(left) Professor: This is also a remarkable case of influenza. In the morning he ate dumplings with smoked meat, and in the evening he was already so weak that he broke money orders.
(right) Physician: OK, I’m prescribing you Salipyrin, the only remedy that helps with influenza.
Patient: Salipyrin, I’ve already taken that, but it was no use to me.
Physician: Then I’ll give you something else that is just as effective.
(Der Floh, Vienna, 1892)

Austrian flu cartoon


Nebelspalter, Zurich, 1890:

Policeman: “Come along, you have influenza!”
Drunk: “Yes, and how? I’ve been looking for a doctor for three days and can’t find one — they’re all sick!”

“What a serious misfortune has afflicted your family!”
“Oh, it’s nothing, we only let ourselves be influenzed!”

“There are people who claim that influenza (achoo!) starts with a headache (achoo!) and delirium (achoo!).”
“Hell, then you’ve got the same thing all year round.”

“Hey, neighbor, don’t cough so loud, I can’t sleep!”
“Oh, if you don’t allow me to cough, I have the right to stop you from sleeping.”

Influenza sketches

(Kolce, Warsaw, 1889)

“Why do you have such a sad face?”
“I tell you, I’m down with influenza: tenants don’t pay the rent, the wife wants money for the holidays, it’s horrible!”

Polish flu cartoon

“Oh, if only you knew how sick I was!”
“What was wrong with you?”
“Well… I had this bovine disease…”

“What are you putting on, Wicek?”
“Like a cloud of smoke, you will be overwhelmed by this super fashionable Inflanza.”

“Is the lady at home?”
“She is, but she is not receiving anyone, because she has this weakness known as intelligence.”

Oh Excellency! Oh Influenza!

“He probably caught cold from his own response!”

The visual joke here is quite simple, with the title punning on the original Italian sense of influenza as influence. Yet the underlying source of its amusement to contemporaries is not readily apparent to us today. The bedridden figure depicted is Austrian Minister-President Count Taaffe, who came down with a mild case of influenza late in December 1889, at the height of the European epidemic that winter. A masterful coalition-building aristocrat who had balanced Austro-German nationalism against Bohemian-Czech nationalism for much of the 1880s, mostly in service to conservative Liberal and noble landowning interests, Taaffe had finally been stymied by the Bohemian diet elections a few months earlier, when the Young Czech nationalists gained the upper hand. Taaffe’s failing confidence in his own rhetorical ability to sustain coalition politics seems to be the central object of the satire here. At his bedside is a bottle of János Hunyadi Bitters, a real product borrowing on the fame of a fifteenth-century Hungarian military hero–a marvelous touch.
(Šípy, Prague, 1889)

Czech flu cartoon