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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 100, June 27, 1891   By:

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VOL. 100.

June 27, 1891.



SCENE. Hyde Park. Demonstration in progress, with the not unreasonable object of inducing Parliament to extend the Factory Acts to small and insanitary laundries. A lengthy procession, composed of sympathetic Railway Workers, Cabmen, Journeymen Tailors, Gas Stokers, House Decorators, Carpenters, &c., &c., alt with resplendent banners and hired bands, has marched into the Park, together with some lorries and drags containing deputations of ladies from the laundry in the highest possible spirits. Once arrived, each platform chiefly concerns itself with the grievances of its own particular supporters, while a crowd of sightseers circulates, enjoying the oratory with a desultory impartiality. The usual silhouettes of gesticulating speakers appear like jerky clockwork figures above the throng. A crowd of Socialists are "remembering Chicago" in a corner. The chief centre of attraction is a drag occupied by a Philanthropic Young lady Chairwoman, her chaperon, some leading laundresses, one or two male sympathisers, and a couple of reporters. The Chairwoman conducts the proceedings with the greatest possible tact and grace, but is slightly hampered by the levity of a crowd composed of factory girls, semi imbecile larrikins, and professional laundresses, whose burning anxiety for reform masks itself under a surface frivolity. In the neighbourhood is a lorry decorated with clean shirts, and occupied by young washerwomen fired by an enthusiasm which manifests itself in bursts of shrill cheering and lively interchange of chaff with the spectators. In the meantime, the business of this particular platform proceeds somewhat as follows:

The Chairwoman ( with patient good humour ). Now, I'm sure you'll all be as quiet as you can while I ... ( Hubbub, caused by a personal altercation between two Women in the crowd, and shouts of "Order!" ) Because really my doctor has ordered me not to speak in the open air at all ... ( Here an ill conditioned female, taking offence for some inscrutable reason, remarks loudly, " 'Er doctor, indeed, she's a beauty, she is 'er and 'er doctor!" More calls to order, and extreme indignation of the ill conditioned female at being informed that she is "no lady," and had "better 'old 'er jaw"; ribald and utterly meaningless jests by the larrikins. ) Order, please ! ( Imploringly. ) I know you won't make it harder for me than you can help. ( A young Lady in a very tall hat and feather is heard demanding that the Gentleman in front of her should remove his "boxer," on pain of obliging her to remove it herself; the question is argued at length. ) ... You all know the purpose for which we have ... ( Here an enthusiastic old Lady on the drag begins to cheer aimlessly, and wave a scrubbing brush; the Laundresses on the lorry join in. ) Well, we're going to ask Parliament ... ( Another female in crowd : "'Ullo, there's Mrs. JINNINGS, along with the toffs! I want to 'ear Mrs. JINNINGS speak, I do!") ... I shall now ask you to listen to a speaker Mrs. GOFFIN who has had several years' practical experience of laundry work, and she will tell you, I am sure, what the hardships and injustices are which we are trying to put an end to.

[Mrs. GOFFIN, a stout, red faced Lady, mounts the seat with a cheery confidence, amidst roars of laughter, and shouts of "Go it, old girl!" "Don't forgit to send my shirt home next week!" &c., &c. The female in the crowd repeats her preference for Mrs. JINNINGS' oratory; a string of factory girls, in high feathered hats, having just elbowed their way into the throng, suddenly conceive a desire to "get a breath o' air somewhere," and accordingly push and trample their way out again with a Parthian discharge of refined raillery after which Mrs... Continue reading book >>

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