These 19th-century Punch and Judy engravings are courtesy of the BibliOdyssey blog in Sydney, Australia. The link to these engravings is via Ptak Science Books in Asheville, N.C. John Ptak tweeted the BibliOdyssey’s link just this past Saturday. I started following him months ago, after The Economist’s Babbage blog, in its dawning days, included a link to a Ptak post of dry wit.
Anyway, the BibliOdyssey’s post was in honor of Mr. Punch’s birthday on Oct. 22nd (see below) and I’m re-posting it for my Mom, whose birthday was Oct. 20th. She’s pretty old, but not quite as old as Mr. Punch. And Hallowe’en is on Monday Oct. 31st, so that’s why I’m showing Mr. Punch fighting the Devil.
The Character of Mr Punch is descended from the Italian clown Pulcinella who featured in the Commedia Dell’ Arte medieval tradition of the 15th Century. Players toured Europe and Samuel Pepys recalls seeing such a troupe in Covent Garden in 1662 during the festivities surrounding the wedding of Charles II. This date [which was Oct.22nd] is considered ‘Punch’s Birthday’ and Mr Punch first become popular in London under the name Punchinello before it was shortened to the Mr Punch we know today.
The etchings are from The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy as told to John Payne Collier by Giovanni Puccini in 1827, Illustrated by George Cruikshank, Published by S Prowett, London, 1828.
Jump to SCENE IV – Jack Ketch tried to hang Punch, but Punch tricked Jack into hanging himself. He puts Jack in the coffin meant for him and stands back. Then two guys haul the coffin away, thinking that a dead Punch was inside. So Punch does a little dance and sings …
I’ve done the trick!
Jack Ketch is dead – I’m free;
I do not care, now, if Old Nick
Himself should come for me!
Of course, Old Nick himself comes for he. “Oh Dear! Oh Lord! Talk of the Devil, and he pops up his horns!” Here commences a terrific battle between the Devil and Punch with sticks. Finally, Punch manages to stun the Devil with repeated blows to the head and horns, and he falls forward on the platform, where Punch completes his victory by knocking the breath out of his body.
Punch then puts his staff up the Devil’s black clothes, and whirls him around in the air, exclaiming,
“Huzzah, huzzah! the Devil is dead!”
The Curtain falls.