The Youngsters!

Letters from the High Latitudes.— No. 27. Mrs. Hodgkinson at the British Museum. Fun 2 (13 September 1862): 258. Courtesy of the Suzy Covey Comic Book Collection in the George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. Click on image to enlarge it. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of Florida library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Dear Anne, —

What should be our next object in view was the question with which we gritted one another at the maritimal meal. The answer was, Let us go and see the British Museum, where destruction is confined with amusement, and it is all for nothing, which is something, so we settled to go.

The British Museum is a stately artifice, when handsome iron or bonze railings, highly augmented, especially in the gates, which opened on to a specious courtyard bathed with stones, through which the visitors walk towards the steps leading to the entrance of the Museum, and carriages are allowed to wait. We confided our umbrellas and parasols to the care of some officioius, who was there to deceive us, and then once turned to the left, and commenced our examination of the desolated pavement court and the Roman statutes which were extirpated after being deterred for years several but beneath the service of the earth. There was quite a family likeness among them all. We then went into another specious salute, where Mr. Pennefeather, the banister, who knows all about the antics, pointed out to us the Olympic duties. But I don't believe him, off that I was at the Olympic theater the other night, and it's not like Mr. Robson; but then perhaps it wasn't meant for him, which, now I think of it, is more than lightly. On turning to the right, was nearly taken away by coming face to face with a huge wink lion, with a man’s face, winks at his side, and a plated beard. These were brought from Nineveh, a place which, you will of course recollect, was eaten by whales. Besides these there were great wink bulls, which were calved so as to stand in front of the SEAMSTRESS, the great Queen. From the same place came also an enormous statue of RAMSEY, who was a king of Nineveh, , and the head of a seated Goloshes, belonging to RAMSEY THE SECOND. This last is placed above a doorway in the Museum, but one cannot overlook at it. I forgot to mention the figure of the Pinks, which was an even God, I believe; at all events, they used to abhor these idols with great rest reservation. After this we looked at a muddle of the Parthian temple in Grease. In another room we saw the etching marbles, but what that means I don’t know and didn’t like to ask; but I suppose that they are what the little boys used to play with, though, in that case, the children must have been much bigger than they are now, and as strong as Uglies [Ulysses] himself. Several curious specimens of ancient letter-paper were pointed out to us; this paper was a perspiration of leaves, and seems to have served all the porpoises of our best cream-laid note size.

Now let me see what came next, for I’ve lost my verandah which I made in my pocket-book as we walked along, and must trust to the transcendant suppressions which the sights made upon my mind. Oh! the mummies! Yes, fancy the children, who always talked of their mothers in this affectionate way, like our own infants, used to bury their dear mummy so carefully, that even now the figures appear, as Mu. P. said, quite spicey. They are in a high state of reservation.

I was getting so tired that we passed through the doorways where there arc more wink animals like Griffiths, the fatuous being in story books, and not stopping more than to give a cursing glance at the vases and the muddy evil collations, we reached the stuffed zoological room, where there was a Buff-fellow, a Canaletti, and a Griller [gorilla] in a glass case, embarassing the stump of a tree, while some little Grillers are gambling on the grass beside him. Swans of people stopt to see this, but after I had looked at it for a few moments, we walked on into the Every, which is a collation of dead birds. Here was a bird of Paris, whose feathers ladies used to wear in their bonnets, but which are now got quite distinct, like that even bird the Phillips, which was always rising from an Ash, where, I suppose, it used to sit. At five o’clock we were allowed to see the celebrated reading-room. This apartment is of a succulent form, and fitted with row’s of writing-decks all convulsing towards the centre. In the middle, behind a sort of counter, stands the head librarian with his staff of cisterns, whose duty it is to give out the volumes and take the tickles. The walls are covered with shells containing follies, quarts, toms, and all kinds of books. The smell of leather was rather progressive at first, and the place was just a thought too wrarm. It is well lighted from the roof, and there are galleries above, fitted also with shells all libelled. The library contains a copy of every book that was ever thought of, so that the collation is rather large. None but real stupids who wish to insult reverences ought to be admitted, but I am sorry to hear that a great many idlers come here to lunge and talk. The ladies who hunt the room, supposed to be blue stockings, do, I am told, mightily detract the retention of the Julia portion among the stupids, by wrestling their Carolines and chattering to one another. Now though I stand up for my own seot, yet I do think the librarian would be quite mystified in refusing tickles to these young ladies. Good-bye! My best love.—I remain, your affectionate sister,

Mary Anne Hodgkinson

Last modified 1 June 2018