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  • Ginx’s Baby June 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    ***Dedicated to Wade who sent this in***

    An interview with the tax man today so a low intensity post on a story sent in by Wade from an American paper 1871. It is presumably a morality tale (with a kick at the old country): but it is cute for all that. It is one of these things that Beach can’t really justify putting here: he just likes it…

    Everybody has heard of Ginx’s baby. The story has created a sensation in England for a good while, and is now having its run in this country. Its moral is a terribly earnest one. We will give an outline of the tale, and let the reader draw lessons from it to suit himself. Ginx was a hard-working man of the poorer classes in London…He represents, too, the great mass of Victoria’s twenty-five millions of subjects who toil, suffer and submit, that the other five millions may have ease, culture and power. Ginx occupied one little room of a tenement house in one of the filthiest quarters of the great city, amidst the indescribable squalor and filth to which he was doomed from his birth. He married, and in an incredibly short time his little lodgings swarmed with a full dozen children. Things had already become desperate, and the birth of yet another boy drove him distracted [sic]. In a fit of paroxysmal insanity, he seizes the new born infant and rushes to Vauxhall Bridge, determined to drown him in the Thames. His mad act is arrested just on the point of consummation, and a pious nun comes into possession of Ginx’s baby.

    The first act then almost leads to infanticide: ‘and dying about you every day’. Now bring on the religious…

    The Protestant Detectoral Association hears of it. Shall a child of the Church of England be trained up in Popery? Never. They go into a scramble for his rescue, appeal to the laws, and set the community in an uproar, as if the fate of Christendom depended on Ginx’s baby. All in vain. The courts profoundly respect the ‘liberty of the subject’ and without the intervention of Ginx – which he obstinately refuses the baby must be left to Popery and perdition. Mother Speciosa has her victory; but soon finding the infant too troublesome to keep, she voluntarily gives him over to the Protestant Detectoral Association with the consoling reflection that baptism has absolutely sealed him to the Catholic Church.

    The Protestants are naturally not much better.

    Then follow long wranglings of the Protestant sects as to how Ginx’s baby shall be cared for. A mass meeting lasting five hours, with discussions full of all richness, finally broke up in universal discord, leaving the child half-starved and actually forgotten. There he lay, splendidly costumed in robes presented by a duchess. Making his presence remembered by an outcry, he was finally, by the consent of the enlightened chairman, picked up and carried off by a poor woman who offered to take charge of him ‘for the sake of the cause’. A few hours later a policeman found him wrapped ‘in a copy of the largest daily paper in the world’, lying on a doorstep in a narrow alley.

    From here the baby falls into the hands of the Evangelicals. There a subcommittee discussed:

    ‘in regard to the disposal of the child. (1) As touching the body: wherewithal he should be fed and clothed?, In what manner and fashion that should be done? (2) As touching the mind and spirit whether he should be educated? What subjects of instruction? What creed, if any, should be primarily taught? And should he be further baptised? If so into what communion? By what ceremonial?

    While the ‘long and entertaining disputes’ continue over several months he was abandoned again, this time into the hands of the police.

    ‘And they went for that Ginx to whom says the author, ‘the hapless changeling was one day delivered by a deputy relieving officer, with the benediction by me sadly recorded. ‘There he is damn him!’

    It sounds the kind of story that the Victorians would have attached to their fridge by fridge magnets: if of course they had had either fridges or fridge magnets. Does anyone know its background? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com


    9 June 2012: Kath writes ‘I found this: “Ginx’s Baby: His birth and other misfortunes, a satire” by Edward Jenkins, 1872. Quite a bizarre piece of writing! Thanks, Kath!

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