Punch,  40 (1861), iii–iv.




Short Fiction, Illustration

Relevant illustrations:

wdct. [2]


Descent, Evolution, Race, Exploration, Politics, Medical Treatment, Reading

    Headed by an illustration showing Mr Punch being introduced to a 'deputation' of gorillas by another dressed in coat and tails, and clutching a book marked 'VOL 40'. The pictures and text refer to the ape ancestry of man claimed in Darwin 1859, and portray a reversal of the familiar story of human explorers visiting apes. The text describes the gorillas as noisy 'African travellers' whose chief is so 'astounded [...] by The Presence' of Mr Punch, that this 'Fool of Nature' stands with 'stupid eyes', and remains mute with surprise until he laughs out of 'wonder'. The noisy guests subsequently become modest and still and appreciate, with great emotion, Mr Punch's diplomatic utterances in 'their native tongue'. (iii) The contrite chief of the gorillas later complains to Mr Punch, 'the Lord of a Million Monkeys', that travellers 'do not stay long enough to comprehend us' and fail to appreciate 'good Gorilla society'. The chief proceeds to explain how his society is 'very desirous to imitate our non-hirsute fellow-creatures' and has accordingly established 'exclusive castes' and the use of cocoa-nuts as a status symbol. Mr Punch responds that he 'had thought better of you' from 'the statements of my friend Paul Du Chaillu', the French-born American explorer. The chief proposes Mr Punch's dog Toby as the ambassador to the gorillas and that a gorilla be sent to London as 'our Envoy and Minister Plenipotentiary', but Mr Punch tells the simian deputation to return to their forest to read the fortieth volume of Punch—which is the 'physic' which he administers 'to the British variety of Gorilla'—and to report back on its medicinal effects. (iv) The final illustration shows a gorilla playing leap-frog over Mr Punch, with Toby jumping up in excitement.

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]