Retro writing: Cuttings from The Graphic: March 29, 1879

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IMG_0921“Retro bites” from this week in 1879 as presented by The Graphic, an illustrated weekly newspaper from London. The text and illustrations are as produced in the original publication.  (Links to recent articles in today’s media on the same, or similar topics, have been added for interest.  These are marked by a different coloured font in the text and the abbreviation CoL for Click on Link).

IMG_0917CREMATION – The promoters of the Crematorium at Woking have been snubbed by the Home Secretary, and will have to get Parliament to pass an Act in their favour before they can carry out their project of burning dead bodies instead of burying them.  We presume they selected Woking as the scene of their experiment with the idea that the inhabitants of that village are so accustomed to funeral rites that they would not be startled by any novelty in the method of disposing of the dead.  It seems, however, that they were mistaken, and that the (CoL) Wokingites are staunch Conservatives in funeral matters .  They regard cremation with horror, and have spoken out very energetically on the subject …

(CoL) THE DEATH PENALTY – … The taking of life because of an outrage perhaps committed in a moment of anger conflicts with modern humanity; and there are thinkers who maintain that it is a blunder as well as an offence.  On this point, however, the evidence as yet appears to be opposed to the abolitionists.  In regard to punishment we have to consider not what in itself is most severe but what is most likely to deter from crime.  Probably, the majority of educated men, if forced to decide, would say that death is preferable to imprisonment for life.  Yet the latter does not act with half so much force on the popular imagination as the former ….


(CoL)A FIELD AUCTION – This was held outside the fort at Helpmakaar shortly after the disaster at Islandlwhana.  Here were sold the kits of some of the officers of the 24th Regiment who fell in action.  The competition was very keen, as all that were left behind were absolutely destitute of everything but that which they stood up in.  Here and there some little trinket left behind would turn up, or something else well known to many who stood around, when the poor brave comrade, now lying dead in Zululand, was as full of life and strength as they are now.  But war is a rough school, and in its many duties and excitement leave little leisure for such reflections as these.


OUR ARTIST POSTING A BUDGET – “In travelling about country in Afghanistan, it is not always you can conveniently find a post-office, though there are many in the camp here and there.  It will so happen that you may be travelling from one to another on the very day the bags of the English mail leave either of these stations; then your only chance is to waylay the two fleet little ponies, whose riders will not delay a moment, and, as you hold out your budget of news or sketches in passing, they are snatched up by the flying courier, (CoL) and are whirled away through the Khyber, across India and down to Bombay, and then away to England.”

(CoL) CHOOSING RECRUITS FOR THE BRITISH SERVICE  – “Already many of the natives around camp,” writes our special artist, “have been taken by the brilliant uniforms of the Guides, and try to seek their fortunes in their ranks; but very few are chosen, as they do not come up to the standard of this excellent corps, and after taking off their muffler, or brigand-like toga, which they throw over the upper part of the body, the European officer who examines will, nine times out of ten, refuse admission.”

Foreign news

(CoL) THE FLOODS IN HUNGARY – It is difficult for any but those who have actually witnessed such a calamity to form an adequate conception of the dreadful nature or the extent of the terrible disaster which has happened in Hungary.  Szegedin, the capital of Csongrád, is situated on a marshy plain, and was divided into the town proper, and the upper and lower suburbs … The loss of life is not and cannot be known until the waters abate, and the land is again pumped dry, but it is calculated that at least 84,000 persons have been made homeless and completely ruined.  On Saturday, the 15th inst., most of the stone houses, some of them very large, fell, covering, in one instance, eighty families, and in another fifty-six persons, within the ruins.   According to the Times, the area laid under water is about 960 square miles …

(CoL) In SWITZERLAND capital punishment has been re-established, owing to the increase in the number of murders which has taken place since its abolition.


AQUATICS – (CoL) Both the University crews have gone to Putney.  Marriott, last year’s stroke, has assumed his old place, much to the delight of the partizans of the Dark Blue, and as we ventured to anticipate last week, the odds on Cambridge have been very considerably reduced.  As matters now stand it would seem that the contest will be a close one, the Oxford crew having created a favourable impression since its arrival at Putney.

THE TURF – … Of course, after the race there was a general stampede for Liverpool, where (CoL) the Grand National will be decided after this note is in print.


(CoL) The recurrence of severe winter weather after a day or two of promising mildness has been general.  London has again been subjected to snow, sleet, cold, winds, mud, and general discomfort, but on Thursday there was a very welcome change for the better.  The reports from all parts of the country, especially the North, speak of great inclemency.  Heavy snowstorms have fallen in Scotland, and the easterly gales have been exceedingly bitter.  Around the coasts the weather has been very tempestuous, and many ports have been filled with vessels which dare not venture to sea.




Next week’s news will be posted on Friday of next week.

2 thoughts on “Retro writing: Cuttings from The Graphic: March 29, 1879

  1. This is great! I’ve enjoyed looking at the modern day reports as well. It must have taken a while to put it all together. Really good stuff. Thank you.



    • Thanks James. It did take a bit of time to sort through it all but it was fascinating and what makes it so worthwhile is knowing that someone somewhere might take the time to click on a link – much appreciated! Happy Easter.


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