The Definitive Resource Of Oscar Wilde's Visits To America

Beauty’s Lisping Parasite

Punch, or the London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration. It became a British institution. (Wikipedia)

The piece below was an introduction to the 1883 annual publication poking fun at the penchant for American lecturing. Jonathan (left) entreats Mr Punch to continue the trend, but he declines eventually offering the magazine annual in his stead.

Below the cartoon is a glossary of terms.


I draw, and am not 'drawn'

Mr. Punch, a popular cartoonist (who draws), is disinclined to be drawn into the venture.

hanged, drawn and quartered

An allusion to the barbaric English penalty for high treason established in 1351. In this sense 'quartered' also means provided quarters, or given accommodation.


Mr. Punch's dog.


The most beautiful of mortals abducted by Zeus. Some interpretations of the myth treat it as an allegory of the human soul aspiring to immortality, but it also serves as a model for the socially acceptable Greek custom of a relationship between a man and a youth.

genius loci

In classical Roman religion, the protective spirit of a place.

tumbler of (sophisticated) hot water

An satirical allusion to the Victorian temperance fad of drinking hot water in lieu of spirits.


U.S. dialectal variant pronunciation of horse.


U.S. slang: to make a public oratory. From the practice of standing on a tree stump to deliver a speech.

Preposterously puffed pachyderms

Jumbo was the Barnum & Bailey circus elephant that toured America from 1882. This allusion conflates Oscar Wilde and Jumbo as two puffed (advertised) pachyderms (elephants) reminiscent of how they had been portrayed in trade card advertisements. See Oscar and Jumbo.

Beauty's Lisping Parasite

A cutting reference to Wilde as the apostle of aestheticism (the science of the beautiful), his cultured drawl and sometimes derivative text.

Madame Tussaud

A London waxworks museum of celebrities.


In Greek mythology, a statue that comes to life.

Opinions on Atlantic and Niagara Falls

A reference to Wilde's quoted opinions. See also:

Disappointed in the Atlantic

Wilde in Niagara

Wilde Sees The Falls


The act of swallowing.

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2024