Punch,  48 (1865), 92–93.

The Warning of Wandsworth Common



Poetry, Drollery


Environmentalism, Natural History, Amusement, Progress, Engineering, Railways

    Begins by describing a midnight scene on 'West Hill, Wandsworth', where the only sound to be heard is the 'yell and scream of the whistling steam, / As the darkling trains roared by', but also, ''Twixt whistle's yell [...] a voice of woe' that turns out to be the 'Spirit of Wandsworth Common' calling 'The Spirit of Wimbledon'. In reply, the latter complains that he has not been able to sleep owing to 'Bold invaders, plotters sly', while the Spirit of Wandsworth grumbles that having fallen asleep he allowed himself to be 'scarred and bared to shame' by 'foemen' 'In the shade of Spencer's name'. The Spirit of Wandsworth proceeds to describe how he used to be 'Robed in green' and that once there was no 'Freer, fairer' common than he. However, he laments the fact that his vegetation is now in shreds and that instead of being the site on which children can play, he is due to be ruined with a 'Hideous Cockney-villa' and a prison. (92) Concludes with the Spirit of Wandsworth Common warning his fellow spirit that, while Spencer's aims are noble, 'Better than e'en Spencer's guard, / Is his guard that guards himself' (i.e. that Wimbledon Common should protect itself). (93)

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