Easter Monday on Hampstead Heath. William S. Brunton (fl. 1859-71), artist. Fun (27 April 1868): 76. Signed with a monogram lower left. Engraved by the Dalziels. Courtesy of the Suzy Covey Comic Book Collection in the George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. Click on image to enlarge it.

This is another case in which a disjunction immediately appears between the cartoon and the text that accompanies it, but unlike the one about commuting by Thames steamboat, the speaker does return to the scene of holiday makers. He begins, however, with two paragraphs on the destruction of public lands by private interests. As Dale Porter has explained (see link below), this was the period when the idea of the public interest develops.

The accompanying text

Even in these days of cheap excursions there are large numbers of Londoners who cannot afford a more expensive run on Easter Monday than a jaunt to Hampstead Heath — or rather, as much of it as Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson's excavations have left. That very public-spirited gentleman having, it is to be presumed, been fairly gravelled in his attempts to enclose the heath, has made up his mind in be completely sanded by opening it. Immense pits, big enough to bury St. Paul's and take in the Monument up to its shoulders, have been dug on the heath. In these water accumulates, and as boys will go near water (for any purpose but that of ablution), and will also tumble in, and as these pits am deep and sleep, serious accidents occur at times. We suppose the law forbids the cutting down of trees on the heath, but of course it cannot prevent the wind from blowing them down; and if a tree is left in these excavations standing on a sort of pillar of sand and gravel, the chances are the first cat's paw of wind uproots it. But, then, nobody cut it down, so it's all right.

Let the British public, therefore, enjoy what is left of the Heath while it can. The dispute with Sir T M. Wilson is only too likely to end in one way. When private advantage is at conflict with public interest the latter generally goes to the wall. What is everybody's business is done by nobody, but the individual who has everything to gain for himself is sure to look after his own interests.

In the meantime, let us be gay, oh, our cockney brethren. Sound the loud trumpet and strike the light jackass until he carrracoles on the dusty turf. The weather is still mild, and therefore let us be grateful that the ginger beer will not be tepid, nor will lemonade be hot in the mouth that is parched with a desire for coolness. Take a suck at the orange and at it agnin! Here be donkeys to ride, and ponies, with harder ribs and more of ’em than any full grown clothes-horse can boast. As for pace, there's no end to the variety. But as you love us, do not permit the brute that drives the superior animal to belabour it with his cruel stick. The merciful man is merciful to his — or any other man's beast—besides, you might turn oat to be an ass yourself some day.

Kiss in the Ring is an intellectual game. We pray you be not too rough at it, and remenber a kiss is none the better for beiag audible a mile off — it smacks of vulgarity.

For the quieter sort, the contemplative cockney, there is the gentle art — or rather the worm art. A flick, a bit of cotton, and a worm, will give you good sport with the stickleback.* We have asked the Inspector of Fisheries and he has asked Mr. Buckland, and he says it’s the open season, so fish away! You don’t require a crooked pin — no cruel hook is necessary. Tie a bit of a match to your cotton for float, and when you see it bob, strike smartly, and the chances are your fish will not have time to let go the worm, and so, if the fates are kind and he does not fall in the water, you may secure him for your pickle-bottle.

As for refreshments are there not kettles in the Vale of Health, and shrimps at Jack Straw’s Castle? Tea does not grow wild on tba Heath, but chopped birch broom will be found an excelled substitute and you can either prepare it yourself or buy it in the form of “our 3s. mixture” at the nearest grocer's. As for eatables, bread and butter will be found wholesome, and if dropt on the ground (in which case the laws of specific gtarity always turn it buttered side down) will be found to acquire small gravel, which is very digestive — if we may trust the light of nature as exemplified in ducks. Sandwiches are good too—especially if carried about all day in a tin box, when they acquire a rich metallic flavour.

*This little fish makes a nest like a bird! If you find one take it home and sit on the eggs. The experiment has not been tried, but we see no reason why it should not succeed — hens can hatch out ducks. A report pf your success would, no doubt, be welcomed by land and water.

Related material

Last modified 5 June 2018