The Deadly Upas Tree of Wall Street by Joseph Keppler
Puck Magazine Centerspread , August 30, 1882
"In some remote valleys and swamps of India, and in some partially explored districts of several Asiatic islands, which abound with rank vegetation and are the home of slimy reptiles and fierce wild beasts, the Upas tree flourishes. It grows to perfection in the Island of Java, and its scientific name is antiaris toxicaria, but its poisonous qualities are quite as great in the English language as in Latin; English, therefore, will answer our purpose in this instance. Everybody has surely heard of the noxious Upas. It has been said that to even approach it was certain death … We, too, in this country have a Upas tree.
"The home of our Upas tree is in Wall Street, and it will be instantly recognized by a glance at our centre cartoon. There it stands, firmly planted and filling the surrounding atmosphere with its poison, and corrupting and killing everybody who approaches within range of its deadly qualities. There is but one tree that possesses these fatal properties; but this one has proved itself to be as dangerous among us as a whole forest of them elsewhere. Men with reputations have waded through the sluggish stream which surrounds it to pluck the golden fruit which hangs in such profusion from its branches, only to die politically, financially and morally, while the tree still holds out its tempting products, inviting more misguided men to the slaughter.
"What wrecks of character lie scattered around its slimy trunk! Here may we see the skull of the once famous Jim Fisk, one of our Wall Street Upas tree’s earliest victims. An intelligent, though time-serving editor is the next in the toils … Near him is the festering corpse of a corrupt judge. Further on is a general of great ability and of whom we have already a bad record of two Presidential terms and an attempt at a third, reposing near a poor widow and ruined stockholder. In every direction shattered homes, ruined property, death and destruction are visible.
"… But the tree is in fine condition. It will probably stand there for a long time to come, spreading abroad throughout the land, and other trees will grow up from its seeds and parasites. Our deadly Upas tree will continue to yield its fruit, corrupting judges, corrupting editors, corrupting Legislatures, corrupting Congress, corrupting everybody … "
H,C. Bunner, from the description at the front of the issue