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Christmas Number 1890.

* * * * *

[Illustration: Punch Among the Planets]


* * * * *


The Old Year was fast nearing its close, the night was clear and
starry, and Father Time, from the top of his observatory tower, was
taking a last look round.

To him entered, unannounced save by the staccato yap of the faithful
_Tobias_, Time's unfailing friend, unerring Mentor, and immortal
contemporary, _Mr. Punch_.

"_I_ am not for an age, but for All Time," freely quoted the Swan's
sole parallel. "And very much at Time's service," he added, throwing
open his fur-lined "Immensikoff," and lighting a cigar at the
Scythe-bearer's lantern.

[Illustration: Punch Among the Planets]

"Happy to meet you once more, _Mr. Punch_," responded old Edax Rerum,
turning from what the poet calls his 'Optic Tube' to welcome his
sprightly visitor. "Awfully good of you to turn up just now. Like
True THOMAS's _Teufelsdröckh_, 'I am alone with the Stars,' and was
beginning to feel just a little bit lonely."

"With the Voces Stellarum to keep you company? You surprise me,"
said _Mr. Punch_. "But what is all this?" he added, pointing with
accustomed eye to a pile of MS. at TIME's elbow.

If so old a stager as Father TIME _can_ blush, he certainly did so on
this occasion.

"Fact is, _Mr. Punch_," he rejoined, "I, like younger and shall I
say lesser Celebrities, have been writing my 'Reminiscences.' Ha ha!
_The Chronicles of Chronos_ in 6,000 volumes or so - up to now. This
is a small portion of my _Magnum Opus_. Can you recommend me to a

"Ask my friend Archdeacon FARRAR," responded the Sage, drily. "What
a work! And what a sensation! TALLEYRAND's long-talked-of 'Memoirs'
not in it! Do you know, my dear TIME, I think you had better postpone
the publication - for an æon or so at least. _Your Magnum Opus_ might
become a _Scandalum Magnatum_."

"Ah, perhaps so," replied TIME, with a sigh.

"Alone with the Stars," pursued _Mr. Punch_, meditatively. "Humph! The
Solar System alone ought to provide you with plenty of company."

"Yes." responded TIME, "but, after all, you know, telescopic
intercourse is not entirely satisfactory. Like EDGAR POE's _Hans
Pfaal_, I feel I should like to come to closer quarters with the
'heavenly bodies' as the pedagogues call them."

"And why not?" queried _Mr. Punch_, coolly.

"As how?" asked his companion.

"TIME, my boy" laughed the Sage, "you seem a bit behind yourself.
Listen! 'Mr. EDISON is prosecuting an experiment designed to catch and
record the sounds made in the sun's photosphere when solar spots are
formed by eruptions beneath the surface.' Have you not read the latest
of the Edisoniana?"

TIME admitted he had not.

"TIME, you rogue, you love to get
Sweets upon your list - put _that_ in,"

quoted the Sage. "Something piquant for the 6001st Vol. of your
Chronicles. But, after all, what is EDISON compared with Me? If you
really wish for a turn round the Solar System, a peregrination of the
Planets, put aside that antiquated spy-glass of yours and come with

And, "taking TIME by the forelock," in a very real sense, the Sage of
Fleet Street rose with him like a Brock rocket, high, and swift, and
light-compelling, into the star-spangled vault of heaven.

"SIC ITUR AD ASTRA!" said the Sage.

"Twinkle, twinkle, Fleet Street Star!
Saturn wonders who _you_ are,
Up above the world so high,
Like a portent in the sky.
Wonders if, Jove-like, you want,
Him to banish and supplant!
Fear not, Saturn; _Punch's_ bolt
Arms Right Order, not Revolt;
Dread no fratricidal wars
From this 'Star' among the Stars!"

* * * * *


"I am glad to hear _that_, at any rate," said Saturn, welcoming the
illustrious guests to his remote golden-ringed realm.


Saturn, however, did not look exactly comfortable, and his voice, how
unlike "To that large utterance of the early gods," sounded quavering
and querulous.

"It is customary," said he, "to talk, as the old Romans rather
confusedly did, of 'the Saturnian reign' as the true 'Golden Age,'
identified with civilisation, social order, economic perfection, and
agricultural profusion. As a matter of fact, I've always been treated
badly, from the day when Jupiter dethroned me to that when, the Grand
Old Man - who _ought_ to have had more sympathy with me - banished
hither the strife-engendering Pedant's hotch-potch called Political

"Be comforted, Saturn, old boy - _I_ am here!" cried _Mr. Punch_. "I
am 'personally conducting' Father TIME in a tour of the Planets. Let's
have a look round your realm!"

_Mr. Punch_ sums up much of what he saw in modern "Saturnian Verses."

_Punch_. Good gracious! my worthy old Ancient, who once held the sway
of the heavens,
Your realm seems a little bit shaky; what mortals call "sixes and

_Saturn_. That's scarcely god-lingo, my boy; but 'tis much as you
say, and no wonder.
Free imports have ruined my realm - I refer to Bad-Temper and Blunder,
Two brutish and boobyish Titans - they've wholly corrupted our morals,
And taught us "Boycotting," and "Strikes," and "Lock-outs," and all
sorts of mad quarrels.
I hope you don't know them down there, in your queer little speck of
a planet,
These humbugging latter-day Titans?

_Punch_. That cannot concern you - now can it?

_Saturn_. Just look at the shindy down yonder!

_Punch_. By Jove, what the doose are they doing?

_Saturn_. Oh, settling the Great Social Question!

_Father Time_. It looks as though mischief were brewing.

_Saturn_. Sort of parody of the old fight, which was splendid at least,
if tremendous,
'Twixt Jove and the Titans of old. That colossus, gold-armoured,
Perched high on the "Privilege" ramparts, and bastioned by big bags of
Is "Capital"; he's the new Jove, and each Titan would treat as his
But look at the huge Hundred-Handed One, armed with the scythe and the
The hammer, the spade, and the pick!

_Father Time_. Things appear in no end of a pickle!

_Saturn_. Precisely! That's Labour-Briareus; backed up by "Bad Temper"
and "Blunder,"
And egged on by "Spout" (with a Fog-Horn); he's "going for" him of the
And Gold ramparts headlong, _à outrance_.

_Punch_. But look at the spectres behind them!

_Saturn_. Ah! Terrors from Tartarus, those to which only Bad Temper
can blind them.
Those spectres foreshadow grim fate; they are Lawlessness, Ruin,
To the Thunderer dismal defeat, to the conquerors blank desolation.

The Sage looked serious.

These things, mused he, are an allegory, perhaps, but of a
significance not wholly Saturnian.


"Saturn, old boy" said he, "cannot what sentimentalists call 'the
Dismal Science,' which as you say has been banished hither, do
anything to help you out of this hobble?"

"The Dismal Science," responded Saturn, whose panaceas of Unrestricted
Competition, Free Combination, Cheap Markets, Supply and Demand,
&c., have landed its disciples in Sweating Dens on the one side and
Universal Strikes on the other, can hardly offer itself as a cure for
the New Socialism. Like Rhea of old, when asked for food, it proffers
a stone."

"Ah!" quoth Father TIME, "you manage these things much better on the
Earth, doubtless."

"Doubtless," replied the Sage, drily, as he and Father TIME took their

* * * * *



So Mr. PUNCH, holding TIME by the forelock, continued his journey.

"Where are we now?" asked the more elderly gentleman.

"My good friend," replied the Sage of Fleet Street, "we are
approaching Mars, which as you know, or should know (if your education
has been completed under the supervision of the School Board) is
sometimes called the Red Planet."

"So I have often heard. But why?"

"That is what we shall soon discover. But now keep quiet, as we have

With the gentlest of gentle shocks _Mr. Punch_ and his companion
found themselves on a mound, which they soon recognised as a mountain.
Looking below them, they saw masses of scarlet, apparently in motion.
It was then that TIME regretted that he had not brought with him his

"It would have been so useful," he murmured, "and if a little bulky,
what of that? Surely _Mr. Punch_ is accustomed to make light of

"See, some one is approaching," observed the Sage of Fleet Street,
whose eye-sight was better than that of his companion. And sure
enough a lively young officer at this moment put in an appearance,
and saluted.

"Glad to see you both," said he; "and, by order of the General
Commander-in-Chief, you are to make what use you please of me. I am
entirely at your service."

"Why, you speak English!" exclaimed _Mr. Punch_.


"That is so!" returned the young officer in American; "and why not?
Besides I know French, Russian, German, and all the languages spoken
on your little globe, to say nothing of the dialects used by those who
inhabit the rest of the planets. It's our system. Nowadays, a man in
the Service is expected to be up in everything. If he wasn't, how on
earth could he fight, or do anything else in a satisfactory fashion?
And now let us bustle along."

"But first," put in TIME, who did not relish being silent, "will you
kindly tell us what those masses of colour are?"


"Certainly. They are troops. We put them in scarlet in peace, but they
appear in their shirtsleeves the moment war's declared. Novel idea,
isn't it?"

And then the pleasant-spoken young officer led the way to a lift, and,
touching a button, the three descended from the top of the mountain to
the valley beneath.

"On the counterweight system," explained the A.D.C. "We cribbed
the idea from Folkestone, and Lynmouth. And here, _Mr. Punch_, is
something that will interest you. We absolutely howled at that sketch
of yours showing the mechanical policeman. Don't you know - old woman
puts a penny in the slot and stops the traffic? And here's the idea
developed. See that mechanical sentry. I put a penny in the slot, and
he pays me the usual compliment. He shoulders arms, as I am only a
captain - worse luck! If I were of field rank he would come smartly
to the present."

And sure enough the mechanical soldier saluted.

"It's not half a bad idea," continued the agreeable A.D.C. "You see
sentry-go is awfully unpopular, and a figure of iron in times of peace
is every bit as good as a man of brass. The pence go to the Canteen
Fund along with the fines for drunkenness. It seems reasonable enough
that a fellow, if he wants to be saluted, should pay for the
swagger. If a fellow likes to turn out the guard, he can do it with
sixpence - but then of course he hasn't the right unless his rank
permits it - see?"

By this time the mechanical soldier had returned to the slope, and was
parading his beat in a somewhat jerky manner.

"And now what would you fellows like to do?" asked the A.D.C. "Pardon
the familiarity, but nowadays age doesn't count, does it? Everybody's
young. One of the best _Juliets_ I ever knew had turned sixty, and
played to a _Romeo_ who was twenty years her senior. Nothing like that
down below, I suppose?"

"Nothing," returned _Mr. Punch_.

"So I have always understood. Well, where shall we go first?"

"Anywhere you like," said the Sage of Fleet Street. "But are you sure
that we are not unduly trespassing on your time?"


"Not at all - only too delighted. It's all in the day's work. We have
a lot of distinguished visitors that we have to take round. I like it
myself, but some of our fellows kick against it. Of course it doesn't
refer to you two; but you can fancy what a nuisance it must be for
all our fellows to have to get up in full rig, and bow and scrape,
and march and countermarch, and go through the whole bag of tricks, to
some third-rate Royalty? Ah! they are happier off at Aldershot, aren't

"No doubt," was the prompt reply.

_Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME had now entered a barrack square, wherein
a number of trembling recruits were standing in front of a sergeant.

"I am just putting them through their paces, Sir," said he: "they are
a bit rusty in bowing drill."

The A.D.C. nodded, and, turning on his heel, explained to the visitors
that it was the object of the Authorities to introduce as much as
possible of the civil element into the Army.

"You will see this idea carried out a little further in the
institution we are now entering," he added, as the three walked into
a building that looked like a handsome Club-house. At the door was an
officer in the uniform of the Guards.

"Hullo, HUGHIE," said the A.D.C., "on duty to-day?"

"As hall-porter. CHARLIE is smoking-room waiter. I say, do you want to
take your friends round?"

"Well, I should like to let them get a glimpse of TOMMY ATKINS at his

"All right, you can pass. But, I say, just warn them to keep quiet
when they get near him. We have had no end of a time to smooth him


Thus warned, the Sage and Father TIME passed through the hall and
entered the smoking-room. Stretched at full length on a couple of
chairs was a Private, lazily sipping a glass of brandy and soda-water,
that had just been supplied to him by an officer of his own battalion.
On withdrawing, the A.D.C. greeted the commissioned waiter who
answered to the name of CHARLIE.

"Rather rough, eh?" said he, with a glance at a tray containing a
cork-screw and an empty bottle.

"A bit better than Bermuda. If we don't coerce them, we must be
polite. After all, fagging turned out the heroes of Winchester and
Westminster, and wasn't Waterloo won on the playing-fields of Eton?"

"Rather a dangerous game, isn't it?" observed _Mr. Punch_. "You'll
have to fall in next, and TOMMY will inspect you, and give you a
couple of days' extra drill for not having cleaned your rifle!"

"Well, if I don't look after my arms, I shall have merited the
punishment; and, after all, it will only be a case of turn and
turn about," was the reply. Then the A.D.C. added, "Hang me, too, I
believe, with all we fellows have to do nowadays, that if we _did_
change with TOMMY ATKINS, we, and not he, would have the best of the


Leaving the Soldiers' Club, _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME continued
their journey. They had not proceeded far, when the A.D.C. invited
them to enter a building known as the Museum.

"It really is a most useful and interesting institution," said the
officer of the Planet Mars. "Here, you see, we have portrait models of
the officer of the past and present. In the past, you will notice, he
sacrificed everything to athletic sports - if he could fence, shoot,
hunt, and play cricket, polo, and football, he was quite satisfied.
His successor of to-day devotes all his time to study. He must master
the higher branches of mathematics before he is considered fit to
inspect the rear-rank of a company, and know the modern languages
before he can be entrusted with the command of a left half-battalion.
Here again we have the uniform of an officer in peace and war - swagger
and gold lace on the one side, and stern simplicity and kharki on the

In another room _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME discovered that everyone
was fast asleep. There was a Cabinet Minister supported by two minor
officials - all three of them absolutely unconscious. There were
any number of Generals decorated from belt to neck - any quantity
of higher-grade clerks - one and all slumbering: "This is called the
Intelligence Department of the Army," explained the A.D.C. "You have
nothing like it in England?"

"Nothing!" returned _Mr. Punch_, as he disappeared.

* * * * *



Mr. Punch and Father Time were once again whirling on their way
through boundless space.

They were approaching their next destination, and the dark globe
of the planet had just come into view on the horizon. Rapidly it
increased in size as they neared it, and the seas and continents could
be easily traced.

"Dear me?" exclaimed _Mr. Punch_. "Why, I declare if there is not
something written upon it!" and he put up his binoculars, "Why, it is
nothing more nor less than a big advertisement. Looks like humbug," he
continued. "What's the name of the Planet, eh?"

"Mercury," replied Father TIME, with cheery spirit; "and with that
device they try to catch the eye of a passing Comet."

"Hum - they won't catch me!" observed the Sage, brightly. "I brought
my truth-compeller with me - a little, patent, electrical hypnotic
arrangement, in the shape of this ring" - he showed it as he spoke. "I
have only to turn it on my finger, and it obliges anyone who may be
addressing me instantly to speak the truth."

They suddenly found themselves deposited in the centre of a vast
square, surrounded by large palatial-looking buildings, public
offices, stores, shops, picture-galleries, gigantic blocks of
private residences, in flats five-and-twenty storeys high, and
other architectural developments of the latest constructive crazes,
fashioned, apparently, after the same models, and on similar lines,
to those at present so much in vogue in that now distant planet, the
Earth. There was a profusion of advertisement-boards, these, in many
instances, entirely covering the whole façade of the building with
large-lettered announcements of the nature of the trade or business
conducted within. An eager and excited crowd thronging the pavements,
and hustling each other, without any apparent purpose or aim, was
pushing in all directions.

"I wonder what all this is about," observed _Mr. Punch_; "suppose we
ask a Policeman?"

They noticed a being attired in every respect like the familiar
guardians of the peace on Earth, except that he carried a harmless
and gaily-decked bladder in place of the more serviceable _bâton_, and
beckoned to him. He approached with polite alacrity.

"You want to know what's up, Gents?" he commenced, divining their
purpose instinctively. "It's the Half-Quarterly Meeting of the Solid
Gold Extract of Brick-Dust Company. There's been some little talk
about the dividend not being quite so good as the prospectus led the
shareholders to believe, and as the shares have been mostly taken up
by widows and orphans, some of their friends, you see, are a little
anxious to hear the Chairman's Report. But, you see, it'll be all

At this moment a widow, with blanched cheeks and dishevelled hair,
who had been listening with an anxious and eager gaze to what the
Policeman had been saying, joined the group.

_Mr. Punch_ looked at her with mournful sympathy, and slowly turning
the ring on his finger, addressed the Policeman. "Tell me, my good
man," he said, persuasively, "is that the truth? Is it really all

"All right?" rejoined the guardian of the peace in amazement, but
apparently unconscious of the purport of his speech, "I should rather
think not. Call it 'all wrong' and then you'll about hit it. Why it's
well known that the patent's all _fudge_. It's the biggest swindle
out. No more in it than in this here bladder. But you'll see; the
whole thing's burst, and you'll know it in a minute."

The words were scarcely out of his mouth when a roar of a thousand
angry voices, followed by a sudden rush from the building of a mad
and raging crowd, obliged _Mr. Punch_, for a moment, to pause. When
the uproar had somewhat subsided, he turned to the Policeman, and
pointed feelingly to the unfortunate widow, who had fallen on to an
apple-stall in a fit of hysterics, and, locking his arm in that of his
aged companion, proceeded to cross the square. "Give us a song, old
'un!" shouted a portion of the mob, who had followed them.

"Certainly. Oblige them!" added _Mr. Punch_, taking a banjo from
one of the crowd and placing it in Father TIME's hands. "Give them a
stanza of the Ballad of Truth."

He turned his ring, and his aged companion struck up the following
ditty: -

"Know ye the land where dwells only mock-turtle,
Where wine that should gladden but makes you fell queer.
Where bayonets bend, where guns burst and hurtle
Their breech in the face of their friends at the rear,
Where lamps labelled 'safety' with just terrors fill you,
Where water supplied you for milk is no theft,
Where pills that should cure, if persisted in, kill you
And the 'Hair Resurrector' takes all you've got left!
Where soap, that should soften your skin, only flays you,
Where a horse proves a screw though got through a friend,
Where the loss of your 'cover' confounds and dismays you,
Though assured by the _Firm_ 'if you hold on t'will mend'?
Know ye, in fine, where by pushing and 'rushing,'
This - and much more, down the public throat crams,
Blatant Advertisement, brazen, unblushing - ?
If you do, then you've spotted the _Planet of Shams_."


Though a few paving-stones were hurled at the aged singer, the
conclusion of his sons was greeted by a general roar of laughter, the
populace apparently recognising the picture of their own chicanery
with amusement and relish.

After that they held on their way for some minutes in silence. They
had now reached the other side, and were confronted by a couple
of respectable-looking gentlemen of an almost clerical aspect, who
appeared to be catering in the public streets in the interests of some
institution. They approached _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME, and offered
them a prospectus.

read _Mr. Punch_, surveying the paper presented to him, and
continuing, "'_A trivial payment of Ninepence a Month will ensure
the youthful Subscriber, or his Representative, a sweet and
elegantly-constructed little Coffin, beautifully frilled, with a
one-black-horse Family Omnibus Hearse, and a tray of Two Handsome
Plumes. N.B. - if preferred, payment of £2 19s. 6d. in cash on
production of Corpse._'"

They showed _Mr. Punch_ and Father TIME up the front steps, and
ushered them into a large hall. It was thronged with a crowd of dirty
and raggedly-dressed people, and partitioned off by a handsome and
massive mahogany counter, beyond which sat a staff of clerks busily
engaged in keeping the books and generally discharging the duties of
the institution.


"Ha, Mrs. MACSTOGGINS, and are we in your debt again?" asked the Agent
of a beetle-browed woman of a sinister and forbidding expression, who
was thrusting a paper across the counter to the cashier.

"Yes; and I'll trouble you not to keep me waiting, either - seeing that
it's gone three days since the burial."

"Is this woman demanding the insurance money for the burial of her own
child?" asked _Mr. Punch_, sternly. And he turned his ring. "And pray,
Madam," he continued, addressing the beetle-browed woman, "tell me the

"Certainly," replied the woman, as if in a trance. "First, I insured
my own KATE - then I starved her to death, and took the money. Then
little BILL followed. I let him catch cold in the winter, and gave
him a night or two on the stones, and that finished him. Then came TIM
FLAHERTY, and I managed him with the beetle-poison, and - "

"Come," said _Mr. Punch_, taking Father TIME's arm once more; "let us
get out of this - I can't breathe here."

Scarcely had they quitted the place ere they had to encounter an
appeal for custom, the Applicant being apparently one of the big guns
in the Mercury wine trade, and he was not long in importuning _Mr.
Punch_ just to step inside his office, and sample a delicious Lafitte
of the 1874 vintage.

"Now, try that, Sir," he said, at the same time offering _Mr. Punch_ a
glass of the rich ruby-coloured beverage, "and tell me what you think
of it. We have a small parcel of it still left, and could let you have
it at the remarkably low figure of 112s. the dozen."

"It looks all right," drily replied _Mr. Punch_, "but I can't
think how you can sell it at the price." Then holding up the glass
critically, and turning his ring, continued, "How do you manage it?"

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