LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Passages of a Working Life during Half a Century
Chapter XII

Contents Vol. I
Prelude 1
Prelude 2
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Contents Vol. II
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Note to Chapter XV
Contents Vol. III
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Note to Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Note to Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
‣ Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Note to Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Index of Persons
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IN 1842, having occasion to be in attendance at the Central Criminal Court, my curiosity was excited by an unusual spectacle—that of an artist, seated amongst the city dignitaries on the bench, diligently employed in sketching two Lascars on their trial for a capital offence. What was there so remarkable in the case, in the persons, or even in the costume, of the accused, that they should be made the subject of a picture? The mystery was soon explained to me. “The Illustrated London News” had been announced for publication on the Saturday of the week in which I saw the wretched foreigners standing at the bar. I knew something about hurrying on wood-engravers for “The Penny Magazine;” but a Newspaper was an essentially different affair. How, I thought, could artists and journalists so work concurrently that the news and the appropriate illustrations should both be fresh? How could such things be managed with any approach to fidelity of representation, unless all the essential characteristics of a newspaper were sacrificed in the attempt to render it pictorial? I fancied that this rash experiment would be a failure. It proved to be such a success as could only be ensured by resolute and persevering struggles against natural difficulties.

It is not my purpose to enter upon any descrip-
tion of the means by which a drawing, of the largest size, and full of the most elaborate details, that is executed on a Wednesday, shall be engraved on a Thursday, printed off with its appropriate letter-press on a Friday, and circulated by thousands through the kingdom on a Saturday. I take “
The Illustrated London News,” as I shall take another remarkable production of artists and writers, as a text upon which I may offer some remarks upon such prominent social features of the time of Queen Victoria, as were thus capable of receiving a new interest for the temporary gratification of a public of universal readers. There is a higher point of view in which picture journalism may be regarded. It furnishes the most available and the most valuable materials for the historian of manners. It has been created by the revival of wood-engraving. When Bewick, about the close of the American war in 1783, had shewn the power of this neglected art as the companion of type printing, if the Journalists of that time had seen its capacity for presenting faithful and vivid images of the actors and scenes of the day—its fleeting fashions and its passing follies—what a record we should have had of memorable things lost! The pictorial humorists who succeeded Hogarth have given us some glimpses of public characters in their every-day attitudes and dress, exaggerated into the ludicrous. Gilray, Rowlandson, Cruikshank, and a few less eminent, accomplished what Addison described as the excellence of burlesque pictures,—“where the art consists in preserving, amidst distorted proportions and aggravated features, some distinguishing likeness of the person.” It would probably have been unsafe for a newspaper in the time of George III.,
or even of the Regency, to have provided such portraits for the amusement of a people who have always claimed the privilege of laughing at their rulers. But if this would have been forbidden ground to a pictorial journalist of the days of Bewick, what wealth of illustration was to be found in all the aspects of common life, when there were distinctions of costume and of manners in every rank of society! How varied would have been an “Illustrated London News” before the time when ail women walked in the Parks, or in Whitechapel, hooped in steel, and all men sate in the Brougham or on the knifeboard of the Omnibus in drab tunics. If the whole outward manifestations of our present social life be not monotonous, their sober delineation in weekly pictures is decidedly so. Look, for example, at one of the most interesting and satisfactory incidents of this generation. We have a Queen who travels, not in set progresses as
Elizabeth travelled, but by railway and steam-boat to the extremest distances of the land over which she rules. “The Illustrated London News,” it is said, never rose into a large circulation till it began to trace her Majesty’s steps wherever she went. During the twenty years from 1842 to 1862 what endless repetitions have we had of solemn directors of the iron road bowing from the platform; of robed mayors and aldermen presenting their loyal addresses; of smart ladies waving handkerchiefs from drawing-room windows; of crowds shouting and impeding the way in narrow streets. All these pictures are alike, with a difference. The scenery is varied; the actors are the same. Sometimes we have incidents that could never have been seen by the artist—ships foundering—mines exploding. The
staple materials for the steady-going illustrator to work most attractively upon are, Court and Fashion; Civic Processions and Banquets; Political and Religious Demonstrations in crowded halls; Theatrical Novelties; Musical Meetings; Races; Reviews; Ship Launches—every scene, in short, where a crowd of great people and respectable people can be got together, but never, if possible, any exhibition of vulgar poverty. This view of Society is one-sided. We must look further for its “many coloured life.” We want to behold something more than the showy make-up of the characteristics of the age. We want to see the human form beneath the drapery.

In my second Volume (p. 6) I have noticed some of the ludicrous aspects of common affairs presented by the caricatures of the period when I settled in London. With exceptions to which I have just alluded, their artists were feeble as well as coarse exponents of “the very age and body of the time.” Some of them addressed the lowest tastes, after the fashion of a school which Addison has also described: “The distinguishing likeness is given in such a manner as to transform the most agreeable beauty into the most odious monster.” Amidst a host of caricaturists, good, bad, and indifferent, there alighted upon this orb, in 1841, a crooked little gentleman, who has been the shrewdest observer, the most good-humoured satirist, the most inoffensive promoter of merriment, and one of the most trustworthy of portrait-painters, that ever brought the pencil to the aid of the pen, for harmless entertainment and real moral instruction. The written wit and wisdom of Mr. Punch I shall here pass by. But it appears
to me that the two decades in which I have been an admiring observer of this personage, cannot be better illustrated than by glancing at the materials which he has gathered together for a political and social history of his own times, as viewed in the broad daylight of a laughing philosophy. He has best replied to the invocation of the great moralist of the last age:—
“Once more, Democritus, arise on earth,
With, cheerful wisdom and instructive mirth.
See motley life in modern trappings drest,
And feed with various fools th’eternal jest.”
But the ludicrous side of human affairs, as regarded by such an observer, not unfrequently suggests the serious side.
Democritus and Heraclitus walk the world together.

In the July of 1841, when Master Punch first saw the light, there was a change of administration pregnant with the most important consequences. Sir Robert Peel came into power. Hercules (Peel) tearing Theseus (Russell) from the rock to which he had grown, led the way in that remarkable series of political pencillings or cartoons, which, if they have not materially influenced public opinion, have been something more than straws thrown up to show which way the wind blows. In 1842, Peel as the modern Ceres, appears with a cornucopia labelled Sliding Scale. But the mouth of the horn of plenty is downward, and is padlocked. A gaunt Britannia with a starved lion rejects the offering. A little later in the year, the minister, whose accession to power was hailed by the frogs who were dissatisfied with their log of wood, is now King Stork who is eating them up. In this year we first recognise the
representations of common life by a new artist—one who was destined to be the
Hogarth of an era not so lawless and gross as that in which the great pictorial satirist flourished; but an era in which the progress of refinement had not obliterated the infinitely varied features of the “Cinthia of the Minute.” The signature “J. Leech” was that of a young man totally unknown in the regular schools of art. In a few years his artistical power was as generally acknowledged as were his wonderful range of observation, and his unequalled facility of expression. In 1843, we find Leech not attempting to cover what may be called his personal satire with the cloak of the anonymous. To one of his most famous sketches, “A scene in Westminster Circus,” where Brougham is clown to the ring, saying, “Now, Mr. Wellington, is there anything I can run for?” etc., there is the artist’s signature. It has been truly observed of Leech’s political sketches, that although personal in one sense he must be, in the other he is not. “It is always open to the political satirist to treat his subject in the spirit of the early John Bull, and the manner of Theodore Hook. This is what Leech never did. Private character was to him a sacred territory.”* The Punch of this period makes abundant merriment with the famous ex-Chancellor. Before he was Clown in the Ring, he was Peter in Romeo and Juliet, carrying the fan before Nurse Wellington. Much of this is the reflection of the tittle-tattle of the clubs, or of the party assaults of the newspapers—all representing Lord Brougham as an intriguer for place. The calmer judgment of subsequent years

* “Saturday Review,” November 5, 1864.

would have interpreted the homage of one eminent man to another as a genuine expression of private feeling. On either side there had been indications of mutual respect, which had cast aside the differences of political opinion. In the first days of Brougham’s accession to power, Wellington, to the surprise of many, presented himself at the Chancellor’s reception. In 1839, at the Festival of the Cinque Ports in honour of the Lord Warden, Lord Brougham was selected as the representative of two thousand guests to propose the health of the Duke. He said the choice thus made “loudly tells that on this day all personal, all political feelings are quelled, all strife of party is hushed.” The speech of Lord Brougham is far from being a common-place eulogy—it is truly eloquent. The Duke of Wellington, in his reply, adverted to the opinion just expressed that there are times when all party animosities should be laid aside—“I must do my noble and learned friend the justice to say that for years and years there has been nothing of that description in social life as between him and me.” I might have hesitated to have revived the remembrance of passing satire directed against one who has rendered eminent services to his country—which, within my own range of observation, I have not been slow to record—had I not felt that a long course of persevering effort to urge on the progress of improvement, eventually surmounts not only good-natured ridicule but malicious calumny. In 1858, Mr. Punch, pointing to the Temple of Fame, says (with the greatest respect), “After you, my Lord.”

In 1843 another statesman appears upon the scene, who, having once rendered the most eminent services
to his nation, has come to be considered by thoughtful politicians as the great retarder of its progress. “The Irish Ogre fattening on the finest Pisintry” is a portrait of
O’Connell, with his Repeal Club in his hand and his money bags of Rint at his feet, ladling his little victims into the cauldron of Agitation soup. Year after year, until his reign is over, is the great Dan presented to us in various ludicrous shapes. In 1845 he is “The Greedy Boy who cries for the Moon.” He sits roaring upon nurse Peel’s lap, who tries to soothe him with the Maynooth Grant, but he points to the Moon of Repeal shining through the window and cries, “I won’t be aisy—I will have Repale.” The prudence and sagacity of Prince Albert prevented him from being the butt of political satire. He seldom appears in the pencillings of Punch; never as being mixed up with party strifes. The grandfather of Queen Victoria had a homely claim upon the affections of his people as Farmer George; and in the same way it was no disparagement to the Consort of her Majesty that he should be represented as “Prince Albert the British Farmer.”

In 1844 the Prince de Joinville published a pamphlet in which he proposed that France should build steam-vessels of war. It was described by the Duke of Wellington as “an invitation and provocation to hostilities, to be carried on in a manner such as had been disclaimed by the civilized portions of mankind.” The suggestion by the son of Louis Philippe for the advantageous use of this steam-navy was, to burn our towns and to plunder our coasts. The cartoon of Leech called “The Quarrel,” exhibits Master Wellington saying, “You’re too good a judge to hit me
—you are,” and Master Joinville replying, “Am I?” The bullying attitude of the bearded French boy with his doubled fist, and the composure of the grey-headed senior, with his hands in his breeches’ pockets, are more than clever. This period gives us the portrait of “Perfidious Albion” by the same artist—the conventional John Bull sitting in his garden smoking his pipe with half-shut eyes; a foaming jug of ale upon his table; with his dog beneath enjoying his bone, regardless of the little frog who has hopped out of the bushes.

Laugh as we will, we cannot in any epoch escape from the serious side of human affairs. Law is not always Justice; the offender against the laws is not altogether out of the pale of sympathy. Leech, in 1844, presents “The Home of the Rick-burner.” A wretched peasant sits in a dilapidated room, ragged, shivering, with four starving children around his knees. He looks despairingly towards the pallet upon which his wife lies dead, whilst one of the children is appealing to him for food. The demon in the background holds a lighted torch. “The Game Laws” is a sketch in which an altar is surmounted by the landowner’s idol, the hare. A labourer, manacled, kneels before it, about to be sacrificed by the robed and coroneted high priest, who holds the sword of justice in his hand, labelled “According to Law.” Two women with their children are slowly making their way to the Union in the distance. These two scenes are rural. “Fine or Imprisonment” is of Town life. The double-faced magistrate, with his Midas ears, smirks upon the fashionable blackguard, who stands in the box of one compartment, upon a charge of assault—“Law for the Rich
—the Fine was immediately paid.” The same magistrate’s face turned round frowns upon the rough prisoner in the box of another compartment—“Law for the Poor—the Prisoner not being able to pay, was removed in the Van to Prison.” “The Poor Man’s Friend” exhibits the great Redresser of the wrongs of Society—the beneficent visitor who “makes the odds all even.” An emaciated old man lies upon his hard bed, his broken spade on the floor—“Testimonial” on the wall. The friend stands by the bedside. “Reconciliation, or As it ought to be” is a prophecy by
Punch. The nobleman, uncovered, points to Poor Laws and Game Laws which he has trodden under foot. The labourer, touching his forelock with the countryman’s mark of respect, tramples the bludgeon beneath his clouted shoe. The little gentleman on the ground is exhibiting the alphabet to the labourer’s boy.

The year 1845 conducts us into new phases of political life. There are parliamentary symptoms that the Anti Corn-Law League has not been working in vain. “Papa Cobden taking Master Robert a Free-Trade walk,” exclaims, “Do step out.” The fat little boy dragged along, answers, “You know I cannot go as fast as you do.” Later in the year “The Political Robin, driven by the severity of the times to seek for Grain,” shows us the little bird, Peel, at the cottage door, looking up to the good child, Cobden, who has got an ear of corn in one hand and a full bag in the other. In the same spirit, Peel, the country boy, is throwing open the gate of monopoly; for “coming events cast their shadows before.” But there were changes impending, which required zeal and perseverance to carry through, almost as great
as were required to effect a free trade in corn.
Brougham is presented as “The Political Tinker,” crying, “Any old laws to mend, or new ones to repeal?” The garb and the attitude are very undignified, but there was true dignity in the occupation, as we have long since come to acknowledge. The absorbing topic of 1845 was the Railway Mania, which brought such disasters on its victims. Crowds are rushing to the locomotive “Speculation.” The widow and the wife, the parson and the soldier, the fat citizen and the cockaded footman, are here, all with their money-bags, and all cheered on by the sagacious Director to prostrate themselves before the Railway Juggernaut. The game ends in the Railway Panic of December. By the side of a wall covered with placards of the ephemeral journals that were associated with this time of general insanity, the butcher’s boy meets the grocer’s boy, and this dialogue ensues—“I say, Jim, vot’s a Panic?”—“Blow’d if I know, but there’s von to be seen in the City.”

The year 1846 opened with the knowledge of the failure of the potato crop. Sir Robert Peel, unable to induce his Cabinet to agree in a large measure for removing the restrictions upon the importation of corn, resigned his office. This crisis gave us one of Leech’s celebrated cartoons. Peel is going out of the door; Lord John Russell presents himself to the Queen in the character of a Page seeking the vacant situation. Her Majesty replies, “I am afraid you are not strong enough for the place, John.” Peel comes back to power, and proposes to the House of Commons his plans of commercial policy. Robert Peel, baker, opens his cheap-bread shop. He stands at his shop-door in Parliament Street, calm
and confident, with his hands under his white apron, whilst the
Duke of Wellington carries a placard “Down again—great fall in bread.” We have then an anticipation of “The British Lion in 1850.” He sits in his easy-chair, with a large loaf and a foaming jug on his table, and he puffs his cigar in happy tranquillity. The anticipation was not very wide of the reality. “Actæon worried by his own Dogs” is a type of the baiting which the great Minister had to endure before he was driven from power, “to leave a name behind him execrated by every monopolist.” “Manager Peel” takes his Farewell Benefit, amidst showers of bouquets from the Boxes and the waving of hats from the Pit; whilst a policeman is holding back a rioter in the likeness of Mr. Disraeli, who doubles his fist and wants to fight the favourite actor. In this year the distress of his country incites Young Ireland to set up in “business for himself.” He wants arms, and he goes to a shop where there is “A large assortment of most iligant blunderbusses,” and “Pretty little pistols for pretty little children.” England is a better friend to Ireland than her noisy Repealers. The starving peasant sits desolate with his famished wife and children, till John Bull comes with a basket of loaves, saying, “Here are a few things to go on with, brother, and I’ll soon put you in a way to earn your own living.”

In 1847, Lord Palmerston makes his first prominent appearance in the cartoons of “Punch.” The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whose correspondence with France and the three great powers of the Continent had been far from amicable, is the showman of a booth, upon whose cloth are inscribed “Spanish Marriage—Horrible Treachery.” “To be seen alive,
the British Lion roaring. To which is added the Confiscation of Cracow.” John Bull was then not quite awake to foreign affairs. He cared little whom the Infanta of Spain married, and he was not much excited by the violation of the Treaty of Vienna. He turns his back upon the showman, and marches away with a confident air of contempt for such political trifles. He had a subject nearer at home to demand his sympathy and his money. The Irish Famine was at its height of misery. The
great Agitator in vain shouted “Repeal” whilst the people were starving. “O’Connell stumped out” shows how the English feeling for the Irish distress, as reflected in the vigorous action of the Government, had put an end to the game which had been so long played. The Repeal Bat may be thrown down, and the Agitator rush away, whilst Russell, the bowler, exults in his victory.

“The Rising Generation” of this period was a new development of the genius of Leech. For how many years have we been laughing over his infinite variety of precocious boys, who would like to catch the “deuced fine girl” under the mistletoe; or sitting with old uncle after dinner, wake him out of his nap to bid him put coals on the fire and pass the wine. The youth of eighteen is as much the object of this gentle satire as the boy of ten. He drives a cab and has a tiger. He stops to talk with a friend. “Well, Charley, have you had it out with the old boy?” And Charley tells what the undutiful old governor says—“He says I must do something to get my own living.” The genial reviewer of Leech in “The Saturday,” characterises his schoolboys as “so fearful and wonderful in their immature inso-
lence.” They belong to an age in which the feeling of respect for parents and instructors appeared to be fast passing away, into an assertion of equality which was certainly not justified by the advance of the juveniles in real knowledge. The almost total ignorance amongst the rising generation of the higher literature of their country had often been a subject of conversation between
Douglas Jerrold and myself. With this indifference to serious reading came the assumption of a knowledge of the world. It is not improbable that my friend, as one of the remarkable band of associates who met once a week to discuss subjects for the forthcoming “Punch,” may have suggested to the fancy of Leech some of the scenes in which the youth of England at once manifested their mental imbecility and their contempt of the old teaching of the Catechism, “To order myself lowly and reverently to all my betters.” Is it from the want of the antique educational discipline, whether of the home or the school, that few young men can say—
“Parents first season us; then schoolmasters
Deliver us to laws; they send us bound
To rules of reason, holy messengers.”
A good deal of this may have arisen from the low state of middle-class education twenty years ago. It was very little better, perhaps not so good, as the education of the poorer classes, imperfect as that was. Leech has humorously depicted the condition of the Educational question in 1847. “Between the two Stools” of Voluntary education and State education, the peasant boy comes to the ground.

1848 is ushered in by the revolution which has ejected Louis Philippe from his throne. Accord-
ing to “
Punch,” the armed citizen in the blouse has put out the royal light, flickering in the socket, with his extinguisher—the cap of liberty. This event called up two evil spirits in the world—the Spirit of Anarchy and the Spirit of Despotism. “Punch” has two tableaux of “the Trafalgar Square Revolution.” I saw the riot in Trafalgar Square of the blackguard boys of London. They were shouting, as the legend of tableau I makes them shout, “Down with heaverythink.” Tableau 2 shows a ringleader in the hands of a policeman blubbering out—“It aint me sir, I’m for God save the King and Rule Britannia.” The 10th of April succeeds—that abortive attempt at a Chartist revolution, which showed how the improvement of the condition of the people, by a sounder commercial policy, had made them not only less turbulent, but more united for the defence of institutions which were not solely for the benefit of the great. “There is no place like Home” shows us the fat father of a family with his chubby wife surrounded by their children. He has been reading about “The State of Europe.” The cartoon is encompassed by a border, in which we have wonderfully varied representations of war in all its horrors—red republicans, bearing a banner “La Propriété c’est le Vol,” fighting with the French soldiery; whilst Germans and Italians are also in revolt. Martial Law has its fusillades; and a terrified king is running away leaving his crown behind him.

In 1849, the discovery of gold in California, about a year before, had attracted away many of the unquiet and dangerous spirits of our land. A legion of reckless adventurers were assembled in what were popularly called the Diggings. A new artist of
remarkable ability,
Richard Doyle, is now prominent in the pages of “Punch.” He presents us one of those grotesque groups for which he is famous—“A Prospect of Thomas Tyddler hys Ground—with a syghte of ye Yankees pickynge up Golde and Silvere.” His peculiar genius having been manifested, he now enters upon the series entitled “Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe in 1849,” as illustrations of “Mr. Pips his Diary.” Amidst the grotesqueness of these representations, which went on through 1849 and a large part of 1850, the future historian of manners may find most trustworthy materials for describing our social life in the upper and middle ranks, and occasionally in the lower. I may select a few of the most remarkable.

I shall first take Mr. Pips to the seats of legislation and of law. A Committee of the House of Commons exhibits the outlines of many a well-known face, and the usual concomitants of yawners and sleepers at a dreary debate. The House of Commons is crowded; the Lords hearing Appeals exhibits the Chancellor on the Woolsack, two Peers on the benches, three Counsel at the bar, and a countryman and his wife wondering what all this can mean. Westminster Hall, showing the ceremony of opening Term, presents that periodical scene of legal pomp, with a. great crowd of idlers, including a pretty sprinkling of comely damsels, Mr. Pips wisely observing “strange how women do flock to every concourse.” Strange it is that they should crowd to see the Chancellor and the Judges, but more strange that they should flock to sit penned up for hours at the Old Bailey to witness “an interesting trial for murder.” I pass from these constitutional gatherings to less solemn
scenes of public interest. “A Prospect of Exeter Hall—Showynge a Christian Gentleman Denouncynge ye Pope”—is a bitter satire, which, however, is not likely to put intolerance to shame. The raving orator is scarcely an exaggeration. Here we behold the dapper and the burly clerics on the platform; the excited laity shouting “Hear, Hear;” the wilderness of bonnets in the body of the hall—some of the wearers lifting up their hands in dismay at the terrible truths they hear, some weeping, but all delighted with the frantic gesticulations of the speaker. “Methinks,” says Mr. Pips, “such violence do only prove that there are other bigots besides papists.” Calmer is the assembly at “A Scientific Institution during ye Lecture of an eminent Savan.” Science, it would seem, is more tranquillising than Theology, as popularly received. Money questions, however, touch the feelings of mankind as deeply as polemics. “A Railwaye Meetynge—Emotyon of ye Shareholderes at ye Announcemente of a Dividende of 2½d.,” presents a scene which those are happy who have not witnessed, because they have abstained from engaging in such experiments. Happy, too, is the contented poor man, who has no fears of being robbed by fraudulent Directors.
“Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.”
Another sketch, equally significant of the times of 1849, presents us guests who have come to be jovial, but endeavour to look miserable. It is “A Banquet—Shewynge ye Farmer’s Friend Impressynge on ye Agricultural Interest that it is ruined.” The orators of Exeter Hall, and the Farmer’s Friend, have perhaps equally in view “A Prospect of an Election.”
It is the old scene over again which
Hogarth painted a century before, but with an infinite variety of minute faces such as he rarely attempted to portray. He dealt more with individuality. In Mr. Doyle’s sketch we have a countryman holding his hand behind him to receive a bribe—in Hogarth we have the more telling satire, of the honest yeoman with the partizan on either side of him dropping money into the itching palms of both his hands.

The public scenes of London life have undergone so little change, that it is scarcely necessary for me to notice St. James’ Street on a Drawing-Room Day, or Hyde Park, or Kensington Gardens, or the Zoological Gardens. The Flower Shows at Chiswick have migrated to the Regent’s Park and Brompton, in the hope, I may presume, that it would not rain so incessantly on the grand gala days. The Royal Academy Exhibition has been somewhat improved; for Mr. Doyle presents us with an unhappy spectator breaking his back to gaze at the pictures in the top line, where, if we may judge from the incredulous face of another gazing in the same direction whilst his friend points out something remarkable, the majority present come to the same conclusion as the wise personage in Sheridan’s Critic, who exclaims “The Spanish Fleet you cannot see because it’s out of sight.” There is no difficulty in appreciating the correctness of the faces and figures in Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors. The satisfaction of the crowd is very delightful to behold, as they look upon the effigies of celebrated murderers. The sight is almost as pleasant as a sensation novel, and sends many a spectator home with a glowing satisfaction at considering how wicked the world is, and how excellent
a thing it is to belong to the “unco guid.” The polite and the vulgar are equally found in the Chamber of Horrors—whether the amusement-seekers inquire for Madame Tussaud’s or Madame Toossord’s. It is the same with “A Promenade Concerte,” which was the rage when
M. Jullien first astonished the British public with his tremendous attitudes, and gave them little beyond waltzes and polkas. He came in time to find that we could appreciate good music, and did a real service in making us better acquainted with Mendelssohn and Beethoven. For his mixed company, he still had rather too much of his sound and fury, his quadrilles and his galopes. But taken altogether, he deserved success. Vauxhall is now as much a thing of the past as in the days of Sir Roger de Coverley. In Mr. Doyle’s sketches will live the waltzers not over studious of propriety, the respectable citizen and his family devouring the almost impalpable slices of ham, the gents silently sucking their sherry-cobblers, the universal smokers, the dingy waiters. It is gone—its illuminated and its dark walks, its balloons and its fireworks. We may give a sigh for the destruction of Vauxhall, but what a joy it is to have got rid of that pleasant place of diversion, Smithfleld Cattle Market—its filth, its danger, its brutality. And yet for the blackguards of London it was a place of recreation. What a triumph for the human animal it was to chase a bull broken loose, to follow him into the adjacent streets and behold the terror of every passenger. These immemorial amusements, provided by the Corporation of London, have come to an end. There is scarcely any sight left but an execution before the Debtors’ Door in the Old Bailey to gratify the populace of London. It is true that we are still
indulged with the Lord Mayor’s Show on the 9th of November; but the Guy Fawkes of the 5th has become a miserable affair of dirty little boys, and not such a cavalcade as I have witnessed when “No Popery” was chalked on the walls. In 1850 there was a wondrous revival, but the ragged Guys, as sketched by Mr. Doyle in 1849, are dying out. The donkey drawing the effigy in the cart is the type of the anniversary. The Church has given up its celebration. Greenwich Fair too has died out—its bonnettings and its scratch-backs, its bullies and its pickpockets. The diversions that were once common to the snobs and the roughs are passing away. There was formerly a private solace in “A Cydere Cellare duryng a Comyck Songe,” when, as Mr. Pips records, “the thing that did most take was to see and hear one Boss sing the song of Sam Hall the chimneysweep, going to be hanged.” It is satisfactory to feel that the manly diversions which Doyle has depicted with wonderful truth and spirit have not faded away—that the emulation at Lord’s Cricket Ground and the Thames Regatta are still objects of general interest, and keep alive a hearty spirit of good-fellowship amongst all men. The skaters on the Serpentine, male and female, are there to be admired—the unhappy bunglers are there to be laughed at.

When Mr. Doyle enters the houses of the higher class and the upper-middle class, he is perhaps more humorous than in his public scenes. But how unchanged are our manners and customs, since he presented us with “An At Home—ye Polka.” The only perceptible difference is that the flounce had not then given place to the crinoline. It has been said that if a deaf man, who could not hear a note of
the music, were to behold a dance, he would think the whole party were mad, but there is more general insanity in “Socyetye Enjoyinge itself at a Soyrée.” Personally I ought to be grateful that I have passed the time of life when I am expected to be gratified by standing for an hour or two in a crowded and insufferably hot room or suite of rooms, only too happy to get away, if possible, to some obscure corner, to escape from the strangers who bore me. It was no satisfaction to me, any more than it was to Mr. Pips, to see nothing extraordinary in a Lord’s drawing-room “beyond the multitude of company, and divers writers, painters, and other persons of note, elbowing their way through the press.” “A Few Friendes to Tea and a Little Musycke” is more endurable. It is a solemn thing, indeed, to stand behind the stout lady at the piano and murmur our approbation, but our health is not imperilled in such an evening party. “The Wedding Breakfast” is not quite so safe, but is agreeable enough if we have not the misfortune to be the elderly friend who is to propose the health of the bride and bridegroom. The “best man,” who toasts the bridesmaids and vows that such angels never before alighted on this mortal sphere, has a happier position.

In continuing to adopt “Punch” as an Index to the social and political life of the Victorian era, I must be satisfied to take a more rapid glance at the incidents and characters that follow those of the middle of the century. 1850 was, however, remarkable for the struggles to assert their principles of the three great theological powers that would dominate over England—Low Church, High Church, Popery. Four sketches exhibit “The Admirable Working of
Lord Ashley’s Measure.” An aged woman reads the label “Post Office closed until Monday,” and exclaims “Oh! I wish I knew how my dear girl is.” In a cottage where children are preparing to go to bed, the good man tells his wife that he must go over to the Red Lion “to hear what’s a doing, for since these new-fangled post-office changes, I can’t get my bit of a newspaper.” The tradesman at church heeds not the service, for he wonders whether Walker’s bill was paid yesterday. The swindler on the steam-boat rejoices that he has a clear day’s start of the brutal police. Public opinion was too strong for
Lord Ashley’s Measure, and such will be the case with every attempt to make people religious by Act of Parliament. These are the Herculean labours of Puritanism. “A Page for the Puseyites” exhibits the invasion of household privacy for the conversion of the aged and the young, of which the father of the family had no apprehension in the time when the Church rarely troubled itself about domestic edification. The appointment of English bishops by the Pope lighted up the country with a flame not very easily extinguished. The sovereign pontiff is making “The daring Attempt to break into a Church with the thin End of the Wedge.” Cardinal Wiseman stands by his side—the coming bishop of Westminster. The aggressive policy of Rome was legislated against by the English parliament in 1851. The versatile public first applauded Lord John Russell’s indignation, but in a few months laughed heartily when Leech gave us “The boy who chalked up ‘No Popery!’—and then ran away!!”

In 1851 Bloomerism comes into the houses and walks the streets of London. The Great Exhibition
possibly brought over “this American Custom.” How charming are
Leech’s English-women, as they turn round to gaze at the absurd Epicene costume of these wonderful importations. How true are his dirty boys hooting and grinning. “The Settling Day of the Betting Office Frequenter” is more true than humorous—the terrible lies beneath the comic. The policeman seizes a wretched boy in bed—the sporting youth who is supposed to have borrowed his master’s cash-box to pay his bets. In a few years the betting-offices were shut up, and the vagabonds who used to frequent them congregated at the corners of the streets and blocked up the pavement. To me they were an intolerable nuisance, as they gathered at the corner of Farringdon Street and prevented an easy approach to my place of business. But what a study of character they presented in their eagerness or their desperation—their bloated faces, their bloodshot eyes, their watch chains and breast pins, their seedy coats and dirty shirts.

In 1853 the French Emperor and Mr. Bull, two sage physicians, hold “A Consultation about the State of Turkey.” The sick man is on his bed. Death, in Russian garb, hovers over him ready to clutch his prey. At the end of the year Lord Aberdeen is smoking the Pipe of Peace, sitting on a barrel of gunpowder. The war begins. The guards are preparing to sail for the Crimea. The old routine of military dress and military management is displayed in “A striking Effect of choking and overloading our Guards at a late Review.” The wretched soldiers are prostrate on the ground, beneath the horrible infliction of their black chokers and the ponderous baggage on their shoulders. On the
assembling of parliament in 1855, the conduct of the war became the subject of animadversion in and out of the Houses.
Palmerston, an active lad,, is clearing the dirty door-step of the administration of its mess of “Blunders, Routine, Precedent, Delay and Twaddle.” Russell, who has just resigned, looks on saying, “Ah! I lived there once, but I was obliged to leave—it was such a very irregular family.” The cleaning of the door-step brought Palmerston into power. After the reverses and changes of a Session or two, Pam, in 1857, is “The Winner of the Great National Steeple Chase.” The Indian Mutiny is better conducted than the Crimean War. Palmerston as Boots at the British Lion knocks at the bed-room door of Sir Colin Campbell, with “Here’s your hot water, Sir,” and Sir Colin answers, “All right, I have been ready a long time.”

In 1858 the Orsini Plot, hatched in London, revived the old cry of Perfidious Albion. Leech has a sketch of the British conspirator in Paris—a smiling, contented, well-to-do Englishman, sauntering with his hands in his pockets, watched by a dozen policemen. The ridiculous threats of some military myrmidons of the French Emperor had a considerable effect in producing the Volunteer Riflemen. The young and handsome engaged one is told by his mistress, “It entirely depends upon your attention to drill whether I give you that lock of hair or not,” and at Christmas the middle-aged John Bull of double-chin and rotund proportions “guards his Pudding with his Rifle.” The old jealousies are set at rest by “The True Lovers’ Knot”—the Treaty of Commerce of 1860. “The Gladstone Pill” of increased Income Tax has been presented to the ailing
John Bull; but he is out again in full vigour when
Gladstone’s Budget relieves him of many troublesome taxes, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is “The Boy for our Money.”

The more recent political sketches, bearing as they do upon events still in progress, scarcely come within the purpose of this desultory chapter. Many of the subjects have called forth more strikingly than ever the great artistic talent of John Tenniel—one who has dealt with the leading topics of his own time in the spirit of a great historical painter. Up to the day when the sudden death of John Leech eclipsed the gaiety of nations, we had the most delicious representations of our English manners from his prolific pencil. Whether he was in the hunting-field, or at a watering-place, or in the drawing-room, everything he touched was made characteristic and interesting. The domestic life that he presents is the comfortable English life, which appears so dull to foreigners, but which has its own inappreciable happiness. We still have “The rising Generation.” The small boy says “Going to the Pantomime, Clara, this afternoon,” and Clara answers, “A—No—I’m at Home—and have a Kettledrum at three o’clock!” But the juvenile impertinence of the school-boy is now more commonly associated with the coquettish airs of the little girl. Out of that comes in most cases, we may hope, that blessed result which has been so quaintly but truly expressed by Julius Hare—“To brothers, sisters are antiseptics.”

In looking through these remarkable illustrations of nearly a quarter of a century, I often pause to wonder at the unity of purpose which pervades the publication during any particular year, or short series
of years. Still more am I surprised when I have run over forty-seven volumes, and find in them something far beyond a collection of sketches by the cleverest artists of their day. And yet I ought not to be surprised; for my intimacy with some members of the companionship of “
Punch,” has often made me acquainted with a peculiarity of its organisation. It is no secret that this periodical, which might very soon have dwindled into a vehicle for random caricatures and miscellaneous jokes, has in a great degree preserved its vitality by the interchange of thought between artists and writers at weekly meetings. Let no one familiar with Boards or Committees imagine a group intent on business—a dozen serious personages, seated on either side of a long table with a green baize cover, each with a quire of paper and an inkstand before him. Not out of such an array does inspiration come. It comes out of the “neat repast”—not unaccompanied “with wine,” as Milton desired; perhaps even with that weed which Milton did not disdain. I have heard one of the ablest of the successors of A’Becket, Jerrold, and Thackeray describe some of these mysteries in a Lecture at Bristol. From my pleasant intercourse with Shirley Brooks I can judge how suggestive may still be the talk of the “round table” when the Paladins of the Press prepare to do battle against folly or something worse. But no such association could have preserved them from the malice and grossness of common satirists, had not a presiding mind directed their career. It is the rare merit of Mark Lemon that no impurity ever sullied the work of which he is the Editor,—that under his guidance Wit has thought it no restraint “to dwell in decencies for ever.”