Preface, by Punch cartoonist Charles Keene.

“AND now,” said Mr. Punch, “ to pay my respects to the Shah. You have, of course, seated him on my best Divan, Toby, which I trust you had caused to be properly dusted.”

So saying, Mr. Punch, with even a more fascinating smile than usual, entered the Chamber of Reception at 85, Fleet Street.

“Bigarosh muck warbouth selattyn ti pagbluth blocktinder,” said Nassr-ed-Dín, returning the smile, and saluting.

“Batman collothun chenica masherbath cowcfriski, digling ahasuerus jonnycrab, halimanthus y pop grodibungus,” replied Mr. Punch, bowing three times as he alone can bow.

“If you prefer to talk English,” said the Shah, “pray do.”

“I prefer it very much indeed, your Majesty. Permit me to observe that I am immeasurably and inconceivably honoured by this condescending visitation, and that the day will be dear to me as the most distinguished and fortunate period of my existence.”

“That is humbug, and you know it,” said the Shah.

“It is humbug, and I know it,” said Mr. Punch. “But I desire to exhibit my accomplishments to your Majesty.”

“Exhibit your grandmother, and give me a pipe,” said the Shah. “I thought I had come to one place where I might talk plain Persian, leastways English, and hear no flammery-flummery.”

“To hear is to obey," said Mr. Punch, clapping his hands. Three housemaidens, of extreme beauty and neatness, instantly entered, and various exquisite refreshments were placed before the illustrious pair.

“Not bad-looking moon-faces, those,” said the Shah, as the maidens, with deep reverence, withdrew.

“Beautiful myself,” said Mr. Punch, “I love to see myself reflected in all about me. May I offer your Majesty some sherbet? "

"Sherbet doesn’t go off with a bang, and effervesce like that, at least in Persia,” said the Shah. “Are you sure you use the right name?”

“I am like Humpty-Dumpty, Sire, in Through the Looking-Glass (elegantly illustrated by my friend, John Tenniel), and when I wish a noun to mean anything, I make that noun moan what I wish. This is sherbet, Sire, made by a meritorious French widow, from a recipe found in the writing-desk of Sharapagnecharlemagne, heretofore King of France."

“”When at Rome we must do as they do in Rome,” said the Shah, pensively.

“No, you mustn’t, Sire,” returned Mr. Punch, “or you would do without honesty, drainage, punctuality, and soap and water. But in my office you may do as I do. Lackshibboloom tommytcarboy,” he added, raising his glass.

Bong flippas dimly gudgeon," replied the Shah, returning the courtesy. “By the beard of the Prophet, that widow knows what she is about.”

“Most widows do,” said Mr. Punch. “ And how do you like us English, my successor of Darius?”

“Who was he?”

“How should I know, Sire? But it is the right thing to say. We’ll make it Xerxes, if more agreeable, as it is equally idiotic.”

“I am a Kadjar,” said the Shah.

“”We have many of your namesakes here, Sire, only their name is spelt with a variation. Your revered father was Mohammed, and his illustrious predecessor was Feth Ali, who succeeded to the magnaminous Aoa-Mouammed, founder of your unsurpassable dynasty.”

“”You know everything, I believe, Berglerbeg.”

“That, I think, is Persian for Governor, Sire. Yes. My eye and Frederick Martin have told me several things about Your Majesty, within the last week. But I am not proud, as every one of my contemporaries has availed himself of the same authority. Is the tobacco to my Lord’s liking?”

“Houri’s breath,” said the Shah, piously. ”Now, can I do anything for you? Do you want any diamonds?”

“I make them, Sire, and sell them at throe pence a packet. No, Your Majesty, Punch asks nothing of Kings except that they would follow his counsels. Those who do not, have a habit of soon ceasing to be Kings. You are wise. I learn that you are going to develope the resources of your oountry, with the aid of my friend Sir Julius de Reuter and his capitalists. I wish your Majesty brilliant success. Lackthibboloom. How do you get on with Lord Granville?”

“He is a delightfu man. He speaks French beautifully. But"—(whispers).

“”But your Majesty wants him to speak English?” said Mr. Punch, winking.

“I confess that I would rather have six words than six hundred from a friend, when I have told him my need.”

We’ll square it. Majesty. I have sent for him. He is in the next room. We’ll have it out with him, and your Majesty shall return to Teheran with your face whitened before the peoples, and shining like the moon in the firmament. Jump up, Sire! Jump, my bounding Bactrian! On to the book, Sire! We will march upon the Foreign Minister in an impressive manner. Steady, Lord of the Lion and the Sun.”

And in this wise went the Shah and Mr. Punch to confer with Lord Granville.

(The result to be revealed at a fitting season.)

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Created 4 March 2022