Punch,  40 (1861), 134–35.

The Revenue Cutter and Patent Budget Sifter Company (Limited)



Drama, Drollery


Commerce, Politics, Government, Invention, Patronage, Class

    Set in the chambers in Downing Street of prime minister Henry J Temple (3rd Viscount Palmerston), this drama describes the attempt by a several 'illiberal Members of the House of Commons', led by Robert W Crawford, to gain Palmerston's patronage for a machine that promises to save the Exchequer £10,000,000 per annum. In discussion with a sceptical Palmerston, Crawford reveals that the machine punches holes in budgets by a 'combination of screws'. Later in the discussion, John Bright interjects with his criticism that 'the machine was worse than useless, unless it could be used as a paper cutter'. (134). However, Palmerston later questions Bright on the fate of his 'self-acting paper-cutter', which turns out to have been 'notched by the stupid handling of an Aristocracy which wallowed in a slime of corruption'. Palmerston urges Crawford to suggest 'where the screw should be put on' and dismisses the machine as suitable only for 'the cutting of chaff'. (135)

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