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

Category: Politics

28th June 1914: Franz Ferdinand shot dead

With it being the two hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war, I thought that I would mark the occasion by going real time through the events that happened through the war, as chronicled by Punch.

It would of course be prudent for me to start at the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne whose death precipitated a series of events that lead to war the world over.

Yet, in Punch, the event scarcely makes a mention. In fact, by scarcely, I mean not at all.

With the benefit if hindsight, this seems like a glaring omission from the pages of Punch. In fact, regardless of the political backdrop, surely the assassination of any member of a European royal family should make major news?

This may well normally have been the case. There is, however, another enveloping crisis at the moment that is occupying much more interest in Punch. It is, of course, Irish home rule.

The situation here has rapidly been deteriorating of late. Later on, as we will see, civil war in the united kingdom seems to be the logical conclusion of the unfolding events.

As we know now, something rather large happened that distracted the country at large from the Ulster problem.

At the moment, however, the idea of a war in Europe is not being entertained. Certainly, diplomacy between the European nations is not at its best, but war in Europe – indeed, a world war – is utterly unthinkable.

So, unfortunately I don’t have an extract or cartoon for you pertaining to the second world war from Punch at all. Instead, I will provide you with this one, from around the time that the Archduke was murdered.


A guide to voter fraud


There hath been long wanting a full and perfect Synopsis of Voting, it being a science which hath become exceedingly complicated. It is necessary, therefore, to the full development of the art, that it be brought into such an exposition, as that it may be seen in a glance what are the modes of bribing and influencing in Elections. The briber, by this means, will be able to arrange his polling-books according to the different categories, and the bribed to see in what class he shall most advantageously place himself.

It is true that there be able and eloquent writers greatly experienced in this noble science, but none have yet been able so to express it as to bring it (as we hope to have done) within the range of the certain sciences. Henceforward, we trust it will form a part of the public education, and not be subject tot he barbarous modes pursued by illogical though earnest and zealous disciples; and that the great and glorious Constitution that has done so much to bring it to perfection, will, in its turn, be sustained and matured by the exercise of what is really in itself so ancient and beautiful a practice.


  • 1st. He that hath NOT A VOTE AND VOTETH; which may be considered,
    • 1st. As to his CLAIM, which is divisible into
      1. He that voteth for dead men.
      2. He that voteth for empty tenements.
      3. He that voteth for many men.
      4. He that voteth for men in the country, and the like.
    • 2nd. As to his MOTIVE, which is divisible into
      1. Because he hath a bet that he will vote.
      2. Because he loveth a lark.
      3. Because he LOVETH HIS COUNTRY.
        • [Here also may be applied all the predicates under the subjects BRIBING, HUMBUG, and PRINCIPLE.]
  • 2nd. He that hath A VOTE AND VOTETH NOT; which is divisible into
    • 1st. He that is PREVENTED from voting, which is divisible into
      1. He who is upset by a bribed coachman.
      2. He who is incited into an assault, that he may be put into the cage.
      3. He who is driven by a drunken coachman many miles the wrong way.
      4. He who is hocussed.
      5. He who is sent into the country for a holiday, and the like.
    • 2nd. He that FORFEITETH his vote, which is divisible into
      1. He who is too great a philosopher to care for his country.
      2. He who has not been solicited.
      3. He who drinketh so that he cannot go to the poll.
      4. He who is too drunk to speak at the poll.
      5. He who through over-zeal getteth his head broken.
      6. He who stayeth to finish the bottle, and is too late, and the like.
  • 3rd. He that hath A VOTE AND VOTETH; which is divisible into
    • 1st. He that voteth INTENTIONALLY, which is divisible into
      • 1st. He that voteth CORRUPTLY, which is divisible into
        • 1st. He that is BRIBED, which is divisible into
          • 1st. He that is bribed DIRECTLY, which is divisible into
            • 1st. He that receiveth MONEY, which may be considered as
              1. He that pretendeth the money is due to him.
              2. He that pretendeth it is lent.
              3. He who receiveth it as alms.
              4. He who receiveth it as the price of a venerated tobacco-pipe, a piece of Irish bacon, and the like.
            • 2nd. He that seeketh PLACE, which may be considered as
              1. He who asketh for a high situation, as a judgeship in Botany Bay, or a bishopric in Sierra Leone, and the like.
              2. He who asketh for a low situation, as a ticket-porter, curate, and the like.
              3. He who asketh for any situation he can get, as Secretary to the Admiralty, policeman, revising barrister, turnkey, chaplain, mail-coach guard, and the like.
            • 3rd. He that taketh DRINK, which may be considered as
              1. He that voteth for Walker’s Gooseberry, or Elector’s Sparkling Champagne.
              2. For sloe-juice, or Elector’s fine old crusted Port.
              3. He who voteth for Brett’s British Brandy, or Elector’s real French Cognac.
              4. He who voteth for quassia, molasses, copperas, coculus Indicus, Spanish juice, or Elector’s Extra Double Stout.
          • 2nd. He that is bribed INDIRECTLY, as
            1. He who is promised a government contract for wax, wafers, or the like.
            2. He who getteth a contract, for paupers’ clothing, building unions, and the like.
            3. He who furnisheth the barouches-and-four for the independent 40s. freeholders.
            4. He who is presented with cigars, snuffs, meerschaum-pipes, haunches of venison, Stilton-cheeses, fresh pork, pine-apples, early peas, and the like.
        • 2nd. He that is INTIMIDATED, as
          1. By his landlord, who soliciteth back rent, or giveth him notice to quit.
          2. By his patron, who sayeth they of the opposite politics cannot be trusted.
          3. By his master, who sayeth he keepeth no viper of an opposite opinion in his employ.
          4. By his wife, who will have her own way in hysterics.
          5. By his intended bride, who talketh of men of spirit and Gretna Green.
          6. By a rich customer, who sendeth back his goods, and biddeth him be d—d.
        • 3rd. He that is VOLUNTARILY CORRUPT, which may be considered as
          1. He who voteth from the hope that his party will provide him a place.
          2. He who voteth to please one who can leave him a legacy.
          3. He who voteth to get into genteel society.
          4. He who voteth according as he hath taken the odds.
          5. He who, being a schoolmaster, voteth for the candidate with a large family.
          6. He who voteth in hopes posterity may think him a patriot.
      • 2nd. He that voteth CONSCIENTIOUSLY, which is divisible into
        • 1st. He that voteth according to HUMBUG, which is divisible into
          • 1st. He that is POLITICALLY humbugged, which is divisible into
            • 1st. He has SOME BRAINS, as
              1. He who believeth taxes will be taken off.
              2. He who believeth wages will be raised.
              3. He who thinketh trade will be increased.
              4. He who studieth political economy.
              5. He who readeth newspapers, reviews, and magazines, and listeneth to lectures, and the like.
            • 2nd. He that has NO BRAINS, as
              1. He who voteth to support “the glorious Constitution,” and maintain “the envy of surrounding nations.”
              2. He who believeth the less the taxation the greater the revenue.
              3. He who attendeth the Crown and Anchor meetings, and the like.
          • 2nd. He that is MORALLY humbugged, as
            1. He who thinketh the Millennium and the Rads will come in together.
            2. He who thinketh that the Whigs are patriots.
            3. That the Tories love the poor.
            4. That the member troubleth himself solely for the good of his country.
            5. That the unions are popular with the paupers, and the like.
          • 3rd. He that is DOMESTICALLY humbugged, as
            1. He who voteth because the candidate’s ribbons suit his wife’s complexion.
            2. Because his wife was addressed as his daughter by the canvasser.
            3. Because his wife had the candidate’s carriage to make calls in, and the like.
            4. Because his daughter was presented with a set of the Prince Albert Quadrilles.
            5. Because the candidate promised to stand godfather to his last infant, and the like.
        • 2nd. He that voteth according to PRINCIPLE, which is divisible into
          • 1st. He whose principles are HEREDITARY, as
            1. He who voteth on one side because his father always voted on the same.
            2. Because the “Wrong-heads” and the like had always sat for the county.
            3. Because he hath kindred with an ancient political hero, such as Jack Cade, Hampden, the Pretender, &c., and so must maintain his principle.
            4. Because his mother quartereth the Arms of the candidate, and the like.
          • 2nd. He whose principles are CONVENTIONAL, as
            1. He who voteth because the candidate keepeth a pack of hounds.
            2. Because he was once insulted by a scoundrel of the same name as the opposite candidate.
            3. Because the candidate is of a noble family.
            4. Because the candidate laid the first brick of Zion Chapel, and the like.
            5. Because he knoweth the candidate’s cousin.
            6. Because the candidate directed to him—“Esq.”
          • 3rd. He whose principles are PHILOSOPHICAL, which may be considered as
            • 1st. He that is IMPARTIAL, as
              1. He that voteth on both sides.
              2. Because he tossed up with himself.
              3. He who loveth the majority and therefore voteth for him who hath most votes.
              4. Because he is asked to vote one way, and so voteth the other, to show that he is not influenced.
              5. Because he hateth the multitude, and so voteth against the popular candidate.
            • 2nd. He that is INDEPENDENT, as
              1. He who cannot be trusted.
              2. He who taketh money from one side, and voteth on the other.
              3. He who is not worth bribing.
              4. He who voteth against his own opinion, because his letter was not answered.
              5. He who, being promised a place last election, was deceived, and the like.
  • 2nd. He that voteth ACCIDENTALLY, which is divisible into
    • 1st. He that voteth through the BLUNDERS OF HIMSELF, which may be considered as
      1. He who is drunk, and forgetteth who gave him the bribe.
      2. He who goeth to the wrong agent, who leadeth him astray.
      3. He who is confused and giveth the wrong name.
      4. He who is bashful, and assenteth to any name suggested.
      5. He who promiseth both parties, and voteth for all the candidates, and the like.
    • 2nd. He that voteth through the BLUNDERS OF OTHERS, which may be considered as
      1. He who is mistaken for his servant when he is canvassed, and so incensed into voting the opposite way.
      2. He who is attempted to be bribed before many people, and so outraged into honesty.
      3. He who hath too much court paid by the canvasser to his wife, and so, out of jealousy, voteth for the opposite candidate.
      4. He who is called down from dinner to be canvassed, and being enraged thereat, voteth against his conviction.
      5. He who bringeth the fourth seat in a hackney-coach to him who keepeth a carriage and the like.

      (July 1841)

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)

You’ve got to love the house of commons

OMETHING really must be done to stop the practice of punning which has of late become so scandalously prevalent in Parliament. It is not very often that we wade through a debate, but when we do, we are sure to find it bristling with bad jokes, such as even the most shameless of burlesque writers would blush at.

How times have changed.

The reporters, we believe, do the utmost in their power to suppress such painful matter, and struggle nobly to preserve the reputation of our senators : but in spite of all their vigilance, scarcely ever a Times passes without affording the most melancholy proofs of the low state to which the wits of our “Collective Wisdom” are reduced. No sooner does a Member, get upon his legs than his aim seems that of making a JOE MILLER of himself. In point of fact, M.P. means Miserable Punster.

Touche, Punch.

Instead of keeping up the decent gravity of statesmen, our senators behave like a lot of Merry-Andrews, and seem to vie with one another as to who can show himself the most devoid of wit. Having duly screwed their courage up to punning point, they perpetrate, like circus clowns, the ancientest of jests : and so insane are the attempts at joking which are made, that the speakers seem less fitted for St. Stephen’s than St. Luke’s.

As we of course have no desire to nauseate our readers, we will but cite one extract from the evidence before us,

Aww… boo!

to show what grounds we have for making these assertions, and to prove with how much levity subjects the most weighty are commonly discussed. In a debate the other night upon the Civil Service Estimates) ME. CAYLEY is reported to have stooped to utter this :

“As to the talk about bad air, before they could hope to see any improvement in the ventilation of theHouse, he would say, with the venerable MRS. GLASSE, ‘ first catch your hare.’ (A laugh.)”

Just the one laugh? That’s not doing it justice.

Readers who survive this may incline to moot the point as to whether his constituents should not wait on MR. CAYLEY to demand from him some sort of explanation of his joke. The question also may be mooted, as to whether a committee should not sit upon such punsters, with the view of ascertaining the condition of their intellect, and requiring, on occasion, their acceptance of strait waistcoats and vacation of their seats.

What makes the matter worse (it puns so bad are capable of any pejoration), is that so far from condemning, the House laughs at the offenders, and weakly shakes its sides where it ought to shake its fist. Besides, as we have shown, the levities are not confined to matters of light consequence. The ventilation of the House is no joke to those who suffer from it; yet the CAYLEYS do not hesitate to try to make a joke of it. They trifle with it as though it were a “trifle light as air,” instead of being as it is, a “heavy blow and sore discouragement” to all the throats which are exposed to it.

We recoil with awe from fancying what HANSARD will grow like, unless some measures be devised to check this painful practice. Just conceive what wretched lives will be led by the reporters, when a debate upon a question of deep national momentousness such as the proposal of a peerage, or a pension, say, for Punch – is proceeded with in some such a facetious way as this:

A warning; they get worse.

“LORD PALMERSTON then rose, in pursuance of his notice, to move a vote of thanks to, and of confidence in, Punch. His Lordship said the claims of Punch were so well known, that no one but a spoon or a SPOONER was not conscious of them. (Hear!) Were he to mention, for example, how often Punch had saved the country he should merely be repeating what everybody knew: and though, as Premier, it was his place to be a watch upon the House, there in this case was no need for him to act as a repeater. (A laugh) He(LORD PALMERSTON) knew full well what Punch had done for him, and he trusted he knew better than to wish to ‘do for’ Punch. He proposed therefore, in order to lengthen Punch’s life, to present him with a pension, which would no doubt effect that purpose. (Hear!) Brevity, they knew, was called the soul of wit; but this was clearly a misnomer, for the soul of wit, in fact the sole wit, now was Punch, (hear, hear!) and, not being a lawyer, Punch had nothing of the brief about him. (Laughter.) People very often wished that so-called “wits” would cut it short: but so far from people wishing that Punch should be cut short every one who knew him longed to see him longer. Besides voting him their confidence which was a mere matter of course, the nation therefore plainly should present Punch with a pension (hear, hear !), which would ensure him a long life, and, there was no doubt, a merry one. (Cheers).

LORD JOHN RUSSELL had intended to play nothing but first fiddle, but his respect for Punch persuaded him to second his friend’s motion. (Hear!) He thought, though, that a pension was a worldly-minded present; and although no doubt a tribute which his friend would not decline (oh, oh!), still it was not one that was suited to a mind of more refinement, such as his (LORD JOHN’S), or as he dared say, that of Punch. (Hear!) He begged therefore to propose the erection of a statue (oh, oh .’) as a gift more in accordance with our ancient British usage, which when an author wanted bread made him the present of a stone. (Question! and cries of ‘name!’) Now Punch was not in want of bread, and bread therefore was not kneaded (the noble Lord pronounced this so that thirteen Members tittered); but the erection of a statue was strictly constitutional, and would show that, as regards our rewards to men of genius, we did as our ancestors, and were still in statue quo. (Laughter.)”

SIR BULWEH LYTTON said, that speaking for himself, he agreed that writers now-a-days were not in knead of bread. (A laugh.) But when we make a man a statue, he became a sort of butt, and another sort of butt would be a more befitting present. To use the language of antiquity, he would just remind his hearers that Gloria claret. Claret, glorious old claret, clarified the wits, and a butt of claret therefore was a fitting gift for Punch. (Hear!) MR. ROEBUCK said his tastes inclined to something sourer. He would say with HORACE, ‘Hock erat in Fotis.’ His advice to Punch was, in two words, ‘Accipe Hock.’

” MR. HADFIELD remarked, that he had learned another bit of Latin when at school, and his imbibing it ad biassed his bibations ever since. He had forgotten whether JUVENAL or HOMER were the author, but the quotation, he remembered, ran in these three words, ‘Fortiter occupa portum,’ which, as he translated it, meant ‘Stick to Forty Port!’ He proposed the presentation of a pipe of this to Punch, as the pilot who so often, when the Government were all at sea, had brought them into port. (Cheers.) An honourable Member, whose name we could not catch, recommended the addition of a ton of prime cigars, on the ground of the old axiom, ‘Exfitmo dare lucem,’ meaning that Punch ‘can draw enlightenment even from his smoke.

” MR. DISRAELI had no wish that the debate should end in smoke. (Laughter.) As a literary man, he wished to see his friend Punch well rewarded for his works (cheers) and he agreed with his friend PAM (who, though he was not of the craft, knew more of its requirements than his friend JOHNNY, who was), that to a well-read man of letters there were no letters more grateful than the trio £. s. d. (A laugh.) ” MR. BRIGHT observed, that this was a blunt way of putting it (laughter), but being a plain man he was a lover of plain speaking. As a business man, he always kept a sharp eye for the blunt (great laughter), and he for one would not refuse a pension were it offered him. ‘Hold thyself ever ready for the pouching of the ready’ was a maxim which was taught him in his copybook at school, and he had no doubt that friendPunch, being a rather downy bird, was equally well tip in it. (Laughter.)”

MR,. COBDEN was proposing at once to clench the matter, by voting Punch a pension of the yearly sum of [Blank],* when-

“MR. VISCOUNT VILLIAMS interrupted with some warmth. Such a waste of public money, he for one, would never sanction. (Oh, oh!) What need was there to talk of giving anything at all? Virtue, as they all knew, was its own reward (question!), and needed no other recognition of his work. However, if the nation insisted on the sacrifice, he (MR. WILLIAMS) would riot object to sanction some less costly formof tribute. As blending use with ornament, he would suggest the on of a penny china mug, with the inscription, ‘For a Good Boy printed round the rim. (Oh, Oh, and a laugh)”

Several members rose in wrath at the economist’s suggestion, and the question of the pension being left to a committee, the vote of confidence and thanks was unanimously passed. The House adjourned atmidnight, and as the Big Bell then struck one, some Member made remark that it was striking twelve ‘like one o’clock.

* Our modesty forbids us to mention the amount. ED.

What was this about “having no desire to nauseate our readers”?

Anyway, what Punch is getting at, in a rather oblique way, is that we wouldn’t have it any other way. Certainly the house doesn’t seem to have changed since 1859; in fact it’s probably “worse”.

(27th August, 1859)

Think the army is underfunded?

It’s January 1855, and Punch is writing an open letter to a major colonel (as in, an important colonel). Its entitled “WHAT THE COUNTRY IS COMING TO ?”


I HOPE you read the Press of the 30th ult. Otherwise it will be my painful duty to inflict a dreadful shock upon you for the first time, by calling your attention to the following extract from that journal

“The Opiairme of Turin states from Berne, that orders have been received there for the manufacture of 20,000 wooden shoes for the English troops in the Crimea.”

Naturally, Punch is aghast.

WOODEN SHOES ! JOHN BULL in wooden shoes ! ! English soldiers to wear wooden shoes ! ! !

The emphasis is original, I might add.

Suppose anybody had told us, in our young days, that the time would come when we should see the British Grenadier marching in wooden shoes ! Should we not have scouted the bare suggestion as too treasonable to be mentioned ?

Has it come to this? WOODEN SHOES FOR THE ARMY ! Like yourself, my dear COLONEL, I have every possible respect for our Allies, but not certainly, to the extent of even dreaming of putting our foot in wooden shoes!

Steady now, Punch.

Of course you will impeach Ministers for the glaring violation of the Constitution which they have been guilty of  introducing these alien elements into HER MAJESTY’S service. What next? Of course, if unimpeded in their traitorous measure of supplying our soldiers in the Crimea with wooden shoes, they will forthwith proceed to feed the brave fellows with frogs. The use of those reptiles for food would then soon be prescribed to the whole army including the militia: and the first regiment of that constitutional force which would he placed on such rations would probably be that which could so readily be supplied with them from the fens of Lincolnshire. A word is enough to men like the Colonel of that regiment : who will not neglect the hint of his affectionate


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