The Peel Web

I am happy that you are using this web site and hope that you found it useful. Unfortunately, the cost of making this material freely available is increasing, so if you have found the site useful and would like to contribute towards its continuation, I would greatly appreciate it. Click the button to go to Paypal and make a donation.

What I Remarked at the Exhibition

William Makepeace Thackeray, 1851 [taken from Punch, Vol. 20: 3 May 1851, p. 189.]

I remarked that the scene I witnessed was the grandest and most cheerful, the brightest and most splendid show that eyes had ever looked on since the creation of the world; - but as everybody remarked the same thing, this remark is not of much value.

I remarked, and with a feeling of shame, that I had long hesitated about paying three guineas - pooh-poohed - said I had seen the Queen and Prince before, and so forth, and felt now that to behold this spectacle, three guineas, or five guineas, or any sum of money (for I am a man of enormous wealth) would have been cheap; and I remarked how few of us know really what is good for us have the courage of our situations, and what a number of chances in life we throw away. I would not part with the mere recollection of this scene for a small annuity; and calculate that, after paying my three guineas, I have the Exhibition before me, besides being largely and actually in pocket.

I remarked that a heavy packet of sandwiches which Jones begged me to carry, and which I pocketed in rather a supercilious and grumbling manner, became most pleasant friends and useful companions after we had been in our places two or three hours; and I thought to myself, that were I a lyric poet with a moral turn, I would remark how often in the hour of our need our humble friends are welcome and useful to us, like those dear sandwiches, which we pooh-poohed when we did not need them.

I remarked that when the Queen bowed and curtseyed, all the women about began to cry.

I remarked how eagerly the young Prince talked with his sister - how charmed everybody was to see those pretty young persons walking hand in hand with their father and mother, and how, in the midst of any magnificence you will, what touches us most is nature and human kindness, and what we love to witness most is love.

I remarked three Roman Catholic clergymen of the crowd, amusing themselves with an opera glass.

I remarked to myself that it was remarkable that a priest should have an opera glass.

I remarked that when the Archbishop of Canterbury was saying his prayer, the Roman Catholic clergymen seemed no more to care than I should if Mr. Longears was speaking in the House of Commons - and that they looked, stared, peered over people's shoulders, and used the opera glass during the prayer.

I remarked that it would have been more decorous if, during that part of the day's proceedings, the reverend gentlemen had not used the opera glass.

I remarked that I couldn't be paying much attention myself; else how should I have seen the reverend gentlemen?

I remarked my Lord Ivorystick and my Lord Ebonystick backing all the way round the immense building before the Queen; and I wondered to myself how long is that sort of business going to last? how long will freeborn men forsake the natural manner of walking, with which God endowed them, and continue to execute this strange and barbarous pas? I remarked that a Royal Chamberlain was no more made to walk backwards, than a Royal coachman to sit on the box and drive backwards. And having just been laughing at the kotoos of honest Lord Chopstick (the Chinese Ambassador with the pantomime face), most of us in our gallery remarked that the performance of Lord Ivorystick and Lord Ebonystick was not more reasonable than that of his Excellency Chopstick, and wished that part of the ceremony had been left out.

I remarked in the gold cage, to which the ladies would go the first thing, and in which the Koh-i-noor reposes, a shining thing like a lambent oyster, which I admired greatly, and took to be the famous jewel. But on a second visit I was told that that was not the jewel that was only the case, and the real stone was that above, which I had taken to be an imitation in crystal.

I remarked on this, that there are many sham diamonds in this life which pass for real, and, vice versa, many real diamonds which go unvalued. This accounts for the non-success of those real mountains of light my "Sonnets on Various Occasions."

I remarked that, if I were Queen of England, I would have a piece of this crystal set into my crown, and wear it as the most spendid jewel of the whole diadem - that I would.

And in fact I remarked altogether GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

Meet the web creator

These materials may be freely used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances and distribution to students.
Re-publication in any form is subject to written permission.

Last modified 4 March, 2016

The Age of George III Home Page

Ministerial Instability 1760-70

Lord North's Ministry 1770-82

American Affairs 1760-83

The period of peace 1783-92

The Age of the French Wars 1792-1815 Irish Affairs 1760-89

Peel Web Home Page

Tory Governments 1812-30

Political Organisations in the Age of Peel

Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel

Popular Movements in the Age of Peel

Irish Affairs
Primary sources index British Political Personalities British Foreign policy 1815-65 European history
index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind