Punch,  51 (1866), 55.

The Skeleton in the House



Extract, Reminiscences, Spoof


Politics, Government, Disease, Medical Treatment, Medical Practitioners, Homeopathy, Analogy

    Putatively extracted from 'Mrs. Politic's Random Recollections', this describes the great reforms to the British 'Constitution' as if they were treatments administered to the diseased Mr Constitution by various reformist statesmen. Explains how old Constitution was 'the son of a Carter [a reference to the Magna Carta]' and that, owing to his weakness of the 'chest [treasury]', 'two celebrated physicians, Dr. Grey and Dr. Russell', 'put him on poor man's plaster [a reference to the Reform Act of 1832]' and finally 'brought him round'. Explains that years later 'old Mr. Constitution' suffered greatly from weakness of the 'chest', and that this time Dr Russell and his 'assistant' Dr Gladstone urged that the patient have a 'much stronger and bigger' poor man's plaster. However, Mr Constitution's 'rich relations' protested that he was not weak of the chest, which caused Russell and Gladstone to 'throw up the case'. Describes how Dr Derby, who 'practises homeopathy' and gives 'very small doses' [i.e. gradual political measures], and Mr Benjamin, stood by the bedside of the sick old Mr Constitution. Mr Benjamin heard a 'skeleton in the House', groaning outside the sickroom, but Dr Derby observed: 'we had better keep our places [in government]' and merely 'cut' the 'knot in the curtains'.

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