Punch Among the Planets
Produced by Malcolm Farmer, William Flis, and the Online Distributed
OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
Christmas Number 1890.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Punch Among the Planets]
CHRISTMAS NUMBER 1890.
* * * * *
The Old Year was fast nearing its close, the night was clear and
starry, and Father Time, from the top of his observatory tower, was
taking a last look round.
To him entered, unannounced save by the staccato yap of the faithful
_Tobias_, Time's unfailing friend, unerring Mentor, and immortal
contemporary, _Mr. Punch_.
"_I_ am not for an age, but for All Time," freely quoted the Swan's
sole parallel. "And very much at Time's service," he added, throwing
open his fur-lined "Immensikoff," and lighting a cigar at the
[Illustration: Punch Among the Planets]
"Happy to meet you once more, _Mr. Punch_," responded old Edax Rerum,
turning from what the poet calls his 'Optic Tube' to welcome his
sprightly visitor. "Awfully good of you to turn up just now. Like
True THOMAS's _Teufelsdroeckh_, 'I am alone with the Stars,' and was
beginning to feel just a little bit lonely."
"With the Voces Stellarum to keep you company? You surprise me,"
said _Mr. Punch_. "But what is all this?" he added, pointing with
accustomed eye to a pile of MS. at TIME's elbow.
If so old a stager as Father TIME _can_ blush, he certainly did so on
"Fact is, _Mr. Punch_," he rejoined, "I, like younger and shall I
say lesser Celebrities, have been writing my 'Reminiscences.' Ha ha!
_The Chronicles of Chronos_ in 6,000 volumes or so--up to now. This
is a small portion of my _Magnum Opus_. Can you recommend me to a
"Ask my friend Archdeacon FARRAR," responded the Sage, drily. "What
a work! And what a sensation! TALLEYRAND's long-talked-of 'Memoirs'
not in it! Do you know, my dear TIME, I think you had better postpone
the publication--for an aeon or so at least. _Your Magnum Opus_ might
become a _Scandalum Magnatum_."
"Ah, perhaps so," replied TIME, with a sigh.
"Alone with the Stars," pursued _Mr. Punch_, meditatively. "Humph! The
Solar System alone ought to provide you with plenty of company."
"Yes." responded TIME, "but, after all, you know, telescopic
intercourse is not entirely satisfactory. Like EDGAR POE's _Hans
Pfaal_, I feel I should like to come to closer quarters with the
'heavenly bodies' as the pedagogues call them."
"And why not?" queried _Mr. Punch_, coolly.
"As how?" asked his companion.
"TIME, my boy" laughed the Sage, "you seem a bit behind yourself.
Listen! 'Mr. EDISON is prosecuting an experiment designed to catch and
record the sounds made in the sun's photosphere when solar spots are
formed by eruptions beneath the surface.' Have you not read the latest
of the Edisoniana?"
TIME admitted he had not.
"TIME, you rogue, you love to get
Sweets upon your list--put _that_ in,"
quoted the Sage. "Something piquant for the 6001st Vol. of your
Chronicles. But, after all, what is EDISON compared with Me? If you
really wish for a turn round the Solar System, a peregrination of the
Planets, put aside that antiquated spy-glass of yours and come with
And, "taking TIME by the forelock," in a very real sense, the Sage of
Fleet Street rose with him like a Brock rocket, high, and swift, and
light-compelling, into the star-spangled vault of heaven.
"SIC ITUR AD ASTRA!" said the Sage.
"Twinkle, twinkle, Fleet Street Star!
Saturn wonders who _you_ are,
Up above the world so high,
Like a portent in the sky.
Wonders if, Jove-like, you want,
Him to banish and supplant!
Fear not, Saturn; _Punch's_ bolt
Arms Right Order, not Revolt;
Dread no fratricidal wars
From this 'Star' among the Stars!"
* * * * *
VISIT TO SATURN.
"I am glad to hear _that_, at any rate," said Saturn, welcoming the
illustrious guests to his remote golden-ringed realm.
Saturn, however, did not look exactly comfortable, and his voice, how
unlike "To that large utterance of the early gods," sounded quavering
"It is customary," said he, "to talk, as the old Romans rather
confusedly did, of 'the Saturnian reign' as the true 'Golden Age,'
identified with civilisation, social order, economic perfection, and
agricultural profusion. As a matter of fact, I've always been treated
badly, from the day when Jupiter dethroned me to that when, the Grand
Old Man--who _ought_ to have had more sympathy with me--banished
hither the strife-engendering Pedant's hotch-potch called Political
"Be comforted, Saturn, old boy--_I_ am here!" cried _Mr. Punch_. "I
am 'personally conducting' Father TIME in a tour of the Planets. Let's
have a look round your realm!"
_Mr. Punch_ sums up much of what he saw in modern "Saturnian Verses."
_Punch_. Good gracious! my worthy old Ancient, who once held the sway
of the heavens,
Your realm seems a little bit shaky; what mortals call "sixes and
_Saturn_. That's scarcely god-lingo, my boy; but 'tis much as you
say, and no wonder.
Free imports have ruined my realm--I refer to Bad-Temper and Blunder,
Two brutish and boobyish Titans--they've wholly corrupted our morals,
And taught us "Boycotting," and "Strikes," and "Lock-outs," and all
sorts of mad quarrels.
I hope you don't know them down there, in your queer little speck of
These humbugging latter-day Titans?
_Punch_. That cannot concern you--now can it?
_Saturn_. Just look at the shindy down yonder!
_Punch_. By Jove, what the doose are they doing?
_Saturn_. Oh, settling the Great Social Question!
_Father Time_. It looks as though mischief were brewing.
_Saturn_. Sort of parody of the old fight, which was splendid at least,
'Twixt Jove and the Titans of old. That colossus, gold-armoured,
Perched high on the "Privilege" ramparts, and bastioned by big bags of
Is "Capital"; he's the new Jove, and each Titan would treat as his
But look at the huge Hundred-Handed One, armed with the scythe and the
The hammer, the spade, and the pick!
_Father Time_. Things appear in no end of a pickle!
_Saturn_. Precisely! That's Labour-Briareus; backed up by "Bad Temper"
And egged on by "Spout" (with a Fog-Horn); he's "going for" him of the
And Gold ramparts headlong, _a outrance_.
_Punch_. But look at the spectres behind them!
_Saturn_. Ah! Terrors from Tartarus, those to which only Bad Temper
can blind them.
Those spectres foreshadow grim fate; they are Lawlessness, Ruin,
To the Thunderer dismal defeat, to the conquerors blank desolation.
The Sage looked serious.
These things, mused he, are an allegory, perhaps, but of a
significance not wholly Saturnian.
"Saturn, old boy" said he, "cannot what sentimentalists call 'the
Dismal Science,' which as you say has been banished hither, do
anything to help you out of this hobble?"
"The Dismal Science," responded Saturn, whose panaceas of Unrestricted
Competition, Free Combination, Cheap Markets, Supply and Demand,
&c., have landed its disciples in Sweating Dens on the one side and
Universal Strikes on the other, can hardly offer itself as a cure for
the New Socialism. Like Rhea of old, when asked for food, it proffers
"Ah!" quoth Father TIME, "you manage these things much better on the
"Doubtless," replied the Sage, drily, as he and Father TIME took their
* * * * *
VISIT TO MARS.
So Mr. PUNCH, holding TIME by the forelock, continued his journey.
"Where are we now?" asked the more elderly gentleman.
"My good friend," replied the Sage of Fleet Street, "we are
approaching Mars, which as you know, or should know (if your education
has been completed under the supervision of the School Board) is
sometimes called the Red Planet."
"So I have often heard. But why?"
"That is what we shall soon discover. But now keep quiet, as we have
With the gentlest of gentle shocks _Mr. Punch_ and his companion
found themselves on a mound, which they soon recognised as a mountain.
Looking below them, they saw masses of scarlet, apparently in motion.
It was then that TIME regretted that he had not brought with him his
"It would have been so useful," he murmured, "and if a little bulky,
what of that? Surely _Mr. Punch_ is accustomed to make light of
"See, some one is approaching," observed the Sage of Fleet Street,
whose eye-sight was better than that of his companion. And sure
enough a lively young officer at this moment put in an appearance,
"Glad to see you both," said he; "and, by order of the General
Commander-in-Chief, you are to make what use you please of me. I am
entirely at your service."
"Why, you speak English!" exclaimed _Mr. Punch_.
"That is so!" returned the young officer in American; "and why not?
Besides I know French, Russian, German, and all the languages spoken
on your little globe, to say nothing of the dialects used by those who
inhabit the rest of the planets. It's our system. Nowadays, a man in
the Service is expected to be up in everything. If he wasn't, how on
earth could he fight, or do anything else in a satisfactory fashion?
And now let us bustle along."
"But first," put in TIME, who did not relish being silent, "will you
kindly tell us what those masses of colour are?"
"Certainly. They are troops. We put them in scarlet in peace, but they
appear in their shirtsleeves the moment war's declared. Novel idea,
And then the pleasant-spoken young officer led the way to a lift, and,
touching a button, the three descended from the top of the mountain to
the valley beneath.
"On the counterweight system," explained the A.D.C. "We cribbed
the idea from Folkestone, and Lynmouth. And here, _Mr. Punch_, is
something that will interest you. We absolutely howled at that sketch
of yours showing the mechanical policeman. Don't you know--old woman
puts a penny in the slot and stops the traffic? And here's the idea
developed. See that mechanical sentry. I put a penny in the slot, and
he pays me the usual compliment. He shoulders arms, as I am only a
captain--worse luck! If I were of field rank he would come smartly
to the present."
And sure enough the mechanical soldier saluted.
"It's not half a bad idea," continued the agreeable A.D.C. "You see
sentry-go is awfully unpopular, and a figure of iron in times of peace
is every bit as good as a man of brass. The pence go to the Canteen
Fund along with the fines for drunkenness. It seems reasonable enough
that a fellow, if he wants to be saluted, should pay for the
swagger. If a fellow likes to turn out the guard, he can do it with
sixpence--but then of course he hasn't the right unless his rank
By this time the mechanical soldier had returned to the slope, and was
parading his beat in a somewhat jerky manner.
"And now what would you fellows like to do?" asked the A.D.C. "Pardon
the familiarity, but nowadays age doesn't count, does it? Everybody's
young. One of the best _Juliets_ I ever knew had turned sixty, and
played to a _Romeo_ who was twenty years her senior. Nothing like that
down below, I suppose?"
"Nothing," returned _Mr. Punch_.
"So I have always understood. Well, where shall we go first?"
"Anywhere you like," said the Sage of Fleet Street. "But are you sure
that we are not unduly trespassing on your time?"
"Not at all--only too delighted. It's all in the day's work. We have
a lot of distinguished visitors that we have to take round. I like it
myself, but some of our fellows kick against it. Of course it doesn't
refer to you two; but you can fancy what a nuisance it must be for
all our fellows to have to get up in full rig, and bow and scrape,
and march and countermarch, and go through the whole bag of tricks, to
some third-rate Royalty? Ah! they are happier off at Aldershot, aren't
"No doubt," was the prompt reply.
_Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME had now entered a barrack square, wherein
a number of trembling recruits were standing in front of a sergeant.
"I am just putting them through their paces, Sir," said he: "they are
a bit rusty in bowing drill."
The A.D.C. nodded, and, turning on his heel, explained to the visitors
that it was the object of the Authorities to introduce as much as
possible of the civil element into the Army.
"You will see this idea carried out a little further in the
institution we are now entering," he added, as the three walked into
a building that looked like a handsome Club-house. At the door was an
officer in the uniform of the Guards.
"Hullo, HUGHIE," said the A.D.C., "on duty to-day?"
"As hall-porter. CHARLIE is smoking-room waiter. I say, do you want to
take your friends round?"
"Well, I should like to let them get a glimpse of TOMMY ATKINS at his
"All right, you can pass. But, I say, just warn them to keep quiet
when they get near him. We have had no end of a time to smooth him
Thus warned, the Sage and Father TIME passed through the hall and
entered the smoking-room. Stretched at full length on a couple of
chairs was a Private, lazily sipping a glass of brandy and soda-water,
that had just been supplied to him by an officer of his own battalion.
On withdrawing, the A.D.C. greeted the commissioned waiter who
answered to the name of CHARLIE.
"Rather rough, eh?" said he, with a glance at a tray containing a
cork-screw and an empty bottle.
"A bit better than Bermuda. If we don't coerce them, we must be
polite. After all, fagging turned out the heroes of Winchester and
Westminster, and wasn't Waterloo won on the playing-fields of Eton?"
"Rather a dangerous game, isn't it?" observed _Mr. Punch_. "You'll
have to fall in next, and TOMMY will inspect you, and give you a
couple of days' extra drill for not having cleaned your rifle!"
"Well, if I don't look after my arms, I shall have merited the
punishment; and, after all, it will only be a case of turn and
turn about," was the reply. Then the A.D.C. added, "Hang me, too, I
believe, with all we fellows have to do nowadays, that if we _did_
change with TOMMY ATKINS, we, and not he, would have the best of the
Leaving the Soldiers' Club, _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME continued
their journey. They had not proceeded far, when the A.D.C. invited
them to enter a building known as the Museum.
"It really is a most useful and interesting institution," said the
officer of the Planet Mars. "Here, you see, we have portrait models of
the officer of the past and present. In the past, you will notice, he
sacrificed everything to athletic sports--if he could fence, shoot,
hunt, and play cricket, polo, and football, he was quite satisfied.
His successor of to-day devotes all his time to study. He must master
the higher branches of mathematics before he is considered fit to
inspect the rear-rank of a company, and know the modern languages
before he can be entrusted with the command of a left half-battalion.
Here again we have the uniform of an officer in peace and war--swagger
and gold lace on the one side, and stern simplicity and kharki on the
In another room _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME discovered that everyone
was fast asleep. There was a Cabinet Minister supported by two minor
officials--all three of them absolutely unconscious. There were
any number of Generals decorated from belt to neck--any quantity
of higher-grade clerks--one and all slumbering: "This is called the
Intelligence Department of the Army," explained the A.D.C. "You have
nothing like it in England?"
"Nothing!" returned _Mr. Punch_, as he disappeared.
* * * * *
VISIT TO MERCURY.
Mr. Punch and Father Time were once again whirling on their way
through boundless space.
They were approaching their next destination, and the dark globe
of the planet had just come into view on the horizon. Rapidly it
increased in size as they neared it, and the seas and continents could
be easily traced.
"Dear me?" exclaimed _Mr. Punch_. "Why, I declare if there is not
something written upon it!" and he put up his binoculars, "Why, it is
nothing more nor less than a big advertisement. Looks like humbug," he
continued. "What's the name of the Planet, eh?"
"Mercury," replied Father TIME, with cheery spirit; "and with that
device they try to catch the eye of a passing Comet."
"Hum--they won't catch me!" observed the Sage, brightly. "I brought
my truth-compeller with me--a little, patent, electrical hypnotic
arrangement, in the shape of this ring"--he showed it as he spoke. "I
have only to turn it on my finger, and it obliges anyone who may be
addressing me instantly to speak the truth."
They suddenly found themselves deposited in the centre of a vast
square, surrounded by large palatial-looking buildings, public
offices, stores, shops, picture-galleries, gigantic blocks of
private residences, in flats five-and-twenty storeys high, and
other architectural developments of the latest constructive crazes,
fashioned, apparently, after the same models, and on similar lines,
to those at present so much in vogue in that now distant planet, the
Earth. There was a profusion of advertisement-boards, these, in many
instances, entirely covering the whole facade of the building with
large-lettered announcements of the nature of the trade or business
conducted within. An eager and excited crowd thronging the pavements,
and hustling each other, without any apparent purpose or aim, was
pushing in all directions.
"I wonder what all this is about," observed _Mr. Punch_; "suppose we
ask a Policeman?"
They noticed a being attired in every respect like the familiar
guardians of the peace on Earth, except that he carried a harmless
and gaily-decked bladder in place of the more serviceable _baton_, and
beckoned to him. He approached with polite alacrity.
"You want to know what's up, Gents?" he commenced, divining their
purpose instinctively. "It's the Half-Quarterly Meeting of the Solid
Gold Extract of Brick-Dust Company. There's been some little talk
about the dividend not being quite so good as the prospectus led the
shareholders to believe, and as the shares have been mostly taken up
by widows and orphans, some of their friends, you see, are a little
anxious to hear the Chairman's Report. But, you see, it'll be all
At this moment a widow, with blanched cheeks and dishevelled hair,
who had been listening with an anxious and eager gaze to what the
Policeman had been saying, joined the group.
_Mr. Punch_ looked at her with mournful sympathy, and slowly turning
the ring on his finger, addressed the Policeman. "Tell me, my good
man," he said, persuasively, "is that the truth? Is it really all
"All right?" rejoined the guardian of the peace in amazement, but
apparently unconscious of the purport of his speech, "I should rather
think not. Call it 'all wrong' and then you'll about hit it. Why it's
well known that the patent's all _fudge_. It's the biggest swindle
out. No more in it than in this here bladder. But you'll see; the
whole thing's burst, and you'll know it in a minute."
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when a roar of a thousand
angry voices, followed by a sudden rush from the building of a mad
and raging crowd, obliged _Mr. Punch_, for a moment, to pause. When
the uproar had somewhat subsided, he turned to the Policeman, and
pointed feelingly to the unfortunate widow, who had fallen on to an
apple-stall in a fit of hysterics, and, locking his arm in that of his
aged companion, proceeded to cross the square. "Give us a song, old
'un!" shouted a portion of the mob, who had followed them.
"Certainly. Oblige them!" added _Mr. Punch_, taking a banjo from
one of the crowd and placing it in Father TIME's hands. "Give them a
stanza of the Ballad of Truth."
He turned his ring, and his aged companion struck up the following
"Know ye the land where dwells only mock-turtle,
Where wine that should gladden but makes you fell queer.
Where bayonets bend, where guns burst and hurtle
Their breech in the face of their friends at the rear,
Where lamps labelled 'safety' with just terrors fill you,
Where water supplied you for milk is no theft,
Where pills that should cure, if persisted in, kill you
And the 'Hair Resurrector' takes all you've got left!
Where soap, that should soften your skin, only flays you,
Where a horse proves a screw though got through a friend,
Where the loss of your 'cover' confounds and dismays you,
Though assured by the _Firm_ 'if you hold on t'will mend'?
Know ye, in fine, where by pushing and 'rushing,'
This--and much more, down the public throat crams,
Blatant Advertisement, brazen, unblushing--?
If you do, then you've spotted the _Planet of Shams_."
Though a few paving-stones were hurled at the aged singer, the
conclusion of his sons was greeted by a general roar of laughter, the
populace apparently recognising the picture of their own chicanery
with amusement and relish.
After that they held on their way for some minutes in silence. They
had now reached the other side, and were confronted by a couple
of respectable-looking gentlemen of an almost clerical aspect, who
appeared to be catering in the public streets in the interests of some
institution. They approached _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME, and offered
them a prospectus.
"'THE DEAR LITTLE CHILDREN'S HAPPY AND ELEGANT BURIAL INSTITUTION,'"
read _Mr. Punch_, surveying the paper presented to him, and
continuing, "'_A trivial payment of Ninepence a Month will ensure
the youthful Subscriber, or his Representative, a sweet and
elegantly-constructed little Coffin, beautifully frilled, with a
one-black-horse Family Omnibus Hearse, and a tray of Two Handsome
Plumes. N.B.--if preferred, payment of L2 19s. 6d. in cash on
production of Corpse._'"
They showed _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME up the front steps, and
ushered them into a large hall. It was thronged with a crowd of dirty
and raggedly-dressed people, and partitioned off by a handsome and
massive mahogany counter, beyond which sat a staff of clerks busily
engaged in keeping the books and generally discharging the duties of
"Ha, Mrs. MACSTOGGINS, and are we in your debt again?" asked the Agent
of a beetle-browed woman of a sinister and forbidding expression, who
was thrusting a paper across the counter to the cashier.
"Yes; and I'll trouble you not to keep me waiting, either--seeing that
it's gone three days since the burial."
"Is this woman demanding the insurance money for the burial of her own
child?" asked _Mr. Punch_, sternly. And he turned his ring. "And pray,
Madam," he continued, addressing the beetle-browed woman, "tell me the
"Certainly," replied the woman, as if in a trance. "First, I insured
my own KATE--then I starved her to death, and took the money. Then
little BILL followed. I let him catch cold in the winter, and gave
him a night or two on the stones, and that finished him. Then came TIM
FLAHERTY, and I managed him with the beetle-poison, and--"
"Come," said _Mr. Punch_, taking Father TIME's arm once more; "let us
get out of this--I can't breathe here."
Scarcely had they quitted the place ere they had to encounter an
appeal for custom, the Applicant being apparently one of the big guns
in the Mercury wine trade, and he was not long in importuning _Mr.
Punch_ just to step inside his office, and sample a delicious Lafitte
of the 1874 vintage.
"Now, try that, Sir," he said, at the same time offering _Mr. Punch_ a
glass of the rich ruby-coloured beverage, "and tell me what you think
of it. We have a small parcel of it still left, and could let you have
it at the remarkably low figure of 112s. the dozen."
"It looks all right," drily replied _Mr. Punch_, "but I can't
think how you can sell it at the price." Then holding up the glass
critically, and turning his ring, continued, "How do you manage it?"
"How do I manage it?" replied the unconscious merchant, laughing
heartily at the apparent joke. "Why, my dear Sir, there's not much
difficulty about that. I just make it myself. Listen to my receipt:--
"Potato spirit--that the 'body' finds;
And then, as for colour,
Be it brighter or duller,
You see I am supplied with several kinds,
And as to flavour, I get that desired,
By adding various poisons as required.
Ha! ha! Let me send you in a few dozen." He offered _Mr. Punch_ an
elaborate price-list as he concluded his self-condemnatory verse with
an obsequious bow.
"Come," said _Mr. Punch_, once more taking hold of his aged
companion's arm, without condescending to give the cheating tradesman
any reply, "come--let us get out of this. 'Pon my word, I think we've
almost had enough of Mercury!"
"Their morality does seem to have reached rather a low ebb, I must
confess," replied Father TIME.
"Nothing like this on our Earth, anyhow," continued _Mr. Punch_,
with a satisfied sigh of relief. "But come, we'll hear what the whole
people say of themselves. See here's a chance. I believe there's a lot
of them over there singing their National Anthem."
They listened as _Mr. Punch_ spoke. He was right. There was a vast
crowd collected outside one of the principal buildings on the other
side of the square, and they were clearly finishing some popular
anthem in chorus, for, as Father TIME and _Mr. Punch_ paused to
listen, the well-known familiar refrain--
"Never, never, never,
Shall be slaves!"
smote their ear.
"Capital! Capital!" cried _Mr. Punch_, approaching the throng. "We'll
have that again." He turned his ring once more as he spoke, and the
mob responded by shouting their second verse.
Of greed thy sons are slaves;
And they ever, ever, ever--
Shall be knaves!"
"Come," cried _Mr. Punch_, "I think that judgment of themselves out of
their own mouths settles the matter! I have done with them. Come, let
us seek some healthier place. Up we go!"
He seized hold of Old Father TIME as he spoke, and bounded with him
upwards suddenly into space. In another minute they were in search of
a brighter, a better, and a truer world.
* * * * *
VISIT TO JUPITER.
Father TIME with his glorious guide dropped gently down. They found
themselves in the centre of a bare expanse of dry, grassy country,
broken here and there by sand-hills. On their right was the sea,
dotted with ships. Parties of men in red coats, and carrying in their
hands curiously-shaped sticks, were walking about in all directions.
They all looked very earnest, some of them were gloomy, some
positively furious. Occasionally they stopped, placed themselves in an
uncouth straddle-legged attitude, whirled their sticks, looked eagerly
towards the horizon, and then marched on again as solemnly as before.
One party in particular attracted the attention of Father TIME. It
was a large, mixed gathering of men, and women, and children. They
all moved or stood at a respectful distance from the central figure, a
benevolent-looking gentleman, with a flowing white beard. He too wore
a red coat, and carried a stick. A crowd of attendants bearing more
sticks followed him.
"Let me explain," said the Arch-Provider of Merriment to his
companion, "this ground is known as Links; the game of 'Golf' is being
played. These gentlemen are golfers. The sticks they carry are called
clubs. That bearded old gentleman is the King of Jupiter, FOOZLER THE
FIFTH. He is playing his morning round. I will introduce you."
So saying, the King of all Clubs advanced with the Scythe-holder, and,
taking advantage of a moment when King FOOZLER, having made a long
shot, was in good humour, rapidly effected the necessary presentation.
"I know this game well," said _Mr. Punch_. "It is said to be much
played in my own country now. Permit me to have the honour of playing
one hole against your Majesty."
The King smiled a gracious assent. His ball had been already placed
for him on a little heap of sand about an inch high. He advanced
towards it, anxiously measured his distance, waved his club to and
fro over his ball as if in blessing, and then, swinging it through
the air, struck--nothing. The ball remained unmoved.
"He's missit the globe," muttered one of the attendants; "I've aye
tellt him to keep his eye furrmer on the ball."
Four times His Majesty, whose good humour was now entirely gone,
repeated the operation with similar results. At last he hurled his
club to the ground, breaking it into splinters, and addressed his
immovable ball in strong terms.
"Allow me, Your Majesty," said _Mr. Punch_, as he stepped airily
forward and selected the king's best driver from the heap of clubs
carried by the chief caddie, "I think I know how this ought to be
done," and without a moment's hesitation he delivered his stroke. The
ball flew true and far until it was merely a speck in the air, and
finally dropped down about a quarter of a mile away. "You will find
it in the hole," said the Golfer of Golfers, carelessly turning to the
discomfited King; "Oh, my Royal and Ancient One," he continued, "there
are certain things we do better in another country, and Golf is one of
But at this moment a great commotion arose. A messenger on a foaming
steed dashed up, and handed a despatch to the king, who at once read
"Dear me!" said His Majesty, "this is most annoying. The Emperor of
BARATARIA is to arrive in half an hour. He's a bit of a young prig,
and bores me dreadfully--but we must meet him." With that he retired
at once to the nearest palace, to change his uniform. In about ten
minutes he came forth a changed man. On his head glittered an immense
helmet, with a waving plume; a tunic of gold lace was buttoned tightly
round his chest. Row upon row of stars and medals encircled him like
so many belts; his legs were hidden in an enormous pair of jack-boots,
to which were fixed a pair of huge Mexican spurs. An immense sword
dangled at his side.
"This," said the King, as he motioned _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME into
his state carriage, and vaulted in after them with as much agility as
his sword and boots would permit, "is the uniform of the Baratarian
Die-hards, of which regiment I am honorary Colonel."
Thus they drove to the balloon station, at which the Imperial guest
was expected. After a few minutes, a sound of cheering was heard.
"He's coming," observed the King. "Have I got my kissing face on?"
_Mr. Punch_ reassured him. A moment afterwards the state-balloon
of BARATARIA soared up to the platform, and a young man, gorgeously
attired in the uniform of the Tenth (Jupiter's Own) Lancers, sprang
lightly from it.
Loud pealed the loyal anthem, and rattled all the drums,
And, as the guard presented, the cry went up, "He comes!"
He steps upon the platform, and, while the plaudits ring,
A King hangs round an Emperor's neck, an Emperor hugs a King;
And, with impartial kisses on both cheeks duly pressed,
The guest does homage to his host, the host salutes his guest.
The Emperor then, having shaken _Mr. Punch_ warmly by the hand,
departed with his royal host. After this, the three potentates,
_Punch_ the Only, FOOZLER THE FIFTH, and the Baratarian Emperor,
called upon one another at intervals of half an hour. This process
occupied the afternoon.
For the evening a state-ball at the Royal Palace had been announced.
Thither, at the appointed hour, _Mr. Punch_ and his hoary associate
were conveyed. As they approached, the royal band struck up a martial
air, the Lord Chamberlain advanced to meet them, and ushered them into
the magnificent hall in which the guests were assembling. From this a
wide double staircase led up to a marble gallery. Hall, gallery, and
staircase were filled with a brilliant crowd; the men arrayed in every
variety of uniform; the ladies, to a woman, in V-shaped dresses, the
openness of which appeared to vary in a direct ratio to the age of
"We will repose awhile," _Mr. Punch_ remarked to the Father, "and
scan the multitude. This, my dear Tempus, is the pick of Society.
That stout lady, with a face like a haughty turtle, is the Duchess of
DOUBLECHIN; that graceful little woman next to her is Lady ANGELINA
BATTLEAXE--she is a dress-maker."
"A what?" inquired Father TIME.
"A dress-maker," answered the Master, calmly.
"In her shop, ancient notions forsaking,
The proud ANGELINA unbends;
And her figure's a tall one for making
A fit for the figures of friends.
Our cynical latter-day Catos
Are dumb when invited to dine
With a Marquis who deals in potatoes,
Or an Earl who takes orders for wine.
And, though old-fashioned folk think it funny,
It's as common as death, or as debts,
To find gentlemen making their money
Out of shops for the making of bets.
The stout puffy old fellow there is the wealthiest man in Jupiter.
He floats mines, asteroid mines mostly, and makes it pay him. He
can command the very best society. Those ladies clustering round the
Prince-Royal come from over the ocean. Pretty, but twangy. A fresh
consignment arrives every year. And the Prince-Royal has the pick of
But before _Mr. Punch_ could finish his explanatory sketch, a
tremendous uproar was heard in the court-yard of the Palace. There
was a sound as of a huge mob shouting in unison, shots were heard, and
cries of "Liberty for Ever:" vent the air. The royal guests were in
a state of terrible agitation. An orderly covered with mud forced his
way through the crowd, up the stairs, and stood before the King.
"Your Majesty," he panted, "a revolution has broken out. The populace
has erected barricades, the deposition of your House has been
declared, and a Republic proclaimed. The mob is now marching to the
The King drew himself up to his full height. Where are my Golf-clubs?
he asked in a calm voice.
"Your Majesty, they have been seized and secreted."
"Then all is lost. It only remains for me to depart," was the King's
heartbroken reply. "I will, in person, announce my resignation." "I
resign!" shouted the King, appearing on a balcony overlooking the
court-yard. Deafening cheers greeted this announcement. "Bless you, my
children!" sobbed the King--"I am off to the station. Take care of my
poodle, and my pet parrot."
At this the mob unanimously burst into tears. They insisted on
accompanying the deposed monarch to the station, the popular band
playing "_The Dead March in Saul_." But the King remained calm, and
marched on without swerving. At the station he took his seat silently
in the Royal Balloon, a whistle was heard, and the car floated off
"I cannot say I think much of all that," said _Mr. Punch_. "In
our part of the Universe we generally manage to get a little more
bloodshed out of it."
* * * * *
VISIT TO URANUS.
The next place that the distinguished travellers visited was Uranus,
where _Mr. Punch_ and his companion were much surprised to find the
entire population members of the legal profession.
"I have really no time to attend to you," said one of the inhabitants,
when questioned. "I have an appointment before a Chief Clerk in
Chancery of great importance--it is to decide whether some children
shall be sent to school with money left to them by their grandfather,
or if it shall be saved up until they come of age? It would be better
for the children that they should be educated, from a layman's point
of view; but, then, this is a matter of law and not expediency."
"And how will it go?"
"Oh, of course, against the children. I am their father, and appear
for them. But the application is a good thing, although it's sure to
be unsuccessful--good for them, and good for me."
"But how can that be?"
"You are really very dense," said the Inhabitant of Uranus. "Haven't
you noticed that the entire population is concerned in one vast
Chancery suit; consequently, on attaining majority, one man becomes
a judge, another a barrister, a third a solicitor, and so on, and so
on. Why, the place would be a perfect Paradise to your friend Mr. A.
BRIEFLESS JUNIOR! It is, at this time of day, to the interest of no
one that litigation should cease, and so the Chancery suit, in which
we are all concerned, is likely to go on for ever."
"But, surely litigation is expensive?" suggested _Mr. Punch_.
"I should rather think it was," returned the wig-wearer. "The Law is
a noble profession, and it is only right and proper that those who
indulge in it should pay for it. In the present instance our entire
estate will be absolutely exhausted."
"But how will you all live?"
"On the costs!" was the reply, as the Inhabitant of Uranus hurried
away to attend his appointment.
"Lawyers keeping a suit alive to live upon the costs!" exclaimed _Mr.
Punch_, in tones of pained astonishment. "I never heard the like!"
And, horrified and sorrowful, he seized Father TIME by the forelock,
and once more floated into space.
* * * * *
VISIT TO CASTOR.
Father TIME shivered, and wrapped his ancient cloak more closely about
"Come, come," said _Mr. Punch_, "I understand your disgust. But there
is still something left to us in which we may take pleasure. Upon
a neighbouring star the people delight in horses. All day long they
bestride them with a courage never equalled. Swift as the wind are the
steeds, and for mere honour and glory are they matched one against
the other, and from all parts of the star the populace is gathered
together in its hundreds of thousands to applaud and to crown them
that ride the victors in the races. Let us fare thither, for the sport
is splendid, and we shall there forget the pain we have suffered here.
Indeed, it is but a short flight to Castor."
Thus speaking, he seized the Father by his lock, and floated with
him into space. The roar of the Pollucian streets grew fainter and
fainter, the lights twinkled dimly, until at length they disappeared.
Then gradually the land loomed up above them out of a bank of clouds,
and in another moment the wandering pair stood once more on _stella
They had alighted on an immense grassy plain, which stretched away in
every direction, as far as the eye could reach. On every side were to
be seen men and women and children, mounted on horses. To their right
a band of youths, arrayed in coloured shirts, white linen breeches,
and yellow boots, and wearing little coloured caps, jauntily set upon
their heads, were careering wildly hither and thither on swift and
wiry ponies. They were waving in the air long sticks, fitted with a
cross block of wood at the end, and were pursuing a wooden ball. Many
were the collisions, the crashes, and the falls. On every side men
and ponies rolled over in the dust; but they rose, shook themselves
as though nothing had happened, and dashed again into the fray. Father
TIME shouted with enthusiasm.
"Yes," said the Sage, "you do well to cheer them. They are gallant
youngsters these. The game they play is 'Polo,' and though the expense
be great, the contempt of danger and pain is also great. They play it
well, but I doubt not we could match them at Hurlingham. But see," he
added, "on our left. What rabble is that?" As he spoke a panting deer
flew past them hard pressed by a pack of yelping hounds. Close behind
came a mob of riders, two or three of them glittering in scarlet and
gold, the rest in every variety of riding-dress.
"Behold," said the Arch-philosopher, "a Royal Sport. These are the
Castorian Buck-hounds; that elderly gentleman is their master. They
pay him L1500 a-year to provide sport for Cockneys. The sport consists
in letting a deer out of a cart and chasing him till he nearly dies
of fatigue. Then they rope him and replace him in the cart. After that
they all drain their flasks, and consider themselves sportsmen. Poor
stuff, I think."
"Of course," said the Father, "you have nothing of that sort in
_Mr. Punch_ was about to reply when a well-appointed four-in-hand
drove up, and a courteous gentleman who handled the ribbons, offered
the two strangers seats.
"I will take you," he remarked, "to our great national race-meeting. I
assure you it is well worth seeing."
The offer was accepted. A pleasant drive brought them to the
race-course. To tell the truth it was much like most other
race-courses. A huge crowd was assembled, and the din of roaring
thousands filled the air. As they drove up a race had just started,
and it was pretty to see the flash of the coloured caps and jackets in
the sun. The horses came nearer and nearer. As they rounded the bend
which led into the straight run in, the excitement became almost
too great for Father TIME. A torrent of sporting phrases broke from
his lips. One after another he backed every horse on the card for
extravagant sums, and the bets were promptly, but methodically booked
by _Mr. Punch_. A handsome chestnut was leading by two good lengths,
and apparently going strong, but about a hundred yards from the post
he suddenly slowed down for some unaccountable reason. In a moment a
bay and a brown flew past him, there was a final roar and the race was
over. The bay had won, the brown was second, and the chestnut a length
behind, was only third. "Most extraordinary thing that," said the
Paternal One; "I made sure the chestnut would win."
"That's just it," broke in the owner of the coach; "the public thought
so too, and they've lost their money."
"Just look at the mob," he continued, "crowding round the jockey and
the owner. 'Gad, I shouldn't care to be hooted like that. But, of
course, _they've_ made their pile on it; never intended him to win.
Just sent him out for an airing. Pretty bit of roping, wasn't it?" he
continued, addressing _Mr. Punch_.
But the Sportsman of Sportsmen only frowned.
"In the land we come from," he rejoined, "the sport of racing is pure,
and only the most high-minded men take part in it. Their desire is not
to make money, but merely to improve the breed of British horses. I
grieve to find that here the case is otherwise. Reform the Sport, Sir;
reform it, and make it worthy of Castorian gentlemen."
His newly-found friend only smiled.
Then he winked as he hummed to himself the words of a song, which ran
something like this:--
"Come, sportsmen all, give ear to me, I'll tell you what occurred,
But of course you won't repeat it when I've told you;
For with honourable gentlemen I hope that mum's the word,
When a horse you've laid your money on has sold you.
I presume you lost your shekels, and you think it rather low,
Since you're none of you as rich as NORTH or BARING.
But another time you'll get them back by being 'in the know,'
When a favourite is started for an airing.
"That's an odd sort of song," said _Mr. Punch_.
"Not so odd as the subject," replied the singer. "But you have only
heard the first verse; wait till you know the second."
"'But they didn't tell the public; it's a precious, jolly shame;'
(Such behaviour to the public seems to shock it)--
Now if _you'd_ been placed behind the scenes you wouldn't think the same,
But put principles and winnings in your pocket.
A gent who owns a stable doesn't always think of _you_,
And he doesn't seem to fancy profit-sharing.
And you really shouldn't curse him when he manages a 'do.'
With a favourite who's only on an airing."
Before the singer could proceed any farther, a frightful hubbub arose.
A pale, gasping wretch, rushed past, pursued by a howling, cursing mob
of ruffians. As he fled, he tripped, and fell, and in a moment they
were on the top of him, buffeting, and beating the very life out of
"That's murder," said _Mr. Punch_. "Where are the police?"
And he was on the point of stepping down, to render assistance, when
his friend laid a hand upon his arm.
"Oh, that's only a welsher," he said; "he's bolting with other
"Is it the owner of the chestnut?" inquired Father TIME.
"Bless your heart, no," was the reply. "It's only a low-class cheat.
The owner of the chestnut is--"
But _Mr. Punch_ had no wish to hear or see more.
He took TIME's arm, and together they floated away into space, to land
shortly afterwards in another sphere.
* * * * *
VISIT TO POLLUX.
The street in which they had descended was situated in the heart of a
great city. The roar of traffic sounded in their ears from the larger
thoroughfares close by. Most of the houses were small and mean--a
remarkable contrast to one large building, brilliantly lighted, in
front of which a mob was gathered together. A more ruffianly-looking
assemblage it would have been hard to discover. The rest of the street
was filled with hansoms, the long line of which was constantly being
augmented by fresh arrivals, whose occupants sprang out and swiftly
mounted a flight of steps leading up to the entrance of the large
building mentioned, and passed through swing-doors of glass, which
gave admission to a broad passage. In front of this house the Sage
paused, and addressed his companion.
"Venerable One," he said, for he had become aware of a reluctance on
the part of the Lord of the Hour-Glass, "have no fear. We are now,
as you know, in the metropolis of Pollux. This is the country of
the [Greek: pux agathos], the home of the noble boxer; and this," he
added, pointing to the glittering palace, "is the headquarters, I am
informed, of the boxer's art. Let us enter, so that I may show you
how the game should really be played. I like not the crowd without.
Within we shall see something very different."
So saying, he linked his arm in that of the Paternal One, and together
they ascended the stairs. At the top stood an official dressed in a
dark uniform, his breast adorned with medals.
"I beg your pardon, Gentlemen," said the minion to the pair, "are you
_Mr. Punch_ vouchsafed no answer. He looked at the man, who quailed
under the eagle glance, and, muttering a hasty apology, drew back.
A door flew open; the Champion of Champions and his friend passed
through it. They found themselves in a spacious hall. In the centre a
square had been roped off. All round were arranged seats and benches.
In the square were four men, two of them stripped to the waist sitting
in chairs in opposite corners, while the two others were busily
engaged in fanning them with towels. The seats and benches were all
occupied by a very motley throng.
"Aha," said _Mr. Punch_, as he made his way to the throne reserved for
him, "this is good. I have done a little bit of fighting myself in my
time. My mill with the Tutbury Boy is still remembered. One hundred
and twenty rounds, at the end of which I dropped him senseless. But
that was with the knuckles. Here they fight with gloves. But of course
they fight now for the mere honour of the thing, I presume."
[Illustration: A PAIR OF SPECTACLES.]
But here the heroic Muse insists on taking up the strain:--
The Father spake--"O skilled in men and books,
Read me this crowd, inspect them, scan their looks;
See, from their shining heads electric rays,
Reflected, sparkle in their barbers' praise.
Lo, on each bulging front's expansive white
A single jewel flames with central light;
To vacant eyes the haughty eye-glass clings,
Stiff stand their collars, though their ties have wings.
What of their faces? Bloodshot eyes that blink,
And thick lips, framed for blasphemy and drink.
Here the grey hair, that should adorn the Sage,
Serves but to mark a weak, unhonoured age;
There on the boy pale cheeks proclaim the truth,
The faded emblems of a wasted youth.
All, all are loathsome in this motley crew,
The Peer, the Snob, the Gentile, and the Jew,
Young men and old, the greybeards and the boys,
These dull professors of debauch and noise."
* * * * *
He ceased. The Wise One gazed in silent gloom,
While oaths and uproar hurtled through the room--
"Hi, there, a monkey on the Pollux Pet;"
"Fifty to forty;" "Blank your eyes, no bet;"
"A level thousand on the Castor Chick;"
"Brandy for two, and, curse you, bring it quick."
While one who spake to _Punch_ rapped out an oath--
"Who cares?" he said, "I stand to win on both.
Fair play be blowed, that's all a pack of lies,
Let fools fight fair, while _these_ cut up the prize.
Old Cock, you needn't frown; I'm in the know,
And if you don't like barneys, dash it, go!"
One blow from _Punch_ had quelled th' audacious man,
He raised his hand, when, lo, the fight began.
"Time! time!" called one; the cornered ruffians rose,
Shook hands, squared up, then swift they rained in blows.
Feint follows feint, and whacks on whacks succeed,
Struck lips grow puffy, battered eye-brows bleed.
From simultaneous counters heads rebound,
And ruby drops are scattered on the ground.
Abraded foreheads flushing show the raw,
And fistic showers clatter on the jaw.
* * * * *
Now on "the mark" impinge the massive hands,
Now on the kissing-trap a crasher lands.
Blood-dripping noses lose their sense of smell,
And ribs are roasted that a crowd may yell.
Each round the other's neck the champions cling,
Then break away, and stagger round the ring.
Now panting Pollux fails, his fists move slow,
He trips, the Chicken plants a smashing blow.
The native "pug" lies spent upon the floor,
Lies for ten seconds,--and the fight is o'er.
* * * * *
Thunders of cheering hail th' expected end,
High in the air ecstatic hats ascend.
While frenzied peers and joyous bookies drain
Promiscuous bumpers of the Club champagne.
But _Mr. Punch_ had seen enough.
"Do you call this one-round job a fight?" he said, as he rose to
depart. "I call it the work of curs and cowards. Who can call these
fellows fighting-men? They are merely mop-sticks. Men were ruffianly
enough years ago in the country we have left, but they were men
at any rate. Here, they seem to be merely a pack of bloodthirsty
molly-coddles, crossed with calculating rogues. The mob outside was
better than this. But, thank Heaven, we have nothing like this in
And with that he and Father TIME walked gloomily from the hall, and
found themselves once more in the street.
* * * * *
"What ho! my trusty Shooting Star," cried _Mr. Punch_. Whirr-r-r--
And in the thousandth part of a second they found themselves within
measurable distance of TOBY's own Planet. And here _the_ Dog speaks
* * * * *
[Illustration: PUNCHIUS PHOEBUS, THE GREAT UNIVERSAL HYPNOTISER.
("_He who must be Obeyed!_")
A TRANSFORMATION SCENE.]
* * * * *
VISIT TO THE DOG-STAR.
[Illustration: THE DOG STAR]
"Take care of the plank, Sir," I said, as my esteemed master lightly
skipped across the gangway, marshalling a well-grown youth carrying
a scythe; "we don't have many visitors here. One who looked in the
other day slipped his foot, fell over, and we've never seen him since.
Listening intently, watch in hand, we heard a slight thud, and have
reason to believe he dropped on Jupiter. It was useful to us, seeing
that, by use of a well-known formula, we were able to reckon our
precise distance from that planet. For him, I fancy, it must have
"Are you serious, TOBY?" said _Mr. Punch_, stepping with added
"No, Sir, _I'm_ not. This," I said, waving my hand with graceful and
comprehensive gesture around the orb where I am temporarily located,
"_this_ is Sirius."
"Ah, I see," said _Mr. P._, glad to find himself with his foot on
our native heath; "I want to present you to an old friend, whom, I am
afraid, you have sometimes misused. TIME, this is TOBY, M.P., a humble
but faithful member of my terrestrial suite. I am showing the young
fellow round, TOBY, and we looked in on you, hearing that you had a
Parliament that should serve as a model for the firmament."
"I am afraid," observed TIME, whittling a piece of stick with his
scythe, "that we may have looked in at a wrong season. As far as I can
judge from a consideration of the temperature, and a glance round your
landscape, we are now at Midsummer--in the dog days, if I may so put
it without offence. Of course your legislators would not be in Town
just now, sweltering at work that might as well be performed in winter
weather, when, regarded as a place of business or residence, Town has
attractions superior to those of the country." "Ah, young fellow," I
said, perhaps a little sharply, not relishing his somewhat round-about
way of putting things, "when you are as old as me or my esteemed
master, you will not be so cock-sure of things. Our Parliamentary
Session begins on the threshold of Spring; we stop in Town hard at
work, through the pleasantest months of the year; we toil through
Summer nights, see August out, and, somewhere about the first week
in September, when the days are growing short, the air is chill, and
Autumn gets ready to usher in Winter, we go off to make holiday."
"Dear me, dear me!" cried _Mr. P._, "how very sad. How deliberately
foolish. We manage things much better than that down in our tight
little Earth. When we take that in turn, you will find, my good TIME,
that we burrow at our legislative work through the Winter months,
getting it done so as to leave us free to enjoy the country in the
prime of Spring, and amid the wealth of Summer. But come along, TOBY,
let's get on to your House."
"It will be no use going now," said TIME, holding up his hour-glass;
"it is five o'clock; the working day is practically over, and we shall
find these sensible dogs travelling off to take a turn in the park,
or pay a round of visits in search of the culinary receptacle that
cheers, but does not intoxicate."
"Wrong again, young Cock-sure," I said; "we shall just find our house
of Commons settling down to the business of the night. We begin about
four o'clock in the afternoon, and peg away till any hour to-morrow
morning that one or two Members please. It is true we have a rule
which enjoins the suspension of business at midnight; but instead of
suspending business we can (and do) suspend the Rule, and sometimes
sit all night."
"Ah!" said _Mr. Punch_, gravely shaking his head, "we manage things
much better than that at Westminster."
Got my two friends with some difficulty across Palace Yard, eyed
suspiciously by the police-dogs on duty. One concentrated his
attention on _Mr. Punch's_ dorsal peculiarity.
"We have strict orders from the Sergeant-at-Arms," he said, "to
examine all parcels carried by strangers."
"That's not a parcel," I said, hurriedly, and taking him on one side,
succinctly explained the personal peculiarity of my esteemed Master.
"Humph!" said the police-dog. "Exactly," I responded, and he let us
pass on, though evidently with lingering apprehension that he was
allowing a valuable clue to slip out of his hands, as it were.
"Wait here a moment," I said, "till I get an order for your
Absent only a few minutes; when I got back terrible commotion; _Mr.
P.'s_ friend was in the hands of the Police; they had attempted to
take his scythe from him, and he had smartly rapped one on the head
with his hour-glass.
"I've carried it a million years," he said, swinging the scythe with
practised hand, till he made a clean sweep of the police-dogs.
"Make it a couple of millions, whilst you are at it, young man," said
a sarcastic police-dog.
With some difficulty calmed him; explained that no one, not even a
Member, was permitted to enter House with a scythe, or other lethal
weapon. Only exception made once a year, when Hon. Members, moving
and seconding Address, are allowed to carry property-swords, which
generally get between their legs. TIME partially mollified at last,
consented to leave scythe behind chair of door-keeper, where the late
TOM COLLINS used to secrete his gingham-umbrella.
"It seems to me," he said, "that the public are treated in this place
worse than jackals. Hustled from pillar to post, suspected of
unnamed crimes, grudged every convenience, and generally regarded as
"Ah," said _Mr. P._, "we manage things much better at Westminster."
"Order! Order!" cried an angry voice, and _Mr. P._ and his companion
were within an ace of being trundled out of the gallery, where
strangers are permitted to see and hear whatever is possible from
their position--and it is not much.
"What are they talking about?" asked TIME, in guarded whisper, being,
by this time, completely cowed.
"They haven't reached public business yet," I explained. "Been for
last two hours debating a private Bill, providing that the pump-handle
in the village of Plumberry shall be chained at eight o'clock at
night. The Opposition want it done at nine."
"Well, I suppose they know all about it," said TIME. "Probably been
down to Plumberry, examined into bearing of whole question, and formed
their opinion accordingly?"
"Nothing of the sort; some of them don't even know where Plumberry
is--never heard its name before this Pump-handle business came up.
Don't even now wait in House to hear question, debated by Members
with local knowledge. You see only twenty or thirty Members in their
places. But, when bell rings for division, four hundred will troop
in, and their vote will settle the question whether Plumberry shall be
privileged to pump water as late as nine o'clock, or whether at eight
the handle shall be chained."
So it turned out: In House of four hundred and seventy-nine Members
Bill was read a second time by majority of twenty-three. Division
occupied twenty minutes, which, with debate, appropriated two of the
most precious hours of the sitting.
_Mr. P._ narrowly escaped expulsion, attention being awkwardly
concentrated upon him, owing to the exuberance of his delight
in recollection of how much better these things are managed at
After this, public business was approached, beginning with questions.
Of these there were a list of eighty, the large majority on
exceedingly trivial circumstances. Nine-tenths of them could have been
answered in a sentence by the Minister addressed, supposing the Member
had dropped him a private note, or crossed the floor of the House,
to speak to him. TIME openly contemptuous at such a way of doing
business, more especially when, on question which appeared on
printed paper having been answered, half-a-dozen Members sprang up
from different parts of House, and volleyed forth supplementary
interrogations. Explained to him things used to be worse when
questions were propounded _vivi voce_, and at length.
"Now," I said, not liking _Mr. P.'s_ crowing over us, "the SPEAKER
will not allow the terms of a question to be recited. They appear on
printed paper, and are taken as read."
"Then," queried TIME, "what are these Members putting questions
'arising,' they say, 'out of the answer just given? They don't spare a
syllable, and take up five times as much of the Sitting as Members who
put their questions on the Paper, and are not allowed to read them.
You don't mean to say that such a transparent evasion of the rule is
"It looks very like it," said _Mr. P._; "but it's not at all the sort
of thing that would be permitted in our House of Commons. We make
Rules, and the Speaker sees that they are obeyed in the spirit, as
well as in the letter."
By the time questions were over, following on the prelude of private
business, the evening was getting on. Members evidently tired out; had
crowded in to vote on the Pump-handle question; sat in serried rows
during the squabbles of question-time; and as soon as business was
actually reached, House swiftly emptied, leaving about a score of
Members. TIME more than ever distracted. _Mr. P._ increasingly perky.
"Ho! ho!" he said, rubbing his hands, "I don't wonder at this Star
going to the Dogs. Stop till you come over to Westminster, TIME, dear
boy, and we'll show you how public business should be carried on."
Explain to them that House is now in Committee on a Bill that had at
earlier stages occupied some months of the Session, practically the
greater portion of its working time. Now Session drawing to a close;
agreed on both sides that it is too late to conclude Bill this
Session; will be dropped after another night or two; Members knowing
this, do not think it worth while to give up more time to Bill. Next
Session it will be brought in again, and if the Government have better
luck, and get earlier stages through in less time, there will be a
chance of it passing.
"What!" shrieked TIME, forgetting where he was, "you don't mean to say
that after devoting nearly a whole Session to a measure, laboriously
shaping it up to a certain stage, you chuck away all your work because
the Almanack says it's August? Why don't you, when you meet again
in February, take the Bill up at the stage you dropped it? Why don't
Here our friend's observations were brought to a sudden close. TIME
was, as _Mr. P._ subsequently remarked, reduced to the status of
a half-Timer. Angry cries of "Order! Order!" broke in on his
unpremeditated speech. Two attendants, approaching him on either
flank, seized him, and led him forth under the personal direction of
the Sergeant-at-Arms. _Mr. P._, following his friend, and endeavouring
from the top of the staircase to assure him that, "we manage these
things better at Westminster," was promptly taken into custody, and
led forth beyond the precincts, a combination of circumstances that
interrupted and, indeed, as far as my friends were concerned, finally
closed what was beginning to promise to prove an agreeable and
_Business Done_.--_Mr. Punch_ and another Stranger expelled from the
Gallery, and TOBY's narrative completed.
* * * * *
VISIT TO VENUS.
The two Travellers made their way through space in silence, but on a
sudden Father TIME plucked his conductor by the sleeve, and spoke.
"Sir," he said, "I perceive in the distance a wonderful light,
and there is a sound of soft and beautiful music that attracts me
strangely. Shall we approach the light, and listen more closely to
"Have patience." replied the Sage. "The light and the music come from
the planet Venus. Thither I am directing our course. In a few moments
we shall arrive."
Even as he spoke the light grew brighter, the music of the invisible
choir swelled to a louder strain, and before the King of the Hours
had time to express his rapture, the pair had alighted in a scene of
veritable enchantment. Fairy-like structures of crystal, sparkling
with all the hues of the rainbow, rose on every side. Spires and domes
of the most fantastic but graceful design seemed to soar into the
clear and perfect air. All were bathed in a rosy glow, the source
of which was hidden. Spacious walks paved with huge blocks of opal
divided the rows of palaces. Along them grew tall and slender trees
of a curious and delicate foliage. Birds of Paradise, King Fishers
and doves flitted from branch to branch. The broadest of these avenues
ended in a sweeping flight of steps of alabaster which led to a vast
and perfectly proportioned hall, the roof of which was supported on
columns of pure jewels, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
A throng of maidens, in classical attire and wearing wreaths of roses
on their heads, made their way along this avenue to where _Mr. Punch_
and his companion were standing. Their leader, a fair and lovely girl
of seventeen, advanced to the Wise One and addressed him.
"Sire," she sang in a low and gracious voice, "Our Queen has sent me
to say that she waits for your coming. She holds her Court in yonder
hall, and thither I am bidden to guide you. Is it your pleasure to
come at once?"
_Mr. Punch_ signified his assent, the maiden took him by the hand,
and beckoning to Father TIME to follow, they walked slowly towards the
Royal Hall and mounted the steps. A double gate of wrought gold opened
as they reached the top, and passing through it, they found themselves
in the Court of Queen CALLISTA. A marvellous sight met their eyes. The
Queen sat on a raised throne in the midst of a throng of attendants.
She was of surpassing beauty. Her deep-blue eyes were set like jewels
beneath a broad low forehead on which a light crown of pearls and
diamonds rested. Her garments were of a soft gauzy material that half
concealed and half revealed the beautiful lines of her bust and limbs.
In one hand she held a spray of myrtle, the other rested lovingly
on the head of the magnificent hound who sat beside her, looking
trustfully into her face. The great hall was filled with beautiful
women grouped together here and there, some seated and some standing.
They were all talking. Suddenly the Queen raised her hand and
commanded silence. She then rose and thus addressed the two
"You have come from below to the Realm of Women. Here we abide as you
behold us. Age and decay hold aloof from us, and we order our lives
with wisdom and modesty. Speak, if you have aught to ask."
"Pardon me, Madam," said Father TIME, somewhat rashly, "are we not
here on the planet Venus? and have I not somewhere heard strange tales
of what was done by ----?"
But CALLISTA interrupted him. She smiled a beautiful smile.
"Ah, yes," she said, "those stories are of the vanished past. Now we
blush even to think they might once have been true;" and surely enough
the whole charming assemblage became suffused with the prettiest
imaginable blush. "I will speak plainly with you," continued the
Queen; "for plain speech is best. No men live here. Therefore, we
dwell in peace. But we permit the fairest and best among our number
to descend from time to time to earth, and to dwell there in mortal
shapes for awhile. You may have seen them," she went on, mentioning
some names well known to _Mr. Punch_. "They are allowed to marry; but
only the wisest and noblest men may approach them. On earth their will
is free, and sometimes, alas, they fall away from righteousness, and
pass through bitter tribulation."
"Yes," said the Fleet Street Sage, "We call it the Divorce Court--your
Majesty will pardon the rough speech of an old man--and, somehow, we
don't seem able to get on without it. But here, of course, you have no
"No," replied the Queen. "There once was such a court among us,
hundreds of years ago, ere we had banished the men from our midst.
Now, however, we use the building in which petitions used to be heard
as our chief College. Come hither, ZOE," she proceeded, addressing
a sweet little girl of about fifteen. "Tell this wise gentleman your
solution of that pretty question relating to the concomitants of a
system of ternary quadrics."
Without a moment's hesitation, ZOE stated the question, and, what is
more, solved it with absolute correctness.
"Marvellous!" said _Mr. Punch_. "I congratulate you."
"CYNTHIA," said the Queen, beckoning with her rosy fingers to
another maiden, "will you recite to me your Pindaric Ode on the late
CYNTHIA at once complied, and _Mr. Punch_ listened in amazement to
the resounding lines of an ode worthy of the great Greek. "Nor do we
confine ourselves to such accomplishments," the Queen went on. "We all
sew perfectly, our knitting is universally admired, and our classes on
the Management of Domestic Servants, or the true theory of Making Both
Ends Meet are always largely attended. Moreover, we do not neglect the
body. Some play at ball, some even form elevens for cricket, others
fence or play your Scotch game, or even lawn-tennis, and all dance
gracefully. See!" she cried, clapping her hands, "they shall show
At this signal delicious music burst forth in a strange measure,
swaying, rhythmical, and delightful. The maidens enlaced one another,
and moved across the floor in perfect time. Their bodies seemed to
float rather than tread the ground, as they passed the spell-bound
visitors. The dance ceased as suddenly as it began.
"Your Majesty" said _Mr. Punch_, "your country is, indeed, highly
blessed, and your subjects are marvellously accomplished. You dwell
here without men, without chaperons, and you are lovely," he added,
with emotion, "beyond the power of words to express. Would that your
example could be followed upon earth!"
And with this, he and the Father kissed the young Queen's hand, and
left the royal presence chamber.
* * * * *
VISIT TO SERIOCOMIX.
"And so," said TIME, as he carefully arranged his forelock before a
mirror in the corridor, in reply to a communication recently made
to him by _Mr. Punch en route_, "and so we're to make a regular
rollicking night of it'? You insist on taking me into every Music
Hall in Seriocomix, hey, you young dog, you! Well, well, Sir, I'm not
so young as I used to be--but I'm as fond of a bit of good honest
wholesome fun as ever I was. So lead on!"
They were in Seriocomix--a new and brilliant planet recently
discovered by _Mr. Punch_--by the aid of WELLER's patent
double-million gas-magnifying microscope (extra power). This star,
as all astronomers are by this time aware, is a howling waste of
extraordinary density, and occupied entirely by Music Halls, which
TIME, for some inexplicable reason, was desirous of visiting in _Mr.
_Mr. Punch_, though considerably TIME's junior, almost envied his
companion's boyish eagerness for pleasure; he was so evidently
unfamiliar with Music Halls.
"If you are expecting to be vastly amused, Sir," _Mr. Punch_ ventured
to hint, "I am afraid you may be just a trifle disappointed."
"Disappointed?" said TIME; "not a bit of it, Sir; not a bit of it!
Isn't a Music Hall a place of entertainment? You've plenty of them
where _you_ come from, haven't you? They wouldn't be filled night
after night, as I'm given to understand they are, if they didn't
succeed in entertaining, _would_ they, now?"
_Mr. Punch_ felt a natural reluctance to betray the weak points of any
"Oh, _our_ Music Halls? they are perfection, of course," he said. "The
entertainments there are distinguished by humour of the most refined
and intellectual order. It only struck me that they mayn't be quite
the same _here_, you know, that's all."
"We shall see, Sir, we shall see," said TIME. "I don't think I'm
particularly difficult to amuse." By this time they had entered the
dazzling hall, and, reclining on sumptuous seats, were prepared to
bestow their best attention upon the proceedings. A stout man with a
fair wig, a dyed moustache and a blue chin, occupied the stage. He was
engaged in representing a Member of the Seriocomican aristocracy with
irresistible powers of social fascination, and he wore a loose-caped
cloak over garments of closely-fitting black, which opened in front
to display a mass of crumpled white, amidst which scintillated an
enormous jewel. In his hand he held a curious black disc, with which
he beat time to a ditty, of which _Mr. Punch_ only succeeded in
catching the following refrain:--
"Oh, I 'ave sech a w'y with the loydies! All the dorlins upon me are gorn!
For they soy--'Yn't he noice! you can tell by his vice,
He's a toff and a gentleman born!'"
And here the singer suddenly caused the black disc to expand with a
faint report to a cylindrical form of head-dress, which he placed upon
one side of his head, amidst thunders of approval.
But TIME seemed rather depressed than exhilarated by this performance.
"He ought to be kicked off the stage," he muttered. "I'd do it myself
if I was younger!"
"You would make a mistake," said _Mr. Punch_; "he is just the person
that a Music Hall audience idolises as their highest ideal of a man
and gentleman--in Seriocomix."
"At least," said TIME, "you wouldn't stand such an outrageous cad as
that in any of _your_ Music Halls, I hope?"
A deeper tinge stole into _Mr. Punch's_ already highly-coloured
countenance. "Certainly not," he replied, with perhaps the slightest
suspicion of a gulp. "Our 'Lion Comiques' are without exception,
persons of culture and education, and, if they sing of love at all, it
is only to treat the subject in a chaste and chivalrous spirit. They
are worthy examples to all young people who are privileged to listen
to their teachings."
"I wish you could send one or two out to Seriocomix, then, as
missionaries," said TIME.
"I wish we could send them _all_," rejoined _Mr. Punch_, feelingly,
and they went on to another Music Hall. Here TIME had no sooner
perceived the artist who was upon the stage than he exclaimed
indignantly, "Disgraceful, Sir. This man is in no condition to
entertain a respectable audience--he is _intoxicated_, Sir--look at
"I think not," said _Mr. Punch_, after observing him attentively
through his opera-glass; "he merely affects to be so because the
point and humour of the song depend on it. But he has evidently forced
himself to make a close study of the symptoms, or he could hardly have
produced so marvellous an imitation. Art does demand these sacrifices.
You will observe that he represents another Music-Hall ideal--the hero
who can absorb the largest known quantity of ardent spirits, and whose
prowess has earned for him the proud title of the Boozer King."
It was a spirited chorus, and the accomplished vocalist reeled in
quite a natural manner as he chanted:--
"So every pub I enter, boys,
With welcome the room will ring;
Make room for him, there, in the centre, boys!
For he is the Boozer King!
Yes, give him a seat in the centre, boys.
Three cheers for our Boozer King!"
But TIME's worn features exhibited nothing but the strongest disgust.
"Is it possible," he exclaimed, "that this sort of thing can be
considered amusing anywhere!"
"It is considered extremely facetious," said _Mr. Punch_--"in
"What would they think of such a--such an apotheosis of degradation
in one of your Music Halls at home, eh?" demanded TIME.
Privately, _Mr. Punch_ was of opinion that it would not be at all
unpopular. However, he was not going to admit this:--
"It would be hissed off the stage," he said, courageously. "The
fact is, that our Eccentric Vocalists have always shrunk from the
responsibility of presenting a national vice under an attractive
light, and so such exhibitions are absolutely unknown among us."
"I respect them for their scruples," said TIME; "they have their
reward in a clear conscience," "No doubt," said _Mr. Punch_. "Shall we
go on?" And as TIME had had enough of the Boozer King, they went on,
and entered the next hall, just as a remarkably pretty young girl,
with an innocent rosebud mouth and saucy bright eyes like a bird's,
tripped daintily on to the platform.
"Come," said TIME, with more approval than he had yet shown, "this is
better--_much_ better. We need feel no shame is listening to _this_
young lady, at all events. What is she going to give us? Some tender
little love-ditty, I'll be bound?"
She sang of love, certainly, though she treated the subject from
rather an advanced point of view, and this was the song she sang:--
"True love--you tyke the tip from me--'s all blooming tommy-rot!
And the only test we go by is--'ow much a man has got?
So none of you need now despair a girlish 'art to mash,--
So long as you're provided with the necessairy cash!"
And the chorus was:--
"You may be an 'owling cad;
Or be gowing to the bad;
Or a hoary centenarian, or empty-headed lad;
Or the merest trifle mad--
If there's rhino to be had,
Why, a modern girl will tyke you--yes, and only be too glad!"
As she carolled out this charming ditty in her thin high voice, TIME
positively shivered in his stall, "Are _all_ the girls like that in
Seriocomix?" he moaned. "I trust not."
"It seems the fashion to assume so here, at any rate," said _Mr.
Punch_, not without a hazy recollection of having heard very similar
sentiments in Music Halls much nearer home than Seriocomix. "The young
woman is probably an authority on the subject. Are you off already?"
"Yes," said TIME, as he made for the exit. "I think she is going to
sing again presently. Come along!"
At the next Music Hall they were just in time to hear the announcement
of a new Patriotic Song, and old TIME, who had in his day seen great
and noble deeds accomplished by men who loved and were proud of their
Fatherland, was disposed to congratulate both himself and the audience
on the choice of topic.
Only, as the song went on, he seemed dissatisfied somehow, as if he
had expected some loftier and more exalted strain. And yet it was a
high-spirited song, too, and told the Seriocomicans what fine fellows
they were, and how naturally superior to the inhabitants of all other
planets, while the chorus ran as follows:--
"Yes, we never stand a foreigner's dictation!
No matter if we're wrong or if we're right;
We're a breed of good old bulldogs as a nation,
And we never stop to bark before we bite!"
And then the singer, a fat-necked man, in a kind of military uniform,
drew a sword and struck an attitude, amidst red fire, which aroused
TIME seemed to be getting restless again, so they moved on once. more,
and presently entered a hall where they found a stout lady with a
powdered face and extremely short skirts, about to sing a pathetic
song, which had been expressly written to suit her talents.
She began in a quavering treble that was instinct with intense
"Under the dysies to rest I have lyed him;
My little cock-sparrer so fythful and tyme!
And the duckweed he loved so is blooming besoide him,
But I clean out his cyge every d'y just the syme!
For it brings him before me so sorcy and sproightly,
As with seed and fresh water his glorsis I fill:
Though the poor little tyle which he waggled so lytely
Loys under the dysies all stiffened and still!"
--And then, to a subdued _obbligato_ upon a bird-whistle, came the
"Yes, I hear him singing 'Tweet,' so melodious and sweet!
Till his shadder comes and flits about the room. 'Tweet-tweet-tweet!'
All my sorrer I forget. For I have the forncy yet,
That he twitters while he's loyin' in his tomb--'Tweet-tweet!'
Yes, he twitters to me softly from his tomb!"
_Mr. Punch_ observed his elder attentively during this plaintive
ditty, but there was no discernible moisture in TIME's hard old eyes,
though among the rest of the audience noses were being freely blown.
"Well," he said, "it may be very touching and even elevating, for
anything I know--but it's not my notion of cheerful entertainment. I'm
"I should like," said TIME, rather wistfully, as they proceeded
to visit yet another establishment, "yes, I _should_ like to hear
something _comic_ before the evening is over."
"Now is your opportunity, then," said _Mr. Punch_, taking his seat and
inspecting the programme, "for I observe that the gentleman who is to
appear next is described as a 'Mastodon Mirth-moving Mome.'"
"And does that mean that he is funny?" inquired TIME, hopefully.
"If it doesn't, I don't know what it _does_ mean," replied _Mr.
Punch_, as the Mastodon entered.
His mere appearance was calculated to provoke--and did provoke--roars
of laughter, though TIME only gazed the more sadly at him. He had
coarse black hair falling about his ears, a white face, and a crimson
nose; he wore a suit of dingy plaid, a battered hat, and long-fingered
thread gloves. And he sang, very slowly and dolefully, this
"We met at the corner, Marire and me.
Quite permiscuous! Who'd ha' thought of it?
She took and invited me 'ome to tea;
Quite permiscuous! Who'd ha' thought of it?
I sat in the parler along with her,
Tucking into the eggs and the bread and but-ter,--
When in come her Par with the kitching po-ker!
_Quite_ permiscuous! _Who'd_ ha' thought of it?"
There was a chorus, of course:--
"Quite permiscuous! Who'd ha' thought of it?
Who can guess what's going to be!
Whatever you fancy'll fall far short of it.
That's the way things 'appen with me!"
It seemed that this was the first occasion on which the audience had
had the privilege of hearing this chaste and simple production, and
nothing could exceed their frantic delight--the song was rapturously
re-demanded again and again. Tears stood in TIME's eyes, but they were
not the tears of excessive mirth; it was almost incredible--but the
"Mastodon Mome" had only succeeded in rendering his depression more
"A melancholy performance that," he said, shaking his head, "a sorry
piece of vulgar buffoonery, Sir!"
"Aren't you rather severe, Sir?" remonstrated _Mr. Punch_; "the song
is an immense hit--it has, as they say on this planet, 'knocked them;'
from henceforth that vocalist's fortune is made; he will receive the
income of a Cabinet Minister, and his fame will spread from planet
to planet. Why, to-morrow, Sir, that commonplace phrase, '_Quite
permiscuous! Who'd ha' thought of it_?' will be upon the lips of every
inhabitant; it will receive brevet-rank as a witticism of the first
order, it will enrich the language, and enjoy an immortality, which
will endure--ah, till the introduction of a newer catchword! I assure
you the most successful book--the wittiest comedy, the divinest
poem, have never won for their authors the immediate and sensational
reputation which this singer has obtained at a bound with a few
doggerel verses and an ungrammatical refrain. Isn't there genius in
"Ah!" said TIME, "I'm old-fashioned, I daresay. I'm no longer in the
movement. I might have been amused once by the story of a clandestine
tea-party and an outraged parent with a poker; I don't know. All I
_do_ know is, that I find it rather dreary at present. We'll drop in
at just one or two more places, Sir, and then go quietly home to bed,
eh?" They entered a few more Music Halls, and found the entertainment
at each pretty much alike; now and then, instead of songs about
mothers-in-law, domestic disagreements, and current scandals, they
were entertained by the spectacle of acrobats going through horrible
contortions, or women and little children performing feats high up
aloft to the imminent peril of life and limb.
"With _us_," said _Mr. Punch_, complacently, "there is a net stretched
below the performers."
"An excellent arrangement," said TIME; "and I suppose, if they _did_
happen to fall--"
"The spectators underneath would be to some extent protected," said
Then there were ballets, so glittering and gorgeous and interminable,
that poor old TIME dropped asleep more than once, in spite of the din
of the orchestra. At last, although several other places remained
to be visited, he broke down altogether. "To tell you the truth," he
said, "I've had about enough of it. At my age, Sir, the pursuit of
this sort of amusement is rather hard work. I'll do no more Music
Halls on this planet. But I tell you what I _will_ do. After all this
I want a little rational amusement. I want to be cheered up. Now when
will you take me round _your_ Music Halls, eh? Any evening will suit
me--shall we say Boxing Night?"
"_Not if I know it!_" was _Mr. Punch's_ internal reflection--but all
he said was, "'Boxing Night?' let me see, I'm going _somewhere_ on
Boxing Night, I know. Well, I'll look up my engagements when I get
home, and drop you a line."
"Do," said TIME--"mind you don't forget. I am sure we shall have
"Oh, capital," replied _Mr. Punch_, hurriedly--"capital--but now for
(excuse the paradox) the Land of the Sea."
And so again they started. But _Mr. Punch's_ presentiment will turn
out to be quite correct. He _will_ be unfortunately engaged on Boxing
Night, and so his tour of the terrestrial Music Halls with TIME will
be postponed _sine die_.
* * * * *
VISIT TO NEPTUNE.
In a very short time the two august travellers found themselves in
Neptune. To their surprise they learned that the planet consisted
entirely of land. They were met by one of the inhabitants in full
naval uniform, who heartily greeted them, promising to show them
everything his country contained.
"The only thing that must for the present be unexhibited is the sea,"
he concluded. "Truth to speak, we have lost sight of it, and the
disappearance has caused considerable inconvenience."
_Mr. Punch_ condoled with the son of Neptune, and asked what were the
chief amusements in the planet.
"Well, badgering the Engineers is considered excellent
sport--especially just now when their services are not absolutely
required. We snub them and underpay them, we refuse them the rank due
to them, and lead them a generally happy life! Nothing of that sort of
thing down below, I suppose?"
_Mr. Punch_ at the moment this question was put was probably thinking
of something else--at any rate he gave no answer.
"But this is about the best thing we have here," continued the
Resident, pointing to a scene recalling the traditional pictures of
Greenwich Fair, "the Royal Naval Exhibition. You see we have pictures
and models and fireworks. Everything connected with the Navy inclusive
of ladies' foot-ball."
"Ladies' foot-ball," echoed _Mr. Punch_, "why what has that to do with
"Pardon me, _Mr. Punch_," returned the Resident in a tone of
impatience, "but to-day you are certainly dense. Ladies' foot-ball is
entirely nautical. Are not the ladies, as they play it, quite at sea?"
The Sage of Fleet Street bowed, and admitted that second thoughts were
"And now you must really excuse me," continued the Resident, "for it
is my duty, as a director of the Royal Naval Exhibition to start the
donkey races. I suppose you have had nothing like our Exhibition down
"Nothing," returned the Sage.
"So I thought," was the reply. "If you have time, you can call upon
the Admiral Survival of the Fittest."
"Gentlemen," said that illustrious official, after they had entered
his bureau, "it is usual to salute me by tugging at your forelocks
and scraping the deck with your right feet. While you perform this
operation, you will notice that I will hitch up my trousers in true
"Oh, certainly," returned _Mr. Punch_, "Delighted! But, Admiral, isn't
that sort of thing a little old-fashioned?"
"And what of that, Sir? In spite of everything _we_ still have hearts
of oak. We have _not_ changed since the time of NELSON and Trafalgar.
We can still run up the rigging (there isn't any but that is an
unimportant detail) like kittens, and reef a sail (there's not one
left, but what does _that_ matter?) in a Nor-Wester as our ancestors
did before us. And if you don't believe me, go to any public dinner
when response is being made for the Navy."
"But if the ships have changed, would it not be better if the crews
had undergone an appropriate transformation?"
"We don't think so. But, there, it's no use palavering. Some day the
matter will be put to the test?"
"By a war?"
"No; by the Fleet starting for a cruise in calm weather. Some say we
should all go to the bottom. But I am talking of the Planet Neptune.
On your little Earth, I suppose, things are _very_ different?"
"Very," replied _Mr. Punch_. "_We_ have the Admiralty!"
And considering this an appropriate moment for departure, the Sage and
his Venerable Companion floated amongst the stars.
* * * * *
[Illustration: AMONG THE DRAMATIC AND OPERATIC STARS.
AIRY FAIRY LILIAN.
THE ONLY ADELINA.
THE GRASSHOPERATIC STAR.
THE SOCIETY CLOWN.
* * * * *
"It's wonderful!" exclaimed TIME. "We haven't got anything like this
"Plenty more where they come from," said his Guide Philosopher and
Friend; "but now just give me a lock of your hair, and I'll stand you
a fly through the artistic quarter."
And Mr. PUNCH, like Beauty, "drawing him with a single hair," carried
the Ancient Wanderer along with him, past galaxies of talent,
musical, dramatic, and operatic, refusing to stop and gratify the old
Gentleman's pardonable curiosity.
"I know I've got Time for it all," quoth the flying Sage, "but I
haven't space, that's where the difficulty is. As for Literary Stars,
from TENNYSON and SWINBURNE, to LANG, STEVENSON, BLACK, BESANT, and
our excellent friend, Miss BRADDON, with other novelists too numerous
to mention, we must leave our cards on them, pay a flying visit, and
just skirt the artistic quarter."
"There's the President!" exclaimed Old TIME.
"Ah! everyone knows _him_," said _Mr. Punch_--"artist and orator, and
ever a Grand Young Man, the flower of the Royal Academy."
"Sir JOHN, too," cried TIME.
"As fresh as his own paint is our MILLAIS," returned _Mr. Punch_.
"But 'on we goes again,' as the showman said, and you can pick out
for yourself the
master of a variety of other accomplishments, yclept HUBERT HERKOMER;
then the gay and gallant FILDES, the chiseler BOEHME, the big PETTIE,
the Flying, not the Soaring, Dutchman, TADEMA, the always-purchased
BOUGHT'UN, the gay dog POYNTER, Cavalier Sir JOHN GILBERT, and the
chivalric DON CALDERON! There's a galaxy for you, my boy! Can you
touch these on Earth?"
"Well," said TIME, slowly scratching the tip of his nose, "I fancy
I've heard of 'all the talents' before. Besides these, there are a few
more who are celebrated in black and white--"
"Rather!" cried _Mr. Punch_, enthusiastically. "My own dear boys, with
JOHN TENNIEL at their head. But they're all so busy just now that I
couldn't take up their time."
"But you're taking _me_ up," observed the aged T., slily.
"Quite so," returned his guide--who if, _per impossibile_, he ever
_could_ be old, would be "_the_ aged P.,"--and then giving another
tug at his companion's forelock, he cried, "On we goes again! We'll be
invisible for awhile, and I'll show you our 'ARRY in the clouds. You
remember IXION in Heaven, or as 'ARRY would call him, IXION in 'Eaven.
Now see 'ARRY dreamin' o' Goddesses. Here we go Up! Up! Up!"
And what happened is told by 'ARRY in the following letter.
[Illustration: "PHYLLIS IS MY ONLY JOY!"
QUEEN OF SONG.
THE JERSEY LILY.]
* * * * *
'ARRY'S VISIT TO THE MOON.
Dear CHARLIE,--I've bin on the scoop, and no error this time, my
I must tell yer my rounds; it's a barney I know you are bound to
Talk of _Zadkiel's Halmanack_, CHARLIE, JOHN KEATS, or the _Man
in the Moon_--
Yah! I've cut all _their_ records as clean as a comet would lick
'ARRY ain't no Astronomer, leastways I ain't never made it my mark
To go nap on star-gazing; I've mostly got other good biz arter dark.
But when _Mister Punch_ give me the tip 'ow he'd take poor old
TIME on the fly,
Wy I tumbled to it like a shot; 'ARRY's bound to be in it, sez I.
So I took on the Lockyers and Procters, and mugged up the planets
With their gods and their goddesses, likeways their thunderbolts,
tridents and cars.
I jogged on with old Jupiter, CHARLIE, and gave young Apoller
While as to DIANNER!--but there, that is jest wot you're going
It wos dry and a little bit dazing, this cram, and you won't
think it's odd
If yours truly got doosedly drowsy. In fact I wos napped on
But the way I got woke wos a wunner. Oh! CHARLIE, my precious
If you'd know wot's fair yum-yum, 'ook on to a genuine celestial
"_Smack!_" "Hillo!" sez I, starting sudden, "where ham I, and
wot's this 'ere game?"
Then a pair o' blue eyes looked in mine with a lime-lighty sort of
As made me feel moony immediate. "Great Pompey," thinks I, "here's
It's DIANNER by all that is proper, and as for Enjimmyun--that's
For I see a young person in--well, I ain't much up in classical
But she called it a "chlamys," I think. She'd a bow, and a couple
"Rayther forward and sportive young party," thinks I, Sandown-Parky
But pooty, and larky no doubt, so I tips her a wink and a smile.
"All right, Miss DIANNER," sez I. "You 'ave won 'em--the gloves--and
Wot size, Miss, and 'ow many buttons?" But she never lowered a lid,
And the red on her cheeks warn't no blush but a reglar indignant
Whilst the look from her proud pair of lamps 'it as 'ard and as
straight as a Krupp.
Brought me sharp to my bearings, I tell yer. "Young mortal," she sez,
"it is plain
An Enjimmyun is not to be found in the purlieus of Chancery Lane.
And that Primrose 'Ill isn't a Latmos. The things you call gloves I
Only buskins. But don't you be rude, or the fate of Actaeon you'll
I wosn't quite fly to her patter, but "mortal" might jest 'ave bin
From the high-perlite way she pernounced it, and plainly DIANNER
Struck me moony, her manner, did CHARLIE, she hypnertised me with
And the next thing I knowed I was padding the 'oof in a region of
Spooks, is bogies and ghostesses, CHARLIE, according to latter-day
And the place where DIANNER conveyed, me _was_ spooky, and spectral
"Where _are_ we, Miss, if I _may_ arsk?" I sez, orfully 'umbl for me.
Then she turns 'er two lamps on me sparkling. "Of course we're in
Limbo," sez she.
Didn't quite like the lay on it, CHARLIE, for Limbo sounds precious
But _she_ meant Lunar Limbo, dear boy, sort o' store-room, where
Out of date, foolish, faddy, and sech like, is kept like old curio
(Ef yer want to know more about Limbo, read Mr. POPE's _Rape of the
"So this 'ere is the Moon, Miss!" sez I. "Where's the Man there's
sech talk on downstairs?"
She looked at me 'orty. Thinks I, "You're a 'ot 'un to give yourself
I may level you down a bit later: The Man in the Moon, Miss," I adds.
Sez she, "We don't 'ave Men up here; they are most of them tyrants or
"Oh," sez I, "on the MONA CAIRD lay, eh, my lady?" Jest then, mate, I
And sees male-looking things by the dozen: but then they turned out
to be spooks.
There was TOLSTOI the Rooshian romancer, a grim-looking son of a gun,
Welting into young Cupid like scissors, and wallopping Hymen like fun.
Old Hymen looked 'orrified rayther; but as for young Arrers-and-'Arts,
_He_ turned up his nose at the old 'un, whilst all the gay donas and
Not to mention the matronly mivvies, were arter the boy with the bow,
Plainly looking on TOLSTOI and IBSEN as crackpots, and not in the know.
"Queer paper, my dear Miss DIANNER," sez I, "wot do _you_ think?" Sez
"A mere Vision of Vanities, mortal, of no speshal interest to me.
_I_ am not the keeper of Limbo, although it is found in my sphere.
Everything that's absurd and unnatural claims a clear right to come
"See, the latest Art-Hobbies are ambling about with their 'eads in the
And their riders are tilting like true toothpick paladins. SMUDGE over
Makes a bee-line for SCRATCH in this corner, whilst MUCK and the
Mawkish at odds,
Clash wildly, and Naturalism pink Sentiment painfully prods."
Then I twigged Penny WHISTLER's white plume, and the haddypose HOSCAR
His big hairy horryflame, CHARLIE, whilst Phillistines looked on and
I see Nature, as Narstiness, ramping at wot Nambypamby dubbed Nice,
And Twoddle parading as Virtue, and Silliness playing at Vice.
Here was pooty girls Primrosing madly, and spiling their tempers a lump,
By telling absurd taradiddles for some big political pump;
And there wos 'ard-mouthed middle-aged 'uns a shaking the Socherlist
And a ramping like tiger-cats tipsy around a rediklus red rag.
There wos patriots playing the clown, there was magistrates playing the
There wos jugginses teaching the trombone to kids at a bloomin' Board
"This is Free Hedgercation in Shindy," sez I. "They're as mad as March
All these Limboites, dear Miss DIANNER. We do it _much_ better
She smiled kinder scoffish, I fancied, and give 'er white shoulders a
Says she; "I've no comments to make. It's along of my friend _Mr. Punch_
Whom the whole Solar System obeys, and the Court of Olympus respects,
That I wait on you 'ere, Mister ARRY. Pray what would you like to see
"Well," sez I, with a glance at her gaiters, "I've heard you're a whale,
Miss, at Sport.
Do you 'know anythink' wuth my notice?" She gave me a look of a sort,
As I can't put in words, not exactly, a sort o' cold _scorch_,
That's a bit of a parrydocks p'raps; anyhow, it hurt wus than a blow.
But we went on the fly once agen--can't say 'ow it wos managed, but soon
We 'ad passed to a rum-looking region--the opposite side of the Moon,
Where no mortal afore had set foot, nor yet eyes, Miss DIANNER declared.
"Here's a Region of Sport!" sez the lady. Good Gracechurch Street, mate,
'ow I stared!
Seemed a sort of a blend-like of Hepsom, and Goodwood, and Altcar, mixed
With the old Epping 'Unt and new Hurlingham, thoughts of the Waterloo Cup,
Swell Polo and Pigeon-match tumbled about in my mind, while the din
Was like Putney Reach piled on a Prizefight, with Kennington Oval chucked
There wos toffs, fair top new 'uns, mixed hup with the welcher, the froth
with the scum;
There wos duchesses, proud as DIANNER, and she-things as sniffed of the slum;
There was "champions" thick as bluebottles, and plungers as plenty as peas,
With stoney-brokes, pale as a poultice, and "crocks," orful gone at the knees;
I see a whole howling mix-up of "mug" booky, dog-owner and rough,
A-watching of snaky-shaped hounds pelting 'ard 'after bits o' brown fluff,
I see--and the Sportsman within me began for to bubble and burn,
And I yelled, "O my hazure-horbed Mistress, can't you and me 'ave jest
We _did_, and my "Purdey Extractor" made play, though it ain't me to brag,
But somehow her arrers went straighter, and 'ers wos the heaviest bag.
"Let _me_ 'ave a try, Miss," sez I, "with that trifle from Lowther Arcade!"
I tried, and hit one of her dogs, as she didn't think sport I'm afraid.
The 'ound didn't seem much to mind it; immortal, I spose, like Miss D.;
Then we 'ad a slap arter the deer, and she'd very soon nailed two or three.
_I_ wos out of it, couldn't pot one, and it needled me orful, dear boy,
To be licked by a gal, _though_ a goddess, and armed with a archery toy!
Her togs wos a little bit quisby--for moors as ain't pitched in the Moon,
And _there wasn't no pic-nic, dear boy!_ I got peckish and parched pooty
_She_ lapped from a brook, and her hoptics went wide as a cop on the watch,
When I hinted around rayther square, _I_ should like a small drop of cold
Well, well; I must cut this yarn short. We'd a turn at Moon Sports like all
Wish I'd time to describe our Big Boar Hunt--DIANNER's pet pastime I found,
Can't say it was _mine_; bit too risky. Pigsticking in Ingy may suit
White Shikkarries or Princes, dear boy, but yer Boar is a nasty big brute.
Too much tusk for my taste! 'Owsomever DIANNER she speared him to rights,
And I dropped from the tree I'd shinned up when the boar had made tracks
for my tights.
"Bravo, Miss DIANNER!" I sez. "You are smart, for a gal, with that spear.
But didn't yer get jest a mossel alarmed--fur yer 'ARRY, my dear?"
Put it hamorous like, with a wink, snugging up to the lady, I did;
For she'd found a weak spot in my 'art, this cold classical gal, and no kid.
I'd been 'aving a pull at my flask, up that tree, and her pluck and blue eyes
Made me feel a bit spoony; in fact I was mashed. But, O wot a surprise!
"Alarmed? about _you_, Sir! And _why_?" sez DIANNER, with eyes all aflash,
I sez, "Don't yer remember Adonis, love, Venus's boar-'unting mash?
No wonder the lady felt fainty like; fear for a sweetheart, yer see.
And--well, if I'm not quite Adonis, _you found your Enjimmyun_ in _Me_!
"One more, only one, dear DIANNER," I sez. And I aimed for a kiss,
I made for her lips, a bee-line. But great snakes, my dear boy, wot a miss!
Hit me over the 'ed with her boar-spear, a spanker, she did, like a shot.
Don't you never spoon goddesses, CHARLIE; you'll find it a dashed sight
"Adonis!" she cried. "Nay, Actaeon! And his shall be also thy fate.
There is _Punch_ looking on, he'll approve!" And she jest set 'er dogs
on me, straight!
"Way-oh! Miss DIANNER!" I yells. "No offence! Don't be 'ard on a bloke!
Beg yer pardon, I'm sure!" Here a hound nipped my calf like a vice,
Leastways, I persoom it _wos_ waking, if 'tother was sleep and a dream,
But I feel a bit moon-struck, dear boy. Spooks abound, and things ain't
what they seem.
_Mister Punch_ sez, "it served me quite right." Well, next time
correspondence he'd carry
With satterlites, spesh'ly the Moon, he had better not drop upon 'ARRY.
"Poor fellow, I pity him," said _Mr. Punch_ to Father TIME, as
the pair passed away from the Lunar precincts together, bowing
courteously, and a little apologetically, to 'ARRY's late hostess,
who called off her dogs, and affably responded to their parting
salutation. "Fact is," pursued the Sage, "my young friend 'ARRY,
though smart and _fin de siecle_, in his way, is a little of 'the
earth, earthy,' and lacks both the adventurousness and the tact of
"I presume," said the Scythe-bearer, "our inter-planetary
peregrinations are now pretty nearly at an end--for this time?"
"We have yet one more visit to pay," said _Mr. Punch_.
At this moment, as the space-pervading trio fleeted forward, a strange
unusual effulgence grew to the eastward, and began to bathe them in
golden light. Miraculously metamorphic was its action upon the aerial
travellers. _Mr. Punch_ flung aside his hat and his "Immensikoff,"
and appeared as the Apollo-like personage he really is. TOBY's wings
expanded, and his pace mended. As for "Old Father TIME" himself, the
combined influence of the regenerating philtre in _Faust_, and the
fire-bath in _She_, could not more completely have transmogrified
him. His face brightened with youthfulness, his solitary forelock
bushed out into a wavy and hyacinthine hirsute crop, his ancient and
magician-like garments fell from him, his plumes expanded, until he
looked more like "the herald Mercury" than old Edax Rerum.
Then they swung, as on airy _trapeze_, or on wings of the thunder-bird
With the sound in their ears of the voice of the starry and sisterly
Did the orbs of splendiferous Sol give a wink as they ranged into
Was his genial mouth all alight with the flame of the friendliest
Hey, Presto! Great Scott! Transformation on DRURIOLANUS's stage
Was never so sudden as this! Who rides there as the Sun-God? The Sage!
The Great Hypnotiser! Utopia's lord! He Who Must Be Obeyed!
He whose Magical Spell is on Princes and Peoples, on Art and on Trade.
_Houp-la!_ Transformation tremendous! The round of the Planets we've
Some curious secrets unveiled, and some mysteries mighty unravelled.
_We manage things better on Earth!_ That's the formula! Sounds it
Was _Punch_ just a morsel sarcastic, his hosts just a trifle ironic?
At any rate, _Punch_ here explains to the World how to manage things
By purging Humanity's spirit, and snapping Hate's tyrannous fetter.
He'd Hypnotise Man into health, both of body and spirit, and out of
The follies, and vices, and greeds, and conceits. See the whole
Absurdities, Appetites, Antics, Antipathies, personal, national,
Driven before his bright Sun-Car! The Rule of the Rosily Rational
He would inaugurate, making Earth's atmosphere healthy as Thanet's,
_That_ Father TIME, is his aim; _that's_ the Moral of _Punch_ and the
Back to Full Books