OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
July 18, 1891.
LETTERS TO ABSTRACTIONS.
NO. II.—TO SOCIAL AMBITION.
DEAR SIR, OR MADAM,
I had not intended to annoy you with another letter. But since I addressed you last week I have received one or two communications—not from you, bien entendu, for you are too wary to dispute the accuracy of what I have written; but from concrete human beings, who pretend to speak on your behalf, and deny that I have "proved my case." I might answer by saying that I never set out to prove a case—that I wished merely to enjoy a friendly chat with you, and to appeal to your clemency on behalf of the large class whom I ventured to represent by the DABCHICKS. "But," says one of my detractors, in a letter now lying before me, "you have only given one instance. You have talked grandly about Queens, and Dukes, and actresses, and, in the end, you have put us off with a wretched story about the parvenu DABCHICK. For my part, I refuse to admit your authority until you prove, in greater detail, that you really know something of the subject on which you presumed to write." "Sir," I reply, "you are brusque, and somewhat offensive in the style you use towards me. For my part I do not admit that you are entitled to an answer from me, and I have felt disposed to pass you by in silence. But since there may be other weak vessels of your sort, I will do violence to myself, and pen another letter." And thus, my dear SOCIAL AMBITION, I once more take the liberty of addressing you, not without an inward tremor lest you should pounce upon me unawares, and cause me to expiate my rashness by driving me from the calm seclusion in which I spend my days, to mingle with the feverish throng who wrangle for place and precedence, myself the most feverish wrangler of them all. But, on the principle that we are both, in some sort, hawks, I think I may trust you to spare my eyes, while I remind you of one or two incidents in which you bore a part.
And first BLENKINSOP knocks at the door of my memory. I bid him enter, and I see a tall slim youth, not ill-favoured, wearing well-cut clothes, and carrying a most beautiful, gold-topped Malacca cane delicately in his hand. He is smoking a cigar, and complains to me that his life is a succession of aimless days, and that he cannot find any employment to turn his hand to. That very night, I remember, he dined with me. We went to the play together, and afterwards looked in at Lady ALICIA PARBOIL's dance. Dear Lady ALICIA, how plump she was, and how good-natured, and how well she married her fiddle-headed daughters. Her husband too, that clumsy, heavy-witted oaf, how cunningly and how successfully withal she schemed for his advancement. Quid plura? you knew her well, she was devoted to you. I only speak of her to remind you that it was in her hospitable rooms that GERVASE BLENKINSOP met you—and his fate. He had danced for the second time that evening with ELVIRA PARBOIL, and, having returned that blushing virgin to her accustomed corner, was just about to depart when the ample form of Lady ALICIA bore down upon him: "Oh, Mr. BLENKINSOP," her Ladyship began, "I really cannot allow you to go before I introduce you to Mr. WILBRAHAM. I hear," she continued, "he has just lost his Private Secretary, and who knows but that—" Here she paused, and archly tapping her protege's cheek with her fan, she bore him off to introduce him to the Cabinet Minister. I watched the ceremony. Something whispered to me that BLENKINSOP was lost. Must I go through the whole painful story? He became Private Secretary to his new Right Honourable friend, and from that moment he was a changed man. His cheery good-nature vanished. Instead of it he cultivated an air of pompous importance. One by one he weeded out his useless friends, and attached to himself dull but potentially useful big wigs who possessed titles and influence. At one of our last speaking interviews (we only nod distantly now when we meet), he hinted that in the next distribution of honours his name might be expected. It appeared, but, alas for gratitude, he had to satisfy himself with a paltry K.C.M.G., which his wife (I forgot to say that he married ELVIRA) despises. He is now a disappointed man whom his friends, if he had any, would pity. He is getting on in life; the affectations he so laboriously cultivated no longer amuse. The witlings of his Clubs remark openly upon his ridiculous desire to pose as an earth-shaking personage, and when he goes home he has to listen to a series of bitter home-truths from the acrid ELVIRA. Would it not, I ask, have been better for Sir GERVASE BLENKINSOP, K.C.M.G., to have continued his ancient and aimless existence, than to have had a fallacious greatness dangled before his eyes to the end of his disappointed, but aspiring life?
One more instance, and I have done. Do you remember TOMMY TIPSTAFF at Trinity? I do. He was, of course, a foolish youth, but he might have had a pleasant life in the fat living for which his family intended him. In his second year at the University, he met Sir JAMES SPOOF, an undergraduate Baronet, of great wealth, and dissolute habits. Poor TOMMY was dazzled by his new friend's specious glare and glitter, and his slapdash manner of scattering his money. They became inseparable. The same dealer supplied them with immense cigars, they went to race meetings, and tried to break the ring. When Sir JAMES wished to gamble, TOMMY was always ready to keep the bank. And all the time poor Mrs. TIPSTAFF, in her country home, was overjoyed at her darling's success in what she told me once was the most brilliant and remarkable set at Cambridge.
Where is TOMMY now? The other day a ragged man shambled up to me, with a request that I should buy a box of lights from him. There was a familiar something about him. Could it be TOMMY? The question was indirectly answered, for, before I could extract a penny, or say a word, he looked hard at me, turned his head away, and made off as fast as his rickety legs would carry him. Most men must have had a similar experience, but few know, as I do, that you, my dear SOCIAL AMBITION, urged the wretched TOMMY to his destruction.
On the whole, I dislike you. Those who obey you become the meanest of God's creatures.
Pardon my candour, and believe me, Yours, without respect, DIOGENES ROBINSON.
* * * * *
LORD COLERIDGE's summing up to the Jury in the action taken by Jones (author of burlesques) v. Roberts (player of the same) was excellent common sense, a quality much needed in the case. Mr. JONES,—not our ENERY HAUTHOR, whose contempt for Burlesque generally is as well known as he can make it,—wrote to Mr. ARTHUR ROBERTS, formerly of the Music Halls and now of the legitimate Stage, styling him "Governor," and professed that he would "fit him to a T." Poeta nascitur non "fit."—and the born burlesque-versifier was true to what would probably be his comic version of the Latin proverb. But the inimitable ARTHUR, who does so much for himself on the stage, hardly required any extraneous help, and at last rejected the result of poor JONES's three months' hard labour at the Joe-Millery mill. This, however, was no joke to JONES, who straightway decided that this time he would give the inimitable ARTHUR something quite new in the way of a jest; and so, dropping the dialogue, he came to "the action," which, in this instance, was an action-at-law. Whatever Mr. ROBERTS may have thought of the words, he will hardly have considered the result of this case as "good business" from his own private and peculiar point of view. But all Dramatic Authors,—with the solitary exception of Mr. YARDLEY, formerly famous in the field, but now better known in "The Lane," at pantomime time, than to any Court where he has a legal right to appear in wig and gown,—from the smallest, who write to please a "Governor," up to the biggest, who write to please themselves, should rejoice at the decision in the case of Jones v. Roberts.
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AN OMISSION AT THE GUILDHALL LUNCHEON.—On the occasion of the Civic Banquet to the German EMPEROR, an Alderman, distinguished for his courtesy to strangers, and his appreciation of good dishes, especially of anything at all spicy, wished to know why, as a compliment to their Imperial guest, they had omitted "pickelhaubes" from the bill of fare? He had understood, from well-informed friends, that the EMPEROR seldom went anywhere without some "pickelhaubes," whatever they might be, as he himself, the worthy Alderman, had never had the opportunity of tasting one.
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The storm of rain comes swirling down, Our helpless flow'rets droop and die; The thunder crashes o'er the town— In wet July.
Our cricket-match is spoilt, the stumps We draw beneath a drenching sky; Then homeward wend in doleful dumps— In wet July.
The lawn's a lake, whereon there float The balls that erst would o'er it fly; We can't play tennis from a boat, In wet July.
Our garden-party's ruined quite, Of invitations friends fight shy; They wisely shun the sloppy sight In wet July.
Take that old aneroid away, A new barometer we'll try; With hope for haply one fine day— In wet July.
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BEATING THE RECORD.—Mrs. MALAPROP's "Cerberus, as three single gentlemen rolled into one," was "not in it" last week with H.R.H. the Prince of WALES, who, in the course of the Royal Entertainments given to our Imperial Cousin-German, appeared as "a host of illustrious personages." An admirable performance.
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A NURSERY ECHO FROM CARLOW.
PARNELL put the KETTLE on, TIM HEALY came it rather strong, HAMMOND was the people's man, And he's now M.P.
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ALICE IN THUNDERLAND.
Alice ... The TH-ND-R-R. White Queen ... H-RC-RT. Red Queen ... CH-MB-RL-N.
"I'll tell you what it is, your Majesty," said ALICE in a severe tone (she was always rather fond of scolding the White Queen), "it'll never do to swagger about all over the place like that! Dignitaries have to be dignified, you know!"
Everything was happening so oddly (since Thunderland had turned against Blunderland) that she didn't feel a bit surprised at finding the Red Queen and the White Queen sitting close to her, one on each side. But she found it rather difficult to be quite civil to them—especially the White Queen, who had once been rather a favourite with her, but at whom she now never lost an opportunity of girding.
"Always speak the truth," said the Red Queen (cocking her nose at the White)—"think before you speak—and write it down afterwards. It's safest, if you're dealing with some persons."
"That's just what I complain of," said the White Queen, loftily. "You couldn't tell the truth—about that Table—if you tried with both hands."
"I don't tell the truth with my hands," the Red Queen objected, icily.
"Nobody said you did," said the White Queen. "Nobody said you told it anyhow. I said you couldn't if you tried. And you don't try either. So there!"
"She's in that state of mind," said the Red Queen, "that she wants to deny something—only she doesn't know what to deny!"
"A nasty vicious temper," the White Queen remarked; and then there was an uncomfortable silence for a month or two.
The White Queen broke the silence by saying to the Red Queen, "I invite you to ALICE's Party—which used to be neutral ground—to explain, if you can, that nondescript nonsense of yours about National Councils as a substitute for Home Rule."
The Red Queen smiled sourly, and said, "And I invite you"
"I didn't know I was to have a Party at all," said ALICE. "Parties are things I don't hold with, as a rule; too great a tax and a tie. I like my freedom, I do. But, if I am to have one, I think I ought to invite the guests."
"ALICE of Thunderland, you require some lessons in manners," the White Queen remarked.
"Manners are not taught in lessons," said ALICE. "Lessons teach some people to do sums, and things of that sort."
"Can you do addition?" the Red Queen asked scornfully of the White. ("Bah, she can't do sums a bit!" she added, aside.)
"She is doubtless better at Division," interposed ALICE, significantly.
"Divide a State by a Statutory Parliament," said the Red Queen, with a derisive wink. "What's the right answer to that?"
"Much the same as dividing a Nation by an indefinite number of Councils," retorted the White Queen, smartly. "Talk about tu quoques, there's one for you!"
"Oh, as for that," rejoined the Red Queen, sniffing, "try another subtraction sum! Take a Grand Old Leader from a 'Party' of discredited 'Items,' and what would remain?"
"Why, a Policy, of course," replied the White Queen. "And another Leader," she added, sotto voce. "Here's another for you," she pursued, aloud. "Take a Liberal-Unionist Tail from a Radical 'Rat,' what would remain then?"
"I suppose you think nothing would remain," sneered the Red Queen.
"Wrong, as usual," said the White Queen; "the Rat's nasty temper would remain."
"But I don't see how!"
"Why, look here," the White Queen cried; "the Rat would lose its temper with its 'tail,' wouldn't it?"
"Perhaps it would," ALICE replied, cautiously.
"Then, if the 'Rat' went away from its 'Tail,' its temper would remain," the White Queen exclaimed.
ALICE said, as gravely as she could. "They might go different ways—the 'Rat,' the 'Tail,' and the 'Temper.'" But she couldn't help thinking to herself, "What dreadful nonsense we are talking!"
* * * * *
THE ONLY ONE.—A ready-penning writer in his Daily Graphic notice of doings in the Houses of Parliament, winds up his description of giving the Royal Assent to Bills in the Upper House with these words—"So ends the ceremony, which seems to take one away from the Nineteenth Century"—a little sum in subtraction—i.e., take one away from the Nineteenth Century, and the Eighteenth Century remains; but to continue—"back to the days of the Edwards and the Henrys." But why go back to any other century than the "so-called Nineteenth"? Isn't it only a very few years ago that the EDWARDS, the singular HENRY with plural surname of EDWARDS, sat for Weymouth? What other HENRYS or EDWARDS could ever occur to any well-conditioned Parliamentary scribe?
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A RECITATION UNDER DIFFICULTIES.
SCENE—An Evening Party; Miss FRESIA BLUDKINSON, a talented young Professional Reciter, has been engaged to entertain the company, and is about to deliver the favourite piece entitled, "The Lover of Lobelia Bangs, a Cowboy Idyl." There is the usual crush, and the guests outside the drawing-room, who can neither hear nor see what is going on, console themselves by conversing in distinctly audible tones. Jammed in a doorway, between the persons who are trying to get in, and the people who would be only too glad to get out, is an Unsophisticated Guest who doesn't know a soul, and is consequently reduced to listening to the Recitation. This is what he hears:—
Miss Fresia Blud. (in a tone of lady-like apology).
I am only a Cowboy—
[Several Ladies put up their glasses, and examine her critically, as if they had rather expected this confession. Sudden burst of Society Chatter from without.
Society Chatter. How d'ye do?... Oh, but her parties never are!... How are you?... No, I left her at ... Yes, he's somewhere about ... Saw you in the Row this mornin'.... Are you doing anything on ——?... Oh, what a shame!... No, but doesn't she now?... No earthly use trying to get in at present ... &c., &c.
Miss Fresia B. (beginning again, with meek despair, a little louder).
I am only a Cowboy; reckless, rough, in an unconventional suit of clothes; I hain't, as a rule, got much to say, and my conversation is mostly oaths.
[Cries of "Ssh!" intended, however, for the people outside, who are chattering harder than ever.
When the cackle of females strikes my ear—
Society Chatter (as before). Oh, much cooler here ... Yes, delightful, wasn't it? Everybody one knows ... No, you don't really?... Oh, POPSY's flourishing, thanks ... The new Butler turned out a perfect demon ... but I said I wouldn't have his tail dooked for anything ... so they've painted it eau de Nil, and it looks so nice!
Miss F.B. (pointedly).
When the cackle of females strikes my ear, I jest vamose, for they make me skeered, And I sorter suspicion I skeer them too, with my hulking form, and my bushy beard!
[Here, of course, she strokes a very round chin.
Society Chatter. Seems to be somethin' goin' on in there—singin', actin', dancin', or somethin' ... Well, of course, only heard her version of it as yet, y'know ... Have you seen him in ... white bensaline with a Medici collar, and one of those ... nasty gouty attacks he will have are only rheumatism, &c., &c.
Miss F.B. (when next heard).
I cleared my throat, and I tried to speak—but the words died strangled—
A Feminine Voice outside. So long since we had a quiet talk together! Do tell me all about, &c., &c.
Miss F.B. —strangled by sheer alarm.
For there in front—
[Here she points dramatically at a stout matron, who fans herself consciously.
—was the slender form, and the sweet girl-face of our new "School Harm"! Say, boys! hev' ye heard an AEolian harp which a Zephyr's tremulous finger twangs? Wa'al, it kinder thrills ye the way I felt when I first beheld LOBELIA BANGS!
Soc. Chat. Oh, you really ought to go—so touching! DICK and I both regularly howled all through the last Act ... Not in the least, thanks. Well, if there is a seat ... You're sure there are any ices? Then, strawberry, please—no, nothing to drink!... Will you allow me?... Told she could dress hair perfectly, but I soon found she was ... a Swedenborgian, my dear, or something horrid ... Haven't you? I've had it three times, and ... so many people have asked me for cards that really I ... had the drains thoroughly looked to, and now they're ... delicious, but rather overpowering in a room, I think! &c., &c.
Miss F.B. (with genuine feeling).
Who would imagine one meek-voiced girl could have held her own, in a deafening din! But LOBELIA's scholars discovered soon she'd a dead-sure notion of discipline; For her satin palm had a sting like steel, and the rowdiest rebel respected her, When she'd stretched out six of the hardest lots in the Bible-Class with a Derringer!
Soc. Chat. No, a very dull party, you could move about quite easily in all the rooms, so we ... kicked the whole concern to shivers and ... came on here as soon as we could ... Capital dinner they gave us, too ... &c., &c.
Miss F.B. (with as much conviction as possible under the circumstances).
And the silence deepened; no creature stirred in the stagnant hush, and the only sound Was the far-off lumbering jolt, produced by the prairie rolling for leagues around!
Soc. Chat. (crescendo). Oh, an old aunt of mine has gone in for step-dancing—she's had several lessons ... and cut her knees rather badly, y'know, so I put her out to grass ... and now she can sit up and hold a biscuit on her nose ... but she really ought to mix a little grey in her wig!
[&c. &c., to the distraction of the Unsophisticated Guest, who is getting quite interested in LOBELIA BANGS whom he suddenly discovers, much to his surprise, on horseback.
And on we cantered, without a word, in the midday heat, on our swift mustangs. I was only ignorant Cowboy CLEM—but I worshipped bright LOBELIA BANGS!
Soc. Chat. (fortissimo). Not for ages; but last time I met him he was ... in a dreadful state, with the cook down with influenza ... and so I suppose he's married her by this time!
Miss F.B. (excitedly).
But hark! in the distance a weird shrill cry, a kinder mournful, monotonous yelp—
(Further irruption of Society Chatter) ... is it jackal?—bison?—a cry for help?
Soc. Chat. Such a complete rest, you know—so perfectly peaceful! Not a soul to talk to. I love it ... but, to really enjoy a tomato, you must see it dressed ... in the sweetest little sailor suit!
My horse was a speck on the pampas' verge, for I dropped the rein in my haste to stoop; Then I pressed my ear to the baking soil—and caught—ah, horror—the Indian whoop!
Soc. Chat. Some say it isn't infectious, but one can't be too careful, and, with children in the house, &c., &c.
I rose to my feet with quivering knees, and my face turned white as a fresh-washed towel; I had heard a war-cry I knew too well—'twas the murderous band of Blue-nosed Owl!
Soc. Chat. Nice fellow—I'm very fond of him—so fresh—capital company—met him when I was over there, &c.
"What? leave you to face those fiends alone!" she cried, and slid from her horse's back; "Let me die with you—for I love you, CLEM!" Then she gave her steed a resounding smack, And he bounded off; "Now Heaven be praised that my school six-shooter I brought!" said she. "Four barrels I'll keep for the front-rank foes—and the next for you—and the last for me!"
Soc. Chat. Is it a comic piece she's doing, do you know? Don't think so, I can see somebody smiling. Sounds rather like SHAKSPEARE, or DICKENS, or one of those fellahs ... Didn't catch what you said. No Quite impossible to hear oneself speak, isn't it?
And ever louder the demons yelled for their pale-faced prey—but I scorned death's pangs, For I deemed it a doom that was half delight to die by the hand of LOBELIA BANGS! Then she whispered low in her dulcet tones, like the crooning coo of a cushat dove! (At the top of her voice). "Forgive me, CLEM, but I could not bear any squaw to torture my own true love!" And she raised the revolver—"crack-crack-crack!"
[To the infinite chagrin of the Unsophisticated Guest, who is intensely anxious to hear how Miss BANGS and her lover escaped from so unpleasant a dilemma—the remaining cracks of her revolver, together with the two next stanzas, are drowned in a fresh torrent of small-talk—after which he hears Miss F.B. conclude with repressed emotion:
But the ochre on Blue-nosed Owl was blurred, as his braves concluded their brief harangues; And he dropped a tear on the early bier of our Prairie belle, LOBELIA BANGS!
[Which of course leaves him in a state of hopeless mystification.
Soc. Chat. Is that the end? Charming! Now we shall be able to talk again! &c., &c.
* * * * *
OFF TO MASHER LAND.
(BY OUR OWN GRANDOLPH.)
Haven't time to send you much information this week, as We,—the firm of Self and Corresponding Captain,—have had to write rather a heavy packet for the Daily Graphic. I suppose you will have got Herr Von GERMAN EMPEROR with you by the time you receive this from yours truly; or His Imperialness may have quitted your,—that is, our, though I'm here now,—hospitable shores. A propos of Hospitable Shores, remember me to the most hospitable of all Shores—Captain SHAW—of the Fire-and-Water Brigade. My companions—"Jolly companions everyone"—the Cautious Captain, or the Wily WILLIAMS, Doubting Doctor, Energetic Engineer, all well. Wily WILLIAMS hard at his MS., giving an account of the "agricultural and mineral resources" of the What-can-the-Matterbeland, "through the instrumentality of the Chartered Company." He's great at this. Think I shall start new Company—"The Chartered Libertine." If my memory doesn't fail me, that's a Shakspearian title. But who was the "Chartered Libertine"? I notice these South-African States are independent of Home Government. 'Pon my word, I fancy W.E.G. was right about Home Rule. On whose shoulders can the G.O.M.'s mantle fall, without enveloping him in entire obscurity, except on those of the Leader or the once united, but now fractured quartette party, "quorum pars magna fui?" I still keep up my Latin, you see. I wasn't sent to Eton for nothing; nor was any other boy that I've ever heard of.
No wonder we've had so many dancing parties at the Cape, when all the inhabitants are Capers. I make this a present to my dear old DRUMMY; he can bring it out in his new Persian Joe Miller. Cheeky little street-boys give you Capers' sauce. They can lead you a pretty dance if you chivy them.
AMUSEMENTS OF THE BOERS.
To-day came across a Peep-Boer-Show. Seen it all before. Also a kind of Punch-and-Judy performance going on, translated into South-African dialect. There was not a paying public to witness it; and, with all my desire and with every intention to encourage native talent, I was compelled to turn away, "more in sorrow than in anger," (SHAKSPEARE again—Hamlet's Ghost, I think,) when the pipe-and-drummer man came to me for a contribution. Not a penny in my pocket. "I will reimburse thee nobly," said I, "on my return from the Mine-land." He quoted some line or other, which I did not catch, and gave the name of the writer, one "WALKER," as his authority. WALKER is associated in my mind with an English Dictionary, but, though it has been much added to in recent years, I doubt whether the words the Showman used on this occasion can be found in my pocket edition, or in any other edition of that excellent and trustworthy compilation.
CHANGE OF HAIR.
Called at native barber's to-day. Gave him no instructions. Thought of course he was going to cut it; and so fell asleep. I almost always fall asleep when under the mesmeric influence of a capillary administrator. I should like him to keep on doing it; cut and comb again. So soothing! Woke up and found myself—like this. (See Hair Cut.) Herewith please receive portrait, and treasure it.
Must send you a sketch of some of our B.B.B.'s or the Bold Bobbies of Basuto all armed. Ha! ha! as dear old WOLFFY would have said, "I was quite all-armed at seeing this!" Hope to be on the track of TOM TIDDLER's ground very soon. But anyhow till I am sur la tache, "on the spot," any one of these letters of mine (emphasis on the "mine") of which all are genuine—"proofs before letters" you have in my signed promise—is well worth a hundred pounds, and cheap at the price. It's my note of hand in exchange for the cash,—for the "ready ay ready!" as we say at sea. Away to the fields of gold!
N.B.—Rather think I am going to call on Queen ZAMBILI this afternoon. Ahem! Do you remember the ballads of "My heart is true to Poll," and "The King of the Owyhees"? Again, ahem! "Black Queen to mate in three moves." Of course, can't go in for this sort of thing myself, but by deputy, eh? Representative Government and King PROXY THE FIRST, with myself for Prime Minister. How's that Empire?
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FROM OUR OWN BEN TROVATO.—Said an artistic collector to Mr. PARNELL, "Now I'll show you a beautiful specimen of CARLO DOLCI." "I wish you could have shown it me some days ago," replied the Ex-misleader of the Irish Party, "when I was presented with a specimen of Carlow without the Dolci."
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COOK'S TOURIST PRIZE JUBILEE JOKE.—Mem. for Travellers contemplating a first visit to the Continent.—Being raw to the business, get Cook'd. Depend upon it, you won't be "done."
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"THE HUNDRED BEST BOOKS."—Punch's Half-Yearly Volumes from the commencement, i.e., July 17, 1841, to June 27, 1891.
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(A LONG WAY AFTER "CHILDE HAROLD.")
Adieu, adieu. Old Albion's shore! I leave, to bound the blue. My Yacht lies yonder! 'Tis a bore, But I must part from you. I sniff the brine, I love the sea; Half Englishman am I. Farewell to England, and to thee, Dear Grandmamma—good-bye!
I leave your isle, the truth to tell, With qualified regret. July in London would be well, But for the heavy wet. The soaking shower, the sudden squall, Spare not Imperial "tiles." May it be dry when next I call, Your slushiest of isles!
Yet I've enjoyed my visit, much, In spite of wet and wind. I with JOHN BULL have been in touch; You have been passing kind. My father and grandfather gone Once trod your city sad; Now I the daring deed have done, And—it is not half bad.
That Opera Show was quite a sight; Your Sheriff HARRIS—well— AUGUSTUS, after Actium's fight, Was scarce a greater swell. The long parade, led by the Blues, Gave me the blues again. Not that the citizen were screws, No, Grand'ma, 'twas that rain!
I—ahem! blessed it fervently, Emperors must not complain; But do, do keep your Babylon dry, When I come back again. For Garden Parties, Shows, Reviews, And civic functions pale, When water soaks the stoutest shoes, And it blows half a gale.
Your Lord MAYOR and his liveried lot, They know a thing or two. Speeches of course are always rot, But then—the skies were blue! As for your Crystal Palace—ah! Your pride I would not shock, But you owe much, dear Grandmamma, To PAXTON and to BROCK.
Your warriors are fine, if few; But still, if you ask me, You leave far too much power to A Railway Company. I would not let civilians snub My paladins—no fear! But then a Teuton—there's the rub! Is no mere Volunteer!
And now I really must be gone Upon the wide, wide sea. Stiff state no more shall make me groan, Hurrah for liberty! I'm tired to death of functions fine, And ceremonial rot; Hurrah for ease! the breezy brine Tar-toggery, and my Yacht!
With yonder bark I'll gladly brave The seas about your isle. Thanks, Grand'ma, for that kerchief wave, And that right royal smile! Welcome, ye billows, tumbling brisk Beneath a cloud-swept sky! Give your white kerchief one more whisk, Dear Grandmamma—Good-bye!
* * * * *
SCOTT (ANYTHING BUT) FREE.
["It is human nature, after all. When conscientiously I cannot praise actors or actresses, or authors, they turn their backs upon me. But when conscientiously I am able to draw attention to their great merits, they simply overflow."—Mr. CLEMENT SCOTT, in The Illustrated London News.]
Unlucky Mr. CLEMENT SCOTT! Since those who act our plays or write them, Are so exacting that he's got The greatest trouble to delight them. When conscience tells him not to praise They "turn their backs" and will not know him, When their "great merits" make him raise His voice—they "simply overflow" him!
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NOTE FOR AN IMPERIAL DIARY.—There were just a couple or so of real good wet days for our Imperial and Royal Highnesses. Jupiter Pluvius ladled it out to us unstintingly in Imperial buckets full. Our Cousin German, so affectionately dutiful to "Grandmamma," won't forget La Rain d'Angleterre in a hurry. Mem. Next visit to London, bring fewer uniforms and more waterproofs and umbrellas.
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IMPERIAL AND OPERATIC.
After considerable calculation as to re-imbursement for present outlay by a consistent course of future economy, I took a six-guinea stall for the EMPEROR's state visit to the Opera. "Court dress" being "indispensable," I decided to summon to my aid the well-known amateur theatrical costumier, DATHAN & Co. DATHAN sees at a glance what I want. He measures me with his eye. "Co." in waiting is dispatched to bring down two or three Court suits. In less than ten minutes I am perfectly fitted, that is, in DATHAN's not entirely disinterested but still highly artistic opinion, with which "Co." unhesitatingly agrees. For my own part, as a mere lay-figure, I should have preferred the continuations being a trifle less tight round the knee; also if the coat were a little easier about the shoulders, and not quite so baggy in the back I should breathe more freely; and, while we are on the subject, the collar might be lower, as it is in close proximity to the lobes of my ears and irritatingly tickles me. The white waistcoat—"well," as "Co.," in the absence of DATHAN, rapturously observes, "might ha' been made for yer!" "It might," true: but it certainly wasn't, as it is somewhat long, and there's a little shyness on the part of the last button but one in meeting the button-hole with which it ought to be on the best possible terms. But sharp-eyed little "Co." sees his way out of the difficulty; he hoists up the collar, he adjusts pins in the back, and, in a second, button and hole are in each other's embrace. The coat-collar can be taken in and done for—"nothing easier," says the undaunted Co.—and the part across my manly chest can be let out,—of course not a difficulty, as the whole suit, will be "let out" for the evening.
I am generally satisfied with my appearance in the glass as a portrait of a gentleman in repose, but I feel that any display of emotion, even of irrepressible loyalty, would probably be disastrous to some portion of my attire. The Court sword, too, is rather embarrassing, and, though Co. has adroitly fixed it for me by some mysterious process of invisible arrangement, yet, when I shall be left alone with the sheathed weapon, and have to do all this buckling and hitching for myself, I feel sure that that sword, which is only worn on the left to defend the right, will give me no inconsiderable trouble. Fortunately our washerwoman's husband, who comes late on a Wednesday for the linen, is a retired sergeant, and knows how this sort of thing should be done. He will assist in arming me for the operatic fray. Tout va bien.
At Opera, Wednesday Night, July 8.—Grand sight. Very grand; not only that, but beautiful. Costumes, uniforms, military, diplomatic,—all sorts, the real article and the Dathanic,—impossible to tell one from the other, taking them as a lot; but still, I feel that it is better to remain in my Stall, where only the upper part of me is visible to the unclothed eye. The consciousness that I am here, not as myself, but in disguise as somebody else, name unknown, rather oppresses me; only at first, however, as very soon I recognise a number of familiar faces and figures all in strange array. A stockbroker or two, a few journalists, several ordinary people belonging to various callings and professions, some others noble, some gentle, some simple, but most of us eyeing each other furtively, and wondering where the deuce the other fellow got his costume from, and what right he has to wear it.
Every moment I expect some gaily attired person to come up and say to me confidentially, "I know that suit; I wore it last so-and-so. Isn't it a trifle tight about the shoulders? Beware! when I wore it, it went a bit in the back." Man in gorgeous uniform makes his way to the vacant Stall next to me. I am a bit flustered until he salutes me heartily with—"How d'ye do? How are you?" Why, it's—well, no matter who it is. I have met him everywhere for years; we are the best of friends. I knew he is something; somewhere in the City, but not much anywhere else, and at all events he is no more a military man than I am a courtier, but when he confides to me that he was once upon a time in the Dampshire Yeomanry, and that this uniform has served him for years, and looks uncommonly well at night though it wouldn't bear the light of day, I begin to comprehend the entire scene.
My friend—we will call him TOMMY TUCKER, (for I have frequently encountered him at supper, and am aware of his capacity)—is full of information. Some of our neighbours of an inquiring turn are asking one another who that is, and who this is, and so forth; and when the answers are incorrect, or even before the answers can be given, TOMMY TUCKER has replied in a low voice, with a view to imparting general information gratis, that So-and-So, in scarlet and silver, is Mr. BLACKSTONE, of BLACKSTONE & SONS, head of the great Coal Merchant Firm; that the man in blue and silver, supposed to be a Hungarian attache, is the junior partner in BUNNUMS & Co., the Big Cake Purveyor; and that the warlike person, with a jingling sabre, is not a Prussian officer, but is Deputy JONES, in the gorgeous uniform of the Old Buckshire Yeomanry; and when he's in the City, where he began in the usual way that millionnaires always do begin, by sweeping out an office, he is simply JONES, of Messrs. BROWN, JONES, ROBINSON & Co., Wharfingers. TOMMY TUCKER knows everybody, and everything about everybody, too. Who is that lady with a splendid tiara of diamonds?—that is the Duchess of BURLINGTON, "who"—and here, in a semi-whisper, intended for everybody's information, he tells how those brilliants come out for "one night only," and how they will be called for to-morrow morning by a confidential agent from POPSHOPPER's Establishment in the Great Loan Land. TOM TUCKER is full of these stories. There isn't a person he doesn't know, until happening to recognise here a one and there a one, I correct him of my own private and personal knowledge, when he frankly admits that I am right; and after casually explaining how he does occasionally mistake the Countess of DUNNOYER for Lady ELIZABETH MARTIN, he goes off at a tangent, and picks out several other distinguished-looking personages, numbering them as "first to right," "second to left," and so forth, as if in a collection of wax-works, giving to each one of them a name and a history. His acquaintance with the private life of the aristocracy and the plutocracy is so extensive that I can only wonder at his knowledge, his or marvel at wondrous powers of ready invention.
So it goes on. Then enter the chief characters. All rise; the orchestra plays the "National Anthem," in German, suppose, out of compliment to our Imperial visitors; and afterwards in English (translated, and, I fancy, "transposed"), in honour of H.R.H. the Prince and Princess. All the wax-work figures form in a row, under the direction of Lord Chamberlain LATHOM; the machinery is put in motion; they all bow to the audience; glasses are riveted on them; everybody is craning and straining to get a good view; the people in the gallery and just over the Royal Box loyally enjoy the scene, being quite unable to see any of the distinguished persons who are, in this instance, "quite beneath their notice." And then Signor MANCINELLI turns his back on everybody, and gets to business.
After this, I feel that a buckle, somewhere or other, has turned traitor, and inventing an excuse with a readiness worthy of TOMMY TUCKER himself, I suddenly, but cautiously, retire. I descend the grand staircase between two rows of beefeaters reclining drowsily at their ease. Fast asleep, some of 'em, after too much beef. Imagine myself a prisoner, in disguise of course, escaping from the Tower in the olden time. Then, fearing the collapse of another buckle or button, or the sudden "giving" of a seam, I steal cautiously past the Guards—then past serried ranks of soldiers under the colonnade—then—once more in the street of Bow, and I am free! I breathe again.
Hie thee home, my gallant steed (an eighteenpenny fare in a hansom), and let me resume the costume of private life, trifle with a cutlet, drain the goblet and smoke the mild havannah. Sic transit gloria Wednesday!
(Signed.) (Mysteriously.) THE DUKE OF DIS GUISE.
P.S.—Although there was more money in the house than on any previous occasion, yet never did I see so many persons who had "come in with orders," which they displayed lavishly, wearing them upon their manly buzzums.
* * * * *
MEN IN POSSESSION.
The Manager of Covent Garden is Sheriff HARRIS. Can all his operatic officials all over the house be correctly termed "Sheriff's Officers"?
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* * * * *
That they are not accustomed to ultra punctuality in the arrival of steam-yachts at Port Victoria.
That some one ought to catch it for not looking after the water-pipes in the State dining-room.
That it is rather trying to have to remain dignified with your boots in three inches of water.
That the Eton Volunteers are just the sort of boys to follow the tradition of the past, and win a second Waterloo.
That still it was a little awkward to have to review them in the pauses of a thunderstorm.
That the wedding as a wedding was not bad, but a couple of hundred thousand troops or so posted as a guard of honour, would have made it more impressive.
That Buckingham Palace is rather triste, when it is populated on the scale of one inhabitant to the square mile.
That Covent Garden Opera House, decorated with leagues of flower wreaths, is the finest sight in the world.
That Sheriff AUGUSTUS GLOSSOP HARRIS deserves a dukedom, and, if he were a German, should have it.
That one State Ball is like every other, but still it was very well done on Friday.
That the visit to the City was an entire success (although I wish the audience had made up their minds whether they would stand up or sit while I was speaking), thanks no doubt to the influence of the Sheriff.
That Saturday's doings were delightful. I was absolutely deafened with the cheering.
That it is very pleasant to be so well received, especially when, three years ago, I was generally snubbed and treated as a nobody.
* * * * *
THE BUSY BISLEY.
SCENE—_Within measurable distance of Waking. Enter Lounger and Marksman, R. and L.
Lounger (heartily). Why, I am glad to see you! And how are things going on?
Marksman (cordially, but abruptly). Capitally! Good-bye!
Loung. But I say, what a hurry you are in! Can't you stop a minute for a chat?
Marks. Another time, but just now moments are precious.
Loung. But I say, you see I have found myself here—it doesn't take much longer than getting down to Wimbledon.
Marks. Of course it doesn't—whoever said it did? But there, old chap, I must be off!
Loung. You are in a hurry! Ah, we used to have pleasant days in the old place?
Marks. Did we? I daresay we did.
Loung. Why, of course! Grand old days! Don't you remember what fun it used to be decorating your tent; and then, when the ladies came down—which they did nearly all the day long—what larks it was getting them tea and claret-cup?
Marks. Very likely. But we don't have many ladies now, and a good job too—they are a bore.
Loung. Well, you are a chap! Why, how can there be any fun without your sisters, and your cousins, and your maiden aunts?
Marks. We don't want fun. But there, good-bye!
Loung. But I say, I have come all this way to look you up.
Marks. (unbending). Very kind of you, but, my dear fellow, you have chosen rather an unfortunate time.
Loung. Why, at Wimbledon you had nothing to do!
Marks. Very likely. But then Bisley isn't Wimbledon.
Loung. (dryly). So it seems. Everyone said that, when they moved the camp further away from home, they would ruin the meeting.
Marks. Then everyone was wrong. Why, we are going on swimmingly.
Loung. It must be beastly dull.
Marks. Not at all. Lovely country, good range, and, after it rains, two minutes later it is dry as bone.
Loung. Yes, but it stands to reason that it can't be as popular as Wimbledon.
Marks. My dear fellow, figures are the best test of that. In all the history of the Association we have never had more entries than this year.
Loung. That may be, but you don't have half the fun you had nearer town.
Marks. (laughing). Don't want to! Business, my dear fellow, not pleasure! And now, old man, I really must be off! Ta, ta! See you later. [Exit.
Loung. Well, whatever he may say, I prefer Wimbledon. And as there doesn't seem much for me to do down here, I shall return to town. [Does so. Curtain.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Commons. Monday, July 6.—Don't know what the House of Lords would do without WEMYSS. How the House of Commons gets along without ELCHO is another story. Of course we are not absolutely ELCHO-less. Amurath has succeeded to Amurath, and there is still an ELCHO in the Commons. Perhaps in time he may reach the towering height of his illustrious father. He does very well as it is; made exceedingly smart speech the other afternoon on adjournment over Derby Day. We try to bear up; make the best of things; but in our secret hearts confess that this century has seen but one Lord ELCHO, and now he's Earl of WEMYSS.
Was in fine old style to-night. DORCHESTER brought on question of Volunteers. They are going to Wimbledon on Saturday to be reviewed by that veteran the German EMPEROR. DORCHESTER, in modest, convincing speech, pointed out how unfair it was that, in addition to, in many cases, losing a day's pay, in all cases incurring a day's hard work, that Volunteers should be required to pay expenses of their trip to Wimbledon. DORCHESTER left nothing unsaid; put the whole case in brief speech. But WEMYSS not going to be left out. Interposed in fine patronising manner; made acknowledgment of DORCHESTER's good intention; but, suggesting an absolutely imaginary case, took exception to the presentation of the Volunteers in the light of asking for a day's pay. That, he said, would spoil the whole case.
No one had suggested anything of the kind. WEMYSS had brought this nine-pin in with him as if it were one of a set of baccarat counters, had set it up, and was now knocking it down. Noble Lords sat and stared in polite amazement. CRANBROOK, in his impetuous way, jumped up and raised point of order. WEMYSS put him aside with sweep of sword-arm, and went on to end of his speech, which showed who was the true friend of the Volunteer forces.
"Ah," said young LAMINGTON, second Baron, regarding with pleased interest the flush of satisfaction that mantled WEMYSS' brow when he resumed his seat, "this House would have been nothing only for us fellows coming in from the Commons. It's new blood that does it. I'll make them a speech myself some day."
Business done.—Quite a lot in the Commons.
Tuesday.—FERGUSSON says life at Foreign Office would be endurable only for LABBY. The Sage has got the Triple Alliance on the brain; spends his mornings in drafting questions there anent. That FERGUSSON wouldn't mind so much, only it involves his spending his afternoons in drafting answers that shall look coherent, and yet say nothing. Answers often so admirably suited to their purpose, that doubts arise as to whether a firmer hand than FERGUSSON's has not traced them on paper. "A dull man," was the phrase in which, years ago, JOHN BRIGHT dismissed from consideration the statesman then known as Sir CHARLES ADDERLY. To House of Commons FERGUSSON is a dull man, incapable, as it seems, of framing these subtle answers that look as if they meant so much, and yet say so little.
Whoever be the author, it must be said that FERGUSSON contributes to success of answers by his manner of reading them. So portentous is his gravity, so like a stone wall his imperturbability, that the Sage dashes himself up against it with much the same effect as if he were attacking one of the buttresses of Westminster Hall. It is a fortuitous concatenation of circumstances, most happy in its result, that when in the House of Commons an answer is to be given which shall convey no information, the MARKISS should dictate it, and FERGUSSON recite it. If, in reply to the Sage's question to-night, as to the understanding between this country and Italy with respect to the status quo in Mediterranean, FERGUSSON had stood up and recited the multiplication table up to twelve times twelve, the remarks would have been just as relevant and informing as those he read from the paper. Moreover, the gravity of his aspect and the solemn inflection of his voice, would have compelled Members to listen to the end of the recitation with a sort of dim consciousness that they were really being informed as to the details of an understanding come to between Her majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the Governments of Germany and Italy.
Business done.—Education Bill through Report Stage.
Thursday.—House having disposed of Land Purchase Bill and Education Bill, is able to devote portion of sitting to consideration of its own personal affairs. MORTON brings on subject of Bar in Lobby of House of Commons. Nothing to do with the Bar that LOCKWOOD, ASQUITH, and REID adorn; merely a counter, at which they sell what JEMMY LOWTHER alludes to, with a bewitching air of distant acquaintance, as "alcoholic liquors." MORTON, whose great ambition in life is to make people thoroughly comfortable, wants to close the Bar. SYDNEY HERBERT, making a rare appearance as spokesman for the Government on the Treasury Bench, pleads as a set-off against alleged evil example, the large consumption of "lemon squash," which he explains to the House is "a non-intoxicant." CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN sends thrill of apprehension through listening Senate by inquiring whether the House of Commons is licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors?
No one every thought of that before. As far an anyone knows, place isn't licensed; consequently, in very birthplace of legislation, the law has for years been systematically defied. Worse this than what happened at Temple the other day, when LORD CHANCELLOR and a score of principal Members of Bar of England narrowly escaped indictment for playing a drama in an unlicensed hall. Vision conjured up the police making sudden descent on the House, walking off with SPEAKER, SERGEANT-AT-ARMS, and possibly OLD MORALITY, to nearest station, there to be locked up till released on bail.
JEMMY LOWTHER much struck by suggestion. His innate magisterial instincts on the alert. We all know and like JEMMY, but few of us have opportunity of seeing him at his very best. That happens when he sits on the Magisterial Bench and dispenses justice. It is as JEMMY, J.P., he rises to the fullest height of his judicial manner. Still, pretty well just now. A little embarrassed at the outset by consciousness that his postal address at Leeds is "Swillington House." Afraid some ribald person will remember this, and vulgarly connect it with the discussion. Delightful to observe the way in which he reproved GEORGE CAMPBELL for language unbecoming the precincts of the Court. CAMPBELL had lightly spoken about "Members requiring a pick-me-up." "Persons enjoying the privilege of obtaining alcoholic liquors," was the way JEMMY put it, with a severe glance towards the abashed Knight of Kircaldy.
Business done.—Committee of Supply.
Friday.—Turns out to-night that MORTON doesn't approve the Triple Alliance. This would be awkward, in any circumstances. Peculiarly embarrassing just now with one of the principal signatories our guest. Emperor WILLIAM, was most anxious to come down to House; meant to see everything whilst he was here, not knowing what may happen before another opportunity presents itself.
"Always read your Diary, TOBY," he said to me, over a strawberry and cream at Marlborough House yesterday; "gather from it the impression that House of Commons is exceedingly interesting place; all its Members eloquent, and all its Ministers virtuous. Must go and see it. Look in on Friday."
Here's a go! Known beforehand that MORTON meant to state his views on the MARKISS's foreign policy, with its evident leaning toward Germany. Very awkward if EMPEROR came in just while MORTON was speaking.
"It would play the doose with the ententy cordially," said JULIUS 'ANNIBAL PICTON, who resents MORTON's interference in the field of foreign policy.
Happily Emperor WILLIAM didn't get as far as Westminster; detained at Guildhall; just got off in time to dine with the Great DOOK, and afterwards to the ball at Buckingham Palace. So peace between to great nations is maintained. But MORTON ran us pretty close. Business done.—Committee of Supply.
* * * * *
THEN AND NOW.
MR. PUNCH'S JUBILEE RETROSPECT.
["Punch and the Elections were the only matters which occupied the public mind on July 17, 1841."—Introduction to "Punch," Vol. I.]
Fifty years ago, my Public, fifty years ago! Faith, the years fleet swiftly onward, though sad hours seem slow. Forty-One beheld my advent, Friend of Truth and Fun; From my sanctum still I greet you now in Ninety-One.
"Punch and the Elections!" Truly a compendious text. With how many Burning Questions men to-day are vext! Then the Whigs perceived their tether pretty nearly run, And—they're watching Bye-Elections now in Ninety-One.
Then Lord JOHN was on the Treasury Bench, though ill at ease, Thence to be soon torn—like Theseus;—PEEL, the Hercules. Now SMITH smiles a toothy smile in little JOHNNY's place, White the Grand Old Hercules sits watching grave of face.
He remembers Forty-One! Few, except Punch and him, Linger from those brave old days, now distant grown and dim! He has reached his Jubilee, as Punch this year hath done. Veterans both, we drink each other's health in Ninety-One!
Forty-One was fierce and fiery. Young DISRAELI then Bravely buttered stout Sir ROBERT as the best of men. Pheugh! But in how short a time was BEN's envenomed steel Destined to find rankling lodgment in the breast of PEEL!
Now? Well, there is jaunty JOSEPH poisoning his pint; Seeking in GRANDOLMAN's mail some penetrable joint! Heroes and ex-armour-bearers still keep up the fun; One-and-Forty saw it so, and so does Ninety-One!
Mr. SHARMAN CRAWFORD (who was he? Let quidnuncs guess!) Moved Amendment relative to "Popular Distress." Then his cure was Wider Suffrage. Now what would it be? Land with little or no Rent, and Education Free?
Then the Corn Laws cramped Free Trade; free Competition now Breeds the Sweater, harsh exploiter of the toiler's brow, When brave PEEL achieved Repeal some deemed the task was done, But Commissions upon Labour sit in Ninety-One.
SIBTHORP then amused St. Stephen's; we have SEYMOUR KEAY, D'ORSAY then was wit and dandy, OSCAR WILDE have we. And if wild FEARGUS O'CONNOR fashioned Land Schemes then, BURNS and MORRIS well can match him now with tongue or pen.
Then TOM HOOD could sing that Song which moved a world to tears, London Laundrydom on Strike now in Hyde park appears. Ah! since Eighteen Forty-One much has been tried—and done, But Punch finds no lack of labour e'en in Ninety-One!
The HER MAJESTY, a Maiden Queen, fresh graced the Throne, Now her Royal Jubilee is full four years bygone. He who has illumed her reign with wisdom, wit, and fun, Greets her loyally to-day as then, in Forty-One.
Madam, much since then has happened, much has been achieved; Marvels, commonplace to-day, few then would have believed. Science, Liberty, Pure Manners, order, Peace, Goodwill, Punch for Fifty Years has championed, and will champion still.
Then and now! The captious cynic at the contrast sneers, Punch believes in, and would help, the Progress of the Years. When his Century's full course, fifty Years hence, has run, With good heart and glad may he look back on Ninety-One!
[Footnote 1: "The Song of the Shirt," which appeared on page 260 of Vol. V., 1843, in a supplementary number entitled, "Punch's Triumphal Procession."]
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INFLUENZA.—I should feel really grateful to any reader who can tell me whether I have Influenza or not. I think I must have it, as I have tested my temperature with a thermometer attached to a weather-glass hanging in the hall, which is only slightly cracked, and find that it—my temperature, not the weather-glass—stays constantly at 120 degrees, which seems rather high. My headaches are frightful, and the pills with forty grains of quinine in them, which I have been recommended to take by a neighbouring chemist's assistant, do not seem to do any good. Cough and chemist's bill both very heavy. Ought I have to have a change? If so, whom should I try and take it out of?—NERVOUS SUBJECT.
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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.