New Year’s Resolutions from Punch in 1889: Humorous and Cheeky

The idea of New Year’s resolutions and resolving to do better began long ago but exactly when is unknown, although the suggestion has been that it began as far back as when man first became conscious. Everyone, such as the Princesse de Lamballe, Eliza de Feuillide, or Madame Tussaud likely made private New Year’s resolutions. However, by the late 1880s Punch; or, The London Charivari, a British weekly magazine of humor and satire, decided to publicly announce the following humorous and cheeky New Years Resolution for 1889 that they claimed should be made by some well-known people:

New Year's resolution

Lord Salisbury – To be more cautious in my expressions, more temperature in my judgments, and generally more reticent all round.

Mr. Gladstone – To fire away at Home Rule, hammer and tons, as hard as ever, and keep it up red-hot till an unexpected flare-up somewhere gives me a chance of cutting in, and, by hook or crook, carrying my point.

William Ewart Gladstone. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Mr. W.H. Smith – To let myself be quietly effaced and imperceptibly yield my position as leader of the House to my bland an amiable friend Goschen.

Mr. Goschen – To gracefully and stealthily eclipse and supplant my revered and respected colleague M. W. H. Smith.

Mr. Stanhope – To hit upon a scheme by which with or without the aid of the Department, I may within the next 10 years, hope to make good the deficiency of guns at the present moment experienced keenly by both the Services.

Lord George Hamilton – To calm and appease public opinion by further flourish over fresh “Manoeuvres,” and to lull Lord Charles into quietude by showing him (on paper) what gigantic efforts I am making to put the Navy into proper condition.

Lord George Hamilton. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

M. de Lesseps – To save my own vanity from disastrous defeat by appealing to the vanity of my fellow countrymen to bolster it up by contributing £20,000,000 for the purpose.

General Boulanger – To get into the Dictator’s chair, somehow, and then watch to see which way the National Cat means to jump.

New Year's resolution - Georges Boulanger

Georges Boulanger. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Prince Bismarck – To take care that not a half-penny cost out of the Imperial Exchequer is wasted over this East African business, but to see that it is, nevertheless, backed up by the assistance of my pliant and accommodate friend Salisbury.

Mr. Balfour – To keep the whip-hand of that rascally pack of bloodhounds, the Irish party in the House of Commons.

The Irish party in the House of Commons – To lose no opportunity for yelling, growling, and snarling at that miserable cur, the Irish Secretary.

The Chief Commissioner of Police – To take care that, now I’ve got fairly into Warren’s boots, I don’t manage to ‘put my foot in it’ as often as he did.

Mr. Irving – Not to cut short the run of my newly mounted ‘Macbeth’ at Lyceum, till the public shout to me, ‘Hold! Enough!'”

Henry Irving as Macbeth by James Archer R.S.A. Courtesy of Bagshawe.


  • “New Year’s Resolutions,” in Nottingham Evening Post, 2 January 1889, p. 2.

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