Friday, December 6, 2013

Mr. Punch in the Arts: Mr. Punch and Father Christmas, 1878

An Arduous Quest
Joseph Swain, 1878
Punch Magazine
Heritage Images
This engraving by artist Joseph Swain from the December, 1878 edition ofPunch Magazine is entitled, “An Arduous Quest.” Here, we see Mr. Punch (looking quite tall), with his terrier, Toby, as they happen upon Father Christmas. Mr. Punch asks, “What are you looking for, Father?” Father Christmas, holding his torch aloft, replies, “Peace on Earth, and Goodwill Toward Men!” The light of Father Christmas’ lamp does not reveal what he seeks, but rather, the words, “War, Failures, Commercial Depression, and Distress.”

One hundred thirty-five years later, Father Christmas is still looking for the same things, and still finding the same. However, as long as we have Mr. Punch to ask the question, perhaps, the next time any of us faces “An Arduous Quest,” we’ll find something better.

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