The British Museum.. William S. Brunton (fl. 1859-71), artist. Fun (26 September 1868): 25. 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.

The accompanying text

I don't know whother or not to put on my best bonnet to go there, and yet there are a good many gentlemen. Not that they have eyes for anything that isn’t marbled edged, bound half calf and lettered. I got that out of the Publisher's Circular. They send it to Pa once a fortnight, and I read it to see what new novels are coming out. Pa won’t let us belong to Mudie’s. He says that they’re orthodox enough but have no eye for impropriety. I haven’t the least idea what he means. I know Ada had a book lent her from there that was just out, and there was a dreadful fuss about it when she lent it to cook and cook left it on the hall table, and Pa got hold of it. I always told her that she’d better go to the Museum. Not but what it’s dull there, and one sometimes wishes that one was a mummy so that one might have a little notice taken of one but it’s a quiet place as it is, is stuffy, and one would like to take one’s things off; and it isn't quite the sort of place to eat a bath bun in, which is what I always have for lunch, though the shiny stuff outside makes your fingers sticky and ruins your gloves and smells like treacle, and certainly does make marks on the leaves when you turn ’em over — yet one can lose oneself if one only gets used to the singular fact that the gentlemen there, and particularly the young gentlemen, will not stare at one, and will persist in treating one like a sarcophagus or a scarabaeus, or some of those things that they put up in all the corners and leave about on dark landings all over the place. I don’t wonder at it much, for really to see some of the frights that one meets with; all of ’em dressed up to the model of the sphinx. Oh I know what the sphinx is. She lived in the middle of the sandy desert and spent her time in guessing conundrums or else in asking riddles, or perhaps it was making up rebuses, I’m not quite sure which. She’d a deal better have made herself up a decent dress or a spring bonnet, and she must have been fonder of sand than I am, except at Margate or Ramsgate, where I must say that the sand's a deal fresher than the novels, and who is it that always goes to the seaside for the express purpose of always having the second volume of everything and refusing to give them up till everybody else is just going away? It’s better at the Museum, ever so much, so long as you don’t bother yourself with their stupid catalogues. The young men in the library there are very obliging, and when I go in and ask for the last thing out in the advertisements in the newspaper they’ll bring all three volumes at once. I enjoy one thing, and that is to see sphinxes glower at mo. I make faces at ’em sometimes under the pretence of tying my bonnet strings. Then they look like scornful horses with distended nostrils; like the horses that one sees on the what-do-you-call’s — you know what I mean — Friezes or Freizes, which is it? What a stupid thing it is that somebody don’t tell us when it’s ie and when it’s ei. Somebody pretended to give a rule the other day. I heard Pa read about it in the paper, and Pa said of courso everybody know that: but the next day somebody else had written a letter to the paper to show that the first one was wrong, — and then Pa did what I thought was very absurd, he said yes, of course everybody knew that: just as if we didn’t remember anything about what ho'd said at first. Pa thinks himself clever. lie fancies that I’m in training for a sphinx myself, for I know he’s heard that 1 spend a good deal of time at the Museum, but not for---dear me, my name isn’t Joseph, it’s Julia — don’t you think it pretty? I don’t — at least, I might if people didn’t call one Ju, or Juley, which sounds like Judy, and then one might as well have been named Judith at once, which isn’t a bad name, sounds like nails and hammers, or was it a double-edged sword — you know what I mean, that affair with Sisera, or was it another person named Holofernes. Talking of that, there were no ferns at Ecclesbourne this your. They had been cleared out by the men that hawk thorn about the streets. I know nothing about ferns, oh dear no, but they look pretty in a glass case. I’ve not studied botany; thanks, no, I’m not a sphinx at present. I wonder whether they, I mean our friends at the Museum, are some of the female persons that have been rejected. Rejected I mean by the revising barrister; I hope so I’m sure, and I rather think one or two are, for I noticed a blue bonnet and a buff parasol are at each end of a table. You see I’ve got back to bonnets, and it’s easier for one to get a bonnet into one’s head than on to one’s head. I declare that's a pun or a joke, or something, isn't it? Dear me, I’m afraid I shall be making conundrums next, and then one becomes a sphinx one self.

Last modified 3 June 2018