Punch/Volume 1/Issue 1
FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 17, 1841.
THE MORAL OF PUNCH.
As we hope, gentle public, to pass many happy hours in your society, we think it right that you should know something of our character and intentions. Our title, at a first glance, may have misled you into a belief that we have no other intention than the amusement of a thoughtless crowd, and the collection of pence. We have a higher object. Few of the admirers of our prototype, merry Master Punch, have looked upon his vagaries but as the practical outpourings of a rude and boisterous mirth. We have considered him as a teacher of no mean pretensions, and have, therefore, adopted him as the sponsor for our weekly sheet of pleasant instruction. When we have seen him parading in the glories of his motley, flourishing his baton (like our friend Jullien at Drury-lane) in time with his own unrivalled discord, by which he seeks to win the attention and admiration of the crowd, what visions of graver puppetry have passed before our eyes! Golden circlets, with their adornments of coloured and lustrous gems, have bound the brow of infamy as well as that of honour—a mockery to both; as though virtue required a reward beyond the fulfilment of its own high purposes, or that infamy could be cheated into the forgetfulness of its vileness by the weight around its temples! Gilded coaches have glided before us, in which sat men who thought the buzz and shouts of crowds a guerdon for the toils, the anxieties, and, too often, the peculations of a life. Our ears have rung with the noisy frothiness of those who have bought their fellow-men as beasts in the market-place, and found their reward in the sycophancy of a degraded constituency, or the patronage of a venal ministry—no matter of what creed, for party must destroy patriotism.
The noble in his robes and coronet—the beadle in his gaudy livery of scarlet, and purple, and gold—the dignitary in the fulness of his pomp—the demagogue in the triumph of his hollowness—these and other visual and oral cheats by which mankind are cajoled, have passed in review before us, conjured up by the magic wand of Punch.
How we envy his philosophy, when Shalla-ba-la, that demon with the bell, besets him at every turn, almost teasing the sap out of him! The moment that his tormentor quits the scene, Punch seems to forget the existence of his annoyance, and, carolling the mellifluous numbers of Jim Crow, or some other strain of equal beauty, makes the most of the present, regardless of the past or future; and when Shalla-ba-la renews his persecutions, Punch boldly faces his enemy, and ultimately becomes the victor. All have a Shalla-ba-la in some shape or other; but few, how few, the philosophy of Punch!
We are afraid our prototype is no favourite with the ladies. Punch is (and we reluctantly admit the fact) a Malthusian in principle, and somewhat of a domestic tyrant; for his conduct is at times harsh and ungentlemanly to Mrs. P.
Eve of a land that still is Paradise,
But as we never look for perfection in human nature, it is too much to expect it in wood. We wish it to be understood that we repudiate such principles and conduct. We have a Judy of our own, and a little Punchininny that commits innumerable improprieties; but we fearlessly aver that we never threw him out of window, nor belaboured the lady with a stick—even of the size allowed by law.
There is one portion of the drama we wish was omitted, for it always saddens us—we allude to the prison scene. Punch, it is true, sings in durance, but we hear the ring of the bars mingling with the song. We are advocates for the correction of offenders; but how many generous and kindly beings are there pining within the walls of a prison, whose only crimes are poverty and misfortune! They, too, sing and laugh, and appear jocund, but the heart can ever hear the ring of the bars.
We never looked upon a lark in a cage, and heard him trilling out his music as he sprang upwards to the roof of his prison, but we felt sickened with the sight and sound, as contrasting, in our thought, the free minstrel of the morning, bounding as it were into the blue caverns of the heavens, with the bird to whom the world was circumscribed. May the time soon arrive, when every prison shall be a palace of the mind—when we shall seek to instruct and cease to punish. Punch has already advocated education by example. Look at his dog Toby! The instinct of the
brute has almost germinated into reason. Man has reason, why not give him intelligence?
We now come to the last great lesson of our motley teacher—the gallows! that accursed tree which has its root in injuries. How clearly Punch exposes the fallacy of that dreadful law which authorises the destruction of life! Punch sometimes destroys the hangman: and why not? Where is the divine injunction against the shedder of man’s blood to rest? None can answer! To us there is but one disposer of life. At other times Punch hangs the devil: this is as it should be. Destroy the principle of evil by increasing the means of cultivating the good, and the gallows will then become as much a wonder as it is now a jest.
We shall always play Punch, for we consider it best to be merry and wise—
"And laugh at all things, for we wish to know,
As on the stage of Punch's theatre, many characters appear to fill up the interstices of the more important story, so our pages will be interspersed with trifles that have no other object than the moment's approbation—an end which will never be sought for at the expense of others, beyond the evanescent smile of a harmless satire.There is a report of the stoppage of one of the most respectable hard-bake houses in the metropolis. The firm had been speculating considerably in "Prince Albert’s Rock," and this is said to have been the rock they have ultimately split upon. The boys will be the greatest sufferers. One of them had stripped his jacket of all its buttons as a deposit on some tom-trot, which the house had promised to supply on the following day ; and we regret to say, there are whispers of other transactions of a similar character.
Money has been abundant all day, and we saw a half-crown piece and some halfpence lying absolutely idle in the hands of an individual, who, if he had only chosen to walk with it into the market, might have produced a very alarming effect on some minor description of securities. Cherries were taken very freely at twopence a pound, and Spanish (liquorice) at a shade lower than yesterday. There has been a most disgusting glut of tallow all the week, which has had an alarming effect on dips, and thrown a still further gloom upon rushlights.
The late discussions on the timber duties have brought the match market into a very unsettled state, and Congreve lights seem destined to undergo a still further depression. This state of things was rendered worse towards the close of the day, by a large holder of the last-named article unexpectedly throwing an immense quantity into the market, which went off rapidly.
SOMETHING WARLIKE.Many of our readers must be aware, that in pantomimic pieces, the usual mode of making the audience acquainted with anything that cannot be clearly explained by dumb-show, is to exhibit a linen scroll, on which is painted, in large letters, the sentence necessary to be known. It so happened that a number of these scrolls had Been thrown aside after one of the grand spectacles at Astley’s Amphitheatre, and remained amongst other lumber in the property-room, until the late destructive fire which occurred there. On that night, the wife of one of the stage-assistants—a woman of portly dimensions—was aroused from her bed by the alarm of fire, and in her confusion, being unable to find her proper habiliments, laid hold of one of these scrolls, and wrapping it around her, hastily rushed into the street, and presented to the astonished spectators an extensive back view, with the words, "Bombard the Citadel," inscribed in legible characters upon her singular drapery.
HUME'S TERMINOLOGY.Hume is so annoyed at his late defeat at Leeds, that he vows he will never make use of the word Tory again as long as he lives. Indeed, he proposes to expunge the term from the English language, and to substitute that which is applied to, his own party. In writing to a friend, that "after the inflammatory character of the oratory of the Carlton Club, it is quite supererogatory for me to state (it being notorious) that all conciliatory measures will be rendered nugatory," he thus expressed himself:—"After the inflammawhig character of the orawhig of the nominees of the Carlton Club, it is quite supererogawhig for me to state (it being nowhigous) that all conciliawhig measures will be rendered nugawhig."
NATIVE SWALLOWS.A correspondent to one of the daily papers has remarked, that there is an almost total absence of swallows this summer in England. Had the writer been present at some of the election dinners lately, he must have confessed that a greater number of active swallows has rarely been observed congregated in any one year.
LORD MELBOURNE TO "PUNCH."My dear Punch,—Seeing in the "Court Circular" of the Morning Herald an account of a General Goblet as one of the guests of her Majesty, I beg to state, that till I saw that announcement, I was not aware of any other general gobble it than myself at the Palace.
A RAILROAD NOVEL
Dear Punch,—I was much amused the other day, on taking my seat in the Birmingham Railway train, to observe a sentimental-looking young gentleman, who was sitting opposite to me, deliberately draw from his travelling-bag three volumes of what appeared to me a new novel of the full regulation size, and with intense interest commence the first volume at the title-page. At the same instant the last bell rang, and away started our train, whizz, bang, like a flash of lightning through a butter-firkin. I endeavoured to catch a glimpse of some familiar places as we passed, but the attempt was altogether useless. Harrow-on-the-Hill, as we shot by it, seemed to be driving pell-mell up to town, followed by Boxmoor, Tring, and Aylesbury—I missed Wolverton and Weedon while taking a pinch of snuff—lost Rugby and Coventry before I had done sneezing, and I had scarcely time to say, “God bless us,” till I found we had reached Birmingham. Whereupon I began to calculate the trifling progress my reading companion could have made in his book during our rapid journey, and to devise plans for the gratification of persons similarly situated as my fellow-traveller. “Why,” thought I, “should literature alone lag in the age of steam? Is there no way by which a man could be made to swallow Scott or bolt Bulwer, in as short a time as it now takes him to read an auction bill?” Suddenly a happy thought struck me: it was to write a novel, in which only the actual spirit of the narration should be retained, rejecting all expletives, flourishes, and ornamental figures of speech; to be terse and abrupt in style—use monosyllables always in preference to polysyllables—and to eschew all heroes and heroines whose names contain more than four letters. Full of this idea, on my returning home in the evening, I sat to my desk, and before I retired to rest, had written a novel of three neat, portable volumes; which, I assert, any lady or gentlemen, who has had the advantage of a liberal education, may get through with tolerable ease, in the time occupied by the railroad train running from London to Birmingham.
I will not dilate on the many advantages which this description of writing possesses over all others. Lamplighters, commercial bagmen, omnibus-cads, tavern-waiters, and general postmen, may "read as they run." Fiddlers at the theatres, during the rests in a piece of music, may also benefit by my invention; for which, if the following specimen meet your approbation, I shall instantly apply for a patent.
vol. ii."Adieu, my native land," &c.—D.I.O.—"We part to meet again"—Death or glory—Red coat—Laurels and rupees in view—Vows of constancy, eternal truth, &c—Tom swells the brine with tears—Clare wipes her eyes in cambric—Alas! alack! oh! ah!—Fond hearts, doomed to part—Cruel fate!—Ten pages, poetry, romance, &c. &c.—Tom in battle—Cut, slash, dash—Sabres, rifles—Round and grape in showers—Hot work—Charge!—Whizz—Bang!—Flat as a Flounder—Never say die—Peace—Sweet sound—Scars, wounds, wooden leg, one arm, and one eye—Half-pay—Home—Huzza!—Swift gales—Post-horses—Love, hope, and Clare Grey—
vol. iii."Here we are!"—At home once more—Old friends and old faces—Must be changed—Nobody knows him—Church bells ringing—Inquire cause—(?)—Wedding—Clare Grey to Job Snooks, the old pawnbroker—Brain whirls—Eyes start from sockets—Devils and hell—Clare Grey, the fond, constant, Clare, a jilt?—Can’t be—No go—Stump up to church—Too true—Clare just made Mrs. Snooks—Madness!! rage!!! death!!!!—Tom’s crutch at work—Snooks floored—Bridesman settled—Parson bolts—Clerk mizzles—Salts and shrieks—Clare in a swoon—Pa’ in a funk—Tragedy speech—Love! vengeance! and damnation!—Half an ounce of laudanum—Quick speech—Tom unshackles his wooden pin—Dies like a hero—Clare pines in secret—Hops the twig, and goes to glory in white muslin—Poor Tom and Clare! they now lie side by side, beneath
We have been favoured with the following announcement from Mr. Hood, which we recommend to the earnest attention of our subscribers:—
MR. T. HOOD, Professor of Punmanship,
"The following is a specimen of my punning before taking six lessons of Mr. T. Hood:—