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The History of "Punch"
by M. H. Spielmann
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The literary post on Punch which corresponds with that of Chief Cartoonist has for years past been occupied by Mr. Edwin J. Milliken. The position is an onerous one, and carries great responsibility with it. He who fills it is at once "the Punch Poet" par excellence and the big drum, so to speak, of the political orchestra. For many years Mr. Milliken has written the letterpress explanatory of the Cartoon, either in verse or prose, as well as the preface to each succeeding volume. To his pen, too, we have owed during the same period those verses which it has been the graceful practice of Punch to devote to the memory of distinguished men. Remarkable for their tact, dignity, and good-sense—instinct with lofty thought and deep feeling—these poems are often masterpieces of their kind, models of taste and generous sympathy. In particular, those published upon the deaths of Lord Beaconsfield, John Bright, and Lord Tennyson, may be remembered as worthy of the men they were designed to honour, as well as for the felicity with which they set down what was in the heart of the nation, and the eloquence with which its sentiment was expressed.

On January 2nd, 1875, there appeared in Punch some lines entitled "A Voice from Venus," the planet's transit having at that time just occurred. They were Mr. Milliken's first contribution—a bow drawn at a venture—for he was entirely unknown to anyone connected with the paper. Tom Taylor asked for a guarantee of the originality of the verses—in itself a flattering distrust—and, receiving the necessary assurance, printed them forthwith. From that time forward the young writer contributed with regularity, and for two years was put severely through his paces by the Editor, who, in order to "try his hand," as he said, gave him every sort of work to do. Then came a personal interview of a gratulatory nature, in which Taylor promised to invite Mr. Milliken to the Table as soon as a vacancy occurred. At the end of the second year of probation this promise was fulfilled, and early in 1877 "E. J. M." cut his initials on the board.

It is worthy of remark that the successful career of Mr. Milliken is in direct opposition to his training, for he began life, much against his will, as a man of business in a great engineering firm. But literature was his goal, and the appreciation of the editors of a few magazines and journals to some extent satisfied his ambition. In point of fact, Mr. Milliken, in respect to his work, is the most modest and retiring of men; and the only contribution to which his name appeared, for years before or after, was the set of memorial verses to Charles Dickens which were printed in the "Gentleman's Magazine" in 1870.



Without a doubt "The 'Arry Papers" are the most popular and best known of Mr. Milliken's contributions, although "Childe Chappie's Pilgrimage," "The Modern Ars Amandi" (1883), "The Town" (1884), "Fitzdotterel; or, T'other and Which" (a parody of Lord Lytton's "Glenaveril"), 1885; "Untiled; or, the Modern Asmodeus" (1889-90), and "The New Guide to Knowledge," have successively loomed large in Punch's firmament. But it is the great creation of 'Arry for which Mr. Milliken is most applauded—and least understood. It is generally supposed that the 'Arry of Mr. Milliken corresponds to the similar character conceived by Charles Keene and Mr. Anstey. But the author means him for a great deal more. 'Arry with him is not so much a personage as a type—as much an impersonal symbol as Mr. Watts's Love, or Death, or other quality, passion, or fate, without individuality and, in spirit at least, without sex.

It is often suggested that Mr. Milliken's 'Arry is the survival—or, at least, the descendant—of the "gent" of Leech and the "snob" of Thackeray and Albert Smith. He is nothing of the sort. The gent and the snob had at least this merit; they aspired, or imagined themselves, to be something more and better than they really were. But 'Arry is a self-declared cad, without either hope or desire, or even thought, of redemption. Self-sufficient, brazen, and unblushing in his irrepressible vulgarity, blatant and unashamed, he is distinguished by a sort of good-humour that is as rampant and as offensive as his swaggering selfishness, his arrogant familiarity and effrontery, and his sensuous sentiment. He is a mean-souled and cynical camp-follower of the army of King Demos, every day expanding, every day more objectionable in his insolent assurance. Originally designed as an illustration of the 'Arryism of the rougher classes, then promoted to be characteristic of the low sort of shop-lad and still lower kind of mechanic "with views" of a clear-cut kind within the narrow limits of his materialistic philosophy, he has developed into a type of character—almost, indeed, into a type of humanity. And as 'Arryism is rife in every walk of society, so 'Arry's experiences have become more informed, but not for that reason more cultivated or more refined. And therein lies the one inevitably weak point of Mr. Milliken's invention. Like Frankenstein, he seems to have created a Monster, who has outgrown the purpose he was originally intended to serve. For when he finds himself considering the 'Arryism of the "upper classes," he is bound, by his otherwise admirable convention, to retain the Cockney slang of which he is such a master, even though the speaker is supposed to have advanced so far in his views and knowledge of life as to be able to discuss matters of art, science, and literature. For, be it observed, a bank-'oliday at the Welsh 'Arp, "wich is down 'Endon wy," is no longer a spree for him, however uproarious the "shindy," and however ready his "gal" may be to sit on his knee and "change 'ats" to the accompaniment of cornet and concertina. He travels—on the cheap, of course—but still he travels, and discusses Venus of Milo, and 'Igh Art, and the philosophic questions of the "dy," and resolves all his meditations into the "motter" that "Socierty's all right." Without soul, without ideality, without aspiration, save of the baser sort, he represents no good quality nor redeeming virtue but physical health—the promise, it may at least be hoped, of a posterity that in the future, perchance, may justify his existence. He is the raw, the offensively raw, material from which respectable and useful descendants may eventually be made. At present Mr. Milliken shows the 'Arryism that is permeating and fouling all classes, almost to the highest; but there the convention fails—only because it is a convention—for 'Arry is made to fill the part which has more recently, and perhaps with greater fitness, been accorded to the Bounder.[46]

But, apart from the satirical creation, 'Arry is a most amusing personage—his forms of speech, the quaint turns of his vulgar thought, being in themselves irresistibly laughable—their grossness merged in their genuine humour, and in the art so well concealed. 'Arry alone has stamped Mr. Milliken as a satirical humorist of the front rank, and has gone far towards making the public forget his other phase—the graceful and sympathetic poet. The philologists, too, proclaim their debt of gratitude to the author as the most complete collector of modern English slang, with suitable context and situation. Dr. Murray's great "New English Dictionary" accepts 'Arry as a name "used humorously for: A low-bred fellow (who drops his h's) of lively temper and manners," and quotes "'Arry on 'Orseback" in Punch's Almanac for 1874 as his debut in print. And, finally, Herr C. Stoffel, of Nijmegen, has published a philological volume on the "'Arry Letters" in Punch, from 1883 to 1889, examining the cant words with the utmost elaboration, gravity, and knowledge, and producing one of the most valuable treatises on the subject that have hitherto been published.

In addition to the work already indicated, Mr. Milliken (as shown in the chapter on cartoons) devotes a great deal of attention to the devising of Mr. Punch's "big cuts," both for Sir John Tenniel and Mr. Linley Sambourne. The Almanac double-page cartoons, too—usually very elaborate designs—have been planned by him for a good many years, as well as most of Mr. Sambourne's fanciful calendars and "months" in the Almanacs. It will thus be seen that—with all his work in prose and verse, from a paragraph to a preface, and from a series to an epigram—Mr. Milliken is Writer-of-all-work and "General Utility" in the best sense; and a more loyal and devoted servant Punch has never had.



Alfred Thompson's work, which began in 1876, is considered with that of Punch's artists. Then came Gilbert Arthur a Beckett, who after a short spell of regular work was summoned to the Table. His first contribution had, in fact, been published by Mark Lemon, but immediately afterwards that Editor treated him just as he had treated his brother; and not for some years did he receive the call. Tom Taylor it was who, attracted by the quality of the work which the brothers were doing elsewhere, sent the coveted invitation.[47] In 1879—five years after his brother Arthur—Gilbert a Beckett joined the salaried Staff, and three years later he was appointed to the Table. He had a very quaint humour and a wonderfully quick and startling sense of the incongruous. He was sadly hampered by his affliction, but he was an accomplished, high-principled, sensitive fellow, of whom one of his companions declared that "he was the purest-minded man I ever knew." Under more favourable conditions of health he would probably have made a greater mark; but as it was, he did good work. He was a happy parodist, and a very neat and smart versifier—at the age of fifteen he had gained the prize for English verse at Westminster, which was open to the whole school—and in the wildly absurd yet laughable vein of his bogus advertisements (of which he did many under the head of "How we Advertise Now"—a continuation of Jerrold's early idea) none of his Punch brethren could touch him. He was, perhaps, best known to the world as part author of the famous political burlesque of "The Happy Land;" less, perhaps, as part author of "The White Pilgrim;" and least of all as a musical composer, as it was under the pseudonym of "Vivian Bligh" that he put forth his songs and his music for the "German Reeds' Entertainment." But his work on Punch was always relished, and, considering his sad physical afflictions, he held his own on the Staff. He contributed both prose and verse, smart and apt of their kind. He wrote—in part, at least—the admirable parody of a boy's sensational shocker (p. 119, Vol. LXXXII., March 11th, 1882). With the exception of this and the comical "Advertisements" he did very few "series," but his contributions were always varied and excellent in their way, and himself appreciated as a useful and clever man. Perhaps his chief claim to recollection was his suggestion, as explained elsewhere, of the famous cartoon of "Dropping the Pilot." The Dinners were his greatest pleasure, and he attended them with regularity, although the paralysis of the legs—the result of falling down the stairway of Gower Street Station—from which he suffered (in common with his uncle Sir William a Beckett, and with one of the Mayhew brothers as well) rendered his locomotion and the mounting of Mr. Punch's stairway a matter of painful exertion. Although he did useful work for Punch, he never became a known popular favourite; yet when he died—on October 15th, 1891—a chorus of unanimous regret arose in the press, for he was one of those few men who count none but friends among their wide circle of acquaintance.



Mr. Horace Frank Lester, late of Oxford University, afterwards barrister-at-law, author and journalist of the first rank, but at that time unknown to Punch, first appeared on January 5th, 1878, with a slashing satire on busybody amateur statesmen which greatly tickled Tom Taylor's fancy. But his first real hit was in September, 1880, with a form of contribution then comparatively new. It was a "Diary of the Premier at Sea," when Mr. Gladstone was on board the Grantully Castle, and, so far from "husbanding his energies," as his doctor directed, was supposed to receive deputations, make speeches, convert the man-at-the-wheel from Toryism, and try to cut down the mainmast with his axe. Then followed political diaries, parodies (such as "'The Entire History of Our Own Times' by Jestin Machearty," and innumerable poems), comic Latin verse, "Journal of a Rolling Stone," "Advice Gratis," "Queer Queries," legal skits, and so on. An amusing incident occurred in respect to one of the "Advice Gratis" series. Mr. Lester had spoken of a mythical book called "Etiquette for the Million: or, How to Behave Like a Gentleman on Nothing a Year, published at this Office." A corporal stationed at Galway Barracks wrote and asked for the price of it, "as I am extremely anxious to have the book referred to." Mr. Burnand's reply was simply, "Sold."

FOOTNOTES:

[44] Lord Ellenborough.

[45] See p. 85.

[46] I have been fortunate in ascertaining Mr. Milliken's own estimate of 'Arry in a private letter to a friend. Although it was not written for publication, I have received permission to quote the following sentences:—

"'Arry—as you say—the essential Cad, is really appalling. He is not a creature to be laughed at or with. My main purpose was satirical—an analysis of and an attack on the spirit of Caddishness, rampant in our days in many grades of life, coarse, corrupting, revolting in all. I might have confined myself to the 'Humours of 'Arry,' when my work would have been more genial, and, to many, more attractive. But then I should have missed my mark. On the other hand, I might have made it a more realistic study, but then I should have got very few readers, and certainly no place in the Punch pages. So it was a compromise; not a consistent study of an individual Cad, but of the various characteristics of Caddishness. It has been said that an ordinary cad could not have done or said or known all that my 'Arry did. Quite true, quite well known to me while writing; and indeed I forestalled the objection in the preface of the book.... As to 'Arry's origin, and the way in which I studied him, I have mingled much with working men, shop-lads, and would-be smart and 'snide' clerks—who plume themselves on their mastery of slang and their general 'cuteness' and 'leariness.' I have watched, listened, and studied for years 'from the life,' and I fancy I've a good memory for slang phrases of all sorts; and my 'Arry 'slang,' as I have said, is very varied, and not scientific, though most of it I have heard from the lips of street-boy, Bank-holiday youth, coster, cheap clerk, counter-jumper, bar-lounger, cheap excursionist, smoking-concert devotee, tenth-rate suburban singer, music hall 'pro' or his admirer," etc. etc.

[47] Connection with Punch has run strangely in families—as the reader may see by reference to the "Family Trees" on the next page.



CHAPTER XVII.

PUNCH'S WRITERS: 1880-94.

"Robert"—Mr. Deputy Bedford—Mr. Ashby-Sterry—Reginald Shirley Brooks—Mr. George Augustus Sala—Mr. Clement Scott—The "Times" Approves—Mr. H. W. Lucy—"Toby, M.P."—Martin Tapper and Edmund Yates—Mr. George Grossmith—Mr. Weedon Grossmith—Mr. Andrew Lang's "Confessions of a Duffer"—Miss May Kendall—Miss Burnand—Lady Humorists—Mr. Brandon Thomas and Mr. Gladstone—Mr. Warham St. Leger—Mr. Anstey—"Modern Music-hall Songs"—"Voces Populi"—Mr. R. C. Lehmann—Mr. Barry Pain—Mr. H. P. Stephens—Mr. Charles Geake—Mr. Gerald Campbell—R. F. Murray—Mr. George Davis—Mr. Arthur A. Sykes—Rev. Anthony C. Deane—Mr. Owen Seaman—Lady Campbell—Mr. James Payn—Mr. H. D. Traill—Mr. A. Armitage—Mr. Hosack—Arthur Sketchley—Henry J. Byron—Punch's Literature Considered.



"Robert, the City waiter" made his low-comedy bow in 1880. "Robert's" literary father is Mr. Deputy John T. Bedford, whose opportunities for studying the ways of the City waiter have necessarily been many and excellent. The result of his keen observation was introduced to Punch through chance. "My introduction to Punch," Mr. Bedford informs me, "arose from the quite accidental circumstance that Mr. Burnand and myself were introduced at the same time, by Mr. F. Gordon, on the directorship of the 'Grand Hotel' at Charing Cross; and very shortly afterwards ... on the appointment of Mr. Burnand as Mr. Tom Taylor's successor, I ventured to congratulate him, when he said to me, 'If any fun is to be found in the City, I shall expect you to bring it to me.' I replied that I had sometimes thought that there was some to be got out of a City waiter, as waiters were not quite so deaf as was generally considered. I tried my hand, and my first attempt was very kindly received; it was printed on p. 64, Vol. LXXIX. (August 14th, 1880), under the title of 'Notes from the Diary of a City Waiter.' ... There is no truth in the statement that Robert was based upon a certain waiter. He is certainly imaginary"—a statement which disposes of the assertion that the famous old "Cock Tavern" is famous nowadays for the original of "Robert" in the person of its head-waiter. Since 1880 Mr. Deputy Bedford is to be credited with more than two hundred contributions, of which, however, only a proportion belong to the "Robert" series. "You will find some of them," writes Mr. Bedford, "signed J. Litgue, a nom de plume that puzzled Mr. Burnand himself, until I revealed the secret that it was French for 'Bed-ford'; and he, with his excellent knowledge of French, was thoroughly sold." "Robert" has been republished in book form, and has attained an extraordinary circulation, though some of Mr. Bedford's critics have declared that the chief attraction has been the admirable illustrations by Charles Keene with which the little book is embellished. For severe critics there are; one of whom, in order to prove that "Robert" was not a humorous creation at all, took the curious course of translating one of his articles into good, well-spelt English, and then triumphantly asking—"Where is the humour now?"



A complete contrast to Mr. Bedford became a contributor to Punch a fortnight after him—Mr. J. Ashby-Sterry. Twenty-nine years had passed since his boyish drawings had been accepted; and during the interval he had relinquished the pencil for the pen, had become a well-known journalist, and the author of sundry volumes of light literature. He was one of the first to be summoned by the new Editor, and he responded nobly to the call. Since August 28th, 1880, he has contributed as largely as any outsider to Punch's pages. Innumerable picture-shows, new books, articles of all kinds, and countless verses of every description on every possible topic, with paragraphs long and short, are, so to speak, the hors d'oeuvres of his contribution. Many series of poems and papers are his, of which the best-known is that of the "Lays of a Lazy Minstrel" (begun August 28th, 1880), with their riverside idylls and love-carols; but to his hand also are to be credited "Simple Stories for Little Gentlefolk," "Holiday Haunts, by Jingle Junior on the Jaunt," "Club Carols," "Uncle Bulger's Moral Tales," "Songs of the Streets," "Rambling Rondeaux," and "Paper-knife Poems." But it is his fluent, melodious, and unpretentious verse that has made him popular in Punch.

Reginald Shirley Brooks, the son of Mr. Burnand's brilliant predecessor, was working for Punch in 1880, and the following year he was called to the Table, and remained there without much distinction until 1884. He wrote some smart papers, but his groove was not that of the sober and respectable Fleet Street Sage. He preferred wilder spirits, and he accordingly retired, taking with him the sympathy of his companions. He died soon after.

After the escapade of Mr. George Augustus Sala in respect to Alfred Bunn's quarrel with Punch and the resultant "Word with Punch" of half a century ago (which was illustrated by Mr. Sala's lively pencil, as is explained in another chapter), none would ever have thought that his pen would have been driven in Punch's service. Lemon had declared him a "graceless young whelp," and nothing that Mr. Sala ever cared to do had tended to change that opinion. Shirley Brooks and Tom Taylor carried on the sentiment as a sort of dynastic vendetta, and Mr. Sala's name was kept on Punch's Index Expurgatorius until the accession of Mr. Burnand. Punch was then no longer the close borough, and the new Editor sought talent where he could find it. He invited Mr. Sala to contribute, and the invitation has been responded to whenever anything "Punchy" has occurred to the writer—as in the rhymed travesty of Tennyson's opening verses of "The Princess." It is an amusing fact that on one occasion Mr. Sala contributed a skit on himself—felicitously entitled "Egos of the Week"—with the startling and satisfactory result that one or two papers, taking the thing au serieux, commented on the fact, and expressed their pleasure that "at last Mr. George Augustus Sala has had the drubbing by Punch he has so long and so richly deserved"!

Mr. Clement Scott, the doyen of the dramatic critics, Civil Servant (like so many of the Punch Staff), member of the clever band that nurtured "Fun" into life, and brother-in-law of Mr. du Maurier, also had to wait till Mr. Burnand was Editor before he was given the opportunity to write for Punch. "It struck him," writes Mr. Scott, "that he might mingle among the essentially comic pages an occasional poem that might ventilate some grievance in a pathetic manner or describe some heroic subject in the ballad style.... The first subject Burnand sent me was the overworked and underpaid clerks in London. It took my fancy, and in three hours after I received his letter I sent him 'The Cry of the Clerk!' To my intense surprise, the morning after it appeared in Punch I found it quoted in extenso in 'The Times'—an unusual honour. I believe Dr. Chinery the instant he read the poem clipped it out with his own scissors and said, 'I don't know if this has ever been done before, but we must quote the poem to-morrow morning.' The sub-editor was aghast, but the poem was printed as from Punch."

These verses, indeed, struck people's consciences, as Thomas Hood had struck them years ago with "The Song of the Shirt." It brought into relief the enforced "respectability" of the men who earn but a few shillings a week, and yet are supposed to be "above charity."

It was the last verse that most struck home:—

"Why did I marry? In mercy's name, in the form of my brother was I not born? Are wife and child to be given to him, and love to be taken from me with scorn? It is not for them that I plead, for theirs are the only voices that break my sorrow, That lighten my pathway, make me pause 'twixt the sad to-day and grim to-morrow. The Sun and the Sea are not given to me, nor joys like yours as you flit together Away to the woods and the downs, and across the endless acres of purple heather. But I've love, thank Heaven! and mercy, too; 'tis for justice only I bid you hark To the tale of a penniless man like me—to the wounded cry of a London Clerk!"

Then he took the part of the shop-girls who are never allowed to sit down ("Weary Womankind"); of the London children who cry for fresh air ("The Children's Cry"), and described as well many a deed of daring by sea and land, in which sailors, soldiers, engine-drivers, policemen, life-boatmen, and coastguardsmen were concerned. In his little volume of "Lays and Lyrics" nearly a score of these Punch poems are republished.

The Parliamentary phase of Punch is the one which has remained constant from the beginning of the paper. All else has been subject to change—the quality of its satire, the character of its literature, the intention of its art, and the class of its humour. But in his attendance upon Parliament Punch has been persistently assiduous and consistently frank, neither awed by its majesty nor sickened by its follies. Parliament has always been regarded in his pages in the spirit of benevolent patronage and control, which, though unquestionably pedagogic, has always been just and sympathetic in tone. It was in order to continue the chain forged by Shirley Brooks and Tom Taylor in their "Essence of Parliament," without the dropping of a link, that Mr. Burnand's first Staff appointment was made with a view to filling the place that had been left vacant by Tom Taylor's death. His attention, like that of many others, had long been attracted to the brilliant weekly articles in the "Observer," entitled "From the Cross Benches"—papers that dealt with the week's Parliamentary proceedings with singular cleverness, humour, and originality—and at the proper moment he sought out the author of them, Mr. Henry W. Lucy, of the "Daily News."

Mr. Lucy had already graduated as the Pepys of Parliament; for he had been known in gallery and lobby of the House for the past ten years, and was acting as chief of the Parliamentary Staff for his paper. He was, therefore, considered particularly well-fitted for the new post on Punch, and he readily accepted the invitation. His first contribution was a sort of prospectus of Toby's Diary, which was published on January 8th, 1881. Thenceforward Mr. Lucy became known as "Toby, M.P.;" and when a puzzled Member of Parliament, familiar with his face, would occasionally ask him in the Lobby, "By the way, where are you member for?" he would answer "Barks" and pass on. It is not uncommon to find unregenerate members taking to themselves the credit of the witticisms which Toby puts into their mouths; so that there is perhaps excuse for the biographer of Lord Sherbrooke (Robert Lowe), who attributed to his subject the capital exclamation with which Mr. Lucy endowed him. When he saw a deaf member get his ear-trumpet into position in order to listen to a tedious orator, he remarked (according to Toby): "What a pity it is to see a man thus wasting his natural advantages!" And Lowe has had the credit of it ever since.



No one in the House knows its members so well as Mr. Lucy; no one out of it is so well acquainted with its procedure; and when for a short time he reluctantly filled the editorial chair of the "Daily News," he was unhappy till he got back to Toby's "kennel" in the gallery of the House of Commons.

But the Essence of Parliament as distilled by "Toby" is by no means the only, hardly even the most voluminous of Mr. Lucy's Punch work. In the recess he is a constant contributor as Mr. Burnand's deputy in the character of Punch's reviewer—"The Baron de Book-Worms," through whose personality "My Baronite" appears from time to time; while among his serial articles have been "The Letter-bag of Toby, M.P.," and the set of Interviews with Celebrities at Home, parodies of the "World's" articles, which delighted none so much as Edmund Yates himself.[48] Mr. Lucy joined the Table on his return from Japan in 1884.

But it is as "Toby" that he has gained most of his popularity. He showed the way about the House of Commons to Mr. Harry Furniss; and, up to the withdrawal of the latter, his "Diary" was always illustrated by that artist. Later on Mr. Edward J. Reed took the place Mr. Furniss resigned, and the pair continue to set before the world their humorous versions—perversions, it would be hardly fair to say—of Parliamentary proceedings. Mr. Lucy's touch is light and original, imparting an appearance of interest and entertainment to the dullest debate, and of verisimilitude to the most doubtful statements. Yet the "Diary" is not without its value as a record, while it remains an amusing commentary upon the work of the Session, and an entirely inoffensive caricature of the men and speeches with whom it deals.

In 1884, when the entertainer's platform was offering inducements superior to those of the stage, Mr. George Grossmith began a series of sketches in Punch, entitled "Very Trying," the fourth article of which contained a skit of Mr. Flowers, the Police Magistrate at Bow Street, under the heading of "The Good-humoured Magistrate," and another dealt with Mr. Vaughan. Then came his funny musical sketches, with a few bars of absurd music sprinkled here and there in imitation of the London concert books. A few songs he also contributed to the paper, "The Duke of Seven Dials" becoming "popular even unto Hackney." Then, in collaboration with his brother, Mr. Weedon Grossmith, he produced "The Diary of a Nobody." It was a domestic record of considerable length, which dealt in an extremely earnest way with Mr. Samuel Porter, who lived in a small villa in Holloway, and had trouble with his drains, and was sometimes late at the office, with similar circumstances of striking interest and concern, which seemed to him to call for public notice. The "Diary" was afterwards republished in book form.

The light and dainty touch of Mr. Andrew Lang has not been denied to Punch. A number of trifles in verse appeared in 1883 and the two following years, the most important of them being a sonnet to Colonel Burnaby—the one contribution, it may be said, that the author has thought well to republish. Some years later he produced the laughable series "The Confessions of a Duffer"—papers so humorous that it is difficult to accept Mr. Lang's disclaimer that "a comic paper is a thing in which I have no freedom to write."

Besides Mr. W. Ralston, with his single contribution of "K.G.—Q.E.D." (November 22nd, 1884), Miss May Kendall was the chief comer of the year 1885. This lady helps to make up Punch's bevy of lady literary contributors—Miss Betham-Edwards, Mrs. Frances Collins, Lady Campbell, Miss Burnand (an occasional reviewer, or "Baronitess"), Miss Hollingshead, and Mrs. Leverson, being the others. She is one of the few lady humorists of any consequence in her day. Women, as a rule, are humorists neither born nor made. Often enough they are wits, more frequently satirists. They can make, we are told, but they cannot take, a joke; at any rate, they are usually out of their element in the comic arena. Moreover, as butts for the caricaturist they are unsatisfactory, for in proportion as his efforts are successful, his sense of chivalry is outraged; and we have seen how Keene and others recoiled from the idea. Only on one occasion did Mr. Furniss make the attempt, and that indirectly and in a sense unintentionally—and the circumstance brought a miniature storm about his ears. No woman has ever yet been a caricaturist, in spite of the fact that her femininity befits her pre-eminently for the part. That she has desisted is a mercy for which man may be devoutly thankful. At the present time the rule here laid down as to lady humorists is proved by an exception in the person of Miss Murphy, a lady, it is said, of much beauty, who worked her way up from a subordinate position to the editorship of "The Melbourne Punch," a really comic production; but the unequal battle that would follow any extensive imitation of her example is altogether too painful to contemplate.

Miss Kendall's first poems, which were introduced to the notice of Punch by Mr. Andrew Lang in sincere admiration of their cleverness, were "The Lay of the Ancient Trilobite," and "Ballad of the Ichthyosaurus," which were printed in the numbers for January 24th and February 14th, 1885. It is Miss Kendall's peculiar talent that she is able to extract delicate humour out of the most unpromising subjects, and even in these lays, which together constituted her maiden effort, the characteristic is clearly shown. One verse may serve as an example; it is from the poem which shows how the Ichthyosaurus aspires to a higher life, and how the all-absorbent Ether remains in triumph after we have played out our little parts to their puny end:—

"And we, howsoever we hated, And feared, or made love, or believed, For all the opinions we stated, The woes and the wars we achieved, We too shall lie idle together— In very uncritical case; And no one will win—but the Ether That fills circumambient space."

Quaintly humorous ideas are spread among her score of contributions—and tenderness, too; but it is as a humorous versifier of refinement and originality that she has appealed strongly to Punch readers, although, as she herself says, "it seemed very wonderful to be in Punch, which I had venerated from my youth up."

The single contribution of Mr. Brandon Thomas has a rather interesting story. It was a patriotic song of a stirring sort, called "Britannia's Volunteers," composed at a time—in 1885—when patriotism was thick in the air. It was put to music by Mr. Alfred Allen; and two days after it was written, Mr. Thomas was at the house of Mr. Woodall, M.P., and there he sang the song. An old gentleman, who covered his mouth and chin with his hand, sat in the front row, and levelled a piercing look at the singer, listening with intense interest. During the second verse Mr. Thomas, who was much affected by the gazer, sang straight at the aged owner of the wonderful eyes:—

"They were no conscripts Marlbro' led, But freemen—Volunteers, A free-born race from fathers bred That won for us Poictiers; No conscript names were on the roll— All heroes dead and gone— That blazoned bright on Victory's scroll The name of Wellington: And Inkerman's immortal height Will tell for many a day How sternly sons of Freedom fight, Let odds be what they may. Thus Liberty scorns vain alarms, And answers back with cheers! No conscript legions flogged to arms Have yet flogged Volunteers!"

Then the masking hand was removed, and the face of Mr. Gladstone was revealed. The sight of him seemed to stimulate the singer, an enthusiastic Conservative, and as he gave forth the last verse, with singular effect, his eyes so filled with tears that he could hardly see the piano keys:—

"They think to crush old England, And take her mighty place! When they wipe out from ev'ry land The language of her race; When Justice meekly sheathes her sword, And Freemen ne'er make laws; When Tyrants rule by force and fraud And dead is Freedom's cause; When Liberty shall see her home Low levelled with the turf, And watch each son in turn become A tyrant-driven serf; When Freedom's sacred name's forgot Within the hearts of men— They'll crush us to the earth, but not— By Heav'n!—but not till then!"

When it was finished, Mr. Gladstone applauded vigorously, as though unconscious of the pointed way in which the verse had been sung at him, or respectful perhaps of the sincerity of the singer; and Mr. Burnand, who was present, and had been watching the scene with much amusement, enquired, aside, "Who wrote that?" "I did." "When?" "Two days ago." "Have you sent it anywhere?" "No." "Then let me have it." So with the metre slightly changed it appeared in Punch on May 23rd.

Some of the most delicate and humorous vers de societe of the day have come from Mr. Warham St. Leger, and some of the best have appeared since the end of 1886 in the pages of Punch. "The Lay of the Lost Critic" was the first of his contributions, and it was sent in, not by its author, but by a friend who had read it. So well was it thought of that Mr. St. Leger was invited at once to become a contributor, and accordingly he sent in many poems during the four years that followed, together with odd papers in the form of letters, especially on pseudo-scientific lines. All these poems were collected into a volume entitled "Ballads from Punch" in which perhaps the most striking are that "To my Hairdresser," and the irresistibly comic satire on modern ordnance, in which during a naval battle, after all the fighting has been done by ramming, "the last stern order of the brave" is whispered through the ship: "We're going to fire the guns!!" This desperate course is taken and described—the air grows thick and dark with broken breech, flying tube, and disrupted armour-plate, and when all was over—

"... They punished the seven survivors For wasting the ordnance stores."



Mr. Anstey (Guthrie) was already famous for his little series of successful books, "Vice Versa," "The Giant's Robe," "The Tinted Venus," "The Black Poodle," and "A Fallen Idol," when he was invited to contribute to Punch. In each and all of these stories there had been a clear and original idea, worked out with ingenuity and invested with rich and delicate humour. Their author was clearly a man for Punch. So thought Mr. Burnand, and Mr. Anstey shared the opinion. On November 4th, 1885, therefore, appeared his first contribution "Faux et Preterea Nihil." His work was consistently good, and at the end of 1886 he was called to the Table, taking his place and eating his first Dinner in January, 1887.

Mr. Anstey's writings attracted attention from the beginning, and in their reprinted form have been no less successful—the truest test of quality. Among the most delightful of these was the "Model Music Hall Songs"—songs and dramas virginibus puerisque, adapted to the requirements of the members of the London County Council which sought out and found indecency in a marionette's pursuit of a butterfly. The idea opened up to Mr. Anstey a comic vista, which he has developed for our delectation. The songs and dances, with their words and directions, are for the most part screamingly funny, consisting partly in the perfectly realised absurdity and inanity of the performance, and partly in that quality of absolute truthfulness to life which we are forced to realise in the presentation of them. Laughter is often produced by the mere faithfulness of an imitation, whether the thing copied is funny or not. Simple mimicry has the power to make us laugh; and over that power, in all its phases of motive, act, and talk, Mr. Anstey has absolute control. In addition, he has a genius for plot-making and verse-writing, be it original or parody, which in its own line is unsurpassed in modern literature. In his analysis of character and motive he seems to set before us our own weak selves laid bare, until his voces populi become voces animi, the voice of the people speaking unpleasantly like the voice of conscience.

In this comic reproduction of actual experience Mr. Anstey has travelled over the road pointed out by Mr. Burnand in his "Happy Thoughts" and "Out of Town;" but, adding greatly to the scientific truth of it, he seems to have lost something of the geniality and joviality of the form. Mr. Anstey has placed Society on the dissecting-table, and probing with a little less of the sympathy shown by Mr. du Maurier, he carries his observation, consciously or unconsciously, to a much farther and more merciless point. Not that he has no kindly feeling for his subjects; he has—but he reserves it for his good people. Towards his snobs and cads and prigs he is pitiless; he turns his microscope upon them, and with far less mercy than is to be found in a vivisector he lays bare their false hearts, points to their lying tongues, and tears them out without a pang of remorse. It is all in fun, of course; but it is unmistakable. Still, who shall find fault with what is the essence of justice and truth, which mercy only interferes with to weaken?

The burlesques in the "Model Music Hall Songs" are often as good as their originals—just as some of the Rejected Addresses by the Smiths were as good as the genuine poems they parodied; and the representation of them is placed before the reader with more than photographic truth. In "So Shy!" we see the lady "of a mature age and inclined to a comfortable embonpoint," who comes forward and sings—

"I'm a dynety little dysy of the dingle, So retiring and so timid and so coy— If you ask me why so long I have lived single, I will tell you—'tis because I am so shoy."

It is a notable fact that songs of this sort were driven off the better-class music-hall stage about this time, and there is little doubt that Mr. Anstey, to whom Mr. Bernard Partridge afterwards rendered artistic help, took yeoman's share in the campaign. More certain it is that with "Mr. Punch's Young Reciter" he effectively suppressed the drawing-room spouter. No one with a sense of humour who has read that series can now stand up and recite a poem of a sentimental or an heroic nature from the pens of Mr. Clement Scott or Mr. G. R. Sims without genius to back him; and no one who heard it could retain his gravity to the end. "Burglar Bill" melted almost to repentance by the innocent child who asked him to burgle her doll's house, and whose salvation was finally wrought by the gift of the baby's jamtart—killed the Young Reciter by dint of pure ridicule and honest fun. He has made an unsophisticated reciter as impossible as a sympathetic and sentimental audience.

And in "Voces Populi"—the popular dramas in dialogue, in which the conversation accurately and concisely describes the character, temperament, and tastes of the speaker—there is a humorous verbal photography of extraordinary vividness. 'Arry is no longer a symbol and a type, as he is in Mr. Milliken's hands; he is a definite person in one particular position in life and no other, and what he says could not, we feel, possibly have been said in any other way, nor by any other person. And so along the whole gamut of the classes through which Mr. Anstey leads us. The humour is penetrating, and it is difficult to say where the truth ends and the caricature begins. Who can forget the visit to the Tudor Exhibition, when Henry VIII's remarkable hat was on view? "'Arry," says 'Arriet to her escort; "look 'ere; fancy a king goin' about in a thing like that—pink with a green feather! Why, I wouldn't be seen in it myself!" 'Arry, who is clearly farceur, replies with a pretty wit: "Ah, but that was ole 'Enery all over, that was; he wasn't one for show. He liked a quiet, unassumin' style of 'at, he did. 'None o' yer loud pot'ats for Me!' he'd tell the Royal 'atters; 'find me a tile as won't attract people's notice, or you won't want a tile yerselves in another minute!' An' you may take yer oath they served him pretty sharp, too!" And so it is all through; the talk of the people, of everybody in all sorts of positions in life, is recorded in these "Voces," and in all there is the same quality of nature.

In "Travelling Companions," nearly as amusing and quite as observant, we are made to feel that the two heroes detest each other hardly more than Mr. Anstey detests Culcherd, the more unsympathetic and contemptible of the two. They are nearly as despicable as they are funny, and their creator has little pity for them on that account. There is a "plentiful lack of tenderness," but an abundance of humour to excuse it. This quality is not visible in "Mr. Punch's Pocket Ibsen"—a parody so good that we sometimes wonder if the part we are reading is not really from the hand of the Norwegian master. Nothing, surely, could be truer, nothing touched with a lighter hand than "Pill-doctor Herdal"—an achievement attained solely by a profound study of the dramatist. Again, in "The Man from Blankley's" and in "Lyre and Lancet" we have social satires grafted on to a most entertaining plot—a creation in both cases which may be compared with Keene's drawings for observation, and with Goldsmith's and Moliere's plays for the happy construction of these comedies of errors. The plots assuredly would have extorted the admiration of Labiche himself, so complicated and ingenious are they. Besides, everything seems so natural, so inevitable, "so much of a lesson," that it is hardly to be wondered at that "The Man from Blankley's" was on more than one occasion actually given out as the text for a sermon delivered from the pulpit.

Another excuse for music-hall treatment of an exquisite sort is afforded by the story of "Under the Rose," which is inimitable. For example:—

THE SISTERS SARCENET (on stage): "You men are deceivers and awfully sly. Oh, you are!"

MALE PORTION OF AUDIENCE (as is expected from them): "No, we aren't!"

THE SISTERS S. (archly): "Now you know you are!

You come home with the milk; should your poor wife ask why, 'Pressing business, my pet,' you serenely reply, When you've really been out on the 'Tiddle-y-hi!' Yes, you have!"

MALE AUDIENCE (as before): "No, we've not!"

THE SISTERS S. (with the air of accusing angels): "Why, you know you have!"

It is sometimes objected that the root of Mr. Anstey's success lies near the surface, and is nothing but the vividness of his dialogues. It is a great deal more; it lies in the truth of his characters, subtly drawn, but irresistible, and, now and again, tenderly pathetic. Thus may you see the optimist and pessimist, and the link between them, in the following scene in the Mall on Drawing-Room Day:—

CHEERY OLD LADY (delighted): "I could see all the coachmen's 'ats beautiful. We'll wait and see 'em all come out, John, won't we? They won't be more than a hour and a half in there, I dessay."

A PERSON WITH A FLORID VOCABULARY: "Well, if I'd ha' known all I was goin' to see was a set o' blanky nobs shut up in their blank-dash kerridges, blank my blanky eyes if I'd ha' stirred a blanky foot, s'elp me dash, I wouldn't!"

A VENDOR (persuasively): "The kerrect lengwidge of hevery flower that blows—one penny!"

In the composition of his "Voces" and kindred work, it has been the practice of Mr. Anstey to visit the needful spot, where he would try to seize the salient points and the general tone, the speakers and the scene, trusting to luck for a chance incident, feature, or sentence that might provide a subject. Sometimes he would have to go empty away; but as a rule he would find enough to provide the rough material for a sketch. Sometimes, too, he would combine hints and anecdotes received from his acquaintance with his own experience and invention; on rarer occasions he would happen upon an incident which could be worked up into a sketch very much as it actually occurred, though with strict selection and careful elaboration. On the whole it may be taken that the conversations are mostly what might have happened, but that they never were shorthand reproductions of overheard talk; and the incidents are almost invariably invented. Occasionally something in an exhibition or show would suggest a typical comment, or a casual remark might provide an idea for a character; but a good deal is certainly unconscious reminiscence and fragmentary observation, and the residue pure guess-work.

Of the artistic quality of Mr. Anstey's work there can be no question—neither of its humour, nor of its value as a complete reflection of English, and especially of Cockney, life. Old-fashioned people may and do denounce it as newfangled; but does anyone doubt the sort of welcome that would have been accorded to it by Jerrold and Thackeray and Gilbert a Beckett if they had had the good fortune to have an Anstey in their midst half-a-century ago?



Mr. R. C. Lehmann, grand-nephew of W. H. Wills, one of Punch's early crew, had a good reputation as a Cambridge wit before Mr. Burnand captured him for Punch. In April, 1889, he began to edit "The Granta," the clever "barrel-organ of the Cambridge undergraduates," satirical, brightly humorous, and freshly youthful. On the 14th of the following December there appeared in Punch his first contribution, a dialogue entitled "Among the Amateurs," which has since been reprinted in "The Billsbury Election."

Mr. Lehmann lost no time in devising series of articles, which all Punch readers will remember. Such were "Modern Types" and "Mr. Punch's Prize Novels" (one of the most successful, including parodies of a score of the leading authors of the day), "In the Know," "The Adventures of Picklock Holes," "Letters to Abstractions," "Lord Ormont's Mate and Matey's Aminta," "Manners and Customs," and "Studies in the New Poetry." Within four months of his first contribution Mr. Lehmann was promoted to the Table—an unprecedentedly rapid promotion—and he has ever since been one of the most diligent of contributors. Literary merit apart, Mr. Lehmann's "Conversational Hints for Young Shooters" has probably been received with greater favour throughout the country, on account of its subject and its felicitous treatment, than any of the young author's works. Country readers are essentially sportsmen—in conversation, if not in fact; and nothing in humorous writing delights them more than a clever burlesque on their favourite topic. You may hear the book praised where one of the writer's more ambitious efforts may pass unnoticed; and one of its passages is quoted with unction in many a shooting party. "Johnson, who was placed forward, again stood under a canopy of pheasants, and shot with brilliant success into the gaps.... The only theory which is accepted as explaining the catastrophe is one that imputes a malignant cunning to the birds."

The year that saw Mr. Lehmann's appointment witnessed also the calling of his kinsman, Mr. Barry Pain, one of the chief contributors to "The Granta." His story of "The Hundred Gates," printed in "Cornhill," struck Mr. Burnand as a work of promise; indeed, Mr. Burnand is reported to have found it so funny that he thought he must have written it himself. The annexing of the writer was at once effected. One of his earliest contributions to Punch was the amusing parody of Tennyson's "Throstle," just before Christmas, 1889; and a collection of comic Cambridge definitions in imitation of Euclid followed. Then came a set of short stories called "Storicules," and a series of articles constituting a mock guide to conduct for young ladies. Since 1892 Mr. Pain's work has fallen away, probably only for a time; for Punch has proved well-nigh irresistible to every genuine humorist who is anxious to bring his faculty to bear on the risibility of the English public.

Mr. Henry Pottinger Stephens, one of the wits of the "Sporting Times," the founder of the "Topical Times," and member of the staff of the "Daily Telegraph," was for two or three years on the outside salaried Staff of Punch. Contributing from 1889 to 1891, he wrote a series of "queer tales" as well as some attacks on the then South Western Railway management, under the title of "The Ways of Waterloo." Such dramatic criticisms as were not undertaken by Mr. Burnand or relegated by him to Mr. Arthur a Beckett, and numerous trifles besides, fell to him to do; but on his departure for America the connection was broken, and not afterwards resumed.

Passing by Mr. C. W. Cooke, we find Mr. Charles Geake, member of the Bar and Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, as the chief recruit of the year 1890. To "The Granta" he had sent a casual contribution, and Mr. R. C. Lehmann, appreciating his talent, proved his esteem by installing Mr. Geake as the Cambridge editor of that paper. From "The Granta" to Punch has become a natural ascent, and on July 12th, 1890, Mr. Geake made his first bow to London readers. Three months later a packet of Punch office envelopes announced that he had been placed on the footing of a regular outside contributor, and that it was now his privilege to send his work straight to the printer's. At first he wrote nothing but verse—society verse, ballades, rondeaux, topical verse, and parodies in verse and prose, and then burlesques of books, such as the capital imitation of "The Tale of Two Telegrams" (a "Dolly Dialogue" in the manner of "Anthony Hope"), p. 97, Vol. CVII., September 1st, 1894, and "The Blue Gardenia" (October 20th, 1894, p. 185), with various skits and topical matter. "Lays of the Currency" are among the chief of Mr. Geake's poetical "series," and "Chronicles of a Rural Parish"—the adventures and misadventures of a rural parishioner who wishes to patronise the Parish Councils Act—his principal effort in comic prose.

The year 1892 brought three new writers: Mr. Gerald F. Campbell, who began by contributing (on April 23rd) poems of sentiment, such as "Town Thoughts from the Country," and three months later "The Cry of the Children" and "Alone in London;" R. F. Murray, the American-born author of "The Scarlet Gown," who, through Mr. Andrew Lang's introduction, sent in a few verses shortly before his death; and Mr. Roberts, who finds his place among the artists.

Mr. George Davies was an important accession of the following year. On only half-a-dozen occasions had he ever been in print, and that in obscure publications, when he composed an "Ethnographical Alphabet," beginning "A is an Afghan." The writer, who is something of a tsiganologue, emboldened by his success, followed up his alphabet, which appeared January 21st, 1893, and within a year had placed to his credit three-score contributions, most of them in verse—rather a remarkable achievement for one heretofore considered a mere bookworm and dryasdust.

Another Cambridge man of originality and ingenuity, mainly in verse, is Mr. Arthur A. Sykes—a "Cantabard," as he himself would admit, peculiarly skilled in "Cambrijingles." He began with "In the Key of Ruthene" on May 6th, 1893, and followed it up with a laughable ode "To a Fashion-Plate Belle." It was accompanied with a comic, though hardly exaggerated, design of the female figure as depicted in ladies' fashion-papers—the drawing being also by Mr. Sykes. Since then many verses by him have appeared, in which quaint conception, sudden turn of thought, and strange achievements in rhyming (as in "The Tour That Never Was," August 19th, 1893) are the chief figures. Then came the promotion embodied in the privilege of sending his contributions direct to the printer before, instead of after, being submitted to the editorial eye; and a good deal of prose work followed, such as the "Scarlet Afternoon," a skit in dialogue suggested by Mr. R. S. Hichens' "Green Carnation."

Light verse from the Rev. Anthony C. Deane began on August 20th, 1892 ("Ad Puellam"), but he was already a master of the art. Two months before his little volume of "Frivolous Verses" had appeared, and so struck Mr. Andrew Lang that he reviewed it in a "Daily News" leading-article, invited the author to go and see him, and suggested his writing for Punch. Mr. Deane had already been a "Granta" poet, and was well known to Mr. Lehmann, who, finding that Mr. Lang had already spoken to Mr. Anstey, gladly added a word of introduction to the Editor. By such means as these, oftener than by promiscuous outside application, is new blood found: the best men do not, as a rule, force forward their own work. Mr. Deane at that time was not twenty-two, nor was he yet ordained. He passed the necessary period at the same theological college—Cuddesdon—that years before had sheltered Mr. Burnand, and went on contributing verses to Punch, to the number (1894) of sixty or seventy; so that the course of his Punch love has run very smooth.

Another literary godson of Mr. Lehmann's, and child of "The Granta," is Mr. Owen Seaman. Through the good offices of the former, Mr. Seaman's "Rhyme of the Kipperling," nearly filling the first page of Punch, was inserted in the number for January 13th, 1894. This imitation of Mr. Rudyard Kipling's "Rhyme of the Three Sealers" was its own recommendation, and since that time Mr. Seaman has been one of the most prolific outside contributors of the year. His series comprise "She-Notes"—a skit on "Keynotes" and "Airs Resumptive"—of which the fourth, "To Julia in Shooting-togs (and a Herrickose Vein)" is an admirable specimen of its class. Art and political criticism in verse and prose are employed to illustrate the writer's facility and classic taste.

To this list, necessarily incomplete, in spite of its length, a few names remain to be added, and an incongruous party they form. Professor Forbes; Mr. J. C. Wilson, mantle manufacturer; and Mr. J. J. Lushington, of the Suffolk Chief Constable's Office, first a soldier and finally an auctioneer (a giant of nearly six feet seven, who would have formed a good fourth to Thackeray, "Jacob Omnium," and Dean Hole)—men of every sort and condition, brought together by the universal brotherhood of humour. Mrs. Frances Collins was a contributor, and her Punch utterance upon Judge Bayley's curious decision at Westminster County Court in January, 1877, as to next-door music that is "intolerable," yet not "actionable" ("Music hath (C)Harms"), is still remembered and quoted. Another lady-wit of the present day is Mr. Lehmann's sister, Lady Campbell, who wrote the women's letters in the series of "Manners and Customs," while her brother took the male side of the correspondence. Mrs. Leverson has been the contributor of numerous clever prose parodies and general articles, the chief of which up to June, 1895, has been "The Scarlet Parasol." Mr. James Payn has also worked for Punch, but very little—only to the extent of placing some little pleasantry at its service, and now and then suggesting a subject for illustration. A set of rhymes by Mr. H. D. Traill, reprinted in his volume entitled "Number Twenty," was his sole contribution, the "Saturday Review" having had a sort of prescriptive right to all his work of this description. It is the greater pity, for even the lightest of his verses have the true ring and, according to some, much of the vigour characteristic of Mr. Rudyard Kipling's work. Mr. Arthur Armitage, too, was for many years a contributor. Being a solicitor in practice, he kept his identity a secret. He was always known to the Editor and Proprietors as "Mr. A. Armstrong," and up to this present publication he never revealed the levity of his youth. His first contribution was "Marriage Customs of the Great Britons," which was inserted in the "Pocket-Book" for 1855. After writing regularly for this offspring of Punch's, Mr. Armitage was, in 1861, specially invited to contribute to the paper itself on topics political, social, and commercial—only a satire on "The Baby of the Papal States" (Louis Napoleon) being rejected, on the ground that, were it inserted, war with France would be inevitable. On Mark Lemon's death Mr. Armitage ceased his connection as an "outside regular," and five years later reprinted a number of his most amusing Punch verses and articles under the title of "Winkleton-on-Sea." Frederick Gale—better known as "The Old Buffer" and as the great cricket authority—wrote a short series for Punch. Then Mr. Walter Sichel, since the beginning of 1892, has contributed some prose and more verse, such as the series of "Men who have taken me in—to dinner," "Lays of Modern Home," "Inns and Outs," as well as "Rhymes out of Season," "The Diary of an Old Joke," and the original "Queer Queries." The late magistrate, Mr. Hosack, too, contributed several sharp police-court sketches; and "Arthur Sketchley" had a capital story to tell, but spoiled it in the telling. Even H. J. Byron, contrary to general belief, tried his hand as a Punch contributor, but he was somewhat dull. He admitted, in fact, that he wanted to keep all his fun for his plays, and so starved his Punch work of its legitimate humour. Mr. Arthur E. Viles's verses on "Temple Bar" (December, 1877) may be mentioned, and Mr. Leopold Godfrey Turner's name must not be omitted. But, of the contributors of trifles, a number must remain anonymous—as, indeed, many do from choice; inevitably so before 1847, when it first became the practice to enter up outsiders' work in their own names. And among these occasional contributors the present writer is proud to range himself.

In looking at the literature of Punch, we become sensible of a change not dissimilar to that which we find to have taken place in its art. There is nowadays no Jerrold, whose fulminating passion and fine frenzy often came dangerously near to "high-falutin'." There is perhaps no versifier at the Table with quite the same fancy or taste as Gilbert Abbott a Beckett, Shirley Brooks, and Percival Leigh. But we have instead a keener observation of the life and customs of the day, an ingenuity and an elegance that go better with the taste and habit of thought of the times. In the old days it was not uncommon in discussing Punch's poetry to urge in apology that—

Wit will shine Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.

Nowadays, when comedy and rapier have to a great extent replaced farce and sword, finish is accounted of greater importance than of yore, and grace and daintiness are accepted where simple fun was formerly the aim—an aim, by the way, which was as frequently missed as now. Let the reader who is inclined to be as severe on latter-day Punch as on latter-day everything, take down one of the early volumes, and seek for the side-splitting articles and epigrams, the verse apoplectic with fun, which we are taught to expect there. He will learn that it is not so much that the quality of Punch has changed, despite the great names of the past. He will find that the change is due rather to modern fashion and to modern views than to any deterioration of Punch's. Good things are there now, as then; and now, as then, many of the best writers in the country contribute periodically to its pages. With verse and article, epigram and parody, Punch continues to be a record and a mirror of his times—a comic distorting mirror perhaps, but still a glass of fashion and of history, with fun for its mercury, which, through its literature, pleasantly and agreeably reflects the deeds and the thoughts of the people. What of it, if his verse now and again is only passable? Sometimes it is fine—always acceptable, and rarely below an elevated established standard; anyhow, some years ago, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain's single offering was rejected on its demerits by the "monument of British humour." Perhaps the Editor judged it as Punch's railway-porter judged an old lady's pet in accordance with railway rules: Cats is "dogs," and rabbits is "dogs," and so's parrots; but this 'ere tortis is a hinsect, and there ain't no—need—for it. And the tone of Punch's more serious utterances is now that of the dining-room rather than of the debating society and the vestry room. Mr. Ruskin, among others, deplored Punch's kid gloves and evening-dress, when amiable obituary notices on Baron Bethell—(had he not been Punch's counsel in the old days?)—and the Bishop of Winchester were published. "Alas, Mr. Punch," he wrote, "is it come to this? And is there to be no more knocking down, then? And is your last scene in future to be shaking hands with the devil?"[49] Punch can still hit hard; though "knocking down" is no longer his main delight. His text has become as refined as his art—and that, of course, is the reason that it no longer commands the chief attention of the class that once was led by it. At that time its art alone carried it into circles that abhorred its politics, and it is recorded that Mulready was driven to excuse himself to one of the Staff for not reading the text by the lame confession that he was "no bookworm!"

FOOTNOTES:

[48] Having mentioned the name of Edmund Yates, I may here contradict the statement that that distinguished journalist ever wrote for Punch. The belief arose partly through Martin F. Tupper's "My Life as an Author":—"I remember also how he dropped in on me at Albany one morning, just as I happened to be pasting into one of my books a few quips and cranks anent my books from Punch. He adjured me 'not to do it! for Heaven's sake spare me!' covering his face with his hands. 'What's the matter, friend?' 'I wrote all those,' added he in earnest penitence, 'and I vow faithfully never to do it again!' 'Pray don't make a rash promise, Edmund, and so unkind a one too; I rejoice in all this sort of thing—it sells my books, besides—I'se Maw-worm—I likes to be despised!' 'Well, it's very good-natured of you to say so, but I really never will do it again;' and the good fellow never did—so have I lost my most telling advertisement" (p. 326). Considering, however, that Yates was on the worst of terms with Mark Lemon, we may easily believe that he did not contribute to his paper, and as during his early friendship with Mr. Burnand he never hinted at writing for Punch as an outsider, the statement may be dismissed. Moreover, so fantastic is the scene described that, if strictly accurate, it was most likely a practical joke played off upon the egotistical old gentleman, whose worst enemies never accused him of a sense of humour.

[49] "Fors," 1874 (p. 125).



CHAPTER XVIII.

PUNCH'S ARTISTS: 1841.

Punch's Primitive Art—A. S. Henning—Brine—A Strange Doctrine—John Phillips—W. Newman—Pictorial Puns—H. G. Hine—John Leech—His Early Life—Friendship with Albert Smith—Leech Helps Punch up the Social Ladder—His Political Work—Leech Follows the "Movements"—"Servantgalism"—"The Brook Green Volunteer"—The Great Beard Movement—Sothern's Indebtedness to Leech for Lord Dundreary—Crazes and Fancies—Leech's Types—"Mr. Briggs"—Leech the Hunter—Leech as a Reformer—Leech as an Artist—His "Legend"-Writing—Friendship with Dickens—His Prejudices—His Death—And Funeral.

One of the peculiarities of Punch's career is the increasing preponderance assumed by the artistic section. It is said that when George Hodder was introduced to a distinguished Royal Academician, he could find nothing better to say, with which to open the conversation, than the tremendous sentiment—"Art is a great thing, sir!" Punch gradually but surely realised, too, how great a thing art is, and for many years past he has sought out artists to recruit his Staff, where before he looked chiefly for draughtsmen. The statement may seem a curious one to make, but it is an opinion shared nowadays by some of the best artists on Punch and off it, that were the drawings sent in to-day which were contributed by the majority of the original artistic Staff, not excluding the mighty Leech himself, they would be declined without thanks, and—according to the somewhat harsh rule that has for some time prevailed—without return of their contribution. There was a promiscuous rough-and-ready manner about the drawing of comic cuts in those early days, when intended for the periodical press, that would offend the majority of people to-day. There was no photography then to enable the artist to draw as big as he chose, and then to reproduce the drawings on to the wood-block in any size he please. There were no blocks which could be taken into sections and distributed among half-a-dozen engravers at once for swift and careful cutting. There was no "process," which permitted of reduction and reproduction of the finest pen-and-ink work. There was no "drawing from the life" for these little pictures of "life and character." The joke was the thing, not the artistic drawing of it. Farce and burlesque had not yet developed into comedy and comedietta, refined by degrees and beautifully aesthetic. Nowadays, as Mr. du Maurier has publicly declared, everything must be drawn straight from Nature, without trusting to memory or observation alone. "Men and women, horses, dogs, seascapes, landscapes, everything one can make little pictures out of, must be studied from life.... Even centaurs, dragons, and cherubs must be closely imitated from Nature—or at least as much as can be got from the living model!" It is, therefore, more than likely that Leech would have been told that he must really be more careful in his work before Punch could publish it; and his first contribution of "Foreign Affairs" would have been rejected as being altogether too rough and with far too little point for its size. All Punch's pictures at this day, no doubt, cannot be said to surpass the artistic achievement of some of the earliest cuts, but there is almost invariably an artistic intention, technically speaking, which excuses even the poorer work—a suggestion of the drawing-school rather than, to use a modern expression, mere "dancing upon paper."

Although from the beginning to the present day the artistic Staff which has sat at Punch's Table has numbered less than a score, and the outside Staff, unattached (such as Captain Howard, Mr. Sands, Mr. Pritchett, Mr. Fairfield, Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Ralston, and Mr. Corbould), but very few more—the total number of draughtsmen whose pencils have been seen in Punch's pages amount to about one hundred and seventy. In some cases sketches have been sent in anonymously; a few others I have been unable to trace; but these, it must be admitted, are hardly worth the trouble expended on them.



The earliest recruit was Archibald S. Henning, the first in importance, as he was to be cartoonist, and first to appear before the public, inasmuch as the wrapper was from his hand. He was the third son of John Henning, friend of Scott and Dr. Chalmers, on the strength of his famous miniature restoration of the Parthenon frieze, of which he engraved the figures on slate in intaglio; and he was well known besides not only for these copies of the Elgin marbles, but for his portrait-busts and medallions. Precision in all things was one of his characteristics, and even showed itself in the inscriptions in his family Bible, wherein he set on record that his son Archibald was "born at Edinburgh, on the 18th of February, at 30 minutes past 3 a.m." But this accuracy was not inherited, although the son was brought up to assist his father on the friezes which he executed on Burton's Arch at Hyde Park Corner, and on the Athenaeum Club-house. His drawing was loose and undistinguished; his sense of humour, such as it was, unrefined; and his fun exaggerated and false. He was a Bohemian, but not of the type of his brother-in-law Kenny Meadows, preferring a class of entertainment less exalted than those who so warmly welcomed his sister's husband. Mr. Sala tells me that Henning painted the show-blind for the Post Office, and afterwards steadily drifted down the stream of time; and Mr. Sala ought to know, for he employed him in those impecunious but jolly days when the editorship of "Chat" was in his hands. One of the early memories of Mr. Walton Henning, Archibald's son, is being sent by his father to collect the sum of one pound sterling from Mr. Sala, and, after sitting on the office-stool from eleven in the morning until two, being sent back without the money, but instead with a letter of apology and of congratulation on possessing a son who could sit for three hours, like Patience on a monument, smiling at an empty till. Henning remained with Punch till the summer of 1842, having contributed eleven cartoons to the first volume and several to the second, the last of which was that of "Indirect Taxation," on p. 201. He also illustrated Albert Smith's social "physiologies" of "The Gent" and "The Ballet Girl"—not ill-done; and when Punch had no further need of his services he transferred them successively to "The Squib," "The Great Gun," and "Joe Miller the Younger," in each case taking the post of cartoonist. Later on he worked occasionally on "The Man in the Moon" and on the "Comic Times," and died in 1864.

No greater loss was Brine, Henning's fellow-cartoonist, who remained with Punch until the beginning of the third volume, having drawn nearly a dozen cartoons for each of the two volumes. He was a poor and often a "fudgy" draughtsman, gifted with extremely little humour, who had nevertheless worked a good deal at a Life Academy in the Tottenham Court Road, along with Thomas Woolner, Elmore, Claxton, and J. R. Herbert, and had even studied in Paris. He had some strange notions as to figure-drawing, some of which he would impart to such young students as cared to listen. One of these rules, which he sought to impress on Mr. Birket Foster's 'prentice mind, was never to draw ankle-joints on female legs; but Mr. Foster did not remain a figure-draughtsman long enough to benefit by this valuable advice. Brine was poorly paid, some of his smaller cuts commanding a sum no higher than three-and-six; but it is impossible to say, looking at these sketches, that his efforts were seriously underpaid.

Another of the Old Guard was John Phillips—who is not to be confused with Watts Phillips, a contributor of a later period. He was the son of an eccentric old water-colour painter, well known in his day, and has been identified as the scene-painter whom Landells introduced later to the "Illustrated London News." Phillips, with Crowquill, illustrated Reynolds' popular "continuation" of Dickens' Pickwick Papers, entitled "Pickwick Abroad," and, like Brine, he received his conge when the transfer of Punch to Bradbury and Evans took place.

And then there was by far the most important and valuable draughtsman of the quartette—William Newman. He was a very poor man, who in point of payment for his work suffered more than the rest; and when he asked for a slight increase in terms, he was met with a refusal on the ground that "Mr. John Leech required such high prices." He was an old hand at pictorial satire, and was one of those who drew the little caricatures in "Figaro in London" several years before. He was brought on to Punch by Landells, but, owing to his lack of breeding and of common manners, he was never invited to the Dinner, nor did any of his colleagues care to associate with him. Unfortunately for him he was an extremely sensitive man, and the neglect with which he was perhaps not unnaturally treated preyed greatly upon his mind. For a considerable time he was the most prolific draughtsman on the paper. Thus in 1846 there are no fewer than eighty-seven cuts by him; in 1847, one hundred and twenty-seven; in 1848, one hundred and sixty-four; and in 1849, one hundred and twenty-one. From the cut on Punch's first title-page down to the year 1850 his work is everywhere to be seen, in every degree of importance, from the little silhouettes called "blackies," which usually constituted little pictorial puns in the manner of Thomas Hood, and which were paid—those of them which were good and funny enough to be used—at the all-round rate of eighteen shillings per dozen. Instances of his happy punning vein are the sketches of a howling dog chained to a post, entitled "The Moaning of the Tide;" a portrait of a villainous-looking fellow, "Open to Conviction;" a horse insisting on drinking at a pond through which he is being driven, "Stopping at a Watering-Place;" a hare nursing her young, "The Hare a Parent;" a man wrestling with his cornet, "A most Distressing Blow;" and a street-boy picking a soldier's pocket, "Relieving Guard." But he was soon promoted to other work; and to the first and second volumes, at times of pressure, he even contributed a cartoon. This service was four times repeated in 1846, and again in 1847 and 1848, when Leech met with his serious bathing accident at Bonchurch: on which occasion the great John was put to bed, as Dickens explained it, with a row of his namesakes round his forehead. The cartoon in question was that entitled "Dirty Father Thames," and a glance at it will show how great was the improvement in the draughtsman's art. Newman did not, however, confine himself to Punch all this while; he had worked as cartoonist to "The Squib" in 1842; and again for the "Puppet-Show," "Diogenes," and H. J. Byron's "The Comic News" in 1864. Then, disappointed at the little advance he had made in the world, he emigrated to the United States, where more lucrative employment awaited him. He had a greater sense of beauty and a more refined touch than most of his colleagues; and though he did not shine as a satirist, he was always well in the spirit of Punch.



But the most interesting of Punch's earliest men before the advent of Leech was H. G. Hine, who up to 1895 was the octogenarian Vice-President of the Institute of Painters in Water-Colours, whose broad and masterly drawings of poetic landscape have been the artistic wonder of recent years. He began to draw for Punch in September, 1841, and thenceforward bore with Newman the brunt of the illustration. He was really a serious painter—a water-colour artist of strong aim and considerable accomplishment. Just before the starting of Punch Landells had, as has already been explained, launched a landscape periodical called "The Cosmorama," and had commissioned Hine to go to the London Dock and make a drawing on the wood. The work was not new to him, as Wood, a master-engraver of the time, taking pity on the sense of foolish powerlessness with which every beginner is afflicted, had explained to him the secret of the craft. Landscape was thus his acknowledged line when he found himself at the Docks with his round of boxwood in his hand. He marked off a square upon it, and, in order to "get his hand in," he made what would nowadays be called a remarque on the margin—a comic sketch of a dustman and his dog. The block was finished, and carried to Landells, who looked at it in some surprise. "Did you do that?" said the North Countryman, pointing to the dustman. "Would you draw sketches like that for Poonch?" "But I'm not a figure-draughtsman," objected Hine. "Yes, you are; and it's just what we want for Poonch." So Hine was enrolled, and in his line became an exceedingly popular draughtsman. He began by making batches of the "blackies" aforesaid, designing them and their clever punning titles with the greatest freedom, unhampered by editorial interference. He worked for Punch until 1844, and rapidly became a contributor of the first importance, whose merits were fully appreciated. One cut in particular delighted Mark Lemon—that of "A Long Nap," in which a toper has fallen into a sleep so deep and protracted that a spider has spun a strong web from the man's nose to the bottle and the table before him.[50] "Upon my word!" cried Lemon on examining the block when it was delivered, "Mr. Hine is really tremendous!" Hine had greater imagination and ingenuity than Newman, a brighter fancy and keener wit; and to him rather than to others would application be made for the realisation of new ideas. At Landells' request he produced the accompanying "project" for a Punch medal or seal; which, however, was never carried into execution. His, too, were the stinging Anti-Graham Wafers, to which reference is made elsewhere; and many other designs that went far to increase Punch's popularity.



He was chief stock-artist, so to say; for Leech did not at once assume the commanding position on the paper that was soon to be his. And while Hine shared with him the honour of drawing "Punch's Pencillings," as the cartoons were called—several of the series of "Social Miseries" being from his hand—he produced from time to time the chief cut when it aspired to the dignity of a political caricature.

After a time, however, the amount of work sent to Hine was greatly reduced. It was now some time since he had contributed the whole of the cuts to the first "Almanac," but he was still an occasional cartoonist (Vols. III., IV., and V.); so that he was the more surprised at being roughly—and, as he proved, unjustly—accused of being late with a block. Other unpleasantnesses, which seemed to him gratuitous, suggested the idea that he might not be wanted on Punch. He put the point blankly, and was reassured. Still, the quantity of work sent him diminished; and as nothing came by Christmas, Hine accepted the offer of Christmas-work by the publisher of "The Great Gun"—for which, by the way, he never received payment. Then there suddenly arrived a mass of blocks from Punch; but they were returned with the message that, not hearing from his former proprietors, he had made other arrangements. And that was the end of his connection. Later on he worked for "Joe Miller the Younger," "Mephystopheles," and "The Man in the Moon," and used his pencil, in the true Spirit of a genuine sportsman, in pointing his well-barbed jokes against his old paper with as much enthusiasm as he had before given to its service. On page 153 of the second volume of Punch may be seen a little cut entitled "Choice Spirits in Bond"—being the portraits of himself and the lanky William Newman in the dock of a police-court. Although fifty-four years had passed, the strong resemblance of the little likeness could still be recognised by those who knew the artist in the last few months of his life.

After the collapse of "The Man in the Moon" Hine dropped out of comic draughtsmanship. By this time, indeed, he was tired of the work, for he had begun to think in jokes, to turn every thought to ridicule, and to look upon conversation rather as raw material for pun-making than as a means of expressing and interchanging ideas. The last straw was an occasion when he spent half a night with Horace Mayhew in trying to make a joke to complete a series for "Cruikshank's Almanack"—the very situation in Pope's epigram:—

"You beat your pate, and fancy wit will come; Knock as you please, there's nobody at home."

Meanwhile another had arisen who was destined to overshadow for many years the rest of his colleagues, and while he lived to be the life and soul of the undertaking—Mr. Punch incarnate. This was John Leech, whose signature first appears on page 43 of the first volume.

When Mr. Frith, R.A., sought to persuade the overworked Leech to take a holiday, he added, just to drive the matter home: "If anything happened to you, who are the 'backbone of Punch,' what would become of the paper?" At which Leech smiled, says his biographer, and retorted, "Don't talk such rubbish! Backbone of Punch, indeed! Why, bless your heart, there isn't a fellow at work upon the paper that doesn't think that of himself, and with about as much right and reason as I should. Punch will get on well enough without me, or any of those who think themselves of such importance." In his life-time none would have been found to share the speaker's views; nevertheless, Punch—for all Leech's paramount importance to the paper—has maintained his prosperity, and more than doubled his lease of life since Leech laid down his pencil. Yet in his time he was as much the artistic Punch as Jerrold was the literary; and there are nearly as many who still believe that Leech at one time was Punch's Editor as accord the same unmerited honour to Jerrold.



The story of Leech's early life has been already told. How he was the son of the luckless owner of the London coffee-house in Ludgate Hill; how Flaxman saw his infantile drawings and declared he would be nothing but an artist—nay, "he was an artist;" how, at the Charterhouse, the gentle, nervous lad was schoolfellow of Thackeray, with whom he formed a passionate, life-long friendship; and of yet another hearty friend, Mr. Nethercote; how, when he was medical student at Bartholomew's Hospital, he contracted another evergreen friendship with Percival Leigh, and formed an acquaintanceship, long maintained, but never fully ripened, with another medico—Albert Smith, of Middlesex; how his father's failure caused him to give up medicine and the knife in favour of art and the pencil—by the exercise of which, when he was still under Dr. Cockle, son of the pill-doctor, he had already fascinated his fellow-students, and in particular Percival Leigh—on whose initiative it was that the "Comic Latin Grammar" was carried into execution. All this and more has ere now been recorded. But it all bears directly on his Punch career, and must not by any means be overlooked.

In 1836, when he was but nineteen years of age, he had made a bid for the unhappy Seymour's vacant place as Charles Dickens' illustrator; but he had been already forestalled by "Phiz," and Leech was perforce rejected, as Thackeray had been refused before him, and Buss dismissed. Leech was already a good draughtsman on wood, having while resident with Orrin Smith the wood-engraver—he who had previously tried to magnetise the idea of a "London Charivari" into life—received many practical hints of the greatest artistic value. For some time afterwards he worked in harmony with his fellow-student of a literary turn, whose noble brass-plate inscribed "Mr. Albert Smith, M.R.C.S., Surgeon-Dentist!" once brought upon the artist, says Percival Leigh, the candid chaff, of a vulgar street-urchin. "Good boy!" said Leech, appreciating the attention and rewarding it with a penny. "Now go and insult somebody else." He drew furthermore upon the stone, and distinguished himself in "Bell's Life in London"—the paper to which several of the most eminent comic artists of the day then contributed—and in 1841, five years after his first-published "Etchings and Sketchings, by A. Pen, Esq.," he issued in its complete form his "Children of the Mobility." It was at that time that Percival Leigh, having satisfied himself of the character and tone of the new comic paper, not only made his own debut in it, but introduced his friend and colleague, John Leech—with what distressing result as to his full-page block of "Foreign Affairs" the chapter on cartoons discloses. (See p. 173.) And here it may be added that all was not plain sailing between Leech and Punch at the commencement; for soon after he resumed work he struck for higher terms. Until he got his way he did no more work for the paper—as the reader may satisfy himself by turning to its pages; and when he did, his triumph was visited, as has already been described, upon the heads of less talented contributors. It may safely be assumed that Leech knew nothing of this, for the gentleness of the man was such that he could not have suffered the idea that his success meant others' disadvantage.

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