The Project Gutenberg eBook of Mr. Punch's History of Modern England, Vol. 1 (of 4).—1841-1857

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Title: Mr. Punch's History of Modern England, Vol. 1 (of 4).—1841-1857

Author: Charles L. Graves

Release date: November 23, 2013 [eBook #44267]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Neville Allen, Chris Curnow and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


Book cover

Some pages of this work have been moved from the original sequence to enable the contents to continue without interruption. The page numbering remains unaltered.

Only references within this volume have been linked. A complete Index will be found in the Fourth Volume.

The book cover has been created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

[Pg i]


[Pg ii]

Lower class deferring to upper class.


Reproduced from the cartoon in Punch, 15th March, 1845.

[Pg iii]

MR. Punch's History
of Modern England



In Four Volumes

VOL. I.—1841-1857


London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne


[Pg iv]

Published by arrangement with the Proprietors of "Punch"

[Pg v]


The title of this work indicates at once its main source and its limitations. The files of Punch have been generally admitted to be a valuable mine of information on the manners, customs, and fashions of the Victorian age, and of the wealth of material thus provided liberal use has been made. But it must not be forgotten that Punch has always been a London paper, and that in so far as English life is reflected in his pages, London always comes first, though in this volume, and especially during the "Hungry 'Forties," Lancashire comes a very good second. For pictures of provincial society—such, for example, as that given in Cranford or in the novels of Trollope—or of life in Edinburgh or Dublin, the chronicler of Victorian England must look outside Punch. The "country cousin" is not forgotten, but for the most part comes into view when he is on a visit to London, not when he is on his native heath. Yet even with these deductions the amount of material is embarrassingly rich. And this is due not only to the multiplicity of subjects treated, but to the manner in which they were discussed. Of Punch, in his early days at any rate, the criticism recently applied to Victorian writers in general by a writer in Blackwood holds good: "They had a great deal to say, and they said it sometimes in too loud a voice. Such was their virtue, to which their vice was akin. Their vice was the vice of rhetoric. They fell to the temptation of many words. They wrote too often as the tub-thumper speaks, without much self-criticism and with a too fervent desire to be heard immediately and at all costs." In the 'forties Punch doubled the rôles of jester and political pamphleteer, and in the latter[Pg vi] capacity indulged in a great deal of vehement partisan rhetoric. The loudest, the most passionate and moving as well as the least judicial of his spokesmen was Douglas Jerrold. The choice of dividing lines between periods must always be somewhat artificial, but I was confirmed in my decision to end the first volume with the year of the Indian Mutiny by the fact that it coincided with the death of Douglas Jerrold, who from 1841 to 1857 had, more than any other writer, been responsible for the Radical and humanitarian views expressed in Punch.

My task would have been greatly simplified by the exclusion of politics altogether. But to do that would have involved the neglect of what is, after all, perhaps the most interesting and in many ways the most honourable phase of Punch's history, his championship of the poor and oppressed, and his efforts to bridge the gap between the "Two Nations"—the phrase which was used and justified in the finest passage of Disraeli's Sybil, and which I have chosen as the title for the first part of the present volume. To write a Social History of England at any time without reference to the political background would be difficult; it is practically impossible in a chronicle based on Punch in the 'forties and 'fifties. In the second part I have endeavoured to redress the balance. Here one recognizes the advantages of Punch's London outlook in dealing with the Court and fashion and the acute contrasts furnished between Mayfair on the one hand and the suburbs and slums on the other.

No attempt has been made to represent Punch as infallible whether as a recorder, a critic, or a prophet. He was often wrong, unjust, and even cruel—notably in his view of Peel and Lincoln, and in his conduct of the "No Popery" crusade—though he seldom failed to make amends, even to the extent of standing in a white sheet over Lincoln's grave. But the majority of these confessions took the form of posthumous[Pg vii] tributes. As for the gradual cooling of Punch's democratic ardour, that may be attributed partly to the removal or remedying of abuses by legislation and the education of public opinion; partly to the fact that newspapers follow the rule of individuals, and tend to become more moderate as they grow older. The great value of Punch resides in the fact that it provides us with a history of the Victorians written by themselves. This is no guarantee of the accuracy of the facts recorded. We have had painful proof in recent years that contemporary evidence, when based on hearsay, even though written down red-hot in a diary, is, to put it mildly, incapable of corroboration. But, as reflecting the nature and mood of the writer, contemporary evidence is always interesting. My aim has been to supply a critical commentary, and, where possible, to verify or correct the statements or judgments recorded in Punch. Acknowledgments of the various authorities consulted will be found in the footnotes, but I should like to express my special indebtedness to the Dictionary of National Biography; to the New English Dictionary; to The Political History of England, by Sir Sidney Low and Mr. Lloyd Sanders; to Mr. C.R. Fay's Life and Labour in the Nineteenth Century; and, where the inner or domestic history of the paper is concerned, to Mr. M. H. Spielmann's History of Punch.

The work of preparing this volume has been greatly lightened by the encouragement and practical help of Mr. Philip Agnew, the managing director, and Mr. Heather, the secretary, of Messrs. Bradbury, Agnew and Co.; by Miss Berry's transcription of extracts; and, above all, by the research, the advice and suggestions of Miss M. R. Walpole, the assistant librarian of the Athenæum Club.



[Pg ix]




MACHINERY AND MONEY-MAKING                   61






[Pg 1]

[Pg 2]



[Pg 3]


O! fair and fresh the early spring

Her budding wreath displays,

To all the wide earth promising

The joy of harvest days;

Yet many a waste of wavy gold

Hath bent above the dead;

Then let the living share it too—

Give us our daily bread.

Of old a nation's cry shook down

The sword-defying wall,

And ours may reach the mercy-seat,

Though not the lordly hall.

God of the Corn! shall man restrain

Thy blessings freely shed?

O! look upon the isles at last—

Give us our daily bread.

The Founders of "Punch"

It is fitting that a chronicle of social life in England in the Victorian age, drawn in its essentials from the pages of Punch, should begin with the People. For Punch began as a radical and democratic paper, a resolute champion of the poor, the desolate and the oppressed, and the early volumes abound in evidences of the miseries of the "Hungry 'Forties" and in burning pleas for their removal. The strange mixture of jocularity with intense earnestness which confronts[Pg 4] us on every page was due to the characters and antecedents of the men who founded and wrote for the paper at its outset. Of at least three of them it might be said that they were humanitarians first and humorists afterwards. Henry Mayhew, one of the originators and for a short time joint-editor, was "the first to strike out the line of philanthropic journalism which takes the poor of London as its theme," and in his articles in the Morning Chronicle and his elaborate work on London Labour and the London Poor, which occupied him intermittently for the best part of twenty years, showed himself a true forerunner of Charles Booth. His versatility was amazing. The writer of the obituary notice of him in the Athenæum observes that "it would not be difficult to show him as a scientific writer, a writer of semi-religious biography, and an outrageous joker at one and the same time." Another member of the original staff was Gilbert à Beckett, who crowded an extraordinary amount of work into his short life as leader-writer on The Times, comic journalist, dramatist, Poor Law Commissioner and Metropolitan Magistrate. It was à Beckett's report on the scandal connected with the Andover Union—pronounced by the Home Secretary, Buller, to be one of the best ever presented to Parliament—that led to important alterations in the Statute book, and secured for him, at the age of thirty-eight, his appointment as Metropolitan Police Magistrate. Thackeray's references to "à Beckett the beak" are frequent and affectionate, and on his death in 1856 a noble tribute was paid him in the pages of the journal he had served from its opening number. "As a magistrate, Gilbert à Beckett, by his wise, calm, humane administration of the law, gave a daily rebuke to a too ready belief that the faithful exercise of the highest and gravest social duties is incompatible with the sportiveness of literary genius." These words were penned by Douglas Jerrold, who died within a year of his friend, and was the most ardent and impassioned humanitarian of the three. By the irony of fate Jerrold is chiefly remembered for his sledge-hammer retorts: the industrious and ingenious playwright is little more than a name; the brilliant publicist and reformer, the friend and associate of Chartists, the life-long[Pg 5] champion of the underdog is forgotten. Gilbert à Beckett and Henry Mayhew had both been at Westminster. Their people were well-to-do. Douglas Jerrold had known both poverty and privation, and his education was largely acquired in a printer's office. His brief service in the Navy was long enough to make him a strenuous advocate of the claims of the lower deck to more humane treatment. He did not believe that harsh discipline and flogging were necessary to the efficiency of either Service. As a boy he had seen something of the human wreckage of war, and the spectacle had cured him for ever of any illusions as to militarism. But his distrust of Emperors, Dictators and the "King business" generally—always excepting Constitutional Monarchy—was so pronounced that any interference on their part was enough to convert him into a Jingo. How far he was from being a pacificist may be judged from the temper of Punch in the Crimean War, its advocacy of ruthlessness as the best means of shortening the hostilities, and its bitter criticism of Lord Aberdeen and Mr. Gladstone, and above all of Cobden and Bright, for their alleged pro-Russian sympathies. In the 'forties Cobden and Bright were the leaders of that group of "middle-class men of enthusiasm and practical sagacity" which directed the Free Trade movement, and they had been supported by Punch in the campaign against the Corn Laws. Douglas Jerrold was the spear-head of Punch's attacks on Protection, Bumbledom, unreformed Corporations, Cant and Snobbery, the cruelty, the inequality, the expense and the delays of the Law. He might be described as being violently and vituperatively on the side of the angels. The freedom of his invective, notably in the articles signed "Q," is beyond belief. Compared with his handling of ducal landlords, the most drastic criticisms of Mr. Lloyd George in his earlier days are as water to wine. At all costs Jerrold was determined that the Tory dogs should not have the best of it.

Man appealing to ghostly figure.

(The Hungry 'Forties)

Biographies of the Punch staff do not fall within the scope of this chronicle, but some knowledge of the record and the temperament of the men who gave the paper its peculiar quality for many years is essential to a proper understanding of its influence[Pg 6] on public opinion. They were humorous men, but they could be terribly in earnest, and they had abundant excuse for their seriousness. They could not forgive the Duke of Wellington when on August 24, 1841, he declared that England was "the only country in which the poor man, if only sober and industrious, was quite certain of acquiring a competency." They regarded it as "a heartless insult thrown in the idle teeth of famishing thousands, the ghosts of the victims of the Corn Laws.... If rags and starvation put up their prayer to the present Ministry, what must be the answer delivered by the Duke of Wellington? 'Ye are drunken and lazy!'" A few days later Mr. Fielden, M.P., moved "that the distress of the working people at the present time is so great throughout the country, but particularly in the manufacturing districts, that it is the duty of this House to make instant inquiry into the cause and extent of such distress, and devise means to remedy it; and at all events to vote no supply of money until such inquiry be made." The motion was negatived by 149 to 41, and a Tory morning paper complacently observed that "there has been for the last few days a smile on the face of every well-dressed gentleman, and of every well-to-do artisan, who wend their way along the streets of this vast metropolis. It is caused by the Opposition exhibition of Friday night in the House of Commons." The comment on this "spiteful imbecility" is not to be wondered at: "Toryism believes only in the well-dressed and the well-to-do. Purple and fine linen are the instrumental parts of her religion. Her faith is in glossy raiment and a full belly." The Home Secretary stated in reply to a question, about a year later, that the keepers of St. James's Park were particularly ordered "not to admit persons who wore fustian jackets," an order which prompted Punch to remark that in Merry England "labour was ignominy, and your only man the man with white hands and filbert nails." A writer in the Examiner so recently as 1861 could remember the time when the sentries in St. James's Park used, at the point of the bayonet, according to their orders, to dismount women from their pattens, and make them trudge on with them in their hands. It is [Pg 7]an old story; as old as the days of Ahasuerus, when "no one might enter the King's gate clothed with sackcloth." Punch never wearied of bringing home to his readers these abrupt contrasts of wealth and poverty. The people were crying for bread and Parliament had been occupied in carrying the Ventilation of the House Bill and the Royal Kitchen Garden Bill. The amount voted for the Royal Stables at Windsor was considerably more than three times what was obtained from Parliament for the education of the poor. The Times of December 2, 1841, quoted from the Sporting Magazine an account of the accommodation provided for the Prince Consort's beagles and Her Majesty's dogs—sleeping beds, compartments paved with asphalt, dry and clean, with roomy and healthy green yards; and boiling and distemper houses detached from the other portions of the building—and bracketed with it the sworn evidence of the late matron and medical attendant at the Sevenoaks Union. The lying-in ward was small and always looked dirty. "There had been six women there at one time: two were confined in one bed. It was impossible entirely to shut out the infection. I have known fifteen children sleep in two beds." Six young girls, inmates of the Lambeth workhouse, were charged about the same time with breaking several panes of glass. In their defence they complained that they had been treated worse in the workhouse than they would be in prison, and said that it was to cause their committal to the latter place they broke the windows. Strange reading this in a comic journal, yet paralleled by similar extracts week after week and month after month. The birth of the Prince of Wales was chronicled in the same issue of the daily papers which contained the "luscious history" of the Lord Mayor's dinner:—

Fleshpots and Famine

Oh, men of Paisley—good folks of Bolton—what promise for ye is here! Turkeys, capons, sirloins, asparagus, pheasants, pineapples, Savoy cakes, Chantilly baskets, mince-pies, preserved ginger, brandy cherries, a thousand luscious cakes that "the sense aches at!" What are all these gifts of plenty but a glad promise that in the time of the "sweetest young prince," on the birthday of that Prince just vouchsafed to us, all England will be a large Lord Mayor's table!

When the question of the title of the next King was discussed, Punch boldly suggested Lazarus:—

[Pg 9]

Let Henry the Fifth have his Agincourt; let him, in history, sit upon a throne of Frenchmen's skulls; our LAZARUS THE FIRST shall heal the wounds of wretchedness—shall gather bloodless laurels in the hospital and workhouse—his ermine and purple shall make fellowship with rags of linsey-wolsey—he shall be a king enthroned and worshipped in the hearts of the indigent!

LAZARUS THE FIRST! There is hope in the very sound for the wretched! There is Christian comfort to all men in the very syllables! By giving such a name to the greatest king of the earth, there is a shadowing forth and a promise of glorification to the beggars in eternity. Poverty and sores are anointed—tatters are invested with regality—man in his most abject and hopeless condition is shown his rightful equality with the bravest of the earth—royalty and beggary meet and embrace each other in the embrace of fraternity.

O ye thousands famished in cellars! O ye multitudes with hunger and cold biting with "dragon's tooth" your very vitals! shout, if you can find breath enough, "Long live Lazarus!"

In those days there was a "Pauper's Corner" in Punch, in which the cry of the people found frequent and touching utterance. We have quoted from "The Prayer of the People" as a heading to this chapter. Another short poem deserves to be rescued from these old files, and added to the lyrics inspired by the Anti-Corn Law movement:—

Disease and want are sitting by my hearth—

The world hath left me nothing of its good!

The land hath not been stricken by a dearth,

And yet I am alone and wanting food.

The sparrow on the housetops o'er the earth

Doth find its sustenance, and surely HE

Who gave the mighty universe its birth

Would never love the wild bird more than me.

Punch had no illusions as to the genuineness of the Chartist movement, as may be gathered from his comments on the presentation of the Great Petition in 1842. There might, he owned, be dangerous demagogues who offered evil counsel, but[Pg 10] the Chartists themselves had a degree of intelligence, a power of concentration, a knowledge of the details of public business, heretofore unknown to great popular combinations of dissentients:—

There are among the Chartists hard-headed logicians—men keenly alive to their sufferings, and what is more, soundly schooled as to the causes of them. We grant that their petition presented to Parliament contained many follies, very many extravagances—that it prayed for what the timidity of poverty will call revolutionary measures; but is it not an axiom in politics, that to get even a little it is necessary to ask a great deal?

We only call upon Toryism, or Whiggism either, each to show us its army of 3,000,000 of spotless politicians. But we contend that the Chartists are foully maligned when they are branded as thieves and spoilers. It is an old cry that property has its rights; it has been added—and well added—that property has also its duties. To these let us subjoin—property has also its cowardice.

Inquiries and investigations into the condition of agricultural labourers and of artisans were already bringing to light many disquieting facts. The physical destitution and spiritual forlornness of the workers in the Midlands were painfully illustrated in the evidence of Mr. Horne on the condition of the operatives of Wolverhampton:—

I have entered the houses and hovels of journeymen locksmiths and keymakers indiscriminately and unexpectedly, and seen the utmost destitution; no furniture in the room below but a broken board for a table, and a piece of plank laid across bricks for a seat; with the wife hungry—almost crying with hunger—and in rags, yet the floor was perfectly clean. I have gone upstairs, and seen a bed on the floor of a room seven feet long by six feet high at one side, but slanting down to nothing, like a wedge, where a husband, his wife and three children slept, and with no other article in the room of any kind whatever except the bed.... William Benton—"Thinks that's his name; can't spell it rightly. Age, don't know justly—mother says he's turned eighteen. Can't read or write; can tell some of his letters. Goes to a Sunday school sometimes. Is of the Baptist school religion, whatever that is. Never heard of Moses; never heard of St. Paul. Has heard of Christ; knows who Jesus Christ was—he was Adam. Doesn't care much about going to school if he could...."

[Pg 11]

You will find poor girls who have never sung or danced; never seen a dance; never read a book that made them laugh; never seen a violet or a primrose or other flowers; and others whose only idea of a green field was derived from having been stung by a nettle.

The Song of the Shirt

The Commission which had been engaged in learning the exact conditions of all the women and children employed in agriculture in England suggested to Punch an imaginary report of an inquiry into the state of the aristocracy, and the moral condition, employment, health, diet, etc., of the residents in Belgrave Square, most of the ladies examined being overworked by violent dancing in overheated rooms. Sweating in the cheap clothes trade was already attracting the notice of reformers, and Punch was on the warpath when a Jew slop-seller prosecuted a poor widow with two children for pawning articles which she had to make up for him. She got 7d. a pair for making up trousers, and earned 7s. a week. It was this episode, exposed in the verses "Moses and Co.," which paved the way for Hood's immortal "Song of the Shirt," the greatest poem, the most noble contribution that ever appeared in the pages of Punch. It was printed in the Christmas number of 1843, and dwarfed all the other contributions to insignificance:—


With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,

A woman sat in unwomanly rags,

Plying her needle and thread—

Stitch! stitch! stitch!

In poverty, hunger and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch

She sang the "Song of the Shirt."

"Work! work! work!

While the cock is crowing aloof!

And work—work—work,

Till the stars shine through the roof!

It's O! to be a slave

[Pg 12]

Along with the barbarous Turk,

Where woman has never a soul to save,

If this is Christian work!


Till the brain begins to swim;


Till the eyes are heavy and dim!

Seam and gusset and band,

Band and gusset and seam,

Till over the buttons I fall asleep,

And sew them on in a dream!

"O men, with sisters dear!

O men, with mothers and wives!

It is not linen you're wearing out,

But human creatures' lives!


In poverty, hunger and dirt,

Sewing at once, with a double thread,

A shroud as well as a shirt.

"But why do I talk of Death,

That phantom of grisly bone?

I hardly fear his terrible shape,

It seems so like my own—

It seems so like my own,

Because of the fasts I keep;

Oh God, that bread should be so dear,

And flesh and blood so cheap!


My labour never flags;

And what are its wages? A bed of straw,

A crust of bread—and rags.

That shatter'd roof—and this naked floor—

A table—a broken chair—

And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank

For sometimes falling there!


From weary chime to chime,


[Pg 13]

As prisoners work for crime!

Band and gusset and seam,

Seam and gusset and band,

Till the heart is sick and the brain benumb'd,

As well as the weary hand.


In the dull December light,

And work—work—work

When the weather is warm and bright;

While underneath the eaves

The brooding swallows cling

As if to show me their sunny backs

And twit me with the spring.

"Oh! but to breathe the breath

Of the cowslip and primrose sweet—

With the sky above my head,

And the grass beneath my feet;

For only one short hour

To feel as I used to feel,

Before I knew the woes of want

And the walk that costs a meal!

"Oh, but for one short hour!

A respite however brief;

No blessed leisure for love or hope,

But only time for grief!

A little weeping would ease my heart,

But in their briny bed

My tears must stop, for every drop

Hinders needle and thread!"

With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,

A woman sat in unwomanly rags

Plying her needle and thread—

Stitch! stitch! stitch!

In poverty, hunger and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,

Would that its tone could reach the rich!

She sang this "Song of the Shirt."

Lady having her hair styled.


Lady sewing a garment.


Sir Robert Peel and Hood

The story of "The Song of the Shirt" is well told by Mr. M. H. Spielmann in his History of "Punch". Mark[Pg 14] Lemon proved himself a great editor by deciding to publish the poem against the expressed opinions of his colleagues, who thought it unsuitable for a comic journal, and also by his omitting the one weak verse in the original MS. Strange to say, the poem does not appear in the index. The sequel may be found in Peel's correspondence, and does honour to a statesman who, while he lived, received scant justice from Punch. Though the impact of Hood's burning verses on public opinion was immense and abiding, Hood himself a year later was dying in penury, of consumption. On November 16, 1844, Peel wrote him a letter expressing admiration for his work, and offering him a pension. "I am not conferring a[Pg 15] private obligation upon you, but am fulfilling the intentions of the Legislature, which has placed at the disposal of the Crown a certain sum (miserable indeed in amount) in recognition of public claims on the bounty of the Crown." All he asked in return was that Hood would give him the opportunity of making his personal acquaintance. That was impossible owing to the state of Hood's health. Mrs. Hood wrote on January 14, 1845, to beg for prompt assistance: Hood was dangerously ill and creditors were pressing. Peel sent the £100 at once, and on February 17 Hood wrote to thank him "with all the sincerity of a dying man" and to bid him a respectful farewell. He could write no more, though[Pg 16] he had wished to write one more paper. Then follow these memorable words, even more needed now than they were seventy-five years ago:—

Certain classes, at the poles of society, are already too far asunder. It should be the duty of our writers to draw them nearer by kindly attraction, not to aggravate existing repulsions and place a wider moral gulf between rich and poor, with hate on one side and fear on the other. But I am too weak for this task, the last I had set myself. It is death that stops my pen, you see, not a pension. God bless you, sir, and prosper all your measures for the benefit of my beloved country.

Hood died on May 3, 1845, and was buried in Kensal Green, but more than seven years later no tombstone marked his resting-place, and Punch was moved to ask:—

If marble mark the soldier-statesman's grave,

If monuments adorn his place of sleep

Whose hand struck off the fetters from the slave,

And his who sought out woe in dungeons deep,

Did he not fight for Toil's sad sons and daughters?

Was not his voice loud for the worker's right?

Was he not potent to arrest the slaughters

Of Capital and Labour's desperate fight?

Eventually a tombstone was erected, bearing the words: "He sang the Song of the Shirt," but the pension continued to his widow lapsed on her death a year later. A sum of £800, collected by public subscription, was all that was available for the children, Lord John Russell, then Premier, having found himself unable to extend the pension for their benefit, at a time when, as Punch reminded him, the Duchess of Inverness, widow of the Duke of Sussex, was drawing a pension of £1,000 a year. "The Song of the Shirt" rang through the land, but it did not end the hardships of the sweated sempstress. Within a year Punch was moved to indignation by the story of Esther Pierce, paid 6d. for embroidering eighty blossoms on a silk shawl, and charged with pawning the goods of her employer. In 1848, under the heading "The Cheap[Pg 17] Shirt Market," we read of a woman prosecuted on a similar charge, who was paid 2s. 6d. a dozen for making up shirts, or 2½d. apiece, and on these earnings supported herself, two children and a husband out of work. As late as 1859 the sweated shirt makers were still receiving only 4s. 6d. a dozen. No wonder is it that when the movement in favour of cottage gardens was frowned upon in some quarters on the ground that flowers here were "out of place," Punch retorted with the bitter jibe: "What has the labourer to do with stocks but sit in them?"

The Duke of Norfolk's Panacea

No wonder again that a legal pillory of harsh sentences was a constant feature of his pages in the 'forties and 'fifties. A humane magistrate who refused in 1845 to hear a charge of wood-stealing from a hedge brought against a man earning 7s. a week—the common rate at the time for agricultural labourers—stated from the Bench that he knew of good hands in Warwickshire who were earning only 3s. and 3s. 10d. a week. Meat was a luxury: only the elders got bacon: the children potatoes and salt: bread was 10d. a loaf. Yet this was the time when the Duke of Norfolk seriously proposed that the poor should eke out their meagre fare by the use of curry powder,[1] a suggestion that recalls the historic comment of the French lady, shortly before the Revolution, on hearing that the peasantry had no bread, "Then why don't they eat cake?" Punch dealt faithfully with this ducal gaffe under the heading, "A Real Blessing to Landlords":—

The genuine Anti-Appetitive Curry Powder, strongly recommended by the Duke of Norfolk, is the labourer's only true substitute for bread and meat. It possesses the singular property of deluding the empty stomach into a sense of fullness, and is calculated to relieve those distressing symptoms of vacuity which result from living on seven shillings a week. It may be warranted to supersede potatoes and bacon; containing in fact, in itself, the essence of gammon; and one pinch dissolved in a tumbler of hot water is equal to a pot of beer. Landed proprietors, not wishing to reduce their rents, will find this preparation admirably calculated to reconcile labourers with their present rate of wages by enabling them almost[Pg 18] entirely to dispense with food. Sold in pots, at from one shilling. Agricultural societies supplied.

N.B.—A liberal allowance on taking a quantity.

In these years the Dukes were constantly in Mr. Punch's pillory; the Duke of Marlborough for his harsh treatment of his tenantry in connection with the Woodstock Election in 1844; the Duke of Buckingham for prosecuting a rat-catcher, who was fined 18s. or fourteen days for killing a leveret as big as a kitten, and about the same time for prosecuting a poacher for damaging a fence to the amount of one penny; the Duke of Sutherland, in the same year again, for the arbitrary rules enforced on his estate, the whole county being parcelled out into sheep-walks, which suggested to Punch that he should be dignified with the Order of Mutton; the Duke of Richmond for apparently imagining that agricultural troubles could be settled by the simple process of drinking the health of the British labourer; the Duke of Atholl for closing Glen Tilt. Even the Great Duke himself was not immune from criticism and censure. He had done a great work in the past, but he was out of touch with the times and lacking in sympathy with the people. His words reflected his iron temperament: they were like tenpenny nails. In 1845 Punch made bold to suggest that the time for his going to grass had arrived:—

The Times says "he is the leader of the aristocracy." Let him go and lead the Dukes. He is fit for that, but not any longer for governing us.... The old Duke should no longer block up the great thoroughfare of civilisation—he should be quietly and respectfully eliminated. For the future, let us have him and admire him—in history.

Harsh Sentences on Children

Harsh sentences on juvenile delinquents and plebeian offenders under the Game Laws and Sunday Trading Act, the harrying of vagrants, the treatment of destitution as a crime, are a constant spur to Punch's reforming zeal. The hard cases quoted from The Times and many provincial papers include the flogging of a boy for accidentally killing a leveret;[Pg 19] the trial of a starving woman for the crime of stealing a faggot worth a penny; the prosecution of two children, aged six and twelve, for picking two handfuls of peas while walking in a field through which there was a path, and the sending of the elder boy to gaol for fourteen days in default of payment of a fine of 6d. and 13s. costs; a sentence of six months' imprisonment for stealing a crab worth 1s. 6d.; the fining of a man 5s. by his vicar because his child, aged nine, had sold a halfpenny worth of sweets to another child on Sunday—which reminds Punch of Herod and the Innocents. In 1841 Lord Brougham, in Parliament, during a discussion on prison discipline, stated that a man "had been confined ten weeks, having been fined 1s., with 14s. costs, because he was absent one Sunday from church." Then in 1846 we have the case of a woman charged with "exciting charity," though she had not solicited alms. As late as 1859 we read of a child of nine in Essex, sent to prison for fourteen days and whipped for stealing 1\2-lb. of butter. Small wonder is it that Punch was a fervent and convinced anti-Sabbatarian, or that he wrote in 1846: "The State does not trouble itself much with education in this country, but the most usual schools for the young and destitute are the prisons." The alternatives of fine or imprisonment heightened the evil, for while the poor delinquent went to gaol the well-to-do offender escaped. Brutal assaults on women were punished by a lenient fine, which the bully could generally pay; fraudulent tradesmen were not deterred from repeating their offences by a money penalty which they could easily afford; it was only the penniless pilferer who was sure of prison. In 1844 we find Punch tracing incendiarism in Suffolk to the greed of the farmers in keeping wages down, and publishing Leech's famous cartoon "The Home of the Rick Burner." Facit indignatio versum: here is the picture of "The Fine Old English Gentleman of the Present Time"—in the middle of the Hungry 'Forties:—

I'll sing you a fine old song, improved by a modern pate,

Of a fine Old English Gentleman, who owns a large estate,

[Pg 20]

But pays the labourers on it a very shabby rate.

Some seven shillings each a week for early work and late,

Gives this fine Old English Gentleman, one of the present time.

In winter's cold, when poor and old for some assistance call,

And come to beg a trifle at the portals of his hall,

He refers them to the workhouse, that stands open wide for all;

For this is how the parish great relieve the parish small,

Like this fine Old English Gentleman, one of the present time.

Here is the portrait of the pauper:—

Houseless, famish'd, desp'rate man,

A ragged wretch am I!

And how, and when, and where I can,

I feed, and lodge, and lie.

And I must to the workhouse go,

If better may not be;

Ay, if, indeed! The workhouse! No!

The gaol—the gaol for me.

There shall I get the larger crust,

The warmer house-room there;

And choose a prison since I must,

I'll choose it for its fare.

The dog will snatch the biggest bone,

So much the wiser he:

Call me a dog—the name I'll own—

The gaol—the gaol for me.

The horror of the "Union" inspired some of the most moving pages in Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend" some twenty years later. How deep and well justified it was in the 'forties may be gathered from the scandal of the Andover Union workhouse in '45, the habitual underfeeding of paupers, and the frequent inquests at which verdicts of "natural death" were returned on victims of neglect and even cruelty. The opposition to the humane proposal to establish a lending library at the Greenwich workhouse, following the example of Wandsworth, moved Punch to indignant irony: "Food for a pauper's mind, indeed! It is quite enough to have to find food for his body." In 1851 an inquiry into the management of a workhouse near Leeds revealed that the inmates[Pg 21] were fed at a trough, six at a time. In 1857 the workhouse children at Bath were not allowed to see the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. Owing to the intervention of the Guardians, headed by a clergyman, the children were actually stopped at the door of the theatre. But in "Dust from a Bath-brick" Punch dusted the jackets of the Guardians in his best style. Again and again we find him protesting against the regulation of the new Poor Law which separated man and wife directly they entered the workhouse. For professional mendicants he had no sympathy. Witness the ironical lines on "The Jolly London Beggars":—

A fig for honest occupation,

Beggary's an easier trade;

Industry is mere starvation,

Mendicancy's better paid.

Bigamy or Divorce?

In the long campaign for the reform of the Marriage Laws Punch never ceased to reiterate his conviction that cheap divorce was a better remedy than the punishment of the brutal husband. Yet when Mr. Justice Maule delivered his historic judgment in 1845, Punch hardly rendered justice to that masterpiece of fruitful irony:—


One Thomas Rollins, as poor as beggary, was arraigned as a bigamist. His first wife had left him and become no better than one of the wicked. Whereupon Rollins took another helpmate; and, for such violation of the law, found himself face to face with Justice Maule, who, as it will appear, happened to be in one of his pleasantest humours. He told the culprit, and we doubt not with a gravity of face worthy of the original Billy Lackaday, "that the law was the same for him as it was for a rich man, and was equally open for him, through its aid, to afford relief." In the like way that turbot and champagne are the same to Lazarus as to Dives; if Lazarus could only buy the taste of them. Beggar and rich man have both the same papillary organs—a dignifying truth for the outcast wanting a dinner! However, the droll Judge continued his pleasantry:

"He (Rollins) should have brought an action against the man who was living in the way stated with his wife, and he should[Pg 22] have obtained damages, and then should have gone to the Ecclesiastical Court and obtained a divorce, which would have done what seemed to have been done already, and then he should have gone to the House of Lords, and, proving all his case and the preliminary proceedings, have obtained a full and complete divorce; after which he might, if he liked it, have married again."

There is a delicious vein of humour in this. It smacks of the grave, earnest fun of Swift. How the jest increases in volume as we follow the pauper from court to court—tarry with him awhile in the House of Lords—and finally see him "married again." And then the Judge, in a sustained spirit of drollery, observes:

"The prisoner might perhaps object to this, that he had not the money to pay the expenses, which would amount to about £500 or £600—perhaps he had not so many pence—but this did not exempt him from paying the penalty for committing a felony, of which he had been convicted."

Of course not. Therefore Thomas Rollins is in effect not punished for marrying a second wife, but for the turpitude of wanting "about £500 or £600," by means of which he might have rid himself of his first spouse. In England the bonds of Hymen are only to be cut with a golden axe. Assuredly there needs a slight alteration in the marriage service. "Whom God hath joined, let no man put asunder," should be followed by these words, "Unless paid about £500 or £600 to separate them."

Punch, we are afraid, was inclined, in those days at any rate, to resent any attempt to usurp his functions as a public ironist, even by those who were fighting on the same side as himself. Anyhow, he omitted to mention that the judge sentenced Rollins to one day's imprisonment. But later references to this famous judgment made it clear that Punch recognized that the judge's irony was deliberate and animated by a sincere desire for reform, not by mere irresponsible "waggery."

Against the Game Laws and their administration Punch waged a continuous war. Squires were condemned for the damage done to land by game kept up for the profit of the landlord, hares being fed at the expense of the tenant farmer. John Bull worshipped rank and money, and amongst his idols[Pg 23] were hares, pheasants and partridges, with his "bold peasantry" as their constant victims.

The Model Labourer

The Hon. Grantley Fitzhardinge Berkeley, M.P., who published a pamphlet in 1845 defending the drastic treatment of poachers, was very roughly handled for his calm assertion of the sacred rights of game; but perhaps the most effective comment on the inequalities of life on the land is to be found in the ironical portrait of "The Model Labourer" in the summer of 1848:—

He supports a large family upon the smallest wages. He works from twelve to fourteen hours a day. He rises early to dig in what he calls his garden. He prefers his fireside to the alehouse, and has only one pipe when he gets home, and then to bed. He attends church regularly, with a clean smock frock and face, on Sundays, and waits outside, when service is over, to pull his hair to his landlord, or, in his absence, pays the same reverence to the steward. Beer and he are perfect strangers, rarely meeting, except at Christmas or harvest time; and as for spirits, he only knows them, like meat, by name. He does not care for skittles. He never loses a day's work by attending political meetings. Newspapers do not make him discontented, for the simple reason that he cannot read. He believes strongly in the fact of his belonging to the "Finest Peasantry." He sends his children to school somehow, and gives them the best boots and education he can. He attributes all blights, bad seasons, failures, losses, accidents to the repeal of the Corn Laws. He won't look at a hare, and imagines, in his respect for rabbits, that Jack Sheppard was a poacher. He whitewashes his cottage once a year. He is punctual with his rent, and somehow, by some rare secret best known by his wages, he is never ill. He knows absolutely nothing beyond the affairs of his parish, and does not trouble himself greatly about them. If he has a vote, it is his landlord's, of course. He joins in the cry of "Protection," wondering what it means, and puts his X most innocently to any farmer's petition. He subscribes a penny a week to a Burial Society. He erects triumphal arches, fills up a group of happy tenants, shouts, sings, dances—any mockery or absurdity, to please his master. He has an incurable horror of the Union, and his greatest pride is to starve sooner than to solicit parish relief. His children are taught the same creed. He prefers living with his wife to being separated from her. His only amusement is the Annual Agricultural Fat-and-Tallow Show; his greatest happiness if his master's pig, which he has fattened, gets the prize. He struggles on, existing rather than[Pg 24] living, infinitely worse fed than the beasts he gets up for the exhibitions—much less cared about than the soil he cultivates; toiling without hope, spring, summer, autumn and winter, his wages never higher—frequently less—and perhaps after thirty years' unceasing labour, if he has been all that time with the same landlord, he gets the munificent reward of six-and-twopence, accompanied, it is true, with a warm eulogium on his virtues by the President (a real Lord) for having brought up ten children and several pigs upon five shillings a week. This is the MODEL LABOURER, whose end of life is honourably fulfilled if he is able, after a whole life's sowing for another, to reap a coffin for himself to be buried in!

This is not an imaginary portrait, though some of the touches are heightened by the artist. As for the vote, a good illustration is to be found in the advertisement of the sale of the Earl of Ducie's domain in 1843, quoted by Punch on page 14 of Vol. v., including "the entire village of Nymphfield, wherein are 66 houses and the Ducie Arms, with political influence extending over 1,200 honest yeomen." As for the exhibitions, with their rewards and prizes for the virtuous and industrious poor, Punch was lavish of sarcasm at the expense of this parsimonious and condescending benevolence, when the prizes represented a miserable percentage on the profits which the recipients had earned for their masters by special zeal. So we find him suggesting a prize of £1 to the labourer who had lived the longest number of years on the shortest commons, and during the same period Leech's cartoon of a show where the prize pig is awarded £3 3s. and the prize peasant £2 2s. When baby shows were introduced in the next decade, Lord Palmerston was drawn with his prize agricultural baby, holding up a wizened old labourer with the label "Prize, 30s. Labourer all his life and never wanted to improve his condition." Punch's democratic distrust of Lords and Ladies Bountiful was no doubt in part the cause of his hostility to the Young England movement. From his account of the matter one might gather that Disraeli identified himself with, if he did not actually originate, the fashion of giving prizes to the working classes. Lord John Manners fell an easy prey to "the Democritus of Fleet Street" (as the Daily Telegraph called Punch in later years), when in "England's[Pg 25] Trust and other Poems" was penned the memorable cri de cœur:—

Though I could bear to view our crowded towns

Sink into hamlets or unpeopled downs;

Let wealth and commerce, laws and learning die,

But leave us still our old nobility.

Lord Shaftesbury

But "Young England" practised better than its poet preached. For proof one need only turn to the history of the reform of the Factory Acts which Punch unflinchingly supported, while rendering scant justice to the man who started this "great campaign against the oppression of the industrial poor" and carried it to a successful conclusion, or to some of those who lent him most valuable assistance. Of Lord Ashley, afterwards the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, it has been said that if there is a Seventh Heaven he is there. But he was a Tory, who had opposed the Reform Bill of 1832, though he supported Catholic Emancipation and resigned his seat for Dorset in 1846 in the belief that the continuance of the Corn Laws was impracticable; he was an aristocrat; he held pronounced Evangelical views and was a convinced Sabbatarian. On all these grounds he was held suspect by Punch. Yet as early as 1833 Lord Ashley was mainly instrumental in securing the passage of a Factory Act, the scope of which was narrowed by the hostility of Whigs, manufacturing capitalists and doctrinaire Radicals. In 1840 he got a Commission appointed, whose report, published in 1842, shocked the conscience of the nation and led to the introduction of a Bill excluding women and children from mines. In the next phase of this humane campaign, when Sir James Graham introduced a Government Bill to regulate labour in factories, Disraeli and the "Young England" group supported Ashley throughout against the refusal of the Government to concede the ten-hour limit. But the Government, supported by Bright and most of the Radical Free Traders, threw all its weight into the scale of the millowners, carried the day against Ashley, "Young England" and most of the official Whigs, and until 1847 the labour of boys from 13 to 18 years of age,[Pg 26] and of girls and women to 21, stood at twelve hours a day. The Act of 1847, which limited the hours of work for women and children to ten hours, was imperfectly drafted, and the interpretation placed upon it by the Courts enabled manufacturers to evade its provisions. In 1850 the Government offered a compromise implying a 10½ hour day, which was reluctantly accepted by Lord Ashley. But Disraeli supported Lord John Manners in protesting against this compromise. As his biographers do well to remind us, he condemned it as a breach of faith with the overworked population: the honour of Parliament was concerned in not taking advantage of a legal flaw. The Government again carried the day, but only for the moment; the objects of its critics have long since been more than obtained. Disraeli's speech on this occasion was "instinct with the spirit of Sybil"—his finest and best constructed novel. Sybil was published in 1845, and though in its essentials exhibiting a remarkable convergence with the aims of Punch, was never mentioned by him at the time. Disraeli was a Jew. Now Punch consistently supported the removal of Jewish disabilities as an act of justice, and when rebuking the Exeter Hall philanthropists for thinking that charity must begin abroad, and for neglecting the starving sempstress for the apostate Jew, Chinese, Hottentots, etc., gave them this excellent advice: "Ye who would convert the Jews, first copy the Jews' great virtue; first take care of your own poor; feed and clothe them, and then, if you will, with the superfluity make converts of the Hebrews." But Punch was no lover of Jews, and least of all of Disraeli. He soon recognized his abilities as a great Parliamentary gladiator; he admitted his courage and tenacity. In the main, however, Punch regarded him at this stage of his career as a brilliant but undesirable alien, a flamboyant charlatan, an untrustworthy and insincere patron of the agricultural interest. Yet Sybil in its pictures of the inequalities and miseries of the social and industrial system then prevailing, was conceived and executed largely in the spirit of Hood's deathbed letter to Peel. Disraeli was never more "on the side of the angels" than when he wrote the dialogue between Egremont and the stranger. The[Pg 27] stranger, after observing that while Christianity teaches us to love our neighbours as ourselves, modern society acknowledges no neighbour, adds that society, still in its infancy, is beginning to feel its way. Egremont replies:—

The Two Nations

"Well, Society may be in its infancy; but, say what you like, our Queen reigns over the greatest nation that ever existed." "Which nation?" asked the younger stranger; "for she reigns over two." The stranger paused. Egremont was silent, but looked inquiringly. "Yes," resumed the younger stranger after a moment's interval, "two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts and feelings as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, and fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws." "You speak of," said Egremont hesitatingly,—"THE RICH AND THE POOR."

Disraeli's sumptuous upholstery, which Thackeray was so fond of burlesquing, is occasionally apparent in Sybil, though one must not forget his own explanation: "I write in irony, and they call it bombast." For the rest the pictures of life in the agricultural and industrial districts, the squalid wretchedness of cellar and hovel, the evils of the truck system and the "tommy-shop" were never more luridly painted by any Chartist writer than by Disraeli in Sybil. The details are not exaggerated; they are borne out by sober historians such as S. R. Gardiner in describing the conditions in Manchester, Bethnal Green and Dorsetshire. Disraeli's inability to reproduce the speech of artisans or peasants correctly is a negligible matter. He never made a systematic tour in the slums as Lord Ashley did in preparation for his campaign on behalf of Ragged Schools; he was not a literary realist; but here he was in touch with realities, and we have his own word for it that he wrote from personal observation. The heroes of the book are all on the side of reform; Gerard, the people's leader; St. Lys, the humanitarian parson; Egremont, an aristocrat converted from indifference by contact with the poor; and the martyrs are the victims of the existing system, agricultural labourers on 8s. a week and starving hand-loom[Pg 28] weavers. Disraeli has no use for the Lord Marneys and de Mowbrays who complacently acquiesced in the serfdom of the slaves in smock-frocks or even denied that they were badly off. They were not a real aristocracy, a "corporation of the best and bravest," in Carlyle's phrase. But for reasons already given Punch was not prepared to accept Disraeli as an ally. He was too useful as a butt for satire and ridicule, and his oriental personality was antipathetic to Punch's eminently British mind. Moreover, in justice to Punch it must be admitted that there were real divergences. Disraeli opposed the repeal of the Corn Laws, though he lived to describe Protection as dead and damned. The readjustment of the "Two Nations" which, as a leader of the "Young England" movement, he proposed for the remedy and removal of the distress and tumult and anger of the Hungry 'Forties, involved in his view the strengthening of the Sovereign and the maintenance of the leadership of the aristocracy. They were to be awakened to their responsibilities and duties, but not shorn of their rights and privileges. Punch was a thoroughgoing Free Trader and Corn Law Repealer, a believer in measures rather than men, an unsparing critic of Kings and Courts, and whenever he saw an aristocratic head, inclined to hit it. "Young England" only served as a target for satire; Punch refused to recognize the genuine idealism by which the best of the group were animated. But, as one of their defenders has admitted, they were not a real Party, and were concerned with principles rather than specific measures of reform. Idealism which stopped short of immediate action did not appeal to Punch. Though often a petulant and intolerant critic, he was always on the look out for practical evidences of reform, legislative, administrative or philanthropic. In 1842 he hailed the decision to close the Fleet Prison, and when it was about to be demolished, wrote in 1845: "Truly there are sermons in stones, and if Beelzebub wanted to preach on the folly, cruelty, ignorance and wickedness of men towards men, even he could not hit upon a more suggestive text than is written—written in tears—on every stone of the Fleet Prison." Of the efforts to bring justice within the reach of the poor he was an impassioned[Pg 29] advocate from the very first. When a police magistrate expressed views of which he disapproved he did not hesitate to describe him as "an insufferably ignorant, and therefore insolent, magisterial cur"! That was in 1841. Four years later Punch vociferously applauds a courageous magistrate who committed a "gentleman" to the House of Correction for a brutal assault, and welcomes a revolt against harsh sentences in the action of the Recorder at the Central Criminal Court, who in 1847 refused to send a boy of twelve to prison for stealing £4 12s. from his master "because if he went to prison he might become an expert thief."

A Plot Against Prisons

In the year 1853 Punch discussed at length, under the title of "A Plot against Prisons," and in the ironical vein which frequently exposed him to misconception by his prosaic readers, "a dangerous conspiracy organized for the purpose of defrauding the gallows and the hulks," and initiated by one of the noblest of many noble Quaker philanthropists:—

The originator of the plot is one Joseph Sturge, who has founded an establishment, called the Reformatory Institution, in Birmingham, and placed it under the superintendence of another man named Ellis, who formerly presided over a similar concern in London, being a place of resort for young thieves, where they were inveigled, and seduced into the abandonment of their dishonest calling. To this end no pains were spared to render the paths of virtue seductive, by blending as much amusement as possible with the particular branch of industry the lads were instructed in. The man Ellis, their enticer from the line of turpitude, is a shoemaker. He says in his evidence, reported by the House of Commons:

"I used to go and sit with them for two or three hours a day, and I used to tell them that they might, by governing their tongues, their tempers and their appetites, and governing themselves generally, be much more happy if they would put themselves in harmony with the laws of their own physical nature; and I showed them how wrong it was to break the social laws that bind society together, and also the laws of God, and so forth. I considered that my conversation with them for two or three hours had had a great effect; and I provided them with wholesome food, and I gave them clothes to wear, and I surrounded them with as many comforts as I possibly could."

[Pg 30]

The Birmingham Institution, under the same management, has also succeeded to such an extent that it is in contemplation to establish another there on a larger scale; which, no doubt, will most seriously tend to impair the utility of those magnificent edifices, our gaols and bridewells, which everywhere afford such vast but by no means empty accommodation. A meeting has been held, Lord Calthorpe in the chair, to carry out the desired object, which will tend to throw so many turnkeys out of employment, and to which all persons are asked to subscribe who desire to rob Jack Ketch of his livelihood, and the Government of convict labour, by substituting prevention for cure—superseding prison discipline by reformation.

High Life Below Stairs
Cook speaking to har mistress.


Cook: "Well, to be sure, Mum! Last place I were in Missis always knocked at the door afore she come into the kitchen!!"

Two manservants talking.

Coachman: "Why—what's the matter, John Thomas?"

Footman: "Matter enuff! Here's the marchioness bin and giv me notice because I don't match Joseph, an' I must go, unless I can get my fat down in a week!"

The relations of masters, mistresses and servants is a never ending theme in the pages of Punch. His attitude was governed by the broad principles that the labourer was worthy of his hire, and that those who offered inadequate wages must expect neither character nor efficiency. But he draws a clear distinction between the domestic slave and the flunkey, holding[Pg 31] that snobbery in employers was the chief cause of its prevalence amongst highly paid servants. Punch was the champion of the "slavey"—immortalized in Dickens's "Marchioness"—even of the much-maligned charwoman; the relentless critic of Jeames, his plush and powder and calves. As early as 1847 we find him supporting a reversal of the old régime: the mistress must be approved by the servant, and furnish a satisfactory character. The plea is not surprising, when advertisements for a kitchen-maid, "wages £3 a year," appeared in a fashionable paper and earned Punch's satire. Contrariwise, he never spares the arrogance of "servantgalism" the assumption of "my lady the housemaid." In this spirit Punch makes game of a school for servants at Bristol, where lessons on the pianoforte were given, but if servant girls and nurses[Pg 32] were neglectful of their duties and their infant charges, mistresses were equally to blame for their indolence and disregard of parental responsibilities. But the keenest arrows in Punch's quiver were reserved for "Jeames." He quotes from the columns of The Times the advertisements of a footman, "tall, handsome, with broad shoulders and extensive calves," who "prefers Belgravia or the North Side of the Park," while a little later on another of this type insists on "six months a year in town, and if in an unfashionable neighbourhood, five guineas extra salary." If I refrain from quoting from Thackeray's constant variations on this theme in the pages of Punch, it is only because they are so familiar to readers of his collected works. The etiquette of flunkeydom was peculiar. These gorgeous and pampered menials had their grievances; they were "expected to sit in church in a position from which the clergyman could neither be seen nor heard," as Punch put it in 1851. Liveried servants were not allowed in Rawstorne Street Chapel, Brompton, in 1846, and a protest was made in the Press that at St. George's, Hanover Square, "the real aristocracy of the land are separated from their liveried domestics by a mere oak panelling." But in this war on flunkeyism "Jeames" was not the real enemy; it was rather the genius of snobbery which Punch impersonated in "Jenkins" of the Morning Post (or Morning Plush, as he called it), whose fulsome and lyrical rhapsodies are held up to ridicule in number after number. In this context two extracts may suffice, from an account of the galaxy of rank and fashion at the Opera which appeared in the Morning Post:

It is, above all, necessary that the middle classes and the poor should see and feel that if the aristocracy has the monopoly of titles and the lion's share of the dignities and offices of the State, instead of hoarding, it nobly expends its revenues in those luxuries which emanate from the ingenuity and labour of the industrious.

And again—the italics and capitals are Punch's:—

Ever since the Italian lyrical drama crossed the Alps in the suites of the tasteful Medicis, its vogue has daily increased, it has become[Pg 33] a ruling passion—it is the quintessence of all civilized pleasures; and wherever its principal virtuosi hoist their standard, there for the time is the CAPITAL OF EUROPE, where the most illustrious, noble, elegant and tasteful members of society assemble.

These ornaments of society are in general absent at the too early opening of Her Majesty's Theatre; but on Saturday, as we surveyed the house previous to the overture, most of those who constitute society in England—those whom we respect, esteem or love—rapidly filled the house.

Every seat in every part of it was occupied, and if those objectionable spectators were there—those gentlemen of ambiguous gentility, the fashionable couriers, valets, tailors and shoemakers, who obtain admission to the pit on the strength of knowing the measure of some actor or actress's foot—they and their frowsy dames were so nailed to their benches as not to offend the eye.

These effusions, and others equally unbridled in their assertion of the divinity of kings and coronets, prompted Punch to adorn "Jenkins" with the alias of Lickspittleoff. It was not a nice name, but Punch might have retorted tâchez de ne pas le mériter.

The Underpaid Governess

From servants to governesses the transition in those days was only too easy. Punch's study of the advertisements in this branch of the "slave market" began early, and let us hope to good purpose, though as I write the comparative rates of remuneration for cooks and teachers are still open to criticism. In the autumn of 1843, commenting on an advertisement in The Times, in which "S. S." offered a salary of £2 a month to "a morning daily governess of ladylike manners for three or four young female pupils, capable of imparting a sound English education, with French, music and singing, dancing and drawing, unassisted by masters," Punch observes:—

How very much would it surprise the race of S.S.'s; what a look of offended virtue would they put on were somebody to exclaim to them, "It is such as you who help to fill our streets, and throng the saloons of our theatres; it is such as you who make the Magdalen indispensable." We have recently read the statistics of insanity, and have found governesses to be in a frightful disproportion to other educated classes. Can this be wondered at when we read such offers as those of S.S.?

[Pg 34]

Servant speaking to his master.

Thomas gives warning because his master has given up reading prayers, and he can't bemean himself by "sayin' 'Amen' to a governess."

The terms of £2 a month were, however, liberal compared with those offered by other employers. An assistant in a ladies' school was expected to teach English, French and music for £1 a quarter, while not at all infrequently the offer of board and lodging was regarded as an excuse for dispensing with a salary altogether. In dealing with the problem of these "Sisters of Misery," Punch waxes ironical on the results of their improvidence:—

If in the course of ten years, with a salary of, let us say, twenty pounds a year, out of which she has only to buy clothes fit to keep company with the children, the governess has not saved a sufficiency for her declining age, it is but too painful to know that she must have been a very profuse, improvident person. And yet, I fear me, there are lamentable instances of such indiscretion. I myself, at this moment, know a spendthrift creature who, as I have heard, in her prime—that is, for the ten years—lived in one family. Two of her pupils are now countesses. Well, she had saved next to nothing, and when discharged she sank lower and lower as a daily governess, and at length absolutely taught French, Italian, and the harp to the[Pg 35] daughters of small tradesmen at eighteenpence a lesson. In time she, of course, got too old for this. She now lives somewhere at Camberwell, and though sand-blind, keeps a sixpenny school for little boys and girls of the lower orders. With this, and the profits on her cakes, she continues to eke out a miserable existence—a sad example, if they would only be warned, to improvident governesses.

A Real Dotheboys Hall

Punch's attentive study of the curiosities of literature in advertisements relating to education continued for many years. A batch of them extracted from The Times appears in the issue of August 14, 1853, and pillories the meanness of ladies who wished to secure governesses without salaries, or, as an alternative, to turn their houses into boarding schools and get assistants without paying for them. Already, some three weeks earlier, Punch had quoted from The Times the advertisement of an academy for young gentlemen near Richmond, in Yorkshire, where youths were "boarded, furnished with books, and instructed in whatever their future prospects might require for twenty and twenty-two guineas a year. No vacations unless desired." On this "Dotheboys Hall" in real life Punch observes that while such a price for a year's food for mind and body is a miracle of cheapness, "the age of miracles has passed, and especially—after the publication of Nicholas Nickleby—of such miracles as this." Yet an advertisement of a school in Essex on almost precisely similar lines survived for at least forty years after Punch's protest, as the present writer can testify. Nor were the claims of the underpaid official forgotten. In his "Penny Post Medal" Punch endeavoured to illustrate the triumph of Rowland Hill, and waxed lyrical over his achievement, indignant over his treatment:—

Beautiful, much more beautiful, to the eye of the philosopher Punch, is the red coat of the Postman with his bundle of penny missives than the scarlet coat of the Life Guardsman! For the Postman is the soldier of peace—the humanizing, benevolent distributor of records of hopes, affections, tenderest associations. He is the philanthropic go-between—the cheap and constant communicant betwixt man and man.

[Pg 36]

Rowland Hill carried aloft.


In the Penny Post Medal Punch has endeavoured to show the triumph of Rowland Hill—no Greek or Roman triumph e'er so great—carried in well-earned glory into the Post-office, Saint Martin's-le-Grand. If the beholder have any imagination, he will hear huzzaing shouts—he will hear all the street-door knockers of the kingdom for that moment instinct with joyous life, loudly knock, knock, knocking in thundering accord. Such is the triumph of Rowland Hill.

Rowland Hill's Reward

Turn we to the Obverse. It shows an old story; old as the ingratitude of man—old as the Old Serpent. Sir Robert Peel, the Tory Minister, no sooner gets into place than, in reward for the services of Mr. Rowland Hill, he turns him from the Post Office! or[Pg 37] as it is allegorically shown, he, as Britannia, presents him with—the sack.

After this, a subscription is set afoot to which Sir Robert, with Magdalen penitence, subscribes ten pounds! Ten Pounds! It must be owned a very small plaister to heal so cruel a cut!

Brittania presenting Hill with a mail sack.


But these beneficent "red-coated genii" were "cruelly ill-paid" for long and arduous labour. "His walk in life is frequently such a walk that it is a wonder he has a leg to stand upon; for he travels some twenty or thirty miles a day, to the equal wear and tear of body and sole. For this his salary[Pg 38] is a guinea a week." Accordingly, when in 1848 Post Office robberies were frequent, Punch, without excusing theft, regarded it as the natural result of this miserable pittance. Under-payment has always been a great incentive to dishonesty, and in 1848 we have Punch's assurance that the postmen were the worst paid of all Government employees.

The long fight for early closing, for the Saturday half-holiday, and for reasonable Sunday recreation, found unflinching support in Punch from his earliest years. He did not, it is true, profess a burning sympathy with the bank clerks in 1842 when they were agitating for a closure at 4 instead of 5 p.m., but he was wholeheartedly on the side of the shop assistants, especially in the linendrapers' and milliners' establishments. One of his earliest incursions into this controversy took the form of a report of an imaginary meeting of duchesses at Almack's, at which resolutions were passed deprecating, in a contrite spirit, the overworking of milliners' assistants, and establishing an association to persuade dressmakers to reduce the hours of work to eight a day, abolish Sunday work, afford reasonable time to execute orders, provide medical advice and change of air for the sick, and start a fund to carry out these aims (May 27, 1843). These aims have long been realized in all well-conducted shops, but they were something like counsels of perfection in the year of "The Song of the Shirt." But Punch's irony at the expense of inconsiderate shoppers in "Beauty and Business versus Early Shops," and "Directions to Ladies for Shopping," not only tilts at femininity's little ways, but shows that human nature has not materially changed in the last seventy-five years. Punch was moved by the hardships of dressmakers and shop-girls, whom he compared to convicts: "hard labour" was no worse than theirs. He frankly advocated the boycotting of a money-grubbing hosier in Cheapside, who kept his shop open until nine or ten o'clock, though all the other hosiers in that thoroughfare had for two years closed theirs at eight—for that was as far as early closing had reached in the 'fifties. But Punch was always a moderate reformer, very far from being a revolutionary, and he condemned with great asperity an attempt to launch an experiment mildly foreshadowing modern syndicalism:—

[Pg 39]

Syndicalism in the 'Forties

Notwithstanding our desire to aid the assistant drapers in any reasonable movement, we cannot encourage them in the foolery which, according to a prospectus of the Metropolitan Assistant Drapers' Company, they seem to contemplate. They are coolly asking the public for £150,000 in 15,000 shares of ten pounds each, to start a model establishment, in which the assistants shall be their own masters, choose their own work, take their own time, and seize "every opportunity for indulging in all healthy pursuits and reasonable enjoyments." The prospectus then goes on to state, that the assistants will become "free and happy, as they should be." If a linendraper's shop is to be turned into a state of "freedom and happiness" all day long, it may suit the shop-boys well enough, but it will not be quite so agreeable to the customers.

Holding it to be his duty "to smash humbug of every description," Punch, after an examination of the financial proposals of the "free and happy" linendrapers, pronounces them guilty of very gross humbug in putting forward their prospectus. The control of industry by the workers formed no part of his schemes for bettering their condition.

People relaxing in an open space.

A View in Hyde Park, showing the proposed site for the Exhibition of Industry.

Workers' as exhibits.


In the period under review Sunday was, speaking broadly, the only holiday of the working classes. Punch's views on[Pg 40] their recreations, therefore, were necessarily governed by his views on Sunday observance, Sunday trading and Sabbatarianism generally. Let it be noted at the outset that he was no advocate of the Continental Sunday: he was all for keeping Sunday quiet, even dull. But against any legal or other restrictions, which thwarted poor people's innocent enjoyment and recreation, he ranged himself as an uncompromising adversary. As we have seen, he indignantly resented the fining of boys for playing cricket, or children for selling sweets, on Sunday. He supported the opening of museums and picture galleries on Sundays as early as August, 1842, and, in recording the defeat of the motion in the Commons, ends his comments on "The Pharisees' Sunday" with the remark: "The Museum and the National Gallery are, for the present, closed on Sundays; so for a time there are left for the people—the Eagle Tavern and the Red House at Battersea." Punch vehemently assailed the snobbery which sought to exclude working men and poor children from the parks. He welcomed the opening of the Zoological Gardens to the public in 1848 at a low charge, without a "Fellow's order," plus a shilling. But of all the movements which inspired him with hope for the future, none offered brighter prospects than the great Exhibition of 1851. It was Douglas Jerrold who coined the name of the "Crystal Palace." Punch had some misgivings as to the encroachment of the buildings on public amenities and rights, and warmly espoused the cause of Ann Hicks, whose family for 118 years had held possession of an apple stall in Hyde Park. Her grandfather, it was alleged, had saved George II from drowning in the Serpentine! The stall was removed and Ann Hicks allowed five shillings a week for one year, but, largely owing to Punch's intervention, was assisted to emigrate to Australia. And Punch was indignant at the suggested exclusion of the public on the opening day, May 1, 1851, for fear of annoying the Royal family. But these misgivings were happily removed, and the opening of the Exhibition marked a turning point in the long campaign of criticism, frank to the verge of discourtesy and indecorum, sometimes justified, but often malicious, which Punch had[Pg 41]
[Pg 42] conducted against the Court in general and the Prince Consort in particular. He made the amende handsomely in his "own report of the opening of the great Exhibition":—

At length a cheer without, and a flourish of trumpets within, announce the arrival of the Queen—and the Prince, who, by the idea of this Exhibition, has given to Royal Consortship a new glory, or, rather, has rendered for ever illustrious, in his own case, a position too often vibrating between the mischievous and the insignificant. Prince Albert has done a great service to humanity, and earned imperishable fame for himself by an idea, the greatness of which, instead of becoming less, will appear still greater as it recedes from us.... Beyond comparison, the most gratifying incident of the day was the promenade of the Queen and Prince, holding by the hand their two eldest children, through the whole of the lower range of the building. It was a magnificent lesson for foreigners—and especially for the Prussian princes, who cannot stir abroad without an armed escort—to see how securely and confidently a young female Sovereign and her family could walk in the closest possible contact, near enough to be touched by almost everyone, with five-and-twenty thousand people, selected from no class, and requiring only the sum of forty-two shillings as a qualification for the nearest proximity with royalty. Here was a splendid example of that real freedom on the one hand, and perfect security on the other, which are the result of our constitutional monarchy, and which all the despotism and republicanism of the world cannot obtain elsewhere, let them go on as long as they may, executing each other in the name of order, or cutting each other's throats in the name of liberty.

The only blot, as we thought, upon the whole proceedings were the unnatural and crab-like movements of one of our wealthiest peers, the Marquess of Westminster, and his fellow-official, the Lord Chamberlain, whose part in the pageant consisted of the difficult, but not very dignified, feat of walking backwards during the progress of the procession. We hope the time is not far distant when, among the other sensible arrangements of the present reign, a wealthy nobleman may be released from the humiliation of having to perform before the Sovereign and the public a series of awkward evolutions, which not all the skill of the posture-master can redeem from the absurdity attaching to the contortions of the mountebank.

Punch could not resist having a dig at the aristocrat courtiers, but he had nothing but praise for the Queen and the Prince Consort, and especially for their practice of visiting[Pg 43] the Exhibition on the "shilling days." As he put it in the lines "Victoria Felix",:—

Heaven's duteous sunshine waits upon her going,

And with it blends a sunshine brighter still—

The loyal love of a great people, knowing

That building up is better than o'erthrowing;

That freedom lies in taming of self-will.

Punch's loyalty to the Sovereign, however, did not cause him to forget the workers. He suggests to Prince Albert that a dinner should be given to the workmen who erected the building. As for Paxton, the architect, Punch agreed with the Examiner that a knighthood was not a sufficient reward for his services, and suggested that he should be given a share of the profits. But Punch was from the first concerned with the future of the building; with the possibilities of transforming it into a permanent People's Palace. So when Paxton asked "What is to become of the Crystal Palace?" and answered his own question by saying "Let the Crystal Palace become a winter park under glass," with rare flowers and plants and a colossal aviary, Punch voted the suggestion of the Crystal Magician "delightful and practicable," for, as he notes, on the testimony of "the princely Devonshire, Mr. Paxton never failed in anything he undertook." Nay, Punch went so far as to depict, in a cartoon, John Bull contemplating the marvels of the winter garden. The scheme lapsed, and in the spring of 1852 Punch was indignant at the imminent sale of the Crystal Palace, and lavish of gibes at the "nobs and snobs" who despised the masses:—


The People! I weally am sick of the wawd:

The People is ugly, unpleasant, absawd;

Wha-evaw they go, it is always the case,

They are shaw to destwoy all the chawm of the place.

They are all vewy well in their own pwopa spheeaw,

A long distance off; but I don't like them neeaw;

The slams is the place faw a popula show;

[Pg 44]

Don't encouwage the People to spoil Wotten Wow.

It is odd that the Duke of Awgyll could pasue

So eccentric a cawse, and Lad Shaftesbuwy too,

As to twy and pwesawve the Glass House on its site,

Faw no weason on awth but the People's delight.

The Queen, in an excellent parody of "The May Queen," is credited with the desire to keep up the Palace; Punch threw all his weight on the side of Paxton in his efforts to defeat the obstructives, and when, in June, 1852, the move to Sydenham was finally decided on, he prophesied a great future for that favoured suburb. The "christening" took place in August, and furnished Punch with an opportunity for answering the reproach that "the English don't know how to amuse themselves":—

The great cause of Peace had every fitting honour paid to it on Thursday last at Sydenham. In its train followed some of the greatest celebrities of the day, all children of the people, who had come to assist at the christening of their new Palace. The Arts and Sciences, of course, were there, and gave the cause their blessing, until such time when they could give it something, if not more pure, at least more tangible. Literature, too, was there, and promised to devote its best pen to the service of the new principle, and Trade and Commerce had already sent off their ships to collect treasure to pour into the lap of their beautiful, but too long neglected child, as soon as the Palace was in a fit state to receive them. And the Poor advanced, and, opening their hearts, gave the cause their best wishes—and these were deposited with the coins of the realm, and are to form the foundation of the new building. Never was Palace begun upon so strong a foundation before!

If only half the promises are fulfilled that were made at its christening, this Palace of the People will be the grandest palace ever constructed. And, in truth, it should be so! The people have built palaces sufficiently for others; it is but proper now they built one for themselves.

And when it is built it will be time enough to inquire if Englishmen know how to amuse themselves. They have had hitherto so few opportunities of learning, that it is ungracious to ask at present. In the meantime we wish them every enjoyment in their new playground at Sydenham. It will be the most beautiful playground in the world.

Sabbatarian Solicitude

Punch's generous anticipations, in part illusory, were mingled with wrath against militant Sabbatarians, over-zealous[Pg 45] for the souls of their fellow-creatures. A deputation, headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London and Winchester, and the Earl of Shaftesbury, lost no time in waiting on Lord Derby, in order to urge upon the Prime Minister "the expediency of adopting measures to prevent the Crystal Palace, or its grounds, being opened to the public on Sundays." Punch is bitterly sarcastic against this condescending solicitude on the part of peers and prelates for the spiritual welfare of the vulgar cockneys, snips, snobs, mechanics, shopmen, and their womenkind; creatures that not only consume tea and shrimps, periwinkles, and ginger-beer, but also smoke pipes and penny Pickwicks! The people must feel flattered that they are thus, sympathized with by the superior classes; only perhaps they would rather the sympathy were shown otherwise than by excluding them from pure air and enjoyment—in great tenderness for their immortal part, but with small consideration for their perishable lungs.

But the attack was not solely based on religious grounds. The Morning Herald scented revolution in the proposal, and Punch was moved to address an ironical warning to the Home Secretary:—

A word in your ear, Mr. Walpole. There is treason, hydra-headed treason hatching. Now, we are not joking. Were we inclined to be droll, we would not cast our jokes before certain Home Secretaries. Hush! This way. In a corner, if you please.

Do you ever see the Morning Herald? We thought so. Somehow, you look as if you did. Still, we have brought a copy. Here it is. A leader on the treasonous atrocities contemplated by the traitorous projectors of the Crystal Palace in Penge Park! We will read you—when we can get a good mouthful of breath—a few of the lines: the dreadful lines. You see, the Palace is to be open on Sundays after one o'clock. In that fact the Herald sees revolution, anarchy, and perhaps—a future republic with John Cromwell Bright in Buckingham Palace! Listen:

"'Go to mass on the Sabbath morning' is the Church of Rome's command; 'then go to the park, the ball, or the theatre.' That is the Sabbath of Paris, of Munich, of Vienna, and, we are sorry to say, of Berlin also. And, as one natural result, a single month, in 1848, saw the Sovereigns of Paris, of Vienna, of Munich, and of Berlin fugitives before their rebellious subjects. The people of England[Pg 46] remained untouched by this sudden madness; they were loyal to their Queen, because they feared their God!"

You will perceive, Right Honourable Sir, that had the Palace existed in Penge Park in 1848, the British Throne would have gone to bits like a smashed decanter. The Queen has only continued to reign because there has been no People's Palace!

We see, Sir, you are moved, but let us go on.

"The Crystal Palace will be the main engine for introducing the Continental Sabbath among us. The people may go to church, it will be said, and then they may go down to Sydenham and enjoy a walk in the Crystal Palace, and what harm can that do? Just all the harm in the world. Open and naked profaneness would shock most persons, but this mixture of religion and dissipation will ruin myriads!"

Punch, on the contrary, believed that, in spite of the fulminations of Exeter Hall, the Crystal Palace, with its art treasures, and the setting provided by the wonder-working Paxton, would become the People's Sunday School, and a monster extinguisher of gin palaces. So we find him printing a mock protest from publicans against the desecration of the Sabbath by the proposed opening of the Crystal Palace after morning service.

Punch's views on temperance were eminently moderate. It is true that in one of his early numbers he had depicted, in the cartoons of "The Gin Drop" and "The Water Drop," the horrors of drunkenness in the vein of Cruickshank; true also that he expressed admiration for the crusade of Father Mathew. He condemned excess, but he was no enemy of conviviality. Indeed he was up in arms against those who sought to "rob a poor man of his beer." In his view the best antidotes to intemperance were to be found in recreation and education, and in using Sunday to promote those ends. He severely criticised in the autumn of 1845 the provisions of the new Beer Bill, which prevented excursionists from obtaining needful refreshment at an inn, not only at unreasonable, but at reasonable hours, and protested against the closing of these hospitable portals against them on Sunday, "and perhaps very soon on every other day, if gentlemen, who can go to clubs, as well as to church, being blest with affluence, and, therefore,[Pg 47] belonging to the better classes, continue to legislate in their present spirit for himself (the excursionist) and the rest of the worse—that is the worse off."

Punch at the Palace

Meanwhile the Crystal Palace had been opened by the Queen on Saturday, June 10, 1854. Punch describes the imaginary visit which he paid a few days earlier to inspect the building and, by special command of the Queen, to report as to its probable readiness for her reception on the opening day. After being conducted through the building by Sir Joseph Paxton, he explained that it was not his intention to be present at the inaugural ceremony:—

He was the godfather of the edifice, having originally invented and conferred upon it the title of the Crystal Palace; but he should leave to his friend the Archbishop the entire solemnities of the day, including an announcement which Dr. Sumner had most kindly undertaken to make, namely, that at the special instance of the Queen, arrangements would be at once effected for opening the Palace on Sundays.

Fact is tempered with fancy in this account, as well as in his optimistic report of the meeting of Crystal Palace shareholders; it characterizes, too, the series of humorous handbooks to the Crystal Palace, which appeared in the pages of Punch in the following months. But we find in the remarks put into the mouth of Mr. Laing, the chairman, a very good summary of his own views:—

On reflection it had been thought better that men, under the crystal roof, should temperately refresh themselves—all mutually sustaining one another even by their own self-respect of the decencies of life, there and then in their own Crystal Palace—than that, turned away hungering and athirst, they should be absorbed in the holes and corners of surrounding public-houses.

The subsequent history of the Crystal Palace hardly fulfilled Punch's sanguine expectations of its future as a great people's playground and school. Intermittently it fulfilled this function, but as an educational institution it served the needs of the suburban residents rather than those of the great public; its entertainments were in the main supported by the patronage of[Pg 48] the middle and well-to-do classes. As years went on the Crystal Palace, owing to its distance from London, suffered seriously from the competition of the series of exhibitions at Earl's Court. Yet one who is old enough, as the present writer is, to remember visits in his school days in the early 'seventies—recurrent Handel festivals from the days when Costa was conductor and Patti was in her golden prime; flower and dog and cat shows; the glory of the rhododendron shrubberies; pantomimes and firework displays; and, above all, the admirable Saturday concerts, which drew musical London for some forty years—such a one, and there must be many like him, will always look back on the Crystal Palace with grateful affection, and hold in reverence the names of Paxton and Ferguson, George Grove and August Manns, and many other good men and true who laboured to realize Punch's ideal.

[1] For the actual speech of the Duke see the Examiner for 1845, p. 786.

[Pg 49]


Servant speaking to man carrying a large charter.


John: "My Mistress says she hopes you won't call a meeting of her creditors; but if you will leave your Bill in the usual way, it shall be properly attended to."

The Fight for Cheap Bread

We have seen that Punch did not belittle the Chartist movement, but admitted the evils, political, social, and economic, out of which it sprang. So did some of the leaders of the Young England group (see Sybil), but Punch ridiculed their remedies. He was out of touch alike with Whigs, Tories, and Churchmen, especially the Tractarians, who denounced the men who tempted the people to rail against their rulers and superiors.

[Pg 50]

Punch, too, did a good deal in this line. But while he recognized the sincerity and earnestness of Chartism, he distrusted the methods of the extremists, and his distrust was largely justified by the history of the movement. The cleavage between the advocates of moral and physical force showed itself from the very beginning, and the fiasco of 1848 was largely due to the fact that the leading spirits of Chartism had already declared themselves against it, or actually withdrawn from the movement. Of the famous Six Points of the People's Charter of 1838, three have been conceded—No Property Qualifications, Vote by Ballot, and Payment of Members—and we have come very near the realization of Universal Suffrage and Equal Representation. The demand for Annual Parliaments alone remains unsatisfied. Yet Lovett, who drafted the Charter, and was imprisoned in 1839 with other Chartist leaders after the riots in Birmingham, emerged from gaol more than ever an advocate of moral force, joined Sturge in his efforts to reconcile the Chartists and the middle class reformers, and after 1842 took no further part in the Chartist movement. In the years of riots and fires and strikes and starvation that followed the rejection of the second National Petition in 1842, the leaders were, with few exceptions, engulfed in a tide which they were unable to control. Feargus O'Connor was one of[Pg 51] the exceptions, but his success in inducing the Chartists to repudiate the Corn Law Repeal agitation, and the disastrous failure of his agrarian scheme at Watford, alienated many of the old Chartists. Ebenezer Elliott, the Corn Law rhymer, withdrew from the movement, which he had actively supported, in order to devote all his energies to the repeal of the hated "bread tax," and happily lived long enough to see it abolished. Punch, who had pronounced its dirge in February, 1849, with the legend "obiit. February 1, 1849, aged 34," was heart and soul with the Corn Law rhymer. Repeal of the Corn Laws was the deepest principle in his early life, and he was too angry to do justice to Peel, denouncing him as a "political eel"; an infringer of Dickens's copyright in Pecksniff; attacking his policy of "wait awhile," much as later critics attacked the policy of "wait and see"; and even when Peel's conversion was complete, refusing to acknowledge any virtue in it. When Punch was bracketed with Peel as an opponent of the Corn Laws he indignantly repudiated the association: he at least had never turned his coat. One cannot help feeling that remorse must have mingled with admiration in his posthumous tributes to the statesman "who gave the people bread." But there were no prickings of conscience in the welcome extended by him in 1850 to the proposal (realized in 1854) to erect a statue to Ebenezer Elliott at Sheffield:—

The true-tempered men of Sheffield are about to do a new honour to themselves by honouring the memory of Ebenezer Elliott, the man whose wise pen drew up the indictment against that public robber, Corn Law: and never was indictment better drawn for conviction, though a rare success attended the novel deed, for it was only worded with common words, the words themselves hot and glowing with hate of wrong. Elliott struck from his subject—as the blacksmith strikes from the red iron—sparkles[2] of burning light; and where they fell they consumed. His homely indignation was sublimed by the intensity of his honesty: if his words were homely, they were made resistless by the inexorable purpose that uttered them. But the man had the true heart and soul of the poet, and could love the simple and beautiful as passionately as he denounced the selfish and the mean.

[Pg 52]

The Corn-Law Rhymes did greatest service. They were the earliest utterances of a people contending with a sense of inarticulate suffering. They supplied the words; they gave a voice and meaning to the labouring heart, and the true poet vindicated his fine mission by making his spirit pass into the spirit of the many.

Time rolled on and Corn Law was condemned. The indictment drawn by the poet was the draft afterwards improved; but Ebenezer Elliott was the first drawer; and honoured be the men of Sheffield who seek to do monumental homage to their patriotic poet! We have plenty of modern statues to the sword, it is full time we had one to the pen.

The Professional Agitator

Meanwhile the Chartist movement, weakened by defections and dissensions, and by the dissipation of its energies on a mixed programme, which antagonized all classes, damped by the constant rains which fell at every meeting and drenched the fires of revolution, was marching steadily to disintegration. Punch's distrust of the professional agitator is expressed in a bitter portrait published in the spring of 1848:—


The only thing he flatters is the mob. Nothing is too sweet for them; every word is a lump of sugar. He flatters their faults, feeds their prejudices with the coarsest stimulants, and paints, for their amusement, the blackest things white. He is madly cheered in consequence. In time he grows into an idol. But cheers do not pay, however loud. The most prolonged applause will not buy a mutton chop. The hat is carried round, the pennies rain into it, and the Agitator pours them into his patriotic pocket. It is suddenly discovered that he has made some tremendous sacrifice for the people. The public sympathy is first raised, then a testimonial, then a subscription. He is grateful, and promises the Millennium. The trade begins to answer, and he fairly opens shop as a Licensed Agitator. He hires several journeymen with good lungs, and sends agents—patriotic bagmen—round the country to sell his praises and insults, the former for himself, and the latter for everybody else. Every paper that speaks the truth of him is publicly hooted at; everybody who opposes him is pelted with the hardest words selected from the Slang Dictionary. A good grievance is started, and hunted everywhere. People join in the cry, the Agitator leading off and[Pg 53] shouting the loudest. The grievance is run off its legs; but another and another soon follows, till there is a regular pack of them. The country is in a continual ferment, and at last rises. Riots ensue; but the Model Agitator is the last person to suffer from them. He excites the people to arm themselves for the worst; but begs they will use no weapons. His talk is incendiary, his advice nothing but gunpowder, and yet he hopes no explosion will take place. He is an arsenal wishing to pass for a chapel or a baby-linen warehouse. He is all peace, all love, and yet his hearers grow furious as they listen to him, and rush out to burn ricks and shoot landlords. He is always putting his head on the block. Properly speaking he is beheaded once a quarter.

A monster meeting is his great joy, to be damped only by the rain [the great open-air meetings of the Chartists were uniformly[Pg 54] unfortunate in their weather] or the police. He glories in a prosecution. He likes to be prosecuted. He asks for it; shrieks out to the Government, "Why don't you prosecute me?" and cries and gets quite mad if they will not do it. The favour at length is granted. He is thrown into prison and gets fat upon it; for from that moment he is a martyr, and paid as one, accordingly.

The Model Agitator accumulates a handsome fortune, which he bequeathes to his sons, with the following advice, which is a rich legacy of itself: "If you wish to succeed as an Agitator, you must buy your patriotism in the cheapest market and sell it in the dearest."

Wall witth cheap bread inscribed.


The monster demonstration of 1848, as a recent writer[3] puts it, "was the funeral of Chartism with the Duke of Wellington as the Master of Ceremonies." Hopes of a general rising had been kindled by the revolution in Paris, but they were not fulfilled. The annus mirabilis which set thrones rocking on the Continent and toppled down that of Louis Philippe passed in the main peacefully in England. Feargus O'Connor's monster procession and petition on April 10 ended in fiasco, largely owing to the precautions taken by the Duke of Wellington as Commander-in-Chief—the swearing in of 170,000 special constables (including Louis Napoleon!) and his wise decision to keep the troops as far as possible out of sight. It is right to record the fact that Punch was not moved by these events to desert his "left-centre" position; that he advocated amnesty rather than reprisals. In September, 1849, he published his special "Chartist Petition to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty":—


WHEREAS Death, the great Gaol-Deliverer, has by Cholera set free from Westminster Prison, Joseph Williams and Alexander Sharpe, foolish men, foolishly preaching the Charter, by means of pike and blunderbuss—

Punch humbly prays that your Majesty will, in this season of political tranquillity, and of grave moral chastisement, give orders for the release of certain misguided men, it is hoped better instructed for the future—and thereupon pardon and set free William Vernon, Ernest Jones, Little Cuffey, and other such offenders, now made harmless by the common sense and common loyalty of the English people.

And your Petitioner will ever Print and Pray—


[Pg 55]

Wife talking to husband.

Special's Wife: "Contrary to regulations, indeed! Fiddlesticks! I must insist, Frederick, upon your taking this hot brandy-and-water. I shall be having you laid up next, and not fit for anything."

"Little Cuffey"

Ernest Jones was the young poet, a recent recruit of Feargus O'Connor, and Cuffey was the fiery little tailor for whom Punch always had a soft corner in his heart. When Sir George Grey announced that Cuffey had been included in the list of deported prisoners, amnestied on the declaration of peace after the Crimean War, Punch expressed his satisfaction at the release of the "resolute, fire-eating but withal frank-hearted and honest goose-hero of Chartism." But of much greater importance and significance is the striking poem printed in the issue of June 16, 1849, which may be taken as the best condensed summary of Punch's political and social creed in a time of transition. The occasion was a speech of Lord John Russell in the House, declining to entertain proposals for an extension of the franchise. Lord John, it may be recalled, was nicknamed "Finality Jack" for saying in a debate on the Address in 1837 that it was impossible for him to take[Pg 56] part in further measures of electoral reform. Punch held that the collapse of the physical force movement, so far from prompting a lethargic acquiescence in the existing régime, ought to stir men of good will to further efforts in order to remove legitimate grounds of discontent:—


My name, Lord John, is pleasant on many a noble tongue;

I've been bepuffed, bespeechified, bedined, bedrunk, besung;

Conservatism, Finality, Laissez-Faire and Statu Quo,

Are glad to shake hands with "the Tenth," till very proud I grow.

At home, abroad, inside and out, you think you read me true,

But when did ever Whig know man's or people's heart all through?

I am all that you style me, when your praise on me you pour;

All that, my Lord, but take my word, with that I'm something more.

I read your speech, the other night, when Hume, my stout old friend,

Asked of the House, as you did once, the suffrage to extend.

'Twas the use you then made of my name that hath these lines begot—

Hear what the Tenth of April is, and hear what it is not.

I am the friend of Order, but Statu Quo I loathe,

The Law I heed, but still would weed, and trim and guide its growth;

Finality, your present love, unlovely is to me;

That "what is, is," proves not, I wis, that what is, ought to be.

"Content" you think I was, and so, noways for change athirst,

Content men are with second best, in preference to worst:

Content to hold up half a truth, when all truth shakes to fall;

Content with what gives half a loaf, against no bread at all!

But yet no ways content, Lord John, to see some things I see,

As a laughing House of Commons, and a helpless Ministry,

A nation little taught, a Church under-and overpaid,

And prone Respectability in Mammon-service laid.

Great towns o'erbrimming with their scum, great stews of plague and sin;

Toil that should proudly bear itself, in grossness sunk and gin;

Crime stored away to ripen in settlement and gaol;

[Pg 57]

The rich for wealth, the poor for want, alike forpined and pale.

Then think, my Lord, and you, his friends, who deem those overbold,

That bid you move along the paths you entered on of old,

Think how delay may order with anarchy combine,

And to disaffection's vinegar turn loyalty's strong wine.

Mistake me not for what I'm not, know me for what I am,

The nursing mother of Reform, not Revolution's dam;

Mine is the spirit that erst reared our England's throne on law,

That never bore a lie it knew, or blinked a truth it saw.

Nations or men, we may not rest—look round on Europe's thrones

Shattered or shaken—hearken to her convulsive groans—

Ere you fool us with Finality, of all bad pleas the worst,

Think 'tis the Tenth of April you invoke, and not the First.

Reform or Revolution?

This may not be great poetry, but it is and remains sound political philosophy, and an apologia for Chartism as interpreted by the saner and nobler spirits who took part in the movement, endeavoured to control it, and were in some instances engulfed in it. The Rebecca Riots in South Wales in 1842-3 are little more than a name to most of the present generation. Few of those who connect them vaguely with resentment against the Turnpike Laws know that the name arose from the proclamations issued in the name of Rebecca, in allusion to the verse in Genesis (xxiv. 60) in which it is promised to the wife of Isaac that her seed shall possess "the gate of her enemies." Six years later there were still 160 turnpikes in and about London, and Punch declared that Rebecca was needed to sweep them away. "We laugh at the French for their passports; they may with equal justice laugh at us for our turnpikes. At all events the passports cost very little, whereas you cannot go three miles out of London without dipping your hand into your pocket two or three times."

Emigration at this time was hailed by many, including Punch, as a remedy for existing discontent with conditions, and in the cartoon "Here and There," and the verses "Know'st Thou the Land where the Kangaroos Bound?" Punch gives a roseate picture of Australia, "deficient in mouths, overburdened with meat," and urges John Bull to help his paupers to go thither and live in plenty at high wages. A little[Pg 58] time later the Female Emigration Scheme, started by Sidney Herbert and other practical philanthropists, furnished Punch with a text for his oft-repeated sermon on the Two Nations. The writer was one of those who witnessed the departure of a party of thirty-eight women from Fenchurch Street station for Gravesend, and thence to Australia, and after describing the group, their homely appearance and dress and manners, continues in a vein of self-reproach:—

What a confession it is that we have almost all been obliged to make! A clear and earnest-minded writer gets a commission from the Morning Chronicle newspaper, and reports upon the state of our poor in London; he goes amongst labouring people and poor of all kinds—and brings back what? A picture of London life so wonderful, so awful, so piteous and pathetic, so exciting and terrible, that readers of romances own they never read anything like to it; and that the griefs, struggles, strange adventures here depicted exceed anything that any of us could imagine. Yes; and these wonders and terrors have been lying by your door and mine ever since we had a door of our own. We had but to go a hundred yards off and see, for ourselves, but we never did. Don't we pay poor-rates, and are they not heavy enough in the name of patience? Very true; and we have our own private pensioners, and give away some of our superfluity very likely. You are not unkind; not ungenerous. But of such wondrous and complicated misery as this you confess you had no idea. No. How should you? You and I—we are of the upper classes; we have had hitherto no community with the poor. We never speak a word to the servant who waits on us for twenty years; we condescend to employ a tradesman, keeping him at a proper distance—mind, of course, at a proper distance; we laugh at his young men if they dance, jig and amuse themselves like their betters, and call them counter-jumpers, snobs, and what not; of his workmen we know nothing—how pitilessly they are ground down, how they live and die, here close by us at the backs of our houses; until some poet like Hood wakes and sings that dreadful Song of the Shirt; some prophet like Carlyle rises up and denounces woe; some clear-sighted energetic man like the writer of the Chronicle travels into the poor man's country for us, and comes back with his tale of terror and wonder.

Awful, awful poor man's country! The bell rings and then eight-and-thirty women bid adieu to it, rescued from it (as a few more thousands will be) by some kind people who are interested in their behalf. It is a solemn moment indeed—for those who (with[Pg 59] the few thousands who will follow them) are leaving this country and escaping from the question between rich and poor; and what for those who remain? But, at least, those who go will remember that in their misery here they found gentle hearts to love and pity them, and generous hands to give them succour, and will plant in the new country their grateful tradition of the old. May Heaven's good mercy speed them.

Emigration was one of the contributory influences which helped to end the hunger of the Hungry 'Forties. The repeal of the Corn Laws was a far more powerful factor in the revival of prosperity, and the efforts of Protection to raise its diminished head met with consistent derision from Punch, who gloried in the statistics of increasing trade. But he was no Benthamite, and one may search his files in vain for any recognition of the salutary results of the new Poor Law. The famous report of 1834 was drawn up by men who were largely inspired by the doctrines of Bentham and Malthus, and their scientific principles were repugnant to Punch. There is really not much to choose between his criticisms and the hostility of the Chartists to the workhouses or "Bastilles" of the new system. In his zeal for pillorying instances of harsh administration he overlooked the real improvement effected in the Act of 1834 in the rural districts. But the new Poor Law, though it was followed by an immediate local re-absorption on a sounder economic basis of agricultural labour and a migration of the surplus elsewhither, was not the sole cause of this improvement.[4] The demand for labour in the rapidly expanding industries of railway construction and coal mining was an even more potent instrument of relief. Coal, on which both industries equally depended and depend, may be now a tyrant, but it was in a sense the good genius of the 'forties, though the high prices paid in London owing to extortionate tolls caused Punch to denounce him as "Cruel King Coal" from the point of view of the poor consumer.

The Beginning of Better Times

The threat of revolution passed, but the diffusion of prosperity brought with it, as it always does, further demands for increased wages. The year 1853 was so notable for strikes[Pg 60] that Punch, who had already applauded poor needlewomen for adopting this course, and suggested it to poor curates, felt obliged to register his protest:—

Really John Bull may almost be described as a maniac with lucid intervals. A few years ago it was the railway mania—a very dangerous frenzy....The mania now prevailing is one which, if not attended to, may perhaps prove troublesome. This is the striking mania. Everybody is striking. The other day it was the cabmen; now it is the dockyard labourers; the policemen, even, have struck and thrown down their staves. Our mechanics have so far become machines, that, like clocks, as clocks ought to be, they are all striking together. Should this mania spread, we shall have striking become what might be called the order, but that it will be the disorder, of the day. In short, almost everybody will strike except the threshers, the smiths and the pugilists. With all this striking though, we had better take care that we are not floored.

As for the efficacy of the strike-weapon in general, Punch's view is summed up in the remark which he puts into the mouth of a working man's wife as early as 1853, "Wot good did strikes ever do the pore?"

[2] Elliott himself said: "My feelings have been hammered until they have become cold—short, and are apt to snap and fly off in sarcasms" (D.N.B. xvii., 267).

[3] C. R. Fay in "Life and Labour in the Nineteenth Century," p. 166.

[4] See C. R. Fay, "Life and Labour in the Nineteenth Century," p. 204.

[Pg 61]


In the 'thirties and 'forties the triumphs of applied science and invention had already begun to exert an immediate and far-reaching influence on national prosperity and the economics of industrialism. The views on the new order expressed in Punch reflect, with certain variations, the enlightened moderation of the class of which he was the spokesman. The coming of the age of steam and machinery is welcomed, or accepted, with a tempered optimism. He approaches the subject mainly as a critic or a satirist zealous for reform. But on two notable occasions he assumes the rôle of philosopher and prophet. The first was in January, 1842, à propos of a remark made by Sir Robert Peel that increased demand for manufactures would only increase machine-power:—

Machinery, in its progress, has doubtless been the origin of terrible calamity; it has made the strong man so much live lumber. But as we cannot go back, and must go on, it is for statesmen and philosophers to prepare for the crisis as surely coming as the morning light. How, when machinery is multiplied—as it will be—a thousandfold? How, when tens of thousand-thousand hands are made idle by the ingenuity of the human mind? How, when, comparatively speaking, there shall be no labour for man? Will the multitude lie down and, unrepining, die? We think not—we are sure not. Then will rise—and already we hear the murmur—a cry, a shout for an adjustment of interests; a shout that, hard as it is, will strike upon the heart of Mammon, and make the spoiler tremble.

We put this question to Sir Robert Peel: if all labour done by man were suddenly performed by machine power, and that power in the possession of some thousand individuals—what would be the cry of the rest of the race? Would not the shout be, "Share, share"?

The steam-engine, despite of themselves, must and will carry statesmen back to first principles. As it is, machinery is a fiend to the poor; the time will come when it will be a beneficent angel.

[Pg 62]



The Impudence of Steam

On the second occasion, in May, 1844, the note struck in the last sentence is sounded more hopefully. In a fantasy entitled "The May Day of Steam," the writer notes the passing of the old May Day and foreshadows Labour's appropriation of that festival; and a speech is put into the mouth of a working man prophesying the ultimate unmitigated good of invention, though its first operation created great inequality and caused misery to the hand-worker. But for the most part Punch is concerned with the dangers and discomforts of the new method of locomotion and the wild speculation to which it gave rise. Railway directors were to him anathema. In[Pg 63] his first volume Punch sturdily declares that "the best thing to do for poor Earth to protect her Would be to hang daily a railway director," and of his many railway cartoons perhaps the most effective is that which represents a director sitting on the front buffers of an engine as the best remedy for collisions. The "Impudence of Steam" is satirized in some prophetic verses, one couplet of which is still often quoted:—

"Ease her, stop her!"

"Any gentleman for Joppa?"

"'Mascus, 'Mascus?" "Tickets, please, sir."

"Tyre or Sidon?" "Stop her, ease her!"

"Jerusalem, 'lem, 'lem!" "Shur! Shur!"

"Do you go on to Egypt, sir?"

"Captain, is this the land of Pharaoh?"

"Now look alive there! Who's for Cairo?"

"Back her!" "Stand clear, I say, old file!"

"What gent or lady's for the Nile,"

"Or Pyramids?" "Thebes! Thebes! Sir!" "Steady!"

"Now, where's that party for Engedi?"

Pilgrims holy, Red Cross Knights,

Had ye e'er the least idea,

Even in your wildest flights,

Of a steam trip to Judea?

What next marvel Time will show

It is difficult to say,

"'Bus," perchance, to Jericho,

"Only sixpence all the way."

Cabs in Solyma may fly;

'Tis a not unlikely tale:

And from Dan the tourist hie

Unto Beersheba by "rail."

But the miseries and discomforts of railway travelling are dwelt on far more frequently than its prospective delights. The first-class alone was endurable, and that was grossly overcharged: the rest had to put up with overcrowding, discomfort, draughts, hard seats, smoke, dust and dirt. Third-class passengers[Pg 64] were negligible and contemptible folk; neither punctuality nor civility was to be expected.

In 1845 the railway mania becomes acute—a "universal epidemic." George Hudson, the Railway King, looms large in the public eye; and Punch expresses his dissatisfaction with M.P.s for dabbling in speculation which they have themselves the opportunity of unduly favouring. Burlesques of various railway projects—centrifugal and atmospheric—abound. Punch ridicules the idea of a railway in the Isle of Wight as unnecessary and calculated to spoil the "Garden of England." The menace to the rural and pastoral amenities of the countryside moves him to eloquent protest. The sufferings of M.P.s before Railway Committees are set forth in the parody of Tennyson's "Mariana in the Moated Grange"; the golden harvest reaped by expert engineering witnesses is resentfully acknowledged; "Jeames" has not escaped the infection and appears frequently as speculator, "stag," and dupe. The Battle of the Gauges had been joined, and Punch asserts that the largest entry in the "railway returns" was that recording the casualties. The Unicorn in the Royal Arms is explained as the "Stag" of railway speculation, and a design of a railway lunatic asylum is submitted as the most appropriate terminus for many of the new schemes. The protests of fox-hunters, noted by Punch, recall the verses of the Cheshire poet:—

Let the steam pot

Hiss till it's hot,

But give me the speed of the Tantivy Trot.

[Pg 65]

Locomotive surrounded by a horde of people.


The mania was not confined to men: Punch satirizes the ladies who were "stagging it" under the heading "A Doe in the City," and suggests a Joint Stock Railway Workhouse as the natural and fitting end of all these operations. This idea is further developed in "Jaques in Capel Court," a parody which begins:—

All the world are stags!

Yea, all the men and women merely jobbers—

[Pg 66]

and after enumerating the various phases of the mania, concludes:—

Last scene of all,

That ends this sad but common history,

Is Union pauperism and oakum-picking:

Sans beer, sans beef, sans tea, sans everything.

Railway titles, a railway peerage and Parliament are foreshadowed, with King Hudson, "the monarch of all they 'survey,'" installed in his palace at Hampton Court. The relations of John Bull—on whom "the sweet simplicity of the three per cents." had begun to pall—with humbugging promoters is hit off in the stanza:—

Said John, "Your plan my mind contents,

I'm sick and tired of Three per Cents.;

And don't get enough by my paltry rents"—

So he got hooked in by the railway "gents."

Hudson with followers at his feet.


Rules for Railways

In his anti-Puseyite zeal Punch mendaciously declares that a railway from Oxford to Rome has been projected with the Pope's approval. In fact, any stick was good enough to beat the speculators with. "Locksley Hall" is parodied as "Capel Court," and the rush to deposit plans at the Board of Trade,[Pg 67] when special trains were chartered by rival promoters, is described in humorous detail in a Punch ballad. Padded suits are suggested in 1846 as a protection against railway accidents, but the best summary—with all its exaggerations—of the discomforts of railway travelling in the mid 'forties is to be found in the "Rules and Regulations for Railways":—

The French Government has published a royal ordonnance, fixing the regulations that are henceforward to be observed by all railway companies in working their lines. As it is a pity these things should be better managed in France, we publish a set of regulations for English railways. Lord John Russell is welcome to them, if he likes.

Every passenger in the second or third class is to be allowed to carry a dark lantern, or a penny candle, or a safety lamp, into the train with him, as the directors have kept the public in the dark quite long enough.

No train is to travel slower than an omnibus, let the excursion be ever so cheap, or the occasion ever so joyful.

Cattle are to be separated from the passengers as much as possible, as it has been found, from experiments, that men and oxen do not mix sociably together.

No stoppage at a railway station is to exceed half an hour.

No railway dividend is to exceed 100 per cent., and no bonus to be divided oftener than once a month.

No fare is to be raised more than at the rate of a pound a week.

No third-class carriage is to contain more than a foot deep of water in wet weather, but, to prevent accidents, corks and swimming belts should always be kept in open carriages.

The ladies' carriages are to be waited upon by female policemen.

Every tunnel must be illuminated with one candle at least.

Never less than five minutes are to be allowed for dinner or refreshment.[5]

One director must always travel with every train, only he is to be allowed the option of choosing his seat, either in the second or third class—whichever of the two he prefers.

Hospitals are to be built at every terminus, and a surgeon to be in attendance at every station.

There must be some communication between every carriage and the stoker, or the guard, either by a bell, or a speaking tube, or a portable electric telegraph, so that the passengers may have some[Pg 68] means of giving information when their carriage is off the line, or falling over an embankment, or a maniac or a horse has broken loose.

There is sense as well as absurdity in this list. "Smoking saloons" are noted as a novelty on the Eastern Counties Railway during the year 1846, but in the same year to Punch belongs the credit of suggesting refreshment cars, and indulging in a pictorial forecast of underground railways.

Two trains entering a tunnel and about to collide.


The proposal that drums and trombones should be mounted on the engine as a means of signalling cannot be taken seriously. Railway libraries on the L. & N.W.R. are noted as a novelty in 1849. But by that year the temper of the speculating public had changed, and Punch is a faithful index of the cold fit which had followed the disillusionment of the over-sanguine investor. The lure of El Dorado now beckoned from the New World, and the railway madness gave way to the mining insanity. The papers were full of complaints from discontented shareholders. The Battle of the Gauges continued, but Hudson is already spoken of in Punch as a discrowned sovereign, threatened with disestablishment at Madame Tussaud's. For a while Punch was inclined to extend to him a certain amount of sympathy in his downfall, and in "Two Pictures" he draws a contrast between mammon worship and the onslaught on mammon's high priest by his greedy and[Pg 69] discontented worshippers. But the mood of compassion soon changes to resentment in the bitter adaptation of Cowper's poem, The Loss of the Royal George:—

Toll for a knave!

A knave whose day is o'er!

All sunk—with those who gave

Their cash, till they'd no more!

The Royal George is gone,

His iron rule is o'er—

And he and his directors

Shall break the lines no more!

King Hudson's Downfall

In the same vein are the proposals that Hudson should be the chief "Guy" on November 5, and be appointed governor of a convict settlement on the Isle of Dogs. Simultaneously improvements are noted in the quickening of the transit to Paris, the increase of excursions, and the beginning of voyages de luxe.

But the note of complaint and dissatisfaction prevails. The discomfort, danger, unpunctuality and discourtesy endured by railway passengers are rubbed in with wearisome reiteration. In 1852 Punch ironically comments on the patience of the British public, "content to travel in railway pens, like sheep to the slaughter, injured, deluded, derided, only bleating in return," and concludes his summary of recent protests from correspondents of The Times with the remark:—

Railway accidents, railway frauds, railway impertinence are the staple of our daily newspaper-reading. Railway chairmen and directors are descending to the knavery, extortion, impudence, and brutality from which cabmen are rising in the scale of manners and morals. And, as aforesaid, the British public stands all this with passive mournfulness, quiet endurance, meek, inactive expostulation.

Undertaker proffering a business card.


Touter: "Going by this train, Sir?"

Passenger: "'M? Eh? Yes."

Touter: "Allow me, then, to give you one of my cards, Sir."

The directors of the L. & N.W.R. are severely criticised for overworking their engine drivers, à propos of a well-authenticated case of a man who had been on duty for thirty[Pg 70] hours without relief or opportunity to rest. "If dividends demand economy, and economy necessitates the employment of one man to do the work of six, the only thing to be done for public safety is to get a man with an iron constitution," and Punch accordingly suggests that the directors should provide themselves with engine drivers entirely composed of that metal. Complaints of dangerous railways continue to the end of the period under review, and in 1856 Punch is still of opinion that we might take a leaf out of the book of the[Pg 71] Russians, who carry surgeons on their trains. Undertakers he had already suggested as a part of the normal equipment of expresses.

"Bradshaw: A Mystery"

A witty bishop once scandalized his hearers by bracketing Bradshaw with the Bible as an indispensable book. Bradshaw's Railway Time Tables were first issued in 1839; the monthly guide dates from December, 1841; it was not, however, until 1856 that Punch began to realize the elements of comedy underlying that austere document, and utilized them in a little play called Bradshaw: A Mystery, describing the separation, adventures and ultimate reunion of two harassed lovers. Love may laugh at locksmiths, but Bradshaw is another matter. Here is the happy ending of this romantic libel:—

Leonora. Oh, don't talk of Bradshaw!

Bradshaw has nearly maddened me.

Orlando. And me.

He talks of trains arriving that ne'er start;

Of trains that seem to start, and ne'er arrive;

Of junctions where no union is effected;

Of coaches meeting trains that never come;

Of trains to catch a coach that never goes;

Of trains that start after they have arrived;

Of trains arriving long before they leave.

He bids us "see" some page that can't be found;

Or if 'tis found, it speaks of spots remote

From those we seek to reach! By Bradshaw's aid

You've tried to get to London—I attempted

To get to Liverpool—and here we are,

At Chester—'Tis a junction—I'm content

Our union—at this junction—to cement.

And let us hope, nor you nor I again

May be attacked with Bradshaw on the brain.

Leonora. I'm happy now! My husband!

Orlando. Ah, my bride!

Henceforth take me—not Bradshaw—for your guide.

The curtain falls.

"Orlando's" speech is a good summary of the humours of Bradshaw as analysed in Punch's "Comic Guide" some years later.

[Pg 72]

From steam to electricity the transition is obvious. Punch notes the adoption of the "Electro-Magnetic Telegraph" by the Great Western Railway in the summer of 1844. In 1845 we read of an electric gun to fire 1,000 balls a minute. The laying of a submarine cable from Dover to Calais is discussed in 1846, but was not realized till five years afterwards, when Punch hailed the completion of the scheme as a new link between the two countries and celebrated it in a cartoon and a sonnet.

Already the influence of electricity on international relations had been foreshadowed, and in the same year in which Palmerston repudiated responsibility for the welcome of Kossuth in England Punch rudely described his message as "electric lying." The days of "wireless diplomacy" in the old sense of the epithet were passing, to the embarrassment of representatives who were within immediate hail of the central Government. Soon we begin to hear complaints of the new service on the score of delays and excessive charges, and when an earthquake shock was felt "for the first time" in Ireland in the winter of 1852, Punch notes that a writer in the Limerick Chronicle attributed it to the atmospheric influence of the electric telegraph! Electricity as an illuminant elicited an optimistic if somewhat previous eulogy in 1849; and cooking by electricity is foreshadowed in 1857. The laying of the transatlantic cable is welcomed long before it was an accomplished fact, but Punch's compliments had a sting in their tail when he wrote the following lines:—


It is much to be hoped that the telegraph wire,

About to be laid down, will not form a lyre,

On which to strike discord 'twixt the old world and new;

Though scarce can we hope all its messages true,

For then t'other side would have nothing to do.

Punch's interest in aeronautics dates from his earliest infancy, though his mixture of prophecy and satire is rather confusing.[Pg 73] Designs of aerial steamships abound in his columns; and one of them is not too bad an anticipation of the aeroplane.

Representation of an aeroplane.


Aviation Forecasts

In 1845 there was actually a periodical called The Balloon, though Punch is jocular at the expense of its very limited clientèle. Still, though the number of aeronauts was few, their enterprise attracted a great deal of attention, and Green, who made 526 ascents between 1821 and 1852, including his famous trip from Vauxhall to Weilburg in Nassau, is frequently mentioned. Punch, to his credit, inveighed vehemently against the senseless inhumanity of aeronautic acrobats who made a practice of taking up animals with them. He was less fortunate in his dogmatic pronouncement in 1851 that the balloon was a "perfectly useless invention," and in his scornful dismissal, four years later, of the suggestion that it might be useful in warfare:—

Everybody, including, of course, all the nobodies, would seem to have some peculiar plan for finishing off the war in a successful and expeditious manner. The last place we should look for the means of carrying on hostilities with vigour is up in the air; but, nevertheless, an aeronaut has "stepped in" upon the public with a suggestion that balloons are the means required for the siege of Sebastopol and the smashing of Cronstadt. If this theory is correct, Lord Raglan ought at once to be superseded by the "veteran Green" or the "intrepid" Mrs. Graham.

[Pg 74]

One of the "intrepids," who has gained a high position by his balloon, has published a dialogue between himself and a general, who is, of course, represented as soon beating a retreat in an argument against the employment of balloons in battle. The aeronaut proposes to hover in his balloon over the enemy's position, and take observations of what is passing, but he forgets that a passing shot might happen to catch his eye in a rather disagreeable manner. The aeronaut undertakes not only to observe, but to make himself the subject of observation by a series of signals, through the medium of which he proposes to point out the movements of the enemy. This is to be effected by an apparatus which, as it would of course be at the mercy of the wind, would be blown about in all directions possibly, except that which it ought to take, and thus the signals would be converted into signal failures. The aeronaut also proposes using his balloon for "destructive purposes," by taking up some shells, which should be "light to lift but terrible to fall," and so arranged as to avoid the fate of Captain Warner's invention, "whose balloon," we are told by the aeronaut himself, "went off in an opposite direction to what he had intended."

"And by what means," answers the general, "would you let off your missiles?"

"Either by fuses," answers the aeronaut, "a liberating trigger, or an electric communication, or by another contrivance which you must excuse me, general, for not mentioning, as I hold it a secret."

This "secret" will probably be kept to all eternity, and, at all events, until it is revealed we must be excused for refusing to call on Lord Aberdeen to adopt balloons for warfare, or to blow up the Commander-in-Chief literally sky high, till he makes the air the basis of military operations.

Some enthusiasts certainly laid themselves open to ridicule. In 1849 a certain J. Browne advertised a "balloon railway to California" as both "safe and cheap." Captain Warner, again, ruled himself out of court by his refusal to explain the secret of his alleged inventions—the long-range torpedo and the bomb-dropping balloon—to the committee appointed to report thereon until he had been assured of the payment of £200,000 for each. Still, he cannot be denied the credit, such as it is, of having foreshadowed two of the deadliest and most destructive engines of modern warfare. Punch at first lent Warner a certain measure of support, until careful inquiry had shown him to be both untrustworthy and intractable.

[Pg 75]

Two angels swimming carrying an olive branch.


[Pg 76]

Flock of  geese flying towards California.

Ye Wild Goose Chase after Ye Golden Calfe.

The railway "boom" had stimulated that first infirmity of ignoble minds—the desire to "get rich quick"—and cupidity, balked of its expectations, turned eagerly towards the goldfields to satisfy its longings. In 1849 California was the Mecca of the gold craze, and there is hardly a number of Punch in this year which does not refer to the stampede from Europe to the diggings—"the wild-goose chase after the golden calf," as he called it. It was a gold fever in more senses than one, since the diggers suffered terribly from disease, which led to the cynical suggestion that convicts should be sent there, as they were not likely to return. Cobden, still in high favour with Punch as the apostle of national economy, was busy preaching Peace, Retrenchment and Reform, but his efforts were powerless to stem the tide of speculation.

In 1850 we find a reference to the glut of bullion at the Bank, a state of affairs long strangely unfamiliar. In 1851 the opening of the goldfields in Australia diverted the stream of speculative emigration from California to the antipodes, and this new phase of the auri sacra fames does not escape Punch's notice, though no mention is made of the curious fact that amongst those who were lured to the diggings was Lord Robert Cecil, afterwards Marquess of Salisbury. Alongside of the evidences of the great expansion of commerce and national prosperity we find frequent references to the growth of[Pg 77] gambling. In 1852 Punch's pages abound in allusions, in text and illustrations, to the betting mania—to gulls and pigeons and sharks. "Profiteering" was rampant in the Crimean War, and Punch is eloquent in his denunciation of the contractors who supplied shoddy equipment and bad guns. And the aftermath of the war included, besides other familiar sources of discontent, "defalcations, embezzlements and other cases of gross and enormous dishonesty." It was a time of speculation and peculation, of bank smashes and absconding directors—those of the Royal British Bank coming in for special execration. The fraudulent banker is singled out by Punch as the arch-rogue and thief who excited the envy of the burglar, since the banker stole more and escaped unpunished. The brothers Sadleir are specially selected for dishonourable mention in 1856, but John Sadleir, M.P. for Carlow and an ex-Lord of the Treasury, who was the original of Mr. Merdle in Little Dorrit, and was described in The Times after his death as a "national calamity," only escaped punishment by suicide.

Novelties and Anticipations

As we survey the various new inventions, novel devices and anticipations mentioned in the pages of Punch, we are tempted to exclaim, in the hackneyed phrase, that there is nothing new under the sun. A "Glaciarium" with artificial ice is noted in the autumn of 1843. "Euphonia," or the speaking machine, invented and exhibited by Professor Faber at the Egyptian Hall in 1846, was an automaton, and can hardly be regarded as a lineal ancestor of the gramophone. The "patent mile-index cab" in 1847, on the other hand, was a genuine harbinger of the taxi, but the time was not ripe for its general adoption. Punch's account of "Talking by Telegraph," in the autumn of 1848, is no more than a piece of intelligent anticipation. The telephone voice, however, is happily hit off in the remark that "we have heard of a singer's voice being rather wiry at times; but there will be something very trying in the perpetual twang of the new mode of small talk that is recommended to us," a comment of 1848. The beneficent side of the discovery of anæsthetics is lightly passed over in Punch's earlier references to this revolution in surgery in 1847, which suggest its application to politicians or its use by hen-pecked[Pg 78] husbands. Here only ether is mentioned, but the "blessings of chloroform" are discussed a few months later in the same jocular spirit. Incubators, the sewing machine and phonetic spelling are among the wonders of the wonderful year of 1848. Pitman and the "Fonetik Nuz" furnish Punch with food for mirth in 1849; the claims of the discoverer of "Xyloidine," a new motive power to take the place of steam, are treated with frivolous scepticism more justifiable than that shown by Punch towards ironclads in 1850. In 1851 the novelties included "Electro-biology," i.e. hypnotism; shoeblacks; electric clocks; false legs,[6] invented by Palmer, an American; and the supply of tea to the Navy. "Noiseless wheels" in 1853 suggest the advent of the age of rubber; but Robert W. Thomson had taken out his patent for india-rubber tyres in 1845. Steam ploughs, gas-stoves for cooking and central heating for houses followed in rapid succession in 1853 and 1854. Punch's ironical suggestions in the latter year for the comfort and convenience of Cockney travellers in the ascent of Snowdon are only one of many instances where the mocking fancy of one generation becomes the fact of its successor.

The "new pillar boxes" must be added to the features of 1854; their colour harmonized with the red coats then worn by the postmen; while the scheme to propel mail bags through tubes by atmospheric pressure was put forward as early as 1855. Massage appears as the new "movement cure" by kneading and pressing, vide Punch, 1856, but he, however, was not solely interested in beneficent inventions. Lord Dundonald's famous "secret war plan," originally proposed in 1811, and rejected by a secret Committee presided over by the Duke of York, who pronounced it "infallible, irresistible, but inhuman," was revived after the inventor's readmission to the British Navy, and urged on the Admiralty and Government during the Crimean War. It was again rejected on the score of its inhumanity, though Punch welcomed the plan, without[Pg 79] knowing exactly what it was, and besought the Government to cast away scruples and use anything against such an enemy as Russia. Whatever may have been "Dundonald's plan" was never divulged, it remained a nameless mystery. The new nomenclature evolved by the triumphs of applied science in humaner directions led to a good deal of controversy, notably over the introduction of the word "telegram" as a substitute for "telegraphic despatch." The shorter form was first officially used in 1855 (see the Panmure Papers) by Lord Clarendon, but scholars and men of letters protested vigorously against this Yankee barbarism. Shilleto, the famous Cambridge scholar, suggested "telegrapheme." He did not want it, but it was at least properly constructed on Greek analogies. Oxford, as Punch notices in 1857, supported the modern form, and here for once, at any rate, abandoned her traditional espousal of lost causes.

Telegram or Telegrapheme?

In general, Punch, as a moderate reformer, deals impartially with the contending claims of science and the classical curriculum. He believed in the liberalizing influence of the humanities, while he denounced academic arrogance, pedantry and exclusiveness. He might be described as a mitigated modernist in these years, in which he advocated the popularization of science by means of Institutes and similar centres of enlightenment, and welcomed new inventions—while reserving to himself the right to burlesque their possibilities, and to ridicule the pretensions of pompous professors and futile philosophers. He was at one with those rationalists who waged war on superstition and credulity, but he realized better than they did how deeply entrenched the enemy was in high places, and how mistaken was the view that the victory was already won. The friendly lines which he addressed to Faraday in 1853 are mere halting doggerel, but they are worth recalling, if only for their sound doctrine, which is as much needed to-day as it was sixty-seven years ago:—

Oh, Mr. Faraday, simple Mr. Faraday!

Did you of enlightenment consider this an age?

Bless your simplicity, deep in electricity,

[Pg 80]

But in social matters, unsophisticated sage!

Weak superstition dead; knocked safely on the head,

Long since buried deeper than the bed of the Red Sea,

Did you not fondly fancy? Did you think that necromancy

Practised now at the expense of any fool could be?

Oh, Mr. Faraday, simple Mr. Faraday!

Persons not uneducated—very highly dressed—

Fine folks as peer and peeress, go and fee a Yankee seeress,

To evoke their dead relations' Spirits from their rest.

Also seek cunning men, feigning by mesmeric ken,

Missing property to trace and indicate the thief,

Cure ailments, give predictions: all of these enormous fictions

Are, among our higher classes, matters of belief.

Oh, Mr. Faraday, simple Mr. Faraday!

Guided by the steady light which mighty Bacon lit,

You naturally stare, seeing that so many are

Following whither fraudulent Jack-with-the-lanterns flit.

Of scientific lore though you have an ample store,

Gotten by experiments, in one respect you lack;

Society's weak side, whereupon you none have tried,

Being all philosopher and nothing of a quack.

[5] Punch was especially wroth with the "3 minutes for scalding soup" at Wolverton and Swindon.

[6] Henry Heather Bigg (1826-81), the surgical instrument maker, who made the substitutes for the lost limbs of soldiers in the Crimean War, is mentioned in 1856 (Vol. xxx., p. 28).

[Pg 81]


Education in the 'forties was the Cinderella of the Legislature. Parliament, it is true, spent laborious hours in discussing the theory of education, but in debating the principle overlooked the practice. Money was doled out in homœopathic doses. In 1841 the sum of £10,000 was voted for the education of the people in the same session in which £70,000 was voted for the Royal Stables at Windsor, a contrast which Punch had not forgotten five years later. The direct connexion between ignorance and crime was constantly forced on the attention of humane magistrates. When the Lord Mayor of London, in January, 1846, declared that "society was responsible for the contamination to which poor children were subjected," and that there was no calamity, to his way of thinking, "comparable to that which sprang from the bringing up of youth in habits and practices of idleness and vice," Punch found himself in the unfamiliar position of being called upon to eulogize a functionary who as a rule never gave him a chance. "Juvenile delinquents," he points out, were "as much reared for Newgate as many of the beautiful babies, taking their morning airings in the parks, are reared for hereditary legislators." In another graphically brusque passage describing the transportation for life of four lads aged from 18 to 21, we read "they were brought up as brutes, and society reaps the terrible fruits of their rearing." Hullah's music classes for the people at Exeter Hall in 1842 were excellent in their way, but the solace of song was a doubtful boon in the Hungry 'Forties, and though Punch supported the establishment of schools of cookery throughout the kingdom, the supply of things to cook was more urgently needed. The years rolled on, the Corn Laws were repealed, and prosperity revived, but illiteracy remained, and it was due in the country districts, in Punch's view, to the fact that "contending zealots[Pg 82] cannot agree with what theological mysteries they shall leaven the common information which the schoolmaster is to impart to the country bumpkin."

Child sitting between two stools.


Abysmal Ignorance

In 1850 the following dialogue was given in The Times police report of Wednesday, January 9, and quoted in Punch:—

George Ruby, a boy aged 14, was put into the box to be sworn, and the Testament was put into his hand. He looked quite astonished upon taking hold of the book.

[Pg 83]

Ald. Humphrey. Well, do you know what you are about? Do you know what an oath is?

Boy. No.

Ald. H. Do you know what a Testament is?

Boy. No.

Ald. H. Can you read?

Boy. No.

Ald. H. Do you ever say your prayers?

Boy. No, never.

Ald. H. Do you know what prayers are?

Boy. No.

Ald. H. Do you know what God is?

Boy. No.

Ald H. Do you know what the devil is?

Boy. I've heard of the devil, but I don't know him.

Ald. H. What do you know, my poor boy?

Boy. I knows how to sweep the crossing.

Ald. H. And that's all?

Boy. That's all. I sweeps the crossing.

The Alderman said he, of course, could not take the evidence of a creature who knew nothing whatever of the obligation to tell the truth.

It was to cope with this sort of destitution that the Ragged Schools movement had been started several years before. From the first Punch lent it his hearty support, though in his first notice, in 1846, he was unable to resist the opportunity of combining his approval with a dig at the aristocracy:—


It is with peculiar satisfaction that we view the establishment of Ragged Schools in various parts of the Metropolis. We speak advisedly when we describe our satisfaction as peculiar. For it is not merely that we are rejoiced at the idea of a number of youthful mendicants being prevented from becoming thieves and pickpockets, taught to earn an honest livelihood, and rescued from vice and misery through the instrumentality of these seminaries. No; our views are much higher than such plebeian considerations as these, and they also extend far beyond the present time. We have an eye to the benefit of our posterity and to that of the superior classes generally.

When we consider that Eton was established for the reception of poor and indigent scholars, and that Winchester and most of our[Pg 84] other public schools were, at their first foundation, charities, we may not unreasonably indulge the hope that the Ragged Schools, originally, like them, destined for the instruction of the tag-rag-and-bobtail, may ultimately become gratuitous institutions for the education of the children of the aristocracy.

Yet it was an aristocrat of the "old nobility" who started and devoted his best energies to the furtherance of the Ragged Schools movement, as all the world knows. His name is not even mentioned here, and when it is mentioned in these years is too often coupled with tasteless gibes at Lord Shaftesbury's proclivities and Sabbatarianism. Punch could not forgive Lord Shaftesbury for his association with Exeter Hall (which to Punch meant fireside philanthropy and Jellybyism) and his support of laws which enabled magistrates to fine boys fifteen shillings or a fortnight's wages each for playing cricket on Sunday. Sir Robert Peel had to die before Punch did him justice. Lord Shaftesbury was more fortunate, for thirty years before he died Punch made the amende in "The Earl King, or the Earl of Shaftesbury and the Juvenile Mendicant."

The Distressed Author

"The greater the employment of the primer, the less the need of the 'cat'" is an aphorism which sums up the creed of the humanitarian reformers of the 'forties and 'fifties. The "ladder of learning" was not yet planted in the modern sense, and efforts to ascend from the lower to the upper rungs were frowned upon by those in authority. At a meeting of the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in June, 1849, a clerical speaker ridiculed the questions, set in an examination paper for National School teachers, which presupposed a knowledge of the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Adam Smith, Johnson and Scott, and of the Life of Mrs. Fry. Learning was at a discount; authors of note, with few exceptions—such as Thackeray and Macaulay—were generally impecunious, and sometimes on the border-land of destitution. Douglas Jerrold had a life-long struggle to keep his head above water, for all his industry. There were no royalties in those days, and for Black-Eyed Susan, which brought tens[Pg 85] of thousands of pounds to theatrical lessees and popular actors, he received from first to last the sum of £60. Punch was the constant champion of the distressed author fallen on evil days, such as Joseph Haydn of the Dictionary of Dates, who was granted a Civil List pension of £25 a year just three weeks before his death in January, 1856, or old Joseph Guy, "the man of many books, the ever-green 'Spelling Book' among the number." One of the finest (but posthumous) tributes to Sir Robert Peel was on the occasion of the Literary Fund dinner in 1856, when a sum of £100 was sent from the proceeds of the first portion of the Peel Papers:—

From the tomb of Sir Robert speaks the spirit that, when in the flesh and baited by the dogs of party [not to mention the bitter[Pg 86] satire of Punch himself], still beneficently thought of the wants of spasmodic Haydn; still, by sympathy in word and act, smoothed the dying pillow of poor Tom Hood.

Boy buying a newspaper.

Newsvendor: "Now, my man, what is it?"
Boy: "I vonts a nillustrated newspaper with a norrid murder and a likeness in it."

The respect and admiration with which George Stephenson and Joseph Paxton were invariably treated was largely due to the fact that they were self-taught men. And when Joseph Hume died in 1855, Punch, who had so often chaffed him for his love of figures and returns, while applauding his attack on "gold lace" and extravagance, paid fitting homage to the perseverance which enabled him to fight his way up from poverty and obscurity, to his rugged honesty, his hard-won triumphs, and his honourable participation in all victories over wrong in Church and State. An alarming ignorance, however, was not monopolized by the lower orders. In his scheme for the reform of the House of Lords Punch suggests that peers should only be admitted to the Upper House after an examination in the three R's, history, geography and political economy. Geography even in our own enlightened days remains a stumbling-block to Ministers, even Prime Ministers. Disraeli's ignorance of arithmetic on the occasion of his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Derby Cabinet is a frequent source of ribaldry in Punch, who suggested the establishment of an infants' school for the new Cabinet. So recently as the eve of the twentieth century a Chancellor of the Exchequer was reported to have been so ignorant of decimals that he asked what was meant by those "damned dots."

The Education Bill of 1856

Reverting to elementary education, we can find no better commentary on its progress in the mid 'fifties than two extracts from Punch's "Essence of Parliament" in the spring of 1856:—

Thursday, March 6th. In the Commons, Lord John Russell moved a series of resolutions on the subject of Education, and afterwards withdrew them. What they were, therefore, does not seem to be a matter of any very overwhelming interest, especially as he threatens them again on the 10th of April. His plan, however, comprised a sort of timid notion of a rate not to be altogether voluntary; but the fact, disclosed by the census of 1851, that of four millions of our children, between five and fifteen years of age, two[Pg 87] millions are proved to be on no school list at all, while a great mass of the other two millions are receiving the most miserable tuition, did not excite either Lord John, or our Blessed House of Representatives, into an indignant declaration that the children should be taught, that the nation should pay for their teaching, and that the parents who hindered or neglected the work should be punished. On the contrary, they chattered and talked commonplace, and complimented one another, and an old Dissenting Attorney called Hadfield[7] said that the people were taught as well as any other people, which he proved from the fact that they wrote and posted a great many letters; and he opposed all further interference. Having thus got rid of the Education of the Poor, the House went on to the Education of the Rich, and had a discussion on the Oxford Reforms, but it also ended in nothing.

Thursday, April 10th. The House of Commons was occupied during this night and the next with discussing Lord John Russell's Education resolutions. They were opposed, of course, by representatives of the Church, of Dissent, and of the Manchester school: the first think that their religion only should be taught by the State; the second that their religion only should be taught, but not by the State; and the third that no religion should be taught at all. It is needless to say that Government has no practical views on the subject, but like all half-hearted people contrived to get the worst in the fray.

Child pointing to a monkey.


Prodigy: "Mamma! Look dere, dere Papa!"

In July, 1856, at the end of the session, the Education Bill for England and Scotland figured in the "Massacre of the Innocents," sixteen in all. As a set-off the Cambridge University Bill introduced some useful reforms, though it failed to secure the admission of Dissenters; and a Minister for Education was created under the title of Vice-President of the Committee of the Council of Education. But Punch, in these years at any rate, had no love for the older universities. He regarded them, and especially Oxford, as the strongholds of mediævalism, obscurantism, and all the "isms" against which he was always tilting in Church and State; and he seldom failed to satirize the opposition of academic authorities to inquiry and reform. The romance of "the home of lost causes" made no appeal[Pg 88] to his practical mind. Yet of classical scholarship and the classical curriculum he was a loyal supporter. Classical allusions, quotations and parallels abound in his pages: he even printed translations in doggerel Greek by Dr. Kenealy. But the education of the masses was his prime concern, and after the fiasco of 1856 Parliament remained inactive for nearly six years—until the notable measure, establishing the principle of "payment by results," was introduced by Lowe in 1862. In this context it may be noted that as early as 1848 Punch avowed his belief in the value of making lessons interesting to children:—

The reason why school books are so dreary to the child is because they are full of subjects he has no sympathy with. Children's books should be written for children. The child may be father to the man, but that is no reason why he should be treated with literature which is only fit for a father.... If battles are to be fought before children they should be fought with tin soldiers.... Study should[Pg 89] be made into a good romp, learning turned into a game, and children then could run into the schoolroom with the same eagerness they rush now into the playground.

Anderson surrounded by children.


A Child's Letter to Hans Anderson

Here we have a crude anticipation of the Montessori system, around which so much controversy rages to-day. Punch has always been a lover of children, gentle and simple, but at the same time a faithful critic of the enfant terrible and of juvenile precocity. One of the most delightful letters that ever appeared in his pages was the genuine epistle from a little girl printed in the issue of January 10, 1857:—

"My Dear Mr. Punch,

"we Hope you are Quite well and i wish you many Happy returns of Christmas and i hope you will Excuse me riting to You but mamma Says you allways are Fond of little people so i Hope you will Excuse as me and charley read in the illusterated London [News] that Mr. Hans Christian anderson is Coming to spend His Hollidays in England And We shold like to see Him becase he as Made us All so Happy with is Betiful storys the ugly duck the Top and the ball the snow Quen the Red shoes the Storks little ida the Constant tinsoldier great claws and Little Claws the darning Neddle and All the rest of Them and it says in the illustat [several attempts, a smear, and the spelling evaded] Paper the children shold Meet him in the Crys-pallace and we shold Like[Pg 90] to Go and tell him how much We Love him for his betiful stores do you know the tinder box and tommelise and charley liks the wild Swans best but i Hope you will Excuse bad riting and i Am

"Yours affectionate


charley says i Have not put in wat We ment if you please Will you put In punch wat everybody is to Do to let Mr. hans Ansen know how Glad we are He is Coming."

We hope that Hans Andersen—who, by the way, as a writer of fairy stories is regarded with disfavour by Madame Montessori—saw this letter. On the relations of parents and children generally, two of Punch's aphorisms are not without their bearing on present-day conditions. In the year 1844 the Comic Blackstone reads: "Children owe their parents support; but this is a mutual obligation, for they must support each other, though we sometimes hear them declaring each other wholly insupportable." And the other, under the heading "The World's Nursery," runs: "The spoilt children of the present age rarely turn out the great men of the next." It should be added, as some readers will remember, that in neither of the decades under review were the children of the poor in any danger of being spoiled.

[7] Punch is unjust to George Hadfield, member for Sheffield from 1852 to 1874, a prominent Congregationalist and advanced Liberal who took an active part in forming the Anti-Corn Law League and rendered valuable assistance in the House in promoting legal reform.

[Pg 91]


Punch's efforts on behalf of Sunday recreation, already alluded to, exposed him to a great deal of hostile criticism. In 1854 the English Journal of Education declared that Punch was not suitable reading for Sunday: it was "worse than useless literature." But Punch gave as good as he got. When the Record attacked the Queen for having a band at Windsor on Sunday, and alluded to Nero fiddling while Rome burned, Punch unblushingly called the editor "a brimstone-faced Mawworm."[8] The question of the opening of the British Museum and National Gallery on Sunday came up again in 1855 on the motion of Sir Joshua Walmsley, but was defeated by 235 to 48 votes, to Punch's great disgust. He advises constituencies to watch closely the conduct of the triumphant Sabbatarians. "If one of the 235 saints who opposed the resolution of Sir Joshua Walmsley has his boots cleaned on Sunday, or takes a drive, or eats a warm dinner, unless by medical order, he is a humbug and a hypocrite, and unworthy of the suffrages of free and independent electors." A year later the anti-Sabbatarians resumed their attack, and in his "Essence of Parliament," distilled by Shirley Brooks, Punch summarizes the debate:—

The debate to-night was brief, and chiefly left to men of small calibre. The principal exceptions were Lord Stanley, who manfully stood out as an Anti-Sabbatarian; Mr. Napier, who saw "poison" in seeing pictures on Sunday; Mr. Heywood, who denied the truth of the Jewish history of the Creation, but described the Sabbath as a divine ordinance to be kept as a day of rejoicing; and Lord Palmerston, who thought there would be no harm in opening these exhibitions, but that there would be much if the House acted in defiance of the opinions which had been expressed against doing so. This eminently House-of-Commons logic and morality was too suited[Pg 92] to the audience not to be successful. On division, 376—add four who were "shut out" and say 380—gentlemen in comfortable circumstances, most of them with carriages and country houses, decided, against 48 opponents, that the only holiday Mammon has left to the poor man shall not be better spent than in a squalid house, a dirty drinking-yard, or a debauching public-house.

This Parliamentary opportunism, to which Palmerston adhered in the matter of Sunday bands in the parks, was one of the qualities which Punch liked least in "the judicious bottle-holder," as he loved to call Palmerston. In the controversy which raged round this question throughout the year Punch gladly recognized the enlightened zeal of Sir Benjamin Hall, the Member for Marylebone and Commissioner of Works. For a while the bands played in the parks on Sundays, and Punch celebrated the concession, which had been sanctioned by Palmerston, in an "Ode to Sir Benjamin Hall."

But the boon was short-lived. "The Sunday Band, Hall's grant," was "abolished by the influence of Cant," and on May 19 Palmerston, while retaining his personal opinion as to the propriety of having Sunday music in the parks, stated that such "representations" had been made to him that he had felt it his duty to give way. The Sabbatarians were jubilant, as may be gathered from Punch's reference to the Record in his issue of August 16:—

We doubt very much whether we can any longer conscientiously call the Record our serious contemporary. That doubt is suggested by the following passage occurring in one of its leading articles:—

"We are taught to expect the blessing of God on the conduct of our affairs when we act in accordance with the divine will; and it almost seems as if Lord Palmerston acquired new strength from the moment when he agreed to put down the Sunday bands. The attempt to make Government responsible for the loss of Kars was defeated by a great majority, and the subsequent attempt to censure Lord Clarendon on account of the American dispute was defeated by a majority still more overwhelming."

We can conceive a person devoid of all veracity and conscience, writing in a great hurry to a set of imbecile fanatics, perpetrating such stuff and nonsense as the above, but we cannot well conceive any other person guilty thereof.

[Pg 93]



Goldsmith Bowdlerized

Punch could not see harm in music on any day, and he printed a charming "petition" from the song-birds of Kensington to Sir Benjamin Hall, expressing their apprehension of an order forbidding them to sing on Sundays. But then, as now, there were moralists who saw not good but evil in everything. In the same year of 1856 the Government issued an edition of Goldsmith's "Deserted Village" for the use of schools, and the lines:—

The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,

For talking age and whisp'ring lovers made—

were amended by the substitution of "youthful converse" for "whisp'ring lovers." Assuming the character and style of Dr. Johnson, Punch castigates this "pseudo-purifier of Goldsmith" in round terms. "Sir, he is a noisome fellow,[Pg 94] Sir, he is a male prude and a hypocrite. Sir, he is a dunce."

Punch's hostility to Exeter Hall, which has undergone structural and other vicissitudes even more remarkable than those of the Crystal Palace, was originally based on what may be called its foreign policy, which he regarded as indistinguishable from the worst form of Jellybyism. This is how he described Exeter Hall in 1842:—

It is at the Hall that the fireside philanthropist, the good and easy man, for whom life has been one long lounge on a velvet sofa—it is there that he displays his practical benevolence, talking for hours on the glory of shipping white pastors to Africa to baptise the negro; or, if the climate will not have it so, to die there. And it is from the Hall that the good and pious, having voted a supply of religion to the black, depart for their own comfortable homes, having, to their exceeding content, indicated their Christianity by paying a pound, singing a hymn, and—taking care of themselves.

In 1846, in "A word on the May meetings" (June 6), he appeals to the Exeter Hall people to drop their foreign philanthropy and educate the poor at home—multiply ragged schools by ten thousand, and aid in the housing movement, social reform, the establishment of baths and wash-houses. As a matter of fact, many of the Exeter Hall people, with Lord Shaftesbury at their head, took an active part in these movements, but Punch could not forgive them for their rigid insistence on Sunday observance, and labelled them indiscriminately as Pharisees, Pecksniffs and Chadbands.

His hostile criticisms of the Church, especially the bishops and archbishops, were equally uncomplimentary but better founded. As The Times wrote in 1847: "The chief practical difficulty of the Church of England is how to engage and secure the affections of the poor." Punch re-echoed the sentiment (October 16, 1847), adding the sarcastic comment: "Bishops, with tens of thousands a year, cry 'Hear, hear!'" But he overlooked the fact that one of the remedies advocated by "Young England" for existing evils was the reorganization of the Church—to make it the friend, comforter and protector[Pg 95] of the people. "Young England," however, was an aristocratic movement, and its leaders were almost as great bêtes noires to Punch as Dr. Sumner, the Archbishop of Canterbury (commonly regarded as the incarnation of Cant), "Soapy Sam" (Wilberforce), "Henry of Exeter" (Dr. Phillpotts), and Blomfield, the Bishop of London.

Manservant at job interview

Serious Flunkey: "I should require, Madam, forty pounds a year, two suits of clothes, two 'ats, meat and hale three times a day, and piety hindispensable."

Clerical Bugbears

The wealth, the obscurantism, and the Olympian detachment of the great prince bishops were a constant source of exasperation and comment. Punch was a supporter of cheap divorce. He preferred this reform to the Bill for flogging wife-beaters, and securing the right of the wife to keep part of her earnings when separated from a bad husband. The Parliamentary records of the middle 'fifties are full of debates on[Pg 96] the subject, but one extract from Punch's "Essence of Parliament" may suffice to illustrate his nolo episcopari attitude:—

Thursday, June 26th. The Divorce Bill came to the Lords from their Select Committee, and Lord Lyndhurst most ably explained its present character. What is proposed is this. A new Tribunal for deciding upon matrimonial causes. That a divorced woman who acquires property shall have it for herself. That she may sue, in actions, as a single woman. That a wife shall be placed somewhat more upon a footing with a husband as regards the obtaining divorce. That in all cases of a husband's infidelity (accompanied with cruelty), in certain still worse cases, and in those of bigamy, a woman shall be entitled to ask divorce. Lord Lansdowne gave eloquent support to the Bill. The Bishop of Oxford (Mr. Punch does not misrepresent him, for the Church's stalwart friend, the Standard, manifests indignant surprise at his Lordship's speech) objected to the proposed increased facility of divorce. "The lower classes did not demand the privilegia afforded to the higher and wealthier classes." The Bishop of St. David's thought with Dr. Wilberforce. Lord Campbell, in reply, cited Mr. Justice Maule's scorching irony, when a poor man, whose wife had robbed him and absconded, had sought to provide his children with a mother, and had committed bigamy. The Bishop of Oxford contrived to carry a postponement of the next stage of the Bill, which he means to "amend." Let the Lords protect the Women of England against the Priests.

It may be added that Punch was also a supporter of marriage with a deceased wife's sister, and that here again he found considerable scope for the display of his anti-episcopal animus. When Lord St. Germans' Bill was defeated in the Lords on April 25, 1856, Punch notes that the result was chiefly due to "four priests"—the Bishops of Oxford, Cashel, St. David's and Exeter—and applauds Lord Albemarle, one of the heroes of Waterloo, for his "courageous condemnation of clerical intolerance." Lord Albemarle, in the course of his speech, made bold to say that "the opinions generally expressed by ladies on this subject were attributable to the ignorance of their spiritual advisers, and to the undue reverence for the Common Prayer-book." Punch's own reasons for supporting[Pg 97] the change included the ironical argument that a widower debarred from relief, when he remarries takes on a second mother-in-law.

Man with wife in devastated room.

Affectionate Husband: "Come, Polly—if I am a little irritable, it's over in a minute."

Destitute Clergy

But Punch's chief objection to the bishops was that they emphasized in the most glaring way the contrasts which existed in what was at once the wealthiest and the poorest of Churches. If the Church was out of touch with the lay poor, she was even more open to criticism for her neglect of her own poor clergy. The scandal of the ragged curates had attracted Punch's attention in the 'forties. On September 19, 1846, he referred to the recent death, "raving mad, in penury and destitution," of the Rev. Mr. Kaye, of St. Pancras. A return, procured by the energetic inquisitiveness of Joseph Hume at the close of 1847, revealed the fact that the total number of assistant curates to incumbents resident on their benefices amounted in 1846 to 2,642, and the number licensed to 2,094. Of these 1,192 received stipends under £100 a year, and as many as 173 less than £50 a year. But the most bitter comment on this modern clerical instance of Dives and[Pg 98] Lazarus is to be found in an article in 1856 on "Bishops and Curates":—

A curate—"an Agueish curate"—wishes to know of The Times if curates in general "may look forward for some provision when age and disease have incapacitated them from further labours?" There is disaffection, insolence, in the very question. This curate for twenty years folded the sheep of two curacies. "They were separated by a hedgerow," and the pastor was "exposed to the pestilential atmosphere of Essex Marshes." And the curate sums up the case of bishop and curate as below:—

"To a bishop who has had his labours sweetened by all that life can give of comfort, luxury, and highest dignity—a palace and £6,000 per annum.

"To a curate who, for thirty years, shall have done his devoir before God and man, till broken with miasmatic fever, or voiceless from excess of oral exertion, he is obliged to confess his inability to be any longer faithful in his calling—the workhouse."

And is it not well that it should be so? A curate on £100 a year, and shaking with a marsh ague, shaking, and praying, and teaching the while, is still a lively representative of the ancient Christian, is still a living extract from the New Testament. Now a bishop, with £22,000 per annum, and, if shaking, shaking with the fat of the land, is, as far as our reading goes, not to be found in the volume to which we have reverently alluded.

It should be explained that on July 10 in the same year a Bill had been introduced in the Lords enabling the Bishops of London and Durham to resign, and making provision for them:—

The annual income of Dr. Blomfield is £10,000 a year, and he has enjoyed it for twenty-eight years, having previously had four years at Chester with £1,000 a year; total receipt, £284,000. And the annual income of Dr. Maltby is £24,000, and he has enjoyed it for twenty years, having previously had five years at Chichester with £4,000 a year; total receipt, £500,000.

The "Prince Bishops," with their princely revenues, have long since departed: nowadays no one charges bishops with indolent opulence. The scandal of the poor curates and underpaid country clergymen still remains, but the disparity is not[Pg 99] so great. The best paid prelates find it hard to make both ends meet or to make provision for their families. Some of them even publish balance-sheets of their receipts and expenditure.

Punch and "No Popery"

In the domain of doctrine and religious controversy Punch's record is somewhat chequered. He was equally antipathetic to High Church and Low Church. We have seen what he thought of Exeter Hall. But Pusey and his followers stirred him to even greater wrath. He called the Puseyites "Brummagem Papists." He saw no beauty or dignity in an advanced ritual, but only an absurd and wicked "playing at religion." So when the famous Papal Brief was published in the autumn of 1850, constituting a Roman Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales in place of the Vicars Apostolic, followed up by the pastoral from the newly appointed Cardinal Wiseman welcoming the restoration of England to the communion of the Roman Church, Punch's indignation knew no bounds; he became the most violent champion of English Protestantism. In earlier days he had welcomed the Liberal political views which Pius IX had expressed in the opening stages of the Risorgimento movement in Italy, and had printed a laudatory set of verses, headed "A Health to the Pope," in the issue of February 20, 1847, in which he had congratulated Pio Nono on his masculine wisdom, courage, and reforming zeal. His severest censures were reserved for the sectarian zealots at home. "Everybody knows that the great obstacle to popular education is the agreement of sects, on the one hand, that it is necessary to teach orthodoxy, together with secular knowledge, and their inability, on the other, to agree what doxy is ortho-."

Early in 1850, when the friends of Church Education met at Willis's Rooms to discuss and protest against the Government's Education Bill, he declared himself a decided opponent of "National Education upon strictly Church principles," which, as interpreted by some of the speakers, were "indistinguishable from those of the heretic-burners of the Inquisition." The cleavage between the various schools, and the narrow bigotry of all, moved him to an impassioned appeal in which the[Pg 100] Gorham case, and the secession of Newman, are brought in to reinforce his plea for toleration:—

O Gentlemen! O Servants of the poor dear Church of England, while you are boxing and brawling within the sanctuary, why send forth these absurd emissaries to curse the people outside? They don't mind your comminations, they are only jeering at your battles.... The people in this country will learn to read and write; they will not let the parsons set their sums and point out their lessons, or meddle in all their business of life. And as for your outcries about infidelity and atheism, they will laugh at you (as long as they keep their temper) and mind you no more than Mumbo Jumbo.

Sound doctrine this, but it was all forgotten in the frenzy of the "No Popery" movement a few months later. Punch, in a poem on "Consolation amid Controversy," gives thanks that the days of persecution are past:—

We've now some sharpish mutual slanging,

But, Heaven be thanked, there is no hanging!

No axe, no chopping-block, no drawing,

But only just a little jawing.

There's no Jack Ketch his business plying,

People beheading, throttling, frying.

Punch, and he says it without boasting,

Does all the cutting up and roasting.

As a matter of fact, the whole of Volume xix. is dominated by the one subject. The "cutting up and roasting" of the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman, of Passionists and Puseyites, is conducted on every other page. The Pope's message was "the greatest bull ever known." In "Pontifical News" we have a series of imaginary appointments, including a Papal Lord Chancellor, miracles and conversions, winding up with the announcement that the Palace of Bedlam will be proposed as the residence of the new Primate of England. Simultaneously, burlesque rival claims are put forward on behalf of other creeds—Mohammedan, Buddhist and Brahmin.

[Pg 101]

Roman archbishop breaking open a door.

Daring Attempt to Break Into a Church

[Pg 102]

Cardinal Wiseman

On November 4 Lord John Russell, then Prime Minister, addressed a letter to the Bishop of Durham, in which, without pronouncing definitely whether the law had been transgressed, he vigorously condemned the Papal claims as "inconsistent with the Queen's supremacy, the rights of our bishops and clergy, and with the spiritual independence of the nation as asserted even in Roman Catholic times." Lord John confessed, however, that he was less alarmed by any aggression of a foreign sovereign than by the practices of "clergymen of our own Church, who have been most forward in leading their flocks, step by step, to the verge of the precipice." In conclusion he relied with confidence on the people of England, feeling sure that the great mass of a nation "which looked with contempt on the mummeries of superstition" would be faithful to "the glorious principles and the immortal martyrs of the Reformation." Punch lost no time in improving on this text, and in the number of November 16 his "No Popery" campaign reached a climax in "A Short Way with the Pope's Puppets." Punch had no desire, he declares, to bring back the days of the hurdle, the halter, the axe and the quartering-knife. But if a Roman Catholic Pope-appointed Cardinal called upon the City of Westminster to do him, in the name of Rome, all spiritual obedience, he would "immediately seize such Cardinal, try him for high treason, and on conviction send him, in convict gray, to the Antipodes." Yet the lines just quoted on "Consolation amid Controversy" appeared a month later, while the anti-Papal crusade was still raging its way through Punch's columns! The acrimony displayed with pen and pencil was deplorable. In extenuation it can only be pleaded that Punch was following the lead of the Premier, and not misinterpreting the sentiments of a very large section of the community as exhibited in addresses to the Crown, county meetings and other demonstrations. Cardinal Wiseman's conciliatory statement, in which he maintained that the proposed change had been adopted "for the more regular administration of the Roman Catholic Church of England, and only at the request of English communicants," left Punch cold and derisive. He suggests that as a counterblast to the Pope the Queen should be prayed to create Mazzini President[Pg 103] of Rome. In the "Bull" fight of London, in "Fashions Papal and Puseyite," in the comparison between aggressive Papists and Cuffey, the transported Chartist—very much to the advantage of the latter—in satiric comments on Romanist interpretation of history, in repulsive caricatures of slinking, intrusive priests, Punch continued to heap odium and ridicule on the Papal claims. He was more than a little wrathful with the Morning Chronicle for asserting that in the "No Popery" crusade "the tide of opinion is already turned." But the Morning Chronicle was not far out, and it is noteworthy that from this point onwards Punch's attacks were chiefly directed against Puseyites and Ritualists—such as Mr. Bennett, the vicar of St. Barnabas, Pimlico—and Tractarians, of whom he wrote:—

Rome, Rome, sweet sweet Rome,

For all us Tractarians, there's no place like Rome.

Cardinal Wiseman did not "take it lying down," but retaliated vigorously on Punch in the Dublin Review, denouncing his opponent as once facetious, but now old, drivelling, and malignant, "down to his old street occupation of playing the hangman," and ironically complimented him on the concession, in his letter to Lord John Russell, of commuting the capital punishment of offending Roman Catholic bishops to mere transportation for life. Punch promptly hit back, but he did not get the better of the exchange. Wiseman was a skilful controversialist; he was also an extremely accomplished and learned man, a considerable Orientalist, and much in request as a lecturer on social, artistic and literary topics. Of this side of the Cardinal there is no trace in Punch's pages, least of all in the cartoons and portraits, in which he is represented as a man of gross, plebeian and repulsive appearance. If, as is generally believed, Wiseman was the original of Browning's Bishop Blougram, the poet took him more seriously. Browning's portrait is certainly not flattering, but he put into the bishop's mouth a saying which probably represented the Cardinal's view of Punch accurately in the verse:—

[Pg 104]

You, for example, clever to a fault,

The rough and ready man, who write apace,

Read somewhat seldomer, think perhaps even less.

Public opinion was divided and unexpected convergences were revealed—illustrated, to take only one instance, by Punch's satirical picture of John Bright embracing Wiseman. But in the heat of the controversy Punch showed refreshing signs of good sense and good feeling, and sternly rebukes the precursors of the "Kensitites," who made a vulgar demonstration, in which the ringleader masqueraded as a mock Pope outside Wiseman's house. "To play the fool about the street on behalf of Protestantism can only discredit it." Still, the Pope and Wiseman remained the targets of Punch's obloquy for several years. Oxford he regarded as "the halfway house to Rome." Indeed, one is tempted to sum up his views in an adaptation of an old rhyme:—

Roman dictation is my vexation;

Oxford is just as bad;

Papal aggression is my obsession,

And Pusey drives me mad.

In "Roman Candles in Hampshire" we find him attacking Keble's ritual at Hursley. This was in February, 1852, and when the Tablet attributed the riots and loss of life at Stockport to the Government's proclamation "against processions, vestments, and the free exercise of the Catholic religion," charged the Ministers responsible with planning murder, and described the Queen's speech as "a vile and hypocritical document," Punch replied to the editor that "we, the mass of Englishmen, look upon your viperine expectorations with simple antipathy and disgust." A bitter cartoon on the interference of Irish priests at elections followed up this exchange of opinions; not more bitter, however, than the repeated onslaughts on Canon Moore, the Anglican pluralist registrar of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, who drew £13,000 a year, according to Punch, yet doing nothing to earn it. The controversy died down during the Crimean War, and then, four[Pg 105] years elapsing, the Clapham Evangelicals are rebuked for the "profane vulgarity and sanctified slang" of their campaign against the Redemptionist Fathers.

Parson about to don a robe.


A More Tolerant Spirit

For the rest of the period under review in this volume Punch shows a slightly more tolerant spirit to Papists. Exeter Hall and the bigots who strove for a renewal of the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, which they considered had been imperilled by the Maynooth Grant, are frequently rebuked for this intolerance; and he went so far as to say, à propos of the persistent activities of the United Kingdom Alliance, that, "Of all Popery, that which threatens to 'rob a poor man of his beer' is the most objectionable and most atrociously subversive of the liberty of the British subject." The sting of the remark was not lessened by the fact that the honorary[Pg 106] secretary of the Alliance in question was a Mr. Samuel Pope, and Punch, unable to resist a pun, observes that there is "one important difference between this present Papal aggression and that of this time six years. There was at least one Wiseman engaged in the former, whereas the parties to the latter are all of them fools." At the close of the year we come across the first mention of Spurgeon—by no means complimentary. Punch, who suggests him as a fit model for Madame Tussaud, who "makes dolls of our idols," regarded the Nonconformist preacher, already famous at the age of twenty-three, as a mere self-advertising jocular charlatan, a "sacred creature at thousands of tea-tables," a "dealer in brimstone with plenty of treacle." Punch, as will be seen, had no liking for the "pets of the pulpit," whose portraits were even more in evidence at the print-sellers' shops than those of favourite actors. The "histrionic pulpit" was "worse than the stage at its worst," and he admonishes Spurgeon to dispense with these aids to popularity.

To resume and sum up, the outlook on Church and State of a very large body of public opinion, from that of the Liberal Prime Minister to the man in the street, is reflected in the pages of Punch. Where doctrinal controversies are concerned we find a complete accordance with the sentiments of "Hang Theology" Rogers, the late rector of Bishopsgate. We find a complete inability to appreciate a bishop such as "Henry of Exeter," who was prepared to spend—and lose—scores of thousands of pounds in litigation to establish his views on baptismal regeneration. We find continuous onslaughts on Pluralism, Sinecurism, Mediævalism, Sectarianism, and, above all, Sabbatarianism. Punch made no effort to disguise his satisfaction when the "Exeter Hallites," as a result of their campaign against the Maynooth Grant, were landed in serious financial troubles, and appealed for relief to discharge their debts. "How," he asks, "can people have the conscience to ask for charity of others who have so little of it themselves?"

[Pg 107]


"I 'spects nobody can't do nothin' with me."—Vide Uncle Tom's Cabin.

On April 26 of this same year of 1845 Punch castigated the violence of the Duke of Newcastle, Colonel Sibthorp, Plumptre and other opponents of the Maynooth Grant Bill,[Pg 108] notably a certain Sir Culling Eardley Smith, who declared that "the British Lion was now aroused and would not rest again until he had devoured every atom of Popery," and that he knew of "at least twelve men in Parliament who would die on the floor of the House sooner than that the Bill should pass into law." If Punch showed himself almost as violent, if not as ridiculous as this Protestant gladiator, let it be remembered that, as a convinced believer in the British Constitution and the principles of the Reformation, he regarded the Papal claims as an attempt to set up an imperium in imperio. Catholic emancipation he firmly supported, but this was another matter. His misgivings were unfounded, but there is no reason to doubt his honesty or that of those who felt as he did. It was part of the same insularity, often prompted by a sound instinct, which led him to look with disfavour on foreigners and foreign ways as likely, if encouraged, to denationalize the British fibre. To this we may also attribute his early distrust and suspicion of Disraeli. Nor was it to be wondered at, in view of the admissions of his biographers:—

The fundamental fact about Disraeli was that he was a Jew. He accepted Christianity, but he accepted it as the highest development of Judaism. He had inherited from his father a profound interest in English history, literature, society and tradition, which his own reading and experience had deepened. But he seemed throughout his life never to be quite of the nation which he loved, served and governed; always to be a little detached when in the act of leading; always to be the spectator, almost the critic, as well as the principal performer. "No Englishman," writes Greenwood, "could approach Disraeli without some immediate consciousness that he was in the presence of a foreigner."[9]

Now Punch was intensely English; he saw no need for "Oriental mystery" in politics, and considered Disraeli's adoption by the country gentlemen as little short of an unholy alliance. Dizzy's flamboyant and exotic tastes were a constant source of offence. Nothing better illustrates this habit of mind, which was by no means peculiar to Punch, than the part played by the paper during the 'forties and 'fifties in the long and[Pg 109] chequered movement in favour of removing Jewish disabilities. A manly desire to give the Jews fair play was tempered by strong prejudice. As we have seen, Punch frankly admitted the Jews' great virtue, their care for their poor, and held it up as an example to the "Exeter Hallites," who thought that charity must begin abroad. At the same time he held the Jews largely responsible for the worst side of the cheap clothing trade, witness his bitter verses on "Moses & Co." in 1844.

Punch and the Jews

Punch's jests at the expense of the Jews were not always so excusable as in the case of Messrs. Moses and "Sholomansh"; they were sometimes purely malicious, as when a design for a monument to Disraeli at Shrewsbury took the form of a column of discarded hats; or, again, when the announcement that the University of Oxford intended to confer on him the honorary degree of D.C.L., Punch was prompted to remark that the initials stood for "Deuced Clever Levite." The strange passage in Disraeli's "Life of Lord George Bentinck," foreshadowing the rôle of world revolutionaries assigned to the Jews in the recent much discussed Jewish Protocol, did not escape Punch's notice, and his comment is characteristic:—

Well! The Jews, it seems, are conscious of their ill-treatment. They join Secret Societies. They (for the evils complained of by the Barbarians have nothing to do with it; their leaders are nobodies) topple over thrones with delight. Bless us, what a picture! And what does it suggest? Now we know why Shadrach is a Sheriff's Officer! "All is race." What a picture of cool malignity is this! Shadrach taps us on the shoulder with a fiendish luxury, and exults in dragging off the Northern Barbarian. He luxuriates in locking up the Frank in a sponging-house; he charges him for the "Semitic Element," and sticks it on to the chop and sherry.

Was Punch an anti-Semite? The answer is to be found in his unwavering, if not always very courteous or respectful, support of Baron Rothschild in his eleven years' struggle to enter the House of Commons.

Baron Rothschild's anomalous position and his persistence in demanding relief recalled to Punch Martin Luther's saying[Pg 110] of the Jews: "They sit as on a wheelbarrow, without a country, a people, or a Government." This, adds Punch, was said 350 years ago, and the Jew is on the wheelbarrow still.

Two men talking.


Lord John: "It's impossible for our House to let you have that little matter now. But you can have a Bill payable next Session, if you like."

Jewish Disabilities

Rothschild, elected as Whig Member for the City of London, and re-elected in 1852, 1854, and twice in 1857, was still refused permission to take part in the privileges of the House, though allowed to sit below the Bar, and remain there when notice was taken of strangers. In all, nine Bills giving the Jews relief had been passed by the Commons since 1830 and rejected by[Pg 111] the Lords, before the tenth, and last, introduced by Lord John Russell in 1858, led to a compromise under which each House was enabled to determine the form in which the oath should be taken by its members. On July 26, 1858, Baron Rothschild's "barrow" was removed, and he was permitted to swear the oath of allegiance in the Jewish form and take his seat. To Lord John Russell belonged the chief credit for carrying through this reform and abating a crying scandal, but undoubtedly Punch lent him valuable free-lance help throughout.

[8] Mawworm was an eighteenth-century forerunner of Chadband in Bickerstaffe's play The Hypocrite.

[9] Life of Disraeli (Monypenny and Buckle), Vol. vi., p. 635.

[Pg 112]


In the 'forties Punch, as we have already noted, stood in with "the group of middle-class men of enthusiasm and sagacity" whose leaders in Parliament were Cobden and Bright. Their views were from the first strongly anti-militaristic, and were shared up to a certain point by Punch. In his early years he was, with some reserves, distinctly pacificist. If by 1854 he was a whole-hearted supporter of the Crimean War, it was not due to any change of personnel. The gentle Doyle resigned because of Punch's "No Popery" campaign. Thackeray severed his connexion with the paper because of its attacks on Palmerston, the Prince Consort and Louis Napoleon. But the men who dominated the policy of Punch in his ultra-humanitarian days remained when he was most bellicose. Leech, who drew the "Home of the Rick-burner," was responsible for "General Février" and the Crimean and Mutiny cartoons. Mark Lemon was still editor, Douglas Jerrold and Gilbert à Beckett were his right hand men and most voluminous contributors. It was a conversion, if you like, but it was not dictated by expediency, nor did it involve a sacrifice of conviction or a desertion of the cause of the underdog. It was partly due to a John Bullish resentment of anything savouring of foreign aggression or intervention. Along with all his criticisms of Palmerston's Parliamentary opportunism, Punch gave "the judicious bottle-holder" credit for keeping us out of wars by his stiffness. Punch supported Cobden and Bright in the battle over the Corn Laws, but distrusted and thoroughly disapproved of the attitude of the Manchester School towards the reform of the conditions of Labour—witness his "Few words with John Bright" over the Factory Act of 1847. Above all, he could not stomach the over-candid friend who invariably sided against his country.

[Pg 113]



"Russia has two Generals in whom she can confide—Generals Janvier and Février."—Speech of the late Emperor of Russia.

[Pg 114]

With this much by way of preface we may note that the anti-militaristic tirades of these early years are mainly directed against the needless pomp and pageantry, expense and extravagance of the services. Punch's campaign against duelling is another matter, and here at least he never recanted his detestation of "the law of the pistol." He did not spare even the Duke of Wellington, but made sarcastic reference to his meeting with Lord Winchilsea in 1843, and in his cartoon represented the principals wearing frock-coats and fool's caps. There is an indignant letter to Peel the following March, when that statesman refused to bring in a Bill against duelling, or to reprimand the Irish Attorney-General for challenging in open court the opposing counsel in the O'Connell trial; and when Peel further declined to grant a pension to the widow of Colonel Fawcett, a distinguished officer who lost his life in a duel, this refusal prompted a famous cartoon a fortnight later, accompanied by this vitriolic comment:—

If a statue be ever erected to the living honour or the memory of Sir Robert Peel, the artist will wholly fail in his illustration of the true greatness of the statesman unless he deck the bronze with widow's cap and weepers. In the long and sinuous career of the noble baronet, we know of nothing equal to his denial of a pension to Mrs. Fawcett, and, almost in the same week, his speech in favour of the "laws of honour" as they exist. In one hand does the Prime Minister hold the scales of justice, and in the other a duelling-pistol!

Punch's remedy for the evasion of the law was to let the principals go free, but to hang the seconds without hesitation.

Widow Fawcett being denied her pension.


Punch as Pacifist

The choice of the Army as a profession is discussed in one of the series named "The Complete Letter-writer," which appeared in 1844. Mr. Benjamin Allpeace, guardian to young Arthur Baytwig, pronounces against it as a gilded fraud. At best soldiers are evils of the earth, and the pomp and pageantry of war mere gimcrackery. The reality is "misery and anguish, blood and tears." This was the year in which the Prince de Joinville, Louis Philippe's third son, after bombarding Tangier and occupying Mogador, made himself notorious by his bellicose[Pg 115] pamphleteering; but Punch was equally severe on Lord Maidstone for his patriotic rhymes in the Morning Post, and on the warlike philanthropists of Exeter Hall, who were much exercised by the Prince's ill-will towards Great Britain. Punch, prohibited in France not for the first or last time for his comments on French politics, ridiculed the Chauvinists on both sides with impartial satire, and published a "Woman's Plea for Peace with France" on the ground of our debt to that country in wine, fashion, the ballet, Jullien (the popular musician and conductor resident in London, who would have to flee in case of[Pg 116] war), and cosmetics. Later on, in the same year, we come across "Entente Cordiale" cartoons, in which Punch assumes the rôle of the pacificator of Europe, and a letter to French editors protesting against the notion that John Bull is a plotter. Punch had already given a half serious support to Captain Warner, the eccentric inventor, who professed to have invented a long-range invisible shell to blow up ships at a distance, hailing it as a means of ending war, and developed the argument further in a curious article on the "Science of Warfare," à propos of the benevolent object of some inventors at Fulham. Their aim, it seems, was to put an end to war by making it so truly terrific that, as in the classic example of the Kilkenny cats, it would terminate its own existence by its very ferocity. Thus do we find in the mid 'forties a foreshadowing of the sinister uses of applied science and a justification of the doctrine of "frightfulness." In 1845, in connexion with the intended reorganization or calling out of the Militia, we find the first of many satirical references to the famous Brook Green Volunteer—Brook Green being "one of the bolts of the great Gate of London," as Hammersmith was the key to the metropolis on the western side. Punch at this time was a bitter critic of the methods of recruiting, and his anti-militaristic zeal reached a climax in a protest against the advertisements used at Birmingham and elsewhere, in which he calls the recruiting sergeant "the clown in the bloody pantomime of glory." He had already fallen foul of Sir Charles Napier for his defence of the "cat" in 1844. The issue of August 15, 1846, contains a personal appeal to the Queen to abolish flogging in the Army. Here is the last stanza of "Lines on the Lash: to the Queen":—

Let thy queenly voice be heard—

Who shall dare to disobey?—

It but costs thy Royal word,

And the lash is cast away.

With thyself it rests to scour

From our arms the loathsome stain;

Then of mercy show thy power,

And immortal be thy reign!

[Pg 117]

This may not be great poetry, but doggerel verse can be simple and passionate. The appeal was not granted until 1881.

John Bull mocking disguised figure.


John Bull: "Come, come, you foolish fellow; you don't suppose I'm to be frightened by such a turnip as that!"

The Invasion Scare

In 1848 the French invasion scare was in full swing, but Punch maintained an attitude of satirical scepticism. Impetus was lent to the alarm by the letter of Lord Ellesmere to The Times, and by the letter of the Duke of Wellington. These were welcomed by Punch as a letting-off of alarmist steam. "Folks who feared an invasion, authorized by Lord Ellesmere and the Duke of Wellington, have said their say, have contributed their quota to absurdity, and, satisfied with the effect,[Pg 118] may now rest content for life." In the same vein the suggestion of the formation of a National Guard who should train and practise shooting on Sundays provokes sarcastic comment on this new form of "Sunday balls." The enrolment of Special Constables, as a precaution against the violence of the "physical force" extremists among the Chartists, is a frequent theme of comment generally jocular and unsympathetic.

England's immunity from the general upheaval made for optimism. Cobden in 1848 and 1849 was still in favour with Punch as the "cleverest Cob" in England and the apostle of "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform." His Arbitration Motion in the latter year met with Punch's cordial approval:—


Mr. Cobden took a businesslike view of the question, and by the practicability of his notions obtained the expressed goodwill—could more be expected?—of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. For ourselves, we entirely accord with the position of Mr. Cobden, and have a most cheerful faith in the ultimate prosperity of his doctrines, for they are mingling themselves with the best thoughts of the people, who are every day more and more assured that whatever may be the cause of war, they are the first sacrificed for it; it is they who pay the cost. Just as the sheep is stripped of his skin for the noisy barbarous drum, to beat the lie of glory, so are the people stripped to pay for the music.

The romance of one era is the reality of the next. The Arbitration Question has taken root, and will grow and spread. They show a cedar in the gardens at Paris—a cedar of hugest girth and widest shape—that, some century ago, was brought from Lebanon in the cap of a traveller. The olive twig, planted by Mr. Cobden in Westminster, will flourish despite the blighting wit of mess-rooms, and rise and spread into a tree that shall offer shade and security to all nations.

In a similar vein is the welcome extended to the Peace Congress in Paris:—


Anyway, the cause of peace has been reverently preached, and reverently listened to, in the warlike city of Paris. Within a walk of the tomb of the great peace-breaker—who turned kingdoms into[Pg 119] graves, and whose miserable purple was dyed in the heart's blood of human freedom—even there peace has been worshipped. Napoleon in his violet robe—beset with golden bees—the bees that, as in the lion of the olden day, swarmed in carcases—Napoleon, with his Pope-blessed crown clipping his homicidal brain, is, after all, a portentous, glistering evil—contrasted with our Quaker friend [Joseph Sturge], who, risen in the Hall of St. Cecilia, condemns aggressive war as an abomination, a nuisance that it behoves man, in this season of his soul's progress, with all his heart and all his mind, to denounce and renounce as un-Christian, vile, and brutifying. The drab against the purple; and, in our small thoughts, the drab, so preaching, carries it.

So, again, Punch breaks a lance in defence of the Peace Congress in the year 1850 at Frankfort. What if it were inspired by visionary aims? All great reformers, idealists and benefactors—Harvey, Jenner, Stephenson—had been ridiculed by unthinking and unimaginative critics:—


The Peace Congress is a capital joke. It's so obvious a subject for fun that we haven't thought it worth while to waste a laugh on it. All manner of pens have been poking the public in the ribs about it—paper pellets of all colours and weights have been slung at it—arrows from all quivers have been emptied on its vulnerable sides.

"Preach Peace to the World!" The poor noodles! "Inculcate the supremacy of right over might!" Ineffable milk-and-water spoonies! "Hold out to nations brotherhood for warfare, the award of justice instead of the bayonet!" The white-faced, lily-livered prigs!

"Why, it's the merest Utopianism," says the Economist.

"It's neither more nor less than Christianity," sneers the Statist; "Trade is the peace-maker," says the Doctor of the Manchester School; "Diplomacy keeps the world quiet," jocularly declares the Red-tapist; "Peace indeed, the designing democrat!" growls the Absolutist; "Peace, with a bloated Aristocracy still rampant!" snarls the Red Republican. And they all drown in a chorus of contemptuous laughter the pleading voices of the poor Peace Congressists in the Church of St. Paul.

But there are some voices which refuse to join in this chorus. And there are some, too, of the wise and the great who can discern in this gathering of friends of peace, this little Babel of various tongues, this tiny congress of many races, a thing in no way to be[Pg 120] ridiculed any more than the acorn is to be ridiculed when Science declares that its heart contains the Oak.

The pacificist note had already been sounded when the Duke of Wellington publicly declared in 1849 that it was time ignorance should cease in the Army, on which Punch remarked "When the aforesaid ignorance ceases, how long will the British Army last?" And in the same year, while condemning the Government for refusing to pay for enlarging the National Gallery, he protested against the Naval Estimates as past a joke "when £158,000 might be spent on a frigate including her total loss at sea." On naval matters Punch foretold many things, but he did not foresee the advent or predict the cost of the super-Dreadnought. Indeed, if the truth be told, he was extremely sceptical as to the efficiency of ironclads at all. They were "ferreous freaks": vessels "made in foundries were sure to founder." He is on safer ground altogether when he assails with great spirit and caustic irony the refusal of the Admiralty in 1850 to admit naval surgeons to the wardroom, and proclaimed in vehement accents that he was "made positively ill" by the arguments of those who opposed Captain Boldero's proposals. The status and dignity of Army and Navy doctors and surgeons were near to his heart, and he scornfully resented the view that while "glory may be written on a drum head, it is not to be put down on lint."

The turning point at which Punch's pacificist zeal began to cool was reached in 1849, and the change grew out of a generous sympathy with Italy and Hungary. The repeated warnings addressed by Palmerston to Austria, the independent action which so often embarrassed his colleagues and annoyed his Sovereign, and his support of Turkey in refusing to surrender Kossuth (though he subsequently repudiated any responsibility for his welcome in England), were warmly praised by Punch, who welcomed his declaration as a "bugle note." In 1850 Punch waxed humorous at the expense of Sir Francis Head, who wrote a book in which he demonstrated that 150,000 Frenchmen could invade London with the greatest ease. The coup d'ètat of 1851, and suspicion of the aims of Louis[Pg 122] Napoleon, whom Punch described as a "perjured homicide," converted him into a supporter of rifle clubs as "patriotic and needful." The Russell Cabinet fell over the Local Militia Bill, Palmerston carrying an amendment which omitted the word "local" from the title of the Bill, so as to make the Militia generally available as an Army Reserve. Palmerston had already resigned, or been dismissed, for exceeding his functions as Foreign Minister by expressing his private approval of the policy of Louis Napoleon, but in spite of this Punch regretted the loss of the strong man of the Cabinet. The year 1852 opened in gloom and misgiving, faithfully reflected in the lines on "Retrospect and Prospect: or 1851 and 1852," with their picture of the anxious vigil of England.

[Pg 121]

Mistress dismissing servant.


"I'm very sorry, Palmerston, that you cannot agree with your fellow-servants; but as I don't feel inclined to part with John, you must go, of course."

"Defence not defiance" is the keynote of the appeal, "Speak, Mr. Cobden!" but it foreshadowed a cleavage which was soon to develop into bitter antagonism:—

Armaments useless our money to spend on,

Certainly we should be acting like geese;

But have we any sure ground to depend on,

In trusting our neighbours will leave us at peace?

Speak, Mr. Cobden!

The services of Volunteer Rifle Corps were accepted by the Government, and Punch (who was extremely satirical at the expense of the Oxford University authorities for discouraging the O.U.R.C.) can fairly claim to have been the inventor of camouflage on the strength of the following suggestions as to equipment. Under the heading of "Safety Uniforms" the reader finds:—

In accordance with the practical suggestions of several distinguished military officers, and others, care has been taken to provide a great variety of patterns and uniforms, the colours of which, assimilating to every conceivable shade of surrounding objects, cause the wearer to present as indistinct a mark as possible to the enemy's aim. Besides the neutral greys corresponding to the mixed colours of the heath, and the brown mixture identical with the colour of the mud, samples have been manufactured of slate-colour and brick-dust red, calculated for house-top service amongst[Pg 123] the chimney pots, of bright green with mother-of-pearl and gilt buttons intermingled, adapted for field fighting in case of an invasion occurring at the time of the daisies and buttercups, of straw colour for a harvest or stubble brigade, and of snowy white, which would be a suitable tint if we were to be attacked simultaneously by the foe and the frost. A splendid pattern has also been made of cloth of gold and silver, the dazzling effect of which under a glare of sunshine, in the midst of a Turneresque landscape, would be such as utterly to bewilder the aim of the most expert marksman. All these wonderful uniforms, warranted incapable of being hit, besides a regulation rifle guaranteed never to miss, to be had at Messrs. Punch and Co.'s, Army Clothiers, 85, Fleet Street, where every species of Gentlemanlike Dressing is supplied to those requiring a superior article and good cut.

Death of "The Duke"

The challenge to Cobden to declare himself soon gave place to direct attacks on the pacificists, and the death of the Duke of Wellington gave Punch a fresh text on which to expound the doctrine of preparation.


Our Arthur sleeps—our Arthur is not dead.

Excalibar shall yet leap from the sheath,

Should e'er invading foot this England tread—

Upstirring, then, his marble tomb beneath.

Our Wellington's undying fire shall burn

Through all our veins—until the foeman say,

"Behold, their Arthur doth to life return!"

And awestruck from the onset shrink away.

Moreover, Punch defends the martial pageantry at the Duke's funeral at this juncture on the ground that it served to show to "Continental despots and bigots with what enthusiasm we yet honour military heroism; that if we have abjured the life of strife, we have not renounced the spirit of valour."

His Lordship sitting on a keg of gunpowder.


Two news sellers talking.

Itinerant Newsman, No. 1: "I say, Bill, what are you givin' 'em?"

Ditto, No. 2: "Grand Massacre of the French, and Terrible Slaughter of the British Troops."

Outbreak of War

Throughout 1852 and 1853 there is a steady crescendo of hostility in the references to Cobden, Bright and the Quaker pacificists. In this, both pen and pencil are wielded with aim and purpose, as evidenced in the cartoon "No danger," and the verses in "Ephraim Smug." In the Russo-Turkish quarrel Punch's long and consistent distrust—to put it mildly—of[Pg 124] the Tsar Nicholas was the governing factor which determined him to espouse the side of the Porte, inspired his cartoons "Turkey in Danger" and "Paws off, Bruin," and, most astonishing of all, reconciled him, though most reluctantly, to the alliance with his bête noire, the Emperor Napoleon III. For when war came in the spring of 1854 the predictions and misgivings of alarmists and prophets were falsified, and Great Britain was arrayed not against but on the side of France. In the interval dividing the outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Turkey from Great Britain's declaration of war on March 28, 1854, Punch threw all his weight into the balance with the War party[Pg 125] in the Cabinet, and bitterly resented the alleged pro-Russian sympathies of Lord Aberdeen. These are hinted at in the cartoon in which the Prime Minister is shown with the British Lion saying "I must let him go," and are unmistakably indicated in the charges against Lord Aberdeen of blacking the Tsar's boots, and prosecuting the war in a dilatory and half-hearted way. The Manchester School and the "Pilgrimage to Russia" of the deputation from the Society of Friends to carry to the Tsar their protest against the war are severely handled. On the other hand belief in the righteousness of our cause did not blind Punch to the negligence and worse of those charged with the conduct of military operations and the equipment of our forces. He regrets the typical English attitude, in regard to preparations, that the whole thing was "rather a bore." The need of organized efficiency is preached in every number, and, above all, the debt of honour owed by the nation to the rank[Pg 126] and file of our fighting men and to their dependents. Quite early in the war we find this excellent plea on behalf of "The girls they leave behind them":—

It is to be hoped that "A Naval Officer," writing in The Times, will not vainly have called attention to the position in which the wives of soldiers will be placed by the departure of their husbands on foreign service for the defence of Europe and mankind against the enemy Nicholas. As to the soldier's pay, he half starves upon it himself, and after his semi-starvation there remains not the value of a crumb to be handed over to his wife and perhaps children. The girl—and, maybe, the little girls and boys—left by him have surely a claim superior to that of the mate and progeny of the lazy clown and the sottish and improvident mechanic. It is just that relief should be dealt out to them with no parochial hand, but with a palm a little wider open than that of the relieving officer, and in a spirit of consideration somewhat more kindly than the beadle's.

The "Soldier's Dream" of the kind lady who came to visit his wife and children is an appeal to translate the vision into reality. And there were other grievances. The breakdown of the postal service to the seat of war and the injustice of making the recipients pay 2s. for each letter are shown up in "Dead Letters from the Baltic."

Angel and bird as nurses.


Song of the Nightingale

But this was a minor matter compared with the grievous scandal of the hospitals, disclosed by William Russell, the fearless correspondent of The Times, and ultimately remedied by the exertions of Sidney Herbert and, above all, of Florence Nightingale. This had moved the country deeply, and the indignation was not easily allayed. Florence Nightingale's services are repeatedly referred to. She was Punch's chief heroine in these years, from the day of her first mention and the publication of "The Nightingale's Song":—


Listen, soldier, to the tale of the tender Nightingale,

'Tis a charm that soon will ease your wounds so cruel,

Singing medicine for your pain, in a sympathizing strain,

[Pg 127]

With a jug, jug, jug of lemonade or gruel.

Singing bandages and lint, salve and cerate without stint,

Singing plenty both of liniment and lotion,

And your mixtures pushed about, and the pills for you served out,

With alacrity and promptitude of motion.

Singing light and gentle hands, and a nurse who understands

How to manage every sort of application,

From a poultice to a leech; whom you haven't got to teach

The way to make a poppy fomentation.

Singing pillows for you smoothed, smart and ache and anguish soothed,

By the readiness of feminine invention;

Singing fever's thirst allayed, and the bed you've tumbled made,

With a careful and considerate attention.

Singing succour to the brave, and a rescue from the grave,

Hear the Nightingale that's come to the Crimea,

'Tis a Nightingale as strong in her heart as in her song,

To carry out so gallant an idea.

[Pg 128]

This is only one of a whole series of poems—notably one written at the time of her dangerous illness in May, 1855—inspired by the "Lady of the Lamp," who did not forget, on her side, to acknowledge that the wounded common soldiers had behaved "like gentlemen and Christians to their nurses." Her saintship is secure, in spite of the adroit disparagement of modern iconoclasts; and the verdict of the common soldier was happily expressed by a private at a dinner given to Crimean troops by the people of Folkestone and Hythe in 1856: "We cannot forget Miss Nightingale—nor can we forget mismanagement."

Two soldiers talking.

"Well, Jack, here's good news from home. We're to have a medal."

"That's very kind. Maybe one of these days we'll have a coat to stick it on."

Familiar Grievances

Florence Nightingale was not forgotten by the nation; the Queen sent her an autograph letter of thanks and a brooch, but no official recognition was bestowed upon her by the British Government until 1907, when she was given the Order of Merit. As for William Russell, Punch laboured in season and out of season to secure some public acknowledgment of his humanity[Pg 129] and courage, but the debt remained unpaid for forty years, and was then liquidated by a mere knighthood. The Crimean War was not a great war, judged by modern standards, but it assuredly was not a picnic, and it abounded in prospective plagiarism. Note, for example, the complaint of the treatment of the "Jolly Russian prisoners," in the winter of 1854:—

How jolly the prisoner, who gets for his pay,

From his captor's own purse seven shillings a day!

And that's how we pension our officer-foes,

For which we shall certainly pay through the nose.

The nation that prisoners so handsomely pays

The wages of postmen will probably raise,

And doubtless provide on a grand scale for all

The children and wives of our soldiers who fall.

Note again the criticisms of official reticence about individual acts of bravery in the lines "The Unmentioned Brave: Song by a Commanding Officer," early in 1855:—

Oh! no, we never mention them,

Their names must not be heard,

My hand Routine forbids to trace

Of their exploits one word.

Most glorious though their deeds may be,

To say it I regret,

When they expect a word from me,

They find that I forget.

You say that they are happy now,

The bravest of the brave,

A "special" pen recording how

Mere Grenadiers behave.

Of "special" pens I disapprove,

An inconvenient set,

Who oftentimes the veil remove,

And print what we forget.

The charges of incompetence in the conduct of the war and of greed among those who made profit out of it have a painfully familiar ring. Generals, beginning with Lord Hardinge, were[Pg 130] too old; or they were "blundering cavalrymen." Heroism was kept severely in its place or inadequately rewarded, as when a drummer-boy, who had shown conspicuous gallantry at the battle of the Alma, was given £5 by the Prince Consort; or, again, when a gallant sergeant was given a silk handkerchief hemmed by the Queen. Why, asks Punch, was he not made an ensign? Of a review of wounded soldiers by the Queen he observes that it would have been more gracious if she had gone to the hospital instead of having the invalids brought up to the palace to be inspected. In the same vein is the dialogue, "Honour to the Brave":—

Flunkey (reads): "Yesterday thirty of the Invalids from the Crimea were inspected ... many of the gallant fellows were dreadfully mutilated at the Alma and Inkerman....After the inspection ten of the Guards were regaled in the Servants' Hall."

[Pg 131]

Flunkey (loq.): "Regaled in the Servants' 'All! Eh? Well, I don't think they've any call to grumble about not bein' 'Honoured Sufficient!'"

Landlord and tenant in conversation.


Landlord: "Well, Mr. Springwheat, according to the papers, there seems to be a probability of a cessation of hostilities."

Tenant (who strongly approves of war prices): "Goodness gracious! Why, you don't mean to say there's any DANGER OF PEACE?"

The navvies who volunteered for service in the Crimea are not forgotten by Punch. When cheers are raised for the fighting men and their commanders,

As loud a cheer give, England, to the Navvies' gallant band,

Who have gone to lend our warriors a stalwart helping hand.

These to their work with shovel and crowbar as true will stand

As those to theirs with bayonet, with rifle and with brand.

Combatants and Non-Combatants

The Charge of the Light Brigade[10] prompts Leech's picture of "A Trump Card(igan)"; but, rather than with the officers, Punch, throughout the war, was more concerned with the rank and file, and with instances of unfair differentiation between officers and men, notably in regard to the sale of promotions and the grants of leave, satirized in the cartoon, "The New Game of Follow my Leader," in which a very diminutive bugler, advancing in front of a long file of soldiers, addresses the commander-in-chief: "Please, General, may me and these other chaps have leave to go home on urgent Private affairs?"

The efforts of the Peace Party are a constant source of derisive criticism, as in the bitter stanzas, "Mr. Gladstone's Peace Song." Even more bitter is the onslaught in the year 1856 on John Bright:—

Merrily danced the Quaker Bright,

And merrily danced that Quaker,

When he heard that Kars was in hopeless plight,

And Mouravieff meant to take her.

He said he knew it was wrong to fight,

He'd help nor Devil nor Baker,

But to see that the battle was going right,

O! merrily danced the Quaker.

[Pg 132]

Lion sniffing at conference room door.


Paying the Bill

The article in which we read that "Wholesale slaughter and devastation, when you are driven to it, is the only economy of slaughter and devastation," is a definitely frank espousal of the doctrine of "frightfulness." Cobden and Bright, "our calico friends," are mercilessly assailed in every number; Cobden in particular for his pamphlet, "What next, and next?" and for his servility to America. Peace came at the end of March, 1856, with its aftermath of criticism, dissatisfaction, discontent with the Peace terms, and fierce comments on generals and contractors, mismanagement and neglect of men and horses, and on the failure of the navy. Already the Sebastopol Blue Book had appeared—a painful document with "delay," "want of——" and "unaccountable neglect" appearing on every page. The discussion of the Peace Treaty in Parliament prompts Punch to mitigated "joy and satisfaction" over what he calls "Walewski's Treaty of Peace"; to praise Lord Malmesbury—no[Pg 133] favourite of his; to describe Lord Aberdeen as crawling out "like an old slug, now that the war-storm is over," to express his general approbation, tempered by his "preposterous love of Russia"; and to condemn Disraeli, the leader of the Opposition, for his ignominious silence in the Commons. The speeches by Lord Panmure in the Lords, and Lord Palmerston in the Commons, in moving the votes of thanks to our soldiers, sailors, marines, militia, and Foreign Legion, and those of the Leaders of the Opposition, who seconded them, were appropriate, but fell short of the merits of the theme. "Certain figures, given on official authority, tell the whole story of the two years' war with grim succinctness. We have lost 22,467 men, of whom but 3,532 died in battle or from wounds." Nothing is new: in emphasizing the demand that Russia must be made to pay the bill, and declaring that her attempts to evade the Treaty must be rigorously dealt with, Punch strikes a note all too familiar in the last two years and a half. His general attitude is summed up in the lines on "Rejoicings for Peace":—

Thank Heaven the War is ended!

That is the general voice,

But let us feign no splendid

Endeavours to rejoice.

To cease from lamentation

We may contrive—but—pooh!

Can't rise to exultation,

And cock-a-doodle-doo!

We can't pass now direct from grief to laughter,

Like supernumeraries on the stage,

To smiling happiness from settled rage;

We look before and after.

Before, to all those skeletons and corses

Of gallant men and noble horses;

After—though sordid the consideration—

Unto a certain bill to pay,

Which we shall have for many a day,

By unrepealable taxation.

Yet never fought we in a better cause,

[Pg 134]

Nor conquered yet a nobler peace.

We stood in battle for the eternal laws;

'Twas an affair of high Police,

Our arms enforced a great arrest of State;

And now remains—the Rate.

Friction with America over the dismissal of our Minister at Washington led to a remarkably frank open letter to President Pierce, of which the gist is: "Let us fight by all means if you will have it, but think what it means"; wholesome advice. On the other hand the temper of the Manchester Pacificists, who had taken to disparaging Sardinia and the cause of Italian liberty, à propos of the advance of a million pounds to Sardinia, prompted the invidious suggestion: "They possibly fear lest a blow struck anywhere for freedom should cause the countermand of a trade offer." Punch, in these days no longer Pacificist, hailed Sidney Herbert's Bill for improving the education of officers in the Army, and establishing a board to examine for commissions and promotions; but he was more enthusiastic over Sir Joseph Paxton's proposed inquiry into the barracks system, quoting with approval his remark that, while every prisoner in our gaols costs us £150 a year, "the soldier was the worst-lodged person in the Queen's Dominions."

Post-war parallels multiply at this period, the year 1856—in the recrudescence of crime and burglaries, and the garrotting scare; in wholesale criticism of Lord Palmerston. There is an excellent burlesque in the shape of an imaginary article from the Morning Herald on the execution of Palmerston on Tower Hill. Immediately after exulting over "Pam's" downfall, the writer passes to a fulsome adulation of the dead. Here, as so often time has proved, Punch was a prophet as well as a critic. Other familiar grounds for discontent are to be found in the Peace terms and undue leniency to Russia; in friction with France; wholesale speculation and peculation; unnecessary Parliamentary expenditure; and complaints of high prices, which, by the way, induced Punch to suggest abstinence as the best means of bringing down the price of sugar and butter. The return of the Guards is fitly honoured in July, and "The Nightingale's Return" in August:—

[Pg 135]

Most blessed things come silently, and silently depart;

Noiseless steals spring-time on the year, and comfort on the heart;

And still, and light, and gentle, like a dew, the rain must be,

To quicken seed in furrow and blossom upon tree.

So she, our sweet Saint Florence, modest, and still, and calm,

With no parade of martyr's cross, no pomp of martyr's palm,

To the place of plague and famine, foulness, and wounds and pain,

Went out upon her gracious toil, and so returns again.

When titles, pensions, orders, with random hand are showered,

'Tis well that, save with blessings, she still should walk undowered.

What title like her own sweet name, with the music all its own?

What order like the halo by her good deeds round her thrown?

Incapable Commanders

Lord Hardinge, the commander-in-chief, had been denounced as "the apex of incapacity," but Punch spoke kindly of that gallant old hero of the Peninsula on his resignation. He was "all bravery and kindness except when opposed to Court influence, and then he could neither snub great people nor stand up for the interests of the Army." With this statement we may bracket a useful obiter dictum on appointments generally: "Too much ability is demanded for the small places, and for the large places generally too little." No confidence is shown in the "whitewashing report" of the Chelsea Board of Inquiry into the charges brought against Lord Lucan, Lord Cardigan, and others. The Board was packed with "aristocratic officers," and its report is described as "a Chelsea Hospital salve for curing the reputations of Lucan, Cardigan, and Co."

Evidently Punch is in good satirical form, for he follows this sally a month later with an indignant article on the appointment of an earl's son, aged twelve, to be a Royal Page at £200 a year for four years, with a grant of £500 as outfit, and a lieutenancy in the Guards without purchase; and the simultaneous offer of a commission as ensign in a marching regiment to a heroic sergeant-major, aged forty, without money to purchase it. A bad case of "ragging" in the Guards comes in for severe castigation, and the dismissal of the offenders from the service is welcomed as a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, while he was a stern critic of[Pg 136] extravagant and ill-conditioned officers, Punch recognized the need of decent pay, and appealed for aid from the State to remedy the long-borne grievance. Amid the discordant chorus of criticism and discontent which arose on the conclusion of Peace, happier notes are sounded in the references to the initiation, on a comprehensive basis, of the Order of Valour. The principle adopted in its bestowal is set forth in the lines which appeared in the issue of February 23, 1856:—

Till now the stars and garters

Were for birth or fortune's son,

And as oft in snug home-quarters

As in fields of fight were won.

But at length a star arises,

Which as glorious will shine

On Smith's red serge vest as upon the breast

Of Smyth's scarlet superfine.

Too long mere food for powder

We've deemed our rank and file,

Now higher hopes and prouder

Upon the soldier smile.

And if no Marshal's bâton

Private Smith in his knapsack bears,

At least in the War, the chance of the star

With his General he shares.

The first distribution of the "V.C." by the Queen was not made until June 26, 1857, and in the same vein, but with greater dignity Punch strove to render justice to the occasion:—


Distributed by the Queen's Own Hand. June 26, 1857.

The fount of Honour, sealed till now

To all save claims of rank and birth,

Makes green the laurel on the brow

Ennobled but by soldier's worth.

Of these the bravest and the best

[Pg 137]

Who 'scaped the chance of shot and sword,

England doth, by her Queen, invest

With Valour's Cross—their great reward!

Marking her sense of something still,

A central nobleness, that lies

Deeper than rank which royal will,

Or birth, or chance, or wealth supplies.

Knighthood that girds all valiant hearts,

Knighthood that crowns each fearless brow;

That knighthood this bronze cross imparts—

Let Fleece, and Bath, and Garter bow!

The plainness of the cross aroused critical comment, to which expression was lent in the epigram, which has not lost its point yet:—

Here's Valour's Cross, my men; 'twill serve,

Though rather ugly—take it,

John Bull a medal can deserve,

But can't contrive to make it.

The Victoria Cross

But the very simplicity of the bronze cross has lent it distinction. Punch was on safer ground when he urged that doctors and firemen were well qualified to receive it; the Albert Medal, in recognition of acts of gallantry in saving life performed by anyone whatever, was not instituted till 1866. Punch's democratic bias is also agreeably shown in his plea on behalf of the artisans and artificers employed at the dockyards and arsenals, whose labours shortened the war, but who were thrown out of work on its conclusion. In answer to their petition for help to emigrate, it was intimated to them that the Government would help them if they would help themselves. The delay of the Government in fulfilling their side of the bargain, when the men had complied with this condition, gives occasion for a piece of sarcastic criticism on State parsimony. And in this context we may note the charming poem on Mother Seacole, the brave old sutler in the Crimea, beloved of all soldiers, who had fallen on evil days, but was relieved by public subscription, largely due[Pg 138] to the appeal in Punch's columns. Lastly, and to sum up this review, we may note the shrewd common sense of the timely article setting forth the pros and cons of Army Purchase, in which the writer emphasizes the need of a higher standard of brains and ability. Under the existing tradition, the abolition of purchase would probably mean promotion by influence—an equally vicious system. To alter the way of getting a commission was of no avail unless you altered the thing itself. Efficiency was not incompatible with purchase, but it was incompatible with "taking care of Dowb"—not the only reference in Punch to the historic telegram of Lord Panmure to Lord Raglan on behalf of his protégé and relative, Captain Dowbiggin.

[10] Punch welcomed Tennyson's famous poem, which originally appeared in the Examiner, but could not agree with the view expressed in "Maud" that war is better than peace, though he held that it might be the only way—as at the moment—to secure it.

[Pg 139]

[Pg 140]


[Pg 141]


The survey of London, as set forth in the pages of Punch seventy and eighty years ago, undoubtedly ministers to our complacency. Much that was picturesque has vanished, but the improvements in the state of the streets, in lighting, communications, and, above all, sanitation, cannot be easily overstated. In the early 'forties three methods of paving the streets were employed: stones, Macadam, and wood; and according to Punch they were all bad. The stones caused jolting, Macadam was muddy, while wood pavement, which was only partially used in a few favoured localities—the Poultry and Lombard Street—was a constant source of danger by reason of its slipperiness. The spectacle, so familiar in recent years, of horses skating on all four feet down inclines is noticed in the year 1849. Hansom, the architect, had taken out the patent for his safety carriage in 1834, and that strange vehicle, which Disraeli celebrated as "the Gondola of London," and which is now relegated to the position of a curiosity or a relic, was fully established in a popularity which lasted for half a century or more. To those like the present writer who have been in a hansom when one wheel came off, or the horse's belly-band broke, or who have been propelled against the glass when the horse came down, the wonder is that it lasted so long. Yet, on a fine day, it was a pleasing, if precarious, vehicle, and inspired an exiled poet in the 'eighties to say that he would "give a monarch's ransom for a Piccadilly hansom." The old four-wheeler or "growler" still lingers and emerges during strikes of taxi-drivers, but Punch, though he found the cabman swathed in capes a fertile theme for his pencil, in general regarded him as a rapacious and extortionate old bandit, and his cab a squalid and insanitary means of transit. The one-day[Pg 142] cab strike in 1853 grew out of the new Act fixing the fare at 6d. a mile. Under the new police regulations, whenever a dispute as to mileage occurred, both parties could deposit five shillings and have the matter decided by a magistrate. In one instance the cabman, not having five shillings, lost his case and was fined. A good deal of public sympathy, fostered by the Examiner, was enlisted on behalf of the cabman, but Punch was rigidly on the side of the public as against the proprietors of dirty cabs, miserable horses, and their abusive and rapacious drivers. The stringency of the regulations may be gathered from the lines on "A Civil Cabman's Sauce," based on a paragraph which appeared in The Times. A cabman had been sentenced by the Lord Mayor to twenty shillings or fourteen days for refusing to take a fare because he wanted his tea. The cabman had suggested that the fare might also require that refreshment. At this period, it may be also noted, cabmen were not allowed to smoke when on their stands. Towards its close an improvement in the cab service is acknowledged, but many years were to elapse before the institution of cab-shelters. As for the rapacity of cabmen, it was as water compared with wine when judged by the standard of taxi-drivers.

Man poking stick through roof of cab.


Lady discussing cab driver.

Amy (to Rose): "Good gracious, Rose, I'm afraid from the way the man talks that he is intoxicated!"

Cabby (impressively): "Beg pardon, Miss! N-n-not (hic) intossi—intossi-cated (hic)—itsh only shlight 'ped-ped-pediment in speesh, Miss!"

The Ancient Omnibus

Turning next to the 'buses, some of us are old enough to remember their dim interiors, the smell of damp, sodden straw[Pg 143] on the floors, and the perilous ascent to the roof by what was little better than a rope ladder. Still, we own to a sneaking regret for the old 'bus driver; to sit next him on the box-seat was a liberal education in the repartee of the road. The "knife-board," as the low partition against which outside passengers sat back to back was called, does not appear until after 1852. The slow speed of travel by 'bus is a constant source of satire; a journey to the remoter suburbs, if Punch is to be believed, took almost as long as it now takes to go to Exeter. Yet, with familiar inconsistency, he constantly rebukes the 'busmen for racing, especially on the route from Putney to St. Paul's. The miseries of the crowded interior, what with dogs, bundles, bird-cages, and wet umbrellas, are vividly described, and it was not until 1849 that fixed fares were introduced. Up till then the sum was left to the caprice of the conductor, or "cad." Competition brought improvement in the shape of a superior type of "saloon" 'bus, and towards the end of this period complaints against cabs and 'buses died down somewhat; but in comfort,[Pg 144] cleanliness, and speed, the difference between the public vehicles of 1857 and 1920 is immense. About the former year the reader will find a good description in "The Fine Old English Omnibus," of its discomforts, stuffiness and perils and the disagreeable qualities of the "cad" and driver. In one respect only, London was better served—on its waterway. The Thames passenger steamers were a great feature of the time. Not that they were above criticism; collisions were frequent, overloading was habitual, the conduct of the passengers was not above reproach, and in general the service was condemned as both risky and inefficient, and ranked along with smallpox and railroads as a remedy for over-population.

Conductoress with  bus full of infants.

FEMALE 'BUSES (A Prophecy)

The New Police Force

From vehicles one passes by a natural transition to those who were charged with the regulation of traffic, though its masterly control by the police had not yet been developed to the point at which it has frequently elicited the admiration of foreign visitors. The new policemen, who had been embodied under the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, when Peel was Home Secretary, were no special favourites of Punch in his early years, and his opinion of their efficiency may be gauged by his greeting the threat of their[Pg 145] strike with the remark that he did not think it would make much difference. Their relations with cooks—a fruitful source of satire—began to be a theme of ridicule in the late 'forties, and inspired in Punch "The Loves of the New Police," recounting the tragedy of a constable who forfeited his post owing to a fatal weakness for chops and stout.

Tall policemen arresting short persons.


We have spoken already of the postmen; for their dress in 1844 students of official costume may be referred to the picture overleaf.

As for lighting, gas was already in general, though by no means universal, use. The gasless condition of Kensington is bewailed in 1844; the bad lighting of Eaton Square in 1849. The use of electricity was foreshadowed, but that was all. For domestic purposes the commonest illuminant was "camphine," an oil distilled from turpentine. Miss Mulock in The Ogilvies speaks of it as being always either "too dull or too bright," and Punch is not enthusiastic as to its virtues. The agility of the street lamp-lighter lent point to a proverb which has become obsolete under modern conditions, for the lamp-lighter[Pg 146] has no longer need to climb and never runs. In 1844 Punch speaks of the Lucifer having replaced the Congreve—or "Congry" as it was vulgarly called—friction match; but the change of name was later, according to Mayhew and Charles Knight, who speaks of the penny box of Lucifer matches as "a triumph of science."

Postmen on parade.


Municipal Apathy

The linking-up of central with outlying London had hardly begun in the 'forties. Many of the nearer suburbs were then practically detached villages. Kensington was reached by a dark, badly-laid country road from Knightsbridge, where, till 1846, carters used to stop at the Half-way House, a little roadside inn, for their half-pint of porter and bit of bread and cheese. The isolation of Brook Green, Islington, Battersea Fields, even Chelsea, when a little allowance has been made for satiric license, was a real thing. Lord Ebury shot snipe in Pimlico in the 'twenties; and they probably frequented its swamps as late as the year 1840. What are now parks or residential quarters were then waste spaces or open fields. The "Pontine Marshes" of Shepherd's Bush, as Punch called them, have long been drained and covered with houses. But there were wildernesses[Pg 147] even in central London, notably Leicester Square and Lincoln's Inn Fields. The "dead seclusion" and unkempt appearance of Leicester Square was a standing reproach to Londoners. As for the terra incognita of Lincoln's Inn Fields, "the Metropolitan Bush," it only differed from Leicester Square because it was "invisible to the naked eye." The dirt and confusion and cruelty to animals which reigned in the region of Smithfield market, and are the subject of reiterated protests in Punch, belong to an unregretted past. Punch was a great Londoner. We talk of people being house-proud; he was city-proud, and it irked him to see historic squares and public places neglected or disfigured. For years and years his complaints go up against the interminable delays in the erection and completion of the Nelson memorial in Trafalgar Square, the lions that lingered, the fountains that would not play. They begin in 1844; in 1845 he calls Trafalgar Square "England's Folly," and eleven years later we read:—

In England, the growth of buildings, like that of its institutions, is exceedingly slow, if sure. Years are taken over a building that on the Continent would be run up in almost as many months. A celebrated German statistician has sent us the following incredible particulars:

To erect a Simple ColumnIt takes in England12
Ditto, with Lions, everything complete"24
To build a Common Bridge"15
Ditto a Suspension Bridge"25
Ditto Houses of Parliament"A trifle under 100

With statues, the same authority proceeds to say, they have a curious plan. They erect the pedestal first, and then leave it in one of their most public places to be ready for the statue of some celebrated man, when they have caught one. Thus, in Trafalgar Square, they have a pedestal that has been waiting for years. It is supposed to be for the COMING MAN, but apparently he is in no hurry to make his appearance.

"Britannia," Punch makes the remark, is assuredly "a great deal happier in her heroes than in her efforts to perpetuate[Pg 148] their memory." And six years later he adds: "We cannot make a statue that is not ridiculous ourselves, nor, although we invite foreign competition, is it likely that we shall get any other kind of statue made." In the same spirit of national self-criticism the following lines appear in 1851 on "The Nation and Its Monuments":—

The National Gallery holds its place

In Trafalgar's noble Square,

And being a national disgrace,

Will remain for ever there.

The Duke on the Arch was raised, in spite

Of all that the world could say;

And because he stands on an awkward site,

We, of course, shall let him stay.

The Palace of Glass is so much admired,

Both in Country and in Town,

That its maintenance is by all desired:

So we mean to pull it down.

London Changes and Improvements

In 1852 Punch gives a list of things indefinitely postponed, in which we find the completion of Nelson's pillar; the catalogue of the British Museum Library—Punch was no admirer of Panizzi, the librarian; the Reform of the City Corporations; the completion of the new Houses of Parliament; an omnibus that will carry a person quicker than he can walk; good water; cheap gas; perfect sewerage; and unadulterated milk. The campaign against Barry, the architect of the new Houses of Parliament, was conducted with a good deal of acrimony. Punch began by objecting to the cost, then to Barry's "long sleep," and later on to the expensive experiments in ventilation, and the darkness of the reporters' gallery. Nor was he less impatient over the delays in the completion of the Hungerford Suspension Bridge and the new Westminster Bridge—begun in 1854, eight years after the old bridge had been closed as dangerous, and opened in 1860. The future of the derelict Marble Arch moved him to frequent and caustic comment before its removal from outside Buckingham Palace[Pg 149] to its present site in 1850. As early as 1853 there was talk of removing Temple Bar, but this was not done till 1878. And the mention of Buckingham Palace recalls the fact that in 1857, when it was proposed to cut a carriage road through St. James's Park, there was no public road past the palace. The pelicans, which delight us to-day on their sadly-diminished lake, date back to the time of Charles II, who received a gift of these birds from the Tsar of Muscovy.

The record of new buildings, constructions, monuments, and "improvements" kept by Punch is not complete, but it serves to illustrate the changes between mid-Victorian and Georgian London. The Thames Tunnel, Brunel's pioneer work in the long series of subterranean engineering achievements which have transformed the under-crust of London, was opened in August, 1843, and on October 28, 1844, the Queen opened the new Royal Exchange amid civic junketings which caused "Q" (Douglas Jerrold) to deplore the absence of the sons of labour from a hollow pageant in which only merchant princes were represented. The reference to the two tall buildings at Albert Gate seems to indicate an apprehension even in those early days of the coming of skyscrapers, of which Queen Anne's Mansions are still the sole realization. Thackeray has a humorous poem on "The Pimlico Pavilion", which refers to the pavilion in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, a summer house with a central octagon room. In view of Punch's persistent attacks on the Court for neglecting native talent, it should be recorded that the task of filling the eight lunettes below the cornice with frescoes was entrusted to eight British artists, including Stanfield, Landseer, and Maclise, and that the subjects were all suggested by passages from Milton's Comus. On Wyatt's unfortunate colossal statue of the Duke of Wellington, erected opposite Apsley House in 1846, and replaced by Boehm's smaller equestrian statue in 1883, Punch heaped unstinted ridicule with pen and pencil. Nor was he less hostile in his criticisms on the "hideous models" submitted for the proposed memorial to the Iron Duke, when these designs were exhibited in 1857, describing them as "Nemesis in Plaster of Paris," and representing the French[Pg 150] Ambassador as telegraphing to his Government: "Waterloo is avenged."

The New Billingsgate buildings merely serve as an excuse for some jocular remarks on their supposed humanizing influence on the Billingsgate dialect.

But a good deal of space is devoted to Big Ben, his name and note (E natural), and the vicissitudes which attended his hanging in the Clock Tower. Of the references which abound in 1856, perhaps the most notable is the suggestion that the clapper should be named Gladstone, "as, without doubt, his is the loudest tongue in Parliament". The announcement in 1857 that a crack had been discovered in Big Ben led to an epigram in disparagement of Mr. Gladstone's rival, so Punch was able to have it both ways:—

Big Ben is cracked, we needs must own;

Small Ben is sane, past disputation;

Yet we should like to know whose tone

Is most offensive to the nation.

The Filthy Thames

The late Mr. Henry Jephson, L.C.C., published in 1907 an exhaustive work on "The Sanitary Evolution of London." He quotes Dickens's terrible description of one of the old intramural churchyards, but makes no mention of Punch's services in the cause of London sanitation. They certainly deserved and deserve recognition, for he spared no effort to bring home to a wider public than that reached by Blue Books and Reports the intimate and deadly connexion between dirt and disease. As early as the year 1842 we find in his pages this gruesome but unexaggerated pen-picture of the Thames and its tributaries:—

Vauxhall contributes lime, Lambeth pours forth a rich amalgam from the yards of knackers and bone-grinders, Horseferry liberally gives up all its dead dogs, Westminster empties its treasures into the mighty stream by means of a common sewer of uncommon dimensions, the Fleet-ditch bears in its inky current the concentrated essences of Clerkenwell, Field-lane, Smithfield, Cowcross—and is, by means of its innumerable branches, augmented by the potent[Pg 151] ingredients of St. Giles's, Somers-town, Barbican, St. Luke's, and the surrounding districts. The fluids of the Whitechapel slaughter-houses call in their transit through the Minories for the contributions of Houndsditch, Ratcliff Highway, Bevis Marks, and Goodman's Fields, and thus richly laden pour their delicious slime into the Thames by means of the Tower-ditch. Finally, the Surrey side yields the refuse of tar-works and tan-yards, and it is allowed by all, that the people of Deptford, Woolwich, and those situated in the lower course of the stream, get the Thames water (which here sustains six different characters) in the highest perfection.

Skeleton rowing a boat.


The cartoon, The "Silent Highway"-Man, was published in 1858, but it is, perhaps, the best of the many pictorial comments on the above text. The noisome state of the Serpentine—"a lake of mere manure"—constantly affronted Punch's sensitive nose. Insanitary Smithfield and squalid Covent Garden elicit dishonourable mention from the early 'forties onward. But[Pg 152] it was in 1849, the year of the cholera and typhus visitation, that his crusade against London filth—"Plague, Pestilence and Co."—began in earnest. The evil is traced to the triple source of bad drainage, overcrowded intramural burial grounds, and the unchecked pollution of the river. Punch salutes Mr. G. A. Walker, the author of "Gatherings from Graveyards," as a public benefactor for his zeal in endeavouring to secure the abolition of intramural interments, and tilts savagely at obstructive Boards of Guardians, vestry clerks, and extortionate undertakers, who profited by the maintenance of the abuse. He gives us an "Elegy written in a London Churchyard," on a victim of an epidemic brought on by preventable dirt; he exhibits "the water that John drinks"; he represents Hamlet soliloquizing in a London graveyard; and in 1849 he suggests the revision of street nomenclature in accordance with official acquiescence in the then existing dominion of dirt.

Though by no means an enthusiastic admirer of the Duke of Wellington, Punch confesses that he would like to see him appointed Sanitary Dictator. The Thames, with its "acres of cesspool," is likened to "a fetid Dead Sea." Yet Punch refused to lay the blame at the door of Lord John Russell or the Government, who were held guilty by the Morning Herald for the twelve thousand deaths from cholera in London. The real criminals were to be found elsewhere. The ravages of typhus and cholera in 1849 have been surpassed in recent years by those of influenza, but the toll was heavy, and heaviest among the poor:—

For three sad months Britannia mourned her children night and day,

For three sad months she strove in vain the pestilence to stay;

Medicine, helpless, groped and guessed, and tried all arts to save,

But the dead carried with them their secret to the grave.

Death sat at the gaunt weaver's side, the while he plied the loom;

Death turned the wasting grinder's wheel, as he earn'd his bread and doom;

Death, by the wan shirtmaker, plied the fingers to the bone;

Death rocked the infant's cradle, and with opium hushed its moan.

[Pg 153]

Child's room with bottle labelled opium.


King Cholera's Friends

The Metropolitan Internments Bill, introduced in 1850, was a much-needed reform, and furnished Punch with an occasion for free-spoken denunciation of "King Cholera's friends," Boards of Guardians, and other obstructives who "laugh to scorn doctors and drains, and uphold the great cause of dirt." His method of dealing with the offenders is generally direct: sometimes it takes the form of extravagant irony, as in the "account of my travels in search of self-government":—

What is it to me that fever is never absent from these places—that infants do not rear, and men die before their time—that sickness engenders pauperism—that filth breeds depression, and depression drives to drink? What do you mean by telling me that cholera slew in Rotherhithe its 205 victims in every 10,000, in St. Olave's its 181,[Pg 154] in St. Saviour's its 153, in Lambeth its 120, while in the Strand it carried off only 35, in Kensington 33, in Marylebone 17, and in Hampstead 8, out of the same number? Still, British landlords did what they liked with their own, and self-government is unimpaired. The satellites and slaves of an encroaching centralization are kept at arm's length, and if they have succeeded in putting down sewers, at least we have triumphed in not laying our house-drains into 'em.

It is with pride, therefore, I repeat, that whatever may be the case in the country (where I regret to see the hateful Public Health Act seems to be extending its ravages), in London we are still enjoying the enormous, the invaluable privileges of self-government, and that if Epidemic Cholera should visit us again, we may confidently show him to his old haunts in 1832 and 1849, and so convince him that, in this free country, he, too, is at liberty "TO DO WHAT HE LIKES WITH HIS OWN."

Two people looking at a fish and a turtle.


Punch naturally applauded the Bill brought in by Sir George Grey, in 1856, to reform the Corporations of London, but would[Pg 155] have preferred a more drastic measure, and warned the unrepentant City Fathers of the dangers of refusing to accept the liberal terms offered them.

London's Vanished Glories

Among the features of vanishing and now vanished London, the Fleet Prison has already been noticed. It passed "unwept, unhonoured, and unsung," save in the ironical valediction pronounced by Punch on the occasion of the sale of the materials of the prison in 1846. Holywell Street, swept away by recent improvements, was still reckoned as one of London's lions, though a dingy one at best. The glories of Vauxhall Gardens were expiring, and the Colosseum in Regent's Park, which, with its Panorama of London, statues, works of dubious art and Swiss scenery, was a precursor of the Earl's Court Exhibitions, had fallen on evil days, and was sold in 1843 by the famous George Robins, the "Cicero of auctioneers." For the splendour of Astley's Circus in the 'forties, Punch forms a useful commentary on the delightful mock ballads of Bon Gaultier. Gomersal, the famous equestrian impersonator of Napoleon, was going strong in 1844. His retirement to a hostelry at Hull in 1849 is attributed by Punch to disgust at the failure of Imperialism. Widdecomb, the illustrious ring-master, and the subject of many of Punch's pleasantries, earned the distinction of a mention by Browning, who refers to him as resembling Tom Moore, with his "painted cheeks and sham moustache," and he finds a niche in the Pantheon of the D.N.B. Astley's is the mere shadow of a name to the present generation, and only elderly Londoners can recall the delights of the Polytechnic as a place more of entertainment than instruction, with the tank and diving bell and electrifying apparatus, dear to mid-Victorian schoolboys in their Christmas holidays. These are duly chronicled by Punch along with the attractions of Rosherville Gardens, then presided over by Baron Nathan, one of the irregular impresario peers who do not appear in "Debrett," of whom the last representative was Lord George Sanger. Baron Nathan catered for a mixed audience, but as a director of dances he appealed to a fashionable clientèle. When Burnand wrote the libretto of Cox and Box in 1866, Rosherville was the paradise of the City clerk, witness Cox's song,

[Pg 156]

My aged employer, his whole physiognomy

Shining with soap like a star in astronomy,

Said "Mr. Cox, you'll oblige me and honour me

If you will take this as your holiday!"

Then visions of Brighton and back and of Rosherville—

Feeling the rain put on my mackintosh I vill, etc.

Brighton already justified its title of "London-on-Sea," and the volume of excursion traffic had begun to provoke complaints from the residents as likely to impair the amenities of the place. These complaints the democratic Punch denounced as snobbish; and he speaks of Brighton in 1841 as the home of half-pay officers with dyed whiskers. Later on, however, he takes a somewhat different view in his realistic pictures of the Semitic invaders.

Burlington Arcadia

The Pantheon in Oxford Street, where in its first phase as a theatre Miss Stephens, afterwards Countess of Essex, made her début on the stage, had since 1834 been reconstructed as a bazaar and picture gallery. Punch describes it in 1842 as a Zoo and National Gallery combined, with its conservatory, aviary, statues, and pictures. It was a pleasant cut for idlers in wet weather from Oxford Street to Marlborough Street. But its glories were but a pale reflex of the days when the building excited Walpole's enthusiasm, and Gibbon was a regular attendant of its "splendid and elegant" masquerades. After various vicissitudes the Pantheon was closed in 1867, and is now a wine warehouse. The Lowther Arcade, from the Strand to King William Street, was consecrated to the sale of toys. The present writer can remember it in the 'seventies, with stout and bearded shopmen blowing on tin trumpets and spinning tops for the allurement of passers by. It has disappeared, but the Burlington Arcade remains. Under the heading of "The Haunts of the Regent Street Idler," Punch gives a detailed account of its attractions in 1842:—

The covered passage through which the overland journey from Burlington Gardens to Piccadilly is generally performed so abounds in objects of amusement to the lounger that, in point of cheap happiness, it becomes a perfect Burlington Arcadia. He can pass a whole afternoon therein, with the additional comfortable feeling of[Pg 157] security from any unexpected shower. First of all he makes a regular inspection of every article in Delaporte's windows—from Gavarni's Charivari sketches, which have been there as far as the memory of the oldest lounger can reach, to the droll Diableries, and the Dames et Seigneurs de la Cour du Moyen Age, who rushed into publicity at the first whisper of the Queen's Fancy Ball. Then he listens to the dulcet notes of an accordion, which is perpetually playing in this favoured thoroughfare, whilst he saunters on to the fancy stationer's, and criticizes the water-colour albumified views of Venice and Constantinople, all neutral tint and burnt sienna; or falls in love with the impassioned head of La Esmeralda, and regrets such symmetrical young ladies do not dance about the streets at the present day; his attention only being withdrawn from the beautiful gipsy by two portraits of mortal angels in very low dresses, one of whom is asleep at one corner of the window, and the second combing her hair at the other. He peers into all the artificial flower shops, to see what hidden divinities are therein concealed by the bowers of tinted gauze and tinsel; and having admired the languishing ladies and very nice gentlemen in the hairdressers' windows, finally loses himself in an earthly paradise of painted snuff-boxes, parasols, popular music and perfumery, together with certain articles of ladies' dress, like dolls' pillows in convulsions, the display of which has always struck us as being a profane revelation of the arcana pertaining to the toilet of a beauty.

Covent Garden Theatre, as we know it, was not opened till May, 1858. Of its predecessors on the same site two were destroyed by fire, one in 1808, and the next in May, 1856, after a somewhat orgiastic bal masqué organized by Anderson, "the Wizard of the North," Gye's tenant at the time. This, by the way, was the third theatre burned down during Anderson's engagements, and the disaster led to a picture in Punch representing Mario, the famous tenor, mourning amid the ruins of the scenes of his many triumphs—an ingenious adaptation of the episode of Marius sitting as a refugee amid the ruins of Carthage. Punch was no lover of bals masqués, reckoning them among the things which they manage better abroad. Nor was he a friendly critic of Madame Tussaud, modestly housed at the Bazaar in Baker Street until the erection of the present building in 1884. Punch owned that admission to her show was a test of popularity, but he condemned the Chamber of Horrors as ministering to the cult of monstrosity, and compared[Pg 158] Madame Tussaud in 1849—the year before her death—to the witches who made wax models of those whom they wished to injure.

Transportable menagerie.


Chelsea buns are still with us, though it is declared in London Past and Present that the tradition of making them is lost; the "Original Bun House," at the bottom of Jews' Row, was taken down in 1839, but its memories linger in the early volumes of Punch. There is a good series entitled "The Gratuitous Exhibitions of London," one of which, "The Happy Family," lasted for forty years later. The present writer well remembers in his schoolboy days the wire safe on wheels, stationed at the corner of Trafalgar Square, near Hampton's shop, containing cats, mice, pigeons, rabbits, and small birds, very much as in Punch's picture. The nearest survival is the cage of fortune-telling birds one sees now and again. A charge[Pg 159] of twopence was made for admission to St. Paul's Churchyard, and this was a non-gratuitous exhibition which Punch bitterly resented, even to the extent of comparing it with Wombwell's Menagerie. The occasional raids of the aristocracy on Cremorne Gardens—which stood a little west of Battersea Bridge—have been described elsewhere. The gardens, which competed with Vauxhall as a scene for dancing, fireworks and various exhibitions—"The Siege of Gibraltar" was pyrotechnically reproduced in 1851—were not closed till 1877, soon after which date the house, built by the Earl of Huntingdon, and occupied as a private house by Lord Cremorne in the Regency, was pulled down and the grounds built over.

The Dominion of Din

Punch had a friendly feeling for the London street arab, whose sayings so often enliven his pages, and calls him the "small olive-branch of the great unwashed." But he was somewhat impatient of the tyranny of the tip-cat, battledore and shuttlecock, hopscotch and all street games which imperilled the safety of the elderly foot passenger. Professional mendicants he regarded with abhorrence, and waged unceasing war on Italian organ-grinders as an insolent and irremovable nuisance, as well as on German bands and all who maintained the dominion of unnecessary din. He would gladly have seen all street-cries abolished: the "elfin note of the milkman" had no charm for him. Here perhaps the sensitiveness and sufferings of John Leech were responsible for his antipathy. Mark Lemon wrote a letter to Mr. M. T. Bass, M.P., who brought in a Bill to regulate street music, in which he traced Leech's fatal illness to the disturbance of his nervous system by "the continual visitation of street bands and organ-grinders." Those readers who take an interest in the evolution of musical taste may be interested to know that in 1856 the popular tunes on the street organs were "The Ratcatcher's Daughter," "Annie Laurie," the serenade from Verdi's "Trovatore" and "The Red, White and Blue," a selection admirably representative of sport, sentiment, the prevalent Italianation of opera, and patriotism.

Shopgirl with a customer.


Shop Girl (who had been expected to procure Tennyson's "Miller's Daughter"): "No, Miss! We've not got the Miller's, but here's the 'Ratcatcher's Daughter,' just published!"

Beadles, Broadsheets and Advertisements

The Zoological Gardens had been opened in 1828 and were already a most popular resort; the hippopotamus at one time[Pg 160] almost rivalling "General" Tom Thumb as the most run-after celebrity. "Good David Mitchell," who was secretary to the Zoological Society from 1847 to 1859, was a prime favourite with Punch, and is never mentioned without a friendly word. But of all officials concerned with the administration of London none stood higher in his esteem than Sir Benjamin Hall, M.P. for Marylebone from 1837 to 1859, when he was created Lord Llandovery, President of the Board of Health in 1854, and Chief Commissioner of Works from 1855 to 1858. "Ben Hall's" services in adding to the amenities of the parks and introducing bands on Sundays were celebrated by Punch in prose and verse. It was he who brought in a Bill for the sorely needed better management of the Metropolis in March,[Pg 161] 1855, and Punch more than once applauded him for castigating the follies of the Central Metropolitan Board, whose vagaries in suggesting names for streets roused Punch's special ire in 1856. A nomenclator like the late Sir Laurence Gomme, who combined official authority with a fine historical sense, only emerges once in a century. Among the minor officials of the time beadles were conspicuous. Punch devotes a special article to those of the Burlington and Lowther Arcades, the Quadrant and the British Museum, but these gorgeous uniformed functionaries, splendid in scarlet and gold, are now only memories of the elderly or the aged. Gone, too, are the broadsheets, "dying speeches" and ballads of Catnach, the Seven Dials bookseller; gone also are the "mock auctions" which were held in the Strand up to the war. London had no picture-palaces in the 'forties and 'fifties, but there was an abundance of panoramas, which Punch noted as a reaction against the cult of dwarfs. The fogs cannot have been worse than those which prevailed for nearly a week one winter at the close of the 'nineties, but the smoke nuisance was perhaps more acute because entirely unregulated. Punch defended the intermission of postal deliveries on Sunday, on the ground that it promoted the blessed dullness of that day, and here at least the chronicler has no change to record. On the growth of the great modern art of advertising Punch is a most instructive commentator. As early as December, 1842, he printed an essay on its theory and practice in which the following passage occurs:—

The Kentish Herald lately contained the following notice: "Ranelagh Gardens, Margate—last night of Mount Vesuvius, in consequence of an engagement with the Patagonians." This is tragical enough; but The Times outdoes it in horror by informing us that "The Nunhead Cemetery is now open for general interment"; and immediately afterwards comes an advertisement of "The London General Mourning Warehouse, Oxford Street"; and then, to crown all, Mr. Simpson, of Long Acre, declares himself ready to make "Distresses in Town and Country, so as to give general satisfaction."

In 1847 Punch recurs to the subject in a spirit foreshadowing[Pg 162] the activities of that excellent society which of late years has striven to restrain the excesses of the advertiser:—

Advertisements are spreading all over England—they have crept under the bridges—have planted themselves right in the middle of the Thames—have usurped the greatest thoroughfares—and are now just on the point of invading the omnibuses. Advertising is certainly the great vehicle for the age. Go where you will, you are stopped by a monster cart running over with advertisements, or are nearly knocked down by an advertising house put upon wheels, which calls upon you, when too late, not to forget "Number One." These vehicles, one would think, were more than enough to satisfy the most greedy lover of advertisements, but it seems that there is such an extraordinary run for them that omnibuses are to be lined and stuffed with nothing else.

We have long acquiesced in this invasion of the sanctity of the omnibus. It is the desecration of the countryside that chiefly disgusts the fastidious of to-day.

[Pg 163]



[Pg 164]
[Pg 165]


At the time of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Caran d'Ache, the famous French artist—perhaps the greatest genius in his peculiar genre that our age has produced—published a wonderful design in which the parallel histories of France and Great Britain, during our Queen's reign, were summed up at a glance with masterly insight. Great Britain was represented by one person under two aspects: Queen Victoria as a girl and as an old woman; France by a long procession of figures: King, Prince President, Emperor, and the series of Presidents of the Republic. The stability of England and the fluctuations of France could not have been pictorially symbolized with greater point. The Victorian age is rightly named, for Queen Victoria in her virtues, her prejudices and limitations was, in many ways, its most commanding figure, and the personal devotion and respect she inspired in men differing so widely in temperament and outlook as Melbourne and O'Connell, Peel and Russell, Disraeli, Lord Salisbury and Lord Roberts, to mention no others, counted for much in securing the country against the violent upheavals from which our nearest neighbour suffered. Yet, when the wave of sentiment created by the romantic conditions under which a girl of eighteen was summoned to wear a crown had died down, the light that beat upon the throne was far from genial; it was often fierce. The controversy over the Ladies of the Bedchamber threatened to drag the Crown into the arena of party politics. The contention of the Tories was, in the main, sound and constitutional—that these appointments should not be made or maintained in such a way as to expose the Sovereign to influences hostile to the Government in power; and the Queen cannot be acquitted of a certain obstinacy in the assertion of[Pg 166] her rights. But the cry that the Tories were forcing her hand was vigorously taken up, and strange cross currents of feeling were developed, O'Connell's passionate outburst of loyalty being the strangest of all. It was one of the ironies of circumstance that, in the early years of her reign, the Queen's relations with Whig Ministers—always excepting Lord Palmerston—were far more cordial than with the Tories. Yet this was no guarantee for the popularity of the Court, and only those who are familiar with the history of the time can appreciate how unpopular it was. The middle-class element were not enamoured of the Whigs, but whatever they thought of the influence exerted by Lord Melbourne as the Queen's Mentor, they were not prepared to recognize any improvement when, on his retirement, the post was informally, but none the less effectually, filled by a German prince. The Queen's marriage was one of affection rather than policy, and Prince Albert had many excellent qualities. He was a highly educated, in some ways even a learned man; he was industrious, and his private character was without stain. It was not in human nature to expect that he should entirely efface himself in affairs of State; but he played the game better than he was given credit for, and on at least one occasion his intervention was quite contrary to that ascribed to him. At the same time he was lacking in charm and geniality; his manner was stiff, his conversation academic and occasionally gauche. His notions of sport were not those of an English sportsman, and he had a passion for devising new military uniforms. To put it bluntly, he was a foreigner, and the chief ground of the unpopularity of the Court was that it gave an unfair preference to everything foreign—language, art, music, letters—and consistently declined to encourage native talent. Satiric references to the royal patronage of foreigners begin in Punch's first volume. "Ride-a-cock horse" is turned into a florid Italian cavatina, and the words translated into Italian—"Su Gallo-Cavallo a Banburi Croce"—for the benefit of the nurse of the Princess Royal, Mrs. Ratsey, referred to as "a lady equally anxious with ourselves to instil into the infant mind an utter contempt for anything English." This sets the keynote to a series of complaints which[Pg 167] re-echo over many years. For the moment we may turn to Punch's extraordinarily frank comments, cast in the form of a burlesque of the ultra-loyal press, on the rapid growth of the royal nursery, à propos of the birth of the Prince of Wales:—


By the Correspondent of the Observer

The interesting condition of Her Majesty is a source of the most agonizing suspense to the Lord Mayors of London and Dublin, who, if a Prince of Wales is not born before their period of office expires, will lose the chance of being created baronets.

According to rumour, the baby—we beg pardon, the scion of the House of Brunswick—was to have been born—we must apologize again, we should say was to have been added, to the illustrious stock of the reigning family of Great Britain—some day last month, and of course the present Lord Mayors had comfortably made up their minds that they should be entitled to the dignity it is customary to confer on such occasions as that which the nation now ardently anticipates. But here we are at the beginning of November, and no Prince of Wales. We have reason to know that the Lord Mayor of London has not slept a wink since Saturday, and his lady has not smiled, according to an authority on which we are accustomed to rely, since Thursday fortnight. Some say it is done on purpose, because the present official is a Tory; and others insinuate that the Prince of Wales is postponed in order that there may be an opportunity of making Daniel O'Connell a baronet. Others suggest that there will be twins presented to the nation, one on the night of November 8, the other on the morning of the 9th, so as to conciliate both parties; but we are not disposed at present to pronounce a decided opinion on this part of the question. We know that politics have been carried most indelicately into the very heart of the Royal Household.[11] But we hope, for the honour of all parties, that the confinement of the Queen is not to be made a matter of political arrangement.

Ultra-Loyalty Burlesqued

This is followed up in the next issue by an equally audacious comment from the same fictitious correspondent:—

[Pg 168]


(By the Observer's own Correspondent)

It will be seen that we were not premature in announcing the probability of the birth of a Prince of Wales; and though it was impossible that anyone should be able to speak with certainty, our positive tone upon the occasion serves to show the exclusive nature of all our intelligence. We are enabled now to state that the Prince will immediately take, indeed he has already taken, the title of the Prince of Wales, which it is generally understood he will enjoy—at least if a child so young can be said to enjoy anything of the kind—until an event shall happen which we hope will be postponed for a very protracted period. The Prince of Wales, should he survive his mother, will ascend the throne; but whether he will be George the Fifth, Albert the First, Henry the Ninth, Charles the Third, or Anything the Nothingth, depends upon circumstances we are not at liberty to allude to at present, nor do we think we shall be enabled to do so in a second edition.

Our suggestion last week, that the royal birth should take place on Lord Mayor's Day, has, we are happy to see, been partially attended to; but we regret that the whole hog has not been gone, by twins having been presented to the anxious nation, so that there might have been a baronetcy each for the outgoing and incoming Lord Mayors of London and Dublin.

[Pg 169]

Old woman who lived in a shoe, with children.


"There was a Royal Lady who lived in a shoe,

She had so many children she didn't know what to do."

This vein is further developed in burlesque bulletins of the progress of the infant Prince. Punch's serious views as to the Prince's future are to be found in his "Pæan to the Princelet" and its sequel, inspired by the Royal Christening in February, 1842:—


The little Prince must love the poor,

And he will heed the cry

Of the pauper mother, when she finds

Her infant's fountains dry.

He'll fill the cruse, and bruise the ear,

To make those founts o'erflow,

For they have vow'd our little Prince

No "vanities" shall know.

And we will rattle our little bell,

And laugh, and dance, and sing as well—

Roo-too-tooit! Shallaballa!

[Pg 170]

Life to the Prince! Fallallalla!

And death's dark bones will then become

Like iv'ry pure and white!

His blood-dyed robe will moulder off,

And his garments be as light;

For man will slaughter man no more

For wrong begot by wrongs,

For our little Prince will say—"To me

Nor life nor death belongs."

So we will rattle our little bell,

And laugh, and dance, and sing as well—

Roo-too-tooit! Shallaballa!

Life to the Prince! Fallallalla!

But while taking the Prince's future very seriously, Punch could not emulate those writers in the Press who, with goose-quill in hand, could not approach the ordinary trials from which even Royal infants are not exempt, save on their knees:—

It has been announced to the public, through the medium of the Press, that a most important epoch has arrived in the life of the Prince of Wales. It is a strange fact, that this "important epoch" has not been noted in the biography of any previous Prince of Wales; for we look in vain through the pages of Hume and Smollett, Rapin, Lingard, Miss Julia Corner, and indeed every other corner within our reach, without being able to ascertain when Edward the Black Prince was driven from the breast to the bottle. The Heir Apparent to the English throne has, we are told, been lately subjected to this frightful vicissitude; and though his Royal Highness is said to have borne it tolerably well, it will appear that while he took to the pap-spoon with princely fortitude, there was something of the infant perceptible in his mode of first receiving it.

When another Princess was born in 1843, we read that "there were some apprehensions that the nasal organ of the Heir Apparent might be affected by the birth of a younger sister, but we are happy to say that there are no symptoms of a derangement of the Prince's proboscis at present," also that Donizetti had been requested to arrange a series of concertos for the penny trumpet, and had sent to the Prince one on the noble theme of "This little pig went to market" to the Italian words:—

[Pg 171]

Questo piccolo porco

E andato al mercato.

Questo piccolo porco

E a casa restato.

Questo piccolo porco

Ha avuto del rosbief per pranza.

Questo piccolo porco

Niente ebbe nel sua stanza.

These familiar jocularities, redeemed by their general good humour from the charge of disrespect, are harmless compared with the sustained campaign of ridicule directed against Prince Albert as tailor and sportsman. German sovereigns and princes have always been great on uniforms, and Prince Albert undoubtedly suffered severely from this hereditary failing. A concise biography in the Almanack for 1842 states that he was born on August 26, 1819, and afterwards invented "a shocking bad hat for the British Infantry, but England refused to put her Foot in it." From this time onward the attacks are constant and malicious. The Prince's bell-shaped hat repeatedly figures in cartoons. He "bresents his gompliments" to Herzog Jenkins (of the Morning Post), for whom he has "gomposed a dugal goronet."

Prince Albert as Tailor

In the following year there is a cartoon representing the Prince in his sartorial studio surrounded by designs and models; the following comment is associated with the cartoon:—

Ever since the accession of Prince Albert to the Royal Husbandship of these realms, he has devoted the energies of his mind and the ingenuity of his hands to the manufacture of infantry caps, cavalry trousers, and regulation sabretaches. One of his first measures was to transmogrify the pantaloons of the Eleventh Hussars; and as the regiment alluded to is Prince Albert's Own, His Royal Highness may do as he likes with his own, and no one could complain of his bedizening the legs of the unfortunate Eleventh with scarlet cloth and gold door-leather. When, however, the Prince, throwing the whole of his energies into a hat, proposed to encase the heads of the British soldiery in a machine which seemed a decided cross between a muff, a coal scuttle, and a slop pail, then Punch was compelled to interfere, for the honour[Pg 172] of the English army. The result has been that the headgear has been summarily withdrawn by an order from the War Office, and the manufacture of more of the Albert hat has been absolutely prohibited.

Gigantic cartoon goose.


Prince Albert as Sportsman

The campaign reached its height in 1845 when Punch was given an irresistible opportunity on the occasion of the Prince being entertained by the Merchant Tailors. The Prince, Punch averred, was a born tailor, the Prince of Tailors, the true British tailor. He sought to make the British Army invincible by rendering them so comical that, by coming rapidly on the enemy, they might convulse him with laughter and paralyse his defence. He had fraternized with the Goose of Great Britain, and might sit cross-legged in the eyes of posterity. After this[Pg 173] outburst of derision Punch gave the Prince a rest as tailor, but took up the running—or baiting—with renewed energy against his sportmanship. Punch, it may be noted, was not an unmitigated admirer of field sports; he denounced otter hunting as cruel, and more than once protested against officers and others who rode their horses to death for a wager. It was part of the humanitarianism which impelled him to support the abolition of capital punishment, though here his argument was based on the view that death was a release for the murderer, who was more effectually punished by being kept in life-long penance for his crime. Punch was never an enemy of fox hunting. Doubtless the influence of Leech counted for something. But the organized slaughter of game filled him with disgust, and the exploits of the Prince in the Highlands in the autumn of 1842 prompted the first of many tirades.

Stag Slaughter at Gotha

The pheasant battues at Drayton, when the Queen and Prince Albert were the guests of Sir Robert Peel, are treated in the same spirit, and the Ballad of Windsor Chase, with its grotesque illustration of fat beagles and obese hares, the Prince on horseback, and the Queen in her pony phaeton, carries on the satire in this fashion:—

Six hares alive were taken out

Each in its canvas sack;

And five as dead as mutton, in

The same were carried back.

The battue of hares at Stowe during the Prince's visit to the Duke of Buckingham in January, 1845, is the subject of another derisive ballad modelled on John Gilpin, and of a cartoon showing the Prince shooting down the tame quarry point-blank from an easy chair. The grand climax to this raillery, however, was reached during the Royal visit to Germany in September, when the stag hunt at Gotha was scarified with pen and pencil. In two parallel cartoons of "Court Pastimes" are contrasted the bear-baiting under Elizabeth with the butchery of stags under Victoria; and the hand of Thackeray is unmistakable in the "Sonnick, sejested by Prince[Pg 174] Halbert gratiously killing the Staggs at Sacks-Cobug-Gothy":—

Some forty Ed of sleak and hantlered dear

In Cobug (where such hanimmles abound)

Were shot, as by the nusepapers I hear,

By Halbert Usband of the British Crownd.

Britannia's Queen let fall the purly tear;

Seeing them butchered in their silvn prisns;

Igspecially, when the keepers, standing round,

Came up and cut their pretty hinnocent whizns.

Suppose, instead of this pore Germing sport,

[Pg 175]

This Saxn wenison which he shoots and baggs,

Our Prins should take a turn in Capel Court

And make a massyker of English Staggs.[12]

Pore Staggs of Hengland! Were the Untsman at you,

What avoc he would make and what a trimenjus battu!


Bear baiting in bear pit.


Victoria at a killing.


Even more lacerating is the use made in the same number of the comment of a loyal eye-witness quoted by the Standard:—


The Standard gives the following extract of a letter from Gotha to a gentleman in London:—

"This (the deer killing) was very shocking. The Queen wept[Pg 176] I saw large tears in her eyes: and Her Majesty tells me that she with difficulty kept the chair during what followed. When the Queen saw the otter hunt in Scotland, the pity that she naturally felt at the death of the animal was counterbalanced by a knowledge of his propensities, so that it is almost as meritorious to destroy an otter as it is a snake; but this was a totally different case; nor is Her Majesty yet recovered. For the Prince, the deer were too numerous, and must be killed. This was the German method; and no doubt the reigning Duke will distribute them to his people, who will thank Prince Albert for providing them venison."

[Pg 177]

Victoria with  a distressed albert.


"Tell me, oh tell me, dearest Albert, have you any Railway Shares?"

This incident marked the high-water level of Punch's anti-Albertianism—at any rate, in the domain of sport; we find an address of condolence to the Prince on the conclusion of the shooting season a year and a half later, but, in the main, the criticisms of the Royal Consort henceforth are founded on other grounds of dissatisfaction. What infuriated Punch even more than the ineptitudes of the Court was the fulsome adulation of the Lickspittle-offs of the Press, who were prepared, not only to defend, but to eulogize them. "The amount of good that Royalty can effect in this country is astonishing," Punch frankly admits, while caustically adding: "only less astonishing than that which it has yet to do." But between a generous acknowledgment of what could be done by royal example (as, for instance, its discouragement of gambling) and the "insanity of loyalty," there was an immense gulf, and Punch was never weary of gibbeting those writers in and out of the Press who thought they "could best oppose the questioning spirit of the time—questioning, as it does, the 'divinity' that hedges the throne—by adopting the worse than foolish adulation of a bygone age." Assuredly, the absolute reductio ad absurdum of this courtiership was reached when the Queen was extolled for behaving as any reasonable woman would:—

The excessively loyal man has the ugliest manner of paying a compliment. He evidently takes his king or queen as a carved log dropped from the skies, or he would not marvel as he does when the aforesaid image shows any touch of life or human sympathy. If his idol perform the commonest act of social courtesy, he roars—"what condescension!" If it display the influence of affections,[Pg 178] he screams—"a miracle!" Her Majesty, on her arrival at Windsor from Scotland, has her babies immediately brought to her: whereupon, says The Atlas—"The woman and the mother for a moment proclaimed the supremacy of nature over the etiquette of a court, and the splendour of a diadem!"

What very ill-breeding on the part of "nature"—but then, we presume, she is such a stranger at courts! Was there no Gold Stick in Waiting to show the baggage to the door?

The same offender is brought to book in the following issue for deprecating royal excursions by railway:—

The Atlas thus sermonizes upon Royalty "by the rail":—

"We are aware that every precaution is taken by the directors and managers of the Great Western Railway, when Her Majesty makes use of a special train, and we are not less acquainted with the courage and absence of all fear from the mind of the Queen. But a long regency in this country would be so fearful and tremendous an evil, that we cannot but desire, in common with many others, that these royal railway excursions should be, if possible, either wholly abandoned or only occasionally resorted to."

There is danger by the railway; and therefore, says The Atlas, the Queen should be only "occasionally" exposed to it. Say the chances against accident are as nineteen to twenty, shall the Queen "take a chance"? "Yes," says loyalty, "the Queen may occasionally take a chance!"

Punch, as the accompanying cartoon shows, refused to take a serious view of railways where Royalty was concerned, and went to the length of maliciously insinuating that Prince Albert, wearying of his rose-leaf fetters, had been indulging in a "flutter" on the Stock Exchange.

Syncophancy Rebuked

Criticism of the Court on the one hand and obsequious toadyism on the other were much more pronounced eighty years ago. The later vice is well rebuked in the fictitious Royal Proclamation issued in connexion with the Queen's visit to Scotland in the autumn of 1844. It will be noticed that here, as on so many occasions, Punch adopted the device of assuming that the exalted personages adulated resented the adulation:—

Her Majesty has just issued a Proclamation, of which Punch has been favoured with an early copy.

[Pg 179]

WHEREAS, on each and every of Our Royal Movements, it has been, and is the custom of sundry weakly-disposed persons known as "our own correspondents," "our private correspondents," and others, to write, and cause to be printed, absurd and foolish language, touching Ourself, Our Royal Consort, and Beloved Babies—it is Our Will and Pleasure that such foolish practices (tending as they really do to bring Royalty into contempt) shall be discontinued; and that from henceforth, all vain, silly, and sycophantic verbiage shall cease, and good, straightforward, simple English be used in all descriptions of all progresses made by Ourself, our Royal Consort, and Our Dearly Beloved Children. And FURTHERMORE, it shall be permitted to Our Royal Self to wear a white shawl, or a black shawl, without any idle talk being passed upon the same. AND FURTHER, Our Beloved Consort shall, whenever it shall so please him, "change his round hat for a naval cap with a gold band," without calling for the special notice of the Newspapers, AND FURTHER, That Our Beloved Child, the Princess Royal, shall be permitted to walk "hand in hand" with her Royal Father, without exciting such marked demonstrations of wonderment at the familiarity, as have been made known to Me by the public Press.

BE IT KNOWN, That the Queen of England is not the Grand Lama; and FURTHER BE IT REMEMBERED that Englishmen should not emulate the vain idolatry of speech familiar in the mouths of Eastern bondmen.


Given at Blair Athol,

September 16, 1844.

In this context should be noted the constant criticisms of the Court Circular—the ironical suggestions that it should be published in French or Italian,[13] and the castigation, under the heading "Genteel Christianity," of the announcement of the confirmation of the "juvenile nobility and gentry" by the Bishop of London in the Chapel Royal, St. James's.

Five years later we come across a truly delightful suggestion, prompted by the vacancy in the Laureateship, for the employment of the new occupant of the post:—

... The chief difficulty we see about the office, is the fact of there being nothing to do in it. The virtues of our Queen are[Pg 180] of too matter-of-fact a sort, and of too everyday occurrence, to be the subject of mere holiday odes, or, indeed, of fiction in any shape. If any duties are to be attached to the Laureateship, we would propose that they should consist of the task of giving a poetical turn to that otherwise very dull and uninteresting affair, the Court Circular, which fills the somewhat contemptible duty of Paul Pry in constant attendance on what ought to be the domestic privacy of royalty. As an illustration of what we mean, we give the following specimen:—

This morning at an early hour,

In Osborne's peaceful grounds,

The Queen and Prince—'spite of a shower—

Took their accustomed rounds.

With them, to bear them company,

Prince Leiningen he went,

And with the other royal three,

The Duchess, eke, of Kent.

His Royal Highness Prince of Wales

Went forth to take the air;

The Princess Royal, too, ne'er fails

His exercise to share.

On the young members of the flock

Was tenderest care bestowed,

For two long hours by the clock

They walked—they ran—they rode.

Calmly away the hours wear

In Osborne's tranquil shade,

And to the dinner-party there

Was no addition made.

Judge-Advocate Sir D. Dundas

Having returned to town,

The Royal family circle has

Settled serenely down.

It is not too much to assume that Punch's ridicule assisted in eliminating some, at least, of these excrescences on the official record of life at Court.

We may pass over the chaff of Prince Albert as a farmer, and of his prize pigs and oxen. The bestowal of the D.C.L. degree at Cambridge in October, 1843, is treated with acidulated[Pg 181] satire, and in his imaginary speech in dog-latin the Prince presents the University with a new academic cap (novus pileus academicus) of his own designing. A month later the Prince's gratuitous distribution, through the clergy, of Professor Buckland's pamphlet on the treatment of the potato—on the eve of the Irish famine—is described as a mockery to hungry people, "but then Princes are such wags," adds Punch. The much-canvassed appointment of the Prince as Chancellor of Cambridge University in 1847 led to sardonic comment:—

Nothing in England has been thought too good for the members of this happy family; but really it is rather too humiliating when we begin to express our doubts whether we can find anything, among the most venerable of our institutions, good enough to place at the feet of a Prince of Saxe-Gotha.

The Prince of Bricklayers

But though the compliment is left-handed, there are symptoms of a friendlier tone in the parallel between Prince Hal (Henry V) and Prince "Al." Punch, furthermore, congratulates the Prince on giving up the hat-business, interesting himself in the welfare of the working classes, and contributing by his speeches and subscriptions to the advancement of social reform. A year later he is saluted as the Prince of Bricklayers:—

His Royal Highness is now always laying the foundation stone of some charitable institution or other.... The services of Her Majesty's Consort ought to be duly requited, and Punch, in order to reward him in kind, hereby spreads the mortar of approbation with the trowel of sincerity, upon a Prince who really appears to be coming out like a regular brick.

But, as we have noted elsewhere, it was the Exhibition of 1851 which, more than anything else, tended to enhance the Prince's repute and popularity. It was a great and fruitful idea—and the Prince was its only begetter. The speech of the Prince Consort in explaining the significance of the Exhibition as the realizing of the solidarity of the world, Thackeray's May Day Ode, which appeared in The Times, and other utterances in the Press show, as Professor Bury points out in The Idea of Progress, that "the Exhibition was,[Pg 182] at the time, optimistically regarded not merely as a record of material achievement and technical progress, but as a demonstration that humanity was at last on its way to a better and happier state.... A vista was suggested, at the end of which far-sighted people might think they discerned Tennyson's 'Federation of the World.'" Punch never failed to give the Prince the credit of initiating the scheme, and, after a little wavering, gave it his enthusiastic support. The change in public opinion towards the Prince is well reflected in the frank but friendly palinode which appeared in the issue of November 26, 1853, as a result of the suggestion made by City magnates to erect a statue to the Prince in Hyde Park:—


Illustrious and excellent brother,

Don't consider me rude or unkind,

If, as from one Prince to another,

I give you a bit of my mind—

And I do so with all the more roundness,

As your conduct amongst us has shown

A propriety, judgment and soundness

Of taste, not surpassed by my own.

You've respected John Bull's little oddities,

Never trod on the old fellow's corns;

Chose his pictures and statues—commodities

Wherein his own blunders he mourns.

And if you're a leetle more German

In these than I'd have you—what is't

Beyond what a critic may term an

Educational bias or twist?

You have never pressed forward unbidden;

When called on you've never shown shame,

Not paraded, nor prudishly hidden

Your person, your purse, or your name;

You've lent no man occasion to call you

Intruder, intriguer, or fool;

Even I've not had often to haul you

[Pg 183]

O'er the coals, or to take you to school.

All this, my dear Prince, gives me boldness—

Which, au reste, our positions allow—

For a hint (which you'll not charge to coldness,

After all I have written just now):

Which is to put down certain flunkies,

Who by flatt'ry your favour would earn,

Pelting praise at your head, as at monkeys

Tars throw stones—to get nuts in return.

Then silence your civic applauders,

Lest better men cease from applause.

He who tribute accepts of marauders,

Is held to be pledged to their cause.

Let no Corporate magnates of London

An honour presume to award:

Their own needs, till ill-doings be undone,

Little honour to spare can afford!

Prince Punch to Prince Albert

A little later on, on the eve of the Crimean War, Punch was evidently impressed by the alleged interference of the Prince in high affairs of State. The cartoon of January 7, 1854, represents the Prince skating on thin ice marked "Foreign Affairs—Very Dangerous," and Mr. Punch shouting to him; and in the same issue the lines "Hint and Hypothesis" warn the Prince against shifting his tactics and adopting the rôle of an intriguer. These rumours were so persistent that Lord Aberdeen felt it necessary to allude to them in the House of Lords at the opening of the Session, declaring that not only was there no foundation for the charge that the Prince had interfered with the Army or the Horse Guards, but that he had declined the suggestion of the Duke of Wellington that he should succeed him as Commander-in-Chief. His interest in the Army was naturally keen, but it was general. That he was the adviser of the Queen, in his capacity of husband and most intimate companion was beyond all doubt, but Lord Aberdeen vigorously maintained that he had never uttered a single Syllable in the Council which had not tended to the honour, the interest, and the welfare of the country. Still suspicion was not wholly appeased, and Punch's references to the Prince during[Pg 184] the Crimean War were none too friendly. In 1855 he is credited with the intention of heroically resigning his Field Marshal's bâton and pay, as a "noble beginning of Military Reform," in response to the public cry for the dismissal of "incompetent nobility." And at the end of the year his desire to go to the Crimea is made the subject of ironic remonstrance. As a matter of fact, the reader of to-day must be told, the intention and the desire were both inventions of Punch, who was playing his favourite game of attributing to exalted personages resolves and actions which they never contemplated, but which he wanted them to make or take, and which if they had taken, he would probably have criticized as unnecessary and injudicious. Even more malicious was the picture of Punch regarding a portrait of the Prince, exhibited in the Academy of 1857, in Field Marshal's uniform, and saying to himself, "What sanguinary engagement can it be?" Punch cannot be acquitted of treating the Prince Consort—as he only now began to be generally called—with less than justice in view of the difficult and delicate position he occupied. The impression was given that the Prince wanted to meddle in the conduct of the War, and that it was necessary to prevent him from making himself a nuisance by going to the front. And mixed with this was the impression, which these cartoons and comments prompted, that the Prince was making a request which he knew would be refused; that, in short, he was at once vain-glorious, insincere, and self-protective. It was not the first time Punch had been unjust to the Prince: he had failed to recognize him as a powerful ally in the campaign against duelling in 1843. In the main, however, it may be urged that ridicule gave place to criticism in the latter years of the Prince's life; but the revulsion of feeling in Punch—and the public—did not set in until after his death. Like Peel, the Prince Consort had to die before his services to the country were recognized.

[Pg 185]

Queen surrounded by mythical creatures,

Queen Butterfly received by Lord Grasshopper—Monday, October 28, 1844.

As the Prince Consort was, often without just grounds, the chief cause of the unpopularity of the Court and the favourite target of satire, we have given him priority in this survey. But, quite apart from the influence which he exerted, or was supposed to exert, upon her, the Queen was by no means exempt from[Pg 186] direct censure, remonstrance, and exceedingly frank criticism. In one respect, however, the Queen was treated with invariable consideration. Even in his most democratic days Punch never caricatured the Sovereign. The portraits of the Queen are always pleasant, even flattering. Witness the delightful picture of her visit to the City in 1844. Though Punch's pen was sharp his pencil was kind, though at times extremely familiar, as in the prophetic cartoon published under the heading, "A Royal Nursery Rhyme for 1860[14]":—

There was a Royal Lady who lived in a shoe,

She had so many children she didn't know what to do.

As early as the Christmas number of 1842 Punch had given "the arrangements for the next ten years of the Royal family," with the names and titles of eleven princes and princesses! In the spring of 1843 he comments, with mock sympathy, on the Queen's liability to income tax. More serious is the charge, brought in his favourite oblique fashion, against the Queen for the neglect of her duties.—


Punch has been greatly shocked by a very treasonable letter in the columns of The Times. Whether Punch's friend, the Attorney General, has had the epistle handed over to him, and contemplates immediate proceedings against "C. H.," the traitorous writer, Punch knows not; but after this information, the distinguished law-officer cannot plead ignorance of the evil, as an apology for future supineness. The letter purports to be a remonstrance to our sovereign lady, the Queen; in a measure, accusing Her Gracious Majesty of a certain degree of indifference towards the interests of London trade, of literature, the arts and sciences. The rebel writes as follows:—

"Buckingham Palace is neither so agreeable nor salubrious a residence as Windsor, but neither is the crown so pleasant to wear as a bonnet. I trust it is not necessary to remind Queen Victoria that royalty, like property, has its duties as well as its rights. One of these duties is to reside in the metropolis of the kingdom, the presence of the sovereign in the capital being essential on many occasions. I could enumerate other duties of the sovereign, such, for instance, as conferring fashion on public entertainments that[Pg 187] deserve to be encouraged by attending such places of amusement, and countenancing science, literature and the arts, by honouring distinguished professors with marks of approbation; in which respect it is much to be regretted there is too much room for those remarks on the remissness of Her Majesty in these respects that are so frequently made in society. When we know how much discontent, engendered by widely spread and deeply-felt distress is expressed by persons not to be numbered among 'the lower classes,' it is not without alarm that the influence of these acts of omission on the part of Queen Victoria can be regarded; and it becomes the duty of every friend of the monarchy and the constitution to warn the Sovereign of the danger, not merely to her personal popularity, but to the feeling of loyalty to the throne, that is likely to accrue from such neglect."

In these years, and for a good many years to come, Punch hunted in couples with The Times.

Neglect of Native Talent

The neglect of native talent and the encouragement of foreign artists, musicians, men of letters, is harped upon in number after number for year after year. Here again the method is sometimes direct, sometimes oblique, as in the fictitious list of people invited to the Court: Dickens, Hood, Mrs. Somerville, and Maria Edgeworth. Another opportunity was when it was announced that the Danish Royal family had attended the funeral of Thorwaldsen in deep mourning, Punch exclaims, "imagine for a moment English Royalty in deep mourning for departed genius!" The often-repeated visits of "General Tom Thumb" to Court in 1844 made him very angry. At the second "command" performance the General "personated Napoleon amid great mirth, and this was followed by a representation of Grecian statues, after which he danced a nautical hornpipe, and sang several of his favourite songs" in the presence, as Punch notes, of the Queen of the Belgians, daughter of Louis Philippe. But Punch had his revenge on this curious and deep-rooted interest of Royalty in dwarfs—Queen Isabella of Spain had one permanently attached to her staff—by indulging in a delightful speculation on the happy results that would have ensued if George IV, like General Tom Thumb, had stopped growing at the age of five months:—

[Pg 188]

How much we should have been spared had George IV only weighed 15 lbs. and stopped at 25 inches! How much would have been saved merely in tailors' bills, and how many pavilions for his dwarf majesty might have been built at a hundredth part of the cost that was swallowed by the royal folly at Brighton!

The Georges, it may be remarked, were no favourites of Punch, nor was this to be wondered at when one recalls their treatment at the hands of Thackeray, the least democratic member of the staff. Punch considered that Brummell was a better man than his "fat friend," and consigned the latter to infamy in the following caustic epitaph, one of a series on the Four Georges:—


He left an example for age and for youth

To avoid.

He never acted well by Man or Woman,

And was as false to his Mistress as to his Wife.

He deserted his Friends and his Principles.

He was so ignorant that he could scarcely spell;

But he had some skill in cutting out Coats,

And an undeniable Taste for Cookery.

He built the Palaces of Brighton and of Buckingham,

And for these Qualities and Proofs of Genius,

An admiring Aristocracy

Christened him the "First Gentleman in Europe."

Friends, respect the KING whose Statue is here,

And the generous Aristocracy who admired him.

In the same year Punch, with malicious inventiveness, represented Queen Victoria in the act of unveiling a great statue to Shakespeare on Shakespeare Cliff, adding as her epitaph: "She rarely went to the Italian Opera and she raised a statue to Shakespeare." In these agilities The Times again proved a useful ally, for in the same number we find the following:—


A traitor, who signs himself "Alpha," and writes in The Times, writes thus:—

[Pg 190]

"It is no use to conceal the fact—British high art is hated at Court, and dreaded by the aristocracy. They don't want it; they can't afford it; they think any art, which does not cultivate their vanity or domestic affections, can have no earthly use!"

We trust that the writer of the above will be immediately committed to the Tower, there, in due season, to be brought to the block.

[Pg 189]

Overcrowded room full of ladies.


It was a letter in The Times that again prompted Punch's remonstrance, in July, 1845, against the Queen's preference for French milliners, and an historical contrast is rubbed in by the article on the imaginary "Royal Poetry Books," or didactic poems, for the benefit of the Royal infants, of which two specimens may be quoted:—


There was a new Singer of Italy

Who went through his part very prettily;

"Mamma tinks him so fine,

We must have him to dine!"

Papa remarked slily and wittily.


There was an old Singer of Avon,

Who, Aunty Bess thought, was a brave one;

But Mamma doesn't care

For this stupid swan's air,

Any more than the croak of a raven.

Scene from mythology.

Calypso, Q——n V——a; Ulysses, K—g of the F——h.

Royal Visits and Visitors

The Court was certainly not addicted to extravagance, but the Queen's "bal poudré" in June is heavily ridiculed, largely, no doubt, because of Punch's frequently expressed conviction that the British never shone as masqueraders. Cobden's speech in 1848, attacking highly-paid sinecures in the Royal Household, is approved, but Punch was no advocate of parsimony. The new front of Buckingham Palace is severely criticized in March, 1849: its only beauty is that of hiding the remainder of the building like "a clean front put on to make the best of an indifferent shirt." The "mountainous flunkeydom" at Royal[Pg 191] levées is a frequent incentive to ridicule with pen and pencil; Punch is happy in pillorying the Morning Post for the use of the phrase, "the dense mass of the nobility and gentry" at one of Lady Derby's receptions; while he applauds the Queen for setting a good example by giving early juvenile parties in the season of 1850. Her visits and visitors were carefully scrutinized and freely criticized, beginning with the Royal tour in Belgium and France in the autumn of 1843, when Queen Victoria is represented as mesmerizing Louis Philippe with a Commercial Treaty. Punch was in frequent hot water with Louis Philippe—whom, by the way, he once represented as Fagin—and the impending visit of the French[Pg 192] Sovereign, at the close of 1844, led to some plain talk on his folly in proscribing and impounding Punch, followed up by a burlesque account of his arrival at Portsmouth, with an ironical reference to the omission of all literary men, painters, musicians, sculptors, etc., from the invitations to meet him at Court. When the French King left, Punch burlesqued the situation by representing the Queen as Calypso. Punch, like the Skibbereen Eagle, always kept his eye on the Tsar of Russia—and, indeed, upon all foreign potentates. The Tsar Nicholas stood, to him, for all that was evil in "the King business." His attacks began in 1842 and never ceased in the Tsar's lifetime. The visit to England in the summer of 1844 was the signal for an explosion of bitter hostility. Readers of Punch are advised to carry every penny of the largess he drops to the Polish Fund. They should be polite, but avoid any approval of his looks or manners. The Tsar's misdeeds and acts of harshness to Poles and Jews are minutely recalled. Queen Victoria is shown in a cartoon offering Poland as a bun to Nicholas the Bear at the Zoo. The Tsar's lavish presents are flouted and condemned. A design for the 500-guinea cup he offered for Ascot is made a hideous memento of savage repression. His subscription to the Polish Ball is compared to the action of Claude Duval fiddling to his victims. The Tsar, in short, was "good for Knout"; and John Bull was being led by the nose with a diamond ring in it. Nor has Punch a single good word to say for the King of Prussia right from 1842 to 1857. His visit in the former year, "to strengthen the cast of the Prince of Wales's christening," met with anything but a friendly welcome. When he returned in the year 1844, Punch profoundly distrusted the King's humility when he visited Newgate with Mrs. Fry and knelt and prayed in the female prisoners' ward; and his suspicions were confirmed by his treatment of the refugee Poles, who were handed back to the mercies of Tsar Nicholas. Throughout the entire period the King of Prussia figures as "King Clicquot," from his alleged fondness for the bottle. The King of Hanover comes off even worse. Witness the truly amazing frankness of the comments on his visit in June, 1843:—

[Pg 193]


The King of Hanover is once more among us. After a painful absence of six years—intensely painful to all parties—the monarch returns to the country of his birth, a country to which he will leave his name, as Wordsworth says of Wallace, "as a flower," odorous and perennial. He arrives here, it is said, to be present at the marriage of his niece, the Princess Augusta, with a German Prince, who is not only to take an English wife, but with her three thousand pounds per annum of English money; of money coined from the sweat of starving thousands; money to gild the shabby Court of Mecklenburg with new splendour. Sir Robert Peel has been, it is said, under a course of steel draughts, and other invigorating medicine, the better to fortify himself in his address to the Commons for the cash. Sir Robert, however, acutely alive to our fallen revenue, is still very nervous. It is reported that, on the evening when the demand upon the patience and the rags of John Bull was made, the Prime Minister blushed "for that night only."

Herein is the extreme value of the numberless scions of Royalty with which England is over-blessed. The Duke of Cumberland (we mean the King of Hanover) has £23,000 a year from the sweat of Englishmen. And does not his Highness, or his Kingship, whilst taking a salary, exercise a most salutary effect upon Britons? Does he not practically teach them the beauty of humility—of long suffering—of self-denying charity and benevolence? Why, he is a continual record of the liberality and magnanimity of Englishmen, who, if ever they fall into an excess of admiration for royalty, will owe the enthusiasm to such bright examples as the monarch of Hanover. In the East there are benevolent votaries who build expensive fabrics for the entertainment of the most noisome creatures. Englishmen are above such superstition; and in the very pride and height of their intelligence, allow £23,000 to the King of Hanover.

The wedding of the Princess Augusta, daughter of the Duke of Cambridge, to the Prince of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, was the occasion of a wonderful explosion in the Morning Post:—

Royal Parasites

Jenkins was present at the ceremony. He was somehow smuggled into the Royal Chapel, and stood hidden in a corner, hidden by a huge bouquet, quite another Cupid among the roses. Let us, however, proceed to give the "feelings" of Jenkins, merely[Pg 194] premising that we should very much like to see Jenkins, when he feels "proud, elated and deeply moved." He says:

"We felt alternately proud, elated, and deeply moved during the ceremony as in turn we cast a glance at the illustrious witnesses to the solemnity. There was our gracious Queen, beaming with youth and beauty, through which is ever discernible the eagle glance and the imposing air of command so well suited to her high station. Next to the Queen, the Royal Consort, one of the handsomest Princes of the age, in whom the spirit of youth is so remarkably tempered by the judgment and wisdom of age. The Queen Adelaide, living model of every Virtue which can adorn a Woman either in private life or on a throne."

So far the Morning Post. What says (perhaps?) an equal authority, The Times?

"The Queen Dowager was prevented from being present at the Ceremony in consequence of indisposition."

The old Duke Adolphus Frederick of Cambridge was another target of never-ending ridicule. He was a great diner-out, and his fatuous after-dinner speeches are cruelly parodied. He was also "the Duke who thinks aloud," whether at the play or at the Chapel Royal:—

A few Sundays ago, the Minister and the Duke proceeded as follows:

Minister. From all evil and mischief; from sin, from the crafts of the devil——

(Duke. To be sure; very proper—very proper.)

Minister. From all sedition, conspiracy, and rebellion——

(Duke. Certainly; very right—very right.)

And thus Parson and Duke proceeded together almost to the end. However, the worthy clergyman had to offer a prayer for the sick. Proceeding in this pious task, he thus commenced:

Minister. The prayers of this congregation are earnestly desired for——

(Duke. No objection—no objection!)

A Royal Duke's Household

One certainly does not gather from Punch's pages what was none the less a fact, that the Duke was extremely popular, that he was charitable and benevolent, and an enlightened patron of science and art, or that he was emphatically recognized as "a connecting link between the throne and the people."

[Pg 195]

On the Duke's death in 1850, Punch, with his usual vigour, attacked the grant of £12,000 a year to his son, the late and last Duke of Cambridge, at a time when the claims of Horatia (Nelson's daughter) and Mrs. Waghorn, widow of the pioneer of the Overland Route, were neglected. The immediate sequel led to further caustic remarks:—


What can a quiet, kind, manly, and simple gentleman, Prince though he be of the British Blood Royal, want at this present period of time with four Equerries and three parsons in the Gazette? Are these ceremonies nowadays useful and decorous, or absurd and pitiable; and likely to cause the scorn and laughter of men of sense? When the greatest and wisest Statesman in England [Sir Robert Peel] dying declares he will have no title for his sons, and, as it were, repudiates the Peerage as a part of the Protective system which must fall one day, as other Protective institutions have fallen—can't sensible people read the signs of the times and be quiet? When Lord John comes down to the House (with that pluck which his Lordship always shows when he has to meet an unpopular measure) and asks for an allowance, which the nation grudgingly grants to its pensioners—when the allowance is flung at his Royal Highness with a grumble, is it wise to come out the next day with a tail of four Equerries and three clergymen?



Louis Napoleon stands apart from the other European sovereigns of the mid-nineteenth century in virtue of his origin and his career. But he ran the Tsar Nicholas close, if[Pg 196] he did not equal him, as Punch's pet aversion. As early as 1849 his imperialistic ambitions led to the hostile comment that "empire" meant empirer. The Coup d'État was the signal for the fiercest attacks on his policy of "homicide." His matrimonial ventures prompted the ribald suggestion that the Emperor Louis should marry Lola Montez! His persistent gagging of the Press in France, and his attempts to subsidize or manipulate that in England, are vehemently denounced. Punch's attacks ceased during the Crimean War, but it was a reluctant truce, and they broke out again after the Peace was signed. Douglas Jerrold cordially detested the Emperor, and was responsible for the hardest of the many hard things said against him in Punch.

By a strange irony of fate it was Douglas Jerrold's own son, William Blanchard Jerrold, who, working upon materials supplied him by the Empress Eugénie, produced in the four volumes of his Life of Napoleon III the chief apologia in English of the Second Empire.

But to return to the Queen and the English Royal Family. Amongst Punch's unconscious prophecies room must certainly be found for his reference, in a satire of the Queen's speech when Peel was Premier, to Her Majesty as "Victoria Windsor" nearly seventy-five years before the surname was formally adopted by her grandson. The suggested statue to Cromwell at the new Houses of Parliament gave rise to a long and heated controversy in 1845 in which Punch ranged himself militantly among the partisans of the Protector. He published mock protests from various sovereigns; he considered Cromwell's claim side by side with those of the "Sexigamist" murderer Henry VIII and other kings, and printed a burlesque design of his own, with a sneer at Pugin for his "determined zeal in keeping up the bad drawing of the Middle Ages."

[Pg 197]

Three statues.


The Queen's visit to Ireland in 1849 is treated in considerable detail, and in an optimistic vein. Punch never believed in the Repeal Agitation or in Daniel O'Connell, whom he regarded as a trading patriot and a self-seeking demagogue, contrasting him unfavourably with Father Mathew. Nor had he any sympathy with "Young Ireland," or Thomas Davis, or[Pg 198] the romantic leaders of the movement of 1848; as for Smith O'Brien, an immortality of ridicule was conferred on him in Thackeray's famous ballad on "The Battle of Limerick." The terrible ravages of the potato famine had evoked Punch's sympathy; but his hopes of an enduring reconciliation were small, and he quotes the tremendous saying of Giraldus Cambrensis that Ireland would be pacified vix paulò ante Diem Judicii—or only just before the Day of Judgment. Still, the Queen's visit was hailed as of good omen, though Punch reminds her that she had only seen the bright side of the dark Rosaleen—palaces and not cabins. "Let Erin forget the days of old" is the burden of his song; at least he refrained from quoting—if he ever knew of it—that other terrible saying that "Ireland never forgets anything except the benefits that she has received." The Queen's magnanimity and clemency to her traducer Jasper Judge in the same year called forth a warm eulogium. Judge was a thief and a spy, yet the Queen, on the petition of his wife, paid the costs of her vilifier.

The Princess Royal's Betrothal

In 1849, also, Punch, evidently still in mellower mood, published an enthusiastic tribute to the memory of the Dowager Queen Adelaide, who died on December 2. Punch specially refers to her generosity to Mrs. Jordan, the mistress of William IV, when he was Duke of Clarence, and the mother of ten of his children. "Let those who withhold their aid from the daughter of Nelson, because the daughter of Lady Hamilton, consider this and know that the best chastity is adorned by the largest charity." Queen Adelaide had long outlived the unpopularity caused by her supposed interference in politics at the time of the Reform Agitation, and Punch's homage was well deserved. It is a sign of the times that Punch begins to allude to the Queen as "our good Queen," or more affectionately as "our little Queen," and this growth of her popularity continues (with occasional setbacks) throughout the 'fifties. At the close of 1852 Punch ridicules as absurd the rumour of the betrothal of the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia, the Princess being only twelve years old. The report appeared in a German paper, and proved true. Punch's chief objection was sentimental:[Pg 199] "The age is past when Royalty respected its family at the rate of live stock," and he could not believe that such a principle would govern the Court, seeing that it was "adorned now at last with the domestic graces." Besides, Punch in the summer of 1844 had published his own New Royal Marriage Act (suggested by The Times's comment on the late Duke of Sussex's love letters), which winds up: "Be it therefore enacted that a member of the Royal Family shall be at liberty to marry whom or how or when, where or anywhere, he or she likes or pleases."

Scepticism of the report animates the set of verses published three years later:—


They say that young Prussia our Princess will wed,

Which shows that we can't believe half that is said.

What? she marry the nephew of Clicquot the mean!

The friend and ally of the foe of the Queen?

Why, nothing keeps Clicquot from standing array'd

Against her in arms, but his being afraid.

His near kinsman the spouse of Her Majesty's child!

Pooh!—the notion is monstrous, preposterous, wild.

The Princess is—bless her!—scarce fifteen years old;

One summer more even o'er Dinah had roll'd.

To marry so early she can't be inclined;

A suitable Villikins some day she'll find.

Moreover, in her case, we know very well,

There exist no "stern parients" her hand to compel,

Affording the Laureate a theme for a lay,

With a burden of "Teural lal leural li day."

Whether the German newspaper had been merely exercising "intelligent anticipation" or not, the projected alliance was confirmed in 1856. Punch's comment on the Princess's dowry was unsympathetic, but the betrothal was celebrated in verse at[Pg 200] once ceremonial and friendly. References to the Queen during the Crimean War are noticed elsewhere; we may note, however, that when one "Raphael" published a Prophetic Almanack in which he took liberties with the Queen's name, Punch administered a severe castigation to the offender. Punch did not like his monopoly to be infringed.

[11] The imbroglio of the Ladies of the Bedchamber had been settled in 1840. But Scribe's Verre d'Eau, under the title of The Maid of Honour, with the real incident turned into farce, had been adapted to the English stage and produced at the Adelphi.

[12] In reference to the then prevalent mania for railway speculation.

[13] ... "Buckingham Palace, where, it is said, if a person puts a question in English he is asked in German or French what he means."

[14] See Illustration.

[Pg 201]


Between the aristocracy as depicted in the pages of Punch and in those of the Morning Post in the 'forties and 'fifties there is a wide gulf. As we have seen, Punch's admiration of the Duke of Wellington stopped a long way this side of idolatry. Yet even when the Duke was criticized most severely as a politician, the recognition of his greatness was not denied. A good example is to be found in the cartoon of the "Giant and the Dwarf," which was inspired by Napoleon's legacy to the subaltern Cantillon, who was charged with an attempt to murder Wellington. Wellington himself had been approached with a view to similar action against Napoleon, and here was his reply:—

"—— wishes to kill him; but I have told him that I shall remonstrate; I have likewise said that, as a private friend, I advised him to have nothing to do with so foul a transaction; and that he and I had acted too distinguished parts in these transactions to become executioners; and that I was determined that, if the sovereigns wished to put him to death, they should appoint an executioner, which would not be me."[15]

The cartoon is accompanied by this comment:—

The Duke has made his political blunders and in his time talked political nonsense as well as his inferiors. Moreover he exhibits a defective sympathy with the people.... Nevertheless, contrasting Wellington's answer to the proposed death of the ex-Emperor with Napoleon's reward of the would-be assassin of the General (i.e. Wellington himself), need we ask which is the Giant and which is the Dwarf?

Other dukes cut a less dignified figure in the lean years which preceded the repeal of the Corn Laws—whether as coal-owners, Protectionists, or strict enforcers of the Game-Laws.

[Pg 202]



Cast from Knockers taken in the vicinities of Sackville Street, Vigo Lane, and Waterloo Place.

The first hint of the long campaign against the Dukes of Bedford in connexion with "Mud Salad Market" occurs in February, 1844. The Dukes of Sutherland, Atholl, Norfolk and Buckingham all came under the lash. When Lord William Lennox's plagiarisms from Hood and Scott in his novel The Tuft-hunter were exposed, Punch printed this jingling epigram:—

A Duke once declared—and most solemnly too—

That whatever he liked with his own he would do;

But the son of a Duke has gone farther, and shown

He will do what he likes with what isn't his own!

[Pg 203]

Marquesses under the Microscope

And the marquesses came off even worse. The eccentric Marquess of Waterford is celebrated for his knocker-hunting exploits in the very first number. The Marquess of Hertford—the original of Thackeray's Marquess of Steyne in Vanity Fair—is subjected to posthumous obloquy, à propos of the claim of his valet on his executors, who "were compelled to bring the dead Marquess into Court, that the loathsome dead may declare the greater loathsomeness of the living." The Marquess of Londonderry came under the lash not merely as a rapacious coal-owner, but as a bad writer: "the most noble but not the most grammatical Marquess." So again we are informed respecting the Marquess of Normanby's novels that "they have just declared a dividend of 2½d. in the pound, which is being paid at all the butter shops." One has to wait for nearly ten years for acknowledgment of virtue in the marquisate, but then it is certainly handsome. The occasion was the entrance into power of the Derby-Disraeli (or "Dilly-Dizzy") Cabinet:—


The first act of the Ministry in the House of Lords was done with the worst of grace. The Marquis of Lansdowne took farewell of office and of official life. And who was there, among the new men, to do reverence to the unstudied yet touching ceremony? Nobody, save the Earl of Malmesbury. The Times says, and most truly:

"A public life, which has literally embraced the first half of this century, and which last night was most gracefully concluded, deserved an ampler and richer tribute than our new Foreign Secretary seemed able to bestow."

Nothing could be colder, meaner, and certainly more foreign to the heartiness of English generosity than the chip-chip phrases of Lord Malmesbury. It is such men as the Marquis of Lansdowne who are the true strength of the House of Lords. He is a true Englishman. In fifty years of political life his name has never been mixed with aught mean or jobbing. In the most tempestuous times, his voice has been heard amongst the loudest for right. In days when to be a reformer was to take rank a little above a fanatic and a public despoiler, the Marquis of Lansdowne struck at rotten[Pg 204] boroughs. He has ever been a patriot in the noblest sense. And there was nobody but cold-mouthed Malmesbury to touch upon his doings? So it is!

Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back

Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,

A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:

Those scraps are good deeds past.

But the political deeds of the Marquis of Lansdowne are written in the history of his country. After the wear of fifty years, not one spot rests upon his robes. His coronet borrows worth and lustre from the true, manly, English brain that beats—(and in the serene happiness of honoured age may it long continue to beat!)—beneath it.

Two workers looking at richly dressed man.


First Citizen: "I say, Bill—I wonder what he calls hisself?"

Second Ditto: "Blowed if I know!—but I calls him a Bloated Haristocrat."

Educating the House of Lords

As for peers in general, Punch's views may be gathered from his scheme for the Reform of the House of Lords issued in the same year:—

It is an indisputable truth that there can be no such being as a born legislator. As unquestionable is the fact that there may be a born ass.

We are not proving that fact—only stating it—pace your word-snapper on the look-out for a snap.

But your born ass may be born to your legislator's office, and command a seat in the house of legislators by inheritance, as in not a few examples, wherein the coronet hides not the donkey's ears.

The object of a Reform in the House of Lords should be to keep the asinines of the aristocracy out of it: so that the business of the country may be no more impeded by their braying, or harmed by their kicking.

Nobody is a physician by birth. Even the seventh son of a seventh son must undergo an examination before he is allowed to prescribe a dose of physic for an old woman.

But any eldest son, or other male relation, of a person of a certain order is chartered, as such, to physic the body corporate: which is absurd.

Now, the Reform we propose for the House of Lords, is, not to admit any person, whose only claim to membership is that of having been born a Peer, to practise his profession without examination.

Examine him in the Alphabet—there have been Peers who didn't know that. In reading, writing, and arithmetic: you already make[Pg 205] a Lord—the Mayor of London—count hobnails. In history—for he is to help furnish materials for its next page. In geography, astronomy, and the use of the globes; which, being indispensable to ladies, are a fortiori to be required of Lords. In political economy, the physiology of the Constitution which he will have to treat. In medicine, that he may understand the analogies of national and individual therapeutics; and also learn not to patronize homœopaths and other quacks. In geology, that he may acquire a philosophical idea of pedigree, by comparing the bones of his ancestors with those of the ichthyosaurus, or the foundation of his house with the granite rocks. In the arts and sciences, generally, which it will be his business to promote, if he does his business. In literature, that he may cultivate it; at least, respect it, and stand up for the liberty[Pg 206] of unlicensed printing, instead of insulting and calumniating the Press.

This is our scheme of Peerage Reform, to which the principal objection we anticipate is, that it is impracticable, because it can't be done; and that, warned by the confusion and disorder that has resulted from change in foreign nations, we should shrink from touching a time-honoured institution; which is as much as to say, that because our neighbours have divided their carotid arteries, we had better not shave ourselves.

To "most noble fatuities," "Lord White Sticks," privileged gamblers, extravagant guardsmen, pluralists (among whom the Greys and Elliots are specially attacked), and their fulsome upholders in the Press, scant mercy is shown. Some exceptions are made: Lord Mahon for his interest in the drama and art; Lord Albemarle for his views on the Reform of the Marriage Laws; Lord St. Leonards for cutting down Chancery pleadings and all the "awful and costly machinery of word spinning" connected therewith. With Lord Brougham, who was so long one of Punch's favourite butts, we deal elsewhere. But neither he nor Sugden (Lord St. Leonards) belonged to the "Old Nobility"; they were not ranked with the "snobbish peers" who opposed the education of the masses or the appointment of a Minister of Education, or wanted to keep poor children out of the London parks, a topic referred to more than once.

Aristocratic nepotism is another favourite theme of satire: the classic example being furnished by the famous telegram sent during the Crimean War by Lord Panmure, when Secretary for War, to Lord Raglan: "Take care of Dowb." "Dowb." was Captain Dowbiggin, a relative of Lord Panmure's. Hence the epigram:—


"The reform of our army," should Panmure ask, "how begin?"

"By not taking," says Punch, "quite so much care of Dowbiggin."

With Bulwer Lytton a long feud was maintained, but it was not as a peer but as a writer and a sophisticated snob that he[Pg 207] earned the dislike of Punch, who published (February 28, 1846) Tennyson's retort on his traducer. In later years, however, a complete reconciliation took place.

Thackeray on Great Folks

Punch saw no inherent virtue in peers or peerages. He welcomed the bestowal of one on Macaulay; he applauded the decision of Peel's family in declining the honour after his death. Mentions by name of noble personages in his pages in this period are more often hostile than friendly. He agreed with Tennyson that "kind hearts are more than coronets," but he was far from maintaining that they were incompatible. Thackeray, who, as we know, did not see eye to eye with Douglas Jerrold, and found his constant anti-aristocratic invective tiresome, redressed the balance, notably in "Mr. Brown's Letters to a Young Man about Town." Discoursing on good women, in whose company you can't think evil, he says you may find them in the suburbs and Mayfair, and, again:—

The great comfort of the society of great folks is that they do not trouble themselves about your twopenny little person, as smaller persons do, but take you for what you are—a man kindly and good-natured, or witty and sarcastic, or learned and eloquent, or a good raconteur, or a very handsome man, or an excellent gourmand and judge of wine—or what not. Nobody sets you so quickly at your ease as a fine gentleman. I have seen more noise made about a Knight's lady than about the Duchess of Fitz-Battleaxe herself; and Lady Mountararat, whose family dates from the Deluge, enter and leave a room, with her daughters the lovely Ladies Eve and Lilith D'Arc, with much less pretension, and in much simpler capotes and what-do-you-call-'ems, than Lady de Mogins, or Mrs. Shindy, who quit an assembly in a whirlwind, with trumpets and alarums like a stage King and Queen.

[15] Colonel Garwood's selections from the Duke of Wellington's Dispatches.

[Pg 208]


For the manners and customs of High Life in the 'forties and 'fifties Punch cannot be regarded as a first-rate authority for the excellent reason that, with the exception of Thackeray, none of the staff had the entrée to these exalted circles. They were busy, hard-worked, often overworked, journalists and officials, and their recreations and diversions did not bring them into intimate contact with the dwellers in Mayfair or Belgravia. They kept a watchful eye upon the extravagances and vagaries of High Life, but mainly as it revealed itself in its public form or in politics. In the study of the Geology of Society, which appeared in one of his earliest numbers, Punch subdivides the three main strata of Society—High Life, Middle Life, Low Life—into various classes. The superior, or St. James's series, contains people wearing coronets, related to coronets, expecting coronets. Thence we pass to the Russell Square group, and the Clapham group, and thence to the "inferior series" resident in Whitechapel and St. Giles, and it was of these groups, especially the transitional, genteel and shabby genteel, that Punch, in his earliest days, had most first-hand knowledge.


The exclusiveness of fashionable society cannot be better illustrated than by the existence of such an institution as Almack's. It was nothing less than a stroke of genius on the part of that shrewd Scot from Galloway—Almack is said to have been an inversion of his real name, MacCaul, though another account of his origin represents him as a Yorkshire Quaker—who came to London as a valet to the Duke of Hamilton, and, soon after starting Almack's Club, a fashionable resort for aristocratic gamblers, afterwards merged in Brooks's, opened the famous Assembly Rooms in King Street, St.[Pg 209] James's, where, for more than seventy-five years, weekly subscription balls were held during the twelve weeks of the London season. Almack gave his name to the Assembly Rooms, but the management was entirely vested in the hands of a committee of lady patronesses of the highest rank and fashion, who distributed the ten-guinea tickets. By the beginning of the nineteenth century it was "the seventh heaven of the fashionable world to be introduced to Almack's." Grantley Berkeley, who frequented the Assembly Rooms in their golden prime, speaks of the committee as "a feminine oligarchy, less in number, but equal in power to the Venetian Council of Ten." They issued the tickets "for the gratification of the crême de la crême of Society, with a jealous watchfulness to prevent the intrusion of the plebeian rich or the untitled vulgar; and they drew up a code of laws, for the select who received invitations, which they, at least, meant to be as unalterable as those of the Medes and Persians."[16] Great care was taken that the supply of débutantes should not exceed the demand, and so many engagements were entered into to the accompaniment of Collinet's band that Almack's was regarded as, perhaps, the greatest matrimonial market of the aristocracy. The maximum attendance recorded was seventeen hundred. Almack himself died in 1781, bequeathing the Assembly Rooms to his niece, who married Willis, after whom they were subsequently named. By 1840 their glory had largely departed, but so serious a review as the Quarterly wrote respectfully of their decline: "The palmy days of exclusiveness are gone by in England. Though it is obviously impossible to prevent any given number of persons from congregating and re-establishing an oligarchy, we are quite sure that the attempt would be ineffectual, and that the sense of their importance would extend little beyond the set." Yet Almack's lingered for several years. In its august precincts, which had welcomed and sanctioned the waltz (originally condemned as an unseemly exhibition), the ravages of the successor of the waltz and quadrille—the polka—are described by Punch (after Byron) in the lament of the sentimental young lady at the close of the season of 1844. The craze for dancing was not[Pg 211] so widely diffused as in 1920, but to judge from the "History, Symptoms, and Progress of the Polkamania," all strata of Society were affected:—

[Pg 210]

Clumsy man trying to dance.


1. My Polka before Six Lessons.

Same man dancing  well.

2. My Polka after Six Lessons.

Crowded dance hall.

Manners and Cvstoms of Ye Englyshe in 1849
An "At Home". ye Polka.


That obstinate and tormenting disease, the Polkamania, is said to have originated in Bohemia; in consequence, we may presume from analogy, of the bite of some rabid insect like the Tarantula Spider, although the Polka Spider has not yet been described by entomologists; but, when discovered, it probably will be under the name of Aranea Polkapoietica. The Polkamania, after raging fiercely for some time in the principal cities of the Continent, at length made its appearance in London, having been imported by M. Jullien, who inoculated certain Countesses and others with its specific virus, which he is said to have obtained from a Bohemian nobleman. The form of its eruption was at first circular, corresponding to the circles of fashion; but it has now extended to the[Pg 212] whole body of society, including its lowest members. Its chief symptoms are extraordinary convulsions and wild gesticulations of the limbs, with frequent stampings on the floor, and rotatory movements of the body, such as accompany lesions of the cerebellum. That part is said by Gall to be the organ of amativeness; and the Polka delirium, in several instances, has terminated in love-madness. This form of mania, in the female subject, displays itself, partly, in a passion for fantastic finery; as fur trimmings, red, green and yellow boots, and other strange bedizenments. Articles of dress, indeed, seem capable of propagating the contagion; for there are Polka Pelisses and Polka Tunics; now, it was but the other day that we met with some Polka Wafers, so that the Polkamania seems communicable by all sorts of things that put it into people's heads. In this respect it obviously resembles the Plague; but not in this respect only; for, go where you will, you are sure to be plagued with it. After committing the greatest ravages in London itself, it attacked the suburbs, whence it quickly spread to remote districts, and there is now not a hamlet in Great Britain which it does not infest more or less. Its chief victims are the young and giddy; but as yet it has not been known to prove fatal, although many, ourselves included, have complained of having been bored to death by it. No cure has as yet been proposed for Polkamania; but perhaps an antidote, corresponding to vaccination, in the shape of some new jig or other variety of the caper, may prove effectual: yet, after all, it may be doubted if the remedy would not be worse than the disease.

Very little change would be needed to fit the above to the Jazzmania of to-day. The polka had a long innings. When the 'forties opened, the waltz and the quadrille were firmly entrenched in fashionable favour. The waltz, as we write, shows signs of rearing its diminished head, but the quadrille, in those days a most elaborate business with a variety of figures—La Pastorale, L'Été, La Trénitz, La Poule, etc.—is dead beyond redemption. But the polka mania raged with little abatement for a good ten years.[17] In 1844, amongst other advertisements of teachers of the art of dancing, was that of a young lady who had been instructed by a Bohemian nobleman. In spite of much ridicule and many appeals (in which Thackeray joined)[Pg 213] for the suppression of the pest, the malady was described as still acute in the dog-days of 1856, and, in more subdued phases, lasted for another fifty years. The mazurka also came into vogue in the mid-'forties, but was never a serious rival to the polka in its prime. It was an age of famous professional dancers—Taglioni (who gave her name to an overcoat), Fanny Ellsler, Cerito, and Grisi, the cousin of the prima-donna; but though there were schools of dancing, and Thés dansants, which Punch heavily ridiculed, and though the fashionables occasionally secured the exclusive use of the lawns at Cremorne, there was no competition between amateurs and professionals, as in modern times. The latter were left the monopoly of the higher flights of the art. Besides the polka, the accomplishments of the young lady of fashion were mainly decorative. If they did not toil or spin, at least they occupied themselves with fancy knitting, crochet, and the practice of Poonah painting—an early and crude imitation of Oriental art, so popular that the advertisements of instructors in "Indian Poonah painting" figure in the newspapers and directories of the time. The fashionable pets were spaniels, macaws, and Persian cats. The prevailing tastes in art and letters in fashionable or genteel society are (allowing for a little exaggeration) not badly hit off in a paper on the Natural History of Courtship, giving hints for the nice conduct of conversation at a social gathering:—

Modish Futilities

It hath been wisely ordained, wherever two individuals of opposite sexes are standing side by side, that during the pauses of "the figure," or otherwise, the gentleman shall ask the lady if she be fond of dancing; the reply will be, "Yes, very," for it is known to be an unvarying rule that all young ladies are fond of dancing. That, therefore, affords no clue, nor indeed much subject for converse; hence another question succeeds, "Are you fond of music?" Answer, without exception, "Yes"—general rule as before; but when the rejoinder comes, "What instrument do you play?" although the reply in that case always made and provided is "the piano," yet the mention of a few composers' names will soon inform you of the kind of musical taste the fair one possesses. If she admire Herz, you will know she belongs to the thunder-and-lightning school of "fine players"; therefore, breathe not the names of Mozart, Beethoven, or Cramer. Should she own to singing, and call[Pg 214] Mercadante "grand" or Donizetti "exquisite," do not mention Weber or Schubert, but say a word or two for Alexander Lee.[18]

It will frequently occur that (always excepting the first two queries) a young lady will answer your questions with indifference—almost contempt—in the belief that you are a very commonplace soulless person. She has, you will find, a tinge of romance in her character; therefore, lose not a moment in plunging over head-and-ears into a talk about poetry. Should Byron or Wordsworth fail, try T. K. Hervey, or Barry Cornwall, but Moore is most strongly recommended. If you think you can trust yourself to do a little poetry on your own account, dash it slightly with meta-physics. Wherever you discover a tinge of blueism or romance, the mixture of "the moon," "the stars," and "the human mind," with common conversation is highly efficacious. When the latter predominates in the damsel, an effective parting speech may be quoted from Romeo and Juliet, which will bring in a reflection upon the short duration of the happiness you have enjoyed, and the quotation:

"I never knew a young gazelle," etc.

"Finishing" a Daughter

This was written in Punch in July, 1842, but there is not much difference in the estimate of the feminine intellect given ten years later:—


1. Be always telling her how pretty she is.

2. Instil into her mind a proper love of dress.

3. Accustom her to so much pleasure that she is never happy at home.

4. Allow her to read nothing but novels.

5. Teach her all the accomplishments, but none of the utilities of life.

6. Keep her in the darkest ignorance of the mysteries of house-keeping.

7. Initiate her into the principle that it is vulgar to do anything for herself.

8. To strengthen the latter belief, let her have a lady's maid.

9. And lastly, having given her such an education, marry her to[Pg 215] a clerk in the Treasury upon £75 a year, or to an ensign who is going out to India.

If, with the above careful training, your daughter is not finished, you may be sure it is no fault of yours, and you must look upon her escape as nothing short of a miracle.

Men discussing  a young lady.

Sporting Man (loquitur): "I say, Charles, that's a promising little filly along o' that bay-haired woman who's talking to the black-cob-looking man."

The "higher education" of women was not discussed in these days of Keepsakes and Books of Beauty, though, as we have seen, the official recognition of learned women and authoresses—Mrs. Somerville and Maria Edgeworth—was supported by Punch. In his "Letters to a Young Man about Town," Thackeray frequently insists on the refining influence of good women in Society, but intellectual ladies met with little encouragement from his pen or pencil; he liked to see women at dinners, regretted their early departure, and suggested that the custom of the gentlemen remaining behind might be modified if not abolished; "the only substitute for them or consolation for the want of them is smoking."

Punch castigates the caprice of flirts, while admitting their[Pg 216] fascination. He ridicules the imaginary ailments of fashionable women exhausted by gaiety; but he waxes bitterly indignant over "the Old Bailey ladies" who obtained access to the chapel at Newgate to listen to the "condemned sermon" in the presence of a convicted murderer, or scrambled for seats at the trials of notorious malefactors. The only excuse for this odious curiosity was that their menfolk set the women the worst possible example. Executions were public, and were freely patronized by the nobility and gentry. The most powerful of the Ingoldsby Legends deals with this ugly phase of early Victorian manners, and can be verified from the pages of Punch, who tells us how, on the occasion of an execution in June, 1842:—

All the houses opposite to the prison (Old Bailey) had been let to sight-seeking lovers at an enormous price, and, in several instances, the whole of the casements were taken out and raised seats erected for their accommodation. In one case a noble lord was pointed out to the reporter as having been a spectator at the last four or five executions: his price for his seat was said to be fifteen pounds.

The "Model Fast Lady" liked champagne, but the charge of indulgence in the pleasures of the table is never brought against women of fashion. Their extravagance in dress is often rebuked; but lovely woman, if left to herself, in the 'forties and 'fifties, was probably content to subsist (as according to R. L. Stevenson she subsisted forty or fifty years later) mainly on tea and cake. Women were not exempt from the accusation of snobbery: sarcastic comment is prompted by the letter of a correspondent to the Morning Post, who wrote to describe how, as the result of a railway accident, she, "a young lady of some birth, was placed in a cornfield and had to wait six hours."

Occupants of a Gentlemen's club.

Manners and Cvstoms of ye Englyshe.

Verrey and Gunter

The brunt, however, of the social satire was borne by the men. Gluttony was ever a male vice, and Punch is constantly running a tilt against civic gourmands and turtle-guzzling aldermen. But his censure was not confined to the gross orgies of the City Fathers at a time when cholera and typhus were rampant. "Everybody lives as if he had three or four thousand a year," is his dictum, which he follows up by pleading[Pg 217] for more simple and frequent dinners, the entertainment of poor friends and relations—more hospitality and less show. The "nobility and gentry" did not, however, court publicity in their entertainments as in a later age.[19] They dined sumptuously in their own houses; there were few expensive restaurants in those days or for many years to come. The nearest approach was Verrey's Café, which was then a fashionable resort, and the immortal Gunter, who "to parties gave up what was meant for mankind." "Society" was small, unmixed, and exclusive. Neither love nor money could secure the "Spangle-Lacquers" (under which title Punch satirizes the pretensions[Pg 218] of the New Rich), the entrée to Almack's. For club life a mine of useful information is to be found in Thackeray's "Letters to a Young Man about Town" and in the social cartoons of Richard Doyle. The account of a club cardroom and the absorption and obsession of the players needs little revision to fit the manners of to-day, and there is much excellent advice to young men to avoid roystering and drinking with "Old Silenus," the midnight monarch of the smoking-room at the Polyanthus. From Thackeray's contributions we have borrowed sparingly, but cannot refrain from quoting the passage in which he pays noble homage to the genius of Dickens:—

What a calm and pleasant seclusion the library presents after the brawl and bustle of the newspaper-room! There is never anybody here. English gentlemen get up such a prodigious quantity of knowledge in their early life that they leave off reading soon after they begin to shave, or never look at anything but a newspaper. How pleasant this room is—isn't it? with its sober draperies, and long calm lines of peaceful volumes—nothing to interrupt the quiet—only the melody of Horner's nose as he lies asleep upon one of the sofas. What is he reading? Hah, Pendennis, No. VII.—hum, let us pass on. Have you read David Copperfield, by the way? How beautiful it is—how charmingly fresh and simple! In those admirable touches of tender humour—and I should call humour, Bob, a mixture of love and wit—who can equal this great genius? There are little words and phrases in his books which are like personal benefits to the reader. What a place it is to hold in the affections of men! What an awful responsibility hanging over a writer! What man, holding such a place, and knowing that his words go forth to vast congregations of mankind—to grown folks, to their children, and perhaps to their children's children—but must think of his calling with a solemn and humble heart? May love and truth guide such a man always! It is an awful prayer; may Heaven further its fulfilment! And then, Bob, let the Record revile him—See, here's Horner waking up—How do you do, Horner?

Tobacco Tabooed

Smoking was not yet a national habit. It was the height of bad form to be seen smoking in the street. Even in clubs it was frowned upon, and Thackeray, in his "Snob Papers," writes in ironic vein respecting "that den of abomination which, I am told, has been established in some clubs, called[Pg 219] the Smoking Room." The embargo on pipes was not removed for many years. A well-known judge removed his name from a well-known club about the year 1890 because the committee refused to tolerate pipe-smoking on their precincts. Punch early ranged himself on the side of liberty, and in 1856 was greatly incensed against the British Anti-Tobacco Society, as against all "Anti's," "who, not content with hating balls, plays, and other amusements themselves, want to enforce their small antipathies on the rest of us."

Man and women in evening dress.


The relaxations of men of fashion, if less multitudinous than to-day, were at least tolerably varied. The golden age of the dandies had passed, but the breed was still not quite extinct in 1849; witness Thackeray's picture of Lord Hugo Fitzurse. "Fops' Alley," at the Opera, was one of their favourite resorts; and its attractions are summed up, during the season[Pg 220] of 1844, in the last stanza of a "Song of the Superior Classes":—

Blest ballet, soul-entrancing,

Who would not rather gaze

On youth and beauty dancing

Than one of Shakespeare's plays?

Give me the haunt of Fashion,

And let the Drama's shrine

Engross the vulgar's passion;

Fops' Alley, thou art mine.

Robuster natures found distraction in knocker-wrenching and organizing parties to witness executions, but it would be as unfair to judge the manners of the high life of the time from the exploits of the mad Marquess of Waterford as it would be to base one's estimate on the achievements of Lord Shaftesbury. Thackeray, in The Newcomes, written in 1853, gives a somewhat lurid account of the entertainment at the "Coal Hole," from which the indignant colonel abruptly withdrew with his son Clive. The moral atmosphere of "Cyder Cellars" and similar places of entertainment was not exactly rarefied, but Punch makes a notable exception in favour of Evans's Supper Rooms, which were reopened after redecoration in the year 1856 as the abode of supper and song. There was no price for admission. You entered by a descent from the western end of the Piazza, Covent Garden, and took your choice from the little marble tables near the door or nearer the raised platform. Punch's only adverse criticism is directed against the epileptic gesticulations of the Ethiopian serenaders. For the rest he has nothing but praise for the entertainment, whether for mind or body:—

Anybody wanting to hear a little good music, sup, and get to bed betimes will be precisely suited at this place. Singing commences at eight. Any country curate, now, or indeed, rector, being in town under those circumstances, would find it just answer his purpose. To a serious young man, disapproving of the Opera, and tired of Exeter Hall, it would be a pleasant change from the last-named institution. Moreover it has the advantage of cheapness—so important to all who are truly serious. Even a bishop might[Pg 221] give it an occasional inspection, without derogation from the decorum of his shovel hat and gaiters. A resort whereat unobjectionable amusement is provided for the youthful bachelor—the student of law—of medicine—nay, of divinity—offers an attraction in the right direction which is powerful to counteract a tendency towards the wrong: and a glass of grog, with the accompaniment of good singing, may have a moral value superior to that of a teetotal harangue and a cup of Twankay.[20]

Travellers and Outlaws

The cult of pastime was as yet in its infancy; years were to elapse before even croquet was to assert its gentle sway. But there was always the great game of politics and patronage, and though Crockford, the founder of the famous gambling club at 50, St. James's Street, retired in 1840, after he had won "the whole of the ready money of the existing generation," in Captain Gronow's phrase, there was plenty of gambling for very high stakes. There was also travel, limited in its larger and more leisurely range to people of fortune, but already beginning to appeal through excursions to the middle classes. "Paris in twelve hours" was advertised by the South Eastern Railway in 1849, though according to Punch it really took twenty-nine hours; but before long the time occupied in the transit was reduced to nine hours. Boulogne had long been the resort of a curious colony of Englishmen "composed of those who are living on their means, and those who are living in despite of them, including, to give a romantic air of society, a slight sprinkling of outlaws." It was at Boulogne-sur-Mer that Brummell ended his days in poverty; but the most famous outlaws of the period under review were "the most gorgeous" Countess of Blessington and Count D'Orsay, who fled precipitately from Gore House in April, 1849, to Paris. Nine years earlier Lady Blessington had been one of the most courted leaders of fashionable society. She had beauty, fascination, a fair measure of literary talent, and an industry only surpassed by her extravagance. Of D'Orsay, whom Byron called the Cupidon déchaîné, handsome, gifted and popular, athlete, wit and dandy, it is enough to say that he was the only artist[Pg 222] congenial to the Duke of Wellington, who used to call sculptors "damned busters" and so exasperated Goya by his cavalier treatment that the old Spanish painter is alleged to have challenged him to a duel! Lady Blessington and D'Orsay escaped censure from Punch even in his democratic days. It was hard to be angry with these birds of Paradise, gorgeous in their lives, almost tragic in their eclipse. They at any rate did not come under the condemnation meted out to Cockney travellers on the Continent in 1845:—


Laugh at everything you do not understand, and never fail to ridicule anything that appears strange to you. The habits of the lower class will afford you abundant entertainment, if you have the proper talent to mimic them. Their religious ceremonies you will also find to be an endless source of amusement.

Recollect very few people talk in English on the Continent, so[Pg 223] you may be perfectly at your ease in abusing foreigners before their faces, and talking any modest nonsense you like, in the presence of ladies, at a table d'hôte. Do not care what you say about the government of any particular state you may be visiting, and show your national spirit by boasting, on every possible occasion, of the superiority of England and everything English.

Inappropriately dressesd man.


Doorkeeper: "Beg your pardon, Sir—but must, indeed, Sir, be in full dress."

Snob (excited): "Full dress!! Why, what do you call this?"

The "Gent" Abroad and at Home

The criticism, if caustic, was not without provocation, and unhappily the provocation did not cease, indeed, it may not be a rash assertion to observe that it has not yet altogether ceased. The type reappeared as "'Arry." In the early 'forties he was one of Punch's pet aversions under the title of "the Gent":—

Of all the loungers who cross our way in the public thoroughfares, the Gent is the most unbearable, principally from an assumption of style about him—a futile aping of superiority that inspires us with feelings of mingled contempt and amusement, when we contemplate his ridiculous pretensions to be considered "the thing."

No city in the world produces so many holiday specimens of tawdry vulgarity as London; and the river appears to be the point towards which all the countless myriads converge. Their strenuous attempts to ape gentility—a bad style of word, we admit, but one peculiarly adapted to our purpose—are to us more painful than ludicrous; and the labouring man, dressed in the usual costume of his class, is in our eyes far more respectable than the Gent, in his dreary efforts to assume a style and tournure which he is so utterly incapable of carrying out.

Punch was a sincere lover of his country and her Constitution. When foreigners criticized England or the English he was up in arms in a moment. John Bull, he declared, à propos of the suspicion of the French Government, was the best natured, most kindly, and tolerant fellow in the world. But this conviction never stood in the way of his playing the candid friend to and dealing faithfully with his countrymen on all possible occasions. As a comprehensive indictment of their failings it would be hard to beat or to improve upon the following list of the things an Englishman likes:—

An Englishman likes a variety of things. For instance, nothing is more to his liking than:[Pg 224] To talk largely about Art, and to have the worst statues and monuments that ever disgraced a metropolis!

To inveigh against the grinding tyrannies practised upon poor needlewomen and slop-tailors, and yet to patronize the shops where cheap shirts and clothes are sold!

To purchase a bargain, no matter whether he is in want of it or not!

To reward native talent, with which view he supports Italian operas, French plays, German singers, and in fact gives gold to the foreigners in exchange for the brass they bring him!

To talk sneeringly against tuft-hunting and all tuft-hunters, and yet next to running after a lord, nothing delights him more than to be seen in company with one!

To rave about his public spirit and independence, and with the greatest submission to endure perpetually a tax[21] that was only put on for three years!

To brag about his politeness and courteous demeanour in public, and to scamper after the Queen whenever there is an opportunity of staring at her!

To boast of his cleanliness, and to leave uncovered (as in the Thames) the biggest sewer in the world!

To pretend to like music, and to tolerate the Italian organs and the discordant musicians that infest his streets!

To inveigh against bad legislation, and to refrain in many instances from exercising the franchise he pays so dearly for!

To admit the utility of education, and yet to exclude from its benefits every one who is not of the same creed as himself!

And lastly, an Englishman dearly likes:

To grumble, no matter whether he is right or wrong, crying or laughing, working or playing, gaining a victory or smarting under a national humiliation, paying or being paid—still he must grumble, and in fact he is never so happy as when he is grumbling; and, supposing everything was to his satisfaction (though it says a great deal for our power of assumption to assume any such absurd impossibilities), still he would grumble at the fact of there being nothing for him to grumble about!

Punch certainly exercised the national privilege of grumbling to the full, though the shafts of his satire were sometimes of the nature of boomerangs. We can sympathize with him when, in his list of "things and persons that should emigrate,"[Pg 225] he includes "all persons who give imitations of actors; all quack doctors and advertising professors; all young men who smoke before the age of fifteen, and young ladies who wear ringlets after the age of thirty," as fit for "dumping." But he runs the risk of the Quis tulerit Gracchos retort when he bans "all punsters and conundrum makers." In the main he was a strenuous supporter of education, especially elementary education, and the recognition and reward of men of science and letters, but, along with his general support of literary and scientific institutions, he seldom missed a chance of making game of learned societies, beginning with the British Association.[Pg 226] The ignorance of candidates for appointments in the Civil Service does not escape his reforming zeal, when in 1857 no fewer than 44 per cent. were rejected for bad spelling; yet in 1852 we find him publishing a picture of a Japanese as a black man.

Desirable Emigrants
Two men discussing a lady.


Small Swell (who has just finished a quadrille): "H'm, thank goodness that's over. Don't give me your bread-and-butter Misses to dance with—I prefer grown Women of the World!"

(N.B. The bread-and-butter Miss had asked him how old he was, and when he went back to school.)

Two men talking.


Japanese: "We won't have Free Trade. Our ports are closed, and shall remain so."

American: "Then we will open our ports, and convince you that you're wrong."

Exploiting the Dead

Spiritualism invaded England from America at the end of the 'forties; the mania for table-turning dates from 1852, and in 1855 the famous "medium" Daniel Dunglas Home (the original of Browning's "Sludge") paid his first visit to England. From the very first Punch's attitude was hostile, sceptical, even derisive; and he was one of the first to condemn the harrying of humble fortune-tellers while fashionable and expensive exponents of clairvoyance were immune from prosecution. Crystal-gazing is mentioned in 1851. Playing upon words, in the[Pg 227] Almanack for 1852 we read: "It is related as astonishing that there are some clairvoyants who can see right through anybody; but that is not so very strange. The wonder is that there should be anybody who cannot see through the clairvoyant." In 1853 it was seriously suggested by a mesmerist in the Morning Post that he could get into communication with Sir John Franklin; this Punch promptly pilloried, as, too, a little later, he did a reference to a play alleged to have been dictated by Shakespeare's spirit. In 1857 Punch solemnly vouches for the authenticity of the following advertisement under the heading "Spirits by retail":—

COMMUNICATIONS with the SPIRIT OF WASHINGTON for Oracular Revelation of public fact and duty; responses tendered relative to Executive or Governmental, State or Diplomatic, National or Personal questions on affairs of moment for their more ready and appropriate solution, and the special use of official, Congressional and editorial intelligence. Address "Washington Medium," Post Office, Box 628, Washington, D.C. No letter (except for an interview) will be answered unless it encloses one dollar, and only the first five questions of any letter with but one dollar will have a reply. Number your questions and preserve copies of them.

Sober and instructed opinion has always shown this distrust, but Punch was not always justified in his treatment of new arts and discoveries. He quite failed to recognize the importance and the possibilities of photography, the early references to which are uniformly disparaging. There was at least this excuse for his want of foresight, that for many years the professional photographer was destitute of any artistic feeling or training save in the purely mechanical side of his calling. In representing him as combining photography with hairdressing or other even more menial trades, Punch was not indulging in exaggeration. The mere name "photographer" called up the image of a seedy, weedy little man who suggested an unsuccessful artist by his dress and whose "studio" was a shabby chamber of theatrical horrors, in which the subject was clamped and screwed into rigidity by instruments of torture. In the 'fifties photography was already exploited as a means of advertising actors, actresses and even popular preachers, but it[Pg 228] had not begun to be thought of as a means of social réclame. Apart from politicians and public characters little limelight was shed on personality. The relations between the Stage and Society were curiously different from those which prevail to-day. Punch was a great champion of the legitimate drama. Douglas Jerrold had been a prolific and successful, though not prosperous, playwright, and other members of the staff had written for the stage. The disregard of serious native talent by the Court[22] and the fashionable world was a constant theme of bitter comment. But Punch shows no eagerness for the bestowal of official recognition on actors; when the question of knighthoods was mooted, he expressed apprehension lest they should be conferred upon the upholsterers rather than the upholders of the Drama. With that form of mummer-worship which took the form of the publication of personal gossip about actors he had no sympathy, and even satirized it in a burlesque account of the daily life of an imaginary low comedian. On occasions when actors resented the tone of dramatic criticism, as in the quarrel between Charles Mathews and the Morning Chronicle, Punch stood for the liberty of the Press. Against sensationalism, horrors, plays based on crime, and the cult of monstrosity Punch waged unceasing war, but he was no prude. Those who were always on the look out for offence were sure to find it: "certain it is that whenever a father of a family visits a theatre, something verging on impropriety takes place." So again he falls foul of the inconsistent prudery which allowed a performance of La Dame aux Camélias at Exeter Hall in 1857, but prohibited an English translation of the words.

"Punch's" Respect for Decorum

Many of the broader aspects of early Victorian social life remain with us to-day, though modified or amended. "The broad vein of plush that traverses the whole framework of English society," as Punch flamboyantly gibed, if not wholly obliterated is at least less conspicuous. Jeames and Jenkins[Pg 229] are dead. If we cannot say the same of bullying at schools, "ragging" in the Army, the unnecessary expense of uniforms and the costly pageantry of funerals—all of which were strenuously condemned by Punch—it may at least be contended that public opinion is more vigilant in arraigning and bringing to light offences against humanity, good taste and common sense. Modern critics have not been wanting who charge Punch with prudery and squeamishness, but this is not the place to discuss whether the popularity of the paper would have been enhanced, or its influence and power fortified by following the example of La Vie Parisienne or of Jugend. Certainly during the period under review reticence and respectability were combined on[Pg 230] occasion with a remarkable freedom of comment, and the tragedy of "The Great Social Evil" was frankly admitted in Leech's famous picture. Though an isolated reference it was worth a hundred sermons. If Punch preferred to be the champion of domesticity and decorum in public and private life, he was reflecting an essential feature of the age—a feature which no longer exists. It was an age of patriarchal rule and large[Pg 231] families. Nothing strikes one more in turning over the pages of old numbers of Punch than the swarms of young people who figure in the domestic groups so dear to John Leech. The numbers, more than the precocity of the rising generation, impress the reader. The type represented is mainly drawn from well-to-do middle-class households, but all classes were prolific. If one needs proof, there is the evidence of Debrett and of the tombstones in our country churchyards.

Mr. Quiverfull
After dinner conservation

Scene: A Public-house, Bury St. Edmunds, after the Dinner given by the Mayor of Bury to the Lord Mayor of London.

Country Footman: "Pray, Sir, what do you think of our town? A nice place, ain't it?"

London Footman (condescendingly): "Vell, Joseph, I likes your town well enough. It's clean; your streets are hairy; and you've lots of rewins. But I don't like your champagne; its all Gewsberry."

Two women talking.


Time: Midnight. A sketch not a hundred miles from the Haymarket.

Bella: "Ah! Fanny! How long have you been Gay?"

Hunting scene.


[16] Vide Grantley Berkeley's Recollections.

[17] A correspondent wrote to The Times in 1846 complaining that at Ramsgate "the ladies dance polkas in their bathing dresses," and suggesting a stricter supervision of the proprieties by policemen.

[18] George Alexander Lee (1802-51), son of a London publican and pugilist, "tiger" to Lord Barrymore, and subsequently tenor singer, music seller, lessee of Drury Lane, composer and music director at the Strand and Olympic Theatres. Among his many songs and ballads, popular in their day, were "Away, Away to the Mountain's Brow," "The Macgregor's Gathering," and "Come where the Aspens Quiver."

[19] Who's Who first appeared in 1849. In those days it was little more than a bare list of dignitaries and officials. It was not until 1897 that the personal note was sounded and details added which have swelled the slim volume to its present portentous bulk.

[20] "Twankay," constantly used at this time as an equivalent for tea, after the name of the district of Taung Kei in China.

[21] The income tax. Punch knew better, and prophesied from the very outset that it would never come off.

[22] "As well hope to touch, Memnon-like, the statue of Queen Anne into mourning music, as to awaken generous impulses in the House of Hanover towards art, or science or letters." The payment of 13s. 4d. each to actors at a Royal Command performance provokes a sarcastic reference to the Court Almoner Extraordinary.

[Pg 232]


As a mirror of public opinion on the status and importance of the learned and liberal professions Punch, when due allowance has been made for his limitations, his prejudices and even his passions, cannot be overlooked by the student of social history. A whole book has been written on his attitude towards the Church; in another section of this chronicle I have dealt at some length with his hostility to Pluralism, Sabbatarianism, Ritualism, and endeavoured to show how a generally tolerant and "hang theology" attitude was in the early 'fifties exchanged for one of fierce anti-Vaticanism. The "No Popery" drum was banged with great fury, and when the Roman Catholic hierarchy was re-established in England in 1850, Punch supported the Ecclesiastical Titles Act which declared the assumption of titles connected with places in the realm illegal and imposed heavy penalties on the persons assuming them. This Act, passed in 1851, remained a dead letter until 1871, when it was repealed. As for the law and lawyers the record of Punch is more consistent and creditable, and, as we have seen, he was from the first an unflinching advocate of cheap justice and the removal of irregularities which pressed hardest on the poor, an unrelenting critic of barbarous and oppressive penalties. No one was too great or small to escape his legal pillory, or to secure recognition for reforming zeal or humane administration—from Lord Brougham and Lord St. Leonards down to unpaid magistrates. To what has been said elsewhere it may be added that the series of papers written by Gilbert à Beckett, under the heading of "The Comic Blackstone," are much better than their title, for they contain a good deal of shrewd satire and sound sense. Punch had good reason to be proud of his own legal representative, the humane and genial Gilbert à Beckett. He welcomed[Pg 233] Talfourd's promotion to the Bench as an honour to letters, for Talfourd was not only the executor and first biographer of Lamb and the author of the highly successful, but now forgotten, tragedy of Ion, but his services to authors in connexion with copyright earned for him the dedication of Pickwick. On his death in 1854, Punch's elegy fittingly commemorated the character and career of one of whom, as an advocate, it was said that the wrong side seldom cared to hear him, and who, like Hood, in his last words, deplored the mutual estrangement of classes in English society.

The Bench and the Universities

On the other hand, judges who jested on the Bench, indulged in judicial clap-trap, or encouraged the public to regard the Courts of Justice as substitutes for theatrical entertainments, are severely handled. Judex jocosus odiosus; but the type is, apparently, impervious to satire. Another anticipation of latter-day criticism is to be found in the remark made in 1856: "There was once a Parliament—(we do not live in such times now!)—in which there were few or no lawyers." Even more red-hot in its up-to-dateness is Punch's sarcastic dismissal of the cult of "efficiency" sixty-five years ago:—

Mr. Punch's reverence for the business powers of so-called men of business is not abject. The "practical men," who smile compassionately at schemers and visionaries, are the men who perpetually make the most frightful smashes and blunders. No attorney, for instance, can keep, or comprehend accounts, and a stock-jobber, the supposed incarnation of shrewdness, is the most credulous gobemouche in London.

With University authorities, professors, dons, and academics generally, we look in vain for any sign of sympathy, save that Punch condemned the rule which then prevented Fellows from marrying. For the rest, he looked on the older Universities as the homes of mediæval obscurantism, stubbornly opposed to reforms long overdue. Of the two, Oxford fared the worse at his hands on account of the Tractarian movement, Pusey, and Newman. This antagonism was based on political and religious divergences, not on any hostility to learning or the classical curriculum, of which Punch was a supporter, to the extent of[Pg 234] printing jeux d'esprit in Latin and Greek in his pages. All along he was a jealous guardian of the "illustrious order of the goose-quill," a sturdy champion of its claims to adequate pay and official recognition, a vigilant critic of the "homœopathic system of rewards" adopted by the Crown in the Civil List. References to this undying scandal are honourably frequent in the early volumes of Punch. It may suffice to quote the letter to Lord Palmerston in the summer of 1856:—

I will not, this hot weather, weary your lordship by specifying every case, but will sum up the account as I find it divided:

To Science, Literature, and Art£275
To sundries925
Deduct sundries925
Due to Science, Literature, and Art925
Total Civil List£1,200

Equally creditable is the reiterated plea—from 1847 onward—for the establishment of International Copyright, to guard English authors from the piracy of American publishers, amongst whom Putnam is singled out as an honourable exception. It may be fairly claimed for Punch that he made very few mistakes in appraising the merits of the authors of his time or of the rising stars. He failed to render justice to Disraeli as a writer, and he curtly dismissed Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass as "a mad book by an American rough." But literary values prove him substantially right in his distaste for the flamboyant exuberance of Bulwer Lytton, and absolutely sound in his castigation of the tripe-and-oniony flavour of Samuel Warren's books, one of which he held up to not undeserved obloquy under the ferocious misnomer of "The Diarrhœa of a Late Physician." He was a veritable malleus stultorum in dealing alike with the futilities of incompetent aristocrats and the homely puerilities of Martin Tupper and Poet Close. The famous campaign[Pg 235] against the poet Bunn and his bad librettos goaded the victim into reprisals in which he gave as good as he got, but the fact remains that Bunn was a bad poet, though Punch quite overdid his persecution. The nobility of Wordsworth, though the least humorous of poets, was handsomely acknowledged; when the erection of a statue to Peel was mooted, Punch put in a claim for a similar honour to the sage of Rydal. And though indignant with Carlyle for his defence of slavery, Punch was still ready to acknowledge "the monarch in his masquerade." Lastly, he not only welcomed Tennyson as a master, but threw open his columns to him to retort on his detractors.

"Punch" and "The Times"
Writer at his desk.


Victorian and Georgian Journalism

Dog does not eat dog, but the unwritten etiquette in accordance with which one newspaper does not directly attack another was much less strictly observed sixty or seventy years ago. Delane, the editor of The Times, exercised a greater political influence than any other journalist before or since, and for a good many years Punch acted as a sort of free-lance ally of the great daily,[23] drawing liberally from its columns in the way of extracts and illustrations, and, according to his habitual practice, underlining its policy while pretending to be shocked at it. Several of the men on Punch were contributors to The Times. Gilbert à Beckett's name stands first in the list of the principal contributors and members of the staff of The Times under Delane given in Mr. Dasent's biography. Yet I have searched the pages of the biography and the index in vain for a single reference to Punch. None the less the relations of the two papers were close and cordial, and "Billy" Russell, the Times war correspondent and unsparing critic of mismanagement in the[Pg 236] Crimea, had no more enthusiastic trumpeter than Punch. But the great gulf in prestige and power between The Times under Delane and the rest of the London Press is indirectly but unmistakably shown in Punch's habitual disrespect for most of his other contemporaries. In another context, I have quoted examples of his flagellation of the Morning Post—the only paper, by the way, which supported the Coup d'État; but two masterpieces of malice may be added. In 1843, à propos of "Jenkins's" incurably unctuous worship of rank, Punch observes: "If the reader be not weeping at this, it is not in the power of onions to move him." And again, a little later on in the same year, Punch compares the "beastliness" of Jenkins, "the life-long toad-eater," with the "beastly fellow" denounced in the Morning Post for swallowing twelve frogs for a wager! Punch was not content with identifying the Morning Post with[Pg 237] the imaginary personality of Jenkins, the super-flunkey, but was also responsible for re-christening the Morning Herald and the Standard—Conservative morning and evening papers which, until 1857, belonged to the same proprietor—Mrs. Gamp and Mrs. Harris. The Standard retaliated by calling Punch the "most abject of all the toadies of The Times," and accusing it of libelling "the young gentlemen of Eton" and the Queen. By an unconscious compliment Punch was bracketed with the Examiner, the ablest and most independent of the weeklies, as The Times was of the dailies, for its disloyalty to the Crown. In the war of wits which ensued and was carried on for several years, all the honours rested with Punch. But these controversies belong rather to the domestic history of Punch; and Punch's friendly relations with the Daily News, of which Dickens was the first editor, must be somewhat discounted by the facts that Douglas Jerrold was an intimate friend of the novelist, who occasionally dined with the Punch staff; that Paxton, one of Punch's heroes, exerted all his great influence on behalf of the new daily; and finally, that Bradbury and Evans were, at the time, the publishers of Dickens, of Punch, and of the Daily News. The journalism of the 'forties and 'fifties presents curious analogies with and divergences from the journalism of to-day. Punch is never weary of girding at the cult of monstrosity and sensationalism, the disproportionate amount of space devoted to crime and criminals and causes célèbres, the habit of burning the idols of yesterday, the nauseating compliments paid to statesmen after death by those who had maligned them in their lifetime. Many of the least reputable exploits of Georgian journalism were anticipated in early Victorian days. Criticism was franker, more outspoken, and less restrained by the law of libel, and Punch always stood out within reasonable limits for the liberty of the Press. When an Edinburgh jury gave a verdict against the Scotsman in the famous case brought by Duncan MacLaren in 1852, Punch compared them to Bomba, and congratulated the Scottish gentlemen who defrayed the Scotsman's costs and damages. He regarded it as a righteous protest against a verdict which threatened "to make it impossible to express contempt at political[Pg 238] apostasy, disgust at the abandonment of principles, or indignation at any coalition, however disreputable, without the danger of being brought before a jury." The Scotsman was then edited by Alexander Russel, the most powerful, original, and enlightened of Scots journalists. Russel, for the last twenty years of his life, dominated the Scotsman as Delane dominated The Times. But it was, in the main, a righteous and benevolent dictatorship. "What made every one turn with alert curiosity to The Times in Delane's day was that nobody knew beforehand which side he would take on any new question." [24] And much the same might be said of Russel. No such curiosity is possible to-day. There has been a great levelling up of journalism from the bottom, and a great levelling down from the top. In the old days the gap between men like Delane and Russel and the penny-a-liners was greater than any gap that now exists in the profession. Not the least of their distinctions was the fact that they both died without even a knighthood to their names. Fifty years later neither of them could have held his post for a fortnight. It is to the credit of Punch that he recognized the value of their independence and emulated it in his own sphere. He played his part manfully in helping to kill the old flunkey-worship of rank, but could not prevent the reincarnation of "Jenkins" in the modern sycophantic worshipper of success—no matter how achieved. The excellence of provincial journalism—not yet exposed to the competition of the cheap London press—is attested by Punch's frequent citations, but he did not overlook its ineptitudes, some of which happily remain to refresh our leisure.

Quacks and Doctors

But of all the professions, none looms larger in the early pages of Punch than that of medicine. Here, again, a broad distinction is drawn between the heads of the profession and those who are preparing for it; between legitimate and illegitimate practitioners. Men like Harvey and Jenner are extolled as heroes and benefactors of humanity at large, and their recognition by the State is urged as a national duty. The maintenance of the status and dignity of physicians and surgeons, civil,[Pg 239] naval, and military, is frequently insisted upon before and during the Crimean War. Punch's tribute to the services of Florence Nightingale in reorganizing the nursing profession has already been noted. He was a strenuous advocate of the disestablishment of Mrs. Gamp, and a consistent supporter of the campaign against quackery, though under no illusions as to the possibility of its entire extermination:—

Great outcry has been raised of late, in the Lancet and other journals, against Quacks and Quackery. Let them not flatter themselves that it is possible to put either down. The Quack is a personage too essential to the comfort of a large class of society to be deprived of his vocation. He is, in fact, the Physician of the Fools—a body whose numbers and respectability are by far too great to admit of anything of the kind. However, as there are some people in the world who are not fools, and who will not, when they want a doctor, have recourse to a Quack, if they can help it, the practice of the latter ought certainly to be limited to its proper sphere. For this end we could certainly go rather farther than Sir James Graham's sympathies permitted him to proceed last session. We propose that every Quack should not only not be suffered to call himself what he is not, but should be compelled to call himself what he is. We would not only prevent him from assuming the title of a medical man, but we would oblige him to take that of Quack.

This was written in 1845. The Sir James Graham referred to was one of the blackest of all Punch's bêtes noires—in consequence of the postal censorship which earned for him the title of "The Breaker (not the Keeper) of the Seals," and prompted the savage cartoon of "Peel's Dirty Little Boy." He never had friendly treatment at the hands of Punch. Elsewhere it is insinuated that the measure played the game of the quacks, and the history of attempts to regulate their activities in the last seventy years goes far to justify Punch's scepticism. But his censure was not confined to quacks; he says hard things of doctors who exploited and traded on malades imaginaires, and more than once exhibits impatience at the failure of medical science to arrive at any definite conclusions as to the causes or cure of the cholera epidemic in 1849. And when Mr. Muntz brought forward a motion in 1845 to oblige doctors to write their prescriptions in English and put English[Pg 240] labels on their gallipots, the proposal was satirized as an effort to strip medicine of its indispensable mystery. It may be not unfairly contended that Punch, in his horror of humbug and condemnation of guzzling and gormandizing, was a disciple of Abernethy. His views on diet inclined to moderation rather than asceticism, and the new cult of vegetarianism, which seems to have had its origin in Manchester, was satirized under the heading, "Greens for the Green."

Portly boy talking to shop assistant.


Pastrycook: "What have you had, Sir?"

Boy: "I've had two jellies, seven of these, eleven of these, and six of those, and four Bath buns, a sausage roll, ten almond cakes—and a bottle of ginger beer."

Medical Students

By far the largest number of the references to medicine, however, are concerned with the manners and customs of medical students, and if corroboration be needed for the unflattering picture of this class which has been drawn in Pickwick, the pages of Punch supply it in distressing abundance. The counterparts[Pg 241] of Bob Sawyer and Benjamin Allen, in all their dingy rowdiness are portrayed in a series of articles and paragraphs running through the early volumes.

Man drinking beer.


Thus, under the heading Hospitals we read:—

The attributes of the gentlemen walking the various hospitals may be thus enumerated:

Guy'sHalf-and-half, anatomical fracas,and billiards.
St. Thomas'sDitto
St. George'sDoings at Tattersall's.
LondonToo remote to be ascertained.
UniversityConjuring, juggling, and mesmerism.
Bartholomew'sState of Smithfield Markets.
MiddlesexConvivial harmony.
Charing CrossDancing at the Lowther-rooms.
King's CollegeHas not yet acquired any peculiarity.
WestminsterDashes of all the others combined.

[Pg 242]

Even when all allowance has been made for the exaggeration of the satirist, there was undoubtedly a serious warrant for this indictment, and we may congratulate ourselves that it is a gross libel on the medical students of to-day. They may be exuberant, noisy, and rowdy on occasion, but they are neither grubby nor callous, and the unfortunate episode of their treatment of Mr. "Pussyfoot" Johnson may be regarded, we believe, as a blot on the scutcheon of their sportsmanship which the great majority regretted and reprobated.

[23] On the occasion of Punch's Jubilee, in 1891, The Times remarked: "May we be excused for noting the fact that he (Punch) has generally, in regard to public affairs, taken his cue from The Times?" That was substantially true of The Times under the old régime when Delane was editor. Mr. Herbert Paul, himself a strong Liberal, writes in his History of Modern England that "Delane's chief quality was his independence." Mr. Dasent, in his biography, gives good grounds for his assertion that Delane was at no time what could be called a party man, though his instincts were essentially Liberal, and notes that "if charged with inconsistency, Delane would merely remind his critics that The Times was the organ of no party, and that every issue was complete in itself."

[24] Delane of "The Times," by Sir Edward Cook, p. 281.

[Pg 243]


On the position and influence of women in society Punch, as we have already seen, furnishes a critical if not a complete commentary. Extravagance, exclusiveness and arrogance are faithfully dealt with. There is genuine satire in the picture of the fine lady who, on hearing that her pet dog had bitten the footman in the leg, expressed the fervent hope that it would not make the dog ill. Fashionable delicacy is ridiculed, and Punch ranged himself on the side of "S.G.O." (Lord Sidney Godolphin Osborne) in his crusade in The Times against Mayfair matrons for not nursing their own offspring, and for employing wet-nurses who, in turn, had to starve their own children. A few years earlier, when the question "Can Women regenerate Society?" was seriously discussed in the same journal, the issue is drowned by Punch in a stream of comic suggestions. There is not much to choose between the "Dolls' House" ideal and that expressed in the sonnet printed in the winter of 1846:—

I idolize the ladies. They are fairies

That spiritualize this earth of ours;

From heavenly hotbeds, most delightful flowers,

Or choice cream-cheeses from celestial dairies.

But learning in its barbarous seminaries,

Gives the dear creatures many wretched hours,

And on their gossamer intellects sternly showers

Science with all its horrid accessaries.

Now, seriously, the only things, I think,

In which young ladies should instructed be,

Are stocking-mending, love, and cookery—

Accomplishments that very soon will sink,

Since Fluxions, now, and Sanscrit conversation,

Always form part of female education.

[Pg 244]

Two ladies talking.


Flora: "What a very pretty waistcoat, Emily!"

Emily: "Yes, dear. It belongs to my brother Charles. When he goes out of town, he puts me on the Free List, as he calls it, of his wardrobe. Isn't it kind?"

Victorian Damsels

But even within the ranks of the social élite signs of a desire for equal rights were not wanting. These, however, were mainly in the direction of aping masculinity in sport and dress. In the same year we read of the Duchess of Marlborough shooting, and a Ladies' Club is mentioned for the first time a few months earlier. References to the mistakenly modern idea of ladies smoking are to be found pretty frequently even before the Crimean War, which is generally held responsible for the introduction of the cigarette, and soon afterwards we have a picture of a lady calmly enjoying a smoke in the train. Fine ladies are satirized for emulating their brothers and husbands by[Pg 245] leaving their bills unpaid. It must be owned that woman, if she ventured to step outside the domain of an amiable, decorative, or domestic mode of existence met with little commendation from Punch. He was a strong advocate of schools for cooking long years before the historic advice of "Feed the Brute" appeared in his pages. But the strong-minded female only excited his ridicule and satire, though with unkind inconsistency he was never weary of making fun of the troubles of the helpless "unprotected female." There are hundreds of portraits of charming Victorian damsels in Leech's "Social Cuts," but their predominant trait is health and amiability. Very rarely do they say anything wise or witty or plain spoken—even under great provocation from their pert schoolboy brothers. But we know—even from the pages of Punch—that Victorian women and girls were not all of this yielding and gentle type, and it is to his credit that in his sketch of "The Model Fast Lady," he was able to render justice to a phase of advanced womanhood remote alike from sentimentality and intellectualism:—

The Model Fast Lady

She delights in dogs; not King Charles's, but big dogs that live in kennels. She takes them into the drawing-room, and makes them leap over the chairs. Her mare, too, is never out of her mouth.... If she is intimate with you, she will call you "my dear fellow"; and if she takes a fancy to you, you will be addressed the first time by your Christian name, familiarized very shortly from Henry into Harry. Her father is hailed as "Governor." Her speech, in fact, is a little masculine. If your eyes were shut, you would fancy it was a "Fast Man" speaking, so quick do the "snobs," and "nobs," and "chaps," and "dowdies," "gawkies," "spoonies," "brats," and other cherished members of the Fast Human Family run through her loud conversation. Occasionally, too, a "Deuce take it," vigorously thrown in, or a "Drat it," peculiarly emphasized, will startle you; but they are only used as interjections, and mean nothing but "Alas!" or "Dear me!" or, at the most, "How provoking!"

The MODEL FAST LADY is not particularly attached to dancing. She waltzes as if she had made a wager to go round the room one hundred and fifty times in five minutes and a quarter. If any one is pushed over by the rapidity of her Olga revolutions, she does not stop, but merely laughs, and "hopes no limbs are broken."

By the bye, if she has a weakness, it is on the score—rather a[Pg 246] long one—of wagers. She is always betting. It must be mentioned, however, that she is most honourable in the payment of her debts. She would sell her Black Bess sooner than levant.

THE MODEL FAST LADY has, at best, but a superficial knowledge of the art of flirting. Compliments, she calls "stuff"; and sentiment "namby-pamby nonsense." She likes a person to be sensible; and has no idea of being made a fool of.

At a picnic she is invaluable. When your tumbler is empty, she'll take Champagne with you—that is to say, if you're not too proud. You may as well fill her glass; she has no notion of being cheated. Here's better luck to you! and to enforce it, she runs the point of her parasol into your side.

She dislikes smoking? Not she indeed; she's rather fond of it. In fact, she likes a "weed" herself occasionally, and to convince you, will take a whiff or two. Her forefinger is not much needle-marked, and she laughs at Berlin wool, and all such fiddle[Pg 247] faddle. She has a pianoforte, but really she has no patience to practise. She can play a short tune on the cornet-à-piston.

Literature is a sealed pleasure to her, though it is but fair to state she reads Bell's Life, and has a few volumes in her bedroom of the Sporting Magazine. She knows there was a horse of the name of Byron.

The FAST LADY rather avoids children. If a baby is put into her hands, she says, "Pray, somebody, come and take this thing, I'm afraid of dropping it." She prefers the society of men, too, to that of her own sex.

Her costume is not regulated much by the fashions, and she is always the first to come down when the ladies have gone upstairs to change their dress.

Her greatest accomplishment is to drive. With the whip in one hand and the reins in the other, and a key-bugle behind, she would not exchange places with the Queen herself.

With all these peculiarities and manly addictions, however, the FAST LADY is good hearted, very good natured, and never guilty of what she would call "a dirty action." Her generosity, too, must be included amongst her other faults, for she gives to all, and increases the gift by sympathy. She is always in good humour, and, like gentle dulness, dearly loves a joke. She is an excellent daughter, and her father dotes on her and lets her do what she likes, for "he knows she will never do anything wrong, though she is a strange girl." In the country she is greatly beloved. The poor people call her "a dear good Miss," and present their petitions and unfold all their little griefs to her. She is continually having more presents of pups sent to her than she knows what to do with. The farmers, too, consult her about their cows and pigs, and she is the godmother to half the children in the parish.

Her deficiencies, after all, are more those of manner than of feeling. She may be too largely gifted with the male virtues, but then she has a very sparing collection of the female vices. Nature may be to blame for having made her one of the weaker vessels, but imperfect and manly as she is, she still retains the inward gentleness of the woman, and many fine ladies, who stand the highest in the pulpits of society, would preach none the less effectively if they had only as good a heart—even with the trumpery straw in which, like a rich fruit, it is enveloped—as the MODEL FAST LADY.

Man and woman in railway carriage.

Fast Young Lady (to Old Gent): "Have you such a thing as a lucifer about you, for I've left my cigar lights at home."

This was written seventy years ago, but within the last decade we have seen Miss Compton frequently impersonating rôles of which the leading traits were, in essentials, identical[Pg 248] with those of the Model Fast Lady. The model woman, married or unmarried, as represented by the writers and artists of Punch, was feminine, kindly, but colourless, though the "deviations from the norm" are not overlooked—the lion-huntresses of Belgravia; thrusting matrons; willing victims of the social tread-mill and the "petty decalogue of Mode"; cynical high-priestesses of the marriage market.

When we turn to the higher education of women generally the attitude assumed is nearly always one of mild chaff. Punch refused to take it seriously, and propounded his own scheme for a female university, in which the fashionable accomplishments are enumerated in detail:—

French and Italian as spoken in the fashionable circles, music, drawing, fancy-work, and the higher branches of dancing, will form the regular curriculum. A minor examination on these subjects, or a "Little Go," will be instituted before the Spinstership of Arts can be tried for. The examined shall be able to "go on" anywhere in "Télémaque," or in the conversations in Veneroni's Grammar; to play a fantasia of Thalberg's; to work a pair of slippers in Berlin wool; and to dance the Cachuca and Cracovienne.

For the degree of Spinster, the candidate shall be examined in various novels by Paul de Kock, Victor Hugo, Balzac, and others; also in the libretto of the last new opera. She shall be able to play or sing any of the fashionable pieces or airs of the day, and shall give evidence of an extensive acquaintance with Bellini, Donizetti, Labitzky, and Strauss. She shall draw and embroider, in a satisfactory manner, various fruits, flowers, cottages and a wood, Greeks and Mussulmen. Lastly, she shall dance, with correctness and elegance, a "pas de deux" with any young gentleman who may be selected for the purpose.

There shall be likewise, with respect to music and dancing, an annual examination for honours. The candidates shall evince a familiarity with the most admirable feats of Taglioni, and the Ellslers, and with the most difficult compositions of Herz, Czerny, and Bochsa; though if they like they may be allowed to take up, in preference, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Weber.

These examinations shall be called respectively the Musical and the Dancing Tripos. No one shall be admissible to the latter who has not taken honours in the former. The gradations or distinction shall be as follows: In the Musical Tripos the foremost damsel[Pg 249] shall be entitled the Senior Warbler; next shall follow the Simple Warblers; the Bravissimas shall come next; then the Bravas; and finally those who barely get their degree.

The first dancer shall be denominated La Sylphide; after her shall be ranked the Sylphs; next to these the first and second Coryphées; and lastly, as before, the merely passable.



Women and Politics

This article is fairly typical of the attitude of Punch towards what we now call "Feminism"—a term so new that in the New English Dictionary it is dismissed in half a dozen words as a rare word meaning "the qualities of females"! That definition, however, was given in 1901. Now it would have to be revised to include the movement for political emancipation, economic independence, and admission to the professions. References to female politicians begin in the third volume, where we find the very unsympathetic and even acid sketch here given of Miss Walker, "the female Chartist." Eight years elapsed before ladies were admitted to the gallery of the House of Commons, though, even then, carefully screened from view by the metal work of the "Grille," an Orientally obscuring device which lasted till Georgian days. The possibility of their appearing on the floor of the House is never seriously contemplated; the "Parliamentary female" included amongst the "ladies of creation" in the Almanack for 1852 is modelled on Mrs. Jellyby—Bleak House had been coming out serially from March, 1852, onwards. The pioneers of the invasion of the professions hailed from America. Miss Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.,[Pg 250] of Boston,[25] is mentioned in 1848, and in the following year Punch welcomed the innovation in verse:—


Young ladies all, of every clime,

Especially of Britain,

Who wholly occupy your time

In novels or in knitting,

Whose highest skill is but to play,

Sing, dance, or French to clack well,

Reflect on the example, pray,

Of excellent Miss Blackwell!

For Doctrix Blackwell—that's the way

To dub in rightful gender—

In her profession, ever may

Prosperity attend her!

Punch, a gold-handled parasol

Suggests for presentation,

To one so well deserving all

Esteem and admiration.

The Bloomer Craze
People deriding women wearing bloomers


Punch's commendation rather declines in dignity in the last stanza. But we are hardly prepared for his condemnation of women doctors in 1852 merely on the illogical ground that they were unfitted to walk the hospitals or use the scalpel. The better training of nurses had been urged before the days of Florence Nightingale; Punch appreciated the gossiping humours of Mrs. Gamp, but he was very far from regarding her as a ministering angel. To the "strong-minded female," however, he had a strong antipathy, and in his pictures rather ungenerously emphasized the unloveliness, even the scragginess, of the advocates of women's rights. The famous Amelia Jenks Bloomer was a vigorous suffragist and temperance reformer, but Punch was only concerned with her campaign on behalf of[Pg 251] "trouserloons." "Bloomers" were a constant theme of comment in pantomime librettos; they were adopted by some barmaids; and a "Bloomer Ball" was actually held in the year 1851. This earliest form of "rational" dress for women was, however, banned by Mayfair. The divided skirt, many years later, was more fortunate in having a Viscountess for its chief advocate. Punch is not only concerned with feminine dress-vagaries. He makes a semi-frivolous suggestion of the appointment of a Poetess Laureate, and the "Letters from Mary Ann," though they form a new departure and indicate an increased readiness to treat the claims of women from the women's point of view, cannot be regarded as a whole-hearted contribution to the cause. Women were already knocking at the door of other professions. In 1855 we find references to ladies at the Bar in America and women preachers in Methodist chapels in England.[Pg 252] The first Exhibition of Women Artists is noticed in July, 1857. Punch's anticipation of women policemen in 1851 was probably prompted not by a desire to see the innovation realized, but merely served as a means of guying bloomerism. The female omnibus conductor is another piece of unconscious prophecy, as she was imaginatively represented as being in charge of 'buses for ladies only, to relieve male passengers from the pressure of voluminous dresses and redundant parcels. But while Punch was an opponent of woman suffrage and, at best, a lukewarm supporter of woman's demand for professional employment, he was—as we have shown in other sections of this survey—at least a persistent advocate of the reform of the Divorce Laws—and unwearied in his exposure of the hardships and sufferings of underpaid governesses, sweated sempstresses, and women-workers generally. Brutal assaults on women were, in his view, altogether inadequately punished by fine. He was alive to their wrongs if not to their "rights," and the sneers of some of his contemporaries at the Women's Petition in 1856 moved him to indignation:—


Now, this petition or lamentation—in which Mr. Punch gives willing ear to the cry of weakness and unjust suffering—has been rebuked, pooh-poohed, pished and fiddle-de-dee'd; but in these scoffings Mr. Punch joineth not. He cannot, for the life of him, say, with certain editorial porcupines of the male gender, "Of what avail these lamentations of lamenting women, whose cries are foolishness? Wherefore should women at any time lift up their voices; when is it not manifest from the beginning that women were created to sing small? And finally, if women be beaten by savages, and robbed by sots, what of it? It is better that women should be beaten and crouch in the dust—it is better they should be robbed and sit at home, than go and petition Parliament."

"Punch" Champions Horatia

He espoused the cause of humble heroines, of the neglected widows or orphans of heroes and benefactors like a true knight errant. Elsewhere we have told of his exertions on behalf of Mother Seacole, the brave old sutler in the Crimea, for whose[Pg 253] benefit he started a special fund. The scurvy treatment of the widow of Lieutenant Waghorn, the pioneer of the Overland Route, who wore himself out in a work of national importance, moved him to righteous indignation. She was given a pension of £25, afterwards increased to £40.

But none of these palpable wrongs to women stirred Punch so deeply in these years as the tardy and meagre discharge of the nation's debt to Nelson in respect of his daughter Horatia. To this particular bit of narrow-mindedness he recurs again and again in the years 1849 to 1855, when he sums up what had been done to liquidate the debt:—


An advertisement in The Times tells the world that the eight children of Nelson's daughter Horatia—Nelson's grandchildren—are "more or less provided for." Perhaps a little less than more; but let that pass. At length a long, long standing debt has been paid, or rather compounded, at something less than nineteen shillings in the pound. The Government, as the Government, has done nothing. The stiff, whalebone virtue that set up the back of Queen Charlotte against Nelson's daughter—George the Third thought Nelson's funeral had too much state in it for a mere subject; such pomp "was for kings"—still kept the Government aloof from all help of Horatia and her children. At length, however, the press spoke out. The "ribald press" for a time laid aside its ribaldry, and condescended to champion the claims of Nelson's daughter upon Nelson's fellow-countrymen. Well, something has been done; and thus much in explanation we take from the advertisement in question:—

"The eight children of Horatia, Mrs. Ward, are all now, more or less, provided for. Her eldest son has been presented to the living of Radstock by the Dowager Countess of Waldegrave; the second son had been previously appointed by Sir W. Burnett Assistant-Surgeon in the Navy; to the third, Lord Chancellor Cranworth has given a clerkship in the Registry-Office; the fourth son received a Cadetcy from Captain Shepherd; His Royal Highness Prince Albert conferred a similar appointment on the youngest son; and Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to settle upon the three daughters a pension of £300 per annum. To this last result the exertions of the late Mr. Hume, M.P., mainly contributed. Messrs. Green,[Pg 254] of Blackwall, and Messrs. Smith, of Newcastle, conveyed the two Cadets to India free of expense."

To this may be added a "small cash balance" paid to Mrs. Ward, "after investing £400 in the funds." Altogether some £1,427 have been subscribed in the cause of Nelson's daughter. We state the sum, and will not pause to calculate whether the amount be the tenth of a farthing or even a whole farthing in the pound, for which England is Nelson's debtor. Let us anyway thank those who have helped Horatia's children. They have all done well, from the Dowager Countess to the Queen, ending with the prince ship-owners of Blackwall and Newcastle. Their ships will not have the worst fortune of wreck or storm for having borne, passage-free, the grandsons of Nelson to their Indian work. Let us, too, pause to thank the shade of Joseph Hume—the strong, sound, kind old heart! Joseph, who "mainly contributed," with those earnest, honest fingers of his to undraw the royal purse-strings, so that the three grand-daughters may now keep the wolf from the door, as their immortal grandfather kept the foe from the "silver-girt isle."

We omit the bitter words in which Punch heaps scorn on Nelson's brother, "the first parson Lord Nelson," because the odious charges there made cannot be substantiated. This was not the only occasion on which Punch's zeal was disfigured by the vehemence of his partisanship. But we cannot blame him for his jubilation over the thrashing of General Haynau, the woman-flogger, by the draymen and labourers at Barclay's Brewery on the occasion of his visit to London in 1850, or for the vigour with which he scarified the papers who found excuses and parallels for Haynau's ferocity in the military exigencies of the Peninsular War.

Slavery in America—and England

Foremost amongst Punch's heroines in the 'forties and 'fifties were Jenny Lind, the Swedish, and Florence, the English Nightingale, but of these mention is made elsewhere. In general, the personalities of notable or notorious women were not unfairly exploited in the pages of Punch. The conspicuous isolation of Miss, afterwards Baroness, Burdett Coutts, in virtue of her great wealth, suggests in 1846 the problem, Whom will she marry? which was not settled until 1881. Less restraint is shown in dealing with the arrival in England, after practically ruling Bavaria for more than a year, of the meteoric[Pg 255] adventuress, Lola Montez,[26] and with her marriage with a young Cornet in the Life Guards in July, 1849. Another visitor, of a very different sort, was the famous Mrs. Beecher-Stowe,[27] author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, whose sojourn in England in 1853 brought the question of slavery in America into social prominence and led to the presentation of the "Stafford House Address," initiated by the Duchess of Sutherland, to the women of America. The appeal was not well received, being answered by the "Address of many thousands of the women of the United States," who pointed out the degraded conditions in which the poor in England lived. Two wrongs do not make a right, but there was excuse for the retort. The Southern planters were not all Legrees. Let it be added that, in his indignation at the inadequate sentences passed on wife-beaters, Punch did not fail to pillory cruel mothers who tortured or neglected their children. In the autumn of 1856 he contrasts the sentence of four years on a woman who had tortured her daughter to death with that of fifteen years on a man for mutilating a sheep. Already the problem of the numerical disparity of the sexes and the hard case of the "superfluous woman" had begun to attract attention, and emigration was preached as a panacea. To what has been written elsewhere on the remedy and Punch's belief in it, we may add his remarks on "Our female supernumeraries":—

The Cynical View:—Wherever there is mischief, women are sure to be at the bottom of it. The state of the country bears out this old saying. All our difficulties arise from a superabundance of females. The only remedy for this evil is to pack up bag and baggage, and start them away.

[Pg 256]

The Alarmist View:—If the surplus female population with which we are overrun increases much more, we shall be eaten up with women. What used to be our better half will soon become our worse nine-tenths; a numerical majority which it will be vain to contend with, and which will reduce our free and glorious constitution to that most degrading of all despotisms, a petticoat government.

Our Own View:—It is lamentable that thousands of poor girls should starve here upon slops, working for slopsellers, and only not dying old maids because dying young, when stalwart mates and solid meals might be found for all in Australia. Doubtless they would fly as fast as the Swedish hen-chaffinches—if only they had the means of flying. It remains with the Government and the country to find them wings.

The Worm Turns

Punch's chivalry to women is beyond question, but it was not untempered by a certain condescension. Throughout these years—with rare exceptions—he remains faithful to the old assumption that no woman could have a sense of humour. Grown-up sisters are frequently represented as being unmercifully chaffed by small brothers without apparently having the slightest power of effectual rejoinder. And this defect is shown in the pictures, where the women are exceedingly pleasant to look at, but nearly always quite expressionless. Yet in moments of generous expansion Punch was capable of crediting them with extremely damaging criticism of their lords and masters. The high-water mark of his sympathy with female emancipation in these years is to be found in the homely remonstrances of "Mrs. Mouser" in "A Bit of my Mind":—

... Well, the hypocrisy of men all over the world, especially the civilized!—for, after all, the savages are really and truly more of the gentlemen. They mean what they say to the sex, and act up to it; they don't call the suffering creatures lilies, and roses, and angels, and jewels of life, and then treat 'em as if they were weeds of the world, and pebbles of the highway. But with civilized nations—as I fling it at Mouser—they all of 'em make women the sign-post pictures of everything that's beautiful and behave to the dear originals as if they were born simpletons. "Look at Liberty, Mr. Mouser," said I, "look, you want to make Liberty look as lovely as it can be done, and what do you do? Why, you're[Pg 257] obliged to come to women for the only beautiful Liberty that will serve you. You paint and stamp Liberty as a woman, and then—but it's so like you—then you won't suffer so much as a single petticoat to take her seat in the House of Commons. And next, Mouser"—for I would be heard—"and next, you want the figure of Justice. Woman again. There she is, with her balance and sword, as the sort of public-house sign for law, but—is a poor woman allowed to wear false hair, and put a black gown upon her back, and so much as once open her mouth on the Queen's Bench? May she put a tippet of ermine on herself—may she even find herself in a jury? Oh, no: you can paint Justice, and cut her in stone, but you never let the poor thing say a syllable."

Man and woman talking.

"Are you going?"

"Why, ye-es. The fact is that your party is so slow and I am weally so infernally bored, that I shall go somewhere and smoke a quiet cigar."

"Well, good-night. As you are by no means handsome, a great puppy, and not in the least amusing, I think it is the best thing you can do."

[25] Miss Blackwell, as we learn from an In Memoriam notice in The Times, was born in Bristol on February 3, 1821, died at Hastings in 1910, and was buried at Kilmun, Argyllshire. She is there described as "the first woman doctor."

[26] The stage name of Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, daughter of an English officer, born at Limerick in 1818, the favourite of the old King Ludwig of Bavaria; dancer, actress, author, lecturer, who died in New York "sincerely penitent" in 1861.

[27] See the Examiner and Punch. The following advertisement in the Examiner will be read with interest:—"The arrival of Mrs. Beecher-Stowe has given an impetus to the demand for all Stephen Glover's compositions connected with Uncle Tom: 'The Sea of Glass,' Eliza's song 'Sleep, our child,' 'Eva's Parting Words,' and Topsy's song 'I'm but a little nigger girl.'"

[Pg 258]


It is a noteworthy sign of the times that between 1841 and 1857 the specific references to the dress of men in the text of Punch are much more numerous than those dealing with the vagaries of female attire. The balance inclines in the contrary direction in the pictures which, when tested by old daguerreotypes and the contents of family albums, form a substantially correct and illuminating commentary on the evolution of fashion in women's dress. So we begin with the ladies, with the double proviso that Leech and Doyle and their brother artists on Punch were not fashion-plate designers, and that the charms and extravagances of the modish world which they depicted were drawn mainly from the Metropolis. Punch was a Londoner, even a Cockney, and throws little light on the social life of the provinces.

The Breadth of the Fashion
Woman in crinoline dress.


Master of the House: "Oh, Fred, my boy—when dinner is ready, you take Mrs. Furbelow downstairs!"

[Pg 260]

Men pushed aside by women with baby carriages


Man reaching to a woman  who is wearing a crinoline dress.


Aids to Beauty

To speak roughly, fashion in women's dress is subject to two great alternating influences—in the direction of elongation or of lateral extension. In the 'forties and 'fifties the tendency was steadily in the second direction and away from the slim elegance which has been the aim of the modistes of recent years. Long, "mud-bedraggled" dresses are, it is true, condemned in 1844, but width rather than length was the prevailing feature. It was the age of flounces, and this expansive tendency culminated, in the mid-'fifties, in the reign of the crinoline, against which Punch waged for many years a truceless but, as he himself admitted, a wholly ineffectual warfare. The first indication of the coming portent is to be found in the annus mirabilis of 1848, when an "air-tube dress extender" is shown in a picture. This, however, was a single hoop and comparatively modest in its circumference. The crinoline, in its full amplitude, did not invade London until 1856. Thenceforward, hardly a number is free from satire and caricature of this exuberant monstrosity, and[Pg 259] the inconvenience caused in theatres, drawing-rooms, in the parks and public vehicles, and in the streets. What with the bath-chairs of invalids, the ladies' dresses, and the children's perambulators, we read in 1856, that "it amounts almost to an impossibility nowadays to walk on the pavements." People were now dressed "not in the height, but the full breadth of the fashion." The structure of the machine, with its whalebone ribs and inflated tubes, was revealed in all its mammoth dimensions. It was denounced alike as an absurdity and as a danger, but satire and warnings were equally powerless to abate the nuisance. But the crinoline was only the most conspicuous and culminating example of a tendency to superfluous clothing and a semi-Oriental muffling-up of the female form, against[Pg 261] which Punch has lived to see a most acute and wholesome reaction. A sentimental "Buoy at the Nore" writes to put on record a protest against the enormous sunbonnets which covered up the "dear heads" of beauties on the Ramsgate sands. In those days the use of cosmetics and pigments was far less general; veils and bonnets and sunshades, notably the projection aptly nicknamed the "Ugly," were in great demand. The resources of civilization were employed to preserve complexions rather than to supply artificial substitutes. So we find Punch in 1855 describing with much gusto a young lady at the seaside wearing: (1) A huge, round hat doubled down to eclipse all but her chin, (2) an "Ugly" of similar magnitude, (3) a veil, and (4) a parasol. These huge, round hats, like shallow bowls, were worn by little girls, who were often dressed like their parents with flounces and voluminous skirts. But extremes meet, and along with the monstrous seaside hats—big enough to be used as a substitute for an archery target by undisciplined younger brothers—small bonnets, worn on the back of the head, and tiny parasols were in vogue in 1853. A certain[Pg 262] masculinity of attire was affected by young ladies of sporting tastes—in the way of waistcoats and ties for example—but the fashionable world set its face as a flint against anything in the way of rational dress reform. In 1851 we find one of the earliest instances in Punch of the use of the word "æsthetic" in connexion with costume, where in an imaginary dialogue Miss Runt, a strong-minded female, speaks of "our dress viewed as sanitary, economical, æsthetic."[28] Mayfair had no appreciation of any of these aspects of millinery, and "Bloomerism" never caught on with the fashionable world.

Men, carrying a selection of bonnets, following women.


Female head.


Female head with ringlets.


This was the age of flounces and crinolines; it was also the age of ringlets. Bands and braids and hair nets are features of early Victorian coiffure, but ringlets were undoubtedly the favourite mode for full dress occasions. The fashion lasted for a good many years. You will find it in the ballroom scene depicted by Leech in 1847, and Leech illustrated Surtees's novel Plain or Ringlets? in 1860. Of the "plain" variety of hairdressing there are several good examples in Punch, notably the head given above, with which[Pg 263] we couple the ringleted belle illustrated at the foot of the same page.

Wife talking to husband.


Mrs. Turtledove: "Dearest Alfred! Will you decide now what we shall have for dinner?"

Mr. Turtledove: "Let me see, poppet. We had a wafer yesterday—suppose we have a roast butterfly to-day."

Coiffures in the Fifties

In the mid-'fifties, it may be noted, it was the fashion for women to wear gold and silver dust in their hair. In 1854 it was often dressed à l'impératrice in imitation of the Empress Eugénie, and Punch satirizes as an absurdity the general adoption of a coiffure unsuited to people of certain ages, features, and positions—a wide scope for his wit. Tight lacing is seldom noted, and in one respect the ladies of the time were exempt from censure: high heels had not yet come in, or, if they had, they escaped Punch's vigilant eye. In the main Leech, on whose pencil the burden of social commentary fell, was a genial satirist of feminine foibles. Whether they were dancing or riding or bathing, walking or doing nothing, the young women[Pg 264] he drew were almost invariably comely to behold. And that reminds me that the decorum of sea-bathing in the 'fifties was promoted by the apparatus known as the awning, attached to bathing machines. Children were handed over to the rigours of old bathing-women as depicted in the terrifying picture below.

Woman persuading child to bathe.

Bathing Woman: "Master Franky wouldn't cry! No! Not he!—He'll come to his Martha, and bathe like a man!"

Female bathers'.


Fashions for Men

Turning to male attire we have to note that the main features of men's dress as we know it was already established, though in regard to colour, details, and decoration the influence of the Regency period still made itself felt. Trousers were first generally introduced in the Army (see Parkes's Hygiene) at the time of the Peninsular War, but pantaloons—the tight-fitting nether garments which superseded knee-breeches late in the eighteenth century, and were secured at the ankles with ribbons and straps, were fashionable in the 'forties. You will see no trousers, as we know them to-day, in the illustrations to Pickwick, and in the early 'forties pantaloons appear in Punch's illustrations of fashionable wear at dances. The cut of the "claw-hammer" dress-coat does not differ from that of to-day, but it was often of blue cloth with brass buttons; shirts were frilled, and waistcoats of gold-sprigged[Pg 265] satin. The bow tie was larger, resembling that worn by nigger minstrels. "Gibus," or crush hats, did not arrive till the late 'forties—they are mentioned in Thackeray's Book of Snobs, and gentlemen always carried their tall hats in their hands at evening parties, and habitually wore them at clubs. For morning wear blue frock-coats, with white drill trousers and straps, were fashionable in 1844. Stocks and cravats and neck-cloths had not been ousted by ties. The dégagé loose neck-cloth of the "fast man" in 1848 is ridiculed by Punch, who traces its origin to the neck-wear—as modern hosiers say—of the British dustman. Amongst overcoats the Taglioni, a sack-like garment, called after the famous dancer, is most frequently mentioned; the Petersham, a heavy overcoat named after Lord Petersham, a dandy of the Waterloo period, still held its own. The Crimea brought Alma overcoats, Balaklava wrappers, and Crimea cloaks, and about the same time Punch caricatures a[Pg 266] long garment reaching nearly to the heels, which gave the wearer the appearance of a toy figure from a Noah's Ark. There is a mention of the "Aquascutum" waterproof ten years earlier. One Stultz was the fashionable tailor of the time. The chief hatter, however (according to Punch), was Prince Albert, whose continual and unfortunate experiments with headgear have been mentioned elsewhere. Punch speaks of his obsession as a monomania; he only abstained from calling him "the mad hatter" because that engaging personage had not yet emerged from the brain of Lewis Carroll. But Punch himself was much preoccupied with hats. There was a certain elegance about the tall beaver hat which tapered towards the crown. There was none in the rigid "chimney-pot" or cylinder silk hat, the ugliest of all European head-dresses, with its flat, narrow brim, which was "established" by 1850. Punch warred against it almost as vigorously and as ineffectually as against the crinoline. Indeed, in 1851 he even went to the length of suggesting the form and materials suitable for an ideal hat:—

The Ideal Hat

[Pg 267]

Take an easy and well-cut morning jacket of the form no longer confined to the stableyard or barrack room, but admitted alike into breakfast parlour and country house, or the hanging paletot with a waistcoat, not scrimp and tight, but long and ample, and wide and well-made trousers of any of the neutral-tinted woollen fabrics that our northern looms are so prolific in; and we assert fearlessly that a broad-leafed and flexible sombrero of grey, or brown or black felt may be worn with such a costume, to complete a dress at once becoming and congruous.

Child remarking on mens' dress.


Perceptive Child: "Mamma, dear! Why do those gentlemen dress themselves like the funny little men in the Noah's Ark?"

Group of smartly dressed men.


The resources of modern newspaper enterprise were not then available to enable Punch to realize his ideal, but he continued to tilt at the "chimney-pot," though he never succeeded in dethroning it. High collars are caricatured in 1854. At first they were wide as well as high, but the "all round collar" of which Punch has a picture in 1854 approximates to the lofty cincture worn by the present Lord Spencer when a member of the House of Commons. The monocle was not[Pg 268] uncommon; but the caricature of Colonel Sibthorp, one of Punch's favourite butts, shows that the square shape was still used. White waistcoats were noted as the emblem of the blameless life of the "Young England" party. For the grotesque extravagances of fashion Oxford undergraduates, forerunners of little Mr. Bouncer, are singled out for satire, but if we are to believe Mr. Punch, caricature was unnecessary.

Caricature in the form  of a spoon.


If this was the age of ringlets for women, it was the age of whiskers, short but ambrosial, for men. The long "Piccadilly weepers" of Lord Dundreary were a slightly later development, but Leech's "swells" all wear whiskers in the 'forties and 'fifties. (Is not the habit immortalized in the mid-Victorian comic song: "The Captain with his whiskers cast a sly glance at me"?) They wore small moustaches, too, and occasionally chin-tufts. Under the head of "Moustaches for the Million," Punch, in 1847, ironically suggests the placing of sham moustaches on the market for the benefit of seedy bucks, swell-mobsmen, inmates of the Queen's Bench prison, and all impostors who affected a social status to which they had no claim or which they had forfeited. But what he calls the "Moustache Movement" in the early 'fifties was undoubtedly inspired by military example, and was followed by the fashion of growing beards. The necessity of campaigning became the adornment of peace, and in 1854 and 1855 we find pictures of tremendously bearded railway guards and ticket-collectors, whose appearance terrifies old ladies and gentlemen.

[Pg 269]

Man addressing a strangely dressed student.

Proctor (to Undergraduate): "Pray, Sir, will you be so good as to tell me whether you are a member of the University, or a Scotch terrier?"

Uncomfortable Uniforms

The vagaries of military uniforms—apart from the intrusions of Prince Albert—call for separate treatment. The new and very skimpy shell-jacket introduced in 1848 evokes imaginary protests alike from stout and lean officers. The short, high-shouldered military cape is guyed in 1851. In 1854 Punch throws himself with great energy into the movement for the abolition of the high stock and the adoption of more rational and comfortable clothing—witness the verses, "Valour under difficulties," depicting the sufferings of a half-strangled militia-man; the caricature of the "New Albert Bonnet"; the cartoon in which Private Jones in a bearskin, black in the face from the strangulation of his stock, is afraid that his head is coming off; the ridiculous frogged tunic with a very low belt; and the comments on the Army Order, issued by Sidney Herbert in 1854, providing white linen covers for helmets and shakos as a protection against the heat. The sufferings endured by soldiers[Pg 270] owing to their heavy packs and marching kit are not forgotten. But these abuses, like the story of the bad and rotten boots provided by contractors for the Crimea, do not belong to a chronicle of fashion, but to the scandalous history of commerce. Did history repeat itself in some measure in the Great War?

Man in wide shouldered cape.

Rude Boy: "O, look 'ere, Jim!—If 'ere ain't a Lobster bin and out-growed his cloak!"

[28] "Æsthetical" was noticed as early as 1847 in a dig at New Curiosities of Literature, and in 1853 we read of an "æsthetic tea," at which "the atmosphere was one of architecture, painting, stained glass, brasses, heraldry, wood carving, madrigals, chants, motets, mysticism and theology."

[Pg 271]


One must not expect to find a detached, impartial, or coldly critical survey of the drama in the pages of Punch. Most of his staff had dabbled in play-writing; Douglas Jerrold was a prolific, accomplished, and, so far as prestige went, a successful dramatist, but he had reaped a singularly meagre reward for his industry and talent. He had fallen out with managers, and his quarrel with Charles Kean was not without its influence on Punch's persistent disparagement of that actor. Yet, when all allowance has been made for these personal motives and the querulous tone which they occasionally inspired, Punch may fairly claim to have rendered valuable service to the British drama in this period. He was sound in essentials: in his whole-hearted devotion to Shakespeare and loyal support of those, like Phelps and Mrs. Warner, who under great difficulties, and with no fashionable patronage, gave good performances of Shakespearean plays at moderate prices; in his unceasing attacks on "Newgate plays," "poison plays," the cult of the criminal whether native or foreign, stage buffoonery, over-reliance on mere upholstery, dramatic clichés, and solecisms in pronunciation.[29] He was also a reformer in his advocacy of improvements for the comfort and convenience of the play-goer, such as the abolition of the rule of evening dress. And, as we have seen, he rebuked mummer-worship, holding that "the players' vanity has been the curse of the modern drama." His continued and pointed remonstrance with the Court for discouraging British plays and British-born players has been already noted. It runs through the first ten[Pg 272] years of Punch with little intermission and was largely justified. Punch was able to congratulate Prince Albert on subscribing to the fund raised to purchase Shakespeare's house for the nation in 1847, but in the main his grievance was genuine. Foreign artists and freaks were far too freely patronized and encouraged at Court. The balance has long since been redressed, and another grievance—the dependence of managers on translations and adaptations from French plays as set forth in the following extract—has been largely remedied, though the remedy, so far as the importation of American plays is concerned, is by some critics considered worse than the disease:—

Galignani's Messenger says of the French theatre:—

"There were produced in 1842 at the different theatres of Paris, 191 new pieces."

Punch says of the English theatre:—

"There were produced in 1842 at the different theatres of London about ten new pieces; the rest being hashed, fricasseed, devilled, warmed up, from old stock brought from France or stolen from the manufactory of Bentley and others!"

Censure is impartially bestowed on home-made and imported specimens of the Newgate drama—Jack Sheppard and Madame Lafarge.[30] Of the latter we read that besides being revolting it was "disgusting and filthy." The play is compared, to its great disadvantage, with The Beggar's Opera, which is defended as being "real satire and not wallowing in vice." George Stephens's tragedy Martinuzzi comes in for frequent ridicule, though the chief rôles were taken by Phelps and Mrs. Warner, and the ridicule seems to have been well deserved. On what grounds Stephens gained a place in the D.N.B. is not evident, as his dramas soon died beyond all possibilities of resurrection. Lord Mahon's "petition" to Parliament on behalf of the drama in the year 1842 met with[Pg 273] Punch's support. It amounted to this, that Parliament in the bounty of its wisdom would permit what were then called the minor theatres to play the very best dramas they could obtain; as it was they were only open to the very worst. Douglas Jerrold writing under his signature of "Q" then develops the argument:—

Virtue, decency, loyalty, and a bundle of other excellences, are only valuable in Westminster. In that city of light and goodness, the Lord Chamberlain deputes some holy man to read all plays ere they are permitted to be produced before a Westminster audience. There is no such care taken of the souls of Southwark or Islington. The Victoria audiences may be the Alsatians of play-goers, and laugh, and weep, and hoot, in defiance of Law. They get their Jack Sheppards, unlicensed and unpaid for; but the strait-laced frequenters of the Adelphi and Olympic have the satisfaction of knowing that their Jack Sheppard has been licensed by a Deputy, for a certain amount of Her Majesty's money. There, the beauties of Tyburn are exhibited with a cum privilegio.

Will Lord Mahon's petition have the effect of altering this wickedness, this stupidity, this injustice and absurdity? We hope it may; but, we repeat it, we have little faith in the enthusiasm of Parliament. With the worthy gentlemen who compose it, the playhouse is become low and vulgar. Were they called upon to debate what should be the statute length of Cerito's petticoats, we should have greater hope of their activity, than when the subject involves the true interests of the English dramatist, and the real value of the English stage.

Lord Mahon's Petition

Punch's pessimism was fortunately not justified by the sequel, for in the following year, 1843, the Theatres Act abolished the monopoly of the patent theatres—which for more than a hundred years had confined the legitimate drama to Covent Garden, Drury Lane and the Haymarket—and thus inaugurated a policy of free trade.

Déjazet's London début in 1843 provoked the comment, applied by a later humorist to one of the plays of Aristophanes, that she was "as broad as she was long"; and the production of a ballet on Lady Macbeth in the same year prompted the really prophetic suggestion that the only way to get a five-act tragedy performed was to omit the whole of the dialogue and[Pg 274] give the rôle of heroine to a première danseuse. As a matter of fact Taglioni appeared in Electra in 1845.

In 1844 Punch took a very gloomy view of the dramatic outlook; French dishes predominated, Shakespeare was "Cibberized," and comedy vulgarized at the Adelphi and the Olympic. Nor was he cheered by the activities of a society called the Syncretics, "whose boast it is that they can write tragedies which no company can act, and no audience can sit out"—a boast which might be triumphantly re-echoed by similar societies to-day. A Greek play, the Antigone, produced at Covent Garden in 1845 was an early harbinger of the fruitful movement which began at the end of the 'seventies. Punch's spirits, however, had already revived somewhat when "Shakespeare though banished from Drury Lane and Covent Garden found the snuggest asylum near the New River"—at Sadler's Wells under the enterprising management of Samuel Phelps and Mrs. Warner in 1844, and in the following year he notes that Shakespeare, expelled from England to make way for the ballet, had been welcomed in Paris in the person of Macready. The public knowledge of Shakespeare at the time was, according to Punch, confined to "elegant extracts."

A curious sidelight is thrown on the composition of theatrical programmes in the 'forties by the ironical regret expressed at the passing of the old school of comic song: "The old comic song was a description in lively verse of a murder or a suicide or some domestic affliction, and if sung at a minor theatre just after the half-price came in, never missed an encore." At the major theatres, and especially Drury Lane, the cast in spectacular plays was already reinforced by four-footed performers, and processions of animals through the streets were a familiar mode of theatrical advertisement. Managerial enterprise has always had its menagerial side. Foreign bipeds, however, were not always popular, and when Monte Cristo was produced at Drury Lane in 1848, with French performers, there was a patriotic hostile demonstration.

The Passing of Pantomimes

Judged by modern standards salaries were modest. Well-known actors are charged with extortion in demanding £60 a week, but it must be remembered that £60 was exactly[Pg 275] all that Douglas Jerrold ever made out of his most popular and successful play—Black Eyed Susan. Those simple souls who lament the decadence of the harlequinade will be comforted to learn that as early as 1843 Punch deplores the triumph of scenery over fun, the supersession of Grimaldi by Stanfield; and he returns to his complaint in 1849 in "Christmas is not what it ought to be":—

Pantomime's quite on the wane,

Though vainly they try to enrich it,

By calling, again and again,

For "Hot Codlins" and "Tippetywitchet."

The stealing of poultry by clown

Has ceased irresistible sport to be,

If he swallowed a turkey it wouldn't go down;

Christmas is not what it ought to be.

The red-hot poker business has at any rate taken an unconscionably long time in dying, and it is not dead yet. But clowns, outside pantomime, have taken on a new lease of life thanks to Marceline and Grock. The present writer ventures to predict wonderful possibilities for harlequinade if revived and developed on the romantic and grotesque lines of the Russian ballet, to say nothing of the opportunities which it affords for satire. The craze for child actors and marionettes in 1852 led Punch to bestow an ironical commendation on the latter on the ground that they never squabbled in the greenroom.

Punch was all for clean plays, but he was no stickler for puritanism or prudery. In this same year of 1852 he indulges in well-deserved satire on the performances in Passion week. All theatres were supposed to be shut, with the result that while the legitimate drama was suppressed, acrobats or mountebanks of any sort could give entertainments. We may note that in 1853 Punch suggested that theatrical performances should begin at 8 instead of 7 p.m.; 6.30 p.m. is mentioned as the usual dinner hour. Besides the actors already noted Charles Mathews and Vestris, J. B. Buckstone and Paul Bedford are constantly mentioned and in the main with good will.[Pg 276] The feud with Charles Kean was kept up to the end; Punch speaks of his "touchiness," and certainly spared no means of getting him on the raw. When Kean was made an F.S.A. in 1857 it was maliciously suggested that the initials stood for Fair Second-rate Actor. It was otherwise with Charles Kemble, that "first-rate actor of second-rate parts," as Macready styled the father of the gifted and delightful Fanny, and Adelaide the successful opera singer. After his retirement from the stage Kemble gave readings from Shakespeare at Willis's Rooms and elsewhere in 1844-45, and on his death in 1854, Punch paid him this graceful tribute:—

He linked us with a past of scenic art,

Larger and loftier than now is known;

Less mannered, it may be, our stage has grown,

Than when he played his part.

But where shall we now find, upon our scene,

The Gentleman in action, look and word,

Who wears his wit, as he would wear his sword,

As polished and as keen?

Come all who loved him: 'tis his passing bell:

Look your last look: cover the brave old face:

Kindly and gently bear him to his place—

Charles Kemble, fare thee well!

Caricature  of Italian tenor.


The Reign of Italian Opera

A whole volume might be written on the glories, the splendours, and the absurdities of Italian opera in the 'forties and 'fifties as revealed, applauded, and criticized in the columns of Punch. We say Italian opera advisedly, because the domination of Italian composers and singers and of the Italian language was as yet practically unassailed. Germany, it is true, had already begun to knock at the door. Lord Mount Edgcumbe in his Reminiscences mentions the visit of a German operatic company in 1832. Staudigl, who "created" the title-rôle in Mendelssohn's Elijah when it was produced at Birmingham in 1846, is mentioned by Punch as singing in opera in London in 1841. Weber's Der Freischütz was given[Pg 277] at the Haymarket in the summer of 1844. But the greater lights in the operatic firmament, judged by the test of fashionable patronage and indeed general popularity, were all Italian. The meteoric Malibran—Spanish by race but Italian in training—died suddenly and tragically in 1836, and Pasta, her great rival, withdrew from the stage shortly afterwards. The retirement of the famous tenor Rubini is mentioned in Punch's first volume, but his popularity was eclipsed by that of Mario, who reigned without a rival in virtue of his triple endowment of voice, good looks, and elegance. His triumphs were shared by Grisi, and the kings and queens of song on the lyric stage in these two decades were either Italians by birth—e.g., Grisi, Alboni, whom Punch likens to a "jolly blooming she-Bacchus," Persiani, and Piccolomini—or trained in the Italian school and distinguished by their association with Italian opera, such as Sontag and Jenny Lind, Duprez the French tenor, and Lablache, who was born and bred in Italy though of Franco-Hibernian parentage, the greatest in bulk, in volume and beauty of voice, in dramatic versatility and in genial humour of all operatic basses. So too with the composers. It was the heyday of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and the earlier Verdi, whom Punch in 1852 irreverently styles the "crack composer" as he cracked so many voices. Punch cannot be blamed if he failed to foresee in the crude vigour of Nabucco and the hectic[Pg 278] sentimentality of Traviata and Trovatore possibilities of that wonderful Indian summer of genius which began with Aïda and culminated in Otello and Falstaff. Michael Costa was the conductor par excellence, who took outrageous liberties with scores, but was none the less a most efficient operatic drill-sergeant. Here our debt to Italy was ingeniously expressed—though not by Punch—in the Latin tag: Costam subduximus Apennino. Balfe, it is true, had scored a resounding success in 1843 with The Bohemian Girl, which still holds the boards. The fact that it is commonly known in the profession as "The Bo Girl" is perhaps the best index to its artistic value. But Balfe was at least equally well known as a conductor of Italian opera. Punch supported the claims of native and national opera, and regretted that Adelaide Kemble, "our first English operatic singer," should not have made an effort in its behalf in connexion with the venture at Drury Lane in 1841, when a Mr. Rodwell was the only native composer represented. The reason alleged for the rejection of other English operas submitted was the badness of the libretti. Italian opera libretti were often satirized by Punch, but those of Fitzball and Bunn were, if possible, worse.

Italian opera, however, the only opera which really counted in the social world, was the luxury and appanage of the nobility and gentry. The importance and significance of the institution at this time, and for many years afterwards, are really very well summed up in an article which Punch reproduced from the Morning Post in 1843 with italics and comments of his own at the expense of "Jenkins":—

"The Opera is the place of rendezvous of those persons who, de facto, as well as de jure, are, in their several different spheres, the leaders and models of society. It is not only to hear an Opera which they may have seen a hundred times that the distinguished subscribers assemble. There, most men of consequence literary and artistical (pretty egotist) as well as the noble and fashionable, have agreed to meet during the season. There, the fair tenants of the boxes receive those friendly and agreeable visits which do not consist in the delivery of a piece of engraved postcard to a servant. Charming causeries are constantly proceeding sotto voce (of course[Pg 279] Jenkins listens), the music filling up the pauses of a conversation which the more often it is interrupted by the bright efforts of the singers—with the more zest and piquancy it is resumed. We, whose office it is to record daily events—things as they are—and hold the glass up to fashion (whilst fashion arranges its evening tie) can but seek to imitate this course of things—and we do so with only one regret—that motives of delicacy compel us to reflect rather the general sentiments that prevail, than those private opinions which have most piquancy."

"Jenkins" as Musical Critic

For sheer ecstasy of flunkeydom "Jenkins" was unsurpassed and unsurpassable, but at least he was capable of recognizing native talent, as may be gleaned from his notice of Semiramide in English in the winter of 1842:—

We cannot omit another little extract from a notice of Semiramide:—

"Of the gems of this sublime opera we must particularly direct attention to Mrs. Alfred Shaw's manner and divinely expressive way of singing her Cavatina, 'Ah! that day I well remember,' where her sublime contralto, controlled by the most scientific skill, and whose soft diapason tones fall like seraphs' harmony, penetrates the heart with chastening ardour and inspiring effect. Again the contralto and soprano duet, 'Dark days of Sorrow,' between Miss Kemble and Mrs. Shaw; what deep pathos! what eloquence discoursing! Mark the clear, brilliant, towering sublimity of expression as Semiramide holds on the C in alt., while the thirds and fifths of Assaca's deep mellow notes from D to G in a full octave and a half are filling in a sublime harmony of melody of the most touching and refined order."

But if extravagant homage was paid to the queens of song much was also expected of them. The truth of this is seen in the episode chronicled under the heading "Persiani at Sea":—

An enthusiastic audience is assembled to hurrah Persiani—to cry brava—to throw bouquets, etc. The crowd open their mouths to receive the honeyed voice of a prima donna, and Doctor Wardrop throws blue pills into them. The following notice proves the truth of our metaphor:—

"Madame Persiani continues to suffer so severely from the effects[Pg 280] of sea-sickness, accompanied with violent retching, that it is impossible for her to appear this evening.

"James Wardrop, M.D."

On this, says The Times, "the audience were at first disposed to grumble, and gave many signs of dissatisfaction."

The audience were perfectly right. They were justified in becoming very savage at the violent retching of a sea-sick St. Cecilia; and had she had the effrontery to die, they would, we are convinced, have been perfectly exonerated, by all the laws of English freedom, in breaking the chandeliers and tearing up the benches!

Ballet chorus.


The private life of operatic celebrities was as a rule no concern of the opera-going public, but the line was drawn at Lola Montez, whose engagement to dance at Drury Lane in 1843 was cancelled in deference to general protests. The ballet was an integral part and commanding attraction of the old Italian opera. The most wonderful account of this "explosion of all the upholsteries" has been given by Carlyle at a slightly later date. In the 'forties the shining lights were Taglioni—whose skirts were quite long—Cerito, Fanny Ellsler and Carlotta Grisi, cousin of the prima donna, a wonderful quartet on whose gyrations and levitations "Jenkins" showered all the adulatory epithets in his polyglot vocabulary. The skating ballet in Le Prophète, popular in 1849, is the subject of a charming little sketch in Punch, and this production was notable vocally for the appearance of Pauline Viardot-Garcia, the greatest actress, the most accomplished and enlightened musician, and the most interesting personality of all nineteenth century prime donne. Henriette Sontag, however, was the[Pg 281] popular operatic heroine of the year, graceful, charming and still handsome, though no longer in her first youth,[31] a perfect singer, an incomparable Susanna (as Punch admitted), though lacking dramatic force—Sontag, of whom Catalani said that she was the first in her genre, but that her genre was not the first.

Jenny Lind

Great singers came and went but Punch never wavered in his allegiance to Jenny Lind. Though her career on the lyric stage was brief, she is more often and more enthusiastically mentioned than any other singer, and for reasons which are revealed in the following lines:—


Sweetest creature, in song without rival or peer,

Far more inwardly vibrate thy notes than the ear,

For there speaks in that music, pure, gentle, refined,

The exquisite voice of a beautiful mind—

Of a spirit of earnestness, goodness and truth,

Of a heart full of tender compassion and ruth,

Ever ready to comfort, and succour, and bless,

In sorrow and suffering, in want and distress.

Now this Nightingale rare, in the winter who sings,

Being not yet a seraph, is one without wings;

And her name, which has travelled as wide as the wind,

Is kind-hearted, generous, dear JENNY LIND.

When her retirement was rumoured Punch declared that the Bishop of Norwich should rather persuade her to remain on the stage than quit it, because of her example. Reports of her engagement to a Mr. Harris prompted the remark that "the people would never permit it." Indeed there were some persons as sceptical of his existence as Mrs. Gamp was of his[Pg 282] female namesake. Her last appearance was in May, 1849, to assist Lumley, the unlucky impresario, then in difficulties, in response to appeals which were especially vehement in Punch. He asserted that her secession was a national calamity: she "made the stage better without making herself worse"; and Mozart's aid was invoked in an imaginary address from the composer of Don Giovanni.

The singer with admiring fans'


The engagement to Mr. Harris was "declared off" immediately afterwards, but Jenny Lind, in spite of Punch's repeated appeals, adhered to her decision to quit the stage. As late as 1856 Punch still hoped she would reconsider her verdict, and her farewell concerts at Exeter Hall in the summer of that year inspired the characteristic remark that "if any sweetening[Pg 283] process could purify the building it would be such singing as hers."

Popular Favourites in 1844

In the early 'forties Norma was the opera most frequently mentioned. Punch published the stories of several of the most popular operas in verse. A fragment from Linda di Chamouni may suffice:—

Then Mario warbles a beautiful bar

About the revenge of his cruel mamma,

Who, finding to Linda his faith has been plighted,

Resolves to another to get him united:

He curses his fate in a charming falsetto,

Gives way to despair in a voce di petto.

And, rather than grief in his bosom should fester,

He calls out for death in a voce di testa:

Of life his farewell he seems willing to take,

And gives on addio a delicate shake.

The passage is managed with exquisite skill;

And Linda—acquainted with Mario's trill—

Lets him hold it as long as he's able to do,

Awaiting its finish to take for her cue.

Opera singers were great public favourites, but if Punch is to be believed they did not stand first. In a list of the great features of the season of 1844 he puts the Polka and Tom Thumb first, followed by Cerito (the dancer), Grisi, Mario, Persiani, Lablache and the Ojibbeway Indians, who were "horrid but interesting." The ways and personalities of the operatic stars are genially hit off in an article on "the Migration of the Italian Singing Birds." It is pleasant to find Lablache—Stentor and male Siren in one—put first as a bird unrivalled for the combined power and richness of his song. "He is a bird that can sing, and will sing, never requiring any compulsion to make him sing." Punch alludes to his genial disposition, his magnanimity in undertaking small parts to secure a perfect ensemble, but omits to mention his humour. Lablache was once living in the same house with Tom Thumb, and a stranger who came to visit the "General" strayed into Lablache's room. Aghast at the bulk of the inmate[Pg 284] the visitor explained "I thought Tom Thumb lived here." "Yes," said Lablache, "but when I am at home I take it easy." Lablache had as much brains as body, and elsewhere Punch happily quotes in his praise the line of Virgil: ingentes animos ingenti in pectore versat. The notices of Grisi and Mario are worth transcribing:—


Among Italian singing birds the female is equally musical, to say the least, with the male. The song of the Grisi is remarkable for its variety, strength and sweetness. The habits of the Grisi, from what we have been enabled to glean respecting them, seem to be those of a bird that continues, in a considerable measure, to enjoy its own existence. Whether rising with the lark is one of them, or not, we do not know, but we are certain that singing with it is; for the Grisi may undoubtedly be said to vie with the lark, or even the nightingale, in singing. The Grisi is evidently a bird of a kind disposition, and susceptible of affection and attachment; but we should conjecture that she would be apt to peck if ruffled. The kind of food best adapted for this very fascinating songstress is to be obtained at M. Verrey's.


A very pleasant vocalist. He is now regarded as an efficient substitute for the Rubini, to whose note, his own, in point of quality, is somewhat similar. He differs, however, from the latter bird, in singing, like a good bullfinch, the airs which he has acquired without any admixture of certain "native wood-notes wild" which, however well enough in their way, are no embellishment to such music as Mozart's. We lately had the pleasure of hearing him deliver "Il mio tesoro" with very commendable fidelity. He is in the habit of being frequently encored; which is the only habit our knowledge enables us to ascribe to him. So highly are these Italian singing birds prized that many of them fetch, on an average, fifty pounds a night for a mere performance. The sum that would be required to buy one of them up altogether would be enormous. Whether it is the length of John Bull's ears that causes him to pay so dearly for their gratification, we do not know. Would he give as much to relieve the national distress? Perhaps: if it were set to music and sung at the Italian opera.

Musical Grab

The last lines of this passage lend point to a sardonic remark in an earlier volume:—

[Pg 285]

The following extract is as honest as it is true. It is written by Monsieur Henri Blanchard, in the Gazette Musicale:—

"Are you aware," he asks, "that the Italian singers, the French and German instrumentalists, visit your shores solely for the purpose of exercising that spirit of commerce which presides over everything with you, and not to ask for the opinion of Englishmen on the subject of art? They come to make amends in Paris, as they all say, for the trading system they have been carrying on in England, and to spend the money which they have earned with so much ennui."

Punch begs to lay the above on the reading-desk of his gracious mistress the Queen, and humbly prays that her Majesty will mercifully consider the condition of the French, German and Italian ennuyés—and dispense for the future with their services.

This familiar wail is repeated in 1849 when London was likened to a musical Babel with two Italian, one German, and one French operas; Hungarian, French and other foreign prime donne; Strauss's band and Styrian minstrels. M. Blanchard's view was further confirmed by a curious episode worthy of note for the first introduction of the name Wagner to Punch's readers and indeed to the British public. It was not the great Richard, however, but his niece Johanna, an opera singer of considerable repute, who was concerned. In 1852 she simultaneously accepted engagements at both opera houses, a policy which led to protracted litigation in Chancery. Her father was so frank as to say that "England was worth nothing except for her money," and Punch in his frequent references to the incident employs the term "Wagnerism" to express the point of view of opera-singers who would not abide by their contracts. The unfortunate Johanna, "the wandering minstrel," as Punch called her, never appeared in opera in London, but apparently did sing at Court. The engagement of Richard Wagner to conduct the concerts of the Philharmonic Society in 1855 left Punch not merely cold but pugnaciously antagonistic.

The "music of the future" prompted him to rude remarks about "long-eared musicians," and he returns to the seat of the scornful in a curt notice headed "NOT a Magic Minstrel":—

[Pg 286]

Herr Wagner, Professor of the "Music of the Future," appears, in conducting at the Philharmonic, to have made strange work with the music of all time. He alters Mozart, it appears, if not exactly as a parish clerk once said that he had altered Haydn for the singing gallery, yet in a manner nearly as audacious, altering "allegro" to "moderato"; "andante" to "adagio"; "allegretto" to "andante"; and "allegro" again to "prestissimo." Wagner would seem strongly to resemble his namesake in Faust, in the particular wherein that Wagner differs from his master—that is, in the circumstance of being no conjuror.

The sudden disappearance of that Italianized Westphalian, the fiery Cruvelli, was a nine days' wonder in the operatic world in 1854 and is duly chronicled in Punch. Towards the end of this period Piccolomini, a singer of small calibre but attractive personality, achieved great popularity in the rôle of the consumptive heroine of La Traviata, and Punch celebrated the craze of "Piccolomania," as he called it, in the following travesty:—

Art is long and time is fleeting,

But of genius the soul,

Ordinary talent beating,

Reaches at one stride the goal.

In the operatic battle,

In the Prima Donna's life

Quit the herd—the vocal cattle,

Be a Grisi in the strife.

Trust no promise, howe'er pleasant,

Not who may be, but who are;

Piccolomini at present,

Is the bright particular star.

caricature of Jullien.



Outside the opera houses, music in the period under review in this volume may be said to begin and end with Jullien, so far as Punch is concerned. Jullien is roughly handled in the very first number of Punch. In the autumn of 1857 satire has given place to affection and generous recognition. And Punch was right, for underneath all his superficial buffooneries[Pg 287] Jullien was a great educator and reformer. The present writer vividly remembers an anecdote told him by the late Sir Charles Hallé in the 'eighties. After giving a description of Jullien's flamboyant attire—on one occasion he wore a shirt front embroidered with a picture of a nymph playing a flute under a palm tree—and his habit, after performing a solo on his golden piccolo, of flinging himself with a beau geste of exhaustion into a gorgeously upholstered armchair, Sir Charles Hallé went on to recall how Jullien had once said to him: "To succeed in music in England, one must be either a great genius like you, or a great charlatan like me." Now Jullien had been a failure as a student at the Paris Conservatoire—but so had Verdi at[Pg 288] Milan. But there is no warrant whatever for Punch's statement that he was "a ci-devant waiter of a quarante-sous traiteur." Of the charlatan side of Jullien, the love of noise and, again to quote Carlyle, of the "explosion of all the upholsteries," Punch gives a graphic if severe picture in the verses which appear in his first number:—







Now crescendo:—

Thus play the furious band,

Led by the kid-gloved hand

Of Jullien—that Napoleon of quadrille,

Of Piccolo-nians shrillest of the shrill;

Perspiring raver

Over a semi-quaver;

Who tunes his pipes so well, he'll tell you that

The natural key of Johnny Bull's—A flat.

Demon of discord, with moustaches cloven—

Arch-impudent improver of Beethoven—

Tricksy Professor of charlatanerie

Inventor of musical artillery—

Barbarous rain and thunder maker—

Unconscionable money taker—

Travelling about both near and far,

Toll to exact at every bar,

What brings thee here again

To desecrate old Drury's fane?

Egregious attitudiniser!

Antic fifer! com'st to advise her

'Gainst intellect and sense to close her walls?

To raze her benches,

That Gallic wenches

Might play their brazen antics at masked balls?

Men in tall hats obstructing the view  for other patrons.


Early Promenade Concerts

But when Punch assails Jullien for leaving his "stew-pans and meat-oven To make a fricassee of the great Beet-hoven" and "saucily serve Mozart with sauce-piquant," and bids him "put[Pg 289] your hat on, coupez votre bâton, Bah, Va!!!"—Punch was both rude and ungenerous. From the very first at his Concerts d'Eté and then at the Promenade Concerts, Jullien was a popularizer of good music. He gave his public waltzes, "Row Polkas," and explosive Army Quadrilles, but he also sandwiched Beethoven and Mozart between the coarser viands of his musical menu. So while he was credited with the intention of bringing out Stabat Mater waltzes—by no means a difficult feat with Rossini's work—and a Dead March gallopade, we must never forget that he was the first conductor to introduce symphonic music to the masses and the authentic pioneer of the movement which Sir Henry Wood has carried on at the Queen's Hall for the last twenty years and more. Modern music strikes heavily on the naked ear, but Jullien was in the habit of reinforcing instruments of percussion with explosives, and Punch suggests in 1849 that his Concerts Monstres should be held on Salisbury Plain to give elbow room for his "stunning performances." His chevelure, his waistcoats and waistbands were too conspicuous to escape Punch's vigilant eye, and Jullien was no doubt content that it should be so, for he was a[Pg 290] master of the art of réclame. He is habitually alluded to as "the Mons," primarily as the diminutive for "Monsieur," but mainly because he was "the Mont Blanc of Music." The excesses of Jazz Bands of to-day are foreshadowed in a description of the "tongs and bones" music at the Promenade Concerts. But the author of the notice of Jullien[32] in the D.N.B. conveys a wrong impression when he speaks of Punch as only ridiculing Jullien. Already Punch had learned to recognize his merits, and, while rebuking him for his extravagant conducting of flashy and trashy pieces, renders homage to his reverence for good music. Thenceforward the references to "the Mons" are in the main friendly. The Almanack for 1852 speaks of the "Julian (Jullien) Era" in music. Jullien's opera Peter the Great is tenderly handled in the autumn of the same year, and, when he set out for his tour in the States, Punch sped the parting minstrel in some verses which are an admirable and faithful summary of his services to musical education in England:—


Composer of Peter the Great,

Ere over Atlantic's broad swell

The steamer shall carry thee, proud of her freight,

Let me bid thee a hearty farewell.

With ophicleides, cymbals, and gongs

At first thou didst wisely begin,

And bang the dull ears of the popular throngs,

As though 'twere to beat music in.

With national measures of France,

With polka, with waltz, and with jig,

The "gents" thou excitedst to caper and dance,

As Orpheus did ox, ass, and pig.

Then, leading them on, by degrees,

To a feeling for Genius and Art,

Thou mad'st them to feel that Beethoven could please,

And that all was not "slow" in Mozart.

[Pg 291]

John Hullah

The end of the poor "Mons" was pitiful. He was, when he chose to lay aside his mountebankery, an excellent and inspiring conductor. But he was hopelessly extravagant and improvident, and always in money difficulties. In the fire which destroyed Covent Garden Theatre in 1856 he lost all his musical library and other possessions, and a disastrous venture at the Royal Surrey Gardens completed his ruin. There is no "ridicule" in the tribute paid to the unlucky Jullien in the autumn of 1857, when Punch describes him as "a most worthy fellow, at whose eccentricities I have made good fun in his days of glory, but whom I have always recognized as a true artist and a true friend to art." But things went from bad to worse with the eccentric artist, and Jullien died bankrupt and insane in a lunatic asylum in Paris in 1860, at the age of forty-eight.

Another musical pioneer on far more orthodox lines whom Punch recognized was John Hullah, whose singing classes for the people at Exeter Hall in 1842 prompted the comment: "If music for the people be a fine moral pabulum, is the drama for the people to be considered of no value whatever?" More sympathetic is the reference, under the heading of "Io Bacche," to the performance of Bach's Mass in B minor at one of Hullah's monthly concerts in St. Martin's Hall in March, 1851. Hullah, who devoted his life to popular instruction in vocal music, well deserved the commendation: no fewer than 25,000 pupils passed through his singing classes between 1840 and 1860. The standard of taste in vocal music was not high in the early 'forties: Punch satirizes the prevalent sentimentality in songs by suggesting in 1842 as a title "Brush back that briny tear." On the instrumental side we have to note the entrance of the banjo in the same year. Musical eccentricities and monstrosities are duly noted. There seems to have been a special effervescence of them in 1856, when a performer who hammered out tunes on his chin, and Picco, the blind Sardinian penny whistler, enjoyed a fleeting popularity. In the same year American negro dialect ballads were much in vogue, a tyranny from which we are not yet relieved. The concertina became fashionable much earlier, in 1844, owing to the remarkable performances of the[Pg 292] Italian virtuoso Giulio Regondi, but is seldom heard nowadays outside of music halls. Turgenieff said that the zither always reminded him of a Jew trying to sing through his nose. Without going so far as that, one may say that it would be hard to carry out Sir Edward Elgar's favourite expression-mark nobilmente on the concertina. With regard to fashionable music Punch complains in 1849 that execution was everything, composition little or nothing. He only anticipated the complaint of a later satirist who wrote:—

Spare, execution, spare thy victim's bones—

Composed by Mozart, decomposed by Jones.

A crowded concert room.


Male singer with female pianist.


Young Lady (who ought to know better): "Now, William, you are not low enough yet. Begin again at 'he took the cold pizen.'"

"Punch's" Taste in Music

Specimens of fashionable musical criticism have already been given under the head of opera. Punch had the root of the[Pg 293] matter in him but was lacking in technique, and confesses himself unable to make out what a critic meant by alluding to a new tenor's "admirable portamento." He was on much more sure ground when he attacked Balfe for mangling Beethoven at the Grand National Concerts at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1850, when trivial rubbish was sandwiched between movements of the Eroica Symphony. A second visit, however, enabled him to withdraw his censure, as the Eroica and C minor Symphonies were performed without being cut in two. Punch had "no use for" Wagner, as we have seen, but he fully appreciated his romantic forerunner Weber; his salutation of Spohr and Hummel as classics was perhaps a trifle premature. The[Pg 294] names of the various musical celebrities who figure in the pages of Punch in this period afford a striking illustration of the transitoriness of the fame of the executant. Who but experts in musical biography know of Sivori and Ole Bull now? Even the laurels of the great Thalberg, the most "gentlemanly" of all the great pianists, author of the most fashionable variations, have withered sadly in the last half century. Punch does not seem to have been specially impressed by Liszt, the greatest of them all, and misspells his name "Listz" on the occasion of a perfunctory reference to him in 1843. The favourite composers of waltzes were Strauss, the founder of the dynasty of the Viennese waltz-kings, and Labitzky. To the present generation the name Strauss has totally different associations; and we live so fast that an enlightened writer has recently declared that the once redoubtable Richard is also dead. It would be an overstatement to say that conductors were of no account in the 'forties and 'fifties, in view of the notoriety of Jullien and the prestige of Costa, who was both an autocrat and a martinet, but they did not loom nearly so large in the public eye as the great singers. The balance of repute has long since been decisively redressed and the popular conductor of to-day has no reason to complain of lack of homage, whether in the form of applause or official recognition.

Turner as Painter and Poet

The low opinion which Punch entertained of contemporary architects and sculptors and of their ability to design or execute a public building, a monument, or a memorial, has been noted in our brief survey of London. He made an exception in favour of Paxton, but does not seem to have recognized the genius of Alfred Stevens, and here at any rate was not in advance of public or expert opinion of the time. Stevens's design for the Wellington monument was only placed sixth in order of merit by the adjudicators of the competition in 1857, and though ultimately the execution of the monument was entrusted to him, it was not placed in the position intended for it till twenty-seven years after his death. As a judge of painting and painters Punch showed greater independence, intelligence and enlightenment. His earlier volumes abound in references to forgotten names, but he was at least no indiscriminate worshipper[Pg 295] of established reputation. In a notice of the Suffolk Street Gallery in the autumn of 1841 he prints a most trenchant criticism of Maclise's "Sleeping Beauty" as showing "a disdain for both law and reason and avoiding an approximation to the vulgarity of flesh and blood in his representation of humanity." Landseer falls under his lash for his "courtier pictures" at the R.A. in 1844, and in the same article we find the first of many satirical references to Turner's poetic titles. Punch, we regret to say, wholly failed to recognize that a bad poet might be a very great painter. In his "Scamper through the Academy" we read:—

No. 77 is called Whalers, by J. M. W. Turner, R.A., and embodies one of those singular effects which are only met with in lobster salads, and in this artist's pictures. Whether he calls his pictures Whalers, or Venice, or Morning, or Noon, or Night, it is all the same; for it is quite as easy to fancy it one thing as another. We give here two subjects by this celebrated artist.

Signed sketch by J. M. W. Turner, R.A.


MS. "Fallacies of Hope"
(An Unpublished Poem).—Turner.

Signed sketch by J. M. W. Turner, R.A.


MS. "Fallacies of Hope"
(An Unpublished Poem).—Turner.

And again:—

We had almost forgotten Mr. J. M. W. Turner, R.A., and his celebrated MS. poem, the Fallacies of Hope, to which he constantly refers us as "in former years," but on this occasion he has obliged us by simply mentioning the title of the poem, without troubling us with an extract. We will, however, supply a motto to his Morning—returning from the Ball, which really seems to need a little explanation; and as he is too modest to quote the Fallacies of Hope, we will quote it for him:

[Pg 296]

"Oh! what a scene!—Can this be Venice? No.

And yet methinks it is—because I see

Amid the lumps of yellow, red and blue,

Something which looks like a Venetian spire.

That dash of orange in the background there

Bespeaks 'tis Morning! And that little boat

(Almost the colour of tomato sauce)

Proclaims them now returning from the ball!

This in my picture, I would fain convey,

I hope I do. Alas! what FALLACY!"

But there is some good "horse sense" mixed up with frivolity in an article on the canons of criticism a few pages later:—


I. The power of criticism is a gift, and requires no previous education.

II. The critic is greater than the artist.

III. The artist cannot know his own meaning. The critic's office is to inform him of it.

IV. Painting is a mystery. The language of pictorial criticism, like its subject, should be mysterious and unintelligible to the vulgar. It is a mistake to classify it as ordinary English, the rules of which it does not recognise.

V. Approbation should be sparingly given: it should be bestowed in preference on what the general eye condemns. The critical dignity must never be lowered by any explanation why a work of art is good or bad.


Rules for Art Critics

1. To criticise a Picture by Turner.—Begin by protesting against his extravagance; then go on with a "notwithstanding." Combine such phrases as "bathed in sunlight," "flooded with summer glories," "mellow distance," with a reference to his earlier pictures; and wind up with a rapturous rhapsody on the philosophy of art.

2. To criticise a Picture by Stanfield.—Begin by unqualified praise; then commence detracting, first on the score of "sharp, hard outline"; then of "leathery texture"; then of "scenic effect of the figures"; and conclude by a wish he had never been a scene painter.

3. To criticise a Picture by Etty.—Begin by delirious satisfaction with his "delicious carnations" and "mellow flesh-tones." Remark[Pg 297] on the skilful arrangement of colour and admirable composition; and finish with a regret that Etty should content himself with merely painting from "the nude Academy model," without troubling himself with that for which you had just before praised him.—N.B. Never mind the contradiction.

4. To criticise a Picture by E. Landseer.—Here you are bound to unqualified commendation. If the subject be Prince Albert's Hat or the Queen's Macaw, some ingenious compliment to royal patrons is expected.

Punch will be happy to supply newspaper critics with similar directions for "doing" all the principal painters in similar style.

He subjoins some masterly specimens of artistic criticism:—

The "facile princeps" of daily critics of art (he of the Post) has the following, in a criticism of Herbert's Gregory and Choristers:—

"There is a want of modulative melody in its colours and mellowness in its hand (whose?), pushed to an outré simplicity in the[Pg 298] plainness and ungrammatical development of its general effect. The handling is firm and simple, though in the drapery occasionally too square and inflexible."

Scene in an art gallery


The neglect and rough handling of the treasures of the National Gallery, where pictures presented to the nation were buried in a vault, is a frequent source of indignant comment throughout this period—note for example "The Pictures' Petition" in 1853. But in another sense contemporary pictures were roughly handled by Punch. Thus in 1849 he puts in an effective plea for realism as against Wardour Street "Old Clo'," and appeals to artists to "paint human beings instead of clothes-horses." There is indeed a strangely familiar ring in "Mr. Pips's" notes on the R.A. Exhibition of the year:—

"The Exhibition at large I judge to be a very excellent middling one, many Pictures good in their kind, but that Kind in very few cases high. The Silks and Satins mostly painted to admiration, and the Figures copied carefully from the Model; but this do appear too plainly; and the action generally too much like a Scene in a Play."

The same complaint recurs in the following year, when Punch is moved, as the result of visiting all the exhibitions then open to ask certain questions:—

Is painting a living art in England at this moment?

Is there a nineteenth century?

Are there men and women round about us, doing, acting, suffering?

Is the subject matter of Art, clothes? Or is it men and women, their actions, passions and sufferings?

If Art is vital, should it not somehow find food among living events, interests, and incidents? Is our life, at this day, so unideal, so devoid of all sensuous and outward picturesqueness and beauty, that for subjects to paint we must needs go back to the Guelphs and Ghibellines, or to Charles the Second, or William the Third, or George the Second?

Standing nun.


The P.R.B.

But much more interesting than these generalities—sound and sensible though they are—is the first reference to "certain[Pg 299] young friends of mine, calling themselves—the dear silly boys—Pre-Raphaelites" in the same volume. It must certainly be admitted that in his earlier criticisms of the P.R.B.'s Mr. Punch managed to dissemble his affection pretty effectively. The initial compliment in the notice of 1851 is largely discounted by what follows:—

Our dear and promising young friends, the Pre-Raphaelites, deserve especial commendation for the courage with which they have dared to tell some most disagreeable truths on their canvases this year. Mr. Ruskin was quite right in taking up the cudgels against The Times on this matter. The pictures of the P.R.B. are true, and that's the worst of them. Nothing can be more wonderful than the truth of Collins's representation of the Alisma Plantago, except the unattractiveness of the demure lady, whose botanical pursuits he [Pg 300]has recorded under the name of CONVENT THOUGHTS.... By the size of the lady's head he no doubt meant to imply her vast capacity of brains—while by the utter absence of form and limb under the robe, he subtly conveys that she has given up all thoughts of making a figure in the world.

Mr. Millais's "Mariana in the moated Grange" is obviously meant to insinuate a delicate excuse for the gentleman who wouldn't come—and to show the world the full import of Tennyson's description:—

then said she, "I am very dreary."

Anything drearier than the lady, or brighter than her blue velvet robe, it is impossible to conceive.

Lady standing before a window.


But Punch makes the amende most handsomely in 1852:—

Commercialism in Art

Before two pictures of Mr. Millais I have spent the happiest hour that I have ever spent in the Royal Academy Exhibition. In[Pg 301] those two pictures [Ophelia and The Huguenot] I find more loving observation of Nature, more mastery in the reproduction of her forms and colours, more insight into the sentiment of our greatest poet, a deeper feeling of human emotion, a happier choice of a point of interest, and a more truthful rendering of its appropriate expression, than in all the rest of those eight hundred squares of canvas put together.

In 1852 Punch singles out, from a wilderness of niggling landscapes and highly-coloured and meretricious upholstery, Watts's "marvellous chalk drawing of Lord John Russell." For the rest,

Art is more of a trade now, than it was when Raphael's studio had no other name than bottega—in English, shop; and moreover, it is an emasculate and man-milliner sort of a trade, instead of one demanding strong brains, and a brave and believing heart. It is a trade mainly conversant with miserable things and petty aims—with vanity, and ostentation and vulgarity, and sensuality and frivolity—no longer dealing with themes of prayer and praise, with the glories of beatitude, or the horror of damnation, with the perpetuation of family dignities and devotions, the recording of great events, the dignifying of public and national, or the beautifying of private and individual life. It is a trade in ornament, and its Academy is a shop, and its Exhibition a display of rival wares, in which the best hope and the sole aim of the many is to catch the eye of a customer; and he who "colours most highly, is sure to please."

As a comprehensive indictment of the commercialism and triviality of Victorian art this leaves little to be desired. For an illustration of Punch's altered opinion of the P.R.B.'s it may suffice to quote his palinode in 1853:—

Will you consider me ridiculous or blind when I assure you, on my honour as a puppet and a public performer, that these young gentlemen have written for me this year four of the sweetest and deepest and most thoughtful books I have read since I laid down Mr. Millais's historical romance of The Huguenot, last year? I am sensible of the omniscience of the daily, and some of the weekly papers, and I am aware that this is an opinion which should not be breathed within ear-shot of places where they take in The Times, and the Morning Post, and the Examiner. But I am a sort of[Pg 302] chartered libertine, and nobody will believe anything I say is serious, so I can enjoy the luxury of saying what I feel, having no character to keep up. Then I tell you frankly—not forgetting Edwin Landseer's two grand cantos of his Highland Poem, Night and Morning by the Lochside, or Stanfield's noble paean-picture of the Battered Hull that carries the body of Nelson, like a Viking with his ship for bier—not forgetting these and other picture-books well worth reading—I tell you that Hunt's Claudio and Isabella is to me the book of the collection, though it records in colours what Shakespeare has written in words; and that little, if at all after it, comes Millais's Order of Release, and then the Strayed Sheep and Proscribed Royalist of the same authors. I do not mean to put either after the other, so I bracket them."

In accepting the principles of the P.R.B.'s Punch shows all the zeal of the convert, as may be gathered from the following discourse published shortly afterwards:—

Art must adapt itself to the conditions of the time and the life it has to reflect.

See what follows.

If pictures are to be hung in rooms instead of churches, and public halls and palaces, they must be small.

Work on a small scale, being meant for the satisfaction of a close eye, must be highly finished.

These conditions did not affect the old painters and must affect the moderns, and these conditions my young friends the Pre-Raphaelites appear to be conscious of and to submit to, for which I cannot blame them, but praise them rather, for wisely recognising the necessity of adapting Art to surrounding circumstances.

What have they recognised besides?

That the truest representation and grandest creation may and must be combined by the great artist; that as man works in a setting of earth and air, all the beauties and fitness of that setting must be rendered—the more truthfully the better—and that the most accurate rendering of these need not detract from the crowning work—the creation of the central interest which sums itself in human expression.

The practice of painting hitherto has seemed to challenge the possibility of combining these two things—human expression and accurate representation of inanimate or lower nature. These young men take up the gauntlet, and say, "We are prepared to do this—at least to try and do it." Their first-fruits are before the world, and already it has felt that the undertaking is new and startling and cheerfully courageous: nay, more: that to a certain point—and[Pg 303] further than might be expected from such beardless champions—it has already succeeded.

So God speed these young Luthers of the worn-out Art-faith; they have burnt the Bull of the Painter-Popes of their time. They have still enough work before them, such as their spiritual father before them went through—devils of their own creating to hurl their palettes at, and many mighty magnates to wrestle with, and confute, and put to shame—by trust in their gospel truth that Accurate Representation is the first requisite of Art.

Enthusiasm of a Convert

It may be added that when French medals were conferred on English artists in 1855, Punch complained that the newer school, i.e. the P.R.B.'s, had been overlooked in favour of Court painters such as Landseer. As a set-off to these examples of Punch's artistic and aesthetic flair and enlightenment, it must be owned that in 1854 he had expressed high praise for Frith's Ramsgate Sands (which was bought by the Queen) on account of its realism. But it may be accounted to him for righteousness that he supported Lord Stanhope's National Portrait Gallery Bill in 1856, and entered a vigorous protest against the vile "Germanism" of the title "Art Treasures Exhibition" instead of "Treasures of Art" for the show at Manchester in 1857. The more modern and equally vile Germanism "Concert-Direction Smith" or whoever the musical agent may be, has apparently been washed out by the War of 1914.

With all deductions and limitations Punch's record as a critic of the fine arts acquits him handsomely of the charge of Philistinism.

[29] See the protest against "skee-yi," "blee-yew," "kee-yind," "dis-gyee-ise," for "sky," "blue," "kind," "disguise."

[30] Madame Lafarge (1816-52) achieved a sinister immortality by the famous poisoning case which bears her name, "one of the most obscure in the annals of French justice" (Larousse). After being imprisoned for twelve years she was released and died in 1852.

[31] She had already been twenty-five years on the stage and was a link with Beethoven, having sung the soprano part in both the Ninth Symphony and the Mass in D at the historic production of these great works in Vienna in 1824. Lablache's generous homage to Beethoven's genius on the occasion of his funeral is too well known to need more than a passing word of grateful recognition.

[32] Jullien was, we assume, a naturalized British subject, though he appears in Larousse.

[Pg 304]


Towards the end of the period reviewed in this volume, Punch enumerates his special bêtes noires as "Humbug, Cant, Sleek Hypocrisy and Brazen Wrong." But as has already been abundantly proved, the list would have to be considerably extended to include all the personages, notable and notorious, who came under his lash. In earlier years he is much more specific. Thus in 1850 his amiable catalogue of the gentlemen and public bodies who have kindly consented to furnish him with game in the ensuing year contains Colonel Sibthorp, the bearded reactionary who sat for Lincoln, Barry, the architect of the new Houses of Parliament, all quack-medicine vendors, tyrants and woman-floggers (the Tsar Nicholas and Haynau are specially aimed at), Madame Tussaud, Lord Brougham, R.A.'s, the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, Smithfield and all City nuisances, and all sinecurists and pensionists. In 1852 Panizzi (for his long deferred catalogue of the British Museum of which he was Chief Librarian), Cardinal Wiseman, and Lord Maidstone are added, together with Railway Directors, Homœopathists and Protectionists.

[Pg 305]

As caption.


Among the various devices adopted to ventilate his personal animosity may be noted Punch's list of "desirable emigrants," and the ingenious suggestion that "Penal Statues" should be erected to commemorate the misdeeds of great offenders, obstructionists, bigots and anti-reformers. Of some of Punch's butts it may be said that they were rescued from oblivion by his satire and caricature—Sibthorp for example, though he was by no means the merely reactionary buffoon who appears in Punch. He was eccentric in dress and figure, opposed all the great measures of Reform, and was the incarnation of ultra-Tory tradition. But he was frequently[Pg 306] witty, and as truculently courageous as Punch himself. Sir Peter Laurie, Alderman and Lord Mayor of London, stood to Punch for all that was pompous, officious, meddlesome and even odious in City administration. We rub our eyes on reading in the D.N.B. that Sir Peter throughout his public life "devoted himself largely to schemes of social advancement, was a good magistrate and a disciple of Joseph Hume." But the explanation of this and other divergent records is simple enough. Punch was often too angry or enthusiastic to be just or discriminating. He wrote on the spur of the moment, with the result that he often had to revise his verdicts. We have seen this change in regard to Prince Albert, the Duke of Wellington, and Palmerston, and already Punch had reluctantly begun to admit that Disraeli was a force in politics and not a mere mountebank. The bitter attacks on Bulwer Lytton as a pinch-beck writer and padded dandy, which abound in the 'forties, ended in reconciliation and amity. We have seen the process at work again in the altered estimates of Jullien. Bunn was severely let alone, but only when it was found that the animal, as in the French saying, was so evil as to defend himself when he was attacked. Sometimes, however, Punch was implacable and impenitent. He never appears to have had a really good word to say for Daniel O'Connell, but regarded Repeal throughout as a fraud, and the "Liberator" as a self-seeking and grasping agitator. When Dan promised in 1845 to achieve Repeal in six months or lay his head on the block, and did neither, Punch only jeered at his "brazen boasting," and depicted him later on as the real "Potato Blight" of Ireland. Impenitence, too, marked his attitude towards both "Henry of Exeter" (Dr. Phillpotts), Pusey, and Wiseman; and his distrust of Louis Napoleon, after a brief period of reticence imposed during the Crimean War, revived in full force in the later 'fifties. We have also seen the converse of the process described above in the treatment of Cobden and Bright, who were rudely hauled down from their pinnacles when Punch the peace-loving Free Trader developed in the Crimean War into the bellicose patriot. The change was made in the contrary direction with Peel, but the grace of recognition was[Pg 307] grievously impaired by its delay. Posthumous honours are a sorry reparation for continual abuse of the living, and Punch's treatment of Peel is one of the worst blots on his scutcheon. In Punch's early volumes no abuse was too bad for the Conservative statesman. Even the Bible was ransacked for invidious parallels, which only stopped short of Judas. He was a "political eel," a "quack," a "genius or Janus," and there is a curious foreshadowing of the recriminations of our own time, in the way in which Peel, in virtue of his inveterate policy of temporizing, is saddled with the watchword "wait awhile."



"Punch's" Injustice to Peel

If "Jenkins" was Punch's "chief butler"—in the sense of the supreme flunkey—Lord Brougham was his chief butt[Pg 308] throughout these years. And certainly no public character in the nineteenth century ever played better into the hands of the satirist. His nose in the most literal sense lent a handle to the caricaturist. His tweed trousers figure as regularly in Punch's portraits as the straw in Palmerston's mouth—which, by the way, is generally traced to a trick that "Pam" acquired in visiting his stables. Palmerston's nickname was "Cupid" from his gallantry: the mythological parallel for Brougham would have been Proteus. One of the earliest references to him in Punch appears in the composite Preface to Vol. vi., in which each of the contributors ascribes to Punch his own characteristics, Brougham praising him for "forswearing like a chameleon every shade of opinion, when for the moment he has ceased to wear it." Thereafter the fun becomes fast and furious. Brougham is charged with writing the flamboyant advertisements of George Robins, a veritable Barnum among auctioneers. His tweed trousers are explained as a cause of his always wanting to get back to the woolsack. He is credited, in virtue of his versatile activities, with the attempt to discover perpetual motion. Brougham's vanity, craving for office at all costs, meddlesomeness, and subservience to the Duke of Wellington are held up to contempt, and in "Rational Readings for Grown-up People" (an early anticipation of the Missing Word Competition) we read:—

If people may, without rebuke,

Call Wellington the "Iron——,"

Why then we safely may presume

The "Brazen Peer" to term Lord——.

[Pg 309]

Caricature with Mr. Punch and politicians.


The snobbishness of Brougham's arguments on behalf of royal princes in his Debtors' Bill again infuriates the democratic Punch, who in 1849 was even more disgusted by Brougham's fulsome championship of Radetzky and the Austrians when they defeated the Piedmontese. But Punch's hostility reaches its height in the verses (accompanying a cartoon which represents Brougham standing on his head) describing the amazing farrago of inconsistencies which composed the mind[Pg 310] of one who was at once a charlatan and encyclopædist, a reformer and a courtier. In the same year Punch suggests a Bill should be promoted for "the better behaviour of the erotic and learned lord,"

Who'd rather mount the mountebank's stage than be laid on the shelf,

Who does with ease the difficult task of turning his back on himself.

Brougham's perversely obstructive attitude towards the Exhibition of 1851 excited Punch's wrath, when he himself had become converted to the scheme, but already the tone of the paper had changed; and the turning point was reached on the occasion of Brougham's visit to America in 1850, when Punch printed the following unofficial letter of introduction to the President of the United States:—

To General Taylor, President of the United States,

Favoured by Henry Lord Brougham, Member of the French Institute.

"Dear Taylor,

"I have much pleasure in making yourself and my friend Brougham—the Brougham whose fame is not European but world-wide—personally acquainted. With all his little drolleries, he is an excellent fellow; and with all his oddities, he has worked like a Hercules stable-boy at our Augean Courts of Law. He has cheapened costs; he has well-nigh destroyed the race of sharp attorneys. Indeed, if you would seek Brougham's monument, look around every attorney's office; and you will not see Brougham's picture."

Punch had already welcomed Brougham's espousal of the anti-Sabbatarian cause, but the full avowal of reconciliation is to be found in the following graceful verses printed in 1851:—

From Punch to Henry Brougham

A Palinode to Brougham

"During the last five or six weeks, he had with the utmost difficulty, and against the opinion of his medical advisers, attended the service of their Lordships' House. During the last ten days the[Pg 311] difficulty had increased and become more severe. In the hope of assisting in this great measure, in a cause to which his life had been devoted, he had struggled to the last, until he found he could struggle no more."—Lord Brougham's last speech on Law Reform in the House of Lords.

And is the busy brain o'erwrought at last?

Has the sharp sword fretted the sheath so far?

Then, Henry Brougham, in spite of all that's past,

Our ten long years of all but weekly war,

Let Punch hold out to you a friendly hand,

And speak what haply he had left unspoken

Had the sharp tongue lost naught of its command,

That nervous frame still kept its spring unbroken.

Forgot the changes of thy later years,

No more he knows the Ishmael once he knew,

Drinking delights of battle 'mongst the Peers—

Your hand 'gainst all men, all men's hands 'gainst you.

He knows the Orator whose fearless tongue

Lashed into infamy and endless scorn

The wretches who their blackening scandal flung

Upon a Queen—of women most forlorn.

He knows the lover of his kind, who stood

Chief of the banded few who dared to brave

The accursed traffickers in negro blood,

And struck his heaviest fetter from the slave;

The Statesman who, in a less happy hour

Than this, maintained man's right to read and know,

And gave the keys of knowledge and of power

With equal hand alike to high and low;

The Lawyer who, unwarped by private aims,

Denounced the Law's abuse, chicane, delay:

The Chancellor who settled century's claims,

And swept an age's dense arrears away;

The man whose name men read even as they run,

On every landmark the world's course along,

That speaks to us of a great battle won

[Pg 312]

Over untruth, or prejudice or wrong.

Remembering this, full sad I am to hear

That voice which loudest in the combat rung

Now weak and low and sorrowful of cheer,

To see that arm of battle all unstrung.

And so, even as a warrior after fight

Thinks of a noble foe, now wounded sore,

I think of thee, and of thine ancient might,

And hold a hand out, armed for strife no more.

This is a fine summary of Brougham's services as the friend of humanity, the champion of free speech and popular education, and the great legal reformer, erring, if at all, in the over-generous estimate of his disinterestedness as an advocate. Brougham recovered from his breakdown and lived for seventeen years longer—years crowded with multifarious activities, legal, scientific, literary. He was, in many ways, a unique figure in public life, though, when the lives of the Lord Chancellors are brought up to date in the next generation, he will not be able to avoid rivalry on the score of early advancement, versatility, vituperation, and vulgarity.

Sir James Graham is not mentioned nearly so often as Brougham, but in respect of concentrated hostility of criticism he occupies the first place amongst Punch's pet aversions. No cartoon in this period held up any politician to greater contempt and ridicule than the repulsive picture of the Home Secretary as "Peel's Dirty Little Boy," who was "always in trouble." The predominating cause of Punch's resentment was the historic episode of the opening of suspect correspondence, notably that of Mazzini; but Sir James Graham could do nothing right in Punch's view: nihil tetigit quod non fœdavit. Peter Borthwick, the advocate of the slave-owners, M.P. for Evesham from 1835 to 1847, and editor of the Morning Post from 1850 till his death in 1852, was no favourite of Punch. He was, however, as the date shows, not editorially responsible for "Jenkins"; and by introducing the Borthwick clause into the Poor Law Amendment Bill in 1847, under which married couples over the age of sixty were not, as theretofore, separated when they entered the poor-house, he so far expiated his pro-slavery[Pg 313] heresies that Punch granted him "six months immunity from ridicule for this good act." Punch's antipathy to Urquhart is curious, for they were united in their Russophobia. But Punch was often intolerant of competitors, and he was never an extravagant Turcophil as Urquhart was.

MIiss Nightgale with wounded soldier.


"Punch" Designs a Statue

If a paper, like a man, is to be fairly judged by its heroes and favourites, Punch emerges from the test with considerable credit. Most of them have been mentioned incidentally elsewhere,[Pg 314] and the list[33] might easily be added to. Let it suffice, however, to give the names of Jenner, Stephenson, Rowland Hill, Paxton, Faraday, and Livingstone; Mazzini and Kossuth; Jenny Lind, Florence Nightingale, and William Russell, of whose lectures Punch wrote an enthusiastic and well-merited encomium in the summer of 1857.

[33] It is perhaps worthy of note that with the exception of Paxton none of those mentioned belonged to the decorated or decorative classes. Stephenson refused a knighthood in 1850; it was not bestowed on William Russell till more than forty years later. Rowland Hill was made a K.C.B. in 1860.

[Pg 315]

A complete Index will be found in the Fourth Volume.

[Pg 316]

Printed by
Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage,
London, E.C.4


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