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September 08 , 2018

Mr. Punch's Book of Sport (Illustrated)

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"Tell me what a man laughs at, and I will tell you what he is," was one of Goethe's pregnant apothegms.Laughter, one of the chief lines of cleavage between man and beast, is one of the chief points of differentiation between man and man. From the good-natured banter which kins all the world to the envenomed sneer that sunders it,…


Author's Note:

Mr. Punch is nothing if not typical of his fellow countrymen in his interest in sport. If there be any truth in the assertion that Englishmen are neglecting the more serious affairs of life in their devotion to all forms of athletic sports, Mr. Punch would seem to be determined that there shall be no lack of humour in the process; for an immense proportion of his merry pages have been occupied with the humour of sport.
Indeed, there is no kind of open-air pastime which has escaped the kindly attention of our national humorist, and the fact that he never tires of poking good-natured fun at these hobbies of his countrymen, making merry over their misadventures, indicates in some degree that, whatever our social critics may think of the national taste for outdoor games, these must have a humanising influence and make for manliness, when their devotees can thus with good grace look upon themselves in Mr. Punch's mirror, and join in the laughter at their own expense.
But it must not be assumed that Mr. Punch's attitude is one of satirical criticism; on the contrary, his sympathies are with[Pg 6] every form of sportsmanship, and it is chiefly because his jovial knights of the pencil delight to illustrate the mishaps incidental to all games that we are entitled to look upon him as a great patron of our sports. And is not he always ready to pillory the cad and the incompetent as further proof of the soundness of his heart?
Certain volumes of this library are devoted entirely to one or other of our popular pastimes, determined mainly on their varying richness in humour, but in this "Book of Sports" we have brought together a carefully chosen selection of Mr. Punch's wittiest sayings on a variety of games and pastimes. Cricket might of itself have furnished forth a volume, Football, and Racing also; but we have sought after variety rather than repletion, and to this end even the passing craze for Ping-pong has not been ignored, as it is not the least of the merits of the Punch Library of Humour that within these volumes is enshrined a comic chronicle of the passing time.

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