Mr. Punch. “Now then, my lads! All together for once! – Christmas time, you know!!”
Extract and image from Punch Volume 92 (1887) – ‘Punch, or the London Charivari’, December 24th 1887
(Dickens once again adapted to the Season and the Situation)
High up in the steeple of an old old Tower, of ancient foundation, somewhat incongruous and complicated in design, but of sound Constitution – as everybody, even the angriest campanological opponents, admitted – far above the light and the noise of the town, if far below the flying clouds that shadow it, dwelt the Chimes I tell of.
They were old Chimes trust me. Centuries ago those Bells had been hung by our ancestors, so many centuries ago, that the register of their first suspension, the record of their first peal, was lost in antiquarian mist as impenetrable as the darkness of the belfry corners on a starless November night. They had had their donors and sponsors, these Bells; but time had mowed down their donors, and mislaid the names of their sponsors, and they now hung nameless and dateless, but sound and sonorous to all winds, Party or otherwise, that have blown or that shall blow.
Not speechless though. Far from it. They had clear, loud, lusty, sounding voices, had these bell; and far and wide they might be heard upon the wind. Much too sturdy Chimes, moreover, were they, to be dependent upon the mere pleasure of the wind, of any of the winds – Party or otherwise – aforementioned. They had been fully, often awkwardly and ill; sometimes in tune, and with the well-ordered harmony which was natural to them; sometimes again, wildly and wilfully, by incompetent or angry ringers, ringers ill-matched and ill-accordant, who did their worst to mar their melody and spoil their tunefulness, and upset their time, and make them sound, in the great Singer’s words:-
“Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune, and harsh.” …
PUNCH, also named The London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 1850s, when it helped to coin the term “cartoon” in its modern sense as a humorous illustration. After the 1940s, when its circulation peaked, it went into a long decline, closing in 1992. It was revived in 1996, but closed again in 2002.
The PUNCH volumes are part of our 19th Century Collection. You can find this volume and other PUNCH volumes here.