit of the Queen and Prince Consort to Ireland in August, 1861, passed off without any untoward incident, but the comments in Punch were mainly ironical, as in the cartoon, "Doth not a meeting like this make amends," in which the Queen observes, "My dear Ireland, how much better you look since my last visit. I am so glad." For the rest there is much pungent criticism directed against the assiduity of the newspaper correspondents in chronicling small beer.[Pg 180] The demonstrations were too carefully stage-managed in the operatic style: the odour of the footlights invaded Killarney; and Punch is quite furious with the snobbery of the unfortunate special correspondent who declared that "the Queen and Prince Albert repeatedly expressed their unqualified admiration of the scenery. His Royal Highness said many portions were sublime." It is by such practices, Punch truly remarks, that "the Press is lowered in repute and people think it is the work of a vulgarian to write for it."

In the year 1861 the Queen lost both her mother and her husband. The Prince Consort had outlived a great deal of his unpopularity—faithfully reflected in the pages of Punch. Yet even so late as 1858 he met with scant sympathy in the malicious imaginary conversation between the Emperor of the French, the Queen and himself at Cherbourg. The Emperor figures as the miles gloriosus, boastful of his strength; the Queen is ironically polite: Prince Albert angular and tactless. The mere suddenness and unexpectedness of his death brought a great reaction; those who had depreciated and disparaged him when living were especially vocal in their praises of the dead; but the full extent and significance of his loss to the Queen was not understood till long afterwards. Those terrible cartoons of Leech will keep coming before our eyes as we read the bland elegiac stanzas in which Punch made amends for ten years of scarifying ridicule:—

It was too soon to die.

Yet, might we count his years by triumphs won,

By wise, and bold, and Christian duties done,

It were no brief eventless history.

This was his princely thought:

With all his varied wisdom to repay

Our trust and love, which on that Bridal Day

The Daughter of the Isles for dowry brought.

For that he loved our Queen,

And for her sake, the people of her love,

Few and far distant names shall rank above

His own, where England's cherished names are seen.

[Pg 181]

Punch and the Princess of Wales

The Queen never quite recovered from her bereavement. The next twenty years of her life were spent more or less in retirement; and Punch, in his pious and quite sincere request to be allowed to "share her grief," could not be expected to foresee that in less than two years the nation would have grown restive at the Queen's continued seclusion and that he himself would have become active in expressing its discontent. In 1862 the wedding of Princess Alice received the usual meed of ceremonial verse, Punch being happily spared a glimpse into the future in store for her and her daughters; and the refusal of the Greek Crown by Prince Alfred is recognized to be judicious. Punch bore the Prince of Wales no malice for not acting on his suggestion about an American bride; and greeted Princess Alexandra of Denmark as enthusiastically if not as poetically as the Laureate himself. When the wedding procession passed down Fleet Street (the offices of the paper were then at No. 85), the Princess was greeted with an effusion of loyal sentiment and champagne. But in her beauty, grace, and popularity Punch saw a means of rescuing women of fashion from their expensive servility to French milliners, and within a fortnight of his chronicling the marriage festivities he appeals to her to set the fashions for British ladies, hitherto copied from the French, and thus "turn the tide of absurdity in costume from the abyss into which, before her seasonable arrival, it was tending to plunge them." Long dresses, "sweeping and brushing the earth," heraldic gold-dust, powder and hair dyes are especially singled out for condemnation.

The birth of the Duke of Clarence is loyally chronicled in January, 1864, though in the following number Punch could not resist the temptation of printing some verses in parody of Tupper, then at the zenith of his popularity. The birth of the present King in the summer of the following year prompted some frank but friendly comments in Punch's "Essence of Parliament." Sir George Grey moved the address of congratulation to the Queen. Then follows this characteristic passage:—

Mr. Disraeli, who we are glad to perceive had so completely recovered from his gout as to be able to attend at the splendid[Pg 182] marriage of Miss Evelina de Rothschild, and make the most tender and graceful of speeches in honour of the occasion, seconded the motion, which Mr. Punch, rousing himself for a moment into loyal enthusiasm, has the distinguished pleasure of thirding—and relapses.

The plain fact was that Punch was growing increasingly dissatisfied with the continued retirement of the "Royal Recluse." This dissatisfaction began with a "Loyal Whisper" at the time of the Prince's wedding:—

"Nay, let my people see me." Kind

Was She whom then our cheers were greeting:

Now, would that Lady bear in mind

That words like those will bear repeating.

But it soon swelled to more vocal dimensions. It was one thing to check the extravagances of "indelicate and obtrusive loyalty"; it was another to maintain an almost Oriental aloofness. The subject is returned to again and again, in prose and verse, and in two cartoons by Tenniel: notably that of "Queen Hermione" in 1865. But the candour of Punch reaches its highest level in his comments on the announcement early in 1866 of the institution of a new decoration—the Albert Medal.

The "Effete Monarchy"

Mr. Punch's loyalty has been proved too often for question. Without the slightest apology, therefore, he proceeds to say what he would have preferred to leave unsaid, for it is not the part of a true friend to be silent when he should speak. Mr. Punch has cordially approved every reasonable effort to preserve the memory of the good Prince whose loss we all deplore. Statues, in far greater number than ever was accorded to an English Worthy, have been reared in honour of the lamented Consort. Though it is now just sixty years since Nelson was laid in St. Paul's, our great sea-captain's monument is unfinished—we hear nothing at all of the national monument to our great land-captain, though it is more than thirteen years since Wellington was laid by the side of Nelson—but the most splendid and costly of memorials is rapidly rising, in the Park, in testimony of our veneration for Prince Albert. When this shall have been completed, will it not be almost time to leave that good man's fame to take care of itself? Society is at least half inclined to believe that enough has been done in this way, and it will not be well that society should begin to smile at persistent efforts to add tribute to tribute. There is really no fitness in giving the Prince's name to the medal that is to reward the noblest of sea-service.

[Pg 183]

The Prince had no kind of connexion with or special regard for sea-achievements, though the irreverent may remark that his own courage was shown when he voyaged, inasmuch as he notoriously suffered on such occasions more than anyone else on board. Anything like ridicule should not be permitted to connect itself with an honoured memory.

The Albert Medal, as we know, was not restricted to those who exhibited conspicuous gallantry in the rescue of life from shipwreck, and the remarks we have quoted may very well have contributed to its being awarded in recognition of heroic deeds on land as well. A fortnight later a passage quoted from the New York Herald impelled Punch to reaffirm his loyalty to the Monarchy:—

England is completely prepared to become Republican, but the undoubted personal popularity of the Queen will probably sustain the effete monarchy until the time arrives for transmission of the Crown. But as for an Edward the Seventh, that is out of the question.

Whereon Punch observes "are there twenty republicans in England, deducting Bedlam?" On February 6 the Queen opened Parliament in person:—

The Queen has not performed this ceremony during the last five years, and the reason for the Sovereign's seclusion would render it unbecoming for Mr. Punch to say any word upon the subject of Her reappearance, except that it greatly rejoiced the nation and himself.

This emergence was welcome, but it was not followed up and did not satisfy public opinion, as we gather from an appeal made in the following year:—

The Pall Mall Gazette, inviting Her Majesty to resume her personal sway over society, says:—

"During the first twenty years of Queen Victoria's reign the salons of London did not reek with tobacco smoke, neither did the noble, the pure, and the young stagger under red wigs, glare with rouge and pearl-powder, or leer with painted eyes."

No. Neither do the noble and the pure stagger, glare or leer now. But if the ignoble, the impure, and some of the young do these things, and can be deterred from them by royal displeasure,[Pg 184] manifested in the dignified way in which the First Lady would mark it, we should rejoice to know that the Queen intended to come forward and do an unwelcome duty. No worthier homage can be offered to the dead than a painful sacrifice for the sake of the living. The Crown has direct power over the court-class, and as for the idiots who parody their patrons, the parody, as we firmly believe, would be pursued even if great folks took to virtue and going to church. Which considerations, with the deepest respect, Mr. Punch submits to the notice of his Royal Mistress.

Many of us thought that the lavish use of paint and dye by the young was a portent of Georgian post-war days: it is something of a surprise, possibly a relief, to find it was prevalent more than fifty years ago.

From this point onwards one may notice a disposition to acquiesce in the self-imposed seclusion of the Queen, though any movement towards breaking it down is at once recognized and welcomed—even such a small thing as the publication of her Journal of our Life in the Highlands. Thus we read that its issue "on the advice of Mr. Arthur Helps is likely, if such a thing were possible, to endear her still more to the loving hearts of her people," and in a set of verses on "The Queen's Book" the Queen is applauded for her wise and womanly thought:—

What Queen like this was ever known

To take her people to her heart?

When was Queen's household-life so shown

With modest truth and artless art?

The Royal Widow has done well

Thus on her people's love to call,

Her simple wifely tale to tell

And trust her joys and griefs to all.

The writer was evidently well aware that cynics and literary critics would make fun of the book, but the defence of sincerity comes with added weight from one who was always on the look out for ineptitudes in high places.

The announcement of the betrothal of the Princess Louise to the Marquis of Lorne gave Punch a fine opportunity in the autumn of 1870 of vindicating his prescience, and simultaneously revealing Thackeray in the light of a political prophet:—

[Pg 185]

Wedding ceremony



Thackeray among the Prophets

Mr. Punch begs leave to make a distinguished bow to his excellent (if Conservative) contemporary, the Bath Chronicle. That admirable journal, the studies of whose Conductor are so evidently in a right direction that the success of the paper is a matter of course, has turned back to a somewhat remote Number of Punch, and has been amply rewarded by lighting upon an article, which has been transferred to the columns of the Bath Chronicle, with appropriate remarks, a portion of which Mr. Punch has the utmost pleasure in reproducing:—

"Twenty-one years ago, in the Number of Punch for February 3, 1849, the late Mr. Thackeray drew an imaginary picture of 'England in 1869,' in supposed extracts from the newspapers of the period. One of these, under the heading of 'Marriages of the Royal Family,' is so applicable to the circumstances of 'England in 1870' that it[Pg 186] is worth reproducing. The humourist would have been amused himself had he lived to see how nearly he hit the mark. The following is the paragraph we refer to:—

"'Marriages of the Royal Family.—Why should our Princes and Princesses be compelled always to seek in Germany for matrimonial alliances? Are the youths and maidens of England less beautiful than those of Saxe and Prussia? Are the nobles of our own country, who have been free for hundreds of years, who have shown in every clime the genius, the honour, the splendour of Britain—are these, we ask, in any way inferior to a Prince (however venerable) of Sachs-Schlippenschloppen, or a Grand Duke of Pigwitz-Gruntenstein? We would breathe no syllable of disrespect against these potentates—we recognize in them as in ourselves the same Saxon blood—but why, we ask, shall not Anglo-Saxon Princes or Princesses wed with free Anglo-Saxon nobles, themselves the descendants, if not the inheritors of kings? We have heard in the very highest quarters rumours which under these impressions give us the very sincerest delight. We have heard it stated that the august mother and father of a numerous and illustrious race, whose increase is dear to the heart of every Briton, have determined no longer to seek for German alliances for their exalted children, but to look at home for establishments for those so dear to them. More would be at present premature. We are not at liberty to mention particulars, but it is whispered that Her Royal Highness The Princess Boadicea is about to confer her royal hand upon a young nobleman who is eldest son of a noble peer who is connected by marriage with our noble and venerable Premier, with the Foreign and Colonial Secretaries, and with H.G. the Archbishop of Canterbury. The same "little bird" also whispers that His Royal Highness, Prince Hengist, has cast an eye of princely approbation upon a lovely and accomplished young lady of the highest classes, whose distinguished parents are "frae the North," whose name is known and beloved throughout the wide dominions of Britain's sway—in India, at the Admiralty, at the Home and Colonial Offices and in both Houses of Parliament.'

"The first part of the prediction is being accomplished with a literalness that should drive Zadkiel to despair. The Princess Louise, then a baby not quite a year old, is betrothed to the eldest son of a nobleman actually in office, who comes 'frae the North,' and whose name is certainly known in India, seeing that he is and has for some time been the Secretary of State for India. Moreover he is connected by marriage with the Foreign Secretary, Earl Granville, for he married a Gower, the Earl's first cousin, while as the head of the Campbells he may claim cousinship with the Earl's second wife,[Pg 187] Miss Campbell, of Islay, as well as with the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose mother was a Campbell."

Opposition to Royal Grants

When the question of the Princess's dowry and annuity came up in the House of Commons early in 1871, Parliamentary opposition to Royal grants reared its head, and Punch's summary of the debate is worth quoting:—

Mr. Gladstone, in a long speech, proposed, and Mr. Disraeli, with a gesture, seconded the proposal for granting £30,000 as dowry to Princess Louise, and £6,000 as H.R.H.'s annuity. There was loud acclamation from all parts of the House, and when Mr. Peter Taylor rose, hat in hand, to oppose the grant, the resolution had been carried. Here it may be convenient to add that, at a later stage, Mr. Taylor, rising amid groans from all sides, opposed the grant, and Sir Robert Peel expressed regret that a Princess had, by the advice of Ministers, been allowed to contract herself to the son of a Minister. Mr. Disraeli, as might be expected, treated the matter in a much more graceful way, paid a pleasant compliment to the Marquis of Lorne, and was glad that a Princess had accepted a Member of the House of Commons. Mr. Gladstone corrected Sir Robert, saying that deviation from the established rule of Royal marriage had been advised upon about eighteen months ago, and long before the engagement to the Marquis. The division was the most amusing which Mr. Punch has ever chronicled. There were, for the grant, 350; against it, 1. This unit was Mr. Fawcett, but there were really Three against the grant, namely, himself and two Tellers, Sir Charles Dilke and Mr. Peter Taylor. The Commons roared lustily, and the nation echoed the roar.

With a backing which though minute in numbers was strong in intellect, it was not to be expected that this opposition would disappear. It was again manifested over the grant to Prince Arthur in the same year, when Punch advised Sir Charles Dilke to renounce his title if he persisted in his opposition to royalties, and in 1872 Shirley Brooks gives a lively account of the debate on the proposed inquiry into the Civil List on the night of March 19, when Mr. Gladstone treated Sir Charles Dilke as Ulysses did Thersites:—

Having demolished his man, our Ulysses sat down amid astounding cheers from the Opposition as well as from his own party. Then another Aristocrat followed in the wake of the Baronet. The[Pg 188] Honourable Auberon Herbert announced his preference for a Republic. The row then set in fiercely, and Mr. Punch inclines to draw a veil over proceedings that did not greatly redound to the credit of the House of Commons. It is true that they were an index of public opinion in the matter, but Parliament is expected to be decorous, and not to allow cock-crowing as an argument. Even the Gallic Cock could not have behaved worse. The Speaker said that the scene gave him great pain. Counts were attempted, and then strangers and reporters were excluded for an hour, and then there was a division on an attempt at adjournment—negatived by 261 to 23. Mr. Fawcett opposed the motion in a spirited and sensible speech, and denounced the mixing up the question of Republicanism with "huckstering and haggling over the cost of the Queen's household." Finally, there was division on the motion itself, and the voters for it, including Tellers, were three Aristocrats, namely, Baronets Dilke and Lawson, and Mr. Herbert, son of an Earl, and they had one friend, Mr. Anderson, of Glasgow. Against these Four were, without Tellers, Two Hundred and Seventy-Six. The House roared with laughter, and soon went away. The Republican attack on the Queen was about as contemptible as that by the lad who presented the flintless and empty pistol the other day; but in the latter case as in the former, the affair was one for the police, and Constable Gladstone A1, was quite equal to the occasion.

In the same number appears the cartoon, "Another Empty Weapon," in which "Little Charley Dilke," with a large horse-pistol labelled "Motion," is seized by the scruff of the neck by Constable Gladstone A1 as a Royal State coach is passing by.

[Pg 189]



Britannia: "Is that the sort of thing you want, you little idiot?"

Dilke returned to the charge again on the marriage of Prince Alfred (the Duke of Edinburgh) in 1874. How strongly Punch felt on this point may be gathered from the statement in the Life of Sir Charles Dilke that Shirley Brooks refused to meet him on account of his Republican speeches. The subject may be dismissed for the present with the excellent, if apocryphal, anecdote in rhyme which appeared in Punch under the heading, "A Problem Solved":—

About the Queen the Bart. C. Dilke

Vents talk as acid as sour milk.

Punch wants to know if this be true

[Pg 190]

Which, told to him, he tells to you—

How a great Lady deigned to wonder

At Charley's anti-Windsor thunder

"His father was so kind and mild—

I knew this gentleman a child:

I've stroked his hair. I sometimes say

I must have stroked it the wrong way."

The Albert Hall was opened on March 28, 1871, and the occasion is seized to administer a comprehensive rebuke to those who found it easy to laugh at the Queen, the Prince Consort, King Cole (Sir Henry Cole) and the Kensington "Boilers." That there were grounds for discontent, and that it was unwise to overlook the existence of industrial unrest, militant Radicalism and Republicanism Punch freely admits in the vigorous doggerel entitled, "Looking Facts in the Face," in which he plays the part of candid friend to Queen, Lords and Commons alike. After examining the just causes for discontent at home, the activities of Bradlaugh and Odger, and the ominous warnings furnished by the Commune and the spread of the new doctrines of Karl Marx and the Internationalists, Punch continues:—

So we, who don't hold that the world

To come right must be set topsy-turvy,

Those now at the helm from it hurled,

And their place taken crassâ Minervâ,

Had better look squalls in the face,

Make snug for a douche and a drenching,

And—Queen, Lords, and Commons—embrace

The supports that will stand the most wrenching.

Were I Queen, I'd not so play my rôle,

As if bent to prove those right who flout me,

And show, while folks pay the Crown toll,

How well things can go on without me.

Were I Lord, Folly's gales I would thwart,

Not by spreading my sails, but by furling 'em:

Nor expose my prestige to be caught

[Pg 191]

In the traps of the Gun Club and Hurlingham.

Were I in the Commons, I'd strive

More than one Bill a Session to carry;

Nor abreast all my 'buses to drive,

Till all in a block have to tarry.

As Queen, Lords, or Commons, in fine,

My course by the chart were I making,

I should take just the opposite line

To that Queen, Lords, and Commons are taking.

This was the first time that Karl Marx was mentioned in Punch. As for Odger, who is alluded to in the same verses, it may be recalled that at a meeting at Leicester held in this autumn he was credited with the statement that "me and my colleagues have resolved that the Prince of Wales shall never ascend the throne."

Anti-Monarchical Sentiment

There was undoubtedly a strong wave of anti-monarchical sentiment in England in 1871. It was not confined to agitators or extremists, but found utterance in organs which represented moderate opinion. Lord Morley in his Life of Gladstone quotes from the Pall Mall Gazette of September 29, 1871, to illustrate the depth and wide range of this discontent. He might very well have quoted Punch also as documentary evidence. The Political History of England sums up the grounds of this resentment among friendly critics not unfairly: "Ten years' seclusion from social activity and public duty seemed an excessive indulgence in the luxury of sorrow." The sympathy stirred by the Queen's illness in September, 1871, marked the beginning of a reaction; the acute anxiety "aroused by the dangerous illness of the Prince of Wales in the following December, and the subsequent rejoicings on his recovery, did much to improve the relations between Crown and people"; and Punch quotes the Queen's message of thanks to the nation as the most "acceptable Christmas gift which could have been bestowed on a loyal and affectionate people." In the verses on the Thanksgiving Service in St. Paul's on February 27 he is at pains to meet the sneers of those who only saw:—

A Queen, and Prince and Princess, and their Court,

[Pg 192]

And coaches passing to St. Paul's to prayer;

To settle scores with Heaven in stately sort:—

A Show for once! and our shows are so rare.

But the defensive tone is soon dropped for one of congratulation:

Happy the Queen that can, love-guarded, go

Still, through a prayerful capital, to pray

Happy among these million hearts to know

Not one but beats in tune with hers to-day.

It was reserved, however, for later historians to detect in the renewed political activity of the Queen evidence of her distrust in the foreign policy of Gladstone. Among the signs of the times which mark the close of this period and the great Conservative revival which followed, few are more curious than the cartoon headed, "A Brummagem Lion," inspired by the visit to Birmingham of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the courtesy displayed by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain as mayor, in spite of his Radical proclivities.

[Pg 193]

Cartoon Joseph Chamberlain


The references to foreign potentates and their relations with the British Court show little abatement of Punch's old distrust and hostility. Of the French Emperor's flying visit to Osborne in 1857 we read that it was "strictly private—none but policemen were admitted." The most friendly allusion to the Empress Eugénie refers to her having ridden in an ordinary hansom cab during a visit to England incog. in 1860. For the rest she is repeatedly attacked for her extravagance in dress, for dabbling in spiritualism, and for her interference in politics and support of the Papal pretensions. "Everyone has his oracle," says Punch late in 1862.... "Didn't Numa Pompilius have his Egeria? Why, then, shouldn't Pius have his Eugenia?" In the same year she is abused for attending a bull-fight, and satirized in a cartoon representing the Emperor as Hercules and the Empress as Omphale. Punch waxes indignant at the patronage extended by the Emperor to the variety stage in 1866, and wonders whether the infection will reach our Court. But his imagination entirely failed to forecast the bestowal of decorations on the heroes of the music-hall. We have moved since then. A famous story is told of Queen Victoria in her later years sending an Equerry to inquire the name of a lively air[Pg 194] which had been played by her Court band. The Equerry returned to say that it was a popular song of the day. The Queen was dissatisfied and instructed him to find out and let her know the words. The Equerry went back, returned and proceeded to recite the classic stanza:—

Come where the booze is cheaper;

Come where the pots hold more;

Come where the boss is a bit of a Joss,

Come to the pub. next door.

There the story unfortunately ends, without the Queen's comment. But in the pages of Punch we read how in 1869, when the Constitutional régime had just been inaugurated in France under Emile Ollivier, the programme of one of the Queen's State concerts included "Heaven Preserve the Emperor, with variations," which prompts Punch to ask, "Would not this do for the French National Anthem?" In 1865 Punch devoted a cartoon to commemorate the completion of fifty years of peace between England and France, and in 1869 another on the centenary of the first Napoleon. With the catastrophe of 1870, Sedan and its sequel of exile and suffering, Punch's hostility changed to compassion, and his In memoriam verses on the Emperor, though too laboured and too frequently disfigured by inversions to attain to the dignity of poetry, form one of the best of contemporary summaries and estimates of the career and character of the dead ruler:—

Already scores of ready penmen draft

Of his life's course to power their bird's-eye view,

Through poverty and perjury and craft,

And redder stains that the blurred track imbrue.

Let whoso will count of his faults the cost,

And point a moral in his saddened end;

This is the thought in England uppermost—

He who has died among us, lived our friend.

If sinners may by suffering, too, be shriven,

What penance those lost years had to sustain!

The sting of fall and failure deeper driven

By the dull stroke of slow and sleepless pain.

[Pg 195]

The time to weigh him fairly is not now;

Nor are the true weights any France can bring:

That sprang to fix the crown upon his brow,

And her own neck beneath his feet to fling.

Heavily both have answered for their sin:

Nor did the Emperor heavier fall undo,

Than France, that backed him still while he could win,

Nor turned against him till the luck turned too.[13]

But now 'tis England, and not France that stands

Silent beside an Exile's dying bed,

Mindful of kindness received by his hands,

Sorrowing with those that sorrow for their dead.

Punch, as was made clear in the previous volume, was no lover of Prussian rule. On the eve of the war on Denmark he published a truly ferocious attack on King Wilhelm:—


Air—"The Standard Bearer."

French Emperor and Prussian King

I am a King; I reign by Right Divine,

As did my sires some hundred years before me;

Howe'er their crown was got, I came to mine,

Obey me then, O people, and adore me.

My seat I plant upon mine ancient Throne,

And order back the waves of Revolution.

My will the law, I sit supreme, alone,

My footstool is the Prussian Constitution.

Tsar Alexander's cause mine own I've made,

Regardless of the blame of any journal.

To crush the Poles I render him my aid;

Help him enforce his discipline paternal.

I lend a hand to catch the runaway,

The fugitive hand over to the slaughter;

And, on my mind, whatever you may say

[Pg 196]

Makes no more mark than what blows leave in water.

I'm called the Hangman's Cad, and I don't care

For that dishonourable appellation.

I carry Poland's garbage to the Bear,

Serene amid the loudest execration.

My mind is bent on arbitrary rule;

In policy I copy my late Brother.

If you presume to say he was a fool,

You'll very likely dare call me another.

Hostility to Prussia did not abate in the succeeding years, and in 1866 indignation is expressed at a rumour that the Queen was about to visit Germany. A general friendliness towards King Victor Emmanuel did not prevent Punch from insinuating that he had sold his birthright to the French Emperor, and from expressing the fear that Sardinia as well as Savoy would be ceded to France. The most that can be said of his treatment of the Tsar Alexander II is that it was not quite so vehemently hostile as that meted out to his father. As early as January, 1862, we read that "the Russian Empire, with its body of brass and its feet of clay, will, if it does not take care, be requiring some support some day, to keep it up, on account of the extreme 'weakness of its legs.'"

The annals of Royalty, outside England, certainly afforded little scope for admiration. But the year 1865 was enlivened by a humorous instance of misplaced monarchical ambition. The King of Abyssinia, who had detained certain British subjects as prisoners, "was said to have favoured Queen Victoria with an offer of marriage, and to have imprisoned her lieges in revenge for her non-appreciation of his dusky love."

[13] Punch notes that not a single shop was closed in Paris on the day of the Emperor's funeral.

[Pg 197]


From a variety of causes, most of which have been already discussed, reformers, humanitarians and critics of the established order generally display less resentment and acrimony throughout the mid-Victorian period. We have already hinted that the mellowing of Punch's temper may have been due in part to the death of Douglas Jerrold. But the fact remains that Punch had already begun to find less incentive to and less excuse for the saeva indignatio which animated his earlier tirades against the aristocracy, and the selfish detachment of the titled classes. The spectacle of the Cream of Society disporting themselves at Cremorne to the exclusion of the general public is satirized in 1858, but the satire is tempered by the admission that this aristocratic "jamboree" was organized for a charitable purpose and brought in substantial proceeds. An analysis of the special butts of Punch's satire reveals the interesting fact that, while not enjoying a complete immunity from criticism, the dukes are not only displaced from their unenviable pre-eminence, they almost disappear as targets for invective. We find attacks on the promotion of "well-connected politicians" à propos of Lord Clanricarde's appointment as Privy Seal in 1858; and verses in the same year on the worship of the peerage, with "John Bull loves a lord" as text, but the flunkeydom of the Press is already a far less frequent theme of scarifying comment. Punch's favourite occupation as the reviler of "Jenkins" was gone by the 'sixties, but snobbery in high places was not dead. Sir Benjamin Brodie, Sergeant-Surgeon to William IV and Queen Victoria, had been made a baronet in 1834; in 1858, when he was President of the Royal Society, there was some talk of his being made a peer, and Punch in December of that year bitterly attacked the influences and prejudices which he believed were effectual in preventing the bestowal of the honour.

[Pg 198]

Two men talking


Host: "Nice party, ain't it, Major Le Spunger? 'Igh and low, rich and poor—most people are welcome to this 'ouse! This is 'Liberty 'All,' this is! No false pride or 'umbug about me! I'm a self-made man, I am!"

The Major: "Very nice party, indeed, Mr. Shoddy! How proud your father and mother must feel! Are they here?"

Host: "Well, no! 'Ang it all, you know, one must draw the line somewhere!"

Peers and Commerce

The reign of the old nobility, however, was not merely threatened by outspoken criticism. The situation crystallized in the title of the play, New Men and Old Acres, was already a real thing; prosperous cotton-spinners were beginning to buy estates; by 1865 Punch was contrasting the new representatives of the landed interest with their feudal predecessors—very much to the disadvantage of the former—and by the 'seventies the contrast was a favourite theme of Du Maurier. Simultaneously the converse tendency of the aristocracy to go into trade is noted, but with little sympathy. Thus we find in 1863 the prospectus of the Noble Hotel-keepers' Association (Limited) headed by a list of parasitic peers, including the Duke of Dangleton, the Duke of Dawdleton, the Duke of Diddleton, the Marquis of Hardupton, the Earl of Toadington, Viscount Ortolan, the Lord Verisopht, Sir Lionel Rattlecash, Bart., and so on; and a double-page cartoon shows the scene in the coffee-room of one of the Hotels in which[Pg 199] "gents" of different types are being waited on by coronetted and bewhiskered peers. Greed rather than business capacity is indicated as the characteristic of the new recruits of commerce, and the annals of the last fifty years have furnished disastrous and even tragic examples of the results of this titled invasion of the City. Experience has shown that on the whole it is safer to gain a peerage by success in commerce than to exploit a peerage as a short cut to making money.

Party scene


"Tell me, my dear, who's that little man they all seem so dotingly fond of?"

"That, Uncle? Oh, that's Lord Alberic Lackland!"

"Well, he's not much to look at!"

"No, poor fellow! But he's awfully hard up, and Mamma always likes to have a lord at her dances, so Papa gives him ten guineas to come—that is, lends it, you know—and a guinea extra for every time my brother Bob calls him Ricky!"

Commercialism in high places offended Punch's notion of noblesse oblige. Much the same sentiment inspired his vehement protest against our selling the house in which Napoleon died at St. Helena for 180,000 francs: "We have an especial dislike to this traffic in a great man's grave. It is turning the funeral urn into a money-box with a vengeance—the vengeance of a miserly shopkeeper." On the other hand, complaints of[Pg 200] extravagance and waste, though not so strident as of late years, are freely uttered in connexion with official dinners or loyal demonstrations—for example, when the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Chester in 1869, the Mayor's subscription alone amounted to £500.

In the domain of Commerce and Economics no movement in the Victorian age was more fruitful of results than that of co-operation. But a history of the system which began with Owen, took concrete shape in the famous venture of the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844—twenty-eight working men with a capital of £38—and led to the multiplication of Workmen's Co-operative Societies all over the country, is outside the limits of this survey. The movement came from below; Punch was mainly if not entirely interested in its development as it affected the well-to-do classes by the establishment of "the Stores," and their competition with retail shops, and in the grievances of purchasers and their servants who had to carry their parcels home—grievances which reach their climax in the year 1868. In other words, he approaches the subject as an irresponsible social satirist, not as a student of economics. His pages only show the froth of the movement, not its deep underlying current. So, too, with the cult of Social Science. The periodic Congresses furnished him in the main with matter for chaff, though in 1858 he appeals to the moral engineers of the Social Science Association to devise some means of utilizing "social sewage"—swindlers, fraudulent bankers and trustees. The shortcomings of British cookery always found in Punch a candid critic, but he had no sympathy for those journalists who sought to remedy the deficiency by the publication of elaborate and expensive daily menus. Such instruction was a mockery to the poor who had not enough to eat, and did not know how to cook the little they had.

Banting and "Hydros"

An interesting treatise might be written on Victorian diseases and their remedies. The worship of pastime, exercise and athletics was still in its infancy; whatever its drawbacks, it has undoubtedly given a new lease of life to the middle-aged. Obesity, due in great measure to over-eating and lack of exercise, was the nightmare of the well-to-do, and, if proof be required[Pg 201] of the statement, one need only refer to the success of the movement initiated by Banting. Inasmuch as he was a fashionable undertaker—he was responsible for the construction of the Duke of Wellington's funeral car—there was an element of disinterestedness in his efforts to promote longevity. He was also a living example of the virtue of his method, for he reduced himself many stones in weight by the use of non-fat-producing foods. "He had a whalebone frame made to fit his once large waistcoats and coats, and wore the whole over his reduced size—removing this armour to produce a full effect."[14] His famous letter to the Press "On Corpulence" rang through the land: his name was a household word in the 'sixties, and he enriched our vocabulary with a noun and verb which are enshrined in the classic pages of the New English Dictionary, though they are practically unknown to the Georgian generation. Hustle and exercise and nerves have removed the evil against which he warred, and in an age in which excessive bulk is a rarity, the name of Banting has passed into semi-oblivion. But Punch's Almanack for 1864 is full of it and him, and for a good many years Banting was as familiar in the mouths of men as Pussyfoot is to-day.

The campaign against over-indulgence was not confined to an attack on starch, fat and sugar. In the 'fifties hydropathy had come to stay, and in the 'sixties hydropathic establishments were to be found all over the British islands and in America, though the abbreviation of "hydro" was not introduced till later. Fortunes were made—and lost—in these institutions, and they still exist, though some of the most sumptuous "hydros" have undergone curious vicissitudes and conversions. One of the best known of all was used as a girls' school during the War. But the rigour of the water-cure treatment was only enforced in the early years of the movement; proprietors gradually realized that it did not pay to run their establishments as uncomfortable hospitals, and with a laxer administration the whole system fell somewhat into discredit. The convivial Punch never smiled on it, as may be gathered from the verses[Pg 202] he printed in March, 1869, when hydropathy was still in its prime, on "Sound Port and Principles." They must not, however, be taken to represent Punch's own views, for he was no lover of guzzling. The poem is really a satire, but it is partly inspired by Punch's inveterate dislike of the teetotal fanatics.

Surgery was active, though the days of appendicitis and adenoids were still a long way off. Punch, however, was more interested in mental maladies and the pathology of the social system. The Victorian age had no monopoly of superstition and credulity, but prophets and spiritualists and diviners reaped a rich harvest in the 'fifties and 'sixties. The comet of 1857 caused a good deal of anxiety, so much so, that in December of that year an insolvent butcher gave as a reason for his failure "the loss he had sustained in June, when the comet was expected, by a large quantity of meat being spoilt." Dr. Cumming was assiduous in prophesying the end of the world, but unfortunately Punch ascertained that the doctor had renewed the lease of his house for fifty years, and the prophet's defence of his action did not mend matters:—

Mr. Punch finds in a Liverpool journal the following part of a lecture which Dr. Cumming has been delivering on Prophecy:—

"He had been, he said, taunted in the columns of Punch with having, notwithstanding his belief that the world was to come to an end in 1867, recently renewed the lease of his cottage for 50 years. The accusation, he said, although not literally, was generally true, but his answer to it was, that a belief in prophecy should not override commonsense. The doctor was frequently applauded throughout his eloquent lecture."

And by no person should he have been applauded more loudly than by Mr. Punch, if that gentleman had had the good fortune to be in the schoolroom at Claughton, where the lecture is reported to have been delivered. The last quoted sentence is so admirably frank that Mr. Punch cannot withhold his tribute of veneration. In other words, although it is all very well, in the way of business, to work the old Hebrew scrolls, which boil down into capital stock for the rather thin yet spicy soup vended by our Doctor, he has no notion of eating his own cookery. We wish we were as certain of our friend's orthography as we are of his commonsense, and would give a trifle (say the next three hundred Tupperian sonnets) to know whether, in his private ledger, he does not spell Prophets as worldly people spell the opposite of Losses.

[Pg 203]

Seance attended by fabulous creatures


Mr. Foxer (a medium): "Oh, dear! There's a spirit named Walker writing on my arm!"

"Diviners and Dupes"

The chief exploiters of credulity, however, were to be found in the ranks of spiritualists, mediums, clairvoyantes and professional somnambulists. Men of science still held aloof from this traffic with the unseen, and its terminology was crude, but the methods and results were strangely familiar. Spirit drawings, forerunners of spirit photographs, are mentioned as early as 1857. Under the heading of "Diviners and Dupes" Punch deals harshly with the advertisements of the clairvoyantes and diviners, and once more returns to his familiar complaint against the harrying of humble fortune-tellers while fashionable impostors escaped:—

The gipsies are hardly dealt with in being convicted as rogues and vagabonds for telling fortunes by the cards or the palm of the hand, whilst practitioners in Clairvoyance get their hands crossed with silver, or with postage-stamps, with perfect impunity. There is clearly one law for the Romany, and another for Somnambulists.

David Dunglas Home, born near Edinburgh, of Scottish parents, and descended on his mother's side from a family[Pg 204] supposed to be gifted with second sight, returned in 1856 from America where he had spent his youth and early manhood, and in 1860, when he was at the zenith of his fame, elicited a scoffing tribute from Punch under the heading, "Home, Great Home." The first stanza of this poem, which is accompanied by a picture representing a spirit hand placing a wreath on the head of a lady with a goose's head, refers to Home's famous feats of "levitation" or rising in the air as if impelled by some unknown force. Punch was stubbornly sceptical of the whole business. But if any medium ever deserved the title of "great" it was Home. Did he not inspire Browning to write his famous "Sludge, the Medium"—though Mrs. Browning is said to have been a believer? Anyhow, the list of his converts is too remarkable to justify Punch's contemptuous disparagement. It included Dr. Robert Chambers, Dr. Lockhart Robertson, the editor of the Journal of Mental Science, John Elliotson, a distinguished physiologist, S. C. Hall, the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, F.R.S., the Earl of Dunraven, and the late Sir William Crookes, F.R.S. Home was received into the Church of Rome and had an audience of the Pope in 1856, and eight years later was expelled from Rome as a sorcerer—a tremendous testimony to his powers. He married twice into the Russian noblesse, his first wife being a god-daughter of the Tsar Nicholas, and he gave repeated séances before his son Alexander II. The infatuation of the Russian Court for wonder-workers and miracle-mongers was hereditary, and of late years became tragically notorious, but Home was received with equal favour by the King of Prussia, the Emperor and Empress of the French, and the Queen of Holland. The "Spiritual Athenæum" (no connexion, need one say, with the august institution at the corner of Pall Mall) which he founded in 1866 had but a short life, and the gift of £60,000, which he received from a rich widow, was revoked as the result of a Chancery suit, the lady alleging he had obtained it by spiritual influence. But we have it on the authority of the D.N.B. that he "was not a professional medium, and scrupulously abstained from taking money for his séances," which answers Punch's sneer at his lucrative traffic with spirits. The writer of the notice concludes with the words,[Pg 205] "his history presents a curious and unsolved problem." Taken all round, he was by far the most remarkable personality in spiritualistic circles in the nineteenth century, and "imagination's widest stretch" fails to shadow forth the influence he might have exerted had he flourished sixty years later. Let us be thankful that he lived when he did, and freely own that, if an impostor, he was an impostor of genius and emphatically not a Rasputin.

Mediums and Faith-healers

Alongside of Home's manifestations, the exploits of other Victorian mediums dwindle into insignificance. But they furnished Punch with food for ridicule, as when the Nottingham spiritualists in 1863 suggested the writing of a new Bible from their direct revelations; or when an American clairvoyante published, and distributed in Great Britain, her claims to having made "the greatest discovery ever made," viz., "Mediation Writing, direct to and from the spirit world, in One Minute, without any mechanism, except Pen, Ink and Paper." Her claim to have communicated with Shakespeare gave Punch a special opportunity, for it was the year of the Tercentenary, and the Bard of Avon must have had the whole history of the squabbles which beset that luckless undertaking inflicted upon him by the American lady. More interesting to us, however, is the reference to success achieved by legitimate conjurers in imitating the manifestations of spiritualists. For in 1860 the late Mr. Maskelyne had already exposed the Davenport Brothers, and greatly surpassed any feats they had accomplished in the way of levitation and the materializing of spirit forms. But populus vult decipi: decipiatur; and the game went on. Home was much in evidence in 1870 in the provinces and in Belgravian drawing-rooms, flying "by miracle up to the ceiling, And carrying hot coals on pate or palm, no inconvenience feeling." And in the same year there appeared Dr. Newton, an American faith-healer, or "healing medium," as he was called,

... Out-Homing Home, and curing folks' diseases,

Giving blind and dumb, and deaf and halt, eyes, ears, tongues, legs as he pleases;

[Pg 206]

By laying his hands upon them, and bidding their ailments begone,

And doing it all for love, and not money—the downy one!

And for all our march of intellect, and our monarchy of mind,

There's never a Reynard the Fox, but he draws his tail of fools behind;

And there's never a quack that quacks, but he finds green geese to echo his quacking,

And never a swindler that lowers his trawl, and finds the flat fish lacking!

[Pg 207]

Cartoon representing  person being carried by another


Sinbad (as representing the British Public): "I can't be expected to attend to any of you, with this 'Interesting Topic' on my shoulders!"

As Dr. Newton professed to cure diseases partly by mesmerism, partly by the aid of "disembodied assistants," the spiritualist newspapers waxed lyrical in his praise, while Punch contented himself with pointing out the entire absence of any expert verification of his alleged miracles.

If it almost amounted to a privilege to be imposed on by so splendid and well-connected an impostor as Home, the famous Tichborne case exhibited Victorian credulity in a less favourable light. Home's influence was confined to the well-to-do, even well-educated dupes. Though he toured the provinces, lectured and read poetry with considerable acceptance, he was most in his element among the "classes" and in Belgravia. The Claimant's appeal was far wider: he was the hero of the masses and of all the great army of the half-baked. Yet the element of romance was not wanting: there is always something "arresting," as the moderns say, in the emergence of a missing heir; everything connected with the business was on a huge scale—beginning with the physique of the Claimant himself, who weighed twenty-four stone—and at its worst it was far removed from the squalors of "Brides in Bath" and other modern trials. The unshaken belief of the Dowager Lady Tichborne was a great asset; the extraordinary astuteness of Orton in veiling his colossal ignorance and turning the hints of his cross-examiners to good account extorted reluctant admiration even from those most convinced of his guilt. There never was a greater example of the saying that "one lie is the father of many." The force of circumstances was too strong for him. It is generally believed that he would have abandoned his claim long before the first trial but for the pressure of his creditors. He was a seven-years incubus on England, but[Pg 208] throughout the whole affair he showed a sort of perverted bulldog tenacity which accounted largely for his popularity.

The notices in Punch begin early in 1867 when, in an illustrated chronicle of the previous month, one of the entries reads, "Sir Roger Tichborne arrived from Australia, after many years absence, and was at once recognized as 'the rightful heir.'" The crescendo of excitement and interest went on for nearly four years before the case came into court. The first action opened on May 11, 1871, and two months later Punch bore witness to its devastating influence on social life:—


Vox Clamantis in Deserto:

"Tichborne—Orton—quid refert, O!"

Who, this side the Channel Ditch born,

Can escape the talk of Tichborne?

What would I not give in payment,

To hear no more of "the Claimant"!

Sure as Death to poor or rich born,

Comes the inevitable Tichborne,

Till with cursing, like a raiment,

One is fain to clothe "the Claimant."

To what realm, by wind or witch borne,

Can I flee from talk of Tichborne?

Was life to July from May meant,

To be given up to "the Claimant"?

Patient I've seen ache and stitch borne,

But what's that to talk of Tichborne?

O, ye Doctors, make essayment

Of some cure for chatt'ring Claimant,

Worse to kill than grass called twitch born,

The still springing talk of Tichborne.

All ask what his little game meant:

All are pro or con "the Claimant."

Unto boredom's highest niche borne,

There enshrine the name of Tichborne;

Crest: two tongues, approuvant, blamant—

Motto: "Rogerne an Arthur Claimant?"

"Poor, Persecuted Sir Roger"

When, after 102 days' hearing, the jury declined to hear any further evidence on March 5, 1872, Punch joyfully recorded[Pg 209] "the collapse of an audacious attempt at robbery, supported by one of the most cruel and dastardly slanders ever devised by rogues in council," and rejoiced in the thought that the folks who lent money in aid of the scheme (by investing in Tichborne bonds) had lost it all. The same number contains a cartoon bearing the inscription, "The Monster Slain," showing Punch saluting Sir John Coleridge, who is standing, armed with the Sword of British Justice, on the prostrate form of the Claimant disguised as a dragon. To the dragon Punch gave the name of "The Waggawock"—a "portmanteau-word" compounded of Wagga-Wagga (where the claimant had lived in Australia) and Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwock," and proceeded to dress that prophetic and mystical poem in plain English.

Manservant giving notice to leave


Jeames: "I'm afraid, me Lady, I'll require to leave you."

Lady: "Why?"

Jeames: "Well, me Lady, I can't agree with Master's suckasms against that poor, persecuted Sir Roger."

Punch's "chortling" was a trifle premature: two years had yet to elapse before England was finally rid of her "old man of the sea." In April, 1872, we find a picture representing[Pg 210] a flunkey giving notice to his mistress, and when asked for his reason saying, "Well, me Lady, I can't agree with Master's suckasms against that poor, persecuted Sir Roger." The egregious Mr. Whalley, M.P. for Peterborough, at a meeting of 3,000 supporters of the claimant held at Southampton in June, spoke vehemently in his defence. There is a statue of Dr. Watts in Southampton Park, and Punch suggested that if these admirers decided to erect one to "Sir Roger" by its side, they should sing, at its unveiling, one of Watts' Divine and Moral Songs which begins:—

O 'tis a pleasant thing for youth

To walk betimes in wisdom's way—

To fear a lie, to speak the truth

That we may trust to all they say.

The "Waggawock" was not really slain until February 28, 1874, when after a second gigantic trial lasting 188 days, the claimant was found guilty of perjury and sentenced to fourteen years' penal servitude. But his backers, mortified by the loss of the money they had invested in him, lent a ready ear to those, like Whalley, who ascribed the persecution to a Jesuit conspiracy. The agitation did not subside until Dr. Kenealy, who had led for the defence, who had been disbarred for breaches of professional etiquette, and was returned to Parliament to advocate the claimant's cause, was defeated by 433 votes to 1 on his motion to refer the conduct of the trial and the guilt or innocence of the prisoner to a Royal Commission. The Tichborne case remains for all time a rich treasure-house of materials for psychologists interested in the Esprit de la Foule; Punch in his punning days would have spelt the last word differently. It also furnishes a conspicuous and ignoble example of the insular detachment which prevailed in a period of "splendid isolation" and non-intervention. At the time when France, beaten to the dust, was agonizing in the throes of the Commune, England was preoccupied and obsessed by this gross and impudent pretender. He certainly made, and unmade, reputations at the Bar and left behind one immortal translation in the course of the cross-examination designed to test his knowledge[Pg 211] of the classics—"The Laws of God for Ever" for Laus Deo Semper—but he was a national nuisance as well as a criminal, for he not only ruined himself but discredited thousands of his countrymen whose credulity had been reinforced by greed.

Sport and Pastime

The craze for sensational or dangerous exhibitions so frequently rebuked by Punch in connexion with the performances of Blondin and his imitators cannot be regarded as a specially Victorian weakness. Over pugilism and prize-fighting, as illustrated by the historic contest between Heenan and Sayers in 1860, he could wax enthusiastic. Sayers, by the way, was alleged to have earned £85,000 in one year, a sum which compares not unfavourably with the gains of modern champions. It was an age of non-intervention, but more robust in the expression of likes and dislikes, passions and prejudices, and in some respects less humane or refined in its pleasures. Sporting wagers which resulted in the riding of horses to death were growing rarer but had not altogether died out. The noble pastime of Alpine climbing was already established in 1858, but the combined attractions of healing waters and gambling tables were a more potent attraction to wearied legislators of the gilded breed. The manners of the British traveller were not always above reproach, and Punch in his Almanack for that year, employs his ironical method to explain our unpopularity:—


Because they are always so careful to abstain from either word or action, which, in any way, might hurt the feelings of a foreigner.

Because they never institute odious comparisons between things in general abroad and those they've left at home, unless indeed it is to the disparagement of the latter.

Because they never brag about the "freedom of a British subject," in countries which are under a despotic form of government.

Because they speak so fluently in any continental language, and always are so affable when publicly accosted by a stranger, and so ready at all times to enter into conversation with those they may be travelling with.

Because they don't bawl for beer at a first-class table d'hôte, nor make wry faces at the wine as though it disagreed with them.

[Pg 212]

Because they never in the least let trifles put them out, and however much they are annoyed they do their utmost to conceal it, instead of (as has been maliciously asserted) seizing with delight on every opportunity to give their temper vent, and express themselves dissatisfied with everything that's done for them.

Because whatever provocation they may think they have received, they are so careful not to let strong language pass their lips; and so far from making extracts from the Commination Service, are never heard to use an exclamation more forcible than "Dear me!" or "Now really, how provoking!"

A few years later Punch took up the cudgels on the other side, but the rebuke here administered was undoubtedly deserved. Foreign travel, however, was restricted by the passport trouble in 1858, and Punch saw in the restriction a chance for the native hotel-keeper, if he would only reduce his charges.

It was not exactly a temperate age. Heavy meals and copious potations play an important part in Dickens's novels; and a great many men ate and drank a great deal more than was good for them. Abernethy's method of dealing with the voracious Alderman might still have been profitably followed by Victorian practitioners. But we say "men" advisedly, for there is no evidence that women gorged and guzzled, certainly none to support the fantastic account of English dinner parties given by a French writer and reproduced in 1861 by Punch with characteristic comments:—

"At a dinner party the ladies retire into another room, after having partaken very moderately of wine; and while the gentlemen empty bottles of Port, Madeira, Claret and Champagne, it is a constant habit among the ladies to empty bottles of brandy."

The National Type

The extract is taken from a book on Les Anglais, Londres et L'Angleterre, with an introduction by no less eminent an authority than M. Emile de Girardin, who vouched for its accuracy. According to the writer the English cared for nothing but roast beef, porter, and spirits. They were "averse to contemplation," had not the remotest conception of grace or feeling, their "climate, coarse food, and black drink being utterly opposed to any mental refinement. To possess taste it is necessary to possess soul, and a large soul; and the[Pg 213] English possess nothing but appetite." It was a gross libel, but the misconception was mutual, and Punch had done a great deal to foster it by his persistent representation of the "Mossoo" as a mere figure of fun. And let it never be forgotten that the notion of the English as a gross and crapulous race was in great measure due to our caricaturists, Gillray and Rowlandson, and even Hogarth. We chose the beefy, burly, sixteen-stone top-booted farmer as the national type, and we have retained it long after "John Bull" ceased to be typical of the breed physically. It became a caricature, but we have only ourselves to blame if foreign artists caricatured our own caricature. The process of the mutual discovery of France and England has moved far since the 'sixties, and has reached its climax (on the French side) in Les Silences du Colonel Bramble, by our good friend M. André Maurois—a work recently[Pg 214] described by Mr. H. A. L. Fisher as "the best psychological study of the English character ever written by a foreigner."

Two ladies driving a carriage

Brougham Drives Up—Two Ladies in Toxophilite Costume on the Box, One Driving—Pair of Top-booted Legs Sticking Out of Window.

Driving Lady (loq.): "Oh, Frank, dear, only fancy, George has got so tipsy at the Archery Meeting, that we've been obliged to put him inside, and drive home ourselves—and poor Clara has pinched her fingers dreadfully putting on the drag, coming down Blunsden Hill!"

The social history of any period may be studied in its lions, and, if the truth be told, in 1861 Du Chaillu and the Gorilla loom larger than Darwin in the pages of Punch, though the Origin of Species is described as "a book of much worth." Punch was not much interested in the theological controversy involved, though he naturally made play later on with Disraeli's famous "Apes and Angels" speech at Oxford. Disraeli was dubbed the new "Angelical Doctor," and in a famous cartoon is exhibited as dressing for an Oxford bal masqué, with a contemptuous set of verses on his bewildering versatility, his impartial hostility to Tractarians and Broad Churchmen, winding up with the warning:—

Yet scarce the best mimes can from Nature escape,

And what's simious to saintly brooks change ill;

Have a care lest thou then should be most of the ape,

When most bent on enacting the Angel.

Another and earlier poem is mainly concerned with the lively disputes that broke out between Huxley and Owen and between rival geologists. Du Chaillu's claims were hotly contested; his book was treated by some critics as a collection of traveller's tales, and his meridional exuberance of manner and diction inspired scepticism among some cautious scientists. But Punch espoused his cause—attracted, no doubt, by his championship of Livingstone—promoted the gorilla to the rank of the "Lion of the Season" in May, 1861, and in due course of time Du Chaillu's veracity was substantially confirmed by later explorers.

[Pg 215]



"The question is, Is man an ape or an angel? (A laugh.) Now, I am on the side of the angels." (Cheers.)—

Mr. Disraeli's Oxford Speech, Nov. 25, 1864.

There were lionesses as well as lions in the 'sixties, and the year 1864 was marked by a new and momentous apparition—that of the American woman of fashion. Hitherto America had sent us only social and dress reformers, but the arrival of the "elegant and fascinating American young lady" was an event which did not escape the vigilance of Punch. The War was still raging, and, as we know, he regarded the antagonists with almost equal disfavour; but towards these fair New[Pg 216] Yorkers he bore no hostility, and no fewer than three pictures, all by Leech, do justice to their charm while the legends emphasize the "pretty little Americanisms" of their speech. It is a welcome change from the consistent disparagement of their brothers and fathers from Lincoln downwards. But the great lion of 1864 was Garibaldi, who was given the freedom of the City of London and greeted everywhere with the enthusiasm which he deserved. It was this visit that gave rise to one of Palmerston's characteristic sayings. Someone suggested that they ought to find Garibaldi an English wife, and someone else observed that he had already got an Italian one, whereupon Pam cheerfully remarked, "O that doesn't matter. We'll get Gladstone to explain her away."

Mr Punch with Garibaldi


Man asking lady to dance


Englishman (to fair New Yorker): "May I have the pleasure of dancing with you?"

Darling: "I guess you may—for I calc'late that if I sit much longer here, I shall be taking root!"

Baker and Stanley

Sir Samuel Baker, who returned from his adventurous and fruitful explorations in Central Africa in October, 1865, with his heroic wife and companion of his travels, was the hero[Pg 217] of that year, and the lion of the winter of 1873, after his successful but arduous campaign against the slave-traders of the Equatorial Nile basin. In 1866, after Baker was knighted, Punch printed a poem of congratulation to the heroic pair, winding up with the lines:—

Three cheers for the Knight and the Lady so brave,

If Echo's asleep let us lustily wake her;

For none are more worthy of shout and of stave,

Than the Two who ennoble the old name of Baker.

Stanley, whose historic "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" when he found the great missionary-explorer at Ujiji, had been duly chronicled by Punch in July, 1872, found himself famous on his arrival in London later in the year. He was,[Pg 218] however, a somewhat intractable lion, and the criticisms of the geographical pundits caused him to roar in a rather formidable fashion. Still he received many gratifying proofs of recognition for his great services. He was entertained at Dunrobin Castle by the Duke of Sutherland; his book and lectures brought him in a handsome sum; and the Queen sent him a gold snuffbox set with brilliants.

The Shah-in-Shah

The last of the lions of this period was the Shah. The lion-hunting of Royalties was always offensive to Punch; it is frequently castigated throughout this period, and here it reached a pitch which moved "the Democritus of Fleet Street" to explosions of sardonic and mirthless laughter. There is true satire in the bitter lines headed, "The Shah's Impressions," in the issue of July 12, 1873:—

Yes! Shah-in-Shah in truth I must be

Or why this fuss of the Feringhee?[15]

Why all these hosts my steps that crowd,

With bows so low and cheers so loud?

If the Inglees Queen, so great among princes

All this respect for me evinces;

If the Tsarevitch, when I appear

Falls flat as the flattest of bitter beer;

If all these Wuzeers[16] and Aghas, and Khans,

For me spend their time and their tomauns[17];

Their parks and their palaces lay at my feet,

Muster for me their army and fleet

And their miles upon miles of merchant ships;

If without their ferashes[18] and their whips,

Manchester gathers and Liverpool runs,

With voices of men and thunder of guns,

To the light of the face of the Shah-in-Shah,

As unto the amber is drawn the straw;

All this is proof in more than words,

I am King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

They told me in leaving Teheran,

[Pg 219]

Danger of eating dirt I ran,—

That out of the realms of the Shah-in-Shah

I should find rulers called Light and Law.

May the graves of their mothers be defiled

That fain with such bosh had their Shah beguiled!

For the more of these Feringhee Kaffirs[19] I've known,

The whiter to me my face has grown.

I've seen the land calls the Russki lord,

And there the rulers are Stick and Sword;

To the land of the Prusski when I came,

The tongue was changed, but the rule the same:

The stars on the coats may be sown more thick,

But the Prusski's Shah-in-Shah is Stick!

And here in the land of the Inglees

They live and move but the Shah to please.

If my diamonds are as the sun in the skies,

What is the brightness of my eyes?

As in this land there is no sun,

They make a daylight instead of one.

The Queen from her palace for me retires

To Teheran binding it with wires.

Here's Sutherland Beg[20] makes his palace mine,

And all but bids skies for me to shine.

At the Crystal Palace, Effendi Grove

With the rain itself for my pleasure strove,

And out of the water brought the fire

To compass the Shah-in-Shah's desire.

In a wonderful land of wax I've been,

And houris fairer than Heaven I've seen;

To the Inglees Bank a visit I've paid

Where Reuter's gold for me is laid;

And all that have seen me, and all I have seen,

As dust in the path of the Shah hath been,

And instead of eating dirt, I see

But Kaffirs eating dirt to me.

We need not be surprised, after reading this scathing poem, to find that, when the Shah left our shores, Punch had no difficulty in enduring his bereavement with fortitude. The net result, so far as the million were concerned, was the addition of "Have you seen the Shah?" to the catchwords of the hour.

In the eternal competition between London and the provinces,[Pg 220] centralization and local autonomy, it was hardly to be expected that Punch, in his jealousy for London, should adopt a judicial or impartial attitude. In earlier years he had protested vigorously against Celtic egotism, when developed at the expense of English sobriety, and the growth of the movement in favour of the vernacular in Wales and the spread of Eisteddfods provoked him to contemptuous antagonism. In the "Essence of Parliament" for May 5, 1862, this hostility is sufficiently outspoken:—

In the course of the debate on Education, the Honourable Douglas Pennant, a Conservative, and member for Carnarvonshire, had the courage to say, that he believed the Welsh language to be the curse of Wales, being the great obstacle to improvement. Of course it is, but while a pack of sentimentalists keep up a twitter about it, and offer prizes for Welsh Odes and such-like Gorilla utterances, how is the fatal jargon to be exterminated? Here's a health to Edward the First, though we are sorry to say that historians now disbelieve that he did spiflicate highborn Hoel, soft Llewellyn, Modred, who made Plinlimmon shudder with his dissonant ballads, and the rest of the Welsh Bards—whose only merit was their having afforded T.G. [Thomas Gray] the subject for an ode that will outlast Snowdon.

The report of the Eisteddfod, held at Bala in the autumn, given in the Oswestry Observer, serves as the occasion for a truly ferocious attack on the disloyal "caterwauling" of the Chapel Bards. In particular Punch is exasperated by the fulminations of the Bard Castell, his appeal to his countrymen to "conquer or die," and his final challenge to the English tyrant:—

We scorn your ways, we can despise your terrors,

Then take your chains, pray keep them for your errors.

Punch's Pet Aversions

For a whole column Punch pours the vials of his abuse on the "humbug" and "bosh" of "Bardery." Some critics declare that Punch killed the crinoline, though he himself acknowledged his failure; he was certainly powerless to check the spread of Eisteddfodau and Pan-Celtitis, and he undoubtedly overshot the mark by the violence of his diatribes.

[Pg 221]

Pseudo-intellectualism and preciosity were a safer target, and towards the end of this period aestheticism in its earlier stages comes in for a certain amount of satirical notice.

Man talking to lady


Female Exquisite: "Quite a nice ball at Mrs. Millefleurs', wasn't it?"

Male Ditto: "Very quite. Indeed, really most quite!"

Punch's reference to abusive personalities in the Press were no doubt justified, though (as we have seen in his comments on the Welsh Bards) they laid him open to the retort, "physician, heal thyself"; but his withers were unwrung when he assailed the Saturday Review in 1858 for its frigid pedantry; or protested against the maudlin, devotional tone and mock impressiveness of fashionable clergymen; or the vulgar[Pg 222] curiosity of snobs at bathing places. The futilities of garrison town life and the dangers which young ladies ran of being entrapped by seedy captains are exposed in the same year, to which also belongs a properly indignant remonstrance with the Lord Mayor of London for advising a thief to enlist in the army, a thoroughly characteristic example of the old middle-class prejudice against soldiers. The humours and trials of studio life play an increasing part in the pictorial side of Punch; they were derived largely, no doubt, from the experiences of his own artists, but the multiplication of these references serves to show the growing social importance of the artist; and the same remark, mutatis mutandis, applies to amateur theatricals. The allusions to club life are fewer than in earlier years, and are mainly concerned with the Athenæum. It is amusing to find the ancient legend of the alleged unsociability of the Athenæum referred to as far back as 1858. The Almanack for that year contains the following: "Imaginary Conversation—Anybody speaking to anybody at the Athenæum." As for Victorian society generally, it would be hard to find a more instructive sidelight on its usages than that furnished by Punch's protest against "the Morning Call Nuisance":—

"Sir," said Dr. Johnson (or might have done so if he didn't), "the man who makes a morning call pays homage to a custom which the imbecile may bow to, but the sensible contemn." In the presence of his lady readers Mr. Punch has not the courage to confess that he applauds the dictum of the doctor. If it were not for the practice of making morning calls, ladies often would be puzzled to know what on earth to do; and Mr. Punch would not debar them from what is, after all, a harmless act of time-slaughter. But he protests with all his might against the notion which some ladies appear to entertain, that their husbands should attend them when they pay these morning visits. It is bad enough for husbands to be dragged to evening parties, but worse still is their suffering when they are cruelly compelled to make some morning call.

"What is always Going On"

Social abuses and grievances and disparities were not so flagrant as they had been twenty years before; still Punch, though no iconoclast, found plenty of scope for his reforming[Pg 223] zeal. Cremation was not pronounced a legal procedure until 1884, but Shirley Brooks was one of the original members of the English Cremation Society formed in January, 1874, as a result of Sir Henry Thompson's advocacy of a method which had been neglected in England since Sir Thomas Browne published his Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial in 1658.

In the summer of 1872 Punch printed a list headed, "What is always going on." It is a reassuring proof of the stability of England that of the twenty-six entries exactly half, quoted beneath, are as topical to-day as they were fifty years ago:—

The weather.

The Publicans.




An International Something or Other.

A Big Subscription.

An Inauguration.

A Millenary, Centenary, Anniversary or Jubilee.

A New Daily Paper.

Another English Opera Company.

The High Price of Provisions.

The Albert Memorial.

[14] See "Bant" in Passing English of the Victorian Era, by J. Redding Ware.

[15] Frank, European.

[16] Viziers, Ministers.

[17] Cash.

[18] Menials employed to apply the bastinado.

[19] Infidels, unbelievers.

[20] Chief or Lord.

[Pg 224]


In the report, printed in February, 1865, of an imaginary Meeting for Promoting the Education of the Rich, addressed by various artisans, tradesmen, an ex-footman, etc., we read that there was "a unanimous call for a vote of compliment to Mr. Punch for his indefatigable exertions to bring all classes into harmony." Self-praise is a dangerous game, and there were occasions, already noted, on which the verdict of posterity will not confirm Punch's complacency. Yet we have seen that along with his increasingly critical attitude towards the working-man he seldom failed to recognize the need of friendly personal relations between employers and employed; he regretted the fact that in many industrial areas the masters lived away from and out of touch with their men. But the local conditions of the great industries render social cleavage inevitable to a considerable extent; it is in the domain of unorganized labour, and in particular that of domestic service, that class distinctions lend themselves more freely to comment, criticism and satire. Nowhere else are master or mistress and man or woman brought so close together; the crowded life of fashionable society was once described as "friction without intimacy," and the phrase might well be applied to the relations between servants and their employers.

Mistresses and Servants

"Domestic Science" was still in its infancy—the name had not yet been coined—but Punch was deeply interested in the training of girls of all classes in household duties. Throughout the mid-Victorian period he is seldom so serious or sympathetic as when the improvement of cookery is discussed.[21] In earlier years he had been eloquent on the subject of the underpayment[Pg 225] of certain classes of servants. These complaints practically disappear from 1857 onwards, though he does not fail to rebuke wealthy mistresses for the scandalously inadequate and insanitary accommodation which was habitually provided for servants in the lordliest mansions. Even the most pampered menials had to sleep in cupboards in the basements or in the attics. But the new note of independence in woman servants is often dwelt upon, and not always in a sympathetic spirit, while in 1861 their extravagance, destructiveness and distaste for needlework form the preface to a noteworthy pronouncement on "Servant-galism versus Schooling," which comes rather as a revelation to those who regard the unpopularity of domestic service as a modern development:—

With an ear to these complaints, and an eye to the instruction of girls in humble life, not merely in the knowledge of how to read[Pg 226] and write, but in the useful arts of sewing, cookery, and housekeeping, which are no more learnt by instinct than anatomy or algebra, geography or Greek, a lady four years since established a training school at Norwich, where the object was, she tells us:

"To give the opportunity for gaining a good education, with the addition of plain sewing, mending and cutting out; and also (what every mother was to understand on putting her girl to school) such practical acquaintance with cookery and housework, under my excellent housekeeper, that every girl might know how a house should be kept, and should acquire habits which would hereafter make all the difference between a tidy and happy home or the reverse."

Group of women talking


Missis and the Young Ladies (together): "Goodness gracious, J'mima! What have you—— Where's your cr'n'lin?" (This word snappishly.)

Jemima: "Oh, 'm, please, 'm, which I understood as they was a goin' out, 'm——"

(Receives warning on the spot.)

Man and woman talking


Charming Lady (showing her house to benevolent old gentleman): "That's where the housemaid sleeps."

Benevolent Old Gentleman: "Dear me, you don't say so! Isn't it very damp? I see the water glistening on the walls."

Charming Lady: "Oh, it's not too damp for a servant!"

The Ignorant Rich

After a trial of four years, the lady is compelled to own her scheme a failure, solely because she found the girls too proud to do the housework, and the parents so absurd as to encourage their refusal. In a letter to the Norwich Mercury, she says:

"I was not prepared to find the class of parents I had to do with would apparently accept the education, but make every excuse[Pg 227] to evade the industrial work, or keep their daughters away when it was to be done, and threaten to remove them if the household duties were required of them. In corroboration of this latter fact, I may observe that twenty-three girls have been taken away from the school expressly because they would not do the housework. Whether in the present day girls are allowed to determine for themselves what they shall or shall not do, or whether their parents are too proud to recognize such industrial work as a duty belonging to their children, it is not for me to decide. I can only act on the result, and close my school. I repeat, I should willingly have continued the plan, had I not met with discouragement and opposition from the parents."

But if the normal relations between mistresses and servants were becoming steadily worse, Punch was far from acquitting employers. In October, 1864, the North London Working Classes Industrial Exhibition was opened—for the most part organized by working-men, though sundry rich philanthropists, including Miss Burdett-Coutts, had a hand in it. This prompted Punch to describe an imaginary "Industrial Exhibition of the Aristocracy," and to describe the fictitious meeting for the Education of the Rich already referred to. His report is for the most part burlesque, but Punch puts into the mouths of the speakers a good deal of shrewd satire at the expense of the folly and ignorance of rich people. "They were very ignorant, but that was the fault of their bringing up." The ex-footman, now a small-coal man, thought well of them, but they had many faults:—

They had no regard for truth, and would order a servant to deny that they were in the house when they did not wish to see a visitor. Their indolence was frightful; they would lie in bed until twelve in the day. (Sensation.) It was true, he assured the meeting; and a lady at one end of the room would ring a bell and bring a man up several flights of stairs to fetch her a book that lay on a table out of her reach. Still, they were very kind when they knew how to do any kindness, but so few of them took the trouble to know. As a practical man, he must say that he did not think that missionaries from their own class would be favourably received in the houses of the rich. He would mention another thing, showing the folly of the upper orders. On a freezing night, a delicate woman would change her warm dress for a very light one, put on shoes no thicker than ribbons instead of her comfortable boots, and with[Pg 228] nothing on her head, shoulders or arms, would go out and sit in all the draughts of a playhouse, or stand on the landing of a staircase, with the wind constantly rushing up from the street door. What could one do with creatures so hopelessly plunged in folly? (Sensation.)

Other speakers dwell on the lamentable ignorance of plumbing, mechanics and anatomy (from the point of view of the butcher). Punch might have quoted the authentic story of a very clever lady in this period who imagined that a hydraulic ram was an animal.

Another ground for legitimate complaint on which Punch frequently insisted was the attempt to introduce dogma into the sphere of domestic service, as, for example, when a "Christian gentleman" advertised for a lady housekeeper of "decided piety" to keep his house, without any salary, in return for a comfortable home. Punch did not believe in religiosity of this character any more than he could stand the snobbery which relegated servants to the gallery or the inferior seats in church. When a Bill was introduced in the summer of 1871 for abolishing the pew system, he quoted the following speeches from the debate on the second reading:—

Mr. Beresford Hope told this story:

"He remembered having many years ago to seek a church where his household could worship. He went to the individual who let the pews in a chapel of ease near his residence, and he said he wished to take a pew. The man produced a plan, and he selected the one nearest the pulpit and the reading-desk. But, unluckily, he dropped the observation that the pew was for his servants, whereupon the man said, 'You don't mean that you are taking the pew for your livery servants.' On his saying, 'Yes, I am,' he received the reply, 'Then I cannot let it you, for if livery servants were to come to the pew, all the ladies and gentlemen in the neighbouring pews would cease to attend.'" (Hear, hear, and laughter.)

Mr. Henley "did not believe that the humbler classes themselves desired to see the parish churches managed in such a way as to allow the costermonger a seat beside that of a duchess. It reminded him of the couplet which says that:

'Something the Devil delights to see

Is the pride that apes humility.'"

[Pg 229]

Lady in horse drawn carriage


Grateful Recipient: "Bless you, my lady! May we meet in Heaven!"

Haughty Donor: "Good gracious!! Drive on, Jarvis!!!"

(She had evidently read Dr. Johnson, who "didn't want to meet certain people anywhere.")

Religious Snobbery

What Punch thought of this fashionable Christianity may be learned from his truly admirable comments on the protest of a lady's maid in a provincial paper:—

Here is a letter which might very well have passed muster in the (original) Spectator. It is, however, addressed to the Editor of the Hampshire Independent, in which journal it appeared the other day under the title, "Is the Church Free?" The Church therein particularly referred to is the old parish church of Millbrook, near Southampton:—

"Sir,—I saw lately in your paper a very pleasing paragraph, asking for free and open sittings in Parish Churches. Now, as the Bishop is coming amongst us, will you kindly insert this letter, that he may know how proper it would be at Millbrook, where the rich people, who are objecting to a new church nearer to the poor, won't let a servant of any station sit in the body of the church, and we are sent upstairs, if the masters or mistresses are agreeable or not.

[Pg 230]

We don't blame Mr. Blunt, and we hope the Bishop will ask him about it, and order free pews in the new church.—I am, Sir, etc.,

"August 17, 1871.

A Lady's Maid."

Well said, Mary. Your rich people at Millbrook, some of them, apparently need to be told that at Service in Church everyone is a Servant, and all Servants are equal. Perhaps, however, those rich exclusives attend Church for the same kind of reason as that which makes them go to County Balls, if they can, or would make them if they could. If their church-going is merely an airing of their respectability, it is needless to remind them that a Church is a place where the Presence they are supposed to enter is no respecter of persons. The Bishop of Winchester will doubtless, if possible, not disappoint Mary's hope that he will order free pews, or seats, to be provided in the new Church at Millbrook. In old Millbrook Church, by Mary's account, existing accommodation would be improved on principle by another arrangement. The sittings could be divided into First, Second, and Third-Class Pews.

Class patronage was always obnoxious to Punch, but he was quite ready to admit that the difficulty of getting good servants arose from the impossibility, in most cases, of the lady of the house adapting herself to the peculiar disposition of each one of her domestics. The accompanying advertisement—a remarkably modern achievement for 1865—sounded the note of independence too boldly to suit so moderate a reformer:—

"Domestic Servant.—A Person about Twenty, with excellent character, wishes a Situation where not restricted in becoming dress nor services rendered unnecessarily menial. She would prefer a small Country Family Situation, away from the noise and hurry of Birmingham. Should her mistress prove quiet and amiable, a suitable, respectable, permanent servant would inevitably be secured. Lowest wages accepted, ten guineas."

The Young Lady's grammar, in "wishing a situation," is somewhat arbitrary, but it is enough for her purpose that the reader should know what she means. The restriction in becoming dress probably alludes to the tyranny of a mistress who objected to her china ornaments being knocked down by Betty and housemaid's extensive crinoline. "Services rendered unnecessarily menial" conveys the idea of the wearer of a crinoline being obliged to clean the doorsteps, the attitude necessitated by the nature of this operation being one of supplication so humble, and prostration so abject, as would never be adopted by any wearer of the steel hoops who "could[Pg 231] see herself as others see her." The Young Lady would perhaps like to take her quiet tea and beauty sleep in the drawing-room, about four o'clock of an afternoon, talk over family matters with her quiet and amiable mistress, or skim her a few pages of the Court Circular. We sincerely trust that the advertiser has obtained the situation she deserves.

Child holding  dog, talking to her mother.


"Mamma, don't you think Pug ought to be vaccinated?"

"What nonsense, dear! They only vaccinate human beings!"

"Why, Lady Fakeaway's had all her servants vaccinated, Mamma!"

Fashions in Christian Names

It was in the same spirit that a few years earlier a protest had been raised against the fashion of decorative names amongst the poorer classes:—

Our laundress's infants have no great charms,

Yet they have a Eugénie in arms;

While Victor Albert swings on a gate,

And munches his bacon in village state.

'Twould be hard to say there is any blame,

There is no monopoly in a name;

But it strikes one sometimes as rather absurd

[Pg 232]

That contrast between the child and the word.

And what will it be when years have flown

And these finely-named damsels are women grown?

When Evelyn Ada must polish the grates

While Edith Amelia is washing the plates.

Elegant gentleman


Nurse: "And to-day was little Cissy's birthday; and Sir John, he gave her a coral necklace; and Milady, she gave her a boo'ful blue frock; and as for Mr. James, he took more notice of her nor anybody did, and gave her a sweet kiss! Heigho! Who wouldn't be little Cissy?"

N.B. Sir John is Cissy's godpapa, and Milady her godmamma, and as for Mr. James, why——

This is Mr. James!

It has been reserved for a later generation to witness the appropriation of the homely names Joan, Betty, Susan, etc., by the social élite, while Gladys, Doris, and so forth, have become common form amongst the daughters of Labour.

The Victorian Governess

The month of April, 1872, was marked by two notable meetings of domestic servants, one at Dundee and one at Leamington, at both of which the forming of a trade union was unanimously decided on. At Dundee dux femina facti; and Punch celebrated the event in a set of verses in which the revolt of the "Leamington Flunkeys" is attributed to the alluring example of the housemaids of "Bonny Dundee." The curious will find in the Annual Register for 1872 an account of the Dundee meeting. It had a disastrous sequel in the breakdown of one of the[Pg 233] maids who had taken a prominent part in the agitation. Punch comments unchivalrously on the fuss which was made in the local Press over "the hysterics of an ex-servant maid." Modern readers will marvel at the moderation of most of the demands in regard to hours, privileges, etc., put forward at Dundee; but the fact that butlers and footmen had followed suit destroyed any sympathy that Punch might have felt for the movement. The flunkey, as depicted by Du Maurier, is more elegant and refined-looking than the Jeames of Leech, but he continues to be treated with the same implacable ridicule. "Servant-galism" is another matter, and it stands more and more for a claim to consideration which Punch, in his more serious moments, cannot wholly withstand. As against pictures of the "what next, indeed!" type, in which excessive demands are treated with a mild resentment, we have to set Punch's championship of the right to be decently housed, and his reproof of an advertiser who asked for a servant who could neither read nor write.

The gibbeting of employers who offered governesses starvation wages continues, but the entries are far less numerous than in the 'fifties. Still, the evil was not wholly removed. In 1867 Punch expressed surprise that among the many strikes lately witnessed there had not been one of governesses. As a rule, he observes, they are extremely overworked and underpaid, and have really far more cause for striking than the tailors:—

Still, there seems but little prospect of our seeing them on strike while we find them putting forward such advertisements as this:—

"A Single Lady, aged 36, with a limited income, offers £20 per annum and two hours' daily instruction to one or two Children in English and the rudiments of music and French, in return for her Board."

We have often known a Governess content with a small salary, but it is a novelty to hear of one content with less than nothing, and even offering to pay a yearly premium for her place. An income which is limited may fail to satisfy the cravings of an appetite which is not; still, unless this single lady be uncommonly voracious, she need scarcely, one would fancy, offer £20 a year, and two hours' teaching daily merely for her board.

[Pg 234]

The treatment of governesses was one of the blots on the Victorian age. They lived in what might be called No Woman's Land. Their status was semi-menial; their salaries were often much lower than those of cooks; they seldom emerged from the schoolroom; they had little encouragement to be efficient; if they were young and pretty they were frowned upon as potential adventuresses; if they were elderly and ill-favoured they were negligible and neglected. The very term "governess" carried with it a certain hint of social disparagement; and they were for the most part the easy victims of snobbery. If proof be required one has only to turn to the novels of the period, in which very few examples will be found of governesses who succeeded in overleaping the barriers of caste and entering the realms of romance. Charlotte Brontë, the pioneer of the "emancipation novel," was perhaps the first to give the governess a chance in fiction. In fact there was not much improvement in the "governess-trade" on the condition described in Jane Austen's Emma half a century earlier, when Jane Fairfax compared it to the slave-trade, "widely different certainly as to the guilt of those who carry it on; but as to the greater misery of the victims, I do not know where the difference lies." But then we must remember that class distinctions were then much more clearly drawn than they are to-day. It was not until 1870 that the gold tuft on the cap worn by noblemen at Oxford was discontinued. The dearth of army doctors, on which Punch frequently comments in 1864, was due in his opinion to the snobbery of a system which relegated the members of a noble profession to an inferior social status. It was in the same year, to his lasting credit, that Punch espoused the cause of old ballet-girls, with a view to relieving the necessities of worn-out columbines, fairies and sylphs. He was doubtful of the result of his appeal simply because of the self-protective prudery of polite society:—

I know that most rich people have far too much morality to think of doing anything for such people as poor ballet-girls, who are supposed to be descended from some of the Lost Tribes. Of course Polite Society can never be expected to take anything like an interest in persons of this sort. Still, although Polite Society[Pg 235] may not feel disposed to help to keep poor ballet-girls alive, I think Polite Society would not be altogether pleased were ballet-girls extinct.

Society and the Stage

The correspondence and controversy which grew out of Punch's intervention is too long to be treated in detail. His statements were canvassed, and the existence of theatrical funds adequate to meet the needs of the situation was pointed out. But Punch was not far out when he declared that as ballet-girls grew old their salaries decreased; it was only by hard work that they earned their living in the playhouse, and they barely escaped dying in a workhouse. The episode is creditable to the humanity of Punch. It is also interesting to the student of manners from the light which it throws on the conventional attitude of polite society towards the theatrical profession in mid-Victorian days. It was a survival of the old view expressed by the Prussian sovereign in an order referring to "singers, actors, and other rubbish." In their proper place—on the stage—they were amusing people. Socially they were outside the pale, living in a state of semi-outlawry, and to be given a wide berth by all self-respecting citizens. Punch, from the intimate connexion of so many of his staff with the drama—Douglas Jerrold, Tom Taylor and Burnand cover nearly the whole period of our survey—never subscribed to this view, though he deprecated mummer-worship as fostering the vanity which was the besetting sin of the actor's calling. He fully recognized the generosity and charity which successful players showed to their less fortunate brothers and sisters. But in the days of which we are now writing Punch did not foresee the swing of the pendulum which resulted in the invasion of the stage by amateurs and the conversion of what had been a social stigma into a social asset.

[21] The year 1859 is regarded by constitutional historians as a turning-point in our Parliamentary history. Punch mentions, amongst other things, that it was the year in which "the fashion broke out of abusing our wives for bad dinners."

[Pg 236]


"Feminism," in the modern sense, as was pointed out in the previous volume, is in English, at any rate, a twentieth century word. Yet the movement was there long before the name was coined or imported, and in the period on which we now enter a notable change reveals itself in the spirit of Punch's dream of womanhood. The change is all the more remarkable when we recall the fact that the paper was still written exclusively by men and appealed mainly to male readers. The first woman contributor with the pen—Miss Betham Edwards—did not appear until 1868. "Mrs. Punch's Letters to her Daughter," however, cannot be said to strike a new note, being for the most part a replica of Punch's own views, with a mild undercurrent of irony so carefully disguised as to be almost invisible. Mrs. Punch disavows all association with committees or causes. She was "not even a novelist"—apparently a hit at Rhoda Broughton, who had recently swum into the ken of the astonished Mrs. Grundy, and whose works are obliquely disparaged under the transparent aliases of "Unwisely but not too well," and "Cometh up as a Nettle." Mrs. Lynn Linton's tirades against the Girl of the Period had appeared in the Saturday Review earlier in the year, and Mrs. Punch follows mildly in the same path, rebuking the extravagances of fashion; monstrous chignons, false and dyed hair, the use of Madame Rachel's cosmetics, and a resort to audacious décolletage. In her advice on the choice and management of husbands Mrs. Punch is purely ironic. There is no serious effort to dislodge men from their entrenched positions as lords of creation. The furthest she goes is in a retort on the Young Man of the Period, whom she boldly pronounces an ass, whether he is of the tame cat order; or an "æsthetic" with a genius for disparaging everybody, especially his elders; or a mere conceited ass; or a clerical despot to whom woman is a[Pg 237] ministering slave. Finally she deplores the precocity of the Young Children of the Period. Indeed, there weren't any young children at all, only richly-dressed supercilious little men and women; worldly-wise little satirists and snobs.

Man and woman at table


Professor Pumper: "May I ask, Miss Blank, why you are making those little pellets?"

Miss B.: "Well, I don't know. It is a habit I have. I always make bread pills when I feel bored at dinner!"

A Change of Type

But from 1860 onwards one notes an increasing readiness to take women seriously. They are no longer merely regarded as "dear creatures," ornamental and domestic, as when the appearance of The Angel in the House inspired the comment that the title was one "which might be bestowed on a meritorious cook." Blue stockings are still the subject of much acidulated chaff, and "strong-minded" women are almost invariably represented as flat-chested, ill-dressed slatterns. But within certain[Pg 238] limits women are allowed to cultivate intellect without loss of angelical charm. The type of feminine good looks portrayed by Leech remained unchanged to the end of his life. Yet in two directions we note a change. His charming buxom girls show a tendency to revolt against the tyranny of their pert schoolboy brothers;[22] they are beginning to cultivate the faculty of retort even at the expense of learned professors. And again, in the hunting-field, the superior boldness of the hard-riding young lady is frequently glorified at the expense of the more cautious male. In this context it is worthy of record that for many years after Leech's death the bulk of the hunting pictures were contributed by the first of Punch's lady artists—Miss G. Bowers.

Lady discussing a gathering of men


Miss Hypatia Jones, Spinster of Arts (on her way to refreshment), informs Professor Parallax, F.R.S., that "young men do very well to look at, or to dance with, or even to marry, and all that kind of thing!" but that "as to enjoying any rational conversation with any man under fifty, that is completely out of the question!"

Du Maurier's Women

Fainting was still fashionable, but women were beginning to compete, mildly but increasingly, in the domain of sport and pastime. Hunting had long been their great stand-by; it afforded women the greatest opportunities for the display of nerve, skill and endurance, and they were as conspicuous by these qualities in the 'sixties as they are to-day. But the Amazon is a class apart. Archery—by reason of its opportunities for showing off a graceful figure as the arrow was "pulled on the tense string"—was still in its golden prime, and croquet so widely popular as to warrant the publication of a long poem in several instalments. Yet the code of mid-Victorian croquet, to judge by contemporary evidence, was not of a high standard. The ladies were charged with habitual cheating. It was a standing dish at garden parties, but, in a phrase of the time, seemed more closely connected with 'usbandry than 'orticulture. Lawn tennis did not arrive till later, and then only as a species of "pat-ball." But women were becoming more active and athletic. We do not speak merely of the professional gymnasts and performers on the tight-rope and the trapeze who emulated the feats of Blondin and Léotard, occasionally with tragical results; but rather of the change in physique and stature of English women. For one can hardly believe that[Pg 239] the Junonian types which Du Maurier was so fond of drawing were purely imaginary, or that the gentle giantess, married to the diminutive husband who figures in the domestic record of Mr. Tom Tit, had no prototype in fact. Leech familiarized us with the Amazon of the hunting-field, but Du Maurier introduced us to the statuesque goddesses of the drawing-room, tall and divinely fair. But the debt of English womankind to his pencil went much further than his consistent homage to their beauty and gracious demeanour. He was more concerned to illustrate the taste of their dress than the absurdities of fashion. And above all he never failed to credit them with wit and subtlety in conversation. In sheer buxom comeliness Leech's women were never surpassed, but in elegance and distinction of[Pg 240] feature and bearing the types, or perhaps we should say the type, favoured by Du Maurier raised the "social cuts" in Punch to a higher level. It was part of the general movement of the paper from its "Left Centre" position in the direction of the Right, from its aggressive championship of democratic principles towards a Liberalism tempered by an increasing disposition to criticize the working classes. Yet if Punch paid more attention to, and showed more consideration for Mayfair than in his earlier years, the follies and extravagance and arrogant exclusiveness of fashionable women seldom failed to excite his wrath. As he had regarded the decline and fall of Almack's as inevitable, he betrayed no enthusiasm over its revival in 1858.[23] The old oligarchical rule had its merits, in so far as it recognized that money alone was no passport to the revels of the aristocracy. But towards the end of the old régime the barriers had been partially broken down, as one may gather from the verses in which the re-opening of the Assembly Rooms was duly and unsympathetically recorded:—

Sing for joy, superior classes,

But, of course, in tones subdued,

Do not bellow like the masses,

Bawl not as the multitude;

But your joy should be outpoured,

For behold Almack's restored!

There shall Beauty, in exclusive

Circles, waltz again with Wealth,

Sharing exercise, conducive

More to pleasure than to health,

Whilst the sun ascends the skies,

And the common people rise.

Oh! ye Flunkeys, holloa louder,

Than the rest, for rampant mirth,

In the pride of plush and powder,

You'll attend on Rank and Birth.

How transported you must wax,

Thinking on revived Almack's!

[Pg 241]

Belgravian Manners and Maxims

The jaded belles who appeared in Hyde Park after dancing till 4 a.m. at Willis's rooms are treated with scant respect, and when Cremorne Gardens were reserved for the Aristocratic Fête organized by Lord Ingestre, a certain malicious satisfaction is expressed that the entertainment was spoilt by the rain. Punch admitted, in "The Cream at Cremorne," that some hundreds of pounds had been raised for charity, but he disapproved of the "exclusive" methods adopted.

The craze for toy-dogs was already rampant. Punch was always a lover of dogs and a good friend of animals, but he detested that form of feminine sentimentality which exalted caninity at the expense of humanity, and in 1858 turned one of Tennyson's lyrics to satiric use in the "Ballad of Poppetina":—

They came and told me where I lay,


How that my pet had run away,


With but a feather (as they say)

You might have knocked me down that day,


I almost fainted right away,


Amongst the "Belgravian maxims" published in the same year we note two which have not yet entirely lost their force: "We make our money in London, but we spend it in Paris. England gives us meat, and France sends us cooks." Nowadays we still call them "chefs" no matter what their nationality may be. As I write these lines the January sales are in full swing, and the shops of London "ring to the roar of an angel onset." It is interesting, by way of comparison, to give the results of a day's shopping by a middle-class young lady as catalogued in the winter of 1858:—


Miss Lucy Smith went out shopping the other day, and brought home with her a most tremendous bag. It was so heavy that it was as much as the page could do to bring it into the parlour to be inspected by the ladies. Upon its contents being emptied on to the[Pg 242] dining-room table, it was found to contain:—a bottle of Kiss-me-Quick, a pair of white satin shoes, a bulky packet of gloves (cleaned), a dozen rolls of cotton, a paper of pearl buttons (to mend Papa's shirts), a box of cough lozenges, a bundle of violet-powder, a kettle-holder, ten yards of blue ribbon, a pack of club cards, a pair of American overshoes, a pot of bear's grease, a pound of jujubes, a velvet necktie, three cambric pocket-handkerchiefs with "Lucy" embroidered in gay flowers in the corner, a pair of mittens, a small tin can supposed to contain acidulated drops, beads and long pins and gold daggers and imitation coins for the hair, fifteen yards of the best longcloth, a bundle of brushes and small jars of gum for potichomanie work, small curling-irons, several small pots containing perfumes and mysterious volatile essences for the toilette-table, numerous papers of different varieties of Berlin wool with coloured pattern of Brigand for the same, two ounces of shot to sew round the bottom of one's dress, seven yards of edging for night-caps, a set of doll's tea things, two packages of bird-seed for the canary, a bath bun, one Convent Call and Two Fond Hearts, with Ten Thousand a Year. Besides the above, there was concealed inside the longcloth a yellow book that looked suspiciously like a French novel; but as it was hastily snatched up by Miss Lucy, it is perfectly impossible to mention the name of it. Miss Smith was not a little pleased with the results of her day's sport, having brought down every one of the articles enumerated in the bag herself in the space of little more than four hours and a quarter.

Allowing for the exuberance of the satirist, one may still glean a good deal of information from this portentous list as to the tastes of the young person of the period. "Potichomanie" was the fashionable craze for pseudo-oriental decoration by covering the insides of glass vessels with designs on paper or sheet gelatine, so as to imitate Japanese porcelain. Ten Thousand a Year was Sam Warren's once popular novel, one of the first chronicles of the rise of the "bounder"; The Convent Call and Two Fond Hearts represent the appeal of propagandist Romanism and roseate sentimentality. The name of the French novel is withheld; it might perhaps have been one by Eugène Sue. Major Pendennis said that he had not read any other novelist for thirty years besides Paul de Kock, but we can hardly credit Miss Lucy Smith in 1858 with a choice which would be common form for her grand-daughters. Along with frequent references to the ignorance, and extravagance, the[Pg 243] frivolity and futility of girls of the upper classes and to the mercenary marriages made in Society, we find an increasing readiness to recognize and welcome the competition of women in the sphere of art. The first Exhibition of Women Artists had been held in 1857; the name of Rosa Bonheur was already so familiar in England that in the summer of 1858 Punch expressed regret that there was "no picture in the Royal Academy of Prince Albert's prize pig by Sir Edwin or Rosa." The Female School of Art and Design at South Kensington is mentioned in 1860, and in 1861 Punch makes a friendly comment on the announcement that a female sculptor, Miss Susan Durant, had "received a commission to execute one of the poetical marbles for the Mansion House, being, so far as one can recollect, the first English lady who has ever obtained a compliment of this particular kind."

Women Artists

In music, women, as singers, had long established their claim to the allegiance of the opera-going world. Their recognition as instrumentalists came later. Punch had missed the first appearance of Mlle. Neruda in 1849, but waxes enthusiastic in 1858 over the performance of Mlle. Humler, a distinguished violinist, "a female Paganini, who pleases as well as astonishes," and in the same year extols native talent in the person of Arabella Goddard, the distinguished pianist who rendered admirable service by introducing the works of Beethoven to British amateurs:—



My dear Miss Goddard;

A creature foddered

On Liszts and Thalbergs, extolled by Ella,

Perceives creation

Of new sensation

When you strike ivory, Arabella.

You've known, Miss Goddard,

What 'tis to plod hard,

[Pg 244]

The bee must toil ere he hives the mella.

Now, music gushes,

Or leaps, or rushes

To your white fingers, Miss Arabella.

The folks, Miss Goddard,

Who yawn, or nod hard

At tricksters, whack with the umbrella,

When for grand Beethoven

The way is cloven

To English hearts, by my Arabella.

My dear Miss Goddard,

Punch "plies the rod hard

On brass Impostors" (see Swift to Stella),

And for that reason,

Hath praise, in season,

For golden Artists, like Arabella.

The Female Blondin

Such tributes, however, involved no breach with tradition or abandonment of prejudice. The position of women as public performers, whether on the lyric or dramatic stage, or in the circus, was assured and acquiesced in by the general public, always excepting what may be called the Exeter Hall Group, which included real benefactors and philanthropists as well as Chadbands and Jellybys. No objection, however, could be taken to those who sought to restrain the enterprise of managers who engaged women gymnasts to perform dangerous feats. The influence and intervention of the Queen did a great deal in educating public opinion, and the part played by Punch may be gathered from his comments on the tragedy which occurred at a fête of the Order of Foresters held at Aston Park, Birmingham, in July, 1863, at a time when Blondin was drawing large crowds to the Crystal Palace by his performances on the high rope:—

The Foresters of Birmingham, copying the example of the Aristocrats of Sydenham, assembled in a great crowd, on the previous Monday, to see a woman, named Powell, perform some dangerous feats akin to those performed by a man named Blondin. The scene was Aston Park, a place inaugurated by the Queen and Prince Albert, and devoted (as was supposed in this case and in that of the Crystal Palace) to rational recreation. M. Blondin has not yet been killed,[Pg 245] but Mrs. Powell's rope broke and she died. She would have been a mother in three months. How the Aristocrats would act under similar circumstances remains to be seen. The Foresters continued their revels, danced, and finished with fireworks. The subject was brought before Parliament by Lord Malmesbury and Mr. Doulton, and the answer of Government is, that no doubt such things are very deplorable, but as the public likes such exhibitions "it is difficult" to interfere, but the Press (to which it is sometimes very convenient for great folks to appeal, and which at other times it is equally convenient to repudiate) is requested to express itself strongly on the matter. We conceive that we do so by simply stating the facts, and adding that the plea of the Government is a most unworthy one. If the very highest idea of a Government is, as Sydney Smith says, a Stout Constable, even that officer should prevent demoralizing exhibitions. Sir George Grey himself could interfere when M. Blondin proposed to carry a child—not unborn—along the Sydenham rope. Parliament would give him a prohibition Bill in three days, if he is afraid to act without one.

As Queen Victoria has been a good deal under the microscope of late, the letter which was written by her command to Mr. C. Sturge, the Mayor of Birmingham, deserves to be quoted:—

"Sir,—The Queen has commanded me to express to you the pain with which Her Majesty has read the account of a fatal accident which has occurred during a fête at Aston Park, Birmingham.

"Her Majesty cannot refrain from making known through you her personal feelings of horror that one of her subjects—a female—should have been sacrificed to the gratification of the demoralizing taste, unfortunately prevalent, for exhibitions attended with the greatest danger to the performers.

"Were any proof wanting that such exhibitions are demoralizing, I am commanded to remark that it would be at once found in the decision arrived at to continue the festivities, the hilarity, and the sports of the occasion after an event so melancholy.

"The Queen trusts that you, in common with the rest of the townspeople of Birmingham, will use your influence to prevent in future the degradation to such exhibitions of the Park which was gladly opened by Her Majesty and the beloved Prince Consort, in the hope that it would be made serviceable for the healthy exercise and rational recreation of the people."

More valuable evidence, however, of the education of the[Pg 246] large and growing clientèle represented by Punch is to be found in the recognition of woman's invasion of spheres of activity hitherto restricted to men. In 1859 the telegraph offices are mentioned as opening a new field of employment for women, and in 1860 the subject is discussed, not very graciously, under the heading, "Work for Women":—

What are we to do with our young women? is a question which is now beginning to be seriously asked by the benevolent and by Paterfamilias. Thanks to the prevalent taste for a profusion of finery, combined with a rising Income Tax,[24] girls are getting too dear, that is to say too expensive, creatures, to find husbands. Under these circumstances there has been formed a Society for the Employment of Women. It met, the other evening, at 19, Langham Place, the Earl of Shaftesbury in the Chair. Among various recommendations and suggestions for the accomplishment of its gallant and generous object, Mr. Cookson urged law-engrossing as a suitable occupation for women, described the office established by the Society, which is at present supported by several solicitors, and gave an interesting account of the work done there. Mr. Hastings also spoke of printing as peculiarly well adapted for women, and read a paper contributed by Miss Emily Faithfull on the introduction of women into the printing trades.

Punch and the "Strong-minded Woman"

Miss Faithfull set up her printing establishment for women in the same year, and the excellence of the work of her "Victoria Press" secured her appointment as printer and publisher in ordinary to the Queen. Punch cordially supported the efforts of Miss Faithfull to extend the sphere of labour, still rigorously limited, for working-women, but showed a good deal of the old leaven of sex-prejudice in his comments on her plan to assist the emigration of educated women:—

For ourselves, we would sooner send away the uneducated women, and keep those who were educated in the country. We have not one too many. If, however, by the term "educated" is meant "Strong-minded," we will give our most cordial assent and hearty co-operation to a scheme at once so useful and beneficent, and one that cannot fail to be for the benefit of all parties, as well as a great relief to England. We would advise the Great Eastern being chartered immediately for this purpose, and we do not mind giving a large[Pg 247] subscription in aid of it, providing the vessel sails at a very early period. However, we pity the poor colony that receives the intellectual cargo! The only chance of its escaping this blue-stocking visitation is, that the Strong-minded Women may quarrel amongst themselves on the voyage out, of which there is the most natural probability; so that when the heavily-freighted ship touches the shore, there may not be one of them alive, and nothing but their false back-hair, or magazine tales, left behind them. By all means let so interesting an experiment be carried out, and to the greatest possible number.

Lady doctor with male patient


Who is this interesting invalid? It is young Reginald de Braces, who has succeeded in catching a bad cold, in order that he might send for that rising practitioner, Dr. Arabella Bolus!

Coming to the professions, we find a great advance on the somewhat hesitating attitude adopted by Punch in the 'fifties. In the early 'sixties he avowed himself as a convinced supporter of the admission of women to medical degrees. By 1870 he went so far as to advocate "opening the door of every secular profession to every woman qualified to enter it." He trusted their good sense not to attempt the impossible: "only[Pg 248] fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and women, all but very rare mad women, fear to tread the rough ways they are unfitted for." Punch, along with Disraeli, ranges himself on the side of the angels. This marks the high-water level of his recognition of women's professional claims, but as early as 1862 he had registered his protest against the decision of the Edinburgh College of Physicians, when they refused to grant women the medical diploma, by a majority of 18 to 16 votes:—

We are glad the minority was so large, for we think it was in the right. There is no reason why a lady learned in medicine should be refused a doctor's degree. Nobody would be obliged to employ a medical woman in preference to a medical man. It is very true that it is necessary that a practitioner of medicine should be endowed with reflective faculties; but perhaps reason is not quite exclusively the prerogative of man. One or two women could be named whose works exhibit undeniable evidences of some logical faculty and judgment of causation. A female Harvey or Sydenham, or Hunter, or Abernethy would possibly turn up if the portals of medicine were not shut in her face.

The Medical Profession

The rejection of Miss Elizabeth Garrett and other women candidates by the Apothecaries and other medical corporations is unsparingly condemned in the issue of February 22, 1868; but the history of the campaign is written at length in the Life of Sophia Jex-Blake. It may suffice here to add the most notable, and, allowing for a little pardonable optimism, the sanest of Punch's contributions to the controversy in the period under review in this volume. It appeared in March, 1870, in the form of a letter, but here, as elsewhere, the views are clearly editorial:—

The necessity, Sir, of persevering study will, alone, we may be sure, suffice to keep all women out of the medical profession, but a very few. There is therefore no sort of occasion for the opposition to the movement on behalf of their eligibility to be members of that profession, offered, conceivably, by no men out of it but fools, and by none in it but trades unionists. Assuredly, Mr. Punch, rather should every encouragement be given to women desirous to enter the profession of medicine. Paterfamilias is a goose if he do not encourage any daughter of his, endowed with intellect, industry and[Pg 249] resolution, who may evince a turn that way. No daughter can Paterfamilias get so thoroughly off his hands as a self-supporting one.

Nurse tending patient


Experienced Night Nurse (sternly): "Come, come, sir! You must stop that horrid noise. If you keep wheezing and snoring like that all night, how am I to get to sleep?"

The medical science, Mr. Punch, acquired by a lady doctor here and there might prove a leaven which would leaven the whole lump so to speak, with apology for calling the fair sex a lump. And the lump sadly wants leavening. When it had got properly leavened there would soon be an end to advertisements of "corsets," cosmetics and ways of being made beautiful for ever; also an end of low dresses in high life and high latitudes. The death rate from bronchitis and consumption would largely decrease.

There would likewise be an end of Daffy and Dalby, and all manner of domestic quackery in those upper regions where future men and women make the noises which pious Æneas heard, the first thing, in the lower. Moreover, we should hear much less of those noises.

And mark. Whilst the medical profession would be a resource for a clever girl, who, having to live somehow, would like to live single, or at any rate, having a soul of her own as well as a body,[Pg 250] would hate to sell herself in the marriage-market, it would by no means debar such an one, matrimonially disposed, from matrimony. For what young medical man wanting a partner could do better than choose a medical lady duly qualified (in every respect) for partnership? And every non-medical man thinking to take a wife would find his account in taking a doctress who would know better than, by continually breaking the natural laws, to let herself in for everlasting headaches, faintings, hysterics, and other ailments, rendering herself a perpetual plague to a husband, and running him up doctor's bills. Finally, the father of a family of children, whose mamma was a medical gentlewoman, would enjoy the advantage, instead of suffering the expense, of having a doctor always in the house.

That the Legislature will compel the Medical Council to grant a diploma to every lady who can satisfy their examiners is the hope of

Yours truly,

Celsus Excelsior.

The question of the admission of women to the Bar had already attracted serious discussion. In June, 1869, Punch, generalizing from a particular case, expressed mock horror at the prospect:—


(Respectfully but remonstratively recommended to the notice of John Stuart Mill)

Is this, we earnestly ask, in the name of cruelty to legal animals, what Court and Clients must be prepared for when ladies are admitted to practice at the Bar?

The Shedden legitimacy case was resumed this morning for the fifteenth time before the House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor commented upon the extreme prolixity of Miss Shedden's address, which has now occupied fourteen days, and exhorted her to confine her remarks to the evidence. Shortly after commencing to address their Lordships this morning Miss Shedden swooned, and was carried out. Dr. Bond being sent for, testified that the lady was suffering from hysteria, brought on by nervous exhaustion. Their Lordships postponed the case till to-morrow, when, if Miss Shedden should be unable to proceed, her father will be heard.

Talk of "the Subjection of Women," Mr. Mill! Here's the whole force of Law Lords in subjection to one woman ... who, after fifteen days, talks herself into hysteria, and their Lordships into—but what single word can be found comprehensive enough to describe their Lordship's state of body and mind, under the peine[Pg 251] forte et dure of this distressingly fluent female. Fancy a Bar of Miss Sheddens! The masculine legal mind recoils in horror from the idea!

The Suffrage Question

According to the D.N.B. Miss Shedden conducted her case for thirty days. But a few months later Punch, discussing the "Professions of Petticoats," approved of the contemplated innovation, and in 1870 wrote: "Open the Bar, forensic as well as tabernary, only insist on the wig and gown—the regulation gown—let the law of judicial vision be the same for female counsel as for male."

The advance in Punch's education in regard to the most controversial of all woman's claims—that to the vote—is much smaller, but it is an advance. He began in ribaldry and ridicule; but the persistence, the ability, and the high character of the advocates of Woman Suffrage converted him (intermittently) to seriousness, and even respect. The successive stages of this change are interesting to trace. In 1857 a Feminist Meeting at Leicester is merely the subject for chaff. We have noted in the previous volume that Mayfair held severely aloof from the Women's Rights movement in its earlier days. But in the summer of 1858, at the same time when Almack's was revived, the Marchioness of Londonderry and Lady Dysart proclaimed their adherence to Woman Suffrage. Punch, still somewhat democratic, was not moved by this social portent, and when it was announced that the Ladies' Gallery in the House of Commons was to be enlarged, unfeelingly suggested that it must be a concession to crinoline: otherwise there could be no reason for favouring "a parcel of chattering and giggling women."

In 1859 we find a burlesque account of a woman's meeting, convened to discuss the Suffrage question. But a slightly altered tone is observable in the early 'sixties. Women's indirect electoral power is recognized in the hostile criticism of the Realm, a recently-founded Conservative organ, in the issue of April 23, 1864, and when the question of Woman Suffrage came up before the Social Science Congress in 1866, it is significant that Punch abandons ridicule for argument:—

[Pg 252]


The cause of Womanhood Suffrage was ably pleaded by Madame Barbara Bodichon at the Social Science Congress, and Madame Bodichon was gallantly followed on the same line by Dr. Mary Walker. It may safely be said that if every man is fit to vote, so is every woman; on conditions. These, of course, are, that if women are to exercise political functions, like men, they must accept all the obligations of the sterner sex. For instance, the right of voting would give women a voice in the organization of the army. This ought not to exist apart from liability to be drawn for the Militia, or to become subject to conscription, if that method of recruiting should come to be adopted in this country. The ladies who sigh for the suffrage should lose no time in enrolling themselves in regiments of Amazonian volunteers to signify that whilst they demand the rights, they are ready to accept the duties of citizenship.

Dr. Mary Walker was the American lady who wore a masculine or semi-masculine garb; Madame Bodichon was the benefactress who invented and endowed Girton.

J. S. Mill on the Suffrage

It was reserved, however, for John Stuart Mill, when, in the debate on the Reform Bill,[25] he moved that in Clause 4 the word "person" should be substituted for "man," to come nearest to breaking down Punch's opposition to Woman Suffrage. Mill's speech shook him very badly, as may be gathered from the full and eulogistic summary in the "Essence of Parliament":—

And now, Ladies, Mr. Punch does you the justice of believing that you would like to know what arguments your Friend advanced. You may be sure that all that could be said was said in the best manner by Mr. Mill, and that such of you as wish to fight the battle may have all the weapons, elegantly polished, at hand, Mr. Punch—your devoted slave—lays them before you in the most convenient form. Mr. Mill urged that at present:-

Neither birth, merit, exertion, intellect, fortune, nor even accident can enable any woman to have her voice counted in matters which concern her and hers as nearly as any person in the kingdom.

It is not just to make distinctions between the Queen's subjects, except for a positive reason.

Are women who manage property, or business, or teach more than most male electors know, unfit for the function of voting?

Would they be revolutionary?

[Pg 253]

Taxation and Representation should go together. Women pay taxes.

The real difficulty felt is not a practical one; it is only a feeling of Strangeness.

That is a thing which wears off. What are the objections?

1. Politics are not women's business.

2. You don't desire the suffrage.

3. You are sufficiently represented by your influence over male relatives.

4. You have power enough already.

The answers are:—

1. Nor are they man's, unless he is a professional politician. He has business of his own, which he does not neglect, for the sake of voting, more than a woman would.

2. But many do, and others would but for fear of being ill thought of. We are not to suppose that leading questions put to ladies elicit their real sentiments. None are so well schooled as women in making a virtue of necessity.

3. Does man apply this argument to rich men and others with influence?

4. You have great power, but it is under the worst conditions, for it is indirect, and therefore irresponsible. And he would have you work by a manly exchange of opinions, and not by cajolery.

There is a feeling which men have, but are ashamed to express—this:

A woman has no right to care about anything but how she may be the most useful and devoted servant of some man.

Mr. Mill professed such indignation at this idea that he would not argue about it.

In the old days woman and man lived apart—that is, the wife was a plaything or an upper servant. His friends were men. This is changed. The women of the family are the man's habitual society. The wife is his chief associate, most confidential friend, most trusted counsellor.

Then, should a man wish that such a companion should be studiously kept inferior to himself, and taught ignorance or indifference about the subjects among which his highest duties are cast?

The time has come when, if women are not raised to the level of men, men will be pulled down to theirs.

As to women being sufficiently protected, he would like a return of the number of women annually beaten or kicked, or trodden to death by their male protectors—of the cases when the dastardly criminal did not get off altogether—of the cases in which such brutes received lighter sentences than are awarded for trifling thefts.

[Pg 254]

Old educational endowments were for boys and girls alike. The girls have been shut out, as at Christ's Hospital, where there are 1,100 boys and 26 girls.

The Doctors shut out the ladies.

The painters do the same, excluding them from the associateship of the Academy, because they were distinguishing themselves too much.

A husband can tear away every shilling of his wife's and spend it in debauchery, and even then, if she struggles and saves, he can pounce on her earnings, unless she is judicially separated.

Your Champion, Ladies, wound up with an earnest assurance that when the time should come, as come it would, for acceding to his motion, we should never repent of the concession.

And Punch is sure that whether you want votes or not, you will say that the cheers Mr. Mill gained were well earned.

Mr. E. K. Karslake thought Mr. Mill confounded the distinction between man and woman.

Mr. Denman supported him, but thought the Bill already conferred the suffrage.

Mr. Fawcett (a newly married man too) earnestly supported the motion, and said that the time for chaff on the subject had gone by.

Mr. Laing talked nonsense about the ideal of woman, said that Juliet, Ophelia and Desdemona had nothing to do with votes—the poets understood woman better than Mr. Mill.

Sir George Bowyer, like a gallant knight, supported your cause.

Lord Galway said the motion placed admirers of the fair sex in an awkward position.

Mr. Onslow said that two young ladies had told him they would vote for the man who gave them the best pair of diamond ear-rings.

Mr. Mill was pleased, as well he might be, at the fearful debility of his opponents, and took the division, which was,

For the Ladies73
Majority123for keeping you out, dears.

This speech of Mr. Mill's was the event of the week.

At any rate it cannot be said that Punch failed to do justice to the debate on its merits. His account is both ampler and fairer than many reports of important discussions in Parliament which appear in the daily press of to-day. But this was the day of verbatim reports. Punch mentions one debate which occupied thirty-six columns of closely-printed small type in The Times.

[Pg 255]

Mr. Mills clearing path for ladies


"Pray clear the way, there, for these—ah—persons."

[Pg 256]

By way of an offset to the admissions made in his Parliamentary report, Punch published a long, open letter to Mr. Mill. The argument founded on the derogatory word "person" need not detain us. The letter is signed "Judy," but the voice is the voice of Punch, who would not give women the vote because he believed they could exercise their political rights of sovereignty more effectually by proxy. Why should they wish to exercise power through the franchise when they were already omnipotent over those who had the franchise? Men were not much the happier or the better or the wiser for their politics. Mill's proposal to exclude married women from the franchise is dexterously turned to account as an admission that female influence was paramount as it was; that it was unnecessary to give women what they already exercised through their husbands. In fine, till women were married, they were learning to rule their husbands. After they were married they had their husbands to rule. Politics were the natural occupation of the inferior or slavish sex. When would Mill's logic open his eyes to the fact that, like the Constitutional Sovereign, la femme règne et ne gouverne pas?

Such a letter brought but cold comfort to the Suffragists. It was like feeding them with the East Wind. But at its worst it was an immense improvement on the heavy facetiousness of Punch's earlier manner.

In May, 1868, Punch virtually sided with his "dear enemy":—

Mr. Mill presented to the Commons a petition signed by 21,757 women, who asked for the Franchise. The first signature was that of Mrs. Somerville, Mechanist of the Heavens; the second that of Miss Florence Nightingale, Healer on Earth. Right or wrong, the request ought to have been granted to such petitioners.

Open Letter to Mrs. Fawcett

So when at a meeting in Manchester in December, 1869, it was resolved to form a guarantee fund of £5,000, Punch declared that if the Suffrage was to be had for love or money, women would shortly have it, and went on with characteristic effrontery to claim the credit of being "the Liberator of the Ladies":—

[Pg 257]

When ladies, ere many months shall have passed over their heads, rush to the poll and tender their votes for the men of their choice, let them not forget to whom they are mainly indebted for ability to exercise the birthright of a Britoness. It has ever been the aim of Mr. Punch to elevate Woman as well as Man. To this end he has directed pen and pencil to the special exposure of the peculiarities which distinguish silly from sensible women to derision. The consequence has been a very general relinquishment of those ludicrous peculiarities, and an awakening the female mind to logical perception, and a sense of the absurd and the grotesque. Hence will sooner or later inevitably result Female Emancipation, for which Female Intellect will have to thank Mr. Punch.

These indiscretions, which were apparently only meant in a Pickwickian sense, obliged Punch to regularize his position in a letter to "Mrs. Professor Fawcett" in the following April. He congratulates the Suffragists on dropping the limitation with which they started and going in for repealing the electoral disabilities of all women—married as well as single. In revising their claim they were at once logical and wise in their generation. But on the broad question Punch comes down on the anti-Suffragist side of the fence:—

Has it never occurred to you that in parcelling out life into two great fields, the one inside, the other outside the house-doors, and in creating two beings so distinct in body, mind, and affections as men and women, the Framer of the Universe must have meant the two for different functions? Can you deny, or shut your eyes to the fact that a similar distinction runs through the whole animal kingdom? Surely, so long as the masculine creature keeps aloof from the domain of the feminine, and leaves to her the nursing and rearing and training of the family, and the ordering and gracing of the home, there lies a tremendously strong presumption against the wisdom of the feminine entry on the masculine domain of business and politics.

The conclusion he comes back to is his old argument: Why give women votes when they have them already?

In a word here is my dilemma, dear Mrs. Professor. Either women don't care for votes—in which case they will make a bad use of them; or they do care for them, in which case they have ours.

[Pg 258]

Look how you rule in that Parliament for the business of which you do care, and whose budget you control and appropriate. What man dares call his home his own? What man, that deserves to be called a man, with a good wife, wishes to be other than her humble servant, breadwinner, hewer of wood and drawer of water, within the walls of that sacred sphere, of which the household hearth is the central sun? Depend upon it, if Nature had meant you for the franchise, you would have had it long ago. But then, if you had been in our place, we should have been in yours. Do you think it would be a better world for the change?

The worldly wisdom and common sense shown in this letter is also to be found in Punch's review of the whole question of Women's disabilities in the same year. The facetious, patronizing tone is largely dropped, and though the cartoon on the "Ugly Rush," inspired by the rejection of Jacob Bright's Suffrage Bill, clearly approves of the result, it fully recognizes the seriousness of the onslaught on man's monopoly of the franchise. The time for chaff on the subject, as Fawcett said, had gone by.

Short of the vote, however, about which he remained recalcitrant, Punch supported the claims of women to official employment in connexion with the Poor Law, Education, Local Government generally. He bestows a tempered approval on the appointment of Women Parish Officers in Bucks in 1868, and when the first elections to the London School Board were held at the close of 1870, unofficially but strenuously championed the three women candidates—Miss Garrett, M.D., Mrs. Grey and Miss Davies:—

There are some very good men in the candidature, but they are well known, and can speak for themselves. Mr. Punch only wishes to point out that three ladies desire to do Woman's Work, and he hopes that they will be accredited to the Board. He seldom condescends to treat of mere political elections, but these Educational Elections are important, and wise men had better look to them.

John Bull holding door shut on women


Mr. Bull: "Not if I know it!" (See Division on the Woman's Vote Bill.)

Mrs. Nassau Senior

The appointment of Mrs. Nassau Senior by the President of the Local Government Board to inspect and report on pauper schools, and her contribution to the Third Annual Report of that Department, meet with unqualified approval:—

[Pg 259]

In the midst of that vast blue-book of seven hundred pages there is a bit of motherly writing by Mrs. Nassau Senior, which is delightful to read, and cannot fail to be of immense use. Mrs. Senior has visited pauper schools, and has traced about seven hundred girls who had been educated at pauper schools; and her brief biographies of these poor little waifs are perfect in their simplicity. She believes that the Poor Law system will, in time, come to an end through improvement in education. Mr. Punch is not so sanguine. Mendicity is eternal. But the pauper may be gradually raised to a higher level; and such an inquiry as Mrs. Senior's is likely to do great good in this way.

Mr. Punch is delighted when a lady does in this direction what no man could possibly do. The terse memoirs of these poor little pauper maids are much more pathetic than anything in modern fiction. We trace the poor children from place to place—we see them stunted, sulky, squinting, suffering from ophthalmia, the very refuse of the world. Mrs. Senior, kind and keen in her investigations, tells the Guardians of the Poor (who too often deem themselves[Pg 260] mere guardians of the ratepayers) how they may gradually diminish this evil. Mr. Stansfeld did a wise thing when he asked her to undertake the inquiry; if the lessons of it are rightly read, her second contribution to the blue-book will have a far rosier tinge.

The treatment of the Higher Education of Women follows much the same course—from ridicule to respect. When a Women's Library was founded in New York, it is seriously suggested in 1860 that a similar institution might with advantage be established in London, with Miss Bessie Parkes, who was an active promoter of the Social Science Association, as Librarian. But when in the summer of 1862 Mlle. Emma Chenu was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Science at the Sorbonne, Punch contents himself with drawing up a burlesque list of Lady Professors for the University of Cambridge, most of them popular actresses of the time, including Marie Wilton, Patty Oliver, Lydia Thompson, etc. By way of contrast to this carnival of punning facetiousness we may note the rebuke administered in May, 1863, to the students of University College, who hissed the proposal to admit women to degrees.

Girton College

Great capital was made out of "Sweet Girl Graduates" by Du Maurier in many characteristic variations on the "Princess Ida" theme. But the movement was rapidly passing beyond the stage in which it could only be treated sentimentally or in a spirit of ridicule. Huxley was lecturing to women at South Kensington in 1870, and in 1871 the Ladies' College at Hitchin (founded in 1869), which owed its origin to the enterprise and liberality of Madame Bodichon—the friend of George Eliot and the zealous advocate of the improvement of women's position in the state—had so far justified itself as to earn Punch's commendation, under the typically frivolous heading of "The Chignon at Cambridge," a good example of inept alliteration's artless aid:—

At the examination lately held at Cambridge a number of students from the Ladies' College at Hitchin passed their "Little-go"; the first time that such undergraduates ever underwent that ordeal. It is gratifying to be enabled to add, that out of all those flowers of[Pg 261] loveliness, not one was plucked. Bachelors of Art are likely to be made look to their laurels by these Spinsters, and Masters must work hard or they will be eclipsed by Mistresses, more completely than the Sun was the other day by the Moon. And we may expect that when such competitors of both sexes come to perform upon the classical and mathematical Tripos, a Pythoness will be first upon the former, and another young lady will dance off triumphantly Senior Wrangler.

Mixed group of students


Punch's prophecy was fulfilled by the exploits of Miss Ramsay (afterwards Mrs. Montagu Butler) and Miss Philippa Fawcett, daughter of Henry and Millicent Garrett Fawcett. The College at Hitchin was moved to Cambridge in 1873, when it entered on a new and prosperous career under the title of Girton. But Punch, reverting to his facetious manner, availed himself of the opportunity to publish a set of burlesque regulations and syllabus of lectures for the new College. The same spirit is betrayed in the comments on the proposed Ladies' Club in 1869:—

[Pg 262]

A Ladies' Club is said to be in process of formation. How the male mind shudders at this most tremendous news! What a field for fearful questions the intelligence suggests! Will there be a Club Committee? and, if so, at its meetings how many ladies' tongues will be allowed to speak at once? Will there be a smoking-room? And, if so, will cigars be suffered to be lighted, or will the fear of being ill restrain the ladies from indulgence in anything except the very mildest cigarettes? Will conversation be restricted to the politics of the nursery and the latest news in bonnets; or what will be the limits sanctioned to recounters of a thrilling bit of scandal, or to narrators of a tale of love, or marriage, or divorce, which has just been set a-wagging in high life? Instead of billiards we presume the younger members will amuse themselves with tatting, while the elder are engaged in a fierce battle at Bézique....

The ladies will, of course, want a title for their Club. Perhaps "The Femineum" would be a fitting name for it; or would its members prefer to call themselves "The Chatterers" while the present fashion lasts? Should the Ladies' Club prove popular, there may doubtless be some little ducks desirous to belong to it. But we trust, however silly may be certain of its members, nobody will ever dream of calling it "The Goose Club."

The promoters might have retorted that such criticisms were worthy of the members of the "Asineum." But Punch was fairly entitled to make such capital as he could out of the advertisement quoted in 1874: "Philosopher wanted, as Secretary to a Ladies' Club."

The Economics of Marriage

As we have seen, Punch had frankly recognized that matrimony was not and could not be the be-all and end-all of all women—that there were some girls who, though they might marry if they chose, did not wish to; girls who preferred independence to matrimonial servitude; girls, again, who would make excellent wives, but were not chosen because men were stupid enough to be governed in their choice by looks and looks alone. The economics of marriage, again, were becoming an increasingly important consideration as a result of the raising of the standard of life and the cost of living. In the 'forties Punch printed a song of which the refrain was "If I had a thousand a year," which represented a sum almost beyond the dreams of middle-class avarice, to judge by all the things the dreamer would do and all the luxuries he would indulge in, if his[Pg 263] income reached four figures. In 1858 The Times started a serious discussion of the problem "Marriage on £300 a year," which the same audience nowadays would regard not as practical politics but an act of insanity. Punch, however, satirized the discussion from the point of view of an agricultural labourer earning a wage of 10s. a week.

Though in the golden days of Gladstonian finance the income tax came down to 4d. and even 3d. in the pound, the standard of living rose, and £500 a year is mentioned in 1867 as a possible basis for matrimony. From whatever the cause—possibly the prevalence of large families had something to say to it—the rapidity with which married people of both sexes grew old, as compared with the juvenile grandparents of to-day, is strikingly illustrated in the pages of Punch. Take for example the two pictures "Twelve months after Marriage" and "Twenty years after Marriage" in 1862. When we take into account the earlier age at which people married sixty years ago, the couple in the picture on p. 265 need no be more than forty-five; yet they both look at least seventy. One is reminded of a passage in Sense and Sensibility (though, that, of course, was fifty years earlier), in which John Dashwood, speaking of his mother, who is "hardly forty," suggests that "she may live another fifteen years." The pictures given here represent a happy marriage. Punch had no panacea for unhappy marriages; but he remained of the same opinion, so often expressed in his earlier days, that a cheap Divorce Act was a better cure than the punishment of cruel wife-beaters. And throughout this period he remained constant in his support of the campaign for the amendment of the Women's Property Acts, on the lines of his summary of Lord Brougham's three resolutions moved in the House of Lords on February 13, 1857. They were "First, that their present rights were all wrongs. Second, that a woman was entitled to her own property; and third, that if our ridiculous theory of marriage prevented a woman from having this justice, at all events a profligate husband should be restrained from wasting her possessions." Lastly, he remained unshaken in his adhesion to the cause of marriage with a deceased wife's[Pg 264] sister, or, as he termed it, "the Bill for Emancipation of Sisters-in-Law from the tyrannical disqualification which prevents their taking the matrimonial oath when elected by a Briton and a widower."

Wife caring for husband


"Bobby ought to love his pet for taking such care of his beautiful whiskers."

The English Feminine Type

By way of conclusion we may add that if Punch reserved to himself the right of castigating the follies of his countrywomen, he was valorous in their defence when they were depreciated or caricatured by foreign critics or artists. In 1858 he falls foul of a German journalist, under the head of "British and German Beauty":—

The Berlin Charivari contains the following humorous remarks on English beauty:—

"Each Nation thinks itself the handsomest in the world. We paint the devil black; the blacks will have him white. Miss Pastrano delights in her beard, and every Englishman thinks his red-haired, crooked-nosed, rabbit-toothed, goggle-eyed, loose-legged, calfless Dulcinea the very perfection of human beauty."

[Pg 265]

Not quite that. Not so perfect as the raven-haired, Grecian-nosed, white-and-sound-toothed, sloe-eyed, neat-legged young Teutonic lady, with such pretty little feet and ankles at the end of her legs. Of course the Prussian Charivari's notion of an English girl is a bit of fun, complimentary irony; and we are sure our fair countrywomen will feel highly honoured by the mock-depreciation of our cousin German.

Much later on the French caricaturists, who habitually represented Englishwomen as lean, gaunt, ill-favoured and ill-dressed, and with long projecting teeth, roused him to protest with equal vigour against their gross and unseemly libels.

Wife caring for husband


"My dear Bobby, you must let me pull it off your nose; it looks so ugly."

[22] The "tyranny of the younger brother" who is continually harassing his grown-up sisters was undoubtedly one of the results of the customary large families of the period. In Leech's pictures, again, the tender passion is nearly always illustrated by passages between cousins.

[23] Yet Sir Henry Holland, the distinguished physician, states in his Reminiscences (1872) that he knew of cases, which had defied medicine, being cured by a ticket for Almack's.

[24] The income tax was then only 10d. in the pound over £150.

[25] May 20, 1867.

[Pg 266]


There is probably no better means of testing a man's literary sense than his estimate of poetry other than that written by authors of established reputation. And as with individuals so is it with papers. Punch deserves no special credit for his devotion to Shakespeare, or for his ridicule of the Baconians who, in his phrase, sought to make the Swan of Avon a Goose. It is curious, however, in this context to note that, on Punch's authority, Lord Palmerston suspended judgment on the question. In the arm-chair commentary on current events which appeared in 1865 under the heading, "Punch's Table-Talk," we read:—

When Ben Jonson's verses, in laudation of William Shakespeare, were mentioned to the late Premier, he said, "Oh, these fellows always stand up for one another. Besides, he may have been deceived like the rest."

It is only one and a small proof of Shakespeare's "myriad-mindedness" that Punch throughout his career has drawn more freely from his plays for subjects for cartoons than from any other source. Shakespeare, as a modern writer puts it, "has always been there before." It was partly no doubt due to Punch's distrust of the national capacity to organize and carry out picturesque demonstrations that led him to treat the Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebrations in 1864 with scant respect. But an honourable jealousy for the repute of our greatest writer was enough to warrant his dissatisfaction. There were wide divergences of opinion and considerable friction among the members of the National Memorial Committee, a huge unwieldy body representing all professions and interests, and containing, along with many great and honoured names, not a few thrusting notorieties and even nonentities. The festival at Stratford was a fiasco, and the grandiose schemes of the promoters came to[Pg 268] little practical result. One is indeed tempted to draw the conclusion that it is almost unnecessary to attempt a special celebration of one who is being celebrated every day and all the time.

[Pg 267]

Crowd at the foot of Shakespear's statue


As a critic of letters Punch is subjected to more searching ordeal in his references to living and rising than to dead or risen authors. His recognition of James Montgomery—the author of one of the very few fine modern hymns—has been noticed elsewhere. There was chivalry as well as appreciation in his defence of Alexander Smith when the charge of plagiarism was brought against the "City Poems" by the Athenæum. The ridicule of the "Spasmodic" school in Aytoun's brilliant burlesque drama Firmilian was a much more damaging criticism, but in recognizing Smith's force and originality Punch ranges himself on the side of Clough and Matthew Arnold, John Forster, Arthur Helps and G. H. Lewes—in other words, the most enlightened and best equipped critics of the time.

Though Tennyson had been Laureate for several years, he was still regarded—surprising and even painful as it may seem to the neo-Georgian reader—with a certain amount of suspicion by austere critics bred up in eighteenth century traditions. Both as regards matter and manner he was considered to be an innovator. Punch's admiration for Tennyson was already an old story. He had lent him the hospitality of his pages in 1846 to reply to Bulwer Lytton's defamatory abuse in The New Timon. But in some quarters judgment was still suspended, and Tennyson was not yet held to have completed the period of probation. So when in 1859 the bust of the Laureate was denied admission to the Library at Trinity College, Cambridge, on the ground that the honour was premature, Punch printed a satirical "Fragment of an Idyll" in which the poet's detractors were rebuked in his own manner.

A Wonderful Three-penny-worth

Punch's championship of Tennyson never faltered, though he was reconciled to Bulwer Lytton, who had called the Laureate a "School-miss," and it dated back to a time when Tennyson's claims to recognition were vehemently canvassed. Still we are inclined to regard as a much more remarkable sign of his flair and enlightenment, the quoting of Meredith's poem, Modern Love,[Pg 269] in his "Essence of Parliament," in the year 1865. It is only a scrap—four words; yet when one remembers how remarkably small Meredith's audience was in the 'sixties, even for his prose, the quotation is a notable sign of grace. But Shirley Brooks, who distilled the "Essence," was a scholar and something of a poet into the bargain. There was also a special bond between Punch and George Meredith. In 1860, under the heading "An Honest Advertisement," Punch refers to Once a Week as having been enlarged to thirty-two pages, and speaks of it as "already one of the most extraordinarily cheap publications in the world when you consider the brilliancy of the literature and the beauty of the illustrations." This was admittedly a puff, for the proprietors of Punch and Once a Week were the same, but it was no more than the truth. Once a Week was the most wonderful three-penny-worth in the whole journalistic history of the nineteenth century, with Millais, Rossetti, Sandys, Frederick Walker, G. J. Pinwell and Charles Keene as regular illustrators. As for the letterpress, it is enough to say that Meredith's Evan Harrington (illustrated by Charles Keene) appeared in its pages, as well as many of his and Tennyson's poems. In spite of this galaxy of talent the magazine was not a commercial success, and after a few years passed into other hands.

In extending a welcome to Kingsley's[26] Water Babies, and later on to Alice in Wonderland, our friend Punch did no more than might have been expected of him. But his praise of the former story is pitched in a pretty high key: the author of the "Table Talk" in 1865 declaring that he "would rather have written the Water Babies than any book in the last fifty years." In the controversy that raged over Poems and Ballads, in 1866, Punch committed himself truculently to the side of the angels of decorum. In consequence he writes pungently, that "having read Mr. Swinburne's defence of his prurient poetics, Punch hereby gives him his royal licence to change his name to what is evidently its true form—"Swine-born." Name-twisting,[Pg 270] with a view to casting odium on an antagonist, is an old but dangerous game. The most that can be said in Punch's defence, which is not much, is that he was not the only offender. In the acrimonious pamphlet warfare that raged between Swinburne and Dr. Halliwell Phillipps, the latter called the poet "Pigsbrook," and the poet retorted by referring to his opponent as "Hell-P." Apart from this error of taste, Punch had at least the support of powerful and distinguished allies in his condemnation. But he overdid his disparagement when four years later he observed that "certain Songs before Sunrise are promised us ere long, from the pen of a young poet." Nor was the allusion to Walt Whitman as "an impostor" in 1869 any happier than his previous description of him as a Yankee rough.

Martin Tupper

Though by no means an infallible or judicial critic, Punch made no mistakes about bad poets, even though they were popular. Throughout this period he was the champion of the middle-classes in politics; but his championship did not extend to their literary preferences. In the 'sixties, Tupper was widely read and, judged by circulation, the most successful poet of the day. To this generation his name has become a synonym for platitude; and as an author, he survives, if at all, in the immortal parody of Calverley. Yet we can never get away from the fact that he gave pleasure to scores of thousands of decent people by his blameless banalities. Though his Proverbial Philosophy was the quintessence of commonplace and orthodoxy, there are passages in it, as Professor Elton has pointed out, which deviate into something like poetry. He was, though vain, a kindly, good man, and a patriotic citizen, who did good service in promoting the Volunteer Movement. He was not a fool: did he not defeat Mr. Gladstone in the competition for a prize for a theological essay at Christ Church? The University of Oxford conferred on him the honorary degree of D.C.L. in 1847. He was also an inventor in a small way, and patented a screw-top for glass bottles. He was even a Fellow of the Royal Society! But to Punch he was simply a bad poet, and as such a subject for ridicule and parody. Thus, à propos of his Three Hundred Sonnets, Punch published in[Pg 271] 1860 what purported to be the three-hundred-and-first on "My Five New Kittens," winding up with the couplet:—

O cook, we'll keep the innocents alive,

They're five, consider, and you've fingers five.

The illustration alluding to a girl who writes to her lover with the aid of "Tupper's poems and a Dictionary," acquires a peculiar point from the fact, recorded in Spurgeon's Life, that he proposed to the lady who became his wife by help of a passage from Tupper.

Two ladies talking


Aunt: "And how's Louisa, my dear? Where is she?"

Sarcastic Younger Sister (fancy free): "Oh, pretty well, but she won't be on view these two hours. She's writing to her 'Dear Fred'; at least, I fancy I saw her come out of the library with Tupper's poems and a Dictionary!!"

Owing to heavy financial losses Tupper accepted a Civil List pension of £120 at the end of 1873, and Punch supported the grant on the ground that though philosophers might have learned little from Proverbial Philosophy, there could be no doubt that a work read by the million had either taught or[Pg 272] entertained them a good deal. He also hailed it as an earnest of better times coming for authors in general; for if Tupper had received £120 a year, how many times that sum should be awarded to writers of really durable works? This mitigated approval prepares us for Punch's subsequent malice in publishing a burlesque poem, purporting to come from Tupper's pen, on a Royal wedding in January, 1874. But the bestowal of those pensions too often invited direct censure. The notorious "Poet Close" of Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland, who described himself as "Poet Laureate to the King of Bonny," was patronized by Lord Palmerston (who indirectly compared him with Burns) and had been put on the Civil List in 1861, though the pension was afterwards withdrawn. But when Punch learned in 1863 that the poet was poor in more senses than one, he promised him an immunity from ridicule, and wished success to his next work. The promise was hardly fulfilled in the following year when "English literature was enriched" by Poet Close's Grand Sensation Book and by Cithara—a selection from the Lyrics of Martin Tupper. Of the latter Punch cruelly remarks: "it contains some new pieces, in which Mr. Tupper has excelled himself: but Nemo repente fuit Tupperrimus." The two poets are bracketed (as in one of Gilbert's Bab Ballads) in some ironical stanzas, but the conjunction was hardly fair to Tupper, who at his worst was assuredly a cut above "Poet Close." A lower depth, however, was sounded by the poet Young, whose pension was a positive scandal. Tupper is very generously treated in the D.N.B.; "Poet Close" appears, though more as a curiosity than as a writer of any literary merit whatsoever, his verses being described as "metrical balderdash"; but for Young we have to go to Hansard or Punch, whose comment in 1867 runs as follows:—

We had some fun by way of ending an important week. Palmerston had his Close, and Derby has his Young, only the doggerel of the latter is not merely vulgar and foolish, but offensive. However, he is pensioned. Mr. Whalley (probably thinking that Young was author of the Night Thoughts) defended the grant, and said that Young's sentiments were truly Protestant. Mr. Disraeli said what he could, which was that Lord Derby had been hoaxed, and that it would be a warning to himself never to sign or believe in a Memorial.

The vigilance displayed by Punch in this matter no doubt helped to improve matters, but even as I write, in 1921, the world of letters has been staggered by the bestowal of a decoration on the strength of literary achievements of which no record could be discovered in any publisher's catalogue or library.

[Pg 273]

Thackeray and Dickens

One of the great novelists of the Victorian Age, Thackeray, had been for many years a regular and brilliant contributor to Punch, and though he retired from the staff in 1854, remained a constant member of the council and sat with them only eight days before his death on Christmas Eve, 1863. The tribute in the issue of January 2, 1864, pays homage more to the affectionate and loyal comrade than to the great writer; but in the following number Punch repels with spirit the charge that Thackeray was a cynic. Thackeray's contributions to Punch belong to an earlier period, but the brilliant burlesques of popular novelists, which he initiated by his travesties of Bulwer Lytton, Disraeli, G. P. R. James and Lever were carried on with great spirit by Burnand in Mokeanna (suggested by the romances in the London Journal), Chikkin Hazard (founded on Charles Reade's Foul Play), and One and Three (after Victor Hugo's Quatre-Vingt-Treize). Burnand's burlesques were not nearly so subtle or artistic as Thackeray's; they relied more upon farcical quips and ingenious puns; but still they served a useful purpose in the elevation of parody from mere verbal mimicry into a genuine function of literary criticism, a process in which Punch has played an increasingly active and successful part in recent years.

Dickens's intimate relations with the Punch staff have been noted in the previous volume. There had been friction with the proprietors, but all was forgotten on his death in June, 1870. The lines which recognize him as in the same category as Shakespeare, only say what even modernist critics admit to-day—that he created a new world and peopled it with creatures of his imagination who are as real as those of real life. In the same number Punch, with some slight reserves, espoused Disraeli's side when Goldwin Smith had rashly "put on the[Pg 274] cap" fitted for him in Lothair, and publicly and vehemently protested against being libelled as a "social parasite." In some doggerel verses Punch made acid reference to the professor's bilious temper, intellectual arrogance and general cantankerousness. If Disraeli's attack was cowardly and contemptible, why notice it with such passion?

Man and woman in a bookshop


Old-fashioned Party (with old-fashioned prejudices): "Ah! Very clever, I dare say. But I see it's written by a lady, and I want a book that my daughters may read. Give me something else!"

Trollope is genially commended in the "Honest Advertisement" mentioned above. The popularity of Miss Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret and Aurora Floyd is attested in 1863; Miss Broughton's novels are barely referred to, but the reference clearly indicates disapproval of their audacity. Nor can we find any appreciation of the now unduly neglected novels of George Eliot, though there is a curious mention in 1859 of an anonymous sequel to Adam Bede brought out by an obscure publisher named Newby. It may be recalled that a claim to the authorship of Adam Bede was set up on behalf of a Mr. Liggins, a gentleman as unscrupulous as his name was unromantic.

[Pg 275]

Carlyle and Ruskin

The imposture caused great annoyance to the real author, and hastened the divulging of the secret which had hitherto been well kept.

Punch had welcomed Macaulay's peerage, and on his death at the end of 1859 spoke of his as "the noblest name our Golden Book could show." In spite of occasional sharp divergences of opinion, Carlyle is nearly always treated with honour and respect. When he was elected Lord Rector of Edinburgh University in 1866, Punch saluted him in his own peculiar style as a "brave, wise old man" who in an age of "eternal butter and testimonial-plasterings of mediocrity," had flagellated windbags, scourged sham patriotism, spoken words of manly cheer, and in general shown that the root of the matter was in him. Punch's further salute in 1874 when "the Prussian Royal Order of Merit was presented to the English historical biographer of Frederick the Great," is pitched in a key that jars on modern ears by its eulogy of Bismarck and the Emperor William; but the last stanzas of "True Thomas and his Order" are worth quoting:—

Our mother England has no stars

For soldiers of the Pen:

With us such honours spring from wars

Watered with blood of men.

Then let us rather smile than sneer,

When from the Vaterland,

Whose thought to us he has brought near,

There is stretched forth a hand,

To pin the badge of merit fair

On Carlyle's manly breast:

The star can shed no honour there,

'Tis honoured there to rest.

The only other great Victorian literary lion of whom mention is made is Ruskin, and Punch's attitude towards him is somewhat mixed. In 1871 he addressed an open letter to Ruskin, à propos of his suggestions for preventing inundations of the Tiber, the gist of it being that, whatever he might be as an art[Pg 276] critic, he was not infallible as an engineer. Punch admitted the "mystical and musical" eloquence of Ruskin, whom he was quite content to regard as an oracle—though not always intelligible—on Art and Nature, Paintings Old and Modern, Lamps of Architecture, Crowns of Wild Olive, and so forth, but he refused to take him seriously as a writer on economics or social problems. He showed unexpected sympathy with him, however, over the famous road-making experiment in 1874 at Hincksey, when the not very expert efforts of his disciples moved Philistine undergraduates to ribald mirth:—

(See recent Correspondence in Daily News, and elsewhere)

'Tis well for snarlers analytic,

Who the art of the snarl to the sneer have brought,

To spit their scorn at the eloquent critic,

Leader of undergraduate thought.

Heart of the student it will not harden

If from the bat and the oar he abstain,

To plant the flowers in a cottage garden,

And lay the pipes of a cottage drain.

Pity we have for the man who thinks he

Proves Ruskin fool for work like this.

Why shouldn't young Oxford lend hands to Hincksey,

Though Doctrinaires may take it amiss?

Careless wholly of critic's menace,

Scholars of Ruskin, to him be true;

The truths he has writ in The Stones of Venice

May be taught by the Stones of Hincksey too.

Other papers laughed at the "amateur navvies," Oxford caricaturists were busy, and "to walk over to Hincksey and laugh at the diggers became a fashionable afternoon amusement." But the road was wanted, and Ruskin, according to his biographer,[27] saw in it a means of practical protest against the fetish-worship of athletics, to say nothing of his probable desire to dissociate himself from the Postlethwaites and Maudles who had stolen some of their catchwords from Ruskin,[Pg 277] but whose creed of "art for art's sake" he cordially loathed. And perhaps the best vindication of the experiment was the fact that the undergraduate road-diggers included Alfred Milner and Arnold Toynbee; and that in encouraging his disciples in the "gospel of labour" Ruskin formulated principles of social service on lines which have been faithfully carried out in the Universities' Settlements in East London and other cities.

Punch and American Humorists

American humour is not always to English taste. And, conversely, English humour, as represented by Punch, has not always commended itself to American critics, though nothing could be more generous than the tribute to Punch paid by New York Life during the late war. At an earlier date we remember a picture in an American comic journal representing a room of torture, crowded with thumbscrews and racks and other engines of malignity, with a pile of volumes of Punch enthroned in the place of honour. In this context one recalls with satisfaction that Punch extended a cordial welcome to two great American humorists—Artemus Ward and Mark Twain—in the 'sixties and early 'seventies. Artemus Ward was in broken health when he visited our shores in 1866, but his lectures at the Egyptian Hall were an immense success, and elicited the admiration of such diverse critics as John Bright, Richard Holt Hutton, of the Spectator, who wrote an admirable appreciation of them in his paper, and Punch. Hutton once told the present writer that he was never so convulsed with laughter in his life as when listening to the lecture. It may be read in Artemus Ward's collected works, and it is very good reading in cold print, but the effect was enormously enhanced by the contrast between the lecturer's cadaverous appearance and melancholy manner on the one hand, and the extravagant farce of his utterances on the other. This is well brought out in Punch's notice of "A Ward that deserves watching":—

Mr. Punch would recommend "funny men" on or off the stage, to hear Artemus Ward "speak his piece" at the Egyptian Hall, and then, in so far as in them lies, to go and do likewise....

Oh, if these unhappy abusers of gag, grimace, and emphasis—these grating, grinding, grinning, over-doing obtruders of themselves in the wrong place—could take a leaf out of Artemus Ward's[Pg 278] "piece," and learn to be as quiet, grave, and unconscious in their delivery of the words set down for them as he is in speaking his own! Unlike them, Artemus Ward has brains. That is, of course, beyond hope in their case. But if they could once be made to feel how immensely true humour is enhanced by the unforced way it drops out of A.W.'s mouth, they might learn to imitate what, probably, it is hopeless to expect they could understand.

To be sure, Artemus Ward's delivery of fun is eminently "un-English." But there are a good many things English one would like to see un-Englished. Gross overdone low comedy is one of them. Snobbishness is another. The two go hand in hand. One of the best of many good points of Artemus Ward's piece is that it is quite free from all trace of either of these English institutions. And it is worth noting, that we owe to another native of the States, Joseph Jefferson, the best example lately set us of unforced and natural low comedy. His Rip Van Winkle was very un-English, too.

Artemus Ward in London

But Punch's approval was not confined to applause. He invited Artemus Ward to contribute to his columns, and the invitation led to a series of delightful papers—"Artemus Ward in London"—which appeared in 1866. Some have found in them signs of flagging spirits—Artemus Ward died of consumption at Southampton on March 6, 1867—but the mixture of extravagance and "horse-sense" was never better shown than in the visit to the Tower:—

"You have no Tower in America?" said a man in the crowd, who had somehow detected my denomination.

"Alars! no," I anserd; "we boste of our enterprise and improovments, and yit we are devoid of a Tower. America, oh, my onhappy Country! Thou hast not got no Tower! It is a sweet Boon."

The gates was opened after awhile, and we all purchist tickets, and went into a waitin-room.

"My frens," said a pale-faced little man, in black close, "this is a sad day."

"Inasmuch as to how?" I said.

"I mean it is sad to think that so many peple have been killed within these gloomy walls. My frens, let us drop a tear!"

"No," I said, "you must excuse me. Others may drop one if they feel like it; but as for me I decline. The early managers of this institootion were a bad lot, and their crimes was trooly orful; but I can't sob for those who died four or five hundred years ago. If they was my own relations I couldn't. It's absurd to shed sobs[Pg 279] over things which occurd durin' the reign of Henry the Three. Let us be cheerful," I continnerd. "Look at the festive Warders in their red flannil jackets. They are cheerful, and why should it not be thusly with us?"

A Warder now took us in charge, and showed us the "Trater's Gate," the armers and things. The Trater's Gate is wide enuff to admit about twenty traters abrest, I should jedge; but beyond this, I couldn't see that it was superior to gates in gen'ral.

Traters, I will here remark, are a onfortnit class of peple. If they wasn't, they wouldn't be traters. They conspire to bust up a country—they fail, and they're traters. They bust her, and they become statesmen and heroes....

Two men talking


Enthusiastic Pedestrian: "Am I on the right road for Stratford—Shakspere's town, you know, my man? You've often heard of Shakspere?"

Rustic: "Ees. Be you he?"

Mark Twain did not visit London until seven years later,[Pg 280] and Punch greeted the "distinguished humorist" in the quatrain headed "Welcome to a Lecturer":—

"'Tis time we Twain did show ourselves." 'Twas said

By Cæsar, when one Mark had lost his head:

By Mark whose head's quite bright, 'tis said again:

"Therefore, go with me, friends, to bless this Twain."

The greeting was renewed a couple of months later, and Punch's admiration, thus early expressed, never wavered in all the years that elapsed before Mark Twain was entertained by Punch at his table on the occasion of his last visit to England in 1907, when he came over to receive the degree of Doctor of Literature from the University of Oxford.

W. S. Gilbert

The relations of W. S. Gilbert with Punch were made public property to a certain extent by Gilbert's statement, in the preface to the collected edition of the Bab Ballads, that the Cruise of the Nancy Bell had been "offered to the Editor and declined by him on the ground that it was too cannibalistic to suit the taste of his readers." The Bab Ballads (so called from the signature "Bab" which Gilbert appended to his illustrations) appeared in Fun, which was founded in 1861, and were, while they lasted, the chief attraction of that paper. Gilbert was undoubtedly nettled by Mark Lemon's decision; had it been otherwise, he might very probably have become a regular contributor to Punch. But it is not strictly correct to say, as the author of the notice of Gilbert in the Encyclopædia Britannica does, that Gilbert continued to contribute to Fun because he had failed to gain the entrée into the pages of Punch. As a matter of fact he had frequently contributed, both with pen and pencil, to Punch in the early 'sixties. In 1865 his contributions included an amusing illustrated squib on the hydrophobia scare, the lines to "An Absent Husband," and a long prose piece "A wonderful Shilling's worth!" on the performances at the Polytechnic. The last named was Gilbert's final contribution to Punch.

The Nancy Bell was offered and rejected early in 1866, and appeared in Fun of March 3 without illustrations. The nonsense verses, "Sing for the Garish Eye," which appeared in Punch[Pg 281] on April 16, 1873, were from Gilbert's pen, but the explanation given a fortnight later showed that they had been printed inadvertently; a "valued contributor" having forwarded them for Punch's private diversion and not for publication. They had actually been printed elsewhere ten years earlier. The amende was handsomely made, but Gilbert never contributed again to Punch. One cannot help regretting that he began the Bab Ballads with just the only one to which exception could have been taken, for it is cannibalistic!

Holding that a Free Press was an advantage to a nation, Punch had supported the Memorial to Leigh Hunt, who had been sent to prison "for publishing opinions which Mr. Punch in perfect safety may now put forth when he pleases, and the fact that Punch can just say what he likes without a fear of Newgate is owing in great measure to the battles Leigh Hunt fought," for which Punch was content to overlook Leigh Hunt's self-indulgent improvidence—so cruelly satirized by Dickens in Harold Skimpole. But when Charles Knight died in 1873 there was no need for reservation in the homage paid to that life-long and stalwart fighter for the repeal of the taxes on learning:—

Oft times the fuel well nigh failed his flame,

And Ruin stood between him and his aim,

But manfully he grappled the grim foe,

Nor ever yielded sword though oft struck low.

And his reward was that he lived to see

Cheap Letters broad-cast sown, and knowledge free!

[26] In 1858 Punch had chaffed Kingsley for his Ode to the North-East Wind in a parody purporting to be written by a dyspeptic valetudinarian, who resented the strenuous "muscular Christianity" of the original.

[27] See the Life of John Ruskin, by Sir E. T. Cook.

[Pg 282]


Before the middle 'fifties critics of the Stage in England—apart from the extreme Puritans—had three main grounds for complaint: the monopoly of the patent theatres, the patronage of foreigners by the Court and fashionable Society, and the popularity of degrading sensational plays; and up to 1857 the pages of Punch were eloquent on all three counts. In the period covered by this volume not only was royal patronage more judiciously and impartially bestowed, but the abolition of the exclusive privileges of the patent theatres had cut at the root of the evil and rendered possible such enlightened ventures as those of Phelps and Mrs. Warner at Sadler's Wells. The immediate result of the Free Trade policy in plays was to stimulate the legitimate drama, and in particular the cult of Shakespeare. Phelps's work in this connexion comes in for repeated approval, especially for his good all-round casts. Shakespearean actors are prominent throughout. The announcement of the death of Scribe in 1861 inspires the comment that the Members of the Dramatic Authors' Association are as well as can be expected. Punch had no love for endless réchauffés of French plays, but he was no bigot where foreign actors of merit were concerned, and cordially welcomed Fechter as Hamlet in 1861, while deprecating the preliminary puffing of his manager. It was not needed, for while admitting that Fechter's accent was disconcerting, Punch had nothing but praise for his admirable play of feature, his graceful ease of attitude and gesture and his intelligent conception of the character. As for the interpretation as a whole, foreigners were entitled to read Shakespeare for themselves: Punch held no brief for the Protection of British Stage Traditions, but believed in free trade in intellect as well as in cotton.

[Pg 283]

Fechter and Ristori

At the foot of the notice there is a picture of a stout, shabby tragedian exclaiming "Fechter! Pah! Hamlet with light hair and no points. Pah! The drama's gone." This professional jealousy is again ridiculed in "The Groan of a True Briton" a month later. The "boom" in Shakespeare this winter was quite remarkable, with A Midsummer Night's Dream at Sadler's Wells, Booth in The Merchant of Venice and King Richard II, Brooke at Drury Lane, and Fechter at the Princess's. Othello's occupation (on the stage) was extremely popular. We read in the issue of November 9, under the heading "Great Fall of Blacks":—

Five Othellos are stabbing themselves regularly, just now, and there will soon be a sixth, Mr. Charles Kean having ordered the largest pot of blacking Messrs. Day and Martin supply, and having announced that he is cubbing dext.

The vendetta against Charles Kean, it will thus be seen, was so implacable that Punch could not resist the temptation of dragging him in without any provocation.

Another and a greater foreigner dominated the scene in 1863. Of Adelaide Ristori, "the greatest of living actresses" in his opinion, Punch confessed that her genius beggared description. When she appeared at Her Majesty's in the summer of 1863 he declared that "in no English or American dictionary could be found words of sufficient strength" to express his admiration of Adelaide Ristori, or "his compassion for the unhappy person who does not go and behold one or two of her performances. This is a debilitated under-statement of the case.... What a magnificent voice hers is, and how artistically managed. The vox humana is the first musical instrument in the world, but then so few can perform upon it. Our Adelaide is one of the few." Here, at least, Punch's estimate never varied, and was only heightened by further familiarity. When Ristori played Lady Macbeth in English ten years later, Punch owned to some misgivings as to her accent,[28] but on the second performance[Pg 284] he only noticed it twice. Otherwise "there was not, from first to last, one single fault to be found with this remarkable performance."

The Drama in Russia

Foreign actors and actresses were in the main treated handsomely and on their merits by Punch. Bandmann, the German-American actor, was highly commended in 1868 and advised to act Shakespeare. The visit of the audacious Schneider belongs to another phase of the drama, but the condemnation of French acting as a mere "swindle" put into the mouth of "Opie Wing," a "British Veteran—legitimate lead and blank verse heavies," is purely ironical. The methods of the Comédie Française troupe visiting London in 1871 are attacked precisely for the qualities which were their greatest distinction—their refusal to force the note or play to the gallery, their delicacy and self-effacement in the interests of ensemble, as when Delaunay came on in livery just to give a message. Punch's readiness to admit that fruitful suggestions for the improvement of the British Stage might come from the most unexpected foreign quarters receives a curious and even prophetic illustration in his remarks on "The Theatre for the People":—

Russia may well be described as a benighted country! But of all the queer notions ever bred of barbarism, commend us to one in the Pall Mall's latest "Notes from Russia." Conceive a Commission appointed to examine the question of the establishment of a "Theatre for the People"! And more; imagine the Commission reporting strongly that such a theatre should be constructed! A theatre with a moral object! A theatre meant "to divert the people from foolish, vulgar and gross amusements, by providing them with healthy and elevating spectacular entertainments at a cheap rate"! A theatre to contain seats for 2,350 people—say something between Drury Lane and the Lyceum—with 1,300 of the seats at prices varying from 2d. to 4d., and the others from 4d. to 3s. 2d.! This infatuated Committee further report that such a theatre might be made to bring[Pg 285] in a profit of £5,000 a year—or ten per cent, on the capital employed. They recommend that the management should be entrusted to a competent private person, of experience, taste and refinement, and have prepared a repertory of 140 pieces in the Russian language, original and translated, calculated, they think, to forward their object of entertaining and elevating.

They further recommend that lotteries, masked balls, and the sale of spirituous liquors be forbidden in the "Theatre of the People."

Hear that, ye stunning sons of the music-halls—hear that, frequenters of our splendid saloons and brilliant bars! Contrast this barbaric dream of a Russian Blue Book, with the civilized reality of London, where Free Trade in theatres does its work, and the demand is allowed to create the supply of theatrical pabulum for the people, from the Victoria[29] to the penny gaff! The idea of the people being condemned to "healthy and elevating" entertainment; when their betters can revel in the Schneider, the Menken, the Cancan and the Opera Bouffe, the indecent burlesque, the breakdown, and the sensational drama!

Scene in crowded theatre


Matron in Stalls (reads from programme): "'Overture to L'Onfong Prod-eeg.' What does that mean? The prodigious child, eh?"

Accomplished Daughter (shocked): "Mamma, dear! No—'L'Enfant Prodigue'—it means the Infant Prodigy!!"

[Pg 286]

The historic invasion of the Russians did not occur till about forty years later. Of the famous French players who delighted English audiences between 1857 and 1874 the last and not the least fascinating was Aimée Desclée, who, after an arduous apprenticeship to her art and ten years of weary waiting, had been discovered by Alexandre Dumas fils, and leapt into fame in La Femme de Claude, Diane de Lys, Princesse Georges, and, above all, as the original Frou-Frou in the play of that name. Of her it was well said by a French critic that "she had a strange, wandering, unbalanced look that revealed the troubled depths of her soul. Her voice had a most peculiar timbre, and her abrupt utterances, every word of which stung like the strokes of a whip, fell upon a spellbound audience that hung on every word." After fulfilling a brilliant engagement at the Princess's Theatre in 1873 she returned to Paris to die at the age of thirty-seven. The tragedy of her brief success and the exacting temper of the Parisian public are well summed up in Punch's memorial tribute:—

But too late came the harvest of her pains;

The roots of Death had struck deep in her heart;

And what cares Death for glory or for gains,

Guerdon of that short life, so spent for Art?

And she was dying, with the pitiless cry

Of box and pit and gallery in her ear,

"Give us thy life, but act, and, after, die;

It is to live with thy life we are here."

While extending salutations to the foreigners Punch was not slow to acclaim native talent. In 1865 he recognized in Kate Terry "one of the most consummate actresses of her own range of parts we have ever seen on the English Stage." That was said of her appearance in Henry Dunbar in December, 1865, and in June, 1867, in Reade's Dora, "a real English Idyll, sweet, simple, natural and breathing of the country," he found her completely satisfying in a part unlike her usual stage self. Three months later Punch bade her farewell on her marriage and withdrawal from the stage, paying homage to her triple endowment of Genius, Goodness and Beauty, her "innocent[Pg 287] sensitive face," and her gentle, gracious and womanly presence. Her "delicate influence" was a standing disproof of the arguments of those who despaired of true art and its reign on the stage, and she was retiring "from the top of the ladder reached fairly at last with her laurels still springing and none of them blighted."

The Coming of Irving

The rise of Irving from comedy and melodrama to Shakespearean drama is attentively and sympathetically followed. His performance in the "nightmare play" of The Bells is pronounced to be a triumph of merit; the sense of relief experienced on the fall of the curtain was in itself the highest praise. The programme at the Lyceum ended with Pickwick, with Irving as Jingle. Punch regarded it as an incongruity: he preferred to see Irving play The Bells without the Jingle. There was nothing wrong with Charles I but the play. "His make-up was admirable, his playing of the first and the last Act well-nigh faultless; but between these two Acts the actor was left to make the best bricks possible out of the scantiest wisps of straw.... I have no hesitation in saying that the last Act is as affecting a spectacle as anything I have ever seen on the stage." With Irving's Richelieu, in 1873, Punch was disappointed, though allowing him some pathetic moments. But Irving, it is suggested, may have been the victim of the bad traditions attaching to what was after all a pretentious and "wind-baggy" play. Irving's Hamlet was another matter altogether, and is treated very seriously and exhaustively by Punch. It was a "genuine and well-deserved success." No such strong and general sensation had been produced since Fechter, over whom Irving had the great advantage of speaking as a native the tongue in which Shakespeare wrote. No impersonation with which Punch was familiar, including that of Macready, displayed a more consistent conception, more sustained intention, more intelligent mastery of this many-sided character. This much granted, Punch severely criticized Irving's cavalier treatment of the text, his suppressions and omissions, his handling of all the scenes with the Ghost. The psychological interpretation of Hamlet's madness erred through over-emphasis on his pathetic and gentle side. The unsound[Pg 288] strain was kept too much in the background, and consistency was attained at the expense of the text. Sundry scenic innovations are also condemned, and altogether high praise is tempered with a good deal of acute and legitimate criticism. On the vexed question of Hamlet's madness Punch writes intelligently, but without the wit which inspired the immortal couplet in Gilbert's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:—

Hamlet is idiotically sane,

With lucid intervals of lunacy.

There are some good lines, however, in the issue of December 12, 1874, on "Hamlet's Right Hair," whether flaxen or raven. After all, as Punch argues, it is not a question of the thatch of Hamlet's upper storey:

... It is a brain

Fitting the part, that's asked to play the Dane.

Turning from serious drama to melodrama and comedy high and otherwise, we find a liberal acknowledgment of the excitement furnished by the Colleen Bawn, Boucicault's bedevilled version of Gerald Griffin's fine novel The Collegians, when it was produced towards the close of 1860. The plot is fully set forth, and "Jack Easel" confesses that he enjoyed the evening very much. "Whatever may be the opinion of the learned regarding Mr. Boucicault as a dramatist, there can be little doubt of his merits 'on the boards.' I can hardly imagine a better stage Irishman." But Punch, who had no mercy for Boucicault's resentment of criticism, in March, 1862, printed a mock notice signed "Dion Boucicault," threatening condign punishment on all who disparaged his genius or dared to leave the theatre before the curtain fell and D.B. appeared before the same. And a month later we read a mock trial of an unfortunate pittite who had ventured to make some unfavourable comments on the Cave scene. The production of the melodrama founded on Charles Reade's Never Too Late to Mend, in 1865, met with Punch's approval. Some of the audience hissed the prison scenes: yet Menken had been tolerated. This was the famous and notorious Adah Isaacs Menken, a native of

[Pg 289]

"The Menken"

Louisiana; dancer, actress, school teacher, journalist and poetess, married first of all to a Jew, whose faith she adopted, and then to the "Benicia Boy," Heenan, the prize-fighter. After a chequered career on and off the stage in America she appeared at Astley's in Mazeppa in 1864, when Punch made reference to her as "a bare-backed jade on bare-backed steed." It was certainly a succès de scandale, but "the Menken" made a stir in the literary world and found patrons and friends in Charles Reade, Charles Dickens (to whom her volume of poems, Infelicia, was dedicated), and Swinburne. In Paris, to which city she migrated, and where she died in 1869, she enjoyed the friendship of Dumas and Théophile Gautier. "The Menken" was not intended for a placid domestic life; she would not have been in her element at a Mothers' Meeting; but she was a highly educated woman, had studied Latin and Greek, had played Lady Macbeth, and, though not a Sappho, was a much better poetess than Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Masked persons at a play


Happy thought: Incognito secured—blushes concealed—and self-respect preserved (at least outwardly).

[Pg 290]

Another actress of the "hectic" type, about whom Punch as an informal censor morum was much exercised, was the famous Mlle. Schneider, who incarnated the canaillerie of Offenbach, and was the idol of Paris in the years in which the Second Empire was dancing to its doom. She appeared in La Grande Duchesse and La Belle Hélène in London in the season of 1868, drew the town at the St. James's Theatre, but met with little encouragement from the Press. Punch declares that Schneider was far more vulgar in London than in Paris, though on her native heath her performance was witnessed chiefly by ladies of the faster set; and draws the moral that they manage these things better in France. He found her "perhaps scarcely so extravagant in her vulgarity" in La Belle Hélène, but "there is all that excessive grimacing, continual adoption of the 'cad'-tone (which her admirers think so charmingly clever), that pointless introduction of rough horse-play, hitting and kicking, without which Schneider would not be Schneider." So Punch notes, as a "natural consequence" of the indulgence allowed by the Lord Chamberlain to Schneider to "kick up behind and before," like "Ole Joe," on every occasion, the production of the notorious and (for the time) audacious play of Formosa a year later. Formosa was a play of fast life, with scenes at Cookham (hence the name); a strange amalgam of impropriety and sentimentality; and Punch dealt faithfully with the ridiculous situation in which the heroine, discovered by her parents in the most compromising company, "makes a sudden and miraculous leap from the lowest vice to the height of most sublime virtue."

Comedy and Satire

Schneider and Formosa were, however, excrescences on the history of the British stage. A really characteristic Victorian product was the series of "drawing-room comedies" by T. W. Robertson, associated with the Prince of Wales's Theatre in the Tottenham Court Road, and the management of the Bancrofts. Punch thought Play faulty in construction and tricky in its effects, but had nothing but praise for the acting of Marie Wilton, Lydia Foote, Montague, Bancroft and John Hare. With him the Play was not the thing, but the players; still Robertson's later comedies, for all their artificiality, gave an[Pg 291] immense amount of harmless pleasure to Victorian audiences. Elderly playgoers will always retain the pleasantest memories of School and Caste; they were a most amusing "sentimentalization" of a phase of society which has passed away, and fitted the company to perfection. The little playhouse in the Tottenham Court Road did excellent work in other ways, as Punch acknowledged in his dream dialogue with Sheridan, when The School for Scandal was revived in 1874 with Bancroft as Joseph Surface, Coghlan as Charles, Hare "a perfect picture" as Sir Peter, and Mrs. Bancroft admirable in "the rural coquette who had adopted all the graces and manners of a woman of fashion." Another notable Sheridan revival was that of The Rivals at the Haymarket in November, 1870, though Punch notes the disconcerting effect of Buckstone's personality: people roared with laughter at him before he spoke, or if he merely winked.

The satiric drama was dormant until 1873, when The Happy Land was produced at the Court Theatre by Miss Marie Litton on March 17. It was founded on Gilbert's Wicked World, "a fairy comedy," written for Buckstone and the Kendals, and produced at the Haymarket with only moderate success on January 4. The Happy Land was designed by Gilbert himself, but the stage version was mainly worked out by Gilbert Arthur à Beckett. Gilbert's name did not appear on the bill, on which the piece was assigned to F. L. Tomline (i.e., Gilbert) and à Beckett. The Happy Land was a satire on the Gladstonian administration, and three of the principal actors were made up to caricature Gladstone, Lowe and Ayrton—so closely that after a few days the Lord Chamberlain intervened and the make-up was considerably modified. Punch saw the piece before the Lord Chamberlain's order had been issued, and "crabbed" it heavily. Unlike most of those who saw the play, he found little wit in it. There were three or four "palpable hits" in the opening scene, but ten minutes of it were enough: the satire was of the sledge-hammer order, and the slain were hewn over and over again to weariness. "For a short time the First Act was lively; the Second was a faint shadow of the First." Punch's disparagement is rather odd, in view of à Beckett's connexion with the paper: it is hard to avoid the[Pg 292] suspicion that the estrangement from Gilbert, referred to elsewhere, may have coloured his judgment.

The year 1873 was marked by the passing of Macready, who died on April 27. His services to Art, his high aims and neglect of fashion are recognized in the memorial verses, from which we borrow the last stanza:—

Hail and Farewell—thou last of a great line,

Who in ideal art moved as at home!

Because you bowed at a now empty shrine

Was your faith false? Lo, the believing come!

The sentiment is not easily to be reconciled with the generally hopeful view of the theatre expounded by Punch, or his comparison of Irving with Macready a few months later. In this personal context it is interesting to find that Punch's misgivings were at least partially removed by the emergence of a new star of the first magnitude. He had already welcomed Ellen Terry as Puck in the revival of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Queen's Theatre; he now paid an unreserved tribute to her performance in The Wandering Heir at the same theatre in March, 1874:—

Considering the present position of our Theatre, such qualities as spontaneity, grace, the finest truth of accent and emphasis, tenderness in grave passages, mirthfulness in gay ones, and all these fused in an atmosphere of buoyancy and brightness which exhilarates like champagne, and irradiates like light, are something to be indeed thankful for, when found combined in one Actress on an English Stage. They are to be seen combined at this moment in Miss Ellen Terry's impersonation of Philippa, in Mr. Charles Reade's drama of The Wandering Heir, at the Queen's Theatre. Let those who may doubt if such praise nowadays can have a solid foundation, go and admire for themselves. A new power of graceful comedy and womanly sentiment comes to us with the return to the boards of this young and charming Actress, whose eclipse for the last few years has been hard indeed upon a Stage that had no light to spare.

Stage Realism

In the earlier years of this period Punch was much concerned with the craze for sensation, and the stage-realism which leaves nothing to the imagination, but exalts the practical[Pg 293] carpenter at the expense of the dramatic genius. This stock complaint reaches a climax at the close of 1865 in connexion with the announcement in a fashionable paper that in a play to be shortly produced in Paris there would be "a grand park with a real waterfall" and "a real river flowing through the stage." Punch's comments, if not very subtle, are at least a sane contribution to the everlasting conflict over stage illusion waged between "enterprise" and idealism.

Man and woman talking

Well, Syusan, 'ow did yer like Aroorer Floyd last night?"

"Oh! so lovely, Jeames—I cried so! that wicked Conyers!... Oh, Jeames, you won't desert me for our young missus, will you, dear?"

Over-reliance on scenery and machinery was, however, a venial offence compared with the exploits of management recorded in the following year:—

With exquisite good taste a highly enterprising Manager engaged "a few of the survivors" who were rescued from the wreck of the London, and has been paying them to appear every evening at his[Pg 294] theatre, as a prelude to the gambols of Pantaloon and Clown. With a similar high notion of the duties of men catering to entertain the public, another enterprising Manager has hired "kind old Daddy," late of Lambeth Workhouse, to exhibit himself nightly in a new sensation drama, called The Casual Ward. "Sweet are the uses of adversity," when it is utilized in this way for dramatic exhibition; and flourishing indeed is the condition of the drama, when such magnets are deemed requisite to make a play attractive, and to draw a decent house.

If the horrors of the casual ward be thought a fitting subject for dramatic exhibition, perhaps we soon may see a drama called The Union Infirmary, with a score of real paupers all lying really ill. Or a sensation scene of surgery perhaps might prove attractive, and a real leg or arm be amputated nightly, before a crowded house.... Playgoers will thus become familiarized with horrors, which they read of with dismay; and to some minds a calamity may fail to cause regret on the ground of its affording a good subject for the stage.


These particular anticipations have, fortunately, not all been fulfilled, though persons who have been tried (and acquitted) on a murder charge have appeared on the boards of recent years, and the deliberate cult of horrors has become the avowed aim of the disciples of the Grand Guignol school at the Little Theatre. The imaginary forecast in 1858 of the possibilities of playbills as a means of advertisement has long been transcended in fact. More interesting than these speculations is the prophecy which grew out of the complaint against long runs in the middle 'sixties. Punch predicts in the summer of 1864 that if the repertory system is kept up in the provinces Londoners will go to Brighton every night for their play or their opera. The actual fact is that the revival of repertory theatres in the provinces has rendered country cousins less dependent on their periodical visits to London in order to keep abreast with the latest dramatic developments. The mention of Brighton recalls a curious episode illustrative of the social code of mid-Victorian times. In the autumn of 1858 Punch rebukes the headmaster of a Brighton school who sent away the son of a distinguished actor lest it should damage his connexion! Today such a pupil is probably an asset rather than a handicap. The attitude of the Church to the[Pg 295] Stage was hardly benevolent in the 'sixties: this may account for the satisfaction displayed by Punch over the "exceptionally sensible" sermon preached in 1873 at St. James's, Piccadilly, by Lightfoot, then Canon of St. Paul's, and afterwards Bishop of Durham. Dr. Lightfoot maintained that the stage, well conducted, would be an auxiliary of the pulpit; that it was an enormous and powerful instrument in the hands of Society for good or evil; and, while holding that the present state of the drama was far from satisfactory, he paid all honour to those dramatists and managers who were attempting to raise it by not pandering to the vitiated tastes of some of the public. In all of which sentiments he was vigorously applauded by Punch, who could not, however, resist the temptation of making verbal capital out of the preacher's name.

The competition of music-halls with theatres had already begun, and Punch had little or no conception of the length to which it was ultimately destined to be carried. He had no love of the music-hall as then organized, and nothing but contempt for the style of song which flourished in the temples of variety. So when the Bill, promoted in 1865 by Mr. Locke, M.P. for Southwark, for legalizing theatrical performances in music-halls was supported by a "dramatic authors' petition," he fell foul of the petitioners especially in regard to their initial contention:—

"The Lower Middle Class and Working Class have, of late years, developed a large appetite for intellectual amusement, which the number of theatres, and the present construction of theatres (which give no comfortable or proper accommodation for these classes) have failed to satisfy."

Perhaps we may admit that the theatre, as generally conducted nowadays, is not exactly the place in which to satisfy an "intellectual appetite." With our "intellectual appetite," still suffering under the mockery of a Barmecide entertainment, in the shape of a recent course of burlesques, we feel that the intellectual playgoer, like the sheep in Milton's Sonnet, "looks up and is not fed" in our London theatres. But is there not something besides "numbers" and "construction " of theatre to blame here? May not the quality of the theatrical fare provided have a leetle to do with it? And who are the purveyors of that fare but many of the gentlemen who sign this petition.

[Pg 296]

If they fail so miserably in satisfying the "intellectual appetite" of even "the Lower Middle and Working-Class" in our theatres, how are they to satisfy it better in the music-halls which they wish to open for the unlimited consumption of their viands?

If they have anything better to offer, why not try it in the theatres, where they will, at least, find the cooks—such as they are—in the shape of actors, and the best procurable garnish of scenery, dresses, and decorations, without the distractions of chops and steaks, sherry cobblers, cold withouts, and sodas-and-brandies?

... But the less the demand for the opening of the music-halls to theatrical representations is based on the demands of the "intellectual appetite" of the Lower Middle and Working Classes, the better.

Three years later Punch was unable to notice any great improvement in the variety stage:—

The music-hall gentry had a great gathering the other day, for a purpose which we should approve, if we did not hold that the music-hall, as at present conducted, is so pestilent a nuisance that charity can have nothing to say to it. One of the performers had grace or shame enough to deliver some doggerel in which he deprecated the wrath of Punch on the ground that everybody must live. It is the plea usually heard in the dock, and the answer is: "Yes, but decently." But as it is of no use telling the music-hall folks what gentlemen think of them, perhaps they would like to know what the respectable artisan thinks of them, and of the spirit in which it is not impossible that he may deal with them. Here are the words of the organ of hundreds of thousands of the skilled artisans and the Trades Unions, in fact, and we recommend them to special attention:—

"To these glaring temples of dissipation our youth are nightly attracted; where they are being gradually trained to drinking habits; where their minds are debased by the low songs and vulgar exhibitions provided for them; and where their morals are undermined and corrupted by contact with loose associates, when their blood is fired and their brains bemuddled with drink.... The expenditure incurred in those places of amusement keeps young men poor; causes marriage to be greatly postponed—to the increase of vice; or, if entered into, without the necessary provision for making a comfortable home; while the habits they acquire by going there will too frequently cause them to neglect home and family for their nightly amusements."

So says the Beehive speaking the sentiments of the Working Man. We do not think that he will see much force in the mewing plea of "must live."

[Pg 297]

The music-halls of to-day do not call for such censure; they have even become fashionable; but one is tempted to wonder whether there is any modern counterpart in Labour journalism to the austerely Puritan Beehive.

Opera in 1858

In the world of opera the domination of the Italian School of composers and singers, though intermittently and not unsuccessfully assailed, remained practically unbroken throughout this period, 1857-1874. Still, the formation of the company for the performance of English operas by Louisa Pyne and William Harrison in 1856 is a landmark that must not be overlooked. The partnership was dissolved in 1862, but the performances given at the Lyceum, Drury Lane, and Covent Garden theatres in those years anticipated the good work done in later years by the Carl Rosa and other companies. The general musical situation in 1858 is not badly summarized in the lines published at the end of June under the heading "Musicians and Maniacs":—

Three Traviatas in diff'rent quarters,

Three Rigoletti murd'ring their daughters!!

Three Trovatori beheading their brothers,

By the artful contrivance of three gipsy mothers!!!

Verdi in the Haymarket, Verdi at the Lane,

Green's in Covent Garden, and Verdi again!

Was ever a being so music be-ridden,

Barrel-organ-beground, German brass-band bestridden;

What with all the Concerts at all the Halls,

And the Oratorios—Samsons and Sauls

Mozart and Mendelssohn, Haydn and Handel—

All lights of the Art in every part,

From the blaze of the Sun to a farthing-candle!

And the Classical Matinées,

With Clauss's touch satiny,

That to hear her your heart seems to go pit-a-pat in ye—

And Hallé so dignified, pure and sonorous,

And Henry Leslie's amateur chorus,

And fair Arabella, so melting and mellow,

That she charms the stern judgment of Autocrat Ella,

And Rubinstein—rapid and rattling of fist,

That one cries out with Hamlet's Papa, "Liszt, Oh Liszt."

Ella was the founder and director of the "Musical Union,"[Pg 298] which gave Chamber Music Concerts much on the lines of the famous "Pops"; Arabella was Arabella Goddard, the leading British pianist. Henry Leslie's choir for the performance of madrigal music carried off the prize against all comers at Paris in 1867. Wilhelmine Clauss was the Bohemian pianist, known in later years as Mme. Szarvady. To return to opera: it is amusing to find precisely the same charge hurled against Verdi as against Wagner twenty or thirty years later—that he cracked or wore out voices in their vain effort to contend against orchestral din. Grisi was still the chief diva, though a new star had arisen in Titiens, whose name spurred Punch to display his metrical prowess:—

We've got a great artist, a lady named Titiens,

Whose praises we'd sing, but her name will not rhyme.

Stuff! Horace reminds you, with "Tantalus sitiens,"

We've thirsted for music like hers a long time.

The Advent of Patti

The new Opera House had been opened at Covent Garden, and on the first night patrons complained of getting covered with white, as the paint was still fresh. The "Music of the Future" continues to excite Punch's derision, and at the close of 1858 he seizes the opportunity of running a tilt against Lohengrin:—

Meyerbeer's opera of the Africaine seems to be "The Opera of the Future," for there appears but little chance of its ever being played in our lifetime. How many years has it not been locked up in the great composer's portfolio, undergoing a species of African slavery, of which manager after manager has tried in vain to find the musical key. However, we are sorry to find Meyerbeer lending his great name to Messrs. Wagner, Liszt, and other crotchet-mongers of the Music of the Future, in support of their inharmonious fallacies, that have lately been aired in a grand pretentious production, called Lohengrin. A "grin" seems to be the end of all their Operas, though at best it is but a melancholy one, and anything but flattering to those who provoke it. The Viennese are all Lohengrinning like mad. We wish Meyerbeer would put this band of musical fanatics to shame by allowing his Africaine to become an "Opera of the Present," instead of "the Future," and so prove to these hare-brained gentlemen what good music really is. The best Music of the Future is that which has the elements of vitality in[Pg 299] every note of it, so that there can be no doubt about its living several scores of years after its production. The specimen that we know of this class is Don Giovanni, and our would-be Mozarts cannot do better than take it as a model.

Lady talking to drummer


Lady (to big drum): "Pray, my good man, don't make that horrid noise. I can't hear myself speak!"

Punch's enthusiasm for Piccolomini had so far cooled that when a testimonial to her was suggested in 1860, he declined his support on the ground that she was "a pretty little personage, of good family, who, by force of bright eyes, intelligent acting, and a charming smile, pleased the public into a belief that she was a lyric artist." Moreover, if there was to be a testimonial, Grisi was the proper recipient. The following year was noteworthy for the advent of Patti, unheralded by any strident flourish of trumpets. Punch's first reference to her début in May was brief and ambiguous, and disfigured by a pun on her name. Six weeks later he remains still unshaken in his allegiance to his old heroines—Malibran, Jenny Lind, and Grisi—and suspends his judgment on the newcomer. Patti's[Pg 300] arrival coincided with the "final farewell appearances" of Grisi, a mistress of the grand style as singer and actress, queen-like in her gestures and gait, unequalled even by Titiens (in Punch's opinion) in Norma and as Donna Anna; but Punch soon succumbed to the furore for Patti. As Zerlina she was "more charming than he expected," and a year later he celebrated his enslavement in jingling rhyme:—

O charming Adelina!

How sweet is thy Amina

How bewitching thy Zerlina!

How seldom has there been a

More tunable Norina!

And have I ever seen a

More enjoyable Rosina?

But to tell the praise I mean a-

-Las! there should have been a

Score more rhymes to Adelina.

Punch said what he could in 1861 of two forgotten operas—Balfe's Puritan's Daughter, with Santley in the cast, and Benedict's Lily of Killarney, a tertiary deposit from The Collegians—but found more congenial occupation in the spring of 1862 in levelling the shafts of ineffectual, because uninstructed, ridicule against Wagner:—


We read that Herr Wagner is about to compose a comic opera, music and words. We agree with our facetious contemporary, The Musical World,[30] that we never heard an opera of Wagner's yet that was not more, or less, comic.... As this gentleman's music is said to belong to "The Future"—and certainly as a Present it is not worth having—we suppose he generally gets it executed by the celebrated Band of "Hope."


Wagner and Gounod

Herr Wagner, the great composer, "for the future" (a.d. 1962), has received sharp orders from the King of Saxony to return home[Pg 301] instantly. Is the King jealous that other parts of the Continent should have so much of the services of his Kapellmeister, and he comparatively so little? He probably wishes to have Wagner all to himself. Far from quarrelling with the desired monopoly, in the cause of music we heartily rejoice at it. The royal edict will have the effect of narrowing the evil of contaminating compositions. It is tantamount to a musical quarantine. Travellers must not venture too near, or else they may be infected with one of his malignant airs, which are not so catching, perhaps, as they are lowering, leaving a fearful sense of depression behind them. Henceforth, the flights of The Flying Dutchman will be restricted to one kingdom instead of half a dozen. We hope Wagner will be confined to Dresden all his life. Our Philharmonic will gain from his imprisonment. It will run no further risk of being nearly knocked on the head from another blow of his erratic baton.

The chief operatic attractions of 1863 are set forth in an excellent mock-Virgilian Eclogue in which the two rival impresarios, Gye and Mapleson, figure as Damoetas and Menalcas and Punch as Palaemon. Patti's popularity is attested in the couplet:—

My little Patti all the world must own

The nicest little party ever known.

Group of women around musician ignoring two  other speakers


Literature, Science, and Music at an evening party. Total defeat of the two former.

The list of celebrities includes Titiens, Carvalho, Trebelli, Mario, Tamberlik (a heroic tenor, famous for his "ut de poitrine"), Giuglini, Faure, Formes, Santley—all of them long dead, except the last, who had, in 1862, just cast in his lot with Italian opera. He took part in the first performance of Faust in England as Valentine, and with such success that Gounod wrote for him the additional number "Dio possente." Faust is a landmark in the annals of opera in England; because it was the first work which shook the allegiance of the fashionable world to the Italian school, and for fifty years at least enjoyed a popularity equal to that of the early Verdi, of Donizetti, Bellini, and Rossini, and, judged by the test of performances, greater than that of Mozart or Meyerbeer. Faust was certainly founded on Italian rather than German traditions, but there was much in it that was essentially French, and one turns with curiosity to read how it struck so orthodox and, in some ways,[Pg 302] so insular a critic as Punch. He treated the opening performance perfunctorily, briefly observing that the opera seemed to suit everyone's taste, but made his amende a month later:—

Thank you, M. Gounod; thank you, Mr. Gye; thank you, Mr. Mapleson.[31] As produced by your exertions Faust is certainly Faust-rate. Mr. Punch makes his apology for not saying so before, but he is not like some clairvoyants who can criticize by foresight. Moreover, such cascades of praise have spouted on all sides that he feared a while to add to the laudatory deluge. Now, having seen and heard and reflected at his leisure, Punch is ready to allow that the shower of superlatives has not fallen undeserved, and he will own that M. Gounod has produced the sweetest, prettiest and pleasantest new opera that, since the first night of Les Huguenots, the world has seen brought forth. The only drawback Mr. Punch felt when he witnessed the performance was that M. Gounod had not set the Brocken Scene. With that addition, Faust might have eclipsed Der Freischütz, and even without this it is not far inferior.

[Pg 303]

"Homeric Catalogue of Singers"

Many of the greatest singers of the time appeared in these performances. Miolan-Carvalho (the original Marguerite), Faure (the first Mephistopheles), Giuglini, the incomparable Trebelli, and Santley. Patti assumed the rôle of the heroine in the following year with great success; but Punch did not fail to welcome Titiens as Leonora in Fidelio, an achievement which he describes as "noble music nobly rendered." It was in 1864 again that the efforts of English opera to raise its diminished head called forth Punch's satire. Foreign opera still held the field, and the only English feature of the venture was the conductor Mellon.

The "Homeric Catalogue of Singers," published on April 1, 1865, shows how formidable was the competition of the foreign singers, headed by Patti, Lucca, and the honey-tongued Miolan-Carvalho, with other prima donnas from Munich, Berlin, Milan, Moscow, and Lisbon, and, amongst men, Mario, Wachtel ("the far-famed shouter of high notes"), Ronconi (a great actor and humorist) Tagliafico, and half a dozen others whose names have fallen into the limbo of forgotten singers.

Meyerbeer's long-promised and posthumous L'Africaine arrived at last in the summer season of 1865, but before its performance on July 22, with Pauline Lucca in the part of Selika, the libretto of this "grand new old opera" is irreverently burlesqued by Punch with delightful pictures by Du Maurier. We can only find room for an excellent travesty of the Song of Inez:—

I go to execution,

'Tis righteous retribution,

And by this Constitution

All foreigners must die—

and the excellent and well-merited criticism of the execrable singing of the opera chorus (old style).

Woman with big hair talking to boy


Little Tommy Bodkin takes his cousins to the gallery of the Opera.

Pretty Jemima: (who is always so considerate): "Tom, dear, don't you think you had better take off your hat, on account of the poor people behind?" you know?"

Nilsson and Grisi

Punch returns to L'Africaine a couple of months later, but in a vein of irresponsible ribaldry. Punch's notice, however, is valuable because it is a good (if partly unconscious) satire on the attitude of the frivolous opera-goer who goes (or shall we say went) to the opera to be amused and titillated, to see and[Pg 304] be seen, to applaud the "stars" in their show songs, but for the rest deaf to the appeal of poetry and passion. Punch, at his worst, never sank to this level, witness his appreciation of Jenny Lind and Titiens and Ronconi; but the glamour of good looks and a fine voice seldom failed to touch his susceptible heart. His appreciation of Christine Nilsson on her appearance in 1867 is, with certain reserves, a good estimate of one who in her prime was an almost perfect Marguerite, or perhaps one should say Gretchen, and who might have stepped out of one of the canvases of Kaulbach:—

It is not usual, I know, to wear thick boots at the opera; but I regretted very much that, obeying my young wife, I had put on a thin pair, when I went the other night to hear the new young Swedish[Pg 305] singer. I have seldom been more charmed than I was by her fresh voice, fair face, and her agreeable demeanour. She sings in a pure style, with intelligence and taste, and she can hold a long soft note with none of the affected trembling of the voice which of late has been so fashionable. Her tones are clear and full, high but never shrill; and she has no need of French polish to conceal those cracks and blemishes which Verdi makes in thin weak voices. She is very young at present, and must not be crudely criticized; but she seems by nature gifted for the operatic stage, and having ardour and ambition to shine lastingly upon it. Because she happens to be Swedish, people think of their old favourite, and make absurd comparisons between a finished artist in the climax of her fame and a clever débutante who is wishful to be famous. The parallel, though premature, may in one point be permitted, for these Swedes have both the gift of singing not to the ears only, but simply to the heart; and though Christine Nilsson may not be a second Jenny Lind, she is even now among the very first of prime donne.

In 1868 regret is expressed that Royalty bestowed more patronage on Offenbach than Handel—the Handel Festival coinciding with the production of La Grande Duchesse in 1868; on the other hand, Patti's marriage to the Marquis de Caux is thought worthy of a mention under the heading of "Essence of Parliament"! In 1869 Punch notes the knighthood conferred on Costa, whom he had once described as "the tamer of wild prima donnas," and pays homage to Grisi, who died at the close of the year:—


Nay, no elegies nor dirges!

Let thy name recall the surges,

Waves of song, whose magic play

Swept our very souls away:

And the memories of the days

When to name thee was to praise;

Visions of a queenly grace,

Glowings of a radiant face,

Art's High Priestess! at her shrine

Ne'er was truer guard than thine.

Were it Love, or were it Hate,

It was thine, and it was great.

[Pg 306]

Glorious Woman—like to thee

We have seen not, nor shall see.

Lost the Love, the Hate, the Mirth—

Light upon thee lie the earth!

Hervé's Chilpéric is hailed in 1870 as a welcome substitute for the tyranny of Schneider and Offenbach; as for Tannhäuser, Punch was apparently very much of the same way of thinking as the members of the Jockey Club in Paris, who received it with whistles and cat-calls in 1861:—


A Solo by Mr. Crusty, after hearing a Selection from the Opera of Tannhäuser

"The music of the future," eh?

Well, some may think it pleasant!

But when such trash again they play,

I'll for the future hope I may

Not be among the present!

Mario's farewell benefit, on July 19, 1871, when he played Fernando in La Favorita for the last time in London, was a scene of "roaring and wreaths" described with mingled humour and emotion by Punch, who hailed the retiring idol as the Prince of Lyric Artists:—

Though lost to ear

To memory dear

I ne'er shall look upon his like again!

Lady sitting next to child at piano


Anyone who wishes to study the true dramatic expression of the Tragic Muse in the act of drinking the last bitter cup of despair to the very dregs, should watch a young mother teaching the elements of music to her first-born.

Popular Songs in 1858

Concert music between 1841 and 1857 began and ended, so far as Punch was concerned, with Jullien. To what we have written in the previous volume of Jullien's disasters and death, it may here be added that Punch bade him God-speed on the grand tour in 1858 which was to restore his fortunes, and when the end came was active in canvassing for funds to support his widow and family, who were left totally unprovided for. Also, that he repeated his tribute to Jullien's great services as an educator of the "shilling-paying public." The taste of the musical million was still a matter of concern to Punch. His[Pg 307] detestation of street bands, Ethiopians, Germans, Tyrolese, and Italians—principally emissaries of Verdi, his pet aversion—amounted almost to an obsession. The names of the popular songs in 1858—"Jim Crow" and "Keemo Kimo" were certainly not romantic. At a concert held in St. James's Hall in June, 1858, a negro song was sung with the delectable refrain: "Flip up in de scidimadinc, jube up in de jubin jube." Punch found some solace, however, in the concerts at Sydenham, where morceaux of Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Handel, served up by Costa, took the sickly taste of Traviata out of his mouth. Punch's own education was advancing, but he had not yet learnt to spell Liszt's name properly. The extravagances of Liszt worship, which certainly reached a pitch never surpassed in the annals of musical idolatry, are burlesqued in a series of paragraphs aimed at Wagner as well as his son-in-law to be. Writing of Liszt's "fearful engagement"[Pg 308] in Dresden, in 1859, he facetiously asserts that "Not less than two pianos were killed under him, and upwards of two dozen music-stools severely wounded." The "encore nuisance" had already found in Punch a strenuous critic; and a tumultuous scene at the Surrey Hall, when Sims Reeves had withstood the demands of a rowdy section of the audience for half an hour, provoked an indignant fulmination against the brutal exigencies of concert goers. Sydenham was in the main a centre of musical culture, but there was a slight lapse from grace at the end of this year when the "Calliope" or "Steam Orchestra" was imported from America. It was in reality only a big barrel organ, which gave out more steam than harmony. But the Crystal Palace redeemed itself in the following year by the performance of the Elijah, at a Mendelssohn commemoration, by 3,000 performers before an audience numbering 18,000. Sims Reeves, Miss Dolby, and Madame Parepa were the soloists; and Punch could think of no better praise of the last-named singer than to say that she reminded him of his Clara. For there was a Clara in those days, too: Clara Novello, the friend of Charles Lamb, all unmusical though he was, who had won the praise of Schumann at the outset of her distinguished career as a very great and noble oratorio singer. Punch went to hear her last farewell at the Crystal Palace in the autumn of 1860; "went, heard, and for the thousandth time was conquered."

The year 1860 was also noteworthy for the visit of the French Orphéonistes, a body of choral singers directed by M. Delaporte. The visit afforded Punch great sport because of the special "Vocabulaire et Guide des Orphéonistes Français à Londres" which was specially issued for their benefit, and contained, amongst other delights, a full transliteration of the National Anthem beginning:—

"God sève aoueur grésheuss Couinn."

The "Pops"

Blondin's performances at the Crystal Palace, which were a great feature of 1861, suggested to Punch that the concerts might be popularized if the performers appeared on the tight rope. But this was "wrote sarcastic"; the morbid taste of the[Pg 309] public for witnessing dangerous performances is repeatedly rebuked, and as a matter of fact Blondin was forbidden to trundle his child in a wheelbarrow along the tight rope.

Man carrying large musical instrument


Intelligent Youth of Country Town: "Ah say, Bill, 'ull that be Elijah goin' oop i' that big box?"

Orchestral music was still a luxury, but London was waking up. August Manns, who succeeded Jullien at Drury Lane in 1859, had provided the public with "more music and less row than in the Jullienic era"; but his great work was done at the Crystal Palace. The "Pops," which came in the 'fifties and were cordially supported by Punch, have gone, and with them St. James's Hall, where for so many years the votaries of chamber music listened to Joachim and Patti, Hallé and Lady Hallé, Madame Schumann, and other great artists: and Exeter Hall, where the Sacred Harmonic Concerts were held, has undergone a startling metamorphosis. Oratorio has lost something of its hold on the British public. But the work done by the "Pops" can never be forgotten; and the multiplication of first-rate string quartets can be traced in great measure to their[Pg 310] inspiring influence in the days when they were attended by George Eliot and Herbert Spencer, Browning and Leighton.

Another pioneer whose talents Punch was quick to recognize was John Parry, the first, and as some old critics think, the best of the series of single-handed musical entertainers. Parry began as a serious musician, but soon found that his true bent lay in humorous sketches of the trials and tribulations and futilities of amateurs. After seeing Dundreary for the nineteenth time, Punch was persuaded by a friend to see John Parry in Mrs. Roseleaf's Party at the Gallery of Illustration. He was rewarded by a truly exhilarating impersonation of Mrs. Roseleaf, her little pet daughter, a tender tenor with a chronic cold in his head, a fascinating ringleted "Gusheress," and a matter-of-fact musician—all done by one gentlemanly actor without change of dress. Parry's gifts as a pianist extorted the admiration of eminent artists, and we may pardon Punch for saying that "none but himself can be his Parrylel."

Sims Reeves

Sims Reeves had been energetically supported by Punch in his refusal of encores. But when he was "conspicuous by his absence, as everybody might have known," on the occasion of a charitable performance in 1864, Punch made bold to observe that "considering how often Mr. Reeves is indisposed, it is high time that a deputy should be permanently hired for him." On this particular occasion "the usual medical certificate was produced and read amid the laughter of the audience, who had clearly come prepared to hear the usual apology which is expected now whenever Mr. Sims Reeves is announced." These are hard words, but the excuse was so frequently made that concert-givers in the provinces were in the habit of posting over their bills the reassuring announcement: "Sims Reeves has arrived." Even then he could not always be reckoned on. The famous tenor had undoubtedly a very delicate throat, and objected strongly to sing if he was not feeling perfectly fit. But his inordinate vanity was also a contributory cause. Sir Charles Hallé used to tell a story how, on one occasion, when Sims Reeves was engaged to sing at Manchester, he failed to appear at rehearsal. Hallé went off at once to his hotel—for he had "arrived"—and was told that Mr. Reeves was[Pg 311] too ill to sing; but persisting in his intention, he was admitted to the sick chamber and found that the illness was due to the fact that Sims Reeves's name had been printed in the bills in the same type as the other performers. Sir Charles Hallé accordingly sent for copies, and by a process of accurate measurement succeeded in demonstrating that this awful act of lèse-majesté had not been committed and that "Sims Reeves" was printed in larger capitals than any other name. Whereupon the patient made a wonderful recovery and fulfilled his engagement.

Drawing room scene

(What they have to put up with sometimes.)

Affable Duchess (to Amateur Tenor, who has just been warbling M. Gounod's last): "Charming! Charming! You must really get somebody to introduce you to me."

As the "Pops" fulfilled Punch's ideal of a model chamber music concert, so the Saturday concerts at the Crystal Palace, conducted by Manns, with "G" (Sir George Grove[32]) as programme[Pg 312] writer, best satisfied his requirements in the domain of the symphony and orchestral music generally. Charles Keene's picture in 1866 of the two enthusiasts, one political and one musical, is a pleasing comment on the growth of musical taste. They both agree that Monday had been a glorious night, but the one was thinking of Gladstone in the House, the other of Joachim in the Kreutzer Sonata.

Punch had already saluted John Parry; he extended a similar welcome in 1867 to the German Reed entertainment at St. George's Hall:—

It is really quite a novelty to hear some comic singing done by English singers, without feeling a strong wish that one had been born deaf. "Tol de rol," and "Rumti-iddity," and such old English comic choruses, have long since had their day. Go to the St. George's Opera if you would know what comic English choruses should be. In the interests of good music, we thank Mr. German Reed for giving men a chance of hearing something better, in the way of comic singing, than "Champagne Charley," or "Costermonger Joe." We hope his charming little opera-house will tempt people from going to the vulgar, stupid music-halls, when they want to hear some singing which may make them laugh.

This, be it remarked, was at the time when the favourite popular songs were "Champagne Charley," "Not for Joseph," and "Paddle Your Own Canoe," and when, in consequence, Punch's complaints of the idiocy of music-hall songs were both frequent and free.


Depreciation and Discovery

Punch's virtual conversion to the principles of Pre-Raphaelitism has already been noted, and the alliance was confirmed by the enterprise of his publishers in connexion with Once a Week, to which Millais, Sandys, and Rossetti were regular contributors. So we are not surprised to find his criticisms of the Royal Academy growing in frankness and even hostility during the early years of the period now under review. In June, 1858, he complains of the monotony of the subjects chosen for treatment at the annual show—endless portraits of a lady or gentleman; Tom Jones and Sophia; Sancho Panza and the Duchess; Moses and the Spectacles; Sir Roger de Coverley; Bruce and the[Pg 313] Spider. To the same year belongs his protest against the patronage of foreign sculptors à propos of the Wellington Memorial Competition. But the point of his criticism is rather blunted by his failure to acknowledge the merits of native genius, as represented by Alfred Stevens, that "rare artist, too little recognized and revered," as a modern writer has truthfully described him. Punch refers to his design, but misspells his name "Stephens," and evidently saw nothing uncommon in his work. Against this lapse may be set the evidence of a true flair two years later. Amid a wilderness of mediocrities Punch finds an oasis or two at the Academy Exhibition of 1860. The names of most of the exhibitors are forgotten, but there is one notable exception:—

One would have expected Mr. Whistler's talents to have been developed on the flute rather than At the Piano (598). Nevertheless the painting of that title shows genius. The tone which he has produced from his piano is admirable, and he has struck on it a chord of colour which will, I hope, find an echo in his future works.

[Pg 314]

Group looking at a statue


Sarah Jane: "Lawks! Why, it's hexact like our Hemmer!"

In 1861 the practice of holding "single picture" shows, charging for the privilege of beholding one canvas the price of a whole exhibition, comes in for semi-serious rebuke at the hands of an income-tax payer. But there was another evil against which Punch inveighed with positive ferocity in the tirade provoked by the Academy Banquet of 1862. The Royal Academy was not merely "mean in its local habitation" (the present exhibition rooms were not built till 1866), it was mean all through:—

Mean in its spirit, its schools, in the quality of the Art it has most fostered and engendered, mean in the self-seeking spirit of its rules of exhibition; mean in its treatment of the greatest men who have belonged to it, and still more, of the painters outside its pale; mean in the cliques which divide its own ranks, and the jealousies which distract its councils.

But it reaches the climax of its meanness once a year—at its Annual Dinner—and at this year's dinner it has capped the climax of meanness reached by all the dinners of all the years since first the Academy dined together.

This Academy Dinner is like the banquet which the poor lunatic, whose story is told by Sir Walter Scott, used to be set down to every day in his cell at the asylum. He fancied his table spread with a magnificent dinner of three courses, and ate of this imaginary feast with great gusto; but "somehow" he used to whisper to his visitors, "everything tastes of porridge." So at the Academy dinner everything tastes of toads.

The R.A. Banquet

The writer proceeds to drive home this indictment of Sir Charles Eastlake's[33] fulsome flattery of noble patrons and the niggardly encouragement of real talent by the familiar device of a dream. At the dinner of his vision great foreign painters are welcomed, and the solidarity of the Arts confirmed by the invitation of illustrious musicians and men of letters. Then comes the awakening:—

The newspaper reports of the Academy dinner lay before me, with its small list of distinguished statesmen, its long bead-roll of Titled Nobodies who never bought a picture or gave a commission to a painter; its absence of every one of the distinguished artists by rare chance assembled in London; its ignoring of foreign letters, and its scanty recognition of the respect due to native literature; its[Pg 315] utter passing by of the claims of the Sister Arts—Music and the Drama; the fulsome fulness of its laudations of all who can influence its fortunes by favour; its sycophancy of rank and title and outward influence, and that in the face of a series of cool contemptuous disclaimers of all knowledge or interest in Art by the men before whom in succession the Academic speaker knocked his forehead on the ground; and lastly, as if to sum up in one unmeaning act the stupid snobbishness that marks the whole of this Academic entertainment, the toast of "Literature and its prospects and influences on Art" relegated to the very end of the feast, when every other institution which it can enter into the heart of a respectful and awe-stricken Academician to bow down to has been honoured, and when the lordly guests whom the bad dinner has disagreed with, or the President's eloquence has bored, have left the spaces at the tables, lately filled by their august heads, vacant.

Photographer taking picture


Sitter: "Oh, I think this position will do; it's natural and easy."

Photographer: "Ah, that may do in ordinary life, ma'am; but in photography it's out of the question entirely!"

The Royal Academy has, in many respects, reformed itself out of all recognition as the institution which provoked and justified this explosion. It is only one of the many evidences which go to prove how much more than a merely comic journal[Pg 316] Punch was that he should have contributed as damaging an attack as was ever penned against the principles and policy of the R.A. in the days when it laid itself most open to criticism.

There are not many events in the art world in the 'sixties dealt with in so serious a vein. When Frith's Railway Station was purchased in 1863 for £20,000 by a Mr. Flatou, Punch contented himself with calling the purchaser a "Flatou Magico." There are friendly and well-merited memorial notices of John Phillip, R.A., in 1867, and of Alexander Munro, the Scottish sculptor, in 1871, while in 1870 Punch supported the appeal for funds to put up a tombstone to George Cattermole, who died poor.

English etching was "up in the market" in 1871. Punch has high praise for Seymour Haden, higher still for Whistler, his "brother-in-law and etching master." The peculiar quality and historic interest of the etchings contained in the portfolio issued by Ellis, of King Street, Covent Garden, have seldom been better described than in this appreciation:—

Whistler has etched the tumble-down bank-side buildings of Thames, from Wapping and Limehouse and Rotherhithe to Lambeth and Chelsea, above-bridge—great gaunt warehouses, and rickety sheds, and balconies and gazebos hanging all askew, and rotting piles and green weeded quays and oozy steps and hards, where masts and yards score the sky over your head, and fleets of barges darken the mud and muddy water at your feet, and all is pitchy and tarry, and corny and coaly, and ancient and fishlike.

Such etchings of this queer long-shore reach and marine-store dealers, and ship-chandlers, bonded warehousemen, and boat-builders, ancient mariners, and corn-porters, wherry-men, and wharfingers, Thames-police, and mud-larks, are all the more precious because the beauties they perpetuate are dying out—what with embankments and improvements, increased value of river frontage, and natural decay of planking and piling. Whistler has immortalized Wapping, and given it the grace that is beyond the reach of anything but art. Let all lovers of good art and marvellous etching who want to know what Father Thames was like before he took to having his bed made, invest in Whistler's portfolio.

Academy Pictures in 1872

Punch was a great Londoner, and his enthusiasm for an artist who was able to perpetuate the romance and magic of the "ancient river" carries weight. He scores some palpable[Pg 317] hits, again, in the "Academy Rhymes," published in 1872, which begin:—

Bad pictures hot!

Bad pictures cold!

Bad pictures such a lot!

So well sold!

This shaft is especially aimed at Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A., and Mr. James Sant, R.A. Millais's famous Hearts are Trumps is neatly hit off in the quatrain:—

Liz, Di, and Mary, cool and airy,

How does your garden grow?

Azaleas in clumps, and hearts for trumps,

And three pretty maids in a row.

Couple listening to duet


Enthusiastic Young Lady: "Oh, Mr. Robinson, does not it ever strike you in listening to sweet music, that the rudiment of potential infinite pain is subtly woven into the tissue of our keenest joy?"

Punch was in no doubt as to the merits of one of the famous pictures of the year:—

About "Harbours of Refuge," no year

But some M.P.'s a valuable talker;

But my "Harbour of Refuge" is here

And its C.E. is A.R.A. Walker!

[Pg 318]

But he was sadly to seek in his disparagement of Mason's beautiful Harvest Moon:—

Sweet, but scamped in every part,

Such half-work most students guide ill:

The free-masonry of Art

Asks more labour, e'en in Idyll.

Men discussing two ladies


Tom: "I say, old man, now you've got that stunning house of yours, you ought to be looking out for a wife!"

Rodolphus: "Quite so. I was thinking of one of those Miss Gibsons, don't you know."

Tom: "Ah! Let me recommend the tall one, old man. She'll make the best wife in the world!"

Rodolphus: "Quite so. But the short one seems to harmonize better with the kind of furniture I go in for—buhl and marqueterie, don't you know."

Sir Edwin Landseer

Landseer had often been severely handled by Punch for his accommodating courtiership, but when he died in the autumn of 1873, the long set of memorial verses which appeared on October 11 overlook this infirmity and concentrate on Landseer's services as a teacher of sympathy between man and brute. He was the first of painters who "give dumb things a soul"—in the faithful collie in the lone shieling with his head on his master's coffin; in his St. Bernards and antlered monarchs of[Pg 319] the glen. It may be objected that the soul which Landseer gave his animals was a human soul and a sentimental one at that, and that Bewick had forestalled him with a more accurate diagnosis; but the insistence on Landseer's services as a promoter of the entente cordiale between man and beast is well justified. Landseer at the moment of his passing was probably, as Punch contends, "our best-known name in Art." The writer of the verses traces the official recognition of artists abroad:—

Till even upon this, our little isle

That looms so large in light of various fames,

The fair Queen deigned at last, though late, to smile

And dubbed her Knights—a few but glorious names.

But surely this is to overlook the knighthoods of Van Dyck and Lely (both from the Netherlands), to say nothing of Sir Joshua.

The campaign directed against the extravagances of aestheticism by Du Maurier belongs in the main to a later decade, but even in the early 'seventies the vagaries of preciosity had already begun to furnish him with fruitful subjects for genial satire.

[29] The "Old Vic," now reclaimed very much on the lines of the Russian ideal.

[30] The Musical World was edited by J. W. Davison, the musical critic of The Times, a well-equipped musician, an unflinching champion of Mendelssohn and a bitter and persistent disparager of Wagner and Schumann.

[31] Faust was produced at Her Majesty's Theatre (Mapleson) on June 11 and at Covent Garden (Gye) on July 2.

[32] Grove was then—in 1872—the manager of the Crystal Palace, and late in that year Punch wrote of him, "The Crystal Palace has never been so well kept as under the sway of my friend Mr. George Grove, Nemorum pulcherrimus ordo—Grove's rule is most admirable."

[33] Another Charles Eastlake, the namesake and nephew of the P.R.A., for many years contributed art-criticism to Punch over the signature "Jack Easel," but was clearly free from the suspicion of family bias.

[34] Some Experiences of a Barrister's Life.

[Pg 320]


In the period under review in this volume England was dominated by two monstrosities, the crinoline and the Claimant. Fortunately they were not concurrent or England might have succumbed beneath the double incubus. The former was pronounced "gone" in 1867, the same year in which the arrival and recognition of the so-called Sir Roger Tichborne as the rightful heir was announced in the columns of Punch. The historic trial soon loomed large on the horizon, though it did not open till 1871. Of this portent some notice will be found elsewhere. Of the crinoline it is no exaggeration to say that Punch waged war against it for ten solid years; his pages resolve themselves into a sort of Crinoliniad; and when the monster fell it was not by force of arms assisted by guile as in the parallel campaign against Troy, but by its own absurdity and through the weariness of its supporters. With Punch it was a positive obsession. The extravagances of the crinoline dominate his "social cuts" from 1857 onwards. In 1858 he tells us that "Fops' Alley" at the opera is to be rechristened "Petticoat Lane"; and that the Ladies' Gallery in the House of Commons is to be enlarged as a concession to the lateral expansion of women's skirts. The popular negro song "Hoop de Dooden Doo" is re-written to fit the prevailing fashion, and a classical lyric, "My Flora," is perverted to suit the same purpose. Even at this early stage, however, Punch seems to have recognized the futility of his crusade. As he puts it:

The more you scoff, the more you jeer,

The more the women persevere

In wearing this apparel queer.

Crinoline Absurdities

He applauds the railway companies for their alleged determination to charge for ladies' trunks by size, not weight, but[Pg 321] adds: "It's no use trying to laugh or reason women out of it (crinoline). In all matters of dress and in that of crinoline especially, the mind female is impervious to ridicule and reason. The only argument to use with them is the argumentum ad pocketum."

Women in crinolines


The last sweet things in hats and walking sticks at Biarritz.

Punch, though pessimistic, was persevering, if inconsistent, and continued to rely largely on the weapon of ridicule, and he had no lack of material. Thus we read in December, 1858:—

Visitors to the Cattle Show, at least those who go in Crinoline, would do well before they start to read the following short paragraph, which we extract for their perusal from a country print:-

"The Show was attended by several of the fair sex, for whose admission special means of entrance were provided. Through a pardonable neglect on the part of the Committee, this was neglected to be done at first, and a highly amusing incident occurred through the omission. Within a very few minutes of the Show being opened, a distinguished party of ladies and gentlemen arrived, and on coming to the turnstile (which was then the only entrance) it was discovered that the ladies, who we need not say were dressed in[Pg 322] all the amplitude of fashion, could not possibly squeeze through so limited a space. In this dilemma, as the turnstile could not possibly be widened to the width that was required, the only course was, obviously, to throw open the great gates, through which the ladies, not without a titter, sailed majestically Show-wards in the wake of the prize beasts."

Ridicule, again, inspires the caricature of crinolines in the park chairs, or the account of children in crinolines. In 1861 Punch describes a child of four at an evening party who was fully six times and a half as broad as she was long, and reads a homily on the danger of implanting such follies in the mind of susceptible youth, since the child is the mother of the woman as well as the father of the man. There is, too, a burlesque picture of a modern governess giving a geography lesson on a globe formed by her own inflated skirts. But often he struck a serious note, and his suggestion of a crinoline hospital was not so absurd in view of frequent accidents, such as the following:—


Notwithstanding all that Punch has said upon the subject, the accidents from Crinolines are, it would seem, upon the increase. Half a score at least have occurred through fire since Christmas, and several others we could cite have taken place from other causes. One of the last we saw reported was occasioned by a dress being caught up by a cab-wheel while the wearer was crossing a street at the West End. Here the victim was so fortunate as to escape with merely a bad fracture of her leg; but in most cases the sufferers have lost their life by their absurdity in wearing the wide dresses which are now accounted fashionable.

Length Succeeds Breadth

So the campaign went on for years and years, though Punch was magnanimous enough to record in 1864 that the much-abused monster had been the means of saving a girl's life by acting as a parachute and breaking her fall. In 1865 the fashion was already on the wane, but very long dresses were in vogue, to the great annoyance of Punch:—


Crinoline at length is going out, thank goodness! but long, trailing dresses are coming in, thank badness! In matters of costume lovely woman rarely ceases to make herself a nuisance; and the[Pg 323] length of her skirt now is almost as annoying as, a while ago, its width was. Robes à queue they call these draggling dresses; but it is not at Kew merely that people are tormented by them. Everywhere you walk, your footsteps are impeded by the ladies, who, in Pope's phrase, "drag their slow length along" the pathway just in front of you. "Will anybody tread upon the tail of my petticoat?" This seems to be the general invitation they now give. Sad enemies to progress they are, in their long dresses; and a Reform Bill should be passed to make them hold their tails up.

Two ladies in very long dresses


But the new nuisance was trifling compared with the old, and relief predominated in the "Rhymes to Decreasing Crinoline"[Pg 324] published a few months earlier. It was not, however, until 1867 that crinolines practically disappeared in fashionable circles, and that long skirts were curtailed to reasonable dimensions.

Though chiefly preoccupied with skirts, Punch bestowed a good deal of attention on the vagaries of feminine headgear. In 1857 the huge round hats in vogue moved him to protest. They were discredited, in his view, when worn by elderly ladies, but he allowed them the negative merit of having displaced the "ugly." The "dear little Spanish hat, so charming and so much more sensible than a horrid bonnet" shown in the picture of a stout lady of uncertain age, justifies the reservation "on some people." But the hat was entering into a serious competition with the bonnet, and by 1860 the "pork-pie hat," so indelibly associated with Leech's portraits of mid-Victorian girls, was firmly established in favour and gradually ousting the spoon-shaped bonnet which disappeared in 1865. This growing popularity of the hat trimmed with feathers, as opposed to bonnets trimmed with ribbons, had the result of causing considerable distress in the ribbon trade in Coventry. Punch, though "no lover of extravagance," found himself accordingly driven to urge his lady readers to flock to their dressmakers and drapers and purchase as many hat-ribbons as possible. They could justify their action by singing in the slightly adapted words of the old song,

All round my hat I wear a new ribbon,

All round my hat a new ribbon every day,

And if anyone should ask of me the reason why I wear it,

"'Tis to help the poor of Coventry who are wanting work," I'll say.

The appeal was followed up a week later by an ingenious and graceful picture of the new Lady Godiva riding through Coventry in a costume composed entirely of ribbons.

Bonnets held their own but in dwindling dimensions, their minuteness being specially noticed in 1867. This is attributed by Punch to the fashion of the chignon, on which he bestows ironic praise in 1869 as needing very small and therefore cheap[Pg 325] bonnets. In 1871 "Dolly Varden" hats, flower-trimmed and with one side bent down, named after the character in Barnaby Rudge, engage Punch's pencil; a year later Mr. Austin Dobson wrote in St. Paul's Magazine: "Blue eyes look doubly blue beneath a Dolly Varden."

Lady riding a horse with a matching hairstyle


The very last thing in chignons.


Turning from headgear to hairdressing, we find Punch a vigilant critic of coiffure. In 1858 he attacks the vagaries of mode as shown in hairdressing à la Chinoise "pulled up by the roots," and the fashion of wearing coins. To judge from Leech's pictures he greatly preferred the simpler style of braids and hair nets. The great event of the mid-'sixties, however, was the advent of the chignon, which proved only second to the crinoline as an incentive to caricature and criticism. In the ironical verses addressed to a "Young Lady of Fashion," the chignon stands first in the list of the artificial enhancements of beauty resorted to half a century back:—

I love thee for thy chignon, for the boss of purchased hair,

Which thou hast on thine occiput the charming taste to wear.

Oh, what a grace that ornament unto thy poll doth lend,

[Pg 326]

Wound on what seems a curtain-rod with knobs at either end!

I love thee for the roses, purchased too, thy cheeks that deck,

The lilies likewise that adorn thy pearly-powdered neck,

And all that sweet "illusion" that, o'er thy features spread,

Improves the poor reality of Nature's white and red.

I love thee for the muslin and the gauze about thee bound,

Like endive that in salad doth a lobster's tail surround.

And oh! I love thee for the boots thine ankles that protect,

So proper to the manly style young ladies now affect.

The chignon was no new invention, but a revival of a fashion mentioned by the Lady's Magazine for 1783, and described twenty-five years later by Maria Edgeworth as a combination of hair natural and false "plastered together to a preposterous bulk and turned up in a sort of great bag or club." But the fashion attained its apogee in the middle and late 'sixties, and afforded endless opportunities to the pencils of Du Maurier and Sambourne. One of the most ludicrous of the many caricatures to which the habit gave rise is that in which Du Maurier represented a lady riding on a pony with its mane and tail fluffed out to harmonize with her stupendous chignon. Later developments of the chignon are ridiculed by Sambourne in 1871.

Madame Rachel

The second stanza of the poem quoted above furnishes not an unfair summary of the arts of facial adornment of which that amazing adventuress Madame Rachel was the most notorious and expensive high priestess. Her beginnings were obscure and even ignominious. Her maiden name was Russell, but it is not certain whether she was born near Ballinasloe in Ireland or in London. Her first husband was a chemist's assistant in Manchester, from whom she had probably learned something of the compounding of cosmetics; her second and third husbands were both Jews—James Moses who was lost in the Royal Charter, October 26, 1859, and Philip Leverson. She kept a fried-fish shop in Vere Street, Clare Market, for a while, then started as a hair restorer in Conduit Street, and from 1861 to 1868 was in business in New Bond Street under the name of Madame Rachel (probably borrowed from that of the famous tragedian) as an enameller and vendor of cosmetics. She professed, in the phrase eternally associated with her name,[Pg 327] to make women "beautiful for ever," but it was a costly process. Under the heading, "The Trials of Beauty," Punch, who had referred to her cosmetics as early as the winter of 1858, writes in 1862:—

The wife of a Captain has been called upon to pay near upon £1,000 for having been enamelled by Madame Rachel. Ladies take warning. Be natural rather than artificial. Never appear in society with a mask on, no matter how beautiful the mask may be. From the above you should learn in time how much it may cost you for being double-faced.

Woman with a fantastic hairstyle

What we must come to before long!

The warning, however, was unheeded, and Madame Rachel continued to flourish exceedingly for more than five years, living in an elegant house in Maddox Street and paying £400 in 1867 for a box at the opera. The first crash came in 1868, when she was tried for swindling Mrs. Borradaile, the widow[Pg 328] of a colonel in the Madras Cavalry, out of £5,300 on the pretence of making her "beautiful for ever" and fitting her to be the wife of Viscount Ranelagh. In September of that year she was sentenced to five years' penal servitude, and she was burnt in effigy on Guy Fawkes' day. In the following March her house, furniture and effects came to the hammer, and Punch's description affords a good clue to the extent of her profits:—

The lady's business having been knocked down by the Judges, her effects are about to be knocked down by the auctioneer. The catalogue and sale bills are quite overpowering to the imagination. The drawing-rooms and principal apartments are said to "present splendour and magnificence difficult to describe." There are candelabra (brass and lacquer probably) formerly belonging to the Emperor Napoleon, and incense-burners once the property of the King of Delhi! "Dispersed through the house are numerous works of Art and articles of virtu, many of them presentations from Madame Rachel's distinguished patronesses."

Fashions in Coiffure

Punch headed his remarks "Madame Rachel's Last Appearance," but the heading was premature. Released on a ticket-of-leave in 1872 Madame Rachel boldly renewed her operations in Duke Street, Portland Place, in 1873, and continued them till 1878, when she was sentenced a second time to five years' penal servitude for swindling another client, and died in Woking Prison on October 12, 1880. The curious may turn for further details to the reminiscences of Serjeant Ballantine and Montagu Williams. Both Serjeant Ballantine and Montagu Williams appeared for the prosecution in the Borradaile case. There were two trials: in the first, held in August, the jury disagreed. It is perhaps not unfair to say that the heavy sentence passed by Mr. Commissioner Kerr was due more to Madame Rachel's demerits and her record than to the merits of the case. But she had not merely obtained money under false pretences: she was a forger and a blackmailer as well. Ballantine, who could not be accused of squeamishness, had known of her in earlier days and describes her as "one of the most filthy and dangerous moral pests that have existed in my time and within my observation."[34] Montagu Williams, who[Pg 329] gives a full account of the trial, calls her a "wicked old woman," but contents himself with observing that the case "afforded a striking illustration of the vanity of some women, and of what tricks can be played upon them by the artful."[35] Madame Rachel does not appear in the D.N.B., though less remarkable impostors have found a niche in that comprehensive temple of native talent, and her fame was not confined to one hemisphere. One of the springs on the shores of Lake Rotorua in New Zealand was named "The Madame Rachel Bath" in virtue of its medicinal and rejuvenating qualities.

Man with strange hairstyle

From the "Journal des Coiffeurs."

(The ladies have already begun.)

In 1866 the rage for dyeing the hair auburn seems to have been at its height. "Mr. Frizzle," a coiffeur de dames, is represented in one of Du Maurier's pictures as saying to a[Pg 330] customer, "Black hair is never admitted into really good society." Enlarging on this theme in another place in the same volume, Punch observes that the maxim "Never say Dye" is completely abandoned, and suggests daily changes of complexion to suit the dresses worn. In 1864 we read of small dogs being dyed to match their mistresses' colouring! By 1867 the pendulum seems to have swung in the opposite direction and brunettes are again in vogue. The picture (also by Du Maurier) of fashionable ladies with short hair can hardly be taken seriously; it is probably not more than an unconscious prophecy of the "bobbing" habit of recent years. In 1869 Punch was much exercised by learning, on the authority of an American paper, that "nearly all the brilliant complexions seen among the fashionable women of New York are the result of eating arsenic. Since the introduction of the blonde fashion, arsenic-eating has become almost a mania." Tirades against tight-lacing date back to 1859, but they culminated in the ponderous irony of the "Wanton Warning to Vanity" published ten years later:—

Indeed the Morning Post ought to be ashamed of itself. That journal, which we used to call our fashionable contemporary, publishes a paragraph, headed "Tight-Lacing," which reports the particulars of an inquest held at the College Arms, Crowndale Road, Camden Town, on the body of a young woman, aged only nineteen, and whereby, if they see it, our dear girls who take in such instructive journals as the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine will be terrified to no purpose by the information that—

"She was out three hours with a perambulator, in which was one child, and as she neared her destination she fell down insensible. She was taken to 10, Polygon, where upon examination by Dr. Smellie she was found quite dead. It was discovered that she was very tightly-laced, and Dr. Smellie stated that death was caused by effusion of blood on the brain, caused by fatty heart, accelerated by compression of the chest produced by tight-lacing. The jury returned a verdict in those terms."

This statement, so inconsistently published by our once, and, we hitherto supposed, our still fashionable contemporary, is calculated to have a most unfashionable effect, namely, that of deterring girls from following the revived fashion of lacing as tight as they can stand, and tighter than they are sometimes able to go. But a propensity,[Pg 331] which seems a law of their nature, happily compels them, for the most part, to follow the fashion regardless of consequences. The typical and average woman can no more deviate from the dress of the day than an animal can choose to change its skin or its spots. There is no fear that any girls accustomed to tight-lacing will ever be induced to relinquish that practice which renders them such delightful objects to one another, if ridiculous and repulsive to stupid men, by any such nonsense as a report of the verdict of a coroner's jury ascribing death to the effect of tight-lacing in accelerating fatty degeneration of the heart.

Stylish lady


Does not tight-lacing and high heels give a charming grace and dignity to the female figure?

The Grecian Bend

High heels are not noticeable in Leech's pictures or before the middle 'sixties. The "manly style" of boots mentioned in the lines of the "Young Lady of Fashion" quoted above probably refer to the stout laced-up "Balmorals" which Frederick[Pg 332] Locker refers to in his London Lyrics. The advent of tailor-made garments for women in the summer of 1864 is looked upon as a curiosity. Towards the end of the period under review a mode of carriage known as the "Grecian Bend," celebrated in a comic song of the time, is more than once noted and caricatured in Punch; faint echoes of the "Grecian Bend" still linger in the memories of the elderly; the "Roman Fall" is merely the shadow of a name. By the 'seventies the æsthetic movement had already begun to exert an influence on dress, but it was confined to a small coterie, to the précieux and précieuses who worshipped old china and wore waistless dresses of sage green. On the general question of "the Influence of costume and fashion on High Art," which was discussed in a manifesto issued by "The Artists of the Nineteenth Century," Punch wrote sensibly enough:—

The declaration is signed by a great number of eminent men at home and abroad, and its point is to insist that people of the present day dress so hideously that they will not make pictures. A transitional change is recommended, and the Declarers affectionately remind the public that so long as they make Guys of themselves at the instigation of tailors and milliners, portraits have no value except as family memorials, whereas, if we dressed properly, the artists would make us into tableaux which the whole world should admire. All this is perfectly true, but what is to be done? How are we to extricate ourselves from the tyranny of the tailor and the milliner? This the Declarers do not tell us, nor was it to be expected perhaps that they should advise us how to conduct a rebellion. But why do they not tell us how they would like us to dress? Men, for instance. Are they to come out with a choice array of colour, and with a picturesquely cut garb, and that general ampleness and nobleness in treatment of costume, which bespeaks the grand and heroic in the wearer?

The Briton Abroad

At this point Punch deviates into absurdity. But the main argument is sound. As a transition, however, to the subject of men's dress, another deliverance serves our purpose even better. Punch loved to criticize and even carp at his countrymen and countrywomen, but he did not easily suffer any infringement of his prerogative. And so, when a correspondent of The Times fell foul of the dowdiness of Englishmen and Englishwomen abroad, he was up in arms at once:—

[Pg 333]

The Times abuses John Bull, and Madame son Épouse, for going about on their travels got up as Guys—for shocking foreign prejudices, and showing their contempt for foreign opinion, by sporting eccentric shooting-coats, flaming flannel shirts, reckless wide-awakes—and worse still on the ladies' part, by the general shabbiness and ugliness of their travelling toilettes and headgear.

Now, making every allowance for the desperate necessities of newspaper writers in the dead season, and admitting that British travellers—male and female—include specimens both of the Guy and the Gorilla, Mr. Punch must put in his protest against any such wholesale indictment as this of his compatriots en voyage. On the contrary he is prepared to maintain, after surveying mankind from Calais to Calatafimi ... that, as a rule, the wearer of the best travelling suit (for stuff, cut, and condition together), the cleanest shirt, the least ragamuffin or ridiculous hat, the soundest and shapeliest foot-covering, is a Briton.

[Pg 334]

Englishmen turn neater and sweeter out of a railway carriage after a night's rattle, restlessness and frowst than any other people; they are more presentable, more like gentlemen, after an Alpine scramble among glacier and moraine, crevasse and couloir; they present better brushed hair, and cleaner hands and faces and whiter linen at the Table d'hôte under difficulties, and fall into less profound abysses of misery and degradation in sea-going steamers, than the natives of any other country.

I, Punch, am speaking now of the men. For the ladies—bless them!—I am compelled to admit they don't understand dress as an art so well as their French sisters. Millinery and dressmaking have their home and headquarters in France, just as cooking has; and for the same reason—because the inferiority of the raw material makes the elaborate and well-studied dressing of it a matter of sheer necessity.

But, apart from their national shortcoming in the art of dress, I maintain that Englishwomen, on their travels, deserve as much good said of them as Englishmen. Bless their fresh faces, and smooth hair, and clean cuffs and collars! In these particulars, what French or German woman can hold the candle to 'em?

I admit that the plain British female looks plain on her travels, and maybe dowdy ... But this I will maintain, that an attractive Englishwoman loses less of her attractiveness under the necessities and accidents of travel than any of her Continental rivals. She has a quality of purity and freshness about her which seems to repel all soil, whether material or moral, as the oil in the duck's tail-gland drives off the water-drops from his plumage; and, as a rule, her clothes, and her way of wearing them, have the same merits of freshness and purity in comparison with those of her rivals.

This, then, is the first proposition I am prepared to maintain against all comers: that English travellers, of both sexes, are, as a rule, the best-dressed travellers in the world.

My next proposition is like unto it, viz.: that the English abroad are the best-mannered travellers, and at home the best-mannered dealers with travellers, to be found in the circle of civilized nations.

Stylist and model


This is John Jones, who has kindly selected Mrs. de Cotillon's Thé Dansant, to display his idea of what the alterations in evening dress (said to be meditated by a certain R-y-l P-rs-n-ge) ought to be.

Masculine Dress

Throughout the period dealt with in the previous volume man, in Punch, was the predominant partner in the domain of dress. From 1857 onwards the balance is handsomely redressed in favour of the women. And as Punch was staffed by men, we may fairly attribute this change to the standardizing of male attire which dates from the middle of the nineteenth century. The difference between the dress of men to-day and in 1860 is immensely less than that between the dress of women at the[Pg 335] same two dates. Beaver hats were still worn in 1858; they are even now exhibited in the shop front of a well-known hatter's in St. James's Street; but the silk chimney pot had already come to stay. The evening dress suit was indistinguishable from that now worn. There was not much difference in the cut of morning coats. Only in the "nether integuments" is the flux of fashion really marked. "Peg-top" trousers were in vogue in 1858 and for a few years subsequently, and Punch attributes their shape to mimicry of the crinoline, though in one passage he professes to derive it from the contours of the Cochin China fowl. The "Peg-top," however, did not last. It was otherwise with the introduction of knickerbockers, so-called from the resemblance to the knee-breeches of the Dutchmen in Cruickshank's illustrations to Washington Irving's History of New York.

Women discussing the gender of three persons


Enter Mamma and Aunt Ellen.

Mamma (to old woman): "Pray, have you met two ladies and a gentleman?"

Old Woman: "Well, I met three people—but, la! there, I can't tell ladies from gentlemen nowadays—when I was a gal, etc., etc."

[Pg 336]

In a letter to The Times in May, 1859, Lord Elcho recommends "nickerbockers"—so he spells the word—as a substitute for trousers for volunteers. Charles Kingsley in the same year derived them from country-made—and badly made—puffed trunk-hose. But their utility and convenience for country wear and sport were soon established, though the dreadful abbreviation "Knickers" did not come into use for some twenty years. The shortening of ladies' dresses and the bagginess of men's knickerbockers afforded Punch some excuse for professing to be unable to distinguish the sexes at a distance, but the actual assumption of knickerbockers by women belonged to a later generation.

Lord Dundreary

It is rather in the fashion of wearing their hair than in their dress that the changes effected in the appearance of men in the last sixty years can be best studied. Beards came in after the Crimean War, but they were not universally popular. The Bishop of Rochester took up so strong a line on the subject in 1861 that Punch was moved to protest:—

[Pg 337]

Good Doctor Wigram (Rochestere),

At Parsons' beards is raving:

We sadly fear that we shall hear

The Bishop's head needs shaving.

Two men talking


First Swell: "A-a-wah! Waw! Waw! How did you like him?"

Second Ditto: "Waw-waw-waw. No fellaw evaw saw such a fellaw. Gwoss cawicature-waw!"

But whiskers were the great feature of the 'sixties. They had been "ambrosial" before, but now the thing became a monstrosity in its profuse luxuriance. For this was the age of "Piccadilly Weepers," and of Lord Dundreary, the eccentric stage peer created by Sothern in Our American Cousin. Sothern, be it remembered, was a hunting-man and a persona[Pg 338] grata in fashionable circles; and allowing for the element of caricature in his impersonation, it was at least based on firsthand knowledge of the type satirized. There is an interesting notice of the first production at the Haymarket of Our American Cousin in which Lord Dundreary is described as "a double eye-glassed dandy, with dyed whiskers which he paws and throws over his shoulder," but the critic admits that in spite of all Mr. Sothern's "funny and fantastic caricaturing, there is a something true to nature in his almost every touch." The hold that Sothern's impersonation took upon public fancy is shown by the fact that for several years Punch adopted "Dundreary" as a synonym for a vacuous, solemn, well-bred and prodigiously whiskered dandy, and in the Preface to Vol. xlii. Lord Dundreary is introduced as interlocutor in the usual dialogue.

Hair brushing machines


Tailors' pseudo-classical nomenclature was already a frequent theme with Punch. In the same year Punch quotes a tailor's advertisement of a "Negligé Milled Tweed suit, consisting of cape jacket, vest and trousers for £2 2s. 0d.," which arouses the envy of the post-war Englishman. Hair-brushing by machinery is noted as a novelty in the autumn of 1863; we trust that the customers contrived to keep their whiskers out of the way of the brush. For the rest, we may briefly note the advent of the "Ulster" in 1871, and the prevalence of the single eye-glass in 1873.

[28] The present writer saw and heard Ristori in the sleep-walking scene at Manchester in the early 'eighties, and her foreign accent was undoubtedly most pronounced. Her first words provoked laughter from the gallery, drowned immediately in a storm of cheering, renewed at the end of an impersonation so powerful and even terrifying that one entirely forgot the accent. The episode had an amusing sequel. An old theatre-goer wrote to a Manchester paper to express indignation at Ristori's reception by the gallery. The laughers could not be Manchester men: they must have been boors from Chowbent. A couple of days later a letter appeared from an equally indignant resident at Chowbent repelling the aspersion on a community so civilized that it possessed a Town Hall!

[Pg 339]


Child on a horse jumping a fence


Grandpapa: "Bless his heart—just like me! Spare the Nimrod—spoil the child, I say."

In the region of sport fox-hunting continues to dominate the scene. Leech's pictures are largely devoted to satirizing cockney sportsmen, but they render full justice to the enterprise and intrepidity of the younger generation and of hard-riding young ladies. He is less happy or at any rate less genial in ridiculing the irregularities of the "Mossoo" in the hunting field. The exploits and adventures of the ubiquitous Mr. Briggs form an agreeable pendant and supplement to the novels of Surtees. Mr. Briggs was not an aristocrat, but he was more of a gentleman if less of a personality than Jorrocks. But Leech's premature death left a tremendous gap, for both in humour and draughtsmanship the artists who took his place[Pg 340] as delineators of the chase were immeasurably his inferiors. In connexion with the "noble animal" we may note that the advent of Rarey, the famous horse-tamer, was warmly welcomed by Punch and Leech in 1858. The possibilities of the treatment are developed in a variety of ways, but there is more than mere burlesque in the suggestion that it could be profitably applied to stablemen and horsebreakers. And here we may note a crude foreshadowing of winter-sports in Leech's picture of the frozen-out foxhunter who builds a "treboggin" and, with his groom seated behind, careers down hill and across country in a machine about 12 feet long and not 2 feet wide with a splash-board in front.

Two men on a sledge


Sporting Militaire recalls to mind his Canadian experiences (the ground being deep with snow), builds a treboggin, and for the moment ceases to swear at the frost, or to regret the six hunters he has eating their heads off in the stable.

In Praise of the Ring

Punch was in the main a supporter of "muscular Christianity" and had already noted, with more sympathy than hostility, the encouragement of boxing as an integral part of the education of the ingenuous youth. Disraeli's Parliamentary[Pg 341] duel with Palmerston in 1858 is described in pugilistic terms, in which the victory is given to the former "on points." But, in view of his generally humane and humanitarian outlook, he had hardly prepared us for his remarkable eulogy of the Prize Ring in the year 1860. For it was in that year that the historic fight took place between the American Heenan (the "Benicia Boy") and Tom Sayers at Farnborough on April 17, and it was chronicled at full length in Punch. "The Fight of Sayerius and Heenanus: A Lay of Ancient London" in the style of Macaulay occupies a whole page. Its chief interest to modern readers resides in the fact that it is "supposed to be recounted to Great-grand-children, April 17, A.D. 1920, by an Ancient Gladiator." The narrative is put in the mouth of "Crawleius" well known "in the Domus Savilliana[36] among the sporting men," presumably a relative real or imaginary of Peter Crawley, a well-known prize fighter. But the speaker did a gross injustice to the next generation but one when he wrote:—

'Tis but some sixty years since

The times whereof I speak,

And yet the words I'm using

Will sound to you like Greek.

What know ye, race of milksops,

Untaught of the P.R.,

What stopping, lunging, countering,

Fibbing or rallying are?

What boots to use the lingo

When you have not the thing?

How paint to you the glories

Of Belcher, Cribb, or Spring,

To you, whose sire turns up his eyes

At mention of the Ring?

The train journey to Farnborough in the grey dawn, the company, and the fight itself are, however, described with spirit:—

[Pg 342]

Not only fighting covies,

But sporting swells besides—

Dukes, Lords, M.P.'s and Guardsmen,

With county beaks besides;

And tongues that sway our Senators

And hands the pen that wield

Were cheering on the Champions

Upon that morning's field.

We pass over the details of the fight—how Sayers was floored nine times, and had his right arm crippled; how Heenan had both eyes put in mourning—to come to the last stage:—

Two hours and more the fight had sped,

Near unto ten it drew,

But still opposed—one-armed to blind—

They stood, the dauntless two.

Ah me! that I have lived to hear

Such men as ruffians scorned,

Such deeds of valour brutal called,

Canted, preached down and mourned!

Ah, that these old eyes ne'er again

A gallant mill shall see!

No more behold the ropes and stakes,

With colours flying free!

But I forget the combat—

How shall I tell its close,

That left the Champion's belt in doubt

Between those well-matched foes?

Fain would I shroud the tale in night,—

The meddling Blues[37] that thrust in sight,—

The ring-keepers o'erthrown;—

The broken ring,—the cumbered fight,—

Heenanus' sudden, blinded flight,—

Sayerius pausing, as he might,

Just when ten minutes used aright

Had made the fight his own!

Bull Fight at Islington

This curious document, valuable as contemporary evidence, worthless as prophecy, serves to show how strangely Punch's humanitarianism was leavened and influenced by primitive instincts in the domain of sport.

[Pg 343]

shooting party

Upper Class: "Winged him, my lord!"

Shooting party in boat

Lower Class: "There's another, 'Arry!"

Pigeon-shooting and bull-fighting were another matter altogether. In 1870 an abortive attempt was made to introduce the latter at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, and the Islington-Spanish bull-fight is treated with a happy mixture of ridicule and contempt in a contribution to Punch's "Evenings from Home." The proceedings appear to have been tame enough, and the bulls were probably "doped," yet enough of the real thing remained to warrant the hostile reception which the entertainment received. At its close the "Islington Spaniards" dispersed to the Islington public-houses. Punch returned to the subject a month later. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had interfered to good purpose. The Islington bull-fighters had been summoned before a magistrate and fined, and their "entertainment" had been stopped. Punch seized the occasion to add a comment which, on the very day on which, in 1921, I write these lines, is as timely as it was more than fifty years ago:—

From Islington to Wormwood Scrubbs is not far, and it is much to be feared by the tame-pigeon-shooting nobility and gentry that[Pg 344] the officers of an impartial Association, vigilant to protect poor animals from cruelty, will as soon as possible be down upon the Gun Club.

Two men in discussion


Enthusiastic Cricketer: "Ah, last season was a good one! I'd both eyes blacked in one match, and two fingers smashed in the return match the same week! But give me 1870 over again. I got the ball on my forehead at 'short leg,' and was senseless for three-quarters of an hour!"

Cricket and Football

Turning to cricket, we find that "over-hand bowling flung from the elbow" was mentioned by Punch as a novelty in the late 'fifties. Cricket was still played in tall hats at that time; but by the 'sixties caps had come in. The dangers of the game are a not infrequent subject of comment, and, before the days of billiard-table pitches, the ball was capable of a good deal of awkward bumping; but to judge from Punch's pictures the[Pg 345] resultant contusions were regarded with equanimity by the players as part of the day's work or play. Cricket was extending its domain, and à propos of the establishment of clubs at Lisbon and Oporto Punch quotes an entertaining account of a game between these clubs by a Lisbon sporting journalist for the instruction of his countrymen. The incident is taken by Punch as an occasion for suggesting international games of cricket: Turks and Chinamen, Dutch and Japanese. The Dutch have long been votaries of cricket; and though it has not caught on with the Japanese and Chinese, both these races have of late years cultivated lawn tennis with considerable success. Here, then, as so often happens, a mock prophecy is fulfilled in a way in which the prophet never expected. A critical year in the annals of Lord's was reached in 1864 when there was a danger of the ground being sold for building purposes. A sum of £10,000 was needed to secure the interests of cricket, and Punch, in an imaginary dialogue between a countryman and a cockney, represents the former as ready to contribute 5s. to avoid a national disgrace and "zave Lard's cricket ground."

References to football are confined to comments, mostly humorous but occasionally serious, on the practice of shinning or hacking. The Rules of the "West Shynnington Football Club" are conveniently used as a vehicle for a number of bad puns, but the trials of the modern referee are foreshadowed in the suggestion that "a Police Magistrate should always be in attendance to dispose of all charges made by players." Punch in more serious mood discerns in the letter of "A Surgeon" to The Times the disastrous results of hacking as then permitted by the Rugby code. "Hacking," in Punch's view, was simply an unfair form of fighting and should be abolished.

The outstanding event in rowing circles during these years was the famous race between the Oxford and Harvard fours on August 27, 1869. Punch celebrated the victory of Oxford in a notice giving the names of those who took part in the contest, congratulating Oxford, and wishing health to both crews, the accompanying cartoon representing a gigantic brawny John Bull shaking hands with a muscular but comparatively[Pg 346] slim Uncle Sam, both in rowing trim, with the legend "Well Rowed All!" Punch, as umpire, remarks: "Ha, dear boys, you've only to pull together to lick all the world!" The sentiment is better than the treatment. Unluckily the race led to some acrimonious comment in the New York papers on British sportsmanship, and Punch, in his rejoinder, was more vigorous than polite. River "aquatics" have not always been free from recrimination. The origin of the famous retort to bargees, "Who ate puppy pie under Marlow Bridge?" is obscure; but it is mentioned as far back as the Almanack for 1858.

Man and woman removing arrow from target


Leonora: "Dear! Dear! How the arrow sticks!"

Captain Blank (with a sigh of the deepest): "It does, indeed!"

Croquet and Flirtation

"Golf Sticks" are alluded to in January, 1858, but during the rest of this period I find no further mention of golf. Of social pastimes archery is still in favour, but croquet is by far the most frequently referred to. To judge from the pictures, croquet, then in its unscientific infancy, was played on lawns innocent of mowing machines or scythes. It was[Pg 347] mainly an excuse for flirtation between Charles and Clara; and the cheating earlier mentioned was regarded as quite fair game. Punch dealt with it in a serial poem of heroic proportions in the year 1863. This epic—for it was little less—ran to seven numbers, but it is not memorable apart from its length. When the Croquet Tournament was held at Wimbledon in 1870, Punch was ready to acknowledge the presence of Queens of Beauty, but could not accord the men players a higher title than that of Carpet Knights.

Couple distracted from croquet


Chorus of Offended Maidens: "Well! If Clara and Captain de Holster are going on in that ridiculous manner—we may as well leave off playing."

Man and woman talking


Miss Maud: "How do we stand?"

Captain Lovelace: "They are six to our love; and 'love' always means nothing, you know."

Miss Maud: "Always?"

Lawn Tennis

"Aunt Sally"—alleged to have been introduced by the Duke of Beaufort—is portrayed as a novel adjunct to the amenities of garden parties in 1860 by Leech. Roller-skating came in about 1873, and about the same time lawn tennis having survived its early name of "Sphairistikè," began to attract the attention of Punch's artists. The implements employed have a prehistoric appearance, but the pastime, thought still in its insular, garden-party and "pat-ball" stage, inspired some graceful lines in 1874:—

[Pg 348]


Now the long shadows of September come,

And idle for a time the scribbler's pen is,

He passes from the Town's discordant hum,

From garrulous gossip of the kettle-drum,[38]

From orators who should have been born dumb,

To watch upon green lawns the girls play tennis.

Robins are trilling in the faded trees,

The flitting swallows of their voyage chatter,

Testing their wings before they dare the seas,

[Pg 349]

For Nile's dun marge or blue-girt Cyclades;

The sportsman's shots come frequent on the breeze,

The flying balls keep up a pleasant clatter.

Croquet's a merry game for those who flirt

(Who doesn't, pray—Punch, poet, peer, or parson?),

But Tennis, when the ladies are alert,

Follow the swift ball with a looped-up skirt,

Strike it on high with graceful arm expert,

Burns up the masculine heart with sudden arson.

So, pour some icy fluid in a glass

Tinged with deep mulberry stain, true work of Venice:

And Mr. Punch will let the soft hours pass,

Watching with tranquil eyes each lovely lass

Flit like an Oread o'er the smooth green grass,

And win his old heart as she wins at Tennis.

[35] Leaves of a Life.

[36] Savile House, on the north side of Leicester Square, originally the residence of Sir George Savile, Burke's friend, was in its latter days rebuilt as a place of entertainment and became a resort of Bohemians and fast men about town. It was burned down in 1865 and the site is now occupied by the Empire Theatre.

[37] Policemen.

[38] "Drum"—a crowded social reception—dates back to the days of Pope. The Victorian "kettle-drum" was a tea-party.

[Pg 350]

A complete Index will be found in the Fourth Volume.

Printed by

Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage,

London, E.C.4


End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Mr. Punch's History of Modern England
Vol. II (of IV),--1857-1874, by Charles L. Graves


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