OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
October 17, 1891.
THE AUTOMATIC PHYSIOGNOMIST.
SCENE—The German Exhibition, near an ingenious machine constructed to reveal the character and future of a person according to the colour of his or her hair, for the small consideration of one penny. A party of Pleasure-seekers are examining it.
First Pleasure-seeker (a sprightly young lady of the name of LOTTIE). "Put in a penny and get a summary of your character from the colour of your 'air." I wonder what they'll 'ave next!
Second Pl.-s. (her admirer, a porridge-faced young man with pink eyelids and faming hair, addressed as 'ECTOR by his intimates). Ah, it's surprising how far they've got, it reelly is. And beginning with butter-scotch, too!
Aunt Maria. Come on, do—you don't want to waste no more time over that rubbidge!
Fourth Pl.-s. (a lanky youth, with pale hair and a receding chin, to his fiancee). Hadn't we better be making a move if we're going to 'ear the band, CARRIE?
Carrie. I shall move on when I like, without your leave, FREDDY; so make no mistake.
Freddy. Oh, I'm in no 'urry. I only thought your Aunt was getting—but don't mind me. [CARRIE does not mind him.
Dolph. (the funny man of the party). 'Old on a bit! I've got some coppers. I'm going to sample this concern. I'll put in for all of you—it's my treat, this is. We'll begin with Aunt MARIA. What colour do you call your 'air now? I don't see any slot marked "cawfy-colour."
Aunt Maria. Never you mind what colour my 'air is—it's a pity you can't find a better use for your pennies.
Dolph. (inserting a penny in a slot marked "Light Brown"). 'Ere goes, the oracle's working. (The machine emits a coloured card.) Listen to what it says about Aunt MARIA. She is—"tender-'arted." Jest what I've always said of her! "A little 'asty in her temper"—'ullo, must be a 'itch in the machinery, there!—"neither obstinate nor 'aughty"—(A snort from Aunt MARIA at this)—"her inclination to love never unreasonable." 'Ow like her! "Frolicsome, inclined to flirt and sometimes mischievous." You giddy little thing! Up to all your little tricks, this machine is! "Fertile in imagination, domesticated, thoughtful and persevering"—There's Aunt MARIA for yer!
General Chorus. Good old Aunt MARIA!
Dolph. There's a prophecy on blue paper from Napoleon's Book of Fate, gratis. (Reads.) "Thy 'oroscope forewarns thee of a loss if thou lendest thy money." Just when I was going to borrow arf-a-crown off of her too!
Aunt Maria. Ah, I didn't want no machine for that. 'Ow you can patronise such rubbidge, I don't know! Tellin' characters by the colour of your 'air, indeed—it's told mine all wrong, anyhow!
Dolph. Well, you see, your 'air's so natural it would deceive any machine! [Movement on part of Aunt MARIA.
Lottie. Put in for 'ECTOR next, DOLPH, do. I want to hear what it says about him.
Dolph. They don't keep his colour in stock—afraid o' losing their insurance policy. "Red or orbun's" the nearest they can get to it. (He puts in a penny in the "Red" slot.) Here's old 'ECTOR. (Reads.) "The Gentleman with long red hair is of a restless disposition, constantly roving." Keep your eye on him, LOTTIE! "Impatient and fiery in temper"—'Old 'im, two of yer?—"but for all that, is kind and loving." You needn't 'old him—it's all right. "He is passionately fond of the fair sex." What all of 'em, 'ECTOR? I'm ashamed of yer! "He is inclined to timidity"—Oo'd ha' thought it?—"but by reflection may correct it and pass for a man of courage." You start reflecting at once, old chap!
'Ector (ominously, to LOTTIE). If DOLPH don't mind what he's about, he'll go too far some day!
[He breathes hard, then thinks better of it.
Dolph. Now it's CARRIE's turn. "Leave you out?" Couldn't think of it. Brown 'air, CARRIE's is. (He puts in a penny.) "A Lady with 'air of a medium brown colour, long and smooth"—Is your 'air long though, CARRIE?
Carrie (with pride). I should hope so—I can set on it.
Dolph. That's nothing! So can Aunt MARIA set on hers! (With a glance at that Lady's very candid "front.") Can't you, Auntie, eh? If you make a effort?
Aunt Maria (with dignity). I'll thank you to 'ave the goodness to drop your sauce, Mr. ADOLPHUS GAGGS; it's out of place and not appreciated, I can assure you! [She walks away.
Dolph. (surprised). Why, there's Aunt MARIA got the 'ump—for a little thing like that! Let me finish with CARRIE. (Reads.) "She is of an intellectual turn of mind." ("'Ear, 'ear!" from FREDDY.) "Very fond of reading." Takes in Sloper's 'Alf 'Oliday regular! "Steadfast in her engagements." 'Ullo, CARRIE!
Carrie (firing up). Well, have you anything to say against that? You'd better take care, Mr. GAGGS!
Dolph. I was only thinking. Sure you haven't been squaring this machine? Ah, it tells you some 'ome truths here—"Although inquisitive and fond of prying into the secrets of others—" Now however did it know that?
Carrie. It isn't there—you're making it up!
[She snatches the card, reads it, and tears it up.
Dolph. Temper—temper! Never mind. Now we'll try FREDDY. What's his shade of 'air? I should say about the colour of spoilt 'ay, if I was asked.
Carrie (with temper). You're not asked, so you needn't give your opinion!
Dolph. Well, keep your 'air on, my dear girl, and we'll call FREDDY's "Fair." (Reading card.) "A gentleman with this colour of hair will be assiduous in his occupation—"
Carrie (warmly). What a shame! I'm sure he isn't. Are you, FREDDY? [FREDDY smiles vaguely.
Dolph. "Not given to rambling,"—Except in his 'ed,—"very moderate in his amorous wishes, his mind much given to reflection, inclined to be 'asty-tempered, and, when aroused,"—'Ere, somebody, rouse FREDDY, quick!—"to use adjectives." Mustn't use 'em 'ere, FREDDY! "But if reasonably dealt with, is soon appeased." Pat his 'ed, CARRIE, will yer? "Has plenty of bantering humour." (Here FREDDY grins feebly.) Don't he look it too! "Should study his diet." That means his grub, and he works 'ard enough at that! "He has a combination of good commercial talents, which, if directed according to the reflection of the sentiments, will make him tolerably well off in this world's goods."
Carrie (puzzled). What's it torking about now?
Dolph. Oh, it on'y means he's likely to do well in the cat's-meat line. Now for your fortune, FREDDY. "It will be through marriage that your future will be brightened."
Carrie (pleased). Lor, FREDDY, think o' that!
Dolph. Think twice of it, FREDDY, my boy. Now we'll be off and get a drink.
Carrie. Wait. We haven't got your character yet, Mr. GAGGS!
Dolph. Oh, mine—they couldn't give that for a penny. Too good, yer know!
Carrie. If they haven't got it, it's more likely they're afraid it would break the machine. I'm going to put in for you under "Black." (She does.) Here we are. (Reads.) "The gentleman will be much given to liquor." Found out first time, you see, Mr. GAGGS!
Dolph. (annoyed). Come, no personalities now. Drop all that!
Carrie. "Somewhat quarrelsome and of an unsettled temper; more decorous and less attentive in his undertakings, and consequently meets with many disappointments. Such gentlemen"—now you listen to this, Mr. GAGGS!—"will now know their weaknesses, which should induce them to take steps to improve themselves." ("'Ear, 'ear!" from the rest of the party.) "Knowledge is power, and enables us to overcome many obstacles we otherwise should have fallen prey to." This is your fortune. "Thou art warned to be careful what thou drinkest!" Well, they do seem to know you, I must say!
Dolph. (in a white rage). I tell you what it is, Miss CARRIE BICKERTON, you appear to me to be turning a 'armless joke into a mejium for making nasty spiteful insinuations, and I, for one, am not going to put up with it, whatever others may! So, not being partial to being turned into redicule and made to look a fool in company, I'll leave you to spend the rest of the evening by yourselves, and wish you a very good-night!
[He turns majestically upon his heel and leaves the party stupefied.
'Ector. (with mild regret). It do seem a pity though, so pleasant as we were together, till this come up!
Freddy. And CARRIE's Aunt MARIA. gone off in a tantrum, too. We shall have a job to find 'er now!
Lottie and Carrie. Oh, do hold your tongues, both of you. You and your automatic machines!
'Ector and Freddy. Our automatic machines! Why, we never—
Lottie and Carrie. If you say one word more, either of you, we'll go home! [FREDDY and 'ECTOR follow them meekly in search of Aunt MARIA as the Scene closes in.
* * * * *
VOICES OF THE NIGHT.
(IN FLEET STREET.)
Oh raucous street—"Echo," whose vile vox clamantis Is, like the Salvationist's shout, heard a mile hence, I wish, how I wish,—ah! yes, that what we want is!— Some Cockney Narcissus could charm you to silence. Ah, me! no such luck; in the clear autumn twilight Your shriek on my tympanum stridently jars. "Echo" murders repose, mars the daffodil sky light; And if one thing sounds worse 'tis "the Voice of the Stars"!
* * * * *
Sir J-m-s F-rg-ss-n loquitur:—
Just in time to catch the Post! Pheugh! But the Pats would have "had me on toast" (As 'ARRY would say in his odious slang), If I had been but a little bit later. Out o' breath as it is. Ah, hang This hurrying business! My mouth's like a crater, Dreadfully dry, and doosedly hot. Rather a downer, this is, for SCOTT's lot! Feared Mrs. Manchester might just say (In the popular patter of my young day) "It is all very well (with a wink and a jeer), But you, Master FERGUSSON, don't lodge here!" All right now, though! Saved my bacon. My defeat might the Cause have shaken. Just in time. There! Popped it in! Awfully glad it conveys a Win; Although One Fifty ain't much to boast,— 'Twixt you and me and the (General) Post!
* * * * *
WILLIAM HENRY SMITH.
BORN, JUNE 24, 1825. DIED, OCTOBER 6, 1891.
O'er-busy Death, your scythe of late seems reaping Swiftly our heads of State; The wise who hold our England's weal in keeping, The gentle and the great.
GRANVILLE is gone; and now another Warden Falls with the fading leaf, Leaving at Hatfield sorrow, and at Hawarden Scarcely less earnest grief.
All mourn the Man whose simple steadfast spirit Made hearty friends of all. Whilst manhood like to his her sons inherit England need fear no fall.
No high-perched, privileged and proud possessor Of lineal vantage he; Of perorating witchery no professor, Or casuist subtlety.
A capable, clear-headed, modest toiler, Touched with no egoist taint, To Duty sworn, the face of the Despoiler Made him not fear or faint.
O'erworn, o'erworked, with smiling face, though weary, The tedious task he plied. Sagacious, courteous, ever calm and cheery Unsoured by spleen or pride.
As unprovocative as unpretentious, Skilful though seeming-slow; Unmoved by impulse of conceit contentious To risk success for show.
O rare command of gifts, which, common-branded, Are yet so strangely rare! Selflessness patient, judgment even-handed And spirit calmly fair!
Lost to his friends their worth may now be measured By the strong sense of loss. How "OLD MORALITY's" memory will be treasured, Midst faction's pitch-and-toss.
But England which has instincts above Party Most mourns the Man, now gone, Who gave to Duty an allegiance hearty As that of WELLINGTON.
Sure "the gaunt figure of the old Field-Marshal" Would his successor praise; As modest, as unselfish, as impartial, Though fallen on calmer days.
No glittering hero, but when England numbers Patriots of worth and pith, His name shall sound, who after suffering slumbers, Plain WILLIAM HENRY SMITH!
[Footnote 1: LONGFELLOW's "The Warden of the Cinque Ports."]
* * * * *
* * * * *
A ROMANCE IN NUMBERS.
As we announced last week, the Gentlewoman proposes for publication "the most extraordinary novel of modern times"—a tale which is to be written chapter by chapter, week after week, by well-known writers of fiction, without consultation with their collaborateurs. We did the same thing years ago. However, as the notion is still calculated to amuse and instruct our readers, we subjoin a short story, which has been written on the same terms by the entire strength of a paper—political, sporting, and social. It will be found below.
WHAT? WHO? AND WHICH?
(A JOINT STOCK MYSTERY.)
Political Writer commences.—Yes, EUSTACE entered the House prepared to vote for the Government. He knew that Lady FLORA had counted upon his vote in support of her father, the Duke, and the other Members of the Opposition. But when did love outweigh duty? EUSTACE knew that the prosperity of the entire country depended upon his views. With the price of corn falling, with the Russian Bear on the prowl, growing nearer and nearer to our Afghan frontier, with the unsettled state of the South American Republics, he knew that only one course was open to him.
"FLORA, darling," he said to the fair girl, as he paced by her side in the Lobby, "believe me, I will do anything to help you; but what can I do?"
Sporting Writer continues.—"What can you do?" she echoed, with a hearty laugh, as she struck her riding-habit smartly with her whip; "why, tell me the horse you fancy for the Cambridgeshire!"
He thought for a moment. He knew the good points of Bobby, and was rather partial to Rosina; but nothing wrong with Snuffbox, the stable reports were favourable. Still, you can't always rely upon what you see, much less what you hear.
"Lady," said he, at length, "if you take my advice, you will back nothing until they go to the post."
Continuation by French Correspondent.—They had no further time for parley, because the mail train left for Dover within the hour. So they hurried to Victoria, and in less than eight hours were in the Capital of the World.
Ah, Paris, beautiful Paris! They enjoyed the balmy air as they drove through the awaking streets to the Grand Hotel. As they entered the courtyard they met the President.
"Is it really true that the Germans refuse to take up the Russian Loan?" asked EUSTACE of the First Frenchman in France.
"I would not say this to anyone but yourself," replied M. CARNOT, looking round to see that no one was listening; "but those who wait longest will see best!"
And with his finger to his mouth in token of discretion and silence, he disappeared. EUSTACE and his fair companion hastened to the telegraph office.
Scientific Writer takes it up.—They were, of course, desirous of transmitting their important despatch to head-quarters.
"You want to know upon what system the telephone is worked?" queried the operator, as he prepared a black-board, and took up a piece of chalk. They bowed acquiescence. "You must know," said he, "that if we represent the motive-power by x, we shall—."
Lady Correspondent turned on.—Before he could complete his sentence, Lady FLORA uttered a cry.
"What a charming gown! Why, it is the prettiest I have seen in my life!" and she gazed with increasing delight at the lady beneath on the boulevard. Then she began to explain the costume to her two male companions. She showed them that an under-skirt of snuff, with a waist of orange-blue, both made of some soft fluffy material (which can be obtained, by the way, at Messrs. SOWE AND SOWE), made an admirable contrast.
Naval Correspondent puts finishing touch.—[Please end up briskly.—ED.].—And they left Paris, and embarking on H.M.S. Ramrod, met a gale, and foundered. When they were picked up they were both dead.—[THE END.]
* * * * *
LETTERS TO ABSTRACTIONS.
NO. IV.—TO POMPOSITY.
How difficult it is to succeed in giving pleasure. When I addressed you recently, I honestly intended to gratify you by the adoption of a tone of easy familiarity. Surely, I thought to myself, I cannot be wrong if I address my friend POMPOSITY by his name, and speak to him in a chatty rather than in an inflated style. If I chose the latter, might he not think that I was poking fun at him by cheap parody, and manifest his displeasure by bringing a host of BULMERS about my ears? These considerations prevailed with me, and the result was the letter you received. But, O pectora caeca! I have learnt from an authoritative source that you are displeased. You resent, it seems, what you are pleased to term my affectation of intimacy, and you beg for a style of greater respect in any future communications. So be it. I have pondered for hours, and have eventually come to the conclusion that I shall best consult your wishes by addressing you in a manner suited to diplomatic personages of importance. I have noticed that in their official intercourse these gentlemen move on stilts of the most rigid punctilio, and I have often pictured to myself the glow of genuine pride which must suffuse the soul of an ambassador or a foreign Minister when, for the first time, he finds himself styled an Excellency. It may be of course that he knows himself to be anything rather than excellent, but he will keep that knowledge to himself, stowed away in some remote corner of his mind, and never on any account allowed to interfere with his enjoyment of the ignorant and empty compliments that others pay him.
I wish to ask you a simple question. Why do you render those who spend their lives in your service so extremely ridiculous? That may be just the fashion of your humour; but is it fair to persist as you do? There is, for instance, my old friend BENJAMIN CHUMP, little BEN CHUMP as we used to call him in the irreverent days, before his face had turned purple or his waistcoat had prevented him from catching stray glimpses of his patent-leathered toes. Little BEN was not made for the country, that was certain. A life of Clubs and dinner-parties would have suited him to perfection. In his Club he could always pose before a select and, it must be added, a dwindling circle as a man of influence. "There is no Club, however watched and tended, but one dread bore is there." BEN might have developed into a prime bore, but as he was plentifully supplied with money and had a good cook and a pleasant wife, he would always have managed to gather round him plenty of guests who would have forgiven him his elaborate platitudes, for the sake of his admirable made-dishes. Suddenly, however, he resolved to become a country gentleman. As there is no law to prevent a CHUMP from turning into a squire, BEN had not to wait very long before he was able to put his fatal resolve into execution. He purchased an Elizabethan mansion, and descended with all his airs and belongings upon the unhappy country-side which he had decided to make the scene of his rural education. Before that I used to see him constantly. After that I quite lost sight of him. Occasionally I read paragraphs in weekly papers about immense festivities due to the enterprise of the CHUMPS, and from time to time I received local papers containing long accounts of hunt breakfasts, athletic sports, the roasting of whole oxen, and other such stirring country incidents in which it appeared that the CHUMPS took a prominent part. I will do BEN the credit to say that he never omitted to mark with broad red pencil those parts which referred specially to himself, or reported any speech he may have happened to make.
Eventually that which I dreaded came about. Circumstances made it impossible for me to refuse an invitation to Carchester Manor, and on a certain evening in the first week of December I found myself a guest under the roof of the CHUMPS. The entertainment provided was, I am bound to say, magnificent. Every want that the most exacting guest could feel was supplied almost before he had expressed it, and all that gorgeous rooms, stately retainers and irreproachable cooking could do to secure our comfort was done at Carchester Manor. But CHUMP himself was on that first evening the grandest spectacle of all. He overpowered me. Like some huge Spanish galleon making her way with bellying sails and majestic progress amidst a fleet of cockle-shells, so did CHUMP bear himself amidst his party. The neighbouring magnates came to meet us. Lord and Lady AGINCOURT with their charming daughter Lady MABEL POICTIERS, Sir GEORGE BUCKWHEAT and his wife, the Reverend Canon and Mrs. CATSPAW, and a host of others were there to do CHUMP honour. I thought of POLYCRATES and his ring and of other well-known examples. Something I knew must happen to disturb this edifice of pompous grandeur. The something was not long in coming, for just after CHUMP had expatiated at immense length upon the vintages of France, after he had offered to stock the failing cellars of Lord AGINCOURT from his own, after the butler had, with due parade, placed two corks at his master's side in token of the treat that was to follow, it was discovered by little BILLY SILTZER, an impudent dog without veneration or reticence, that both the bottles of Pontet Canet were disgustingly corked. To my relief, but to CHUMP's discomfiture, BILLY announced his discovery. "BEN, my boy," he shouted across the table, "the moths have been at this tap of wine. I'm afraid his Lordship won't care to take it off your hands." BEN became blue with suppressed fury. The trembling butler obeyed his angry summons. "Take that stuff away," said BEN, "and drink it yourself. Bring fresh wine at once." But, alas, for wasted indignation, no more Pontet Canet was forthcoming, and we had to satisfy ourselves on a wine whose inferiority no flourish of trumpets could disguise.
Now there is nothing in the accident of a corked bottle that ought to crush a man. I have seen a host rise serenely after such an occurrence, and nobody dreamt of imputing it to him for wickedness. But the contrast between the magniloquence of poor BEN and the deadly failure of his wine, was too great. Even Lady MABEL, a kind girl without affectations, could not forbear a smile when the incident was narrated to her in the drawing-room, and some of the other guests, whose names I charitably refrain from mentioning, seemed quite radiant with pleasure at the misfortune of their host. CHUMP, however, was not long in recovering, and before many hours had passed, he was assuring us in the smoking-room, that he proposed to establish sport in his particular district on a broad and enduring basis. On the following morning there was a lawn-meet at the Manor, and, as I'm a living sinner, our wretched host was flung flat on his back before the eyes of all the neighbouring sportsmen and sportswomen by a fiery chestnut which he bought for L400 from a well-known dealer. What became of him during the rest of the day I know not. Indeed I shrink from continuing the story of his ridiculous humiliations, and I merely desire to remark that if this be your Excellency's manner of rewarding those who serve you, I pray that I may be for ever preserved from your patronage.
So much, then, for BENJAMIN. In spite of everything I have a sort of sneaking regard for the poor man, especially since I discovered that he was not a free agent, but was inspired in word and action by your blatant influence. Were it not that I feared to weary you, I might proceed at much greater length. I might parade before you regiment upon regiment of pompous local magnates and political nobodies all drilled and disciplined by your offensive methods, and all of them as absurd and preposterous as they can be made. But the spectacle would only move you to derision. One point, however, I must insist on. Whatever you do, don't throw JOSHUA POSER across my path again. I might do him an injury. We were at College together, he being my senior by a year. Even then he always assumed a condescension towards me, an air as of one who temporarily stepped down from a pedestal to mingle with common grovellers. He became a personage in the City, a Chairman and a Director of Companies, and I lost sight of him. Yesterday I met him, and he was good enough to address me. "Yes, yes," he observed, "I remember you well. I have read some of your contributions to periodical literature, and I can honestly say I was pleased; yes, I was pleased. Of course the work is unequal, and I marked one or two passages that might have been omitted with advantage. For instance, the discussion between the vicar and the family doctor is not quite in the most refined taste, but there is distinct promise even in that. By the way, why don't you write in The New Congeries? Your style would suit it. I always take that paper in, and I find it very much appreciated in the pantry. The butler reads it, when we have done with it, and passes it on to the footman. It keeps them out of mischief. Now take my advice, and contribute to that." I humbly murmured my thanks to this intolerable person, and left him. As I turned away I half thought I heard the sound of your Excellency's bellows in the neighbourhood of POSER. Was I wrong?
I remain (merely in an epistolary sense), Your Excellency's humble servant,
* * * * *
APPROPRIATE TITLE FOR MR. ANDREW LANG.—The Folk-Loreate.
* * * * *
"AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM!"
(A PENDANT TO MR. WILLIAM WATSON'S "THE KEY-BOARD.")
Five-and-thirty black slaves, Half-a-hundred white. All their duty but to make Shindy day and night, Now with throats of thunder, Now with clattering lips, While she thumps them cruelly With stretched finger-tips.
When she quits the chamber All the slaves are dumb, Dumb with rapture, till the Minx Back shall come to strum, Dumb the throats of thunder, Hushed chromatic skips, Lacking all the torturing Of strained finger-tips.
Dusky slaves and pallid, Ebon slaves and white, When Minx mounts her music-stool Neighbours fly with fright. Ah, the bass's thunder! Oh, the treble's trips! Eugh, the horrid tyrannies Of corned finger-tips!
Silent, silent, silent, All your janglings now; Notes false-chorded, slithering slaps, Pedal-aided row! Where is Minx, we wonder? Ah! those scrambling skips! Back she's come to torture us With her finger-tips!
* * * * *
CHARLEMAGNE AND I.
Aix-la-Chapelle, Monday.—CHARLEMAGNE was doubtless well advised in selecting this town for his residence. However that be, it is not a matter for us to dogmatise about. I have heard a lamented friend, suddenly and all too soon lost, say there are few things more regrettable than the tendency of the present age to review the actions of great men, not lost but gone before, and to pass judgment upon them without having enjoyed the opportunity of hearing what they might have to say in justification or palliation of the proceedings challenged.
That is true and tersely put. Still I may observe that if C. lived at this period and had his choice, say between Aix-la-Chapelle and Homburg or Aix-les-Bains, it is doubtful whether he would have built his cathedral here. Unlike the two latter watering-places, Aix-la-Chapelle has other fish to boil besides the invalids who come hither attracted by the fame of its hot springs. It is a manufacturing town, and has all the characteristics of one. At Homburg or Aix-les-Bains you walk up a street, turn a corner and find yourself among pine-trees, or in a smiling valley with a blue lake blinking at the sun. Here the baths are in the centre of the town, and, like a certain starling, you feel you "can't get out."
But invalids musn't be choosers, and if RUSTEM ROOSE sends you to Aix-la-Chapelle—he's always sending somebody somewhere—to la-Chapelle you must carry your Aix, in the hope that you may leave them there.
"I wonder," said the Member for SARK, who as usual is grumbling round, "if the local female population was less unlovely in CHARLEMAGNE's time? Probably, since he married with a frequency not excelled by our HENRY VIII. But what was HILDEGARDE like—HILDEGARDE, his favourite spouse? If she in any way resembled the women who throng the streets of Aix-la-Chapelle to-day, C.'s lot was not a happy one. Never in any city, in either hemisphere, have I suffered such a nightmare of ugly ill-dressed women as is here found."
That is a most unfair and unjustifiable remark to make. Brimstone evidently does not agree with SARK who is more disagreeable than ever. The only thing that has touched his stony nature since he came to Aix is the unselfish devotion of the local aristocracy to the interests of the town. Visitors mustering in the Elisengarten for their morning cups, notice the group of musicians in the orchestra by the entrance-gate. Every man wears a top-hat, the only head-gear of the kind seen in Aix. SARK, attracted by this peculiarity, made inquiries, and learned from an intelligent native that these are nobles in disguise, who, desirous of contributing to the common weal, turn out at seven every morning to play the band. They are willing to sink all social distinctions, save that they will wear the cylindrical hat of civilisation. Not comfortable, especially in wet weather; but it adds an air of distinction to the group.
"Very nice of them," SARK grudgingly admits; "but"—he must have the compensation of a sneer—"imagine our House of Lords forming themselves into groups to play the band in Palace Yard, with HALSBURY wielding the mace by way of baton! They'd never do it, TOBY, even in top-hats. Germany's miles ahead of us in this matter."
Sorry to find Squire of MALWOOD, who spent a morning here on his way to Wiesbaden, agreeing in SARK's view of the standard of female beauty at Aix.
"Strange," he mused, "that Nature never makes an ugly flower or tree or blade of grass; and yet, when it comes to men and women, behold!" and he swept a massive arm round the blighted scene in the crowded Kaiserplatz.
A small boy who thought the beneficent stranger in blue serge was chucking pfennings about the Square, careered wildly round in search of the treasure. We walked on without undeceiving him. To quote again from an old friend: "There is nothing more conducive to the production and maintenance of a healthy mind in a sound body than enterprise and industry, even when, owing to misapprehension or miscalculation, their exercise leads to no immediate reward."
It had been quite a surprise one morning to find the SQUIRE striding into the coffee-room at "Nuellens."
"Thought you were down at Malwood," I said, "looking after your flocks and herds, your brocoli and your spring onions."
"So I had hoped to be," he said, as we strolled up and down under the trees in the Elisengarten. "But the fact is, TOBY, dear boy, I could not stand the weather. I am of a sensitive nature, and it cut me to the heart to see cold winds nipping the fruit and trees, the flood of rain beating down the corn, the oats, and the mangel-wurzel. People make a mistake about me. They regard me as an ambitious politician, caring for nothing but the House of Commons and the world of politics. At heart I am an agriculturist. Give me three acres and a cow—anybody's, I don't care—and I will settle down in peace and quietness, remote from political strife, never turning an ear to listen to the roll of battle at Westminster. I am often distraught between the attractions of interludes in the lives of CINCINNATUS and of WILLIAM OF ORANGE's great Minister. Of the two I think I am more drawn towards the rose-garden at Sheen than by CINCINNATUS's unploughed land. Before I die I should like to create a new rose and call it 'The Grand Old Man.'"
Quite a revelation this of the true inwardness of the SQUIRE. Would astonish some people in London, I fancy, if ever I were to mention this conversation. But, to quote once more from a revered authority: "We all live a dual life, and are not actually that which, upon cursory regard, the passer-by believes us to be. Every gentleman, in whatever part of the House he may sit, has a skeleton in the cupboard of his valet."
The SQUIRE stayed here only a morning, passing on to other scenes. I watched his departure with mingled feelings; sorrow at losing a delightful companion, and apprehension of what might happen if he were to remain here to go through the full cure. The place is, as SARK says, the most brimstony on the same level. You breathe brimstone, drink it, bathe in it, and take it in at the pores. At the end of three weeks or a month you are dangerously saturated with the chemical. An ordinary lucifer match is nothing to a full-bodied patient at the end of three weeks treatment at Aix-la-Chapelle. If the SQUIRE had stayed on, I should never have seen his towering frame pass underneath a doorway without my heart leaping to my mouth. Some day he would have accidentally struck his head against the lintel and would have ignited as sure as a gun.
If CHARLEMAGNE were now alive, I feel certain from what I know of him, he would have exhausted the resources of civilisation in search of a preventive of this ever-present and dangerous risk. Under CAROLO MAGNO the patient might have gone about the streets of Aix-la-Chapelle with sweet carelessness, knowing that, however much brimstone he carried, he would strike only on the box.
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["The journal (the Grashdanin) is of opinion that in making common cause with the other European Powers against China, Russia would but serve the ends of ... England to the prejudice of her own interests, which demand that she should not jeopardise the security of her Asiatic shores, or contribute to the complete ascendancy of Great Britain in the Pacific Ocean, by arousing the antagonism of China."—Times.]
"Won't you help me bind the Dragon?" says the Briton to the Russ. Oho! ingenuous JOHNNY! I'm opposed to needless fuss, And have other fish to fry—say near the Oxus! Not a hang Do I care for what may happen on the great Yang-tse-Kiang.
I approve Non-intervention. 'Tis your favourite doctrine, JOHN, And you stick to it so closely, and that's just why you get on. If you think that Dragon's dangerous—I hold 'tis but his play!— There's but one thing you've got to do—clear out of the brute's way.
I am sure he doesn't want you where you've stayed a deal too long; He wishes you would up and go to—well not to Hong-Kong, But the natural home of all such "Foreign Devils," in his view. Why, he's none too sweet on Me, JOHN; is it likely he'd like you?
Grattez le Russe—et cetera. You are mighty fond, J.B., Of quoting that stale epigram. You fancy it riles me. Not a bit of it, my Briton; Tartars have a thickish skin, And your foe and I are neighbours, nay a distant sort of kin.
The Mantchus and the Romanoffs are not exactly chums, And a Tartar insurrection, when that little trouble comes, As it may do if you press too much at Pekin, well, who knows? There is always something pleasing in the quarrels of one's foes.
The Mantchus miss a many of once subject Tartar tribes Who have—gravitated Russwards. Little call for blows or bribes To make blood-relations mingle. On the Mantchus this may jar, But we've not forgotten Kuldja, and we recollect Kashgar.
Wheels within wheels, dear JOHNNY! As to missionaries, well, They are troublesome—and useful; but to put things all pell-mell On account of priests and parsons, and of quite an alien creed, That's scarce "diplomatic," JOHNNY; it is not, dear boy, indeed.
A new Tamerlane, my JOHNNY, who could stir the Tartar hordes To—say "Asiatic Concert,"—well, you know that thought affords To your talky "Only General" a quite sensational theme. But prophecy's not "business," JOHN, and CAESAR should not dream.
Oh! the world is full of Bogies. I'm the biggest of them all In the minds of many croakers who ne'er saw the Chinese Wall, But are frightened at the spreading of my kindred—on the map; For I'm semi-Asiatic, and half Tartar, dear old chap.
Now put this and that together, think of Pamir, Turkestan, Of Persia, of the Dardanelles!—I think you'll see, old man, That though this ramping Dragon you may wish to tie and tame, A Benevolent Neutrality is rather more my game.
* * * * *
A PLAYGOER'S "LAST WORD."
(AN ECHO FROM THE PIT.)
The Season is—has been for some time—silly, And lengthy correspondences are rife. We have, alas! to read them willy-nilly; They take a deal of pleasure out of life. To flee such evils here's an easy way— Let morning dailies idly rant or vapour, At the Lyceum go and see the play, The programme there's the finest DALY paper.
[Footnote 2: A Correspondent, signing himself "A Knight of the Free Lists," suggests that free admissions to the Lyceum should be known, during the American Company's season, as "The Best Daly 'Paper.'"]
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MOTTO FOR A DEPRESSED TEETOTALLER.—"Whine and Water."
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A SONG OF SORROW ON ZOO SUNDAY.
[SALLY, the Chimpanzee (late of the Zoo), is stated to have "drunk beer daily."]
Of all the monkeys at the Zoo There's none like Tippling SALLY. She was the first who quenched her thirst Quite al-co-hol-i-cally. A draught of beer made her not queer, But seemed her strength to rally. MORTIMER GRANVILLE well might cheer Three cheers for Tippling SALLY.
Of all the days within the week I chiefly favoured one day, That was the day when children seek The rapture called "Zoo Sunday." For then full drest all in my best I'd go and visit SALLY, And see her soothe her hairy breast So al-co-hol-i-cally!
But now no more poor SALLY's tricks With glee fill girl or boy full; No mug of beer her soul can cheer, Nor glass of O-be-joyful! We yet may see some Chimpanzee With Drink's temptations dally, To WILFRID's woe; but no, ah! no! It won't be Tippling SALLY!
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AN ESSAY IN REVIEWING.
We are obliged to "Beginner" for the proffered contribution to our collection of Book Reviews. That is, however, a department of the paper our noble friend the BARON DE BOOK-WORMS reserves for his own pen. But as Mr. Punch has never been known to discourage beginners, he finds room here for the interesting contribution, which perhaps should more appropriately have been addressed to his confrere at the office of the Athenaeum:—
Don Quixote. By MIGUEL CERVANTES. We have conscientiously plodded through this voluminous work, which is certainly not entirely without merit. It purports to recount the daily doings of a resident in a village of La Mancha (Spain) who, accompanied by a clownish retainer, went forth in search of adventures. He was not very happy, his day's sport being invariably rounded oft by a sound drubbing, received either by himself, his Squire, or both. We wish Lord MACAULAY had lived to see the publication of this work, and had with fuller leisure relieved us of the task of reviewing it. Remembering his method of procedure as illustrated in his article on Dr. NARE's Memoirs of Lord Burleigh, he would doubtless by careful enumeration have been able to show that from first to last Don Quixote had more ribs broken than any man has actually possessed since ADAM was privy to a diminution of their original number. He seems also to have had a perpetual renewal of teeth, keeping pace with their frequent removal by brute force. As for the number of legs and arms he had fractured, MACAULAY's Schoolboy would have shrunk from the task of computing their aggregate.
These are blemishes upon a work that is, at least, well intentioned, and which might have been more successful had our author been inclined to give his hero credit for more acumen. When he represents Don Quixote as running tilt at windmills under the impression that they are armed knights, and when he pictures him charging a flock of sheep in the belief that it is an ordered army, we think he too grossly trifles with the assumed credulity of his readers. Exaggeration is, indeed, the bane of a work that, from first page to last, bears evidence of the drawback of extreme youth on the part of the author. We have been pleased to notice some indications of humour in the conversation of Sancho Panza. But it is the pennyworth of sack to an intolerably large quantity of bread. What we have written has been without desire to discourage Mr. CERVANTES, whom we shall be glad to meet with again, bringing with him the fruits of unremitted practice and of maturer views of life.
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(AFTER HEARING MR. SAMSON'S LECTURE.)
["To keep the family true, refined, affectionate, faithful, is the woman's task—a task that needs the entire energies and life of woman; and to mix up this sacred duty with the grosser occupation of politics and trade, is to unfit her for it as much as if a priest were to embark in the business of money-lender."—FREDERIC HARRISON.]
I Prithee, ARAMINTA, hear What FREDERIC HARRISON has said: Don't read for College honours, dear, And put a towel round your head. Don't sully what should surely be An unstained soul, with tricks of trade; Leave stern official work to me, While you remain a simple maid.
Don't prate of woman's function, sweet, Your only duty is to charm; Leave platform spouting, as is meet, To men; it cannot do them harm. Your influence comes from gracious ways, Your glory in the home doth lie; The guardian angel of our days, Until you bless us when we die.
Don't enter on ignoble strife With man, 'tis yours to soar above— To all the higher things of life, Divine compassion, and pure love. 'Tis yours to stimulate, refine, To win men by a kindly heart; Not grovel with us where the sign Of Mammon hangs above the mart.
Thine is the task to reign supreme Within the sacred sphere of home; To make our life one happy dream, Thine own as spotless as the foam. To trade, to toil, to head the feast, To seek the politician's gain, Were hateful:—ay, as though the priest Took usury, within the fane!
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BARON DE BOOK-WORMS owns to being easily affected by a pathetic episode. He well remembers how years ago in the course of a discussion among literary men about books and their writers, the Baron acknowledged that in spite of his having been told how the pathos of DICKENS was all a trick, and how the sentiment of that great novelist was for the most part false, he still felt a choking sensation in his throat and a natural inclination to blow his nose strenuously whenever he re-read the death of Little Paul, the death of Dora, and some passages about Tiny Tim. There was no dissentient voice as to the death of Colonel Newcome; all admitted the recurrence of that peculiar choking sensation, read they their THACKERAY never so often. Now the Baron differs from Josh Sedley in, as he thinks, many respects, but he is almost as "easily moved to tears" as was that stout hero. Wherefore this preface? Well, 'tis because the Baron owns to having "snivelled," if you will, when reading a delightful story, published by MACMILLAN in one volume ("bless all good stories in one vol., clearly printed!" says the Baron, parenthetically), entitled simply, Tim. No relation to Tiny Tim already mentioned; quite another child. The Baron strongly recommends this story, and especially to Etonians past and present, as giving a life-like picture which the latter will recognise, of the career at that great public school of a fragile little chap entirely unfitted by nature for the rough and tumble of such a life. The considerate tutor, too, is no effort of imagination; he exists; and, perhaps, such an one may have always existed since the division between Collegers and Oppidans first began. The Baron in his own time, nigh forty years ago, knew an exceptional species of this rare genus; but there are plenty of witnesses to the truth of the Etonian portion of Tim. "Tolle, lege!" quoth the Baron, and be not ashamed if in reading the latter portion of the story you have to search for your pocket-handkerchief, and, glancing furtively around, murmur to yourself, "But soft! I am observed!" Then when unobserved, "wipe the other eye!" and thank the unknown author of Tim; at the same time not forgetting your guide, philosopher, and friend,
THE BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
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A FALLEN LEADER.
CHARLES STEWART PARNELL.
BORN, JUNE 27TH, 1846. DIED, OCTOBER 6TH, 1891.
"The falcon-crest and plumage gone, Can that be haughty MARMION?"
Sir Walter Scott.
Fallen! And not as leaders love to fall, In battle's forefront, loved and mourned by all; But fiercely fighting, as for his own hand, With the scant remnant of a broken band; His chieftainship, well-earned in many a fray, Rent from him—by himself! None did betray This sinister strong fighter to his foes; He fell by his own action, as he rose. He had fought all—himself he could not fight, Nor rise to the clear air of patient right. Somewhere his strenuous soul unsoundly rang, When closely tested. Let the laurels hang About his tomb, for, with whatever fault, He led with valour cool a fierce assault Upon a frowning fortress, densely manned With strong outnumbering enemies. He planned Far-seen campaigns apparently forlorn; He fronted headlong hate and scourging scorn, Impassively persistent. But the task Of coldly keeping up the Stoic mask O'ertaxed him at the last; it fell, and lo! Another face was bared to friend and foe. Scarce to his foes will generous judgment lean— Foes mean as merciless, and false as mean, Their poisoned pens, which even softening Death, Which hate should hush and stifle slander's breath, May not deprive of venom, prodding still The unresponsive corse they helped to kill, Is an ignoble sight. Turn, turn away! Mean hates pursue the MARMION of our day, A nobler foe, like DOUGLAS, well may rue His fall, and sigh, "'Tis pity of him, too!"
* * * * *
MOTTO FOR THE MOMENT.
(BY A MILITANT RADICAL CANDIDATE.)
Ah! I must trounce the Tory foe, And love my Toiling neighbour. The cry with which to fight I go Is "Labour and Belabour!"
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THE G.P. AND THE G.P.O.
(A DIALOGUE STRICTLY ACCORDING TO PRECEDENT.)
General Public. I am sorry to say the condition of the Postal Service is really extremely defective. The delay in the delivery of letters is most annoying. Frequently a note which should be received in the evening is not obtained until the following morning—proof of this being given by the post-marks.
General Post Office. Your complaint shall receive consideration.
G.P. You are most kind. Next, a telegram despatched from one part of London to another part, sometimes takes eight hours, and the reason given is that the counter-clerk has a discretionary power to retain telegrams until he has what he considers a sufficient supply for the messenger to take out for delivery. This naturally causes much delay and consequent inconvenience.
G.P.O. Your complaint shall receive consideration.
G.P. You are too good. Next, the carelessness at Branch Offices is extremely irritating. For instance, it is often the case that the words of telegrams have been altered and changed during transmission. It is unnecessary to point out that such mistakes are liable to create annoyance, not to say disaster.
G.P.O. Your complaint shall receive consideration.
G.P. Very many thanks. Then, at offices where females are engaged, rudeness is very common. Would-be purchasers of postage-stamps are frequently kept waiting while the clerks chatter to one another about matters entirely unconnected with the Department. And this habit is gaining ground in those offices in which male labour is only employed, especially in the immediate neighbourhood of St. Martin's-le-Grand itself. It is useless to call attention to this practice, as a simple denial from an official implicated is accepted by the authorities as proof (almost) positive of his or her innocence.
G.P.O. Your complaint shall receive consideration.
G.P. Again, thanks for your courtesy. But about these and many other grievances, the same stereotyped answer has invariably been received.
G.P.O. Your complaint shall receive consideration.
G.P. Exactly! That is the very answer. And it is felt that no other outcome will result from agitation. It seems utterly impossible to make the officials in charge realise their responsibility to the taxpayers.
G.P.O. Your complaint shall receive consideration.
G.P. Of course; the same parrot-cry! And it may be for years, and it be for ever, before reform is introduced. The probability is, that the present unsatisfactory condition of affairs may exist at St. Martin's-le-Grand until the hour of doom.
G.P.O. Your complaint shall receive consideration.
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REFLECTION BY A GENERAL READER.
I have been reading books wherein 'tis shown (In diction autocratic, sour, un-civil), That nothing can be absolutely known, Save that the Universe is wholly evil! And even this poor result is only plain To Genius—which, of course, is quite a rarity. I should have thought this would have given it pain, And moved it to both modesty and charity; But what surprises me (—ZOILUS, to mock sure, Will whip me with sham-epigrams would-be witty,—) Is that Agnostics seem so awfully pure, And Pessimists so destitute of pity.
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ANNALS OF A WATERING-PLACE
THAT HAS "SEEN ITS DAY."
The weather which, in Mr. DUNSTABLE's varied experience of five-and-twenty years, he assures me, has never been so bad, having at length afforded some indications of "breaking" I make the acquaintance, through Mrs. COBBLER, of Mr. WISTERWHISTLE, the Proprietor of the one Bath-chair available for the invalid of Torsington-on-Sea, who, like myself, stands in need of the salubrious air of that health-giving resort, but who is ordered by his medical adviser to secure it with the least possible expenditure of physical strength.
Both Mr. WISTERWHISTLE and his chair are peculiar in their respective ways, and each has a decided history. Mr. WISTERWHISTLE, growing confidential over his antecedents, says, "You see, Sir, I wasn't brought up to the Bath-chair business, so to speak, for I began in the Royal Navy, under His Majesty King WILLIAM THE FOURTH. Then I took to the Coast-Guard business, and having put by a matter of thirty pound odd, and hearing 'she' was in the market,"—Mr. WISTERWHISTLE always referred to his Bath-chair as "she," evidently regarding it from the nautical stand-point as of the feminine gender,—"and knowing, saving your presence, Sir, that old BLOXER, of whom I bought her, had such a good crop of cripples the last season or two, that he often touched two-and-forty shillings a-week with 'em, I dropped Her Majesty's Service, and took to this 'ere. But, Lor, Sir, the business ain't wot it wos. Things is changed woeful at Torsington since I took her up. Then from 9 o'clock, as you might say, to 6 P.M., every hour was took up; and, mind you, by real downright 'aristocracy,'—real live noble-men, with gout on 'em, as thought nothink of a two hours' stretch, and didn't 'aggle, savin' your presence, over a extra sixpence for the job either way. But, bless you, wot's it come to now? Why, she might as well lay up in a dry dock arf the week, for wot's come of the downright genuine invalid, savin' your presence, blow'd if I knows. One can see, of course, Sir, in arf a jiffy, as you is touched in the legs with the rheumatics, or summat like it; but besides you and a old gent on crutches from Portland Buildings, there ain't no real invalid public 'ere at all, and one can't expect to make a livin' out of you two; for if you mean to do the thing ever so 'ansome, it ain't reasonable to expect you and the old gent I was a referring to, to stand seven hours a day goin' up and down the Esplanade between you, and you see even that at a bob an hour ain't no great shakes when you come to pay for 'ousing her and keepin' her lookin' spic and span, with all her brass knobs a shining and her leather apron fresh polished with patent carriage blackin': and Lor, Sir, you'd not b'lieve me if I was to tell you what a deal of show some parties expects for their one bob an hour. Why, it was only the other day that Lady GLUMPLEY (a old party with a front of black curls and yaller bows in her bonnet, as I dare say you've noticed me a haulin' up and down the Parade when the band's a playin'), says to me, says she, 'It ain't so much the easy goin' of your chair, Mr. WISTERWHISTLE, as makes me patronise it, as its general genteel appearance. For there's many a chair at Brighton that can't hold a candle to it!'" But at this point he was interrupted by the appearance of a dense crowd that half filled the street, and drew up in silent expectation opposite my front door. Dear me, I had quite forgotten I had sent for him. But the boy who cleans the boots and knives has returned, and brought with him the One Policeman!
* * * * *
THE BOY THE FATHER OF THE MAN.
(A CHAPTER FROM A SEA STORY OF THE FUTURE.)
"Lash the lubber to the top-gallant yard and give him five hundred with the cat o' ninetails!" shouted the pirate Captain, blue with passion.
There was a murmur amongst his crew. Because their messmate had forgotten to touch his cap, it seemed hard to their poor untutored minds he should receive so heavy a punishment.
"What, mutiny!" cried the ruffian skipper, "here take this and this and this!" and he distributed the contents of his revolver amongst the sailors aft.
In the meanwhile, the poor wretch was hanging to the topgallant yard, expecting every moment to be his last.
"A sail, Sir," said the boatswain, saluting, as he mounted to the quarter-deck.
"Get ready the torpedoes, and serve out per man a hundredweight of smokeless powder cartridges. We shall have rough work." Then he added, "By the way, what is the time?"
"About half-past two, Sir," returned the other, and then, as his Captain made an unsuccessful grab, he muttered, "No you don't!"
The ship in pursuit came on apace, and soon the two vessels were yard-arm to yard-arm engaged in mortal combat. For a while the confusion was so great that it was impossible to say what would be the upshot. But a fortunate torpedo sent the pirate craft to the bottom, and of all her crew, only the skipper survived. He was brought (loaded with chains) before his conqueror.
"Well, you scoundrel," said the British Captain, "have you anything to urge in your defence before we prepare you for your execution?"
"What would be the good?" was the sulky reply. "I know my fate."
"That voice, those husky tones," exclaimed the epauletted representative of the English Admiralty; "surely I know them. They bring back painful recollections. Show your face, Sirrah!"
"Why should I?" queried the conquered Chief. "It won't do me any good!"
But at a gesture of the British Captain, his prisoner was seized, and his face forcibly washed.
"What, BILLY TOMPKINS!" murmured the Briton, "and we meet again like this!"
"Yes," answered the other, "and it can't be helped. You have your duty to perform, and so have I. Do your worst!"
"But, BILLY, you were not always like this!"
"No, JACK, I was not. Once I used to prattle at my mother's knee. I was beloved by my brothers and sisters, and I was the pride of the nursery!"
And then the strong man broke down, and wept bitterly.
"But have you not fallen very low?" asked the British Captain, gently.
"Indeed I have! I am a thief, a liar, a scoundrel—and, in fact, a blackguard!"
"With such surroundings," returned the Officer R.N., pointing to the debris of the pirate craft, "it is difficult to dispute your contention. Indeed, you are a blackguard! But to what cause do you owe your fall?"
"To my early training."
"I do not comprehend you. Your early training! Where were you trained?"
"In the Britannia!"
And then the British Captain completely understood the situation.
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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.