A daily excerpt from a a historical edition of Punch – the greatest satirical magazine in history

Category: Human rights

Prison reform in 1841 and now

There is one portion of the [Punch puppet] drama we wish was omitted, for it always saddens us—we allude to the prison scene. PUNCH, it is true, sings in durance, but we hear the ring of the bars mingling with the song. We are advocates for the correction of offenders; but how many generous and kindly beings are there pining within the walls of a prison, whose only crimes are poverty and misfortune! They, too, sing and laugh, and appear jocund, but the heart can ever hear the ring of the bars.

We never looked upon a lark in a cage, and heard him trilling out his music as he sprang upwards to the roof of his prison, but we felt sickened with the sight and sound, as contrasting, in our thought, the free minstrel of the morning, bounding as it were into the blue caverns of the heavens, with the bird to whom the world was circumscribed. May the time soon arrive, when every prison shall be a palace of the mind—when we shall seek to instruct and cease to punish. PUNCH has already advocated education by example. Look at his dog Toby! The instinct of the brute has almost germinated into reason. Man has reason, why not give him intelligence?

Here’s the news from a couple of days ago,

www.guardian.co.uk screen capture 2013-1-29-13-29-56(July 1841)


Oh, those silly Suffragettes

It is frequently said that, if the suffragettes were to drop their militant tactics, the suffrage would be granted tomorrow. A suffragette now wants to stigmatise this as a hypocritical misstatement. She points out that the experiment was tried of allowing an entire day to pass without an outrage, but not a single vote was granted.

(July 22nd, 1914)

I have heard it said that in a way, the suffragettes are the actually the most successful of any campaign group that used militant tactics. I’m not saying that they were successful because of it, but they certainly got what they wanted in the end.

Women! Use your vote

Female Compensation.

WOMAN is not allowed a vote, and the consequence is, that she tries all she can to influence as much as possible the votes of others. The strongest argument that we know in favour of Vote by Ballot is, that it is likely to protect the husband from the wife. Many a Free and Independent Elector has abstained from voting altogether, because he has not dared, in consequence of female intimidation, to call his vote his own.

It saves nagging the husband to do so.

(16th July 1859)

Strikes are not as fun as they sound

(5th November 1859)

Ah, Fanny! How long have you been Gay?

It’s one of those happy coincidences that this cartoon takes a whole new meaning now that the word “Gay” has been redefined.

It is rather unfortunate, however, that “fanny” has also taken on a rather different meaning too.

(September 27th, 1857)

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