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Victoria's Easter Grinch, 1865

Posted 19/04/2019 in History
Easter in Victoria, Melbourne, Davide Syme and Co. 1889. Source: State Library Victoria.


No doubt you have heard of the Christmas Grinch, but have you heard of the Easter Grinch? He apparently lived in Melbourne during the 1860s. Although Easter in 19th century Victoria was generally observed as a joyous time of festivity and leisure, in 1865 Melbourne Punch published an article by "an extremely irritable man" who declared his hatred of the holiday and all its associated inconveniences.

The tirade opens with the line "I HATE holidays" before the author goes on to describe his disagreement with all aspects of the celebrations, including the closure of shops, the crowding of streets, the unwelcome visitors, and even professed that his evening sleep would surely be visited by nightmares.

The following amusing text was published in Melbourne Punch on the 20th of April 1865:

EASTER
By an extremely irritable man.

I HATE holidays. I never want any holidays myself. I don't see the use of holidays unless it be to make people exceedingly weary, and listless, and unfit to perform their ordinary duties. Relaxation quotha, there's a great deal too much relaxation ; indeed, I wonder holiday-makers ever recover themselves after these periods of relaxation.

I have just walked up and down Bourke-street to see in what fashion holiday-makers disport themselves. I have encountered many hundreds of persons having no object in life save that of jostling against each other. They walk up the street and down the street - they repeat the process many times - until from sheer fatigue they can perform it no longer, and then they try to convince themselves they have made the most of their holiday.

I tell you I hate holidays. Every shop is shut up and you can get nothing you want. The domestic requirements are in entire abeyance to the public celebration. If you have unhappily forgotten to provide your green-groceries the day before, and you decide that a certain proportion of green-groceries is necessary to your domestic enjoyment, your enjoyment will lack its full measure on the holiday, for the green-grocer will have availed himself of the privileges of the day. The butcher and baker give themselves airs of condescension, as if they did you a favour in furnishing nutritious aliment on this exceptional occasion.

If you desire to ride, the carmen are insolent and exacting beyond their wont; the railway trains are crowded, and railway clerks are more uncivil than ordinary, which last is needless.

The banks are closed, and, of course, you have a cheque that it is of necessity you should have cashed.

You are worried out of your life by holiday folks calling to see you, and if you try to escape from their attentions by going out of the house, you find yourself in the fire instead of the frying-pan. The city and all its suburbs swarm with idlers. Every park and garden is full of them. Particular spots to which on ordinary occasions you are in the habit of repairing, are profanely invaded. If you decide to visit a friend whose abode is usually one of charming tranquillity, you are horrified to find yourself one of half a score other visitors, all of them strangers to you, and, as a matter of course, disagreeable.

The whole world seems doubly alive, and you are firmly convinced that another deluge would be a blessing. In the evening perhaps you desire to be amused, as some land of solace for the troubles of the day, but the theatres are crowded to the ceiling, and the atmosphere therein is stifling and unsavoury. If you stay, you must stand all the time, and if you go away, you have again to face the crowded streets, or if you go home it is only to encounter a fresh batch of holiday-people.

Eventually you get to bed, but you are sure to have the night-mare, and when you come down the next morning you read in the newspaper, with a combined feeling of bewilderment and exasperation, that "yesterday was a day of universal enjoyment and pleasure-taking!"

Source: www.trove.nla.gov.au



 

 

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