HISTORY” does not mean that history is caricatured. On the contrary,
a good caricature enables us to see, in a true light, facts that
might otherwise be hidden or misrepresented.
We understand current events and the social life of England from the
illustrations of Punch more truly than from the columns of the Times
or the Morning Post. Canada is only beginning life, and our politics
touch subjects of general interest so seldom, that it is sometimes
thought and said that there is no field for a Canadian Punch but the
fact, perhaps not generally known, that for the last forty years, at
any rate, we have rarely been without artists whose pictures on the
questions of the day have appealed successfully to popular humor,
proves that our political life has been robust from the beginning.
Some of these artists had to content themselves with publishing
fly-sheets that provoked the laughter of the town, but that had no
chance of obtaining more than a local reputation. For others, organs
well-known in their day, such as Punch hi Canada, Diogenes, and
Grinchuckle, were established at different times prior to 1873, when
Grip vaulted into the seat which he has occupied since to the
satisfaction of all Canada. Requests have been frequently made for a
work containing a continuous series of his cartoons, and in now
acceding to these it has been thought well to give illustrations of
what was done among us in the same line previously. Fortunately the
publishers were able to obtain selections from the sources to which
I have referred, and also from the Canadian Illustrated News; and
the First Volume of this work thus gives something like a continuous
pictorial history of the events that have stirred popular feeling
most deeply since 1848. They believe that those older
representations will be heartily welcomed, and they desire to thank
all who have assisted in making the work so extended.
As to Grip himself, he needs no letters of commendation, but, with
his well-known regard to the established usages of society, he
thinks that there should be a Preface to the work. Considering how
freely he takes a hand in our concerns, and that, in order to show
us what goes on behind the scenes, he has no hesitation in entering
bar-rooms, Government Houses, Palaces, and the Privy-Council
Chambers of our pastors and masters, this modesty on his part will
be duly appreciated by a modesty-loving public.
A young member of our House of Commons waxed eloquent in the course
of his maiden speech, and, naturally enough, some of his brethren
thought him mad. Not so thought Joseph Howe, to whom Shakespeare was
dearer than all the Blue-books in the Parliamentary Library': “Thank
God for a bit of poetry in this dry-as-dust House,” whispered the
old man to a near neighbor. 'Yes, and thank God for Humor, with its
intuitive perception of truth, and its consequent impartiality.
Without Grip, what Saharas our Parliaments would be.
Every man should take an intelligent interest in the political life
of his country. But from what quarter is he to get information ? He
cannot get Hansard; and even if he could, life is too short to read
the terrible volumes. To trust himself to this or that party paper
will insure interest but not intelligence; and to read the papers on
both sides will land him in hopeless scepticism, or drown him “in a
popular torrent of lies upon lies.” On the whole, he cannot do
better than trust Grip, as the most honest interpreter of current
events we happen to have. Grip, too, not only generally hits the
nail on the head, but sometimes hits like a blacksmith—and we belong
to a race that loves to see a blow well struck. Besides, the fellow
has no malice in him. He has always a merry heart, and that doeth
good like a medicine. Many a laugh he has given us, and laughter
clears away unwholesome fogs from the spirit. Along with music it is
next best to Holy Writ, according to the testimony of Martin Luther.
A picture, too, has this unspeakable advantage over verbiage, that
you can take in the situation at a glance, and if it is not
agreeable, you can pass on. You condemn the representation as
unfair, but, at any rate, your time is not lost.
I do not speak as an artist of the cartoons or the caricatures that
illustrate our political history since 1873. To me their artistic
merit is exceptionally great, but I am not qualified to speak as a
critic of technique. I speak only as a public teacher who knows that
the educational influence of pen or pencil may be greater than that
of the living voice, and who rejoices when that influence is on the
In this case it is on the right side. Grip is impartial, in a
country where it is very hard to be impartial, and harder still to
have your impartiality acknowledged. Grip is also always patriotic.
He is something even better he is healthy. You may think him at
times Utopian. You may not agree with the means he proposes, but you
must always sympathize with the end he has in view. He is
scrupulously clean. He never sneers. In the best sense of the word,
he is religious.
One word more: Grip’s humor is his own. It has a flavor of the soil.
It is neither English nor American. It is Canadian.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the honor formally to introduce to you
my esteemed friend, Mr. Grip. You may receive him with confidence
into your homes and hearts.
University of Queen’s College,
Kingston, March, 1886.
Volume 1 |