Punch,  52 (1867), 79.

The Great Medicine-Man (A New Canto of Hia-Watha)



Poetry, Drollery


Politics, Government, Controversy, Medical Practitioners, Medical Treatment, Race, Quackery, Magic, Ethnology

    A response to Benjamin Disraeli's recent announcement in the House of Commons that the Tories intend to introduce a Reform Bill. Likening the cabinet of Edward G G S Stanley (14th Earl of Derby) to the chiefs of an American Indian tribe called the 'Tor-ì-has', describes the meeting of the chiefs at the 'secret Lodge of Dow-nin [Downing Street]' where 'Lor-der-bee [Derby]', 'Kau-ka-syun Dee-ze [an allusion to Disraeli and his Jewish ancestry], foremost of the medicine-men, the Magicians' and other important figures ponder their mission to 'Weave the charm of the Re-for-mahs', despite protests from anti-Tory Reform agitators outside their lodge. Disraeli wonders whether his tribe can 'Fix the wonder-working Franch-ees, / That shall cure the people's ailments, / Give to all what they're in want of, / Wit, wisdom, work and wages'. Describes how 'Will-you-it, called the Glad Stone' and 'Jon-à-wo-bun [John Bull]' and 'wonder-working Fran-chees' were ambushed 'in Adullam' by several individuals including 'Bright the Big Tongue', who eventually drove them from 'the secret Lodge of Down-nin'. This is a reference to John Bright and the 'Whig 'Adullamite' opposition to William E Gladstone's 1866 parliamentary Reform Bill, an opposition that eventually led to the downfall of the Liberal administration. Goes on to describe Disraeli's lament at the divisions within his tribe and his resolution to 'deal with the Re-for-mahs', to 'make a mighty med-cine' from the 'med-cine bag of Mo-shun', to secure the 'glory [...] Of the fixing of the Franch-ees, / In the Wig-wam of West-min-stah', and to 'Keep the secret Lodge of Down-nin'. Continues by noting how 'the med'cine maker' led a procession of 'Tor-ì-has' braves to 'West-min-stah' where they stood against Bright, and 'Will-you-it, called the Glad Stone'. Turns to the controlled speech of the 'med'cine maker', who put forward his 'medicine bag of Mo-shuns' with one hand and a 'Peace-pipe' in the other, and then 'chaunted' 'his med'cine music', 'blew his cloud of vapour', announced that 'the war was ended, / 'Twixt Tor-ì-has and Re-for-mahs', and urged cooperation between the two sides for shaping Reform. Concludes by describing the amazement of the warriors who heard the 'med-cine-man', and their feeling that 'All is bosh and all is bunkum; / He is but a med'cine-maker, / And his medicine moonshine'.

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