The following script was first published as the major part of an interview of a London Punchman by Henry Mayhew. There are many asides and explanations by the Punchman woven into the text. The layout and general look of this excerpt from the 1851 interview is a fairly close approximation of the original. The grammar,spelling, and punctuation are also faithful to the original.
Mayhew described the Punchman as a short, dark, pleasant-looking man, dressed in a very greasy and very shiny green shooting jacket....Protruding from his bosom, a corner of the pandean pipes was just visible, and as he told me the story of his adventures, he kept playing with the band of his very limp and very rusty old beaver hat.
What follows begins with this Punchman's description of his Frame and Proscenium and gradually evolves into a detailed recounting of his script. The complete interview appears in London Labour and the London Poor, 1851 reprints of which are readily available in most anitquarian and out-of-print bookshops and in good libraries.
Punch. What a sweet creature! what a handsome nose and chin!
(He pats her on the face very gently.)
Judy. (Slapping him.) Keep quiet, do!
Punch. Don't be cross, my dear, but give me a kiss.
Judy. Oh, to be sure, my love. [They kiss.
Punch. Bless your sweet lips! (Hugging her.) This is melting moments. I'm very fond of my wife; we must have a dance.
Judy. Agreed. [They both dance.
Punch. Get out of the way! you don't dance well enough for me.
(He hits her on the nose.) Go and fetch the baby, and mind and take care of it, and not hurt it. [Judy exaunts.
Judy. (Returning back with baby.) Take care of the baby, while I go and cook the dumplings.
Punch. (Striking Judy with his right hand.) Get out of the way!
I'll take care of the baby. [Judy exaunts.
Punch (sits down and sings to the baby)-
'Hush-a-by, baby, upon the tree-top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
Down comes the baby and cradle and all.'
Punch. (Shaking it.) What a cross boy (He lays it down on the playboard, and rolls it backwards and forwards, to rock it to sleep, and sings again.)
'Oh. slumber, my, darling, thy sire is a knight,
Thy mother's a lady so lovely and bright;
The hills and the dales, and the tow'rs which you see,
They all shall belong, my dear creature, to thee.
(Punch continues rocking the child. It still cries, and he takes it up in his arms, saying, What a cross child! I can't a-bear cross children. Then he vehemently shakes it, and knocks its head up against the side of the proceedings several times, representing to kill it, and he then throws it out of the winder.)
Judy. Where's the baby?
Punch. (In a melancholy tone.) I have had a misfortune; the child was so terrible cross, I throwed it out of the winder. (Lemontation of Judy for the loss of her dear child. She goes into asterisks, and then excites and fetches a cudgel, and commences beating Punch over the head.)
Punch. Don't be cross, my dear: I didn't go to do it.
Judy. I'll pay yer for throwing the child out of the winder. (She keeps on giving him knocks of the head, but Punch snatches the stick away and commences an attack upon his wife, and beats her severely.)
Judy. I'll go to the constable, and have you locked up.
Punch. Go to the devil. I don't care where you go. Get out of the way! (Judy exaunts, and Punch then sings, 'Cherry ripe,' or 'Cheer, boys, cheer.' All before is sentimental, now this here's comic. Punch goes through his roo-too-to-rooey, and then the Beadle comes up.)
Beadle. Hi! hello, my boy!
Punch. Hello, my boy. (He gives him a wipe over the head with his stick, which knocks him down, but he gets up again.)
Beadle. Do you know, sir, that I've a, special order in my pocket to take you up?
Punch. And I've a special order to knock you down. (He knocks him down with simplicity, but not with brutality, for the juvenial branches don't like to see severity practised.)
Beadle. (Coming up again.) D'ye know, my boy, that I've an order to take you up?
Punch. And I've an order I tell ye to knock you down. (He sticks him. Punch is a tyrant to the Beadle, ye know, and if he was took up, he wouldn't go through his rambles, so in course he isn't.)
Beadle. I've a warrant for you, my boy.
Punch. (Striking him.) And that's a warrant for you, my boy. (The Beadle's a determined man, ye know, and resolved to go to the ends of justice as far as possible in his power by special authority, so a quarrel enshoos between them.)
Beadle. You are a blackguard.
Punch. So are you.
(The Beadle hits Punch on the nose, and takes the law in his own hands. Punch takes it up momentary; strikes the Beadle, and a fight enshoos. The Beadle, faint and exhausted, gets up once more; then he strikes Punch over the nose, which is returned pro and con.)
Beadle. That's a good 'un.
Punch. That's a better.
Beadle. That's a topper. (He hits him jolly hard.)
Punch. (With his cudgel.) That's a wopper. (He knocks him out of his senses, and the Beadle exaunts.)
Enter MERRY CLOWN
Punch sings 'Getting up Stairs,' in quick time, while the Clown is coming up. Clown dances round Punch in all directions, and Punch with his cudgel is determined to catch him if possible.
Clown. No bono, allez tooti sweet, Mounseer. Look out sharp! Make haste! catch 'em alive! Here we are! how are you? good morning! don't you wish you may get it? Ah! coward, strike a white man! (Clown keeps bobbing up and down, and Punch trying to hit all the time till Punch is exhausted nearly.)
(The Clown, ye see, sir, is the best friend to Punch, he carries him through all his tricks, and he's a great favorite of Punch's. He's too cunning for him though, and knows too much for him, so they both shake hands and make it up.)
Clown. Now it's all fair; ain't it, Punch?
Clown. Now I can begin again.
(You see., sir. the Clown gets over Punch altogether by his artful ways, and then begins the same tricks over again; that is, if we wants a long performance; if not, we cuts it off at the other pint. But I'm telling you the real original style, sir.)
Clown. Good! you can't catch me.
(Punch gives him one whack of the head, and Clown exaunts, or goes off.)
Enter JIM CROW
Jim sings 'Buffalo Gals,' while coming up, and on entering Punch hits him a whack of the nose backhanded, and almost breaks it.
Jim. What for you do that? Me nigger! me like de white man. Him did break my nose.
Punch. Humbly beg your pardon, I did not go to help it.
(For as it had been done, you know, it wasn't likely he could help it after he'd done it-he couldn't take it away from him again, could he?)
Jim. Me beg you de pardon. (For ye see, sir, he thinks he's offended Punch.) Nebber mind, Punch, come and sit down, and we'll hab a song.
JIM CROW prepares to sing
Punch. Bravo, Jimmy! sing away, my boy- give us a stunner while you're at it.
'I'm a roarer on the fiddle,
Down in the ole Virginny;
And I plays it scientific.
Like Master Paganinni'
Punch. (Tapping him on the head.) Bravo! well done, Jimmy!
give us another bit of a song.
Jim. Yes, me will. [Sings again.
'Oh, lubly Rosa, Sambo come;
Don't you hear the banjo?
Jim hits Punch with his head over the nose, as if butting at him, while he repeats tum-tum-tum. Punch offended, beats him with the stick, and sings-
'Lubly Rosa, Sambo come;
Don't you hear the banjo?
Tum, tum, tum!
Jim. (Rising.) Oh mi! what for you strike a nigger? (Holding up his leg.) Me will poke your eye out. Ready-shoot-bang-fire. (Shoves his leg into Punch's eye.)
Punch. He's poked my eye out! I'll look out for him for the future.
Jim Crow excites, or exaunts. Exaunt we calls it in our purfession, sir,-that's going away, you know. He's done his part, you know, and ain't to appear again.
Judy has died through Punch's ill usage after going for the Beadle, for if she'd done so before she couldn't ha' fetched the constable, you know,- certainly not. The beholders only believe her to be dead though, for she comes to life again afterwards; if she was dead, it would do away with Punch's wife altogether-for Punch is dotingly fond of her, though it's only his fun after all's said and done.
The Ghost, you see, is only a representation, as a timidation to soften his bad morals, so that he shouldn't do the like again. The Ghost, to be sure, shows that she's really dead for a time, but it's not in the imitation; for if it was, Judy's ghost (the figure) would be made like her.
The babby's lost altogether. It's killed. It is supposed to be destroyed entirely, but taken care of for the next time when called upon to perform--as if it were in the next world, you know,- that's moral.
Punch sings meanwhile 'Home, sweet Home.' (This is original). The Ghost represents the ghost of Judy, because he's killed his wife, don't you see, the Ghost making her appearance; but Punch don't know it at the moment. Still he sits down tired, and sings in the corner of the frame the song of 'Home, sweet Home,' while the Sperrit appears to him.
Punch turns round and sees the Ghost, and is most terribly timidated. He begins to shiver and shake in great fear, bringing his guilty conscience to his mind of what he's been guilty of doing, and at last he falls down in a fit of frenzy. Kicking, screeching, hollaring, and shouting 'Fifty thousand pounds for a doctor!' Then he turns on his side, and draws hisself double with the screwmatics in his gills.
Punch is represented to be dead. This is the dying speech of Punch.
Doctor. Dear me! Bless my heart! Here have I been running as fast ever I could walk, and very near tumbled over a straw. I heard somebody call most lustily for a doctor. Dear me (looking at Punch in all directions, and examining his body), this is my pertickler friend Mr. Punch; poor man! how pale he looks! I'll feel his pulse (counts his pulse)- l, 2, 14, 9, 11. Hi! Punch, are you dead? are you dead? are you dead?
Punch. (Hitting him with his right hand over the nose, and knocking him back.) Yes.
Doctor. (Rubbing his nose with his hand.) I never heard a dead man speak before. Punch, you are not dead!
Punch. Oh, yes I am.
Doctor. How long have you been dead?
Punch. About six weeks.
Doctor. Oh, you're not dead, you're only poorly; I must fetch you a little reviving medicine, such as some stick-lickerish and balsam, and extract of shillalagh.
Punch. (Rising.) Make haste-(he gives the Doctor a wipe on the nose)- make haste and fetch it.
Punch. The Doctor going to get me some physic! I'm very fond of brandy-and-water, and rum-punch. I want my physic; the Doctor never brought me no physic at all. I wasn't ill; it was only my fun. (Doctor reappears with the physic-stick, and he whacks Punch over the head no harder than he is able, and cries) -'There's physic! physic! physic! physic! physic! Pills! balsam! sticklickerish!'
Punch. (Rising and rubbing his head against the wing.) Yes; it is sticklickerish.
(Ah! it's a pretty play, sir, when it's showed well - that it is - it's delightful to read the morals; I am werry fond of reading the morals, I am.)
Punch. (Taking the stick from the Doctor.) Now, I'll give you physic! physic! physic! (He strikes at the Doctor, but misses him every time.) The Doctor don't like his own stuff.
Punch. (Presenting his stick, gun-fashion, at Doctor's head.) I'II shoot ye- one, two, three.
Doctor. (Closing with Punch.) Come to gaol along with me.
(He saves his own life by closing with Punch. He's a desperate character is Punch, though he means no harm, ye know.) A struggle enshoos, and the Doctor calls for help, Punch being too powerful for him.
Doctor. Come to gaol! You shall repent for all your past misdeeds. Help! assistance! help, in the Queen's name!
(He's acting as a constable, the Doctor is, though he's no business to do it; but he's acting in self-defence. He didn't know Punch, but he'd heard of his transactions, and when he came to examine him, he found it was the man. The Doctor is a very sedate kind of a person, and wishes to do good to all classes of the community at large, especially with his physic, which he gives gratis for nothink at all. The physic is called "Head-e-cologne, or a sure cure for the head-ache.")
Re-enter Beadle. (Punch and the Doctor still struggling together.)
Beadle. (Closing with them.) Hi, hi! this is him; behold the head of a traitor! Come along! come to gaol!
Punch. (A-kicking.) I will not go, help!
Beadle. (Shouting.) More help! more help! more help! more help!
Come along to gaol! come along! come along! More help! more help!
(Oh! it's a good lark just here, sir, but tremendous hard work, for there's so many figures to work- and all struggling, too,- and you have to work them all at once. This is comic, this is.)
Beadle. More help! be quick! be quick!
Re-enter JIM CROW
Jim Crow. Come de long! come de long; come de long! me nigger,
and you beata me
[Exaunts all, Punch still singing out, 'I'll not go.'
END OF FIRST ACT
Change of Scene for Second Act
Scene draws up, and discovers the exterior of a prison, with
Punch peeping through the bars, and singing a merry song of the
merry bells of England, as of the olden time, (That's an olden
song, you know; it's old ancient, and it's a moral-a moral song,
you know, to show that Punch is repenting, but pleased, and yet
don't care nothink at all about it, for he's frolicsome, and on the
height of his frolic and amusement to all the juveniles, old and
young, rich and poor. We must put all classes together.)
Enter Hangman Jack Ketch, or Mr. GRABALL
(That's Jack Ketch's name, you know; he takes all, when they gets in his clutches. We mustn't blame him for he must do his duty, for the sheriffs is so close to him.)
[Preparations commences for the execution of Punch. Punch is still looking through the bars of Newgate.
The last scene as I had was Temple-bar Scene; it was a prison once, ye know; that's the old ancient, ye know, but I never let the others see it, cos it shouldn't become too public. But I think Newgate is better, in the new edition, though the prison is suspended, it being rather too terrific for the beholder. It was the old ancient style; the sentence is passed upon him, but by whom not known; he's not tried by one person, cos nobody can't.
Jack Ketch. Now, Mr. Punch, you are going to be executed by the British and Foreign laws of this and other countries, and you are to be hung up by the neck until you are dead - dead - dead.
Punch. What, am I to die three times?
Jack. No, no; you're only to die once.
Punch. How is that? you said I was to be hung up by the neck
till I was dead - dead - dead? You can't die three times.
Jack. Oh, no; only once.
Punch. Why, you said dead - dead - dead.
Jack. Yes: and when you are dead - dead - dead - you will be quite dead.
Punch. Oh! I never knowed that before.
Jack. Now, prepare yourself for execution.
Punch. What for?
Jack. For killing your wife, throwing your dear little innocent baby out of the window, and striking the Beadle unmercifully over the head with a mop-stick. Come on.
[Exaunt Hangman behind Scene, and re-enter, leading Punch slowly forth to the foot of the gallows. Punch comes most willingly, having no sense.
Jack. Now, my boy, here is the corfin, here is the gibbet, (and here is the pall.
Punch. There's the corfee-shop, there's giblets, and there's St. Paul's.
Jack. Get out, young foolish! Now then, place your head in here.
Punch. What, up here?
Jack. No; a little lower down.
(There's quick business in this, you know; this is comic - a little comic business, this is.)
Punch. (Dodging the noose.) What, here?
Jack. No, no; in there (showing the noose again.)
Punch. This way?
Jack. No, a little more this way; in there.
[Punch falls down, and pretends he's dead.
Jack. Get up, you're not dead.
Punch. Oh, yes I am.
Jack. But I say, no.
Punch. Please, sir, (bowing to the hangman) - (Here he's an hypocrite; he wants to exempt himself,) - do show me the way, for I never was hung before, and I don't know the way. Please, sir, do show me the way, and I'll feel extremely obliged to you, and return you my most sincere thanks.
(Now, that's well worded, sir; it's well put together; that's my beauty, that is; I am obliged to study my language, and not have anything vulgar whatsoever. All in simplicity, so that the young children may not be taught anything wrong. There aren't nothing to be learnt from it, because of its simplicity.)
Jack. Very well; as you're so kind and condescending, I will certainly oblige you by showing you the way. Here, my boy! now, place your head in here, like this (hangman putting his head in the noose); this is the right and the proper way; now, you see the rope is placed under my chin; I'll take my head out, and I will place yours in (that's a rhyme) and when your head is in the rope, you must turn round to the ladies and gentlemen, and say - Good-by; fare you well.
(Very slowly then - a stop between each of the words; for that's not driving the people out of the world in quick haste without giving 'em time for repentance. That's another moral, yer see. Oh, I like all the morals to it.)
Punch (quickly pulling the rope). Good-bye; fare you well. (Hangs the hangman.) (What a hypocrite he is again, yer see, for directly he's done it he says: "Now, I'm free again for frolic and fun"; calls Joey, the clown, his old friend, because they're both full of tricks and antics: "Joey, here's a man hung hisself": - that's his hypocrisy again, yer see, for he tries to get exempt after he's done it hisself.)
Enter Clown, in quick haste, bobbing up against the gallows.
Clown. Dear me, I've run against a milk-post! Why, dear Mr. Punch, you've hung a man! do take him down! How came you to do it?
Punch. He got wet through, and I hung him up to dry.
Clown. Dear me! why you've hung him up till he's dried quite dead!
Punch. Poor fellow! then he won't catch cold with the wet. Let's put him in this snuff-box. [Pointing to coffin.
[Joe takes the figure down and gives it to Punch to hold, so as the body do not turn away, and then proceeds to remove the gallows. In doing so he by accident hits Punch on the nose.
Punch. Mind what you are about! (for Punch is game, yer know, right through to the back-bone.)
Clown. Make haste, Punch, here's somebody a-coming! (They hustle his legs and feet in; but they can't get his head in, the undertaker not having made the coffin large enough.)
Punch. We'd better double him up, place the pall on, and take the man to the grave, - not the grave, but the brave: cos he's been a brave man in his time maybe. - Sings the song of "Bobbing around," while with the coffin he bobs Joey on the head, and exaunt.
Punch. That was a jolly lark, wasn't it?
'I'd be a butterfly in a bower.
Making apple-dumplings without any flour.'
All this wit must have been born in me, or nearly so; but I got a good lot of it from Porsini and Pike - and gleanings, you know.
[Punch disappears and re-enters with. bell.
Punch. This is my pianner-sixty: it plays fifty tunes all at one time.
[Goes to the landlord of the public-house painted on the side-scene, or cottage, represented as a tavern, or hotel. The children of the publican are all a-bed. Punch plays up a tune and solicits for money.
Landlord wakes up in a passion through the terrible noise; pokes his head out of window and tells him to go away.
(There's a little window, and a little door to this side-scene.) If they was to play it all through, as you're a writing, it 'ud open Drury-lane Theatre.
Punch. Go away? Yes, play away! Oh, you means, O'er the hills and far away. (He misunderstands him, wilfully, the hypocrite.)
[Punch keeps on ringing his bell violently. Publican, in a violent passion, opens the door, and pushes him away, saying, 'Be off with you'].
Punch. I will not. (Hits him over the head with the bell.) You're no judge of music. (Plays away.)
Publican exaunts to fetch cudgel to pay him out. Punch no sooner sees cudgel than he exaunts, taking his musical instrument with him. It's far superior to anything of the kind you did ever see, except "seldom." Yoy know it's silver, and that's what we says "seldom"; silver, you know is "seldom" because it's seldom you sees it.
Publican comes out of his house with his cudgel to catch old Punch on the grand hop. Must have a little comic.
Punch returns again with his bell, while publican is hiding secretly for to catch him. Publican pretends, as he stands in a corner, to be fast asleep, but keeps his eyes wide awake all the while, and says, "If he comes up here, I'll be one upon his tibby."
Punch comes out from behind the opposite side, and rings his bell violently. Publican makes a blow at him with his cudgel, and misses, saying, 'How dare you intrude upon my premises with that nasty, noisy bell!'
Punch, while publican is watching at this side-scene, appears over at the other, with a hartful dodge, and again rings his bell loudly, and again the publican misses him; and while publican is watching at this side-scene, Punch re-enters, and draws up to him very slowly, and rests his pianner - sixty on the board, while he slowly advances to him, and gives him it whack on the head with his fist. Punch then disappears, leaving his bell behind, and the Landlord in pursession of his music.)
Landlord (collaring the bell). Smuggings! prusession is nine points of the law! So this bell is mine, (guarding over it with a stick). Smuggings! this is mine, and when he comes up to take this bell away, I shall have him. Smuggings! it's mine.
Punch re-enters very slowly behind the publican as he is watching the bell, and snatching up the bell, cries out, 'That's mine,' and exaunts with it.
Publican. Dear me! never mind; I look after him; I shall catch him some day or other. (Hits his nose up against the post as he is going away.) (That's comic.) Oh, my nose! never mind, I'll have him again some time.
CLOWN re-enters with Punch
Clown. Oh, Punch, how are you?
Punch. I'm very glad to see you. Oh, Joey, my friend, how do you do?
Clown. Here, Punch, are you a mind for a lark? (Peeping in at the cottage window, represented as a public house.) Are you hungry, Punch would you like something to eat?
Clown. What would you like?
Punch. Not peculiar.
(Not particular, he means, you know; that's a slip word.)
Clown. I'll go up, to the landlord, and see if he's got anything to eat. (exaunt into cottage, and poking his head out of the window.) Here, Punch; here's the landlord fast asleep in the kitchen cellar; here's a lot of sausages hanging up here. (Joey's a-thieving; don't you see, he's a robbing the landlord now ) Would you like some for supper, eh, Punch?
Punch. Yes, to be sure.
Clown. Don't make a noise; you'll wake the landlord.
Punch (whispering as low as he can bawl through the window). Hand' em out here. (Punch pulls them out of the window.)
Clown. What are we to fry them in? I'll go and see if I can find a frying-pan.
[Exaunt from window, and re-appears with frying-pan, which he hands out of window for Punch to cook sausages in and then disappears for a moment; after which he returns, and says, with his head out of window, ''Would you like something hot, Punch?''
Punch. Yes, to be sure. (Punch is up to everything. He's a helping him to rob the publican. One's as much in the mud as the other is in the mire.)
Clown. (Thrusting red-hot poker out of window.) Here, lay hold - Here's a lark - Make haste - Here's the landlord a coming. (Rubs Punch with it over the nose.)
Punch. Oh my nose! - that is a hot 'un. [Takes poker.
Clown. (Re-enters, and calls in at window.) Landlord, here's a fellow stole your sausages and frying-pan. (Wakes up Landlord and exaunts.)
Landlord. (Appears at window.) Here's somebody been in my house and axually stole my sausages, frying-pan, and red-hot poker!
(Clown exhaunts when he has blamed it all to Punch. Joey stole 'em, and Punch took 'em, and the receiver is always worse than the thief, for if they was never no receivers there wouldn't never be no thieves.)
Landlord. (Seizing the sausages in Punch's hand.) How did you get these here?
Punch. Joey stole 'em, and I took 'em.
Landlord. Then you're both jolly thieves, and I must have my property. (A scuffle ensues. Punch hollars out, Joey! Joey! Here's the landlord a stealing the sausages!)
(So you see Punch wants to make the landlord a thief so as to exempt himself. He's a hypocrite there again, you see again - all through the piece he's the master-piece. Oh a most clever man is Punch, and such a hypocrite.)
(Punch, seizing the frying-pan, which has been on the playboard, knocks it on the publican's head; when, there being a false bottom to it, the head goes through it, and the sausages gets about the Publican's neck, and Punch pulls at the pan and the sausages with veheminence, till the landlord is exhausted, and exaunts with his own property back again; so there is no harm done, only merely for the lark to return to those people what belongs to 'em - What you take away from a, person always give to them again.)
Clown. Well, Mr. Punch, I shall wish you a, pleasant good morning.
Punch. [Hits him with. his cudgel.] Good morning to you, Joey.
Punch sits down by the side of the poker, and Scaramouch appears without a head.
Punch looks, and beholds, and he's frightened, and exaunts with the poker.
Scaramouch does a comic dance, with his long neck shooting up and down with the actions of his body, after which he exaunts.
Punch re-enters again with the poker, and places it beside of him, and takes his cudgel in his hand for protection, while he is singing the National Anthem of 'God save the Queen and all the Royal Family.'
Satan then appears as a dream (and it is all a dream after all), and dressed up as the Roossian Bear (leave Politics alone as much as you can, for Punch belongs to nobody).
Punch has a dreadful struggle with Satan, who seizes the red-hot poker and wants to take Punch away, for all his past mis-deeds, and frolic and fun, to the bottomless pit.
By struggling with Satan, Punch overpowers him, and he drops the poker, and Punch, kills him with his cudgel, and shouts 'Bravo! Hooray! Satan is dead,' he cries (we must have a good conclusion): 'we can now all do as we like!' - (That's the moral, you see.) 'Good-by, Ladies and Gentlemen: this is the whole of the original performance of Mr. Punch; and I remain still your most obedient and most humble servant to command. Good-by, good-by, good-by.
God bless you all. I return you my most sincere thanks for your patronage and support, and I hope you'll come out handsome with your gold and silver.'
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