The Youngsters!

The British Museum. William S. Brunton (fl. 1859-71), artist. Fun. Click on image to enlarge it.

The Natural History Collection at the British Museum must be looked to far amusement rather than instruction. The student will not gain much information from creataree stuffed — like a pet lapdog — beyond recognition. But the philoeopher will find food for smiles in the beasts, which may be described as ex-straw-dinarily well staffed without any departure from truth, for they generally overflow with corn-etalks at every seam and shot-hole. It is possibly because he is loth to deprive thousands (at an average of twenty weekly) of the harmless amaeement of laughing at the monstrosities, that Professor Owen, a knowin’ professor, does not take steps to replace them with something more like the real animals. The hippopotami are set up in such an extraordinary manner, and are so unlike the real article, that we oan scarcely wonder at the broad grin in which each specimen indulges. They, in common with the elephants, tapirs, and other thick-skinned animals, have had their hides obtrusively mended in so many places, that we have met with students of natural history and frequenters of the British Museum, who believed this order of mammals to have been called “patch-yderms ” on this very account. Poor Pachyderms, they have need to be thick-skinned when their rags and tatters are made such an open exhibition!

Altogether owing to the so-so way in which the sutures have been made ia the process of stuffing, the animals bear small resemblance to the living creatures to be seen at Regent's-park:—their seaming, in short, is anything but lifelike.

The British Museum (1823-47). Click on image to enlarge it.

Rumours have been set afloat from time to time that the Natural History Collection is to be removed to other quarters, but the report is generally contradicted. We are inclined to think that it will stop where it is, as it seems to be stationary, if not retrograde, in character. One of the advantages of the Natural History Collection at the British Museum is to be found in the opportunities it offers for young people to conduct their courtships. Many a happy twain can date his felicity from the fortunate moment when he stole his first kiss from the object of his worship, having carefully put the hippopotamus between himself and her parents. Offers have been made and aooepted under the shadow of the abnormally elongated hat-stand known to the custodians of the collection as the giraffe. An intimate friend assures us that his present wife, then a wealthy widow, to whom he offered ooneolation in exchange for Consols, first found courage to give him a word of hope while conoealed from the gaze of the world hy the bulky portmanteau on four posts which doee duty for an elephant in the neighbourhood of Russell-square.

We can aleo recommend the Natural Hietory Department of the Museum to the parents of refractory children. There are one or two cheerful crocodiles and some other specimens which, properly managed, will frighten a naughty boy into fits. In the Entomological Division there are so mo nice hairy spiders that will make anybody feel very uncomfortable, and may be applied, morally, to the backs of disobedient daughters with great effect.

Fun (11 May 1867): 98. Click on image to enlarge it. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Digital Library Trust and the University of Minnesota library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. —  George P. Landow]

Last modified 28 April 2016