The prevailing idea of the origin and history of Punch has hitherto rested mainly on three productions: the "Memories" of George Hodder, "Mr. Punch's Origin and Career," and Mr. Joseph Hatton's delightful but fragmentary papers, entitled "The True Story of Punch." So far as the last-named is based upon the others, it is untrustworthy in its details; but the statements founded on the writer's own knowledge and on the documentary matter in his hands, as well as upon his intimacy with Mark Lemon, possess a distinct and individual value, and I have not failed to avail myself in the following pages of Mr. Hatton's courteous permission to make such use of them as might be desirable.
During the four years in which I have been engaged upon this book, my correspondents have been numbered by hundreds. Hardly a man living whom I suspected of having worked for Punch, but I have communicated with him; scarce one but has afforded all the information within his knowledge in response to my application. Editor and members of the Punch Staff, past and present--"outsiders," equally with those belonging to "the Table"--the relations and friends of such as are dead, all have given their help, and have shown an interest in the work which I hope the result may be thought to justify. All this mass of material--all the evidence, published and unpublished, that was adduced in order to establish certain points and refute others--had to be carefully sifted and collated, contrary testimony we