[Transcriber's Note: Italicized text is indicated with underscores. Upright text used within italicized passages for emphasis is indicated with tildes. Inconsistencies in "Shakspeare" spellings have been retained, but obvious errors have been corrected and are listed at the end of this document.]
BABOO JABBERJEE, B.A.
THE WAYFARER'S LIBRARY
J. M. DENT & SONS, Ltd. LONDON
Mr Jabberjee apologises for the unambitious scope of his work; sundry confidences, criticisms, and complaints. 1
Some account of Mr Jabberjee's experiences at the Westminster Play. 9
Mr Jabberjee gives his views concerning the Laureateship. 18
Containing Mr Jabberjee's Impressions at The Old Masters. 24
In which Mr Jabberjee expresses his Opinions on Bicycling as a Pastime. 33
Dealing with his Adventures at Olympia. 42
How Mr Jabberjee risked a Sprat to capture something very like a Whale. 50
How Mr Jabberjee delivered an Oration at a Ladies' Debating Club. 60
How he saw the practice of the University Crews, and what he thought of it. 69
Mr Jabberjee is taken to see a Glove-Fight. 75
Mr Jabberjee finds himself in a position of extreme delicacy. 80
Mr Jabberjee is taken by surprise. 88
Drawbacks and advantages of being engaged. Some Meditations in a Music-hall, together with notes of certain things that Mr Jabberjee failed to understand. 96
Mr Jabberjee's fellow-student. What's in a Title? An invitation to a Wedding. Mr J. as a wedding guest, with what he thought of the ceremony, and how he distinguished himself on the occasion. 105
Mr Jabberjee is asked out to dinner. Unreasonable behaviour of his betrothed. His doubts concerning the social advantages of a Boarding Establishment, with some scathing remarks upon ambitious pretenders. He goes out to dinner, and meets a person of some importance. 114
Mr Jabberjee makes a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Shakespeare. 125
Containing some intimate confidences from Mr Jabberjee, with the explanation of such apparent indiscretion. 135
Mr Jabberjee is a little over-ingenious in his excuses. 138
Mr Jabberjee tries a fresh tack. His visit to the India Office and sympathetic reception. 146
Mr Jabberjee distinguishes himself in the Bar Examination, but is less successful in other respects. He writes another extremely ingenious epistle, from which he anticipates the happiest results. 155
Mr Jabberjee halloos before he is quite out of the Wood. 164
Mr Jabberjee places himself in the hands of a solicitor—with certain reservations. 173
Mr Jabberjee delivers his Statement of Defence, and makes his preparations for the North. He allows his patriotic sentiments to get the better of him in a momentary outburst of disloyalty—to which no serious importance need be attached. 182
Mr Jabberjee relates his experiences upon the Moors. 190
Mr Jabberjee concludes the thrilling account of his experiences on a Scotch Moor, greatly to his own glorification. 199
Mr Jabberjee expresses some audaciously sceptical opinions. How he secured his first Salmon, with the manner in which he presented it to his divinity. 207
Mr Jabberjee is unavoidably compelled to return to town, thereby affording his Solicitor the inestimable benefit of his personal assistance. An apparent attempt to pack the Jury. 216
Mankletow v. Jabberjee. Notes taken by Mr Jabberjee in Court during the proceedings. 225
Further proceedings in the Case of Mankletow v. Jabberjee. Mr Jabberjee's Opening for the Defence. 235
Mankletow v. Jabberjee (part heard). Mr Jabberjee finds cross-examination much less formidable than he had anticipated. 245
Mankletow v. Jabberjee (continued). The Defendant brings his Speech to a somewhat unexpected conclusion, and Mr Witherington, Q.C., addresses the Jury in reply. 255
Containing the conclusion of the whole matter, and (which many Readers will receive in a spirit of chastened resignation) Mr Jabberjee's final farewell. 265
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"Unaccustomed to dark-complexioned gentlemen." Frontispiece
Baboo Hurry Bungsho Jabberjee, B.A. viii
"Let out! Let out!!" 5
"A golden-headed umbrella, fresh as a rose." 15
"Miss Jessimina Mankletow." 25
"I instantaneously endured the total upset!" 37
"With a large, stout constable." 47
"Was accosted by a polite, agreeable stranger." 51
"A weedy, tall male gentleman." 61
"A beaming simper of indescribable suavity." 81
"I became once more the silent tomb." 91
"In garbage of unparagoned shabbiness." 99
"The spectators saluted me with shouts of joy as the returned Shahzadar." 107
"Some haughty masculine might insult her under my very nose." 115
"It was here," I said, reverently, "that the swan of Avon was hatched!" 129
"Ascended his bicycle with a waggish winkle in his eye." 141
"Pitch it strong, my respectable Sir!" 151
"Huzza! Tol-de-rol-loll!" 157
"A royal command from the Queen-Empress." 169
"Would be greatly improved by the simple addition of some knee-caps." 179
"I am addressed by an underbred street-urchin as a 'Blooming Blacky!'" 187
"Of incredible bashfulness and bucolical appearance." 191
"I presented my trophy and treasure-trove to the fairylike Miss Wee-Wee." 203
"Whether he had wha-haed wi' hon'ble Wallace?" 209
Baboo Chuckerbutty Ram. 219
"Fresh as a daisy, and fine as a carrot fresh scraped." 227
Mr Justice Honeygall. 237
Witherington, Q.C. 247
"Jabberjee's face gradually lengthens." 261
The text and illustrations of this book are reproduced by kind permission of the Proprietors of Punch.
INTRODUCTORY LETTER FROM BABOO JABBERJEE.
To the Hon'ble —— Punch.
VENERABLE AND LUDICROUS SIR.—Permit me most respectfully to bring beneath your notice a proposal which I serenely anticipate will turn up trumps under the fructifying sunshine of your esteemed approbation.
Sir, I am an able B.A. of a respectable Indian University, now in this country for purposes of being crammed through Inns of Court and Law Exam., and rendering myself a completely fledged Pleader or Barrister in the Native Bar of the High Court.
Since my sojourn here, I have accomplished the laborious perusal of your transcendent and tip-top periodical, and, hoity toity! I am like a duck in thunder with admiring wonderment at the drollishness and jocosity with which your paper is ready to burst in its pictorial department. But, alack! when I turn my critical attention to the literary contents, I am met with a lamentable deficiency and no great shakes, for I note there the fly in the ointment and hiatus valde deflendus—to wit the utter absenteeism of a correct and classical style in English composition.
To the highly educated native gentleman who searches your printed articles, hoping fondly to find himself in a well of English pure and undefiled, it proves merely to fish in the air. Conceive, Sir, the disgustful result to one saturated to the skin of his teeth in best English masterpieces of immaculate and moderately good prose extracts and dramatic passages, published with notes for the use of the native student, at weltering in a hotchpot and hurley-burley of arbitrarily distorted and very vulgarised cockneydoms and purely London provincialities, which must be of necessity to him as casting pearls before a swine!
And I have the honour to inform you of a number of cultivated lively young native B.A.'s, both here and in my country, who are quite capable to appreciate really fine writing and sonoriferous periods if published in your paper, and which would infallibly result in a feather in your cap and bring increase of grit to the mill.
If, Honoured Sir, you feel disposed to bolster yourself up with the wet blanket of a non possumus, and reply to me that your existing quill-drivers are too fat-witted and shallow-pated for the production of more pretentiously polished lucubrations—aye, not even if they burn the night-light oil and hear the chimes at midnight! I will not be hoodwinked by the superficiality of your cui bono, and shall make you the answer that I am willing for an exceedingly paltry honorarium to rush into the Gordian knot and write you the most superior essays on every conceivable and inconceivable subject under the sun, as per enclosed samples which I forward respectfully for your delightful and golden opinions, guaranteeing faithfully that all of your readers in every hemisphere and postal district will fall in love with such a new departure and fresh tack.
The specimens I send are not my best, only very ordinary and humdrum affairs—but ex pede Herculem! Hon'ble Sir, and you will see how transcendentally superior are even such poor effusions compared to the fiddle-faddle and gim-crack style of article with which you are being fobbed off by puzzle-headed and self-opiniated nincompoops.
I can also turn out rhymed poetry after models of Poets TENNYSON, COWPER, Mrs HEMANS, SOUTHEY, & Co., done to a tittle, so as not to be detected, even by the cynosure, as mere spurious imitation, but in every respect up to the mark and the real Simon Pure.
Therefore, Hon'ble Sir, do not hesitate to strike while the iron is incandescent and bleed freely, even if it should be necessary, prior to engaging your humble petitioner's services, to turn out one or more of your present contributioners crop and heels, and lay them on the shelf of their own incompetencies. Remember that the slightest act of volition on your part can exalt my pecuniary status to the skies, as well as confer distinguished and unparagoned ennoblement upon your cacoethes scribendi.
I remain, respected Sir, Your most obsequious Servant,
HURRY BUNGSHO JABBERJEE, B.A.
P.S. and N.B.—Being so unacquainted with the limner's art, I cannot at present undertake the etching of caricatures et hoc genus omne. However, if such is your will, Hon'ble Sir, I will take the cow by the horns, after preliminary course of instruction at Government Art School, all expenses, &c., to be defrayed on the nail out of your purse of Fortunatus, seeing that your esteemed correspondent is so hard up between two stools that he is reduced to a choice of Hodson's Horse!
H. B. J.
Mr Jabberjee apologises for the unambitious scope of his work; sundry confidences, criticisms and complaints.
When I first received intimation from the supernal and spanking hand of Hon'ble Mr Punch, that he smiled with fatherly benignity at my humble request that he should offer myself as a regular poorly-paid contributor, I blessed my stars and was as if to jump over the moon for jubilation and sprightfulness.
But, heigh-ho! surgit amari aliquid, and his condescending patronage was dolefully alloyed with the inevitable dash of bitters which, as Poet SHAKSPEARE remarks, withers the galled jade until it winces. For with an iron heel has Hon'ble Mr P. declined sundry essays of enormous length and importance, composed in Addisonian, Johnsonian, and Gibbonian phraseology on assorted topics, such as "Love," "Civilisation," "Matrimony," "Superstition," "Is Courage a Virtue, or Vice Versa?" and has recommended me instead to devote my pen to quite ephemeral and fugacious topics, and merely commit to paper such reflections, critical opinions, and experiences as may turn up in the potluck of my daily career.
What wonder that on reading such a sine qua non and ultimatum my vox faucibus haesit and stuck in my gizzard with bashful sheepishness, for how to convulse the Thames and set it on fire and all agog with amazement at the humdrum incidents of so very ordinary an existence as mine, which is spent in the diligent study of Roman, Common, International, and Canonical Law from morn to dewy eve in the lecture-hall or the library of my inn, and, as soon as the shades of night are falling fast, in returning to my domicilium at Ladbroke Grove with the undeviating punctuality of a tick?
However, being above all things desirous not to let slip the golden opportunity and pocket the root of all evil, I decided to let my diffidence go to the wall and boldly record every jot and tittle, however humdrum, with the critical reflections and censorious observations arising therefrom, remembering that, though the fabulous and mountain-engendered mouse was no doubt at the time considered but a fiasco and flash in the pan by its maternal progenitor, nevertheless that same identical mouse rendered yeomanry services at a subsequent period to the lion involved in the compromising intricacies of a landing-net!
Benevolent reader, de te fabula narratur. Perchance the mousey bantlings of my insignificant brain may nibble away the cords of prejudice and exclusiveness now encircling many highly respectable British lions. Be not angry with me therefore, if in the character of a damned but good-natured friend, I venture on occasions to "hint dislike and hesitate disgust."
The majestic and magnificent matron, under whose aegis I reside for rs. 20 per week, is of lofty lineage, though fallen from that high estate into the peck of troubles, and compelled (owing to severely social disposition) to receive a number of small and select boarders.
Like Jepthah, in the play of Hamlet, she has one fair daughter and no more, a bewitching and well-proportioned damsel, as fine as a fivepence or a May-day queen. Notwithstanding this, when I summon up my courage to address her, she receives my laborious politeness with a cachinnation like that of a Cheshire cheese, which strikes me all of a heap. Her female parent excuses to me such flabbergasting demeanour on the plea that her daughter is afflicted with great shyness and maidenly modesty, but, on perceiving that she can be skittish and genial in the company of other masculines, I am forced to attribute her contumeliousness to the circumstance that I am a native gentleman of a dark complexion.
In addition, I have the honour to inform you of further specimens of this inurbanity and bearishness from officials who are perfect strangers to the writer. Each morning I journey through the subterranean bowels of the earth to the Temple, and on a recent occasion, when I was descending the stairs in haste to pop into the train, lo and behold, just as I reached the gate, it was shut in my nose by the churlishness of the jack-in-office!
At which, stung to the quick at so unprovoked and unpremeditated an affront, I accosted him severely through the bars of the wicket, demanding sarcastically, "Is this your boasted British Jurisprudence?"
The savage heart of the Collector was moved by my expostulation, and he consented to open the gate, and imprint a perforated hole on my ticket; but, alack! his repentance was a day after the fair, for the train had already taken its hook into the Cimmerian gloom of a tunnel! When the next train arrived, I, waiting prudently until it was quiescent, stepped into a compartment, wherein I was dismayed and terrified to find myself alone with an individual and two lively young terriers, which barked minaciously at my legs.
But I, with much presence of mind, protruded my head from the window, vociferating to those upon the platform, "Let out! Let out!! Fighting dogs are here!!!"
And they met my appeal with unmannerly jeerings, until the controller of the train, seeing that I was firm in upholding my dignity of British subject, and claiming my just rights, unfastened the door and permitted me to escape; but, while I was yet in search of a compartment where no canine elements were in the manger, the train was once more in motion, and I, being no daredevil to take such leap into the dark, was a second time left behind, and a loser of two trains. Moreover, though I have written a humbly indignant petition to the Hon'ble Directors of the Company pointing out loss of time and inconvenience through incivility, and asking them for small pecuniary compensation, they have assumed the rhinoceros hide, and nilled my request with dry eyes.
But I shall next make the further complaint that, even when making every effort to do the civil, the result is apt to kill with kindness; and—as King CHARLES THE FIRST, when they were shuffling off his mortal coil, politely apologised for the unconscionable long time that his head took to decapitate—so I, too, must draw attention to the fact that the duration of formal ceremonious visits, is far too protracted and long drawn out.
Crede experto. A certain young English gentleman, dwelling in the Temple, whose acquaintance I have formed, earnestly requested that I should do him the honour of a visit; and recently, wishing to be hail fellow well met, I presented myself before him about 9.30 A.M.
He greeted me with effusion, shaking me warmly by the hand, and begging me to be seated, and making many inquiries, whether I preferred India to England, and what progress I was making in my studies, &c., and so forth, all of which I answered faithfully, to the best of my abilities.
After that he addressed me by fits and starts and longo intervallo, yet displaying so manifest and absorbent a delight in my society that he could not bring himself to terminate the audience, while I was to conceal my immense wearisomeness and the ardent desire I had conceived to leave him.
And thus he detained me there hour after hour, until five minutes past one P.M., when he recollected, with many professions of chagrin, that he had an appointment to take his tiffin, and dismissed me, inviting me cordially to come again.
If, however, it is expected of me that I can devote three hours and a half to ceremonial civilities, I must respectfully answer with a Nolo episcopari, for my time is more precious than rubies, and so I will beg not only Mr MELLADEW, Esq., Barrister-at-law, but all other Anglo-Saxon friends and their families, to accept this as a verbum sap. and wink to a blind horse.
Some account of Mr Jabberjee's experiences at the Westminster Play.
Being forearmed by editorial beneficence with ticket of admission to theatrical entertainment by adolescent students at Westminster College, I presented myself at the scene of acting in a state of liveliest and frolicsome anticipation on a certain Wednesday evening in the month of December last, about 7.20 P.M.
At the summit of the stairs I was received by a posse of polite and stalwart striplings in white kids, who, after abstracting large circular orifice from my credentials, ordered me to ascend to a lofty gallery, where, on arriving, I found every chair pre-occupied, and moreover was restricted to a prospect of the backs of numerous juvenile heads, while expected to remain the livelong evening on the tiptoe of expectation and Shank's mare!
This for a while I endured submissively from native timidity and retirement, until my bosom boiled over at the sense of "Civis Romanus sum," and, descending to the barrier, I harangued the wicket-keeper with great length and fervid eloquence, informing him that I was graduate of high-class Native University after passing most tedious and difficult exams with fugitive colours and that it was injurious and deleterious to my "mens sana in corpore sano" to remain on legs for some hours beholding what I practically found to be invisible.
But, though he turned an indulgent ear to my quandary, he professed his inability to help me over my "pons asinorum," until I ventured to play the ticklish card and inform him that I was a distinguished representative of Hon'ble Punch, who was paternally anxious for me to be awarded a seat on the lap of luxury.
Then he unbended, and admitted me to the body of the auditorium, where I was conducted to a coign of vantage in near proximity to members of the fair sex and galaxy of beauty.
Thus, by dint of nude gumption, I was in the bed of clover and seventh heaven, and more so when, on inquiry from a bystander, I understood that the performance was taken from Mr TERRISS'S Adelphi Theatre, which I had heard was conspicuous for excellence in fierce combats, blood-curdling duels, and scenes in court. And I narrated to him how I too, when a callow and unfledged hobbardyhoy, had engaged in theatrical entertainments, and played such parts in native dramas as heroic giant-killers and tiger slayers, in which I was an "au fait" and "facile princeps," also in select scenes from SHAKSPEARE'S play of Macbeth in English and being correctly attired as a Scotch.
But presently I discovered that the play was quite another sort of Adelphi, being a jocose comedy by a notorious ancient author of the name of TERENCE, and written entirely in Latin, which a contiguous damsel expressed a fear lest she should find it incomprehensible and obscure. I hastened to reassure her by explaining that, having been turned out as a certificated B.A. by Indian College, I had acquired perfect familiarity and nodding acquaintance with the early Roman and Latin tongues, and offering my services as interpreter of "quicquid agunt homines," and the entire "farrago libelli," which rendered her red as a turkeycock with delight and gratitude. When the performance commenced with a scenic representation of the Roman Acropolis, and a venerable elderly man soliloquising lengthily to himself, and then carrying on a protracted logomachy with another greybeard—although I understood sundry colloquial idioms and phrases such as "uxorem duxit," "carum mihi," "quid agis?" "cur amat?" and the like, all of which I assiduously translated viva voce—I could not succeed in learning the reason why they were having such a snip-snap, until the interval, when the lady informed me herself that it was because one of them had carried off a nautch-girl belonging to the other's son—which caused me to marvel greatly at her erudition.
I looked that, in the next portion of the performance, I might behold the nautch-girl, and witness her forcible rescue—or at least some saltatory exhibition; but, alack! she remained sotto voce and hermetically sealed; and though other characters, in addition to the elderly gentlemen, appeared, they were all exclusively masculine in gender, and there was nothing done but to converse by twos and threes. When the third portion opened with a long-desiderated peep of petticoats, I told my neighbour confidently that now at last we were to see this dancing girl and the abduction; but she replied that it was not so, for these females were merely the mother of the wife of another of the youths and her attendant ayah. And even this precious pair, after weeping and wringing their hands for a while, vanished, not to appear again.
Now as the entertainment proceeded, I fell into the dumps with increasing abashment and mortification to see everyone around me, ay, even the women and the tenderest juveniles! clap the hands and laugh in their sleeves with merriment at quirks and gleeks in which—in spite of all my classical proficiency—I could not discover le mot pour rire or crack so much as the cream of a jest, but must sit there melancholy as a gib cat or smile at the wrong end of mouth.
For, indeed, I began to fear that I had been fobbed off with the smattered education of a painted sepulchre, that I should fail so dolorously to comprehend what was plain as a turnpike-staff to the veriest British babe and suckling!
However, on observing more closely, I discovered that most of the grown-up adults present had books containing the translation of all the witticisms, which they secretly perused, and that the feminality were also provided with pink leaflets on which the dark outline of the plot was perspicuously inscribed.
Moreover, on casting my eyes up to the gallery, I perceived that there were overseers there armed with long canes, and that the small youths did not indulge in plaudations and hilarity except when threatened by these.
And thereupon I took heart, seeing that the proceedings were clearly veiled in an obsolete and cryptic language, and it was simply matter of rite and custom to applaud at fixed intervals, so I did at Rome as the Romans did, and was laughter holding both his sides as often as I beheld the canes in a state of agitation.
I am not unaware that it is to bring a coal from Newcastle to pronounce any critical opinion upon the ludibrious qualities of so antiquated a comedy as this, but, while I am wishful to make every allowance for its having been composed in a period of prehistoric barbarity, I would still hazard the criticism that it does not excite the simpering guffaw with the frequency of such modern standard works as exempli gratia, Miss Brown, or The Aunt of Charley, to either of which I would award the palm for pure whimsicality and gawkiness.
Candour compels me to admit, however, that the conclusion of the Adelphi, in which a certain magician summoned a black-robed, steeple-hatted demon from the nether world, who, after commanding a minion to give a pickle-back to sundry grotesque personages, did castigate their ulterior portions severely with a large switch, was a striking amelioration and betterment upon the preceding scenes, and evinced that TERENCE possessed no deficiency of up-to-date facetiousness and genuine humour; though I could not but reflect—"O, si sic omnia!" and lament that he should have hidden his vis comica for so long under the stifling disguise of a serviette.
I am a beggar at describing the hurly-burly and most admired disorder amidst which I performed the descent of the staircase in a savage perspiration, my elbows and heels unmercifully jostled by a dense, unruly horde, and going with nose in pocket, from trepidation due to national cowardice, while the seething mob clamoured and contended for overcoats and hats around very exiguous aperture, through which bewildered custodians handed out bundles of sticks and umbrellas, in vain hope to appease such impatience. Nor did I succeed to the recovery of my hat and paraphernalia until after twenty-four and a half minutes (Greenwich time), and with the labours of Hercules for the golden fleece!
For which I was minded at first to address a sharp remonstrance and claim for indemnity to some pundit in authority; but perceiving that by such fishing in troubled waters I was the gainer of a golden-headed umbrella, fresh as a rose, I decided to accept the olive branch and bury the bone of contention.
Mr Jabberjee gives his views concerning the Laureateship.
It is "selon les regles" and rerum natura that the QUEEN'S Most Excellent Majesty, being constitutionally partial to poetry, should desire to have constant private supply from respectable tip-top genius, to be kept snug on Royal premises and ready at momentary notice to oblige with song or dirge, according as High Jinks or Dolorousness are the Court orders of the day.
But how far more satisfactory if Right Hon'ble Marquis SALISBURY, instead of arbitrarily decorating some already notorious bard with this "cordon bleu" and thus gilding a lily, should throw the office open to competition by public exam, and, after carefully weighing such considerations as the applicant's res angusta domi, the fluency of his imagination, his nationality, and so on—should award the itching palm of Fame to the poet who succeeded best in tickling his fancy!
Had some such method been adopted, the whole Indian Empire might to-day have been pleased as Punch by the selection of a Hindoo gentleman to do the job—for I should infallibly have entered myself for the running. Unfortunately such unparalleled opportunity of throwing soup to Cerberus, and exhibiting colour-blindness, has been given the slip, though the door is perhaps still open (even at past eleven o'clock P.M.) for retracing the false step and web of Penelope.
For I would respectfully submit to Her Imperial Majesty that, in her duplicate capacity of Queen of England and Empress of India, she has urgent necessity for a Court Poet for each department, who would be Arcades ambo and two of a trade, and share the duties with their proportionate pickings.
Or, if she would be unwilling to pay the piper to such a tune, I alone would work the oracle in both Indian and Anglo-Saxon departments, and waive the annual tub of sherry for equivalent in cash down.
And, if I may make the suggestion, I would strongly advise that this question of my joint (or several) appointment should be severely taken up by London Press as matter of simple justice to India. This is without prejudice to the already appointed Laureate as a swan and singing bird of the first water. All I desire is that the Public should know of another—and, perchance, even rarer—avis, who is nigroque simillima cygno, and could be obtained dog cheap for a mere song or a drug in the marketplace, if only there is made a National Appeal to the Sovereign that he should be promoted to such a sinecure and aere perennius.
As a specimen of the authenticity of my divine flatulence, please find inclosed herewith copy of complimentary verses, written by myself on hearing of Poet AUSTIN'S selection. Indulgence is kindly requested for very hasty composition, and circumstance of being greatly harrowed and impeded at time of writing by an excruciating full sized boil on back of neck, infuriated by collar of shirt, poulticings, and so forth.
To Hon'ble Poet-Laureate Alfred Austin, Esq.
Hail! you full-blown tulip! Oh! when the wheezing zephyr brought glad news Of your judicious appointment, no hearts who did peruse, Such a long-desiderated slice of good luck were sorry at, To a most prolific and polacious Poet-Laureate! For no poeta nascitur who is fitter To greet Royal progeny with melodious twitter. Seated on the resplendent cloud of official Elysium, Far away, far away from fuliginous busy hum You are now perched with phenomenal velocity On vertiginous pinnacle of poetic pomposity! Yet deign to cock thy indulgent eye at the petition Of one consumed by corresponding ambition, And lend the helping hand to lift, pulley-hauley, To Parnassian Peak this poor perspiring Bengali! Whose ars poetica (as per sample lyric) Is fully competent to turn out panegyric. What if some time to come, perhaps not distant, You were in urgent need of Deputy-Assistant! For two Princesses might be confined simultaneously— Then, how to homage the pair extemporaneously? Or with Nuptial Ode, lack-a-daisy! What a fix If with Influenza raging like cat on hot bricks! In such a wrong box you will please remember yours truly, Who can do the needful satisfactorily and duly, By an epithalamium (or what not) to inflame your credit With every coronated head that will have read it! And the quid pro quo, magnificent and grand Sir! Would be at the rate of four annas for every stanza, Now, thou who scale sidereal paths afar dost, Deign from thy brilliant boots to cast the superfluous star-dust Upon The head of him Whose fate depends On Thee!
(Signed) BABOO HURRY BUNGSHO JABBERJEE.
The above was forwarded (post-paid) to Hon'ble AUSTIN'S official address at Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey (opposite the Royal Aquarium), but—hoity-toity and mirabile dictu!—no answer has yet been vouchsafed to yours truly save the cold shoulder of contemptuous inattention!
What a pity! Well-a-day, that we should find such passions of envy and jealousy in bosom of a distinguished poet, whose lucubrated productions may (for all that is known to the present writer) be no great shakes after all, and mere food for powder!
The British public is an ardent lover of the scintillating jewellery of fair play, and so I confidently submit my claims and poetical compositions to be arbitrated by the unanimous voice of all who understand such articles.
Let us remember that it is never too late to pull down the fallen idol out of the gilded shrine in which it has established itself with the egotistical isolation of a dog with the mange!
Containing Mr Jabberjee's Impressions at The Old Masters.
I have the honour to report that the phantom of delight has recently recommenced to dance before me.
Miss JESSIMINA MANKLETOW, the perfumed, moony-faced daughter of the gracious and eagle-eyed goddess who presides over the select boarding establishment in which I am resident member, has of late emerged from the shell of superciliousness, and brought the beaming eye of encouragement to bear upon my diffidence and humility.
This I partly attribute to general impression—which I do not condescend to deny—that, at home, I occupy the social status of a Rajah, or some analogous kind of big native pot.
So, on a recent Saturday afternoon, she invited me to escort her and a similar young virginal lady friend, by name Miss PRISCILLA PRIMMETT, to Burlington House, Piccadilly, and, as Prince Hamlet appositely remarks, "Look here upon this picture and on this." Which I joyfully accepted, being head-over-heels in love with Art, and the possessor of two magnificent coloured photo-lithographs, representing a steeplechase in the act of jumping a trench, and a water-nymph in the very decollete undress of "puris naturalibus," weltering on a rushy bed.
We proceeded thither upon the giddy summit of a Royal Oak omnibus, and on arriving in the vestibulum, were peremptorily commanded to undergo total abstinence from our umbrellas.
Being accompanied by the span-new silken affair with the golden head, which, as I have narrated supra, I was so lucky to obtain promiscuously after witnessing the Adelphi of the Westminster college boys, I naturally protested vehemently against such arbitrary and tyrannical regulations, urging the risk of my unprotected umbrella being feloniously abducted during unavoidable absence by some unprincipled and illegitimate claimant.
But, alack! I was confronted with the official ultimatum and sine qua non, and have subsequently learnt that the cause of this self-denying ordinance is due to the uncontrollable enthusiasm of British Public for works of art, which leads them to signify approbation by puncturing innumerable orifices by dint of sticks or umbrellas in the process of pointing out tit-bits of painting, and on account of the detrimental influence on the marketable value of pictures thus distinguished by the plerophory of the Vox Populi.
Nevertheless, my heart was oppressed with many misgivings at having to hand over three hostage umbrellas—one being masculine and two feminine gender—and receiving nothing in exchange but a wooden medallion of no intrinsic worth, bearing the utterly disproportionate number of over one thousand! Next, after, at Miss JESSIMINA'S bidding, having purchased a sixpenny index, we ascended the staircase, and on shelling out three shillings cash payment, were consecutively squeezed through a restricted wicket as if needles going through the eye of a camel.
I will vouchsafe to aver that my interior sensations on penetrating the first gallery were those of acute and indignant disappointment, for will it be credited that a working majority of the exhibits were second, or even third and fourth-hand mechanisms of an unparagoned dingitude, and fit only for the lumbering room?
Perhaps I shall be told that this wintry exhibition is a mere stopgap and makeshift, until a fresh supply of bright new paintings can be procured, and that it is ultra vires to obtain such for love or money before the merry month of May.
Still I must persist in denouncing the penny wisdom and pound foolery of the Academicals in foisting off upon the public such ancient and fish-like articles that have long ceased to be bon ton and in the fashion, since it is undeniable that many are over fifty years, and some several centuries behind the times!
It is to be hoped that these parsimonious Misters will soon recognise that it is not possible for modern up-to-date Art to be florescent under this retrograde and fossilized system, and be warned that such untradesmanlike goings-on will deservedly forfeit the confidence and patronage of their most fastidious customers.
Miss JESSIMINA remarked more than once that such and such a picture was not in her taste and she would never have chosen it personally, while Miss PRIMMETT declared that she would not have had her likeness taken by Hon'ble Sir JOSH GAINSBORO, or Misters VELASKY and VANDICK, not even if they implored her on their bended marrowbones, and that, as for a certain individual effeminately named ETTY, it was a wonderment to her how respectable people could stand in front of such brazen performances! These remarks are trivial, perhaps, but even straws will serve as cocks of the weather on occasions, and, moreover, I shall certify that the most general tone was of a critical and disapproving severity, and it was quite evident that the greater portion of the spectators could have done the job better themselves.
A certain Mister TURNER came in for the BENJAMIN'S mess of obloquy, having represented Pluto, the god of wealth, in the act of carrying off a female Proserpine, but the figures so Lilliputian, and in such a disproportionate expansion of confused sceneries, that the elopement produced but a very paltry impression. The slipshod carelessness of this painter may be realised from the fact that in a composition styled "Blue Lights to Warn Steamboats off Shoal Water," the blue lights are conspicuous by their total absence, and the mistiness of the atmospherical conditions renders it difficult to distinguish either the steamers or the shoals with even tolerable accuracy!
In the ulterior room were sundry productions from Umbrian and Milanese and other schools, such being presumptively the teaching establishments over which Hon'ble REYNOLDS and TURNER and GREUZY and Co. predominated as Old Masters. But surely it is unfair, and like seething a kid in the maternal nutriment, to class such crude and hobbardyhoy performances with works by more senile hands!
Here I observed a painting to illustrate scenes in the life of an important celebrity, who was childishly represented many times over having separate adventures in the space of a few square feet, and of a Brobdingnacian bulkiness compared to his perspective surroundings.
Had this been the work of an Indian artist, native gentlemen out there would simply have smiled pitiably at such ignorance, and given him the gentle admonishment that he was only to make a fool of himself for his pains. There was also a picture of a Diptych, in two portions, with a background of gilt, but the figure of the Diptych himself very poorly represented as an anatomy.
Where all is so so-so, and below par, it is perhaps invidious to single out any for hon'ble mention; but loyalty as a British subject obliges me to speak favourably of a concern lent by Her Majesty the QUEEN, and representing a bombastical youth engaged in a snip-snap with a meek and inoffensive schoolfellow, who supports himself on one leg, and is occupied in sheltering his nose behind his arm, until his widowed and aged mother can arrive to rescue her beloved offspring from his grave crisis.
This at least can be commended as being true to nature, as I can attest from personal experience of similar boyish loggerheads, although, owing to preserving my sang froid, I was generally able to remove myself with phenomenal rapidity from vicinity of shocking kicks by my truculent assailant.
Let me not omit to mention a painting of "Polichinelle" by a Gallic artist, which Miss PRIMMETT said was the French equivalent to Punch. At which, speaking loudly for instruction of bystanders, I assured them, as one familiarly connected with Hon'ble Punch, who regarded me as a son, such a portrait was the very antipode to his majestic lineaments, nor was it reasonable to suppose that he would allow his counterfeit presentment to be depicted in the undignified garbage of a buffoon!
I trust that I may be gratefully remembered by my Liege Lord, and that he will be gracious enough to entertain me favourably with something in the shape of prize or bonus in reward for such open testimony as the above.
I have only to add that the custodian preserved the inviolability of our umbrellas with honorable fidelity, and that we moistened the drooping clay of our internal tenements at an Aerated Tea Company with a profusion of confectionaries, for which my fair friends with amiable blandness permitted me the privilege of forking out.
In which Mr Jabberjee expresses his Opinions on Bicycling as a Pastime.
In consequence of the increasing demands of the incomparable Miss JESSIMINA upon the dancing attendance of your humble servant, I am lately become as idle as a newly painted ship, and have not drunk in the legal wisdom of the learned Moonshees who lecture in the hall of my Inn of Court, or opened the ponderous treatise of Hon'ble Justice BLACKSTONE or ADDISON on Torts, for many a blank day.
Still, as Philosopher PLATO observed, "Nihil humani alienum a me puto," and my time has not been actually squandered in the theft of Procrastination, but rather employed in the proper study of Mankind, and acquiring a more complete knowingness in Ars Vivendi.
So I think it worth to direct public attention to the dangers of a practice which threatens to develop into an epidemical kind of plague, and carry the deteriorating trails of a serpent over our household families, unless promptly scotched by benevolent firmness of a paternal Government.
Need I explain I am alluding to the nowaday passion for propelling oneself at a severe speed by dint of unstable and most precarious machinery? It is now the exception which breaks the rule to take the air in the streets without being startled by the unseemly spectacles of go-ahead citizens straddled upon such revolutionary contrivances, threading their way with breakneck velocity under the very noses of omnibus and other horses, and ringing the shrill welkin of a tintinnabulating gong!
Nay, even after the Curfew has taken its toll from the knell of parting day, and darkness reigns supreme, they will urge on their wild career, illuminated by the dim religious light of a small oil lamp!
I possess no knack of medical knowledge, but I boldly state my opinion that such daredevilry must necessarily inflict a deleterious result to the nervous organisms of these riders; and, who knows, of their posterity?
For no one can expect to have hairbreadth escapes from the running gauntlet continuously, without suffering a shattering internal panic, while catastrophes of fatal injury to life and limb have become de rigueur.
Experto crede—for I can support my obiter dictum by the crushing weight of personal experience. A few mornings since I had the honour to escort Miss JESSIMINA MANKLETOW and a middle-aged select female boarder into the interior of Hyde Park. The day was fine, though frigid, and I was wearing my fur-lined overcoat, with boots of patent Japan leather, and a Bombay gold-embroidered cap, so that I was a mould of form and the howling nob.
Picture my amazement when, as I promenaded the path beside the waters of the Serpentine lake, I beheld a wheeled cavalcade of every conceivable age, sex, and appearance; senile gaffers and baby buntings; multitudinous women, some plump as a duckling, others thin as a paper-thread; aye, and even priests in sanctimonious black and milk-white cravats, rolling swiftly upon two wheels, and all agog to dash through thick and thin!
On seeing which, the matured lady boarder did exclaim upon the difficulties of the performance, and the vast crowd that had collected to view such a tour de force, but I, perceiving that those seated upon the machines used no exorbitant exertions, and, indeed, appeared to be wholly engrossed in social intercourse, responded that no skill was required to circulate these bicycles, which, owing to being surrounded with air-cushions, would proceed proprio motu and without meandering.
Thereupon Miss MANKLETOW expressed an ardent desire to behold myself upon one of these same machines, and—as we were now close to the effigy of Hon'ble Duke of WELLINGTON disguised as an Achilles, near which were certain bunniahs trafficking with bicycles—I, wishing to pleasure my fair companion, approached one of these contractors and bargained with him for the sole user of his vehicle for the space of one calendar hour, to which he consented at the honorarium of one rupee four annas.
But, on receiving the bicycle from his hands, I at once perceived myself under a total impossibility of achieving its ascent—for no sooner had I protruded one leg over the saddle than the foremost wheel averted itself, and the entire machine bit the dust, which afforded lively and infinite entertainment to my feminine companions.
I, however, reproached the bunniah for furnishing a worn-out effete affair that was not in working order or a going concern, but he, by assuring me that it was all right, cajoled me into trying once more.
So, divesting myself of my fur-lined overcoat, which I commanded a hobbardyhoy of the sweeper class to hold, I again mounted upon the saddle, while the proprietor of the machine sustained it in a position of rectitude, and then, supporting me by the superfluity of my pantaloons, he propelled me from the rear, counselling me to press my feet vigorously upon the paddles. But it all proved as the labour of Sisyphus, for the seat was of sadly insufficient dimensions and adamantine hardihood, and whenever the bicycle-man released his hold, I instantaneously endured the total upset!
Then again I reproved him for his Punica fides, informing him that I required a machine that would run with smooth progressiveness, precisely similar to those I beheld in motion around me. To which he replied that I must not expect to be able to ride impromptu as well as individuals who had only mastered the accomplishment by long continuity of practice and industry.
"Oh, man of wily tongue!" I addressed him. "Not thus will you bamboozle my supposed simplicity! For if the art were indeed so difficult as you pretend, how should it be acquired by so many timid and delicate feminines and mere nurselings? This machine of yours is nothing but an obsolete hors de combat with which it is not humanly possible to work the oracle!"
At which, waxing with indignation, he leaped upon it, and to my surprise, did easily propel it in whatsoever direction he pleased, and its motive power appeared to be similar in every respect to the rest; so, beguiled by his representations that, under his instructions, I should speedily become a chef-d'oeuvre, I once more suffered myself to mount the machine; but whether from superabundant energy of my foot-paddling, or the alarming fact that we were upon the descent of a precipitous slope, I was soon horrified at finding that my instructor was stripped out, and I abandoned to the lurch of my Caudine fork!
Oh, my goodness! My heart turns to water at the nude recollection of such an unparalleled predicament, for the now unrestrained bicycle vires acquirit eundo, and in seven-league boots! While I, wet as a clout with anxiety and perspiration, did grasp the handles like the horns of a dilemma, calling out in agonised accents to the bystanders,—"Help! I am running away with myself! Half a rupee for my life-preserver!"
But they were all as if to burst with laughter, and none had the ordinary heroism to intervene, and I with ever increasing rapidity was borne helplessly down the declivity towards the gates of Hyde Park Corner, when, by the benevolence of Providence, the anterior wheel ran under a railing, and I flew off like a tangent into the comparative security of a mud-barrow!
On my return and solicitous inquiry for my fur-lined overcoat, I had the further shock to discover that it was solvitur ambulando!
After such a shuddering experience and narrow squeak of my safety, I confidently appeal to the authorities to extinguish this highly dangerous and foolhardy sort of so-called amusement, or at the very least to issue paternal orders that, in future, no one shall be permitted to ride upon any bicycle possessing less than three wheels, or guilty of a greater celerity than three (or four) miles per hour.
The fair Miss MANKLETOW amended this proposal by suggesting that the Public should be restricted at once to perambulators; but this is, perhaps, majori cautela, and an instance of the over-solicitude of the female intellect, for it is not feasible to treat an adult, who has assumed the toga virilis and tall hat, as if he was still mewling and puking in a tucker and bib.
Dealing with his Adventures at Olympia.
The dialoquial form is now become an indispensible factotum in periodical literature, and so, like a brebis de Panurge, I shall follow the fashion occasionally,—though with rather more obedience to a literary elegant style of phraseology than my predecessors in Punch have thought worth to practise.
Time: the other morning. Scene: the breakfast table at Porticobello House, Ladbroke Grove. Myself and other select boarders engaged in masticating fowl eggs with their concomitant bacon, while intelligently discussing topical subjects (for we carry out the poetical recipe of "Plain thinking and high living").
Miss Jessimina (at the table-head). The papers seem eloquent in laudation of the Sporting and Military Show at Olympia. How I should like to go if I had anyone to take me!
Mr Wylie (stingily). And I would be enraptured at so tip-top an opportunity, but for circumstance of being stonily broken.
[Helps himself to the surviving fowl egg.
Mr Cossetter (in sepulchral tone). Alack! that doctorial prescriptions do nill for me such nocturnal jinks; otherwise——
[He treats himself to a digestible pill.
Myself (taking a leap into the darkness and deadly breaches). Since other gentlemen are not more obsequious in gallantry, I hereby tender myself for honour of accompanyist and vade mecum.
Miss Jess. (lowering the silken curtains of her almond-like orbs). Oh, really, PRINCE! So very unexpected! I must obtain the expert opinion of my Mamma.
Mistress MANKLETOW did approve the jaunt on condition of our being saddled by a select lady boarder of the name of SPINK as a tertium quid to play at propriety; at which I was internally disgusted, fearing she would play the old gooseberry with our tete-a-tete.
Having arrived at Olympia, we perambulated the bazaar prior to the commencement of the shows, and here (after parting with rs. 8 for three seats on the balcony) I did bleed more freely still, for Miss JESSIMINA expressed a passionate longing to possess my profile, snipped out of paper by the scissors of a Silhouette, for which I mulcted one shilling sterling.
And, after all, although it proved the alter ego and speaking likeness of my embossed Bombay cap and golden spectacles, she found the fault that it rendered my complexion of a too excessive murksomeness; not reflecting (with feminine imperceptivity) that, the material being black as a Stygian, this criticism applied to the portraitures of all alike!
Farther on I presented her and the female gooseberry with a pocket-handkerchief a-piece, interwoven by a mechanism with their baptismal appellation (another rupee!).
Then we arrived at a cage containing an automatic Devil revealing the future for a penny in the slit, and Miss JESSIMINA worked the oracle with a coin advanced by myself, and the demon, after flashing his optics and consulting sundry playing-cards, did presently produce a small paper which she opened eagerly.
Miss Jess. (after perusal). Only fancy! It says I'm "to marry a dark man, and go for a long journey, and be very rich." What ridiculous nonsense! do you not think so, PRINCE?
Myself (with a tender sauciness). Poet SHAKSPEARE asserts there are more things in Heaven and earth than the Horatian philosophy. I am not a superstitious—and yet this mechanical demon may have seen correctly through the brick wall of Futurity. Have you not a worshipful adorer who might be described as dark, and to whose native land it is a long journey?
Miss Jess. (with the complexion of a tomato). It's time we took our seats for the performance. And you are not to be a silly!
It is notorious that the English female vocabulary contains no more caressing and flattering epithet than this of "a silly," so that I repaired to my seat immoderately encouraged by such gracious appreciation.
Of the show, I can testify that it was truly magnificent, though the introductory portion was somewhat spoilt by the too great prevalence of the bicycle, which is daily increasing its ubiquity, nor do I see the rationality of engaging a sais in topped boots to attend upon each machine, under the transparent pretentiousness of its belonging to the equine genus, since it can never become the similitude of a horse in mettlesome vivacity.
My companions marvelled greatly at the severe curvature of the extremities of the cycle-track, which were shaped like the interior of a huge bowl, and while I was demonstrating to them how, from scientific considerations and owing to the centrifugal forces of gravitation, it was not possible for any rider to become a loser of his equilibrium—lo and behold! two of the competitors made the facilis descensus, and were intermingled in the weltering hotchpot of a calamity.
But on being disentangled they did limp away, and it is allowable to hope that they suffered no serious dismantling of their vital organs. Still, I cannot approve of these bicycle contentions, which are veritable provocative flights at the providential features.
After the termination I conducted my protegees to the Palmarium, where we sat under a shrub imbibing lemon crushes, brought by a neat-handed Phyllis in the uniform of a house-maid intermixed with a hospital nurse.
Here occurred a most discomposing contretemps, for presently Miss JESSIMINA uttered the complaint that two strangers were regarding herself and Miss SPINK with the brazen eyes of a sheep, and even making personal comments on my nationality, which rendered me like toad under a harrow with burning indignation.
At length, being utterly beside myself with rage, I summoned one of the Phyllises and requested her to take steps to abate the nuisance, being met with a smiling "Nolo Episcopari." So, entreating my companions not to give way to panic and leave their cause in my hands, I went in search of a policeman.
Unfortunately some time flew before I could find one at liberty to understand my crucial position, nor could I obtain from him a legal opinion as to whether I could administer a cuff or a slap in the ear to my insulters without incurring risk of retaliation in kind.
And, on returning to the spot with a large, stout constable, I had the mortification to discover that the two impolite strangers had departed, and that Misses MANKLETOW and SPINK were similarly imperceptible.
However, after prolonged search and mental anxiety, I returned alone, and was rewarded by finding my fair friends arrived in safety; and hearing that the two strangers had explained, in the gentlemanly terms of an apology, that they had mistaken them for acquaintances.
Consequently I am thankful that I did not execute my design of assault and battery, more especially as I am the happy receiver of many handsome compliments on all sides upon the tactfulness and savoir faire with which I extricated myself from my shocking fix.
At which my countenance beams with the shiny resplendency of self-satisfaction.
How Mr Jabberjee risked a Sprat to capture something very like a Whale.
I am this week to narrate an unprecedented stroke of bad luck occurring to the present writer. The incipience of the affair was the addressing of a humble petition to the indulgent ear of Hon'ble Punch, calling attention to the great copiousness of my literary out-put, and the ardent longing I experienced to behold the colour of money on account. On which, by returning post, my parched soul was reinvigorated by the refreshing draught of a draft (if I may be permitted the rather facetious jeu de mots) payable to my order.
So uplifted by pride at finding the insignificant crumbs I had cast upon the journalistic waters return to me after numerous days in the improved form of loaves and fishes, I wended my footsteps to the bank on which my cheque was drafted, and requested the bankers behind the counter to honour it with the equivalent in filthy lucres, which they did with obsequious alacrity.
After closely inspecting the notes to satisfy myself that I had not been imposed upon by meretricious counterfeits, I emerged with a beaming and joyful countenance, stowing the needful away carefully in an interior pocket, and, on descending the bank step, was accosted by a polite, agreeable stranger, who, begging my pardon with profusion, inquired whether he had not had the honour of voyaging from India with me in the—the—for his life he could not recall the name of the ship—he should forget his own name presently!
"Indeed," I answered him, "I cannot remember having the felicity of an encounter with you upon the Kaisar-i-Hind."
The Stranger: "To be sure; that was the name! A truly magnificent vessel! I forget names—but faces, never! And yours I remember from the striking resemblance to my dear friend, the Maharajah of Bahanapur—you know him?—a very elegant young, handsome chap. A splendid Shikarri! I was often on the verge of asking if you were related; but being then but a second-class passenger, and under an impecunious cloud, did not dare to take the liberty. Now, being on the bed of clover owing to decease of wealthy uncle, I can address you without the mortifying fear of misconstruction."
So, in return, I, without absolutely claiming consanguinity with the Maharajah (of whom, indeed, I had never heard), did inform him that I, too, was munching the slice of luck, having just drawn the princely instalment of a salary for jots and tittles contributed to periodical Punch. Whereat he warmly congratulated me, expressing high appreciation of my articles and abilities, but exclaiming at the miserable paucity of my honorarium, saying he was thick as a thief with the Editor, and would leave no stone unturned to procure me a greater adequacy of remuneration for writings that were dirt cheap at a Jew's eye.
And presently he invited me to accompany him to a respectable sort of tavern, and solicited the honour of my having a "peg" at his expense; to which I, perceiving him to be a good-natured, simple fellow, inflated by sudden prosperity, consented, accepting, contrary to my normal habitude, his offer of a brandy panee, or an old Tom.
While we were discoursing of India (concerning which I found that, like most globular trotters, he had not been long enough in the country to be accurately informed), enters a third party, who, it so happened, was an early acquaintance of my companion, though separated by the old lang sign of a longinquity. What followed I shall render in a dialogue form.
The Third party: Why, TOMKINS, you have a prosperous appearance, TOMKINS. When last met, you suffered from the impecuniosity of a churched mouse. Have you made your fortune, TOMKINS?
Mr Tomkins. I am too easy a goer, and there are too many rogues in the world, that I should ever make my own fortune, JOHNSON! Happily for me, an opulent and ancient avuncular relative has lately departed to reside with the morning stars, and left me wealth outside the dream of an avaricious!
Mr Johnson (enviously). God bless my soul! Some folks have the good luck. (To me, whispering.) A poor ninny-hammer sort of chap, he will soon throw it away on drakes and ducks! (Aloud, to Mr TOMKINS.) Splendid! I congratulate you sincerely.
Mr T. (in a tone of dolesomeness). The heart knoweth where the shoe pinches it, JOHNSON. My lot is not a rose-bed. For my antique and eccentric relative must needs insert a testamentary condition commanding me to forfeit the inheritance, unless, within three calendered months from his last obsequies, I shall have distributed ten thousand pounds amongst young deserving foreigners. To-morrow time is up, and I have still a thousand pounds to give away! But how to discover genuine young deserving foreigners in so short a space? Truly, I go in fear of losing the whole!
Mr J. Let me act as your budli in this and distribute the remaining thousand.
Mr T. From what I remember of you as a youth, I cannot wholly rely on your discretion. Rather would I place my confidence in this gentleman.
[Indicating myself, who turned orange with pleasure.
Mr J. Indeed? And how know you that he may not adhere to the entire thousand?
Mr T. And if he does, it is no matter, if he is a genuine deserving. I can give the whole to him if I am so minded, and he need not give away a penny of it unless inclined.
[At which I was fit to dance with delight.
Mr J. I deny that you possess the power, seeing that he is a British subject, and as such cannot be styled a "foreigner."
Mr T. There you have mooted a knotty point indeed. Alas, that we have no forensic big-wig here to decide it!
Myself (modestly). As a native poor student of English law, I venture to think that, by dint of my legal attainments, I shall be enabled to crack the Gordian nut. I am distinctly of opinion that an individual born of dusky parents in a tropical climate is a foreigner, in the eye of British prejudice, and within the meaning of the testator. [And here I maintained my assertion by a logomachy of such brilliancy and erudition that I completely convinced the minds of both auditors.
Mr J. (grumblingly, to Mr TOMKINS). Assuming he is correct, why favour him more than me?
Mr T. Because instinct informs me that a gentleman with such a face as his—however dusky—may be trusted, and with the untold gold!
Mr J. (jealously). And I am not to be trusted! If you were to hand me your portemonnaie now, full of notes and gold, and let me walk into the street with it, do you doubt that I should return? Speak, TOMKINS!
Mr T. Assuredly not; but so, too, would this gentleman. (To me, as Mr JOHNSON sneered a doubt.) Here, you, Sir, take this portemonnaie out into the street for five minutes or so, I trust to your honour to return it intact. (After I had emerged triumphantly from this severe ordeal of my bona fide.) Aha, JOHNSON! am I the judge of men or not?
Mr J. (still seeking, as I could see, to undermine me in his friend's favour). Pish! Who would steal a paltry L50 and lose L1000? If I had so much to give away, I should wish to be sure that the party I was about to endow had corresponding confidence in me. Now, though I have always considered you as a dull, I know you to be strictly honest, and would trust you with all I possess. In proof of which, take these two golden sovereigns and few shillings outside. Stay away as long as you desire. You will return, I know you well!
Myself (penetrating this shallow artifice, and hoisting the engine-driver on his own petard). Who would not risk a paltry L2 to gain L1000? Oh, a magnificent confidence, truly!
Mr J. (to me). Have you the ordinary manly pluck to act likewise? If you are expecting him to trust you with the pot of money, he has a right to expect to be trusted in return. That is logic!
Mr T. (mildly). No, JOHNSON, you are too hasty, JOHNSON. The cases are different. I can understand the gentleman's very natural hesitation. I do not ask him to show his confidence in me—enough that I feel I can trust him. If he doubts my honesty, I shall think no worse of him; whichever way I decide eventually.
[Here, terrified lest by hesitation I had wounded him at his quick, and lest, after all, he should decide to entrust the thousand pounds to Mr JOHNSON, I hastily produced all the specie and bullion I had upon me, including a valuable large golden chronometer and chain of best English make, and besought him to go into the outer air for a while with them, which, after repeated refusals, he at last consented to do, leaving Myself and Mr JOHNSON to wait.
Mr J. (after tedious lapse of ten minutes). Strange! I expected him back before this. But he is an absent-minded, chuckle-headed chap. Very likely he is staring at a downfallen horse and has forgotten this affair. I had better go in search of him. What? you will come, too. Capital! Then if you go to the right, and I to the left, we cannot miss him!
But, alack! we did; and, in a short time, both Misters were invisible to the nude eye, nor have I heard from them since. Certain of my fellow-boarders, on hearing the matter, declared that I had been diddled by a bamboozle-trick; but it is egregiously absurd that my puissance in knowledge of the world should have been so much at fault; and, moreover, why should one who had succeeded to vast riches seek to rob me of my paltry possessions? It is much more probable that they are still diligently seeking for me, having omitted, owing to hurry of moment, to ascertain my name and address; and I hereby request Mr TOMKINS, on reading this, to forward the thousand pounds (or so much thereof as in his munificent generosity he may deem sufficient) to me at Porticobello House, Ladbroke Grove, W., or care of his friend, the Editor of Punch, by whom it will (I am sure) be honourably handed over intact.
Nor need Mr TOMKINS fear my reproaches for his dilatoriness, for there is a somewhat musty proverb that "Procrastination is preferable to Neverness."
How Mr Jabberjee delivered an Oration at a Ladies' Debating Club.
Miss SPINK (whom I have mentioned supra as a feminine inmate of Porticobello House) is in additum a member of a Debating Female Society, which assembles once a week in various private Westbourne Grove parlours, for argumentative intercourse.
So, she expressing an anxious desire that I should attend one of these conclaves, I consented, on ascertaining that I should be afforded the opportunity of parading the gab with which I have been gifted in an extemporised allocution.
On the appointed evening I directed my steps, under the guidance of the said Miss SPINK, to a certain imposing stucco residence hard by, wherein were an assortment of female women conversing with vivacious garrulity, in a delicious atmosphere of tea, coffee, and buttered bread.
After having partaken freely of these comestibles, we made the adjournment to a luxuriously upholstered parlour, circled with plush-seated chairs and adorned with countless mirrors, and there we began to beg the question at issue, to-whit, "To what extent has Ibsen (if any) contributed towards the cause of Female Emancipation?" which was opened by a weedy, tall male gentleman, with a lofty and a shining forehead, and round, owlish spectacle-glasses. He read a very voluminous paper, from which I learnt that IBSEN was the writer of innumerable new-fangled dramas of very problematical intentions, exposing the hollow conventionalisms of all established social usages, especially in the matrimonial department.
When he had ceased there was a universal and unanimous silence, due to uncontrollable female bashfulness, for the duration of several minutes, until the chairwoman exhorted someone to have the courage of her opinions. And the ice being once fractured, one Amurath succeeded another in disjointed commentaries, plucking crows in the teeth of the assertions of the Hon'ble Opener and of their precursors, and resumed their seats with abrupt precipitancy, stating that they had no further remarks to make.
Then ensued another interim of golden "Silence and slow Time," as Poet KEATS says, which was as if to become Sempiternity, had not I, rushing in where the angels were in fear of slipping up, caught the Speaker in the eye, and tipped the wink of my cacoethes loquendi.
To prevent disappointment, I shall report my harangue with verbose accuracy.
Myself (assuming a perpendicular attitude, inserting one hand among my vest buttons, and waving the other with a graceful affability). "HON'BLE MISS CHAIRWOMAN, MADAMS, MISSES, AND HON'BLE MISTER OPENER, the humble individual now palpitating on his limbs before you is a denizen from a land whose benighted, ignorant inhabitants are accustomed to treat the females of their species as small fry and fiddle faddle. Yes, Madams and Misses, in India the woman is forbidden to eat except in the severest solitude, and after her lord and master has surfeited his pangs of hunger; she may not make the briefest outdoor excursion without permission, and then solely in a covered palkee, or the hermetically sealed interior of a blinded carriage. (Cries of 'Shame.') In the Zenana, she is restricted to the occupation of puerile gossipings, or listening to apocryphal fairy tales of so scandalising an impropriety that I shrink to pollute my ears by the repetition even of the tit-bits. (Subdued groans.)
"Such being the case, you can imagine the astonishment and gratification I have experienced here this evening at the intelligence and forwardness manifested by so many effeminate intellects. (A flattered rustle and prolonged simpering.)
"The late respectable Dr BEN JOHNSON, gifted author of Boswell's Biography (applause), once rather humorously remarked, on witnessing a nautch performed by canine quadrupeds, that—although their choreographical abilities were of but a mediocre nature—the wonderment was that they should be capable at all to execute such a hind-legged feat and tour de force.
"Similarly, it is to me a gaping marvel that womanish tongues should hold forth upon subjects which are naturally far outside the radius of their comprehensions.
"The subject for our discursiveness to-night is, 'To what extent has Ibsen contributed to the Cause (if any) of Female Emancipation?' and being a total ignoramus up to date of the sheer existence of said hon'ble gentleman, I shall abstain from scratching my head over so Sphinxian a conundrum, and confine myself to knuckling to the obiter diction of sundry lady speakers.
"There was a stout full-blown matron, with grey curl-shavings and a bonnet and plumage, who declaimed her opinionated conviction that it was degrading and infra dig. for any woman to be treated as a doll. (Hear, hear.) Well, I would hatch the questionable egg of a doubt whether any rationalistic masculine could regard the speaker herself in a dollish aspect, and will assure her that in my fatherland every cultivated native gentleman would approach her with the cold shoulder of apprehensive respectfulness. (The bonneted matron becomes ruddier than the cherry with complacency, and fans herself vigorously.)
"Next I shall deal with the tall, meagre female near the fire-hearth, in abbreviated hair and a nose-pinch, who set up the claim that her sex were in all essentials the equals, if not the superiors, of man. Now, without any gairish of words, I will proceed baldly to enumerate various important physical differentiations which—— (Intervention by Hon'ble Chairwoman, reminding me that these were not in disputation.) I bow to correction, and kiss the rod by summing up the gist of my argument, viz., that it is nonsensical idiotcy to suppose that a woman can be the equivalent of a man either in intellectual gripe, in bodily robustiousness, or in physical courage. Of the last, I shall afford an unanswerable proof from my own person. It is notorious, urbi et orbi, that every feminine person will flee in panicstricken dismay from the approach of the smallest mouse.
"I am a Bengali, and, as such, profusely endowed with the fugacious instinct, and yet, shall I quake in appalling consternation if a mouse is to invade my vicinity?
"Certainly I shall not; and why? Because, though not racially a temerarious, I nevertheless appertain to the masculine sex, and consequentially my heart is not capable of contracting at the mere aspect of a rodent. This is not to blow the triumphant trumpet of sexual superiority, but to prove a simple undenied fact by dint of an a fortiori.
"Having pulverised my pinched-nose predecessor, I pass on to a speaker of a very very opposite personality—the well-proportioned, beauteous maiden with azure starry eyes, gilded hair, and teeth like the seeds of a pomegranate (oh, si sic omnes!), who vaunted, in the musical accents of a cuckoo, her right to work out her own life, independently of masculine companionship or assistance, and declared that the saccharine element of courtship and connubiality was but the exploded mask of man's tyrannical selfishness.
"Had such shocking sentiments been aired by some of the other lady orators in this room, I must facetiously have recalled them to a certain fabular fox which criticised the unattainable grapes as too immature to merit mastication; but the particular speaker cannot justly be said to be on all fours with such an animal. Understand, please, I am no prejudiced, narrow-minded chap. I would freely and generously permit plainfaced, antiquated, unmarriageable madams and misses to undertake the manufacture of their own careers ad nauseam; but when I behold a maiden of such excessive pulchritude—— (Second intervention by Hon'ble Chairwoman desiring me to abstain from personal references.) I assure the Hon'ble Miss CHAIRWOMAN that I was not alluding to herself, but since she has spoken in my wheel with such severity, I will conclude with my peroration on the subject for debate, namely, the theatrical dramas of Hon'ble IBSEN. When, Madams and Misses, I make the odious comparison of these works, with which I am completely unacquainted, to the productions of Poet SHAKSPEARE, where I may boast the familiarity that is a breeder of contempt, I find that, in Hamlet's own words, it is the 'Criterion of a Satire,' and I shall assert the unalterable a priori of my belief that the melodious Swan of Stony Stratford, whether judged by his longitude, his versical blankness, or the profoundly of his attainments in Chronology, Theology, Phrenology, Palmistry, Metallurgy, Zoography, Nosology, Chiropody, or the Musical Glasses, has outnumbered every subsequent contemporary and succumbed them all!"
With this, I sat down, leaving my audience as sotto voce as fishes with admiration and amazement at the facundity of my eloquence, and should indubitably have been the recipient of innumerable felicitations but for the fact that Miss SPINK, suddenly experiencing sensations of insalubriousness, requested me, without delay, to conduct her from the assemblage.
I would willingly make a repetition of my visit and rhetorical triumphs, only Miss SPINK informs me that she has recently terminated her membership with the above society.
How he saw the practice of the University Crews, and what he thought of it.
The notorious Intercollegian Boat-race of this anno Domini will be obsolete and ex post facto by the time of publication of the present instalment of jots and tittles, still I am sufficiently presumptive to think that the cogitations and personal experiences of a cultivated, thoughtful native gentleman on this coerulean topic may not be found so stale and dry as the remainder of a biscuit.
First I will make a clean bosom with the confession that, though ardently desirous to witness such a Titianic struggle for the cordon bleu of old Father Antic the Thames, I was not the actual spectator of the affair, being previously contracted to escort Miss MANKLETOW (whose wishfulness is equivalent to legislation) to a theatrical matutinal performance, which she would in nowise consent to renounce, alleging that she had already seen the Boat-race to the verge of satiety, and that the spectacle was instantaneous and paltry.
However, on acquainting my kind and patronising father, Hon'ble Punch, of my disappointment, he did benevolently propose, as a pis aller and blind bargain, a voyage in the steam launch-boat of the official coachman of one of the crews so that I might ascertain how the trick was done.
And at 10 A.M. on the day of assignation I presented myself at the riparian premises of a certain Boating Society, and, on exhibiting my letter of credit to the Mentor or Corypheus aforesaid, was received a bras ouverts and with an urbane offhandedness.
After I had hung fire and cooled my heels on the banks for a while, I was instructed to enter a skiff, which conveyed me and others to a steamship of very meagre dimensions, whereupon owing to the heel of one of my Japan leather shoes becoming implicated in the wire railing that circumvented the desk, I was embarked in a horizontal attitude, and severely deteriorated the tall chimneypot hat which I had assumed to do credit to the hon'ble periodical I represented. (Nota bene. Hatmaker's bill for renovating same, 2 rupees 8 annas—which those to whom it is of concern will please attend to and refund.)
On recovery of my head-gear and equanimity, I stationed myself in close proximity to the officiating coach for purpose of being on the threshold of inquiries, and proceeded to pop numerous questions to my neighbours. I ascertained, among other things, that the vessels are called "eights," owing to their containing nine passengers; that the ninth is called the "cock," and is a mere supernumerary or understudent, in case any member of the crew should be overcome by sickishness during the contest and desire to discontinue.
It appears that the race is of religious and ceremonious origin, for only "good men" are permitted to compete, and none who is a wine drunkard, a gluttonous, or addicted to any form of tobacco. Moreover, they are to observe a strict fast and abstinence for many weeks previous to the ordeal. The most prominent ecclesiastics and Judges of the Supreme Courts are usually chosen from this class of individuals, which is a further proof of the sanctimoniousness attached to the competition.
Consequently I was the more surprised at the disrespectful superciliousness of their Fidus Achates or dry nurse, who, stretching himself upon his stomach in the prow, did shout counsels of perfection at his receding pupils.
Such criticisms as I overheard, seemed to me of a very puerile and captious description, and some of an opprobrious personality, e.g., as when a certain oarman was taunted with being short—as though he were capable of adding the cubic inch to his stature!
Another I heard advised to keep his visual organs in the interior of the boat, though, being ordinary optics and not at all of a vitreous composition, they could not be removable by volition. Again, a third was reproached because of the lateness with which he had made his beginning; but, as it was not asserted that he was inferior to the rest, the tardiness of his initiation was surely rather honourable than disgraceful!
I observed that said trainer did stickle almost prudishly for propriety, being greatly shocked at the levity with which the rowers were attired and entreating them to keep their buttons well up, though indeed I could discern none, nor was there much which was humanly possible to be buttoned.
For myself, I must make the humble complaint that the Hon'ble Coach was defective in courteous attention to my inquisitiveness, which he totally ignored. For I could not prevail upon him to explain what thing it was that he directed the oarmen to "wait for," to "spring at from a stretcher," and "catch at the beginning;" nor why they were forbidden to row with their hands, not being quadrumanous, and able to employ their feet in such a manner; nor whether when he commanded them to "get in at once," he intended them to leap into the waters or to return to the landing-place, nor why they did neither of these things; nor why he should express satisfaction that a certain rower had got rid of a lofty feather, which would indubitably have added to the showiness of his appearance.
Again, hearing him anxiously inquire the time after a stoppage, I was proceeding to explain how gladly I would have given him such information, but for the unavoidable absence of my golden chronometer, owing to the failure of Misters TOMKINS and JOHNSON to restore the same, whereupon he treated me in such a "please-go-away-and-die" sort of style that I subsided with utmost alacrity.
On the return voyage the Collegiate eight was challenged to a spurting match by a scratched crew, which appeared to me to be the superior in velocity, though it seemed it was then too late to make the happy exchange.
When the practice was at an end and the Blues in a state of quiescence, I intimated my desire to harangue them and express my wonderment and admiration at beholding them content to suffer such hardships and perils and faultfinding without expostulation or excuses for their shortcomings, and all for no pecuniary recompense, but the evasive reward of a nominis umbra. And I would have reminded them of the extended popularity of their performance, and that it was an unfairness to muzzle the ox that treadeth upon one's corn, appealing to them to stand up for their rights, and refuse to compete except for the honorarium of a quid pro quo.
But the official instructor, seeing me about to climb upon the poop, to deliver my oration, entreated me with so much earnestness to desist that I became immediately aphonous.
Mr Jabberjee is taken to see a Glove-Fight.
A young sprightly Londoner acquaintance of mine, who is a member of a Sportish Club where exhibitions of fisticuffs are periodically given, did generously invite me on a recent Monday evening to be the eye-witness of this gladiatorial spectacle.
And, though not constitutionally bellicose, I eagerly accepted his invitation on being assured that I should not be requisitioned to take part personally in such pugilistic exercises, and should observe same from a safe distance and coign of vantage, for I am sufficiently a lover of sportfulness to appreciate highly the sight of courage and science in third parties.
So he conducted me to the Club-house, and by the open sesame of a ticket enabled me to penetrate the barrier, after which I followed his wake downstairs, through rooms full of smoking and conversing sportlovers mostly in festal attire, to a long and lofty hall with balconies and a stage at the further end with foliage painted in imitation of a forest, which was tenanted by press reporters.
The centre of the hall was monopolised by a white square platform confined by a circumambience of rope, which I was informed was the veritable theatre of war and cockpit.
Presently two hobbardyhoys made the ascent of this platform with their attendant myrmidons, and did proceed to remove their trouserings and coats until they were in the state of nature with the exception of a loincloth, whereupon the President or Master of the Ceremonies introduced them and their respective partisans by name to the assemblage, stating their precise ponderability, and that these juvenile antagonists were fraternally related by ties of brotherhood.
At which I was revolted, for it is against nature and contra bonos mores that relations should be egged on into family jars, nor can such proceedings tend to promote the happiness and domesticity of their home circle. However, on such occasion when the youths were in danger of inflicting corporal injuries upon each other, the President called out "Time" in such reproving tones that they hung their heads in shamefulness and desisted. And at length they were persuaded into a pacification, and made the amende honorable by shaking each other by the hand, whereat I was rejoiced, for, as Poet WATT says, "Birds which are in little nests should refrain from falling out."
The victory was adjudged to the elder brother—in obedience, I suppose, to the rule of Primogeniture, for he did not succeed in reducing his opponent to a hors de combat.
Next came a more bustling encounter between Misters BILL HUSBAND and MYSTERIOUS SMITH, which was protracted to the duration of eight rounds. I was largely under the impression that Mister HUSBAND was to win, owing to the acclamations he received, and the excessive agility with which he removed his head from vicinity of the blows of Mister MYSTERIOUS SMITH.
It was truly magnificent to see how they did embrace each other by the neck, and the wonderment and suspicion in their glances when one discovered that he was resting his chin upon the padded hand of his adversary, and from time to time the Hon'ble Chairman was heard ordering them to "break away," and "not to hold," or requesting us to refrain from any remarks. And at intervals they retired to sit upon chairs in opposing corners, where they rinsed their mouths, and were severely fanned by their bearers, who agitated a large towel after the manner of a punkah. But, in the end, it was Mysterious Mister SMITH who hit the right nail on the head, and was declared the conquering hero, though once more I was incapacitated to discover in what precise respects he was the facile princeps.
Around the hall there were placards announcing that smoking was respectfully prohibited, and the President did repeatedly entreat members of the audience to refrain from blowing a cloud, assuring them that the perfume of tobacco was noxious and disgustful to the combatants, and threatening to mention disobedient tobacconists by name.
Whereupon most did desist; but some, secreting their cigars in the hollow of their hands, took whiffs by stealth, and blushed to find it flame; while others, who were such grandees and big pots that their own convenience was the first and foremost desideratum, continued to smoke with lordliness and indifference.
And I am an approver of such conduct—for it is unreasonable that a well-bred, genteel sort of individual should make the total sacrifice of a cigar, for which he has perhaps paid as much as two or even four annas, out of consideration for insignificant common chaps hired to engage in snipsnaps for his entertainment.
The last competition was to be the bonne bouche and piece de resistance of the evening, consisting of a rumpus in twenty rounds between Misters TOM TRACY of Australia, and TOMMY WILLIAMS, from the same hemisphere, at which I was on the tiptoe of expectation.
But, although they commenced with dancing activity, one of the TOMS in the very first round sparred the other under the chin with such superabundant energy that he immediately became a recumbent for a lengthy period, and, on being elevated to a chair, only recaptured sufficient consciousness to abandon the sponge.