[Editor: This article, consisting of tongue-in-cheek predictions, was published in Melbourne Punch (Melbourne, Vic.), 31 December 1857.]
Hieroglyphic for the New Year.
He who with a devout and trusting heart considereth the Hieroglyphic of the Astrologer PUNCH, shall see in it the shadows of many strange events. For planets of baleful influence are angular in the mid-heaven, the House of Honour; and Saturn is within three degrees of culminating in the sign Virgo, and the moon is in close zodiacal parallel to Jupiter, and Mercy is in the ascendant, and all are in hylegiacal places.
And it will appear, as the stars in their fiery lines declare, that One sojourning in the House called the public house shall become violent, and the victim of delusions, and shall lose his senses, and shall wake and find himself in a stone place; and shall pay forty shillings and go his ways.
And a traveller to Geelong (as appears from the manner in which the world turns on its soft axle, or Pivot,) shall experience a disaster.
And by the manner in which Sol enters the sign Acquarius, there shall be rain during the year, and the street of Elizabeth shall flow with water, and an Old Gentleman shall be sorely distressed.
But hot weather shall ensue, and he who has been wet shall be dry, and a Spirit shall appear, and mix with sparkling water and shall disappear, and an old gentleman shall be comforted.
While far in the Eastern House are the signs of Golden success, and a large nugget shall be dug up.
In the Lower House, however, are signs of storms and confusion, and there shall be divisions and the ringing of bells.
And he who keepeth long vigils, shall be troubled with many strange visitants.
And the race shall be ridden, and won, and lost, and the rider shall be overthrown.
And travellers from a crowded land shall traverse the highways, and shall bear heavy burdens, and shall pay money as they go, and smoke opium, and be astonished, and the cause of astonishment.
And one who often is about to go and never goeth shall appear positively for the last time, and yet he shall be seen of men again and again, for the star that indicateth his departure hath not yet entered the House of Coppin.
Then honest men shall suffer loss of their goods by violence; and one with low forehead and villainous aspect shall be for a time enriched.
And between lawyers there shall be disputes; and it shall occur that some shall fall out and that others shall come by their own.
All these marvels doth the astrologer PUNCH foresee, by the power of his art, and by comprehension of the mystery of the stars; and if in any one particular it cometh not to pass in the year 1858 as he predicteth, may his planet decline, and may he be called a horse among the sons of Australia.
Melbourne Punch (Melbourne, Vic.), 31 December 1857, p. 180 (4th page of that issue)
The graphic, comprising twelve pictures around a picture of a wizard (a caricature of Mr. Punch as a wizard), which accompanies this article, matches the “prophecies” which are given. The twelve pictures (matching, in number, the twelve hours) are arranged in a manner roughly similar to a clock face.
Starting from the one o’clock position, and going clockwise, the twelve pictures are:
1) A man being taken to prison (“a stone place”) by a policeman. The paragraph refers to a man going to a pub, becoming drunk and violent, being sent to prison, or a police cell, and being fined by a court.
2) A train (“a traveller to Geelong”). The paragraph refers to a disaster occurring (i.e. a train accident on the railway to Geelong).
3) A flood in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne (“the street of Elizabeth shall flow with water”). Note: Although the writer has correctly spelt the street’s name as “Elizabeth”, the artist has incorrectly spelt it as “Elisabeth” (with an “s” instead of a “z”).
4) A fat man sweating in the heat, with a glass beside him, apparently with an alcoholic drink mixed with soda water (“and a Spirit shall appear, and mix with sparkling water”).
5) A miner finding a large lump of gold (“a large nugget shall be dug up”), apparently in one of the eastern states of Australia or possibly in an eastern part of Victoria (“in the Eastern House”).
6) A crowd of men outside of Parliament House (“In the Lower House”, i.e. the Legislative Assembly). Note: In parliament, a “division” may be called for the counting of votes, and bells are rung to notify Members of a vote occurring.
7) A man sitting up at night, with a candle burning beside him (“he who keepeth long vigils”).
8) A jockey on a horse, in a horse race (“the race shall be ridden…”).
9) A line of Chinese walking (“travellers from a crowded land shall traverse the highways”) with their possessions balanced on shoulder-borne poles (“and shall bear heavy burdens”). Note: “shall pay money as they go” could be a reference to the Chinese poll-tax; “smoke opium” is a reference to the significant usage of opium by Chinese people in the late 19th Century.
10) A man wearing a top hat. The man is apparently George Coppin (“the House of Coppin”), the comedic actor and theatre manager; when his finances failed, he left Australia for the USA in 1864 (and was given a large sum of money by friends and supporters to assist him), but he came back in 1866 (“one who often is about to go and never goeth”).
11) A man being robbed (“honest men shall suffer loss of their goods by violence”).
12) Two men arguing (“between lawyers there shall be disputes”).
baleful = expressing destructive or harmful intentions; displaying a menacing or threatening visage; manifesting an intent of destruction, harm, menace; having a dangerous, destructive, or harmful effect; (archaic) miserable, unhappy, wretched
cometh = (archaic) come
considereth = (archaic) considers
Coppin = George Selth Coppin (1819-1906), comedic actor, theatre manager, entrepreneur, and politician; he was born in Steyning (Sussex, England) in 1819, came to Australia in 1843, and died in Richmond (Vic.) in 1906
See: 1) Sally O’Neill, “Coppin, George Selth (1819–1906)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “George Coppin”, Wikipedia
hath = (archaic) has
hieroglyphic = of or relating to a writing system which uses pictorial symbols (hieroglyphs), such as was used in ancient Egypt (some other writing systems can also be called hieroglyphic, such as those used by the Aztec, Chinese, Mayan, and Minoan civilisations); any writing system which uses pictures or picture symbols; of or relating to symbols or writings which are difficult to decipher or read (including secret symbols and undecipherable handwriting)
See: 1) “hieroglyph: writing character”, Encyclopaedia Britannica
2) “Hieroglyph”, Wikipedia
hylegiacal = (also spelt “hylegical”) of or relating to a hyleg (in astrology, the planet which is ascendant or dominant when someone is born)
indicateth = (archaic) indicates
keepeth = (archaic) keeps
Lower House = the lower house of a parliament; the Legislative Assembly (in the context of the various colonies and states of Australia); the House of Representatives (in the context of the federal parliament in Australia)
predicteth = (archaic) predicts
public house = hotel; an establishment where the main line of business is to sell alcoholic drinks for customers to consume on the premises (also known as a “pub”)
Sol = the Sun; in Roman mythology, Sol was god of the Sun; in Norse mythology, Sól was goddess of the Sun
[Editor: Changed “of astonishment,” to “of astonishment.” (replaced comma with a full stop); “between lawgers” to “between lawyers”.]
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