The gloomy procession marched on (uncaptioned) by M. A. Titmarsh [W. M. Thackeray], 1855. Wood-engraving, probably by William Linton. 7.1 cm high by 9 cm wide (2 ¾ by 3 ½ inches), vignetted, fifty-first illustration for The Rose and The Ring, p. 404. Descriptive headline: "Hark! They Play The March From Saul!" (404). [Click on the image to enlarge it; mouse over links.]

Passage Illustrated: Even the Guards are crying at Bulbo's sad fate

So poor Bulbo got up: he had gone to bed in his clothes (the lazy boy), and he shook himself, and said he didn’t mind about dressing, or having any breakfast, thank you; and he saw the soldiers who had come for him. "Lead on!" he said; and they led the way, deeply affected; and they came into the courtyard, and out into the square, and there was King Giglio come to take leave of him, and His Majesty most kindly shook hands with him, and the gloomy procession marched on: — when hark!

Haw—wurraw—wurraw—aworr! [Chapter XIV, "What Became of Giglio," pp. 403-404]


The large-headed Prince Bulbo, dressed in nineteenth-century fashion, marches through the town square (not depicted here, but indicated in the previous cartoon panel) to his execution. But the over-the-top lamentations of the two guards and even the stern Captain Hedzoff (distinguished here as elsewhere by his Grenadier's bearskin hat, leading Bulbo) in their eighteenth-century uniforms and vintage muskets inverted suggests that readers should not be concerned about this parody of "The Dead March" from Handel's 1738 oratorio Saul (see 1 Samuel 31:6). After all, this is just a Pantomime, so, despite apparent moments of melodrama, the "audience" should expect a "happily-ever-after" conclusion, for the good and youthful (especially those with large heads) never die in pantos.

Thackeray's 1855 readers were probably not all surprised by this sudden turn of events, a comic deus-ex-machine in which Rosalba and her lions arrive in the nick of time to save the blubbering Bulbo.

Image scan and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. ]


Furniss, Harry. The Rose and The Ring; or, The History of Prince Giglio and the Prince Bulbo. William Makepeace Thackeray's Christmas Books. With illustrations by the author and Harry Furniss. The Harry Furniss Centenary Edition. London: Macmillan and Co., 1911. Pp. 287-428.

Thackeray, W. M. The Christmas Books of M. A. Titmarsh. With illustrations by Richard Doyle and Thackeray. London: Smith. Elder, 1898.

Titmarsh, M. A. [W. M. Thackeray]. The Rose and The Ring London: Smith, Elder, 1855.

Created 13 August 2022