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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, July 17, 1841   By:

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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 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, Italian beauty!"

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... Continue reading book >>


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