OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
May 30, 1891.
MR. PUNCH'S POCKET IBSEN.
(CONDENSED AND REVISED VERSION BY MR. P.'S OWN HARMLESS IBSENITE.)
NO. IV.—THE WILD DUCK.
HIALMAR's Studio. A photograph has just been taken, GINA and HEDVIG are tidying up.
Gina (apologetically). There should have been a luncheon-party in this Act, with Dr. RELLING and MOeLVIK, who would have been in a state of comic "chippiness," after his excesses overnight. But, as it hadn't much to do with such plot as there is, we cut it out. It came cheaper. Here comes your father back from his walk with that lunatic, Young WERLE—you had better go and play with the Wild Duck. [HEDVIG goes.
Hialmar (coming in). I have been for a walk with GREGERS; he meant well—but it was tiring. GINA, he has told me that, fifteen years ago, before I married you, you were rather a Wild Duck, so to speak. (Severely.) Why haven't you been writhing in penitence and remorse all these years, eh?
Gina (sensibly). Why? Because I have had other things to do. You wouldn't take any photographs, so I had to.
Hialmar. All the same—it was a swamp of deceit. And where am I to find elasticity of spirit to bring out my grand invention now? I used to shut myself up in the parlour, and ponder and cry, when I thought that the effort of inventing anything would sap my vitality. (Pathetically.) I did want to leave you an inventor's widow; but I never shall now, particularly as I haven't made up my mind what to invent yet. Yes, it's all over. Rabbits are trash, and even poultry palls. And I'll wring that cursed Wild Duck's neck!
Gregers (coming in beaming). Well, so you've got it over. Wasn't it soothing and ennobling, eh? and ain't you both obliged to me?
Gina. No; it's my opinion you'd better have minded your own business, [Weeps.
Gregers (in great surprise). Bless me! Pardon my Norwegian naivete but this ought really to be quite a new starting-point. Why, I confidently expected to have found you both beaming!—Mrs. EKDAL, being so illiterate, may take some little time to see it—but you, HIALMAR, with your deep mind, surely you feel a new consecration, eh?
Hialmar (dubiously). Oh—er—yes. I suppose so—in a sort of way.
[HEDVIG runs in, overjoyed.
Hedvig. Father, only see what Mrs. SOeRBY has given, me for a birthday present—a beautiful deed of gift! [Shows it.
Hialmar (eluding her). Ha! Mrs. SOeRBY, the family Housekeeper. My father's sight failing! HEDVIG in goggles! What vistas of heredity these astonishing coincidences open up! I am not short-sighted, at all events, and I see it all—all! This is my answer. (He takes the deed, and tears it across.) Now I have nothing more to do in this house. (Puts on overcoat.) My home has fallen in ruins about me. (Bursts into tears.) My hat!
Gregers. Oh, but you mustn't go. You must be all three together, to attain the true frame of mind for self-sacrificing forgiveness, you know!
Hialmar. Self-sacrificing forgiveness be blowed!
[He tears himself away, and goes out.
Hedvig (with despairing eyes). Oh, he said it might be blowed! Now he'll never come home any more!
Gregers. Shall I tell you how to regain your father's confidence, and bring him home surely? Sacrifice the Wild Duck.
Hedvig. Do you think that will do any good?
Gregers. You just try it! [Curtain.
Same Scene. GREGERS enters, and finds GINA retouching photographs.
Gregers (pleasantly). HIALMAR not come in yet, after last night, I suppose?
Gina. Not he! He's been out on the loose all night with RELLING and MOeLVIK. Now he's snoring on their sofa.
Gregers (disappointed.) Dear!—dear!—when he ought to be yearning to wrestle in solitude and self-examination!
Gina (rudely). Self-examine your grandmother!
[She goes out; HEDVIG comes in.
Gregers (to Hedvig). Ah, I see you haven't found courage to settle the Wild Duck yet!
Hedvig. No—it seemed such a delightful idea at first. Now it strikes me as a trifle—well, Ibsenish.
Gregers (reprovingly). I thought you hadn't grown up quite unharmed in this house! But if you really had the true, joyous spirit of self-sacrifice, you'd have a shot at that Wild Duck, if you died for it!
Hedvig (slowly). I see; you mean that my constitution's changing, and I ought to behave as such?
Gregers. Exactly, I'm what Americans would term a "crank"—but I believe in you, HEDVIG.
[HEDVIG takes down the pistol from the mantelpiece, and goes into the garret with flashing eyes; GINA comes in.
Hialmar (looking in at door with hesitation; he is unwashed and dishevelled). Has anybody happened to see my hat?
Gina. Gracious, what a sight you are! Sit down and have some breakfast, do. [She brings it.
Hialmar (indignantly). What! touch food under this roof? Never! (Helps himself to bread-and-butter and coffee.) Go and pack up my scientific uncut books, my manuscripts, and all the best rabbits, in my portmanteau. I am going away for ever. On second thoughts, I shall stay in the spare room for another day or two—it won't be the same as living with you!
[He takes some salt meat.
Gregers. Must you go? Just when you've got nice firm ground to build upon—thanks to me! Then there's your great invention, too.
Hialmar. Everything's invented already. And I only cared about my invention because, although it doesn't exist yet, I thought HEDVIG believed in it, with all the strength of her sweet little shortsighted eyes! But now I don't believe in HEDVIG!
[He pours himself out another cup of coffee.
Gregers (earnestly). But, HIALMAR, if I can prove to you that she is ready to sacrifice her cherished Wild Duck? See!
[He pushes back sliding-door, and discovers HEDVIG aiming at the Wild Duck with the butt-end of the pistol. Tableau.
Gina (excitedly). But don't you see? It's the pigstol—that fatal Norwegian weapon which, in Ibsenian dramas, never shoots straight! And she has got it by the wrong end too. She will shoot herself!
Gregers (quietly). She will! Let the child make amends. It will be a most realistic and impressive finale!
Gina. No, no—put down the pigstol, HEDVIG. Do you hear, child?
Hedvig (still aiming). I hear—but I shan't unless father tells me to.
Gregers. HIALMAR, show the great soul I always said you had. This sorrow will set free what is noble in you. Don't spoil a fine situation. Be a man! Let the child shoot herself!
Hialmar (irresolutely). Well, really I don't know. There's a good deal in what GREGERS says. Hm!
Gina. A good deal of tomfool rubbish! I'm illiterate, I know. I've been a Wild Duck in my time, and I waddle. But for all that, I'm the only person in the play with a grain of common-sense. And I'm sure—whatever Mr. IBSEN or GREGERS choose to say—that a screaming burlesque like this ought not to end like a tragedy—even in this queer Norway of ours! And it shan't, either! Tell the child to put that nasty pigstol down and come away, do!
Hialmar (yielding). Ah, well, I am a farcical character myself, after all. Don't touch a hair of that duck's head, HEDVIG. Come to my arms and all shall be forgiven!
[HEDVIG throws down the pistol,—which goes off and kills a rabbit—and rushes into her father's arms. Old EKDAL comes out of a corner with a fowl on each shoulder, and bursts into tears. Affecting family picture.
Gregers (annoyed). It's all very pretty, I dare say—but it's not IBSEN! My real mission is to be the thirteenth at table. I don't know what I mean—but I fly to fulfil it! [He goes.
Hialmar. And now we've got rid of him, HEDVIG, fetch me the deed of gift I tore up, and a slip of paper, and a penny bottle of gum, and we'll soon make a valid instrument of it again!
[He pastes the torn deed together as the Curtain slowly descends.
THE END (with apologies as before.)
* * * * *
WHY SHOULD LONDON WAIT?
OR, THE SLIGHTED METROPOLIS AND THE DISAPPOINTED MEDICAL STUDENT.
[Sir RICHARD QUAIN (seconding the proposal of Lord HERSCHELL "that the draft Supplemental Charter for the University of London be approved") said that with respect to Medical Degrees, those who were not in the profession could not realise the grievance which the Medical Students of London felt themselves to be sustaining by not being able to obtain their Degrees in the Metropolis. Hundreds of capable men were driven to seek in Scotland, at Newcastle, and elsewhere the Medical Degrees which they ought to have obtained in London.]
AIR—"The University of Gottingen." London, loquitur:—
Whene'er with longing eyes you view Degrees, I feel I'm undone, Sir, And so do the companions true Who studied with you at the U- -niversity of London, Sir— -niversity of London, Sir!
[Weeps, and pulls out report of stormy meeting of Convocation of University of London, where new draft charter (of which Lord HERSCHELL and Lord Justice FRY were the most prominent advocates) was rejected by 461 votes against 197.
Report! It saddens me—and you. Was it in cruel fun done, Sir! What QUAIN and HERSCHELL, said was true! Durham can crow it o'er the U- -niversity of London, Sir! -niversity of London, Sir!
[At the repetition of this line young—but degreeless—Medical Student groans in cadence.
Degrees! I cannot grant them—true! Or it were with a run done, Sir. I'm only the Metropolis. Pooh! Provincial pedants flout the U- -niversity of London, Sir! -niversity of London, Sir!
Talk of Home Rule? It's all askew! I have it not, for one done, Sir. I've taught you; your "trademark"—boohoo!— I cannot give you at the U- -niversity of London, Sir! -niversity of London, Sir!
To knowledge in my halls you grew; But now you are—dear son, done, Sir! You're only a mere Medical Stu- -dent at the sorely slighted U- -niversity of London, Sir. -niversity of London, Sir!
Off—to Newcastle, boy! Adieu! By that big vote we're undone, Sir. Provincial Colleges have exclu- -sive rights denied to the poor U- -niversity of London, Sir? -niversity of London, Sir!
[During the last stanza, M.S. beats his breast with his stethoscope and goes off—like coals—to Newcastle, or like mustard—to Durham—to waste valuable time in getting in those colossal provincial centres what "Poor Little London" cannot grant him.
* * * * *
(FROM EDISON'S PHRASE-BOOK.)
Good gracious! what was that horrible noise? It sounded like the falling of a leg of mutton!
Oh! that was only the blow delivered by the Hackney Cockchafer on the eye of the Midland Wrap-Rascal. It's the best fight I've seen for a long time.
I wish, then, you would take it with you into another room. I can scarcely catch a single word of the Rev. JABEZ FISHE's delightful sermon, to which I am endeavouring to listen.
Heavens! why all the windows are broken! And the mirrors are shattered! And the chandelier has come down!
Well, my dear, I am very sorry, but I was much interested in the firing of this new 137-ton gun, and they have just let it off. That's all.
* * * * *
"Low-lying" districts are much talked about just now as breeding-grounds for the pestiferous Influenza microbe. The worst "low-lying" districts Punch knows are the editorial offices of certain scurrilous journals, and the social pestilences they engender and disseminate sorely need abatement. Perhaps when they have duly fumigated the House, they will turn their attention to the Office.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE BITTER CRY OF OUTCAST COMPETITION.
"The breakfast at St. James's Hall, which we reported yesterday, and which was held in order to allow those who partook of it to discuss the possibility of establishing in this country a 'non-competitive system of university examination,' was, in some respects, a natural outcome of the revolt against competition which has of late years made itself felt in many different quarters."—The Times.
I'm in a pretty pickle! The world is wondrous fickle; But lately it would stickle For Progress by Exam. And now, in Trade and Learning, Against me they seem turning, Deliberately discerning In me a noxious sham!
The Laissez-faire philosopher My enemies grew gross over; But now Economists toss over Their idol of old days. They swear "Free Competition" Leads to Trade inanition: That I'm a superstition, A cruel vampire craze.
And now Big Wigs scholastic, To modern movements plastic, Would try reform most drastic Upon the School Exam. The ways my nerves that jar on AUBERON HERBERT's far on; E'en Dr. WARRE makes war on Dear old Competitive Cram!
If pundits thus—at breakfast— Neologise, neck-and-neck, fast, My kingdom they will wreck fast! The Army loves me not; Socialists whet their soul-edge Against me; now the College Swears that my road to knowledge Is simply—Tommy rot.
Revolt? It's most revolting! My road might yield some jolting, But boobies from it bolting Will probably get bogged, And, lost in some dim bye-way, Regret the well-paved highway Along which long in my way Contentedly they jogged.
* * * * *
OUR PARTICULAR TIP FOR THE DERBY.
(FURNISHED BY THE ODD MAN OUT.)
Looking through the List of Probable Starters (who are all coming on well, and might therefore be called, in the quaint turf Italian, "comeystarters"), I cannot help feeling that this year the Blue Riband of the Turf will fall to the flower of the flock—as, indeed, it should. But if it does not, why, there are other really sound horses that are sure to give a good account of themselves. We may take it, that the winner will be out of the common. As the glorious animal passes the post, the cheers will be so deafening, that there will be a universal cry, "This must be ordinance!" As the fun of the Derby of late times has seen some revival, the hero of the hour will, par excellence, be the doll, which, in spite of many rivals, has never ceased to be popular. Not that the fun will be fast and furious—not at all; the days of the Mohawks are over, and I am, therefore, in a position to declare, that the day when it is past and gone, will be appropriately called a dorcas meeting. And this I can say with the less hesitation as I rely on the power of a deemster. To everyone the occasion will be pleasant, both to wise men and persons of a simple sort; to adopt the words of the historical Pieman, "for this meeting fits Simon." And here let me remark, that I am an enthusiastic admirer of the perambulating gentleman who outwitted the pastie purchaser; in fact, "I go solid for the Simonian." If the field is dusty on the morning of the race, it will be following precedent. When I think of the Derby, I cannot help remembering HENRY THE EIGHTH, for it was to hold the Field of the Cloth of Gold that that eminent monarch had to raise the dust. Well might FRANCOIS PREMIER have observed (as I do), "Bravo, Gouverneur!" If DICKENS's naval hero, the Captain whose words were always worth "making a note of," were to use the belt of Orion as a support in a sea of trouble, I should applaud his wisdom. In fact, I should observe, that the occasion was worthy of the Cuttle's tone. And now to come to business. For after all, what I have written above is merely a hint to those who require no telling. A prophet to be believed must be mysterious. But that the simplest understanding may comprehend, I give my final tip. Here it is. This year's Derby will be won by one of two. It will either fall to the Favourite or—the Field!
* * * * *
Tuesday, May 19.—With pleasant recollections of MARIE ROZE and BARTON McGUCKIN, and, as I think, a Mr. SCOBELL playing the swaggering relative, I went to see Manon, at Covent Garden, Miss SIBYL SANDERSON being the Heroine, and M. VAN DYCK the Hero.
The new prima donna has everything in her favour, and very soon she was in favour with the audience, but not in such high favour as was the tenor with the artistic name, who, fairly taking the audience by assault, constituted himself, pro tem., the man in possession of the ear of the House. He is a success; as a young master bearing the name of so distinguished an Old Master should be. [Query, would it be rude to say to a really good Van Dyck, "You go and be hung!" Perhaps the learned Editor of Musical Notes and Queries will reply. Of course much depends on the frame.] As for the new soprano SIBYL—more power to her organ! Her acting was good, but not great, and what ought to be her song par excellence went for nothing, or, at least, it could have been bought very cheap. There is far more dialogue in Manon than a Covent Garden audience is accustomed to, and this superfluity is resented by those who come for the singing, and who, if any talking is to be done, like to do it themselves. The three young ladies who go about together as a perpetual trio, suggest the notion of a light and airy version, feminine gender, of the three Anabaptists in the Prophete. M. ISNARDON as Des Grieux, pere, a character that might be operatically nearly related to Germont, pere, in La Traviata, was impressively dramatic, but decidedly disappointing in his one great song, which ought to be a certain encore. It may be true that an opera intended for a small stage does not stand a fair chance of success on a large one, and vice versa, as no doubt the LORD MAYOR's coach provided by DRURIOLANUS SHERIFFUS for the occasion would look absurd on the stage of the Opera Comique, while here when it comes round to the gate to fetch Des Grieux, it creates as great a sensation as ever it would do in the Strand on the Ninth of November, even with the Sheriff inside it.
Wednesday.—Speaking as an opera-goer of some thirty years' sitting, I am inclined to assert that the performance last Wednesday of Les Huguenots beats the record, as will be allowed by all whose memory runneth not to the contrary, "nevertheless" and "notwithstanding" being included. Except MARIO, as Raoul, and some add, except DORUS GRAS as the Queen, never was seen and heard so fine a performance as is this to-night; and this deponent witnesseth that no such ensemble has ever been seen for this really grand Opera. Strange to hear sweet little Manon one night, and the next these overpowering Huguenots. It is well worth the while, in Mr. Punch's pages, to record this exceptionally brilliant cast. First, Madame ALBANI for the heroine Valentina, superb alike in singing and in acting; GIULIA RAVOGLI as Urbano, the page, a memorable page in operatic history; Conte di San Bris, by M. LASSALLE, not to be bettered, as may be also said of Signor MIRANDA (by kind permission of SHAKSPEARE's Tempest, probably a descendant) as De Retz, afterwards converted, and appearing as Il Padre Basso, Superior of a Theatrical Order, one of the exceptional Orders admitted after seven. Then M. MAUREL, with his highly Maurel tone, cannot be beaten as the high-minded Conte de Nevers; and EDOUARD DE RESZKE, taken altogether—and there's a lot of him—is quite the best Marcello that has been heard and seen for some considerable time. Herr FORMES and MABINI were the rugged Huguenot soldier to the life, but they weren't the Harmonious Blacksmith that NED DE RESZKE is. JEAN DE RESZKE methinks lacketh impassioned tenderness in the great duet scene, where ALBANI is inimitable; otherwise JEAN is a gallant Raoul. Ensemble as already said, which term includes chorus, mise-en-scene, and orchestra under the energetic rule of Signor BEVIGNANI, simply perfect. Those who this season miss seeing Les Huguenots with this unexampled cast, will be justly upbraided by their children and grandchildren. Mr. COVENT-GARDENIA HALL with the Gladstone flower in his button-hole, almost weeps to think that his much-loved leader is unable to come from Dollis Hill and bestow his liberal praise upon Les Huguenots. DRURIOLANUS may well beam upon the crammed house, viewing a portion of it with his nose over the ledge of the stall gangway portal; well may he smile, hum the melodies to himself (what better audience can he have for the performance!) expand in full bloom and speak joyously out of the very fulness of his heart and pocket; nay, for the moment he may even look upon the sheriffship and all its glory as a mere vanity of vanities, in comparison with the proud position of being DRURIOLANUS OPERATICUS MAGNIFICISSIMUS, who has given opera-goers this new and rare edition of Les Huguenots. The gloved hand and the lorgnette of H.R.H. are visible in the omnibus-box, where our music-loving Prince is happily congratulating himself on another little FIFE being added to the harmonious Royal Band, while the loyal public is mightily pleased thus to have it proved to ocular demonstration, that the subtle villain, Influenza, has been baulked in his traitorous attempt on the Royal Personage, and they sincerely hope that the insidious poisoner, being thus arrested in his course, may, with all his treacherous bacilli, be for ever banished this happy and generally healthy realm.
* * * * *
COMPETITION IN THE FUTURE.
SCENE—A Barrack-Room. PRESENT—President and Members of a Board of Examiners, sitting to pass Candidates for Commissions in the Line.
President. Now, Gentlemen, I think we are agreed that cramming is to be discouraged. We want an officer who can command a company, and not a scholar who can floor a paper for high-class honours—that is the general idea, Gentlemen, isn't it?
Chorus of Members. Quite so.
Pres. Exactly. Orderly, pass the word that we will see Mr. MUGGER. (The word is passed, when enter First Candidate.) Glad to see you, Sir. Pray sit down. I think you were at school?
First Candidate (nervously). Yes, Sir, at Eton.
Pres. Humph! (Aside, to his Colleagues.) Rather an unpromising commencement. However, he may have devoted more of his time to cricket or football in the Playing Fields than to anything else. (Aloud.) I hope you have not been to the University?
First Can. (almost moved to tears). Alas, Gentlemen, my father would send me to Christchurch, and I am sorry to say I took a Double First!
Pres. (courteous, but sad). I am afraid that will do. (Exit First Candidate, striving in vain to suppress a burst of unmanly emotion.) I am deeply grieved, Gentlemen, but I fear that we can do nothing further in this matter?
Chorus of Members. Utterly impossible!
Pres. Exactly. Orderly, call Mr. SHIRKWORKS. (Second Candidate enters.) Glad to see you, Sir. Pray sit down. I think you were at school?
Second Can. (with confidence). Never, Sir, and allow me to add that I can scarcely read, don't know how to spell, and have a firm impression that two and two make either three or five—I forget which.
Pres. (beaming). Excellent! (After a brief consultation with his colleagues.) Mr. SHIRKWORKS, I have much pleasure in informing you that we shall be glad to recommend you for a Commission. (Curtain.)
* * * * *
* * * * *
OR, A CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK.
BEING FRAGMENTS OF A FORTHCOMING POLITICAL PRIZE NOVEL.
[In a letter to The Times on "Party Organisation," Mr. CONINGSBY DISRAELI vigorously rallies the Tory Party on their "eternal and infernal apathy." He says, "Since we have borrowed some Liberal principles, let us borrow some Liberal tactics, and introduce what I would call the Schnadhorstian methods into our councils of war. They, at least, have the merit of success."]
* * * * *
It was CODLINGSBY JUNIOR, who saved the Vraibleusian Party after the battle of Bahborough. By sending a stern and staccato epistle to the "Jupiter Tonans"; by praising (and imitating) Colonel DE CAUCUSINE, the real inspiring spirit in the camp of the victorious GRANDOLMAN, the march of the Hubbabub army was stopped—the menaced empire of Vraibleusia was saved from the flowing tide of Radical ruin; the Marquis of STROKEFOGIES appeared in a blaze of triumph that outblazed even the Berlin "Peace with Honour" business, and CODLINGSBY JUNIOR "took the cake."
* * * * *
The dinner over, the young men rushed from their Club (White's), flushed, full fed, and eager for battle. If the Blues were angry, the Buffs were also on the alert.
"I can have a dinner at any hour," said CODLINGSBY JUNIOR; "but a Blue and Buff row"—(a shillelagh here flying through the window crashed "the cake" from CODLINGSBY's hand)—"a Blue and Buff row is a novelty to me. The Buffs have the best of it, clearly, though; the Cads outnumber the Swells. Ha! a good blow! How that burly Caucusite went down before yonder slim young fellow in the primrose pants!"
"That is the Lord TIDDLEMPOPS," said a companion. "A light weight, but a pretty fighter," CODLINGSBY remarked. "Well hit with your left, Lord TIDDLEMPOPS; well parried, Lord TIDDLEMPOPS; claret drawn, by Jingo!"
"He never can be going to match himself against that Wirepuller!" CODLINGSBY exclaimed, as an enormous Caucusite—no other than SCHNADDY, indeed, the famous ex-Brummagem bruiser, before whose fists the Blues went down like ninepins—fought his way up to the spot where, pluckily, but a little too negligently, TIDDLEMPOPS and one or two of his young friends were bringing aristocratic laissez faire to bear against the fortiter in re of the fighting Caucusite Cads.
The young noble faced the huge champion with the languid gallantry of his race, but was no match for the enemy's brawn and biceps, and went down in every round. His organisation, in fact, though fine, was not sufficiently firm and well-knit to face the sinewy and skilful SCHNADDY. The brutal fellow, who meant business, had no mercy on the lad, who meant larks. His savage treatment chafed CODLINGSBY JUNIOR, as he viewed the unequal combat from White's window.
"Hold your hand!" he cried to the Goliath. "Don't you see he's but a novice?"
"Down he goes again!" the wiry Wirepuller cried, not heeding the interruption. "Down he goes again! I like whopping a swell!"
"Coward!" shouted CODLINGSBY. "The sight makes me feel quite Dizzy. A CODLINGSBY to the rescue!" and to fling open the window, amidst a shower of malodorous missiles, to vault over the balcony, and slide down one of the pillars to the ground, baring his steely biceps in the process, and shying the "castor" from his curly looks with all the virile grace of the Great Earl, was the work of exactly five-sixths of a second.
At the sixth-sixth he stood before the enormous Wirepuller.
"SCHNADDY, my boy," he exclaimed, "I'm going to fight you with your own weapon—and wallop you. Look to yourself, churl Caucusite!"
"DIZZY's Double, by all that's theosophical!" faltered SCHNADDY, shrinking at once to half his previous size, under the influence of the startling sight, and the yet more startling "spank" from young DIZZY's dexter bunch-of-fives.
* * * * *
When SCHNADDY, after six weeks' bed and bandaging, at last came out of hospital, his occupation as Wirepuller was gone. CODLINGSBY JUNIOR had stepped into his shoes, and the late "Organiser of Victory" and his Party had not "the least little bit of a look in."
* * * * *
The Baron's Assistant Reader has been dipping into Robert Browning—Essays and Thoughts, by JOHN T. NETTLESHIP. (ELKIN MATHEWS, Vigo Street.) He advises all other readers to grasp his nettleship boldly. At last the Baron's A.R. thinks he understands "Childe Roland," after reading the twenty-five pages which Mr. NETTLESHIP devotes to the explanation of this noble but tantalising poem. Mr. NETTLESHIP's attitude is that of a fervent, but humble disciple, for whom his Master's every word possesses deep and subtle meanings. He believes with GEORGE ELIOT that "the words of genius bear a wider meaning than the thought which prompted them." That of course gives him unlimited scope, and sometimes makes the explanations long; but every lover of BROWNING will find in the book a great deal of sound and helpful criticism well expressed. Buy the book and see for yourself, says the Baron's A.R.
Fascinating is OSCAR WILDE's paper "On the Decay of Lying," which is the first essay in a book of his entitled Intentions. If it be true that the art of lying is decaying—but, stay! how can anyone take the word of a professor of the art of lying for this or any other fact? No, his motto must be, "See me reverse." Not that by suggesting this motto I would for a moment be understood as expressing a wish for OSCAR's once again dropping into poetry—that OSCAR should once again take to the other sort of Lyre; far from it. No; let him remain the head professor of the gay science of mendacity in the Cretan College. Now, when a Professor and double M.A., i.e., Master of the Mendacious Art in the Cretan College, says or writes one thing, he must be taken as meaning exactly the opposite. Otherwise he is no Cretan, and must be degraded from his Professorship. Bearing this in mind, the essay is, as I have said, in matter most amusing, and in style charming. Remember, my reader, that whosoever and whatsoever is blamed, abused, or flouted in this essay, is really being praised, lauded, and adulated to the skies by the Cretan critic. But when the M.M.A. writes on other subjects, are we to trust him? there's the difficulty. So after the first essay, which is hereby recommended by the Faculty, the Baron puts the book aside. "Caute legendum," says
THE BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
AN OLD-FASHIONED BUFFER ON BALFOUR'S BILL.
State-aided purchase? That sounds mighty well I look on it as a State-aided Sell!
* * * * *
* * * * *
"GENERAL ELECTION STAKES."
A COLLOQUY ON THE COURSE.
Mr. Punch. Your Stable, no doubt, has of late been a winning one; Horses and Jockeys have both done their best. Trainer. Yes; Guv'nor's black phiz—bless his heart!—is a grinning one; All our nags answer when put to the test. Mr. Punch. All? That's a bit of a stretch, my dear fellow. Wheel Tax went wrong. Compensation came down. Hasn't MATT's riding at times turned you yellow, And RAIKES's wild steering almost done you brown? Trainer. Maybe, Sir, maybe! We can't always spot 'em, But average winnings come out very well. On this next race, now, I fancy we've got 'em, Ah, fairly on toast, far as I can hear tell. Mr. Punch. The Sanguine Old Man—is he of your opinion? And SOLLY, the owner, is he at his ease? Trainer. Oh, dash the doldrums! I scorn their dominion. There are some people no fellow can please. What I say, Mister, is, look at their Stable, The old Opposition shop. Lot of old crocks! Flowing-Tide? Faugh! Half his doings are fable. Home Rule? The deadest of utter dead-locks! Socialist? Why, half the Party won't back him. Eight Hour? A roarer, all noise and no pace! Eh? Local Option? Won't win; though they whack him! What have they got, that can score the Big Race? Mr. Punch. Well, I must own they do seem a bit out of it. Still, the Big Race for surprises is famed. Trainer. Bah! It's a moral for us, not a doubt of it. Horse that can lick us is not foaled or named. Mr. Punch. Glad you're so cock-sure, dear JOKIM. Still lately They've scored some small handicaps, that you'll allow. Trainer. Oh! Harborough Stakes! Well, that don't scare me greatly, Mere fluke after all, though they raised a big row. Mr. Punch. It's mostly "a fluke" when opponents go by us; But flukes, you know, count, at the end of the game. Trainer. Well, look at the betting! Although they decry us, They'd like to have money on us all the same. Their best horse is "aged," their best jockey oldish, He's plucky, but years, Sir, will tell on the nerve. Some of 'em who've backed him the longest grow coldish, Whilst others do hint that he seems on the swerve. The lot who are sweet on that leggy colt, Labour, Would like a new "mount," if they dared to speak out. There isn't a man of 'em quite trusts his neighbour, Home Rule with BILL up! That inspires 'em with doubt! (Ask H-RC-RT or R-S-B-RY—on the Q.T., Sir.) The Old Jock is obstinate, new 'uns can't ride. Funk M-RL-Y, or L-BBY and that lot! Not me, Sir! I tell you the chances are all on our side. Mr. Punch. Well, luck goes with them who're not shirkers or shrinkers. Ah! here comes your crack—rather restive, I fear. By Jove, are you going to run him in blinkers? And who's your new Jock? His seat seems a bit queer. Trainer. Well, Sir, don't you see, it's just this way. He's borrowed, That Jock is; a wonderful pet of Brum JOE's Must work with his Party; some of us have sorrowed To make such close pals of such reglar old foes; The horse don't half like him, I'm bound to admit it, Between you and me I don't like it myself, For me and dear JOSEPH have not always hit it. But then, he stands in; we must look to the pelf; Can't afford to offend him, our Stable can't—blow it! Eh! What? You have heard me disparage Boy Bill As too Free in his ways by long chalks. Well, I know it; But JOE is dead nuts on his go and his skill— The Blinkers? Oh yes! Horse not used to him yet, Sir, And if he should spot him, might throw the young pup— We must "go it blind," only square chance, you bet, Sir, Of winning,—espesh'lly with JOE's jockey up!
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(SEE THE PREMIER'S SPEECH AT GLASGOW.)
War is a game Which, if Kings have their will, Peoples won't play at.
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"FRENCH AS SHE IS SPOKE."—The indefatigable international entrepreneur, Mr. M.L. MAYER,—who announces himself as "Sole Manager," evidently, therefore, a fishmonger, and, according to Hamlet, a representatively "honest man,"—intends to save Londoners the trouble and expense of visiting Paris by giving them three weeks, from June 15th to July 4th, of French plays, performed by the Theatre Francais Company, including Mesdames REICHENBERG and DUDLEY, three COQUELINS, one FEBVRE, and one MOUNET SULLY, at the Royalty Theatre. Those whose hobby is the French Theatre, will be delighted to assist at the start of the well-trained MAYER, who has achieved the curious feat of "saddling himself" with this responsibility.
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PARLIAMENTARY DIAGNOSIS.—"Inflammation"—of temper—is the preliminary of "Congestion"—of business, and these threaten to culminate in "Collapse"—of credit.
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LEAVES FROM A CANDIDATE'S DIARY.
May 13th.—Expenses keep mounting up. On Saturday received a letter from BLISSOP (Secretary of the Association), stating that it was deemed necessary to take a new Committee-room in Main Street, and asking me if they might draw on me for the cost of furnishing it, a matter of about L15. Replied that I must take time to consider whether such expenditure was proper. Three more charitable institutions claim me as an annual subscriber, and the Billsbury Free Hospital Committee have informed me that CHUBSON always gives them L10 a year. Have had to do ditto.
May 14th.—Had an extraordinary letter from VULLIAMY this morning. He is staying at Billsbury—but the letter explains itself. Here it is:—
MY DEAR PATTLE, (Confidential.)
I am asked to let you know that a Committee Meeting has been called for Friday 16th, and it is hoped that, at all costs, you will make it convenient to attend. You know how great an interest I have always taken in your career. I have always told you that any experience I may have gained in electioneering matters (and I have been at it for about twenty years now) is entirely at your service. You will therefore forgive me if I speak quite frankly to you on some questions which intimately concern your Candidature. I don't meet you as often as I should wish, and I am therefore impelled to write to you on matters which require your serious consideration, and on which you ought to be prepared to make a definite statement on Friday next. I have used the opportunity of my stay here to see how the land lay with regard to you. Hitherto you have done very well, but mere public meetings will not win an election, and you must make up your mind ere very long to come and stay here, so as to canvass each ward, under the guidance of the proper "officers."
Then there is the question of money! The Registration must he paid for by the Candidate. It will be heavy this year. You can talk it over with the Committee, but certainly L100 to L150 will be absolutely necessary. Whatever the sum is, you must be prepared to pay it. I trust you will excuse my being candid with you, both for your own sake and the Party's. If L200 or L300 more or less is any object to you, and if you (or your friends) are not prepared to do certain things, such as bringing up voters, &c., it is useless your hoping to win. I don't suggest bribery and corruption, but certain things not immoral, though perhaps illegal, must be done. That is why I once suggested to you that someone from here should have an interview with some friend who might represent you. You did not respond to this. You do not appear willing to be guided by your Committee even in the expenditure of L15 for chairs and tables for your new Committee-room; and I must repeat that such excessive caution will not be followed by success. You will only waste your time, and the Party here will be defeated. If you do not feel willing to be guided by the old Leaders of the Party here, who know what is needed, far better reconsider your position, and resign while there is yet time.
Now, in addition to your legal election expenses (between L500 and L600), there will be the Registration which, however, is a permissible payment. But, above all, railway fares, conveyances, and sundry other expenses which are forbidden by the Act, must be met by your friends, or success is hopeless. Young HARRISON is standing at Chursfield. His father intends him to win, and he will see to the needful!! That is the way to work it, and to win. You must be prepared to pay at least L150 (or to get someone to pay it for you) for sundries. Even thus your expenditure will not reach L1000; dirt cheap for a safe borough. Formerly a borough contest used to mean L3,000, and a county anything up to L50,000!
I know you will believe me when I say that I have written entirely in your own interest. Yours sincerely,
HENRY PARKINSON VULLIAMY.
What an old rascal! I answered very shortly, merely stating my intention of coming to Billsbury on the 16th, in order to interview the Committee. I must nip all this in the bud, or chuck the whole business.
Friday, May 16th, "George Hotel," Billsbury.—Came down to Billsbury this afternoon. Had interview with a delegation from the Committee in the Hotel. MOFFAT, BLISSOP, and JERRAM were there. They laid their views before me. Much the same as VULLIAMY's letter. "Shame to wreck the ship for want of a ha'porth of tar," said BLISSOP. "Gentlemen," I said, "if you think I'm going to handle any of this tar, or do any dirty work, you are mistaken. I am willing to help in the Registration and to pay proper subscriptions, but I won't budge a step outside the Corrupt Practices Act, so far as my election expenses are concerned. If you want someone who will make illegal payments, go somewhere else. I'm quite willing to resign. Now you know my opinion, and I leave you to confer with your colleagues." With that I left them. Met them again two hours later. All three looking thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Said they had reconsidered the matter, and begged me to think no more about it. They were determined, they said, to use only legal means in fighting the election. So that blew over. Afterwards each of them came to me in private, to beg my pardon, and put the fault on the others. MOFFAT said it was BLISSOP, BLISSOP declared it was JERRAM, and JERRAM swore that such a thing would never have entered his mind if MOFFAT hadn't insisted on it.
Wrote to VULLIAMY that I found he had entirely misjudged the local feeling, and that, in any case, his suggestions were quite impracticable. He'll detest me, but I don't care a brass farthing.
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THE NEWEST NOSTRUM.
[Mr. AUBERON HERBERT and other amiable enthusiasts held a "Breakfast" at St. James's Hall, over which Sir NATHANIEL STAPLES presided, to advocate the principle of Voluntary Taxation.]
Oh, AUBERON, in fairy land You must (like Oberon) be dwelling! Your notion's lovely, winning, grand, The fiscal cat most bravely belling; Guileless NATHANIEL, too, affects World-hardened hearts—almost to weeping, Volunteer taxes who expects To draw from Mammon's harpy keeping. Go, lure the tomtit from the twig, Go, coax the tiger from his quarry, The toper from his thirsty swig, The swindler from his schemings sorry: "Persuade" the Sweater to be just, The 'cute Monopolist to be kindly; Tempt hunger to resign his crust, The niggard churl to lavish blindly: Make—by soft words—the ruthless wrecker Subscribe for life-boats, ropes and rockets; Then plump the National Exchequer By willing doles from well-filled pockets!
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CENTRAL AFRICA.—I have a longing to be an Explorer in the wildest and densest jungles of the Dark Continent. I feel certain that this is my true role in life, although some of my relatives, acting—I believe—purely from jealousy, try to discourage me. Unfortunately I have no money, and only a vague idea of how to get there. The voyage out would probably do wonders for my health, which is not strong; in fact at present I can hardly walk upstairs, and the Doctor says I need a warm climate. I fancy Africa would be warm enough to suit me. I should be glad to be told of any Capitalist who would advance a few hundred pounds to enable me to carry out my design. He would not lose his money, as I would repay him by sending home the skins of all the lions and tigers that I shot—also ivory,—as well as realistic accounts of slave caravans, &c., which any Publisher would be glad to buy. LIVINGSTONE JUNIOR.
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ROBERT AT THE ACADEMY.
Witsuntide being a rayther slack time with us Hed Waiters, coz our principle paytrons is all out of Town, I naterally slected that week for my annewal yearly wisit to the Royal Academy. I never coud quite hunderstand why it was called a Academy, which I bleeves is a rayther swell name for a Skool, but I hadn't bin there long larst week afore I soon dishcovered the reason. In course it stands to reason that lots of the werry wust of the bad picturs is the work of werry young pupils, who haven't yet left skool, so that's why they calls it a Academy insted of a Hinstitooshun or a Hexebishun.
The fust thing as struck me wos the emense number of portraits of peeple as noboddy never heard of, and therefore didn't want for to see, and I wunders how the poor peeple woud like for to be obliged to wark about the rooms and hear the fun as the peeple makes on 'em. One on 'em looks so werry cross, that a Gent by me said as how he must ha' bin taken when the bad news came from India. Another looks so savage, that amost everybody asks him why he don't have it out and done with it! Another werry savage sojer looked at me as much as to say, "What are you staring at, Stupid?" which wasn't at all perlite. Professor HUXLEY, I am told, is a werry great man, and so he most suttenly seems for to think by the looks on him, and ain't he jist got a lot of big books for to read! I was surprised to find as there wasn't not no Lord Mare among the lot. His Lordship's state robes wood have lighted up the hole place. And now for the reel picters.
Fust and foremost of all the lot stands "The Flock of Sheep," by Mr. COOPER, and as this happens to be one of the things as I does understand, I makes no hesitation in saying, that there's about a dozen of the werry finest saddles of mutton there as I ewer seed, ewen at the honored Manshun House! Next comes the grand pictur called "One and Twenty." Ah! ain't they jest a jolly set, and ain't they all a drinking the young swell's health, and manny appy returns of the day? Why you can amost hear 'em.
And now jest a word and a hint to all our great Painters. Pray what is picters painted for? Is it to make peeple werry sollem, and werry sorry, and werry unappy? Ain't we got reel trubbles, and reel sorrows enuff in the world, without painting sham ones? And yet I do declare that, arter looking at them two wundurful picters of "The Crisis," and "The Doctor," and feeling as there wasn't not no chance for either of the poor things to recover, that the kind Doctor's trubble was all in wain, and that the poor Mother wood soon have to bear the awfullest trubble as she coud ewer know, I left the place as fast as I coud get out, for fear the peeple shoud notice the big round tears as woud run down my silly old cheeks. Oh, Mr. FILDES, Mr. FILDES, to think that jest a few little delicate touches of your magic brush woud have sent away thousands of appy hearts, instead of hundreds of miserable ones, ort to make you resolve always to put jest a gleam of hope in your wunderful pictures in future.
There was about the same number of staggerers as ushal, and I again arsks, who has the hordacity to buy 'em? I wunder what Mrs. ROBERT woud say if I took one home to my sober dwelling! But, jest as I was a coming away, I seed one of the most howdacions of the lot, and it was named "The Judgment of Paris"! I had often heard as the French was werry free and bold in all these sort of things, but I newer coud have thort that our Royal Academy swells coud have so lowered theirselves as to condescend to submit the whole of the Picters in the Exhibition to the judgment of the Paris Painters, or that they wood have slected the greatest staggerer as the one in their judgment the most worthy of the werry fust prize. I don't think as it says much for their taste.
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The Times says, sagely, "There is a good deal of human nature in Ireland." That would not so much matter if there were less of inhuman nature—as exemplified in "carding" women, "houghing" cattle—and ruthlessly evicting rack-rented tenants.
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ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Commons, Thursday, May 21.—House resumed to-day, after so-called Whitsun holidays. Weren't to have come back till Monday. OLD MORALITY settled that before he went off to Southern climes. But next day WINDBAG SEXTON and JOKIM got to loggerheads. WINDBAG insisted that Committee should specially sit to hear him move new Clause. JOKIM demurred; pointed out that luxury might be enjoyed by House only upon condition of shortening holidays. WINDBAG didn't see any objection to that; sure House only too glad to give up half its holiday in order to hear few more speeches from him. JOKIM, meaning to frighten WINDBAG, said, "Very well; then we'll adjourn till Thursday." WINDBAG, not believing JOKIM was serious, said he didn't care; game of bluff commenced; played so awkwardly that, in end, House jockeyed out of half its holiday.
But OLD MORALITY got all his; off before this blundering business took place; too far gone to be called back. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN suggests that we shall change his name; call him "The JUDICIOUS HOOKER." Certainly he "hooked it" a day before holidays commenced, and won't return till several days after they have prematurely closed. Still remnant of House here to-night, though growling and discontented, does not grudge him his holiday.
More than half Members on both sides away ill. The Whips severely hit; MARJORIBANKS here as usual, making a bright space in the lobby with his genial presence and his smiling countenance. But AKERS-DOUGLAS still away with most of his men, including the Mountainous HILL.
"Yes," his man is reported to have said, in reply to inquiries, "Lord ARTHUR is still HILL, but gettin' better."
Only cheerful man on the premises is PLUNKET. Beaming with health; glowing with vitality.
"The secret of it?" he said, when I asked him how he managed to look so well. "Why, it's exercise and fumigation. Whilst you fellows have been making holiday, I've stuck to the House night and day. I've fumigated every chamber with sulphur; I've sprinkled every wall with eucalyptozone. The tiled floors I have washed with carbolic-soap, and the libraries I have purified with Thiocamp. It was a little stiff at first; but, as Mr. G. says, there's no rest like variety of occupation. When I got tired of Eucalyptozone, I turned to with Thiocamp, and then went through a course of taking up carpets and thumping hair-cushions. Quite sorry it's over."
Business done.—In Committee on Land Purchase Bill.
Friday.—"Do you like IBSEN?" ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND asked Prince ARTHUR just now, a propos of new Clause moved by SEXTON.
Curious man is MADDEN. Lives a sort of dual life. In House regarded as serious person, steeped in knowledge of Irish Question in its multiform aspects. Really a fin-de-siecle Attorney-General; knows everything; is in everything; acquainted with IBSEN, misses few bazaars or drawing-room concerts, and was on speaking terms with the late Madame BLAVATSKY.
"Do you like Hedda Gabler?" he continued, nudging Prince ARTHUR, who on this, the hundred-and-third night in Committee on the Irish Land Bill, showed signs of drowsiness.
"Haven't time to go to the theatre," said Prince ARTHUR. "Never perform out of Westminster, where we keep our own HEADACHE GABBLER on the premises"; and he looked wearily across at SEXTON monotonously piping, not without dread suspicion of the WINDBAG having been newly leathered.
But the end comes to the man who lives to wait, and to-night, at twenty minutes past ten, LEWIS PELLY sitting bolt upright, awakened out of peaceful slumber by a sudden cheer; knew that the Land Bill was at last through Committee.
Business done.—Land Bill through Committee.
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NOTES ON THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF 2091.
"Richard, Duke of Gloucester, refusing the Crown." This picture will be interesting to the historical student, as it affords a solution to a knotty point that has puzzled commentators for the last five centuries. The wily humpback is represented in his dressing-gown and slippers, having evidently been called from his bath to listen to the suggestion of the courtiers, who desire him to accept the regal dignity. The umbrella of the Lord Mayor, we fancy, is of a later date than the supposed period of the painting, but no doubt the artist has authority for the introduction of the quaint old lamp-post illumined with the electric light, which began to be used some little time after the Battle of the Roses.
"Charles the Second in the Oak." This is also interesting to those who delight in folklore. According to the legend (for no doubt the story was merely a legend), the deposed monarch was escaping from the Parliamentary troops, when he had to seek shelter in the spreading branches of the tree that still is emblematic of England. The artist has placed the leafy refuge near a stream, where CHARLES seems to have been bathing. A tragic side (not entirely free from quaintness) is given to the tale by the discovery of the temporarily discarded wearing apparel of the STUART by the soldiers, who are hunting him to the death. CHARLES, with his traditional good humour, is smiling at an accident which causes him seemingly more amusement than apprehension.
"The Battle of Trafalgar." The very clever arrangement of smoke in this painting prevents the flesh-tints of the sailors from assuming a prominence that might be objectionable to persons of fastidious tastes. No doubt the artist felt that, if he had studied the traditions of the British Navy at the commencement of the nineteenth or twentieth century (the battle was fought in that period), he would have shown the gallant tars serving the guns in a costume not more elaborate than that assumed by the nude inhabitants of the North Pole. It is amusing to note in this connection that, until the discovery of the summit of the earth, it was supposed that the centre of the Arctic Regions was bitterly cold. Our ancestors in the remote ages had no idea that that fiery region was, in reality, hotter than the tropics!
"Portrait of an English Gentleman of the Nineteenth Century."—We are not quite sure that we like the unconventional treatment of the accessories in this picture. It is perfectly true that we find from contemporary records that an invitation to dinner was frequently accompanied by the expressed wish that the guest "was not to dress;" but still such hints at the strange manners and customs of a bygone age may be carried out too literally.
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NOTICE.—Rejected Communications or Contributions, whether MS., Printed Matter, Drawings, or Pictures of any description, will in no case be returned, not even when accompanied by a Stamped and Addressed Envelope, Cover, or Wrapper. To this rule there will be no exception.