Punch,  51 (1866), 197.

Let the Voice of the Turtle be Heard in the Land

Marmaduke Marrowfull


Letter, Spoof


Morality, Progress, Human Development, Government, Utilitarianism, Class, Disease, Pollution, Public Health, Industry, Zoology, Crime, Nutrition

    Written in the style of a somewhat illiterate bumble, this begins by arguing against the claim that it 'is an age of humanity' by pointing out that 'we're brutes' and that despite the efforts of the Royal Humane Society and a 'Society for looking after stray dogs', cruel acts are still frequently perpetrated. The author points out that he is not alluding to the condition of paupers, because they 'wants a tight hand over 'em', although he does not think they should 'be allowed to die of bedsores, bad air, and vermin', and stresses that he is aware of the power of the 'newspaper people' to expose these evils. He has taken the 'liberal' move of voting for 'two paid nurses to our three hundred sick paupers'. Believes that workhouses are 'right enough' with people like himself on the 'Board' and proceeds to complain about the liberties taken by the 'lower orders' who 'work for weekly wages' and who 'never stop' asking for provisions. He also denies that humanity is cruel to workers, and believes talk of 'ventilation and healthy workshops' smacks of the subversive politics of centralisation. He denies that he is referring to sailors who forget the 'expense of lime-juice' despite their complaints about 'dirt and bad air, and bad food and scurvy'. He finally reveals that he is alluding to the alderman's favourite cuisine, the turtle. He presents an extract from the Pall Mall Gazette which describes the harsh conditions suffered by turtles in being shipped to New York and London and the efforts of 'humanitarians' to communicate the subject to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Praises the efforts of the aforementioned humanitarians and ends with a paean to the turtle and its role in 'civic gourmet'.

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