[In an article published a week earlier — before its many attacks upon those urging the criminal prosecution of Governor Eyre and his underlings for atrocities committed while putting down the Morant uprising — Punch reminded its audience that “we have ever advocated Justice to men of all colours, and have done so at time. when universal philanthropy was not the fashion, and was not exactly rewarded with ovations.” And in the next issue it called for patience until all the facts were in, but it was already accusing the Evangelicals and political liberals of instigating the massacres. Later explicit racism, anti-semitism, jingoism enter its arguments along with a pervasive scron for Baptists and those who hold meetings in Exeter Hall. The text below was created using ABBYY FineReader software from the Hathi Digital Library Trust page images of a copy of the periodical in the University of Michigan Library. The engravibg of Exeter Hall comes from the 1844 Illustrated London News. Click on it for more information. — George P. Landow]
AGAIN, Mr. Punch, in the interest of the respectable portion of the community, protests against the way in which MR. BRIGHT’s organ and MR. BRIGHT's parasites are treating the Jamaica business. That in such quarters the question should be prejudged in the vulgarest manner, and that a torrent of mingled sanctimonious and slangy abuse should be let loose upon the white population of Jamaica was so much in accordance with the antecedents of the accusers that it could excite little surprise. That Miss Evan's spirited and sisterly appeal on behalf of an absent and distinguished brother should be put into small type, while the letters of excited and rampant fanatics, and their ridiculous verses, should be accorded all the honours of prominence, was merely so much more provincialism and bad taste, an that the sister should be dismisse with a sneer proved, very needlessly, that the Morning Star is not the representative of English gentlemen. But we must seriously state that the new tone which the Star has taken up is too offensive to be tolerated. It is being “funny” on the executions of the rebels in Jamaica. It inserts a mass of the clumsiest irony, in which the authorities are charged, in a comic strain, with wanting to thin off the population and the changes are rung on the over-stocking of the island, an the advantage of "popping down” the surplus negroes. This is meant for satire, but English instincts revolt at merriment over such subjects, and a protest against such fanatical buffonery is due to Christians and gentlemen.
We are not disposed to blame the tactics of the party which is using the Jamaica incidents for its own purposes. The fullest inquiry into the whole subject is required by the country, and promised by the Prime Minister. It is impossible to predict the result. It may be that a Governor of ﬁrst-rate character, all his advisers, the members of both Houses of Parliament (who have thanked him, and increased his powers), and the Jamaica press, may all have gone mad, and have perpetrated wholesale massacre in a dastardly panic. It may also be that the seeds of sedition have been sown by the emissaries of religionists at home, and that instead of conﬁning themselves to their tolerated work of propagating Calvinism, these emissaries have been imbuing the minds of demi-savages with belief hostile to white supremacy. It may be that the home organisation which has supplied these persons with money and encouragement has been involved in the culpability,and that instead of GOVERNOR EYRE and his Staff being “tried,” as is so loudly menaced, that investigation may be applied in the case of a sectarian association in England. Again, it is possible that GORDON may have been a “martyr,” or he may (as stated by a missionary in the Scotsman) have been endeavouring to revolutionise the island and aggrandise himself. But we have no real knowledge on the subject and for real knowledge England will wait. The not disinterested efforts of a section, an the foolish clamour of excited fanaticism, will not induce the people to prejudge the case; and it is not to the credit of a portion of the press that it departs from its legitiniate province and hounds on the unthinking. But the British public is not to be humhugged by cant, or led astray by prejudice. Punch claims the right, sparingly as he uses it, to be serious on occasions, and he exercises that right for the purpose of assuring all parties that society retains its judicial attitude, despite the bellowing of the bulls of Bashan.
Other Punch interventions in the Eyre Affair
- “Last case of Colour-Blindness” (2 December 1865)
- “An Awful Warning” (17 November 1866)
- “The Jamaica Committee” (26 January 1867)
- “Exeter Hall Spite” (27 January 1866)
- “The Bold Governor Eyre and the Bulls of Exeter Hall” (10 February 1866)
- “Free as Eyre” (6 April 1867)
Last modified 28 January 2016