Plain-tive Signed “EGD” (Edward G. Dalziel). Source: Fun 23 (9 February 1876): 67. Courtesy of the Suzy Covey Comic Book Collection in the George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. Click on image to enlarge it.

Young Lady: — “Well, Sarah, I suppose you’ve been receiving valentines, like all the rest?”

Sarah: — “Yes, Miss, ’ee did send me one, but I can’t say I altogether liked it!”

Young Lady: — “Why, what was wrong?”

Sarah: — “Well, Miss, it said something about ‘Sweet Auburn, loveliest of the plain,” and one does’t care about bein’ put down as a reg’lar plain, even if you be the loveliest on ’em. ’Ee shouldn’t ’ave gone for to done it!

Like a number of cartoons in Punch and Fun, this one mocks the ignorance of servants amd country people. In some cases the servant’s ignorance can be potentially lethal; here’s it’s a matter of Sarah not recognizing that her swain quotes the opening line of Oliver Goldsmith’s “The Deserted Village” (1770), one of the best known poems in the Victorian age. — George P. Landow

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Last modified 23 March 2016