OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
September 5, 1891.
SOME CIRCULAR NOTES.
It is just ten o'clock. Reims seems to be in bed and fast asleep, except for the presence in the streets of a very few persons, official and unofficial, of whom the former are evidently on the alert as to the movements, slouching and uncertain, of the latter.
We drive under ancient Roman Arch; DAUBINET tells me its history in a vague kind of way, breaking off suddenly to say that I shall see it to-morrow, when, so he evidently wishes me to infer, the Roman Arch will speak for itself. Then we drive past a desolate-looking Museum. I believe it is a Museum, though DAUBINET's information is a trifle uncertain on this point.
We pass a theatre, brilliantly illuminated. I see posters on the wall advertising the performance. A gendarme, in full uniform, as if he had come out after playing Sergeant Lupy in Robert Macaire, is pensively airing himself under the facade, but there is no one else within sight,—no one; not a cocher with whom Sergeant Lupy can chat, nor even a gamin to be ordered off; and though, from one point of view, this exterior desolation may argue well for the business the theatre is doing, yet, as there is no logical certainty that the people, who do not appear outside a show, should therefore necessarily be inside it, the temple of the Drama may, after all, be as empty as was Mr. Crummles' Theatre, when somebody, looking through a hole in the curtain, announced, in a state of great excitement, the advent of another boy to the pit.
And now we rattle over the stones joltingly, along a fairly well-lighted street. All the shops fast asleep, with their eyelids closed, that is, their shutters up, all except one establishment, garishly lighted and of defiantly rakish, appearance, with the words Cafe Chantant written up in jets of gas; and within this Cafe, as we jolt along, I espy a dame du comptoir, a weary waiter, and two or three second-class, flashy-looking customers, drinking, smoking, perhaps arguing, at all events, gesticulating, which, with the low-class Frenchmen, comes to much the same thing in the end, the end probably being their expulsion from the drinking-saloon. Where is the chantant portion of the cafe? I cannot see,—perhaps in some inner recess. With this flash of brilliancy, all sign of life in Reims disappears. We drive on, jolted and rattled over the cobble stones—(if not cobble, what are they? Wobble?)—and so up to the Lion d'Or.
I am depressed. I can't help it. It is depressing to be the only prisoners in a black van; I should have said "passengers," but the sombre character of the omnibus suggests "Black Maria;" it is depressing (I repeat to myself), to be the only two passengers driving through a dead town at night-time, as if we were the very personification of "the dead of night" being taken out in a hearse to the nearest cemetery. Even DAUBINET feels it, for he is silent, except when he tries to rouse himself by exclaiming "Caramba!" Only twice does he make the attempt, and then, meeting with no response from me, he collapses. Nor does it relieve depression to be set down in a solemn courtyard, lighted by a solitary gas-lamp. This in itself would be quite sufficient to make a weary traveller melancholy, without the tolling of a gruesome bell to announce our arrival. This dispiriting sound seems to affect nobody in the house, except a lengthy young man in a desperate state of unwakefulness, who sleepily resents our arrival in the midst of his first slumber (he must have gone to bed at nine), and drowsily expresses a wish to be informed (for he will not take the trouble to examine into the matter for himself) whether we have any luggage; and this sense of depression becomes aggravated and intensified when no genial Boniface (as the landlord used invariably to be styled in romances of half a century ago) comes forth to greet us with a hearty welcome, and no buxom smiling hostess, is there to order the trim waiting-maid, with polished candlestick, "to show the gentleman his room." And, at length, when a hostess, amiable but shivering, does appear, there is still an absence of all geniality; no questions are asked as to what we might like to take in the way of refreshment, there is no fire to cheer us, no warm drinks are suggested, no apparent probability of getting food or liquor, even if we wanted it, which, thank Heaven, we don't, not having recovered from the last hurriedly-swallowed meal at the railway buffet en route. Yes, at the "Lion d'Or" at Reims, on this occasion, hic et nunc, is a combination of melancholy circumstances which would have delighted Mark Tapley, and, as far as I know, Mark Tapley only.
"On an occasion like this," I murmur to myself, having no one else to whom I can murmur it confidentially,—for DAUBINET, having a knowledge of the house, has disappeared down some mysterious passage in order to examine and choose our rooms,—"there is, indeed, some merit in being jolly."
DAUBINET returns. He has found the rooms. The somnolent boots will carry our things upstairs. Which of the two rooms will I have? They are en suite. I make no choice. It is, I protest, a matter of perfect indifference to me; but one room being infinitely superior to the other, I select it, apologetically. DAUBINET, being more of a Mark Tapley than I am, is quite satisfied with the arrangement, and has almost entirely recovered his wonted high spirits.
"Very good. Tres bien! Da! Petzikoff! Pedadjoi! I shall sleep like a top. Bon soir! Buono notte! Karascho! Blass the Prince of WAILES!" and he has disappeared into his bedroom. I never knew a man so quick in unpacking, getting into bed, and going to sleep. He hasn't far to go, or else Morpheus must have caught him up, en route, and hypnotised him. I hear him singing and humming for two minutes; I hear him calling out to me, "All right? Are you all right?" and, once again invoking the spirit of Mark Tapley, I throw all the joviality I can into my reply as I say, through the wall, "Quite, thanks. Jolly! Good-night!" But my reply is wasted on him; he has turned a deaf ear to me, the other being on the pillow, and gives no sign. If he is asleep, the suddenness of the collapse is almost alarming. Once again I address him. No answer. I continue my unpacking. All my portmanteau arrangements seem to have become unaccountably complicated. I pause and look round. Cheerless. The room is bare and lofty, the bed is small, the window is large, and the one solitary bougie sheds a gloom around which makes unpacking a difficulty. I pull up the blind. A lovely moonlight night. In front of me, as if it had had the politeness to put itself out of the way to walk up here, and pay me a visit, stands the Cathedral, that is—some of it; but what I can see of it, au clair de la lune, fascinates me. It is company, it is friendly. But it is chilly all the same, and the sooner I close the window and retire the better. Usual difficulty, of course, in closing French window. After a violent struggle, it is done. The bed looks chilly, and I feel sure that that stuffed, pillow-like thing, which is to do duty for blanket and coverlet, can't be warm enough.
Hark! a gentle snore. A very gentle one. It is the first time I ever knew a snore exercise a soothing effect on the listener. This is decidedly soporific. It is an invitation to sleep. I accept. The Cathedral clock sounds a carillon. It plays half a tune, too, as if this was all it had learnt up to the present, or perhaps to intimate that there is more where that comes from, only I must wait for to-morrow, and be contented with this instalment. I am. Half a tune is better than no tune at all, or vice versa: it doesn't matter. When the tune breaks off I murmur to myself, "To be continued in our next;" and so—as I believe, for I remember nothing after this—I doze off to sleep on this my first night in the ancient town of Reims.
* * * * *
BUMBLE BROUGHT TO BOOK.
["Mr. Ritchie ... has taken the unusual step of preparing a memorandum explanatory of ... the Public Health (London) Act, which comes into operation on the 1st of January ... The Vestries and District Councils ... have come out with increased powers, but also with increased responsibilities. They are in future known as 'the sanitary authorities'; they must make bye-laws, and enforce not only their own, but those made by the County Council; and, if they fail in their duty—as, for example, in the matter of removing house-refuse, or keeping the streets clean—they are liable to a fine. It is pleasant to think that, in future, any ratepayer may bring Mr. Bumble to book."—The Times.]
Bumble. Wot, more dooties piled upon me? It's a beastly black shame and a bore. Which Ritchie beats Oliver Twist in a canter at "asking for more." Didn't grasp his dashed Hact, not at fust, though of course I opposed it like fun; But this 'ere Memyrandum's a startler. I want to know what's to be done. Me keep the streets clean, me go poking my dalicot nose into 'oles As ain't fit for 'ogs, but is kep' for them Sweaters' pale wictims—pore soles? Me see that the dust-pails is emptied, and underground bedrooms made sweet? Me nail the Court Notices hup upon Butchers as deals in bad meat? Great Scissors, it's somethink houtrageous. I knew Ritchie's Act meant 'ard lines, And it's wus than I could 'ave emagined. But wot I funk most is them FINES!!! Fine Me—if I make a mistake, as, perhaps, even BUMBLE may do! That is turning the tables a twister! More powers? Ah, well, that might do, But increase my great "Responsibilities," give them Ratepayers a chance Of a calling me hover the coals! Won't this make my hold henemies dance? I never did like that HYGEIA, a pompous and nose-poking minx— A sort of a female Poll Pry, with a heye like an 'ork or a lynx; But the making me "Sanit'ry," too—oh, I know wot that means to a T. She's cock—or say, hen—of the walk, and her sanit'ry slave'll be Me! Oh, I fancy I see myself sweeping the snow from the streets with a broom, Or explorin'—with fingers to nose—some effluvious hunderground room! Or a-trotting around with the dust-pails when scavengers chance to run short! Oh, just won't the street-boys chyike me and 'ousemaids of BUMBLE make sport? Disgustin'! But there RITCHIE stands with his dashed Memyrandum. A look In his heye seems to tell me that he too enjoys bringing BUMBLE to book, As the Times—I'm serprised at that paper!—most pleasantly puts it to-day. My friend BONES the Butcher too! Moses! wot would my old parlour-chum say If he saw me a nailing a Notice—but no, that's too horrid a dream. I must be a 'aving a Nightmare, and things cannot be wot they seem. I could do with mere Laws—bye or hother-wise—Hacts, jest like Honours, is easy, But this Memyrandum of RITCHIE's queers BUMBLE, and makes him feel queasy, Can't pertend as I don't hunderstand it, it's plain as my nose, clear as mud. I'm responsible for—say Snow-clearing! It stirs up a Beadle's best blood! And when they can Fine me for negligence, jest like some rate-paying scrub— Oh! Porochial dignity's bust! I must seek a pick-up at my Pub!
* * * * *
* * * * *
MADE EASY, BY PAYING A "THIRD-CLASS" FARE AND A SMALL ADDITIONAL TIP.
(BY ONE WHO HAS DONE IT.)
1. Arrive at station in four-wheeler, accompanied by lots of superfluous rugs, wraps, air-cushions, and pillows, &c., and if your domestic arrangements permit of it, two young ladies and one middle-aged one, who should assume an anxious and sympathetic mien.
2. On your cab drawing up, stay with a gentle forbearance the rush of the ordinary attentive porter, and request him, as if you had something important to communicate, to send you "the guard of the train" by which you propose to travel. On the appearance of this official, who will not fail to turn up, you will now appeal to one of your three female assistants, the middle-aged one for choice. Placing your case, as it were, in her hands, she will, in a half-sympathetic, half-commanding tone, address the official somewhat as follows:—"This gentleman, who is travelling to Barminster, and is going third-class (she makes a point of this), is, as you see, a great invalid, and he will require (this with a certain sense of being understood to mean a handsome tip) a carriage to himself." If said with a certain self-assurance, involving a species of lofty wink, this will probably be understood in the right sense by the official in question, and will be probably met by some such assurance as—"The train is very full, Madam, but I will do my best for the gentleman, and can ensure him, I think, a compartment to himself, at least, as far as Bolchester, where I leave the train. But I will explain the matter to my successor, and I have no doubt that he will be able (this also with a significant wink) to ensure the gentleman's seclusion. You are, I think, four? If you will follow me, and take my arm, Sir, I think we shall be able to manage it for you."
3. Enlist the assistance of several attendant porters, regardless of apparent outlay, who have been fairly let into your secret, and are prepared to, and in fact absolutely do, empty a third-class compartment already packed with passengers for Barminster, who retreat awe-stricken at your approach.
4. Immediately on taking possession of your carriage, recline the whole length of the five seats, faced by your three sympathetic and anxious-miened female companions. Be careful to give each of the assistant porters certainly not less than sixpence apiece in ostentatious fashion. Do not, however, as yet administer the shilling, or perhaps, eighteenpence you purpose giving to the original guard of the train who is to hand you over to the official who will have charge of you after Bolchester.
5. You will possibly have a mauvais quart d'heure before departure, for though your guard, in hopes of the remunerative fee, will have carefully locked you in, he will not be able to prevent the calculating and more or less unfeeling British public, who, composed of a party of nine, are looking for as many places as they can find together, from discovering that you have six vacant places in your carriage, and directing the attention of other railway officials, not initiated into your secret agreement, to this circumstance. You must therefore be prepared for some such curt brutality as, "Why, look 'ere, EMMA, there's room for 'arf-a-dozen of us 'ere!" or, "I'm sure 'e needn't be a sprawlin' like that, takin' 'arf the carriage to 'isself," a rebuke which your feminine supporters resent in their severest manner. You are, however, at length saved by the interposition of your guardian angel, who sweeps away the party of nine unseated ones with a voice of commanding control, as much as to say, "This isn't your end of the train; besides, can't you see the poor gentleman's pretty well dying?" And he does hurry them off, and pack them in somewhere or other, but whether to their satisfaction or not, it is easier to hazard a guess than faithfully to record.
6. Bolchester is reached, and you are formally introduced to your final guarding and protecting angel, who rapidly takes in the situation, and by an assurance that he will see to your comfort, this, accompanied by a slightly perceptible wink, leaves you in happy expectation, which the result justifies, of reaching your destination uninvaded.
* * * * *
THE TRAVELLING COMPANIONS.
NO. V. Scene—_Upper deck of the Rhine Steamer, Koenig Wilhelm, somewhere between Bonn and Bingen. The little tables on deck are occupied by English, American, and German tourists, drinking various liquids, from hock to Pilsener beer, and eating veal-cutlets. Mr. CYRUS K. TROTTER is on the lower deck, discussing the comparative merits of the New York hotels with a fellow countryman. Miss MAUD S. TROTTER is seated on the after-deck in close conversation with CULCHARD. PODBURY _is perched on a camp-stool in the forward part. Near him a British Matron, with a red-haired son, in a green and black blazer, and a blue flannel nightcap, and a bevy of rabbit-faced daughters, are patronising a tame German Student in spectacles, who speaks a little English._
The British Matron. Oh, you ought to see London; it's our capital—chief city, you know. Very grand—large—four million inhabitants! [With pride, as being in some way responsible for this.
A Rabbit-faced Daughter (with a simper). Quite a little world!
[She looks down her nose, as if in fear of having said something a little too original.
The Germ. Stud. No, I haf not yet at London peen. Ven I vill pedder Englisch learn, I go.
The Blazer. You read our English books, I suppose? DICKENS, you know, and HOMER, eh? About the Trojan War—that's his best work!
The Stud. (Ollendorffically). I haf not read DIGGINS; but I haf read ze bapers by Bigvig. Zey are vary indereshtin, and gurious.
A Patriotic Young Scot (to an admiring Elderly Lady in a black mushroom hat). Eh, but we just made a pairrty and went up Auld Drachenfels, and when we got to th' tope, we danced a richt gude Scots reel, and sang, "We're a' togither an' naebody by." concluding—just to show, ye'll understan', that we were loyal subjics—wi' "God Save th' Queen." The peasants didna seem just to know what to mak' of us, I prawmise ye!
The Black Mushroom. How I wish I'd been one of you!
The Young Scot (candidly). I doot your legs would ha' stood such wark.
[PODBURY becomes restless, and picks his way among the camp-stools to CULCHARD and Miss TROTTER.
Podbury (to himself). Time I had a look in, I think. (Aloud.) Well, Miss Trotter, what do you think of the Rhine, as far as you've got?
Miss T. Well, I guess it's navigable, as far as I've got.
Podb. No, but I mean to say—does it come up to the mark in the scenery line, you know?
Miss T. I cannot answer that till I know whereabouts it is they mark the scenery-line. I expect Mr. CULCHARD knows. He knows pretty well everything. Would you like to have him explain the scenery to you going along? His explanations are vurry improving, I assure you.
Podb. I daresay; but the scenery just here is so flat that even my friend's remarks won't improve it.
Culch. (producing his note-book ostentatiously). I do not propose to attempt it. No doubt you will be more successful in entertaining Miss TROTTER than I can pretend to be. I retire in your favour. [He scribbles.
Podb. Is that our expenses you're corking down there, CULCHARD, eh?
Culch. (with dignity). If you want to know, I am "corking down," to adopt your elegant expression, a sonnet that suggested itself to me.
Podb. Much better cork that up, old chap—hadn't he, Miss TROTTER?
[He glances at her for appreciation.
Miss T. That's so. I don't believe the poetic spirit has much chance of slopping over so long as Mr. PODBURY is around. You have considerable merit as a stopper, Mr. PODBURY.
Podb. I see; I'd better clear out till the poetry has all gurgled out of him, eh? Is that the idea?
Miss T. If it is, it's your own, so I guess it's a pretty good one.
[PODBURY shoulders off.
Culch. (with his pathetic stop on). I wish I had more of your divine patience! Poor fellow, he is not without his good points; but I do find him a thorn in my flesh occasionally, I'm afraid.
Miss T. Well, I don't know as a thorn in the flesh is any the pleasanter for having a good point.
Culch. Profoundly true, indeed. I often think I could like him better if there were less in him to like. I assure you he tries me so at times that I could almost wish I was back at work in my department at Somerset House!
Miss T. I daresay you have pretty good times there, too. Isn't that one of your leading dry goods stores?
Culch. (pained). It is not; it is a Government Office, and I am in the Pigeonhole and Docket Department, with important duties to discharge. I hope you didn't imagine I sold ribbons and calico over a counter?
Miss T. (ambiguously). Well, I wasn't just sure. It takes a pretty bright man to do that where I come from.
An Old Lady (who is sitting next to PODBURY, and reading a home-letter to another Old Lady). "Dear MARIA and dear MADELINE are close by, they have taken very comfortable lodgings in Marine Crescent. Dear MADELINE's frame is expected down next Saturday."
Second Old Lady. MADELINE's frame! Is anything wrong with the poor girl's spine?
First Old Lady. I never heard of it. Oh, I see, it's fiance, my dear. CAROLINE does write so illegibly. (Continuing.) "Um—um,—suppose you know she will be maimed—" (perhaps it is her spine after all—oh, married, to be sure), "very slowly" (is it slowly or shortly, I wonder?), um—um, "very quiet wedding, nobody but dear Mr. WILKINSON and his hatter."
Second O.L. The idea of choosing one's hatter for one's best man! I'm surprised MARIA should allow it!
First O.L. Maria always was peculiar—still, now I come to look, it's more like "brother," which is certainly much more suitable. (Continuing.) "She will have no—no bird's-marks ..." (Now, what does that—should you think that meant "crows-feet"? Oh, no, how stupid of me—bridesmaids, of course!)—"and will go to the otter a plain guy"—(Oh, Caroline really is too....)—"to the altar in plain grey! She has been given such quantities of pea-nuts"—(very odd things to give a girl! Oh, presents! um, um)—"Not settled yet where to go for their hangman"—(the officiating clergyman, I suppose—very flippant way of putting it, I must say! It's meant for honeymoon, though, I see, to be sure!) &c., &c.
Culch. I should like to be at Nuremberg with you. It would be an unspeakable delight to watch the expansion of a fresh young soul in that rich mediaeval atmosphere!
Miss T. I guess you'll have opportunities of watching Mr. PODBURY's fresh young soul under those conditions, any way.
Culch. It would not be at all the same thing—even if he—but you do think you're coming to Nuremberg, don't you?
Miss T. Well, it's this way. Poppa don't want to get fooling around any more one-horse towns than he can help, and he's got to be fixed up with the idea that Nuremberg is a prominent European sight before he drops everything to get there.
Culch. I will undertake to interest him in Nuremberg. Fortunately, we are all getting off at Bingen, and going, curiously enough, to the same hotel. (To himself.) Confound that fellow PODBURY, here he is again!
Podb. (to himself, as he advances). If she's carrying on with that fellow, CULCHARD, to provoke me, I'll soon show her how little I—(Aloud.) I say, old man, hope I'm not interrupting you, but I just want to speak to you for a minute, if Miss TROTTER will excuse us. Is there any particular point in going as far as Bingen to-night, eh?
Culch. (resignedly). As much as there is in not going farther than somewhere else, I should have thought.
Podb. Well, but look here—why not stop at Bacharach, and see what sort of a place it is?
Culch. You forget that our time is limited if we're going to stick to our original route.
Podb. Yes, of course; mustn't waste any on the Rhine. Suppose we push on to Maintz to-night, and get the Rhine off our hands then? (With a glance at Miss TROTTER.) The sooner I've done with this steamer business the better!
Miss T. Well, Mr. PODBURY, that's not a vurry complimentary remark to make before me!
Podb. We've seen so little of one another lately that it can hardly make much difference—to either of us—can it?
Miss T. Now I call that real kind, you're consoling me in advance!
The Steward (coming up). De dickets dat I haf nod yed seen! (examining CULCHARD's coupons). For Bingen—so?
Culch. I am. This gentleman gets off—is it Bacharach or Maintz, PODBURY?
Podb. (sulkily). Neither, as it happens. I'm for Bingen, too, as you won't go anywhere else. Though you did say when we started, that the advantage of travelling like this was that we could go on or stop just as the fancy took us!
Culch. (calmly). I did, my dear PODBURY. But it never occurred to me that the fancy would take you to get tired of a place before you got there!
Podb. (as he walks forwards). Hang that fellow! I know I shall punch his head some day. And She didn't seem to care whether I stayed or not. (Hopefully.) But you never can tell with women!
[He returns to his camp-stool and the letter-reading Old Ladies.
* * * * *
A SONG IN SEASON.
'Twas the autumn time, dear love, The English autumn weather; And, oh, it was sweet, it was hard to beat As we sailed that day together! It was cold when we started out, As we noted with sad surprise; And the tip of your nose was as blue, I suppose, As the blue of your dear, dear eyes.
We sailed to Hampton Court, And the sun had burnt us black; Then we dodged a shower for the half of an hour, And then we skated back; Till the weather grew depressed At the shifting state of its luck, And the glass, set fair, gave it up in despair, And much of the lightning struck.
We sat on the bank in the storm, In the steady fall of the snow, In the stinging hail and the howling gale, And the scorching sun, you know; We sat in it all—yes, all! We cared for no kind of weather— What made us so mad was the fact that we had The whole of the kinds together.
* * * * *
My kind Amerrycain aquaintance—I musn't call him frend tho' he is so werry free and social with me, for I hopes I knos my propper place—has giwen me a long acount of his week at Brighton. It seems as he was in grate luck, for it was Brighton Race Week, and he is good enuff to say that, whatever diffrent opinyons the men of other countries may find in regard to the warious customs and manners of our grate but rayther rum nashun, they all agrees, with one acord, that a English race-course is the prettyest and nicest thing of the sort that the hole world can show. I rayther thinks as he dropt his money there, but it couldn't have bin werry much, for it didn't have the least effeck on his good temper. It seems as he got interdooced to some sillybrated pusson who rites in papers and seemed to kno everythink, but wot he wanted to kno was if I coud tell him what caused his werry bad indijeshun, to which I at once replied, without a moment's hesitashun, that it was probberbly owing to his being, wich he told me he was, a sort of relashun of a real Common Councilman of the Grand old Citty of London! at which he larfed quite hartily and said, "Bravo, Mr. ROBERT, that's one to you!"
He arterwards arsked me for the werry best place to go to, where he coud have jest about a few hours quiet refleckshun all to hisself without not nothink to disturb him; so I sent him to Marlow, gentlemanly Marlow, if you please, with a letter to my old friend BILL the Fisherman, and there, he told me arterwards, he had sich a luvly day of it as he never rememberd having afore. He sat for fours ours in a luvly Punt, in a bewtifool drizzlin rain, with lots of fish a biting away, but he was much too much engaged to pay the least atenshun to 'em, and there wasn't not noboddy to bother him; so he sat there, and thort out about the most himportentest ewent of his life; and when I waited upon him at the "Grand Hotel" arterwards, I don't think as I ewer seed a reel Gent, as he suttenly is, in such jolly good sperrits. So, seeing how werry successfool I had been, I wentured to say to him,—"And now, Sir, if you wants to see gentlemanly Marlow in quite another aspic, and one that estonishes and delites all as sees it, just take the 9:45 train from Paddington next Sunday, and, drectly you gets there, go at wunce to the Lock, and there, for ours and ours you will see sitch a sight of most ravishing bewty, combined with helegance and hart, as praps no other spot in all the hole world can show! Why, Sir," I said, "every time as the full Lock opens its yawning gates, at the command of one of the principel hofficers of the Tems Conserwancy, you will think of the Gates of Parrydice a hopening for a excurshun of hundreds of the most bewtifoollest Angels as ginerally lives there!" "Why, Mr. ROBERT," says the Amerrycain, "your henthusiasm xcites my curosity, and I'll suttenly go, and," he added, with almost a blushing smile, "I rayther thinks as I'll take a companion with me."
And off he went on the follering Sunday, and didn't git back till seven o'clock to dinner, and his fust words to me was,—"Mr. ROBERT, you didn't in the least xagerate the bewty of the scene as you sent me for to see—it was as strange and as lovely as a Faery Tail! I wasn't at all surprised to see what Swells there was among 'em, and what werry particklar attentions they paid to 'em, cos I reklek how My Lord RANGDULF CHURCHILL slected that particklar spot, on henny particklar fine Sunday, to seek that werry welcome and much wanted change from his sewere Parlementary dooties, as he used wen he were ere among us to rekquire, for I guess as there ain't sitch a sight to be seen not nowheres else so well calklated to brighten a pore feller up who's jest about done up with reel hard work." I didn't quite understand what made my Amerrycain smile quite so slily as he finished his rayther long speech, but he most certenly did, and then set to work at his dinner.
He arterwards told me as how as he means to pay a wisit, when the season begins, to our new Hotel at Monty Carlo, sumwheres in France, and try his new system at the Tables, and if he suckseeds, as he knows he shall, he will, praps, sum day tell me his secret, and then I shall have to ask my gentlemanly Manager here to let me have a few weeks there, and then I shan't want to do any more waiting! What a prospeck!
* * * * *
[Illustration: COUNTRY-HOUSE PETS.
The Morning-Room at Glen-Dimity Castle, after Lunch. Mr. Belamy Tabby is singing "Hi tiddley hi ti, hi, ti, hi!"
The Duchess. "HOW CLEVER AND AMUSIN' YOUR FRIEND, MR. WHATSHISNAME IS!—TABBY, ISN'T IT? SO GOOD-LOOKIN' AND GENTLEMANLIKE TOO! QUITE A GODSEND ON A RAINY DAY LIKE THIS, WHEN ALL THE MEN ARE OUT SHOOTIN' OR FISHIN', OR SOMETHING! IS HE MARRIED?"
Noble Hostess. "OH YES; BUT WHAT'S SO NICE ABOUT HIM, HE DOESN'T MIND BEIN' ASKED WITHOUT HIS WIFE. THOSE SORT OF PERSONS SO OFTEN EXPECT THEIR WIVES TO BE ASKED TOO, AND THAT'S SUCH A BORE, YOU KNOW!"
Her Grace. "YES; HOW SENSIBLE OF HIM! I MUST GET HIM TO COME TO US AT BRASENOSE TOWERS!"]
* * * * *
THE CANADIAN "SEARCH-LIGHT."
(A SONG OF SINCERE SYMPATHY.)
AIR—"THE SLAVE IN THE DISMAL SWAMP."
In dark fens of the Dismal Swamp The Search-Light sends its ray! What is that hideous oozy tramp? What creatures crawling 'midst jungle damp Scuttle from light away?
Revealing radiance shine, oh shine, Through black bayou and brake, Where knotted parasites intertwine, And through the tangles of poisonous vine Glideth the spotted snake.
Where hardly a human foot would pass, Or an honest heart would dare The quaking mud of the foul morass, With rank weed choked, and with clotted grass, Fit for a reptile's lair.
They dread the light, do those dismal things, Its gleam they dare not face. Their snaky writhings, their bat-like wings, Their quaking menace of fangs and stings Make horror of the place.
All things should be so bright and fair In a land so glad and free; But the Search-Light layeth dark secrets bare, And shows how loathsomeness builds a lair In a land of Liberty.
Push on, brave bearer of piercing Light, Through pestilential gloom, Where crawls the spawn of Corruption's night! Deal out, stout searcher, to left and right, The cleansing strokes of doom.
That fair lithe form in that fleet frail bark Is a comely Nemesis, Before whose menace 'tis good to mark The reptile dwellers in dens so dark Driven with growl and hiss.
The saurian huge and the lizard slow, Foul shapes of ruthless greed, And the stealthy snake of the sudden blow, All owl-like shrink from the Search-Light's glow, Or fly with felon speed.
Corruption's spawn must be chased and slain, Scourged from the wholesome earth. It clingeth else like the curse of CAIN. Smite, smite like flail upon garnered grain, These things of bestial birth!
* * * * *
OLD DOGGEREL RE-DRESSED.
(AFTER READING CERTAIN CRITICISMS ON CERTAIN NOVELISTS, CERTAIN COMMENTS ON THOSE CRITICISMS, AND CERTAIN REJOINDERS TO THOSE COMMENTS.)
Little novelists have little critics, Like little gnats, to bite 'em; Those little critics have lesser critics, And so ad infinitum!
* * * * *
LINES BY A LEWISHAM WITLER.
The PENN is mightier than the sword— Of any Red-Rad whipster. I said he'd win—doubted my word; But I'm the O.K. tipster. Rads roughed on me and called me "Bung;" I've bunged them up—a corker— At the result their heads they hung. They whip the Witler? Walker! We're the PENN-holders. For their man That One-Six-Nine-Three nicked him, Witlers warmed up "Old Warmingpan;" PENN gave him odds, and licked him. "Villadom" did its duty—game; Rads jeered it; that's their mania. Lewisham? No, we'll change the name, And call it—PENN-Sylvania!
* * * * *
TIP BY A TORY.—The Star, talking of "HODGE's Political Salvation," says that Mr. GLADSTONE has given the Liberal country programme in a sentence. I will give it in a word. It is all "Hodge-podge!"
* * * * *
UNATTRACTIVE COMBINATION.—If a young woman is "fast," and uncommonly ugly, wouldn't she make a great mistake were she to combine the two qualities, and be "fast-'idious"?
* * * * *
NAME FOR A CERTAIN SECTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED PRESS.—The Nude Journalism.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE COQUETTE OF THE PERIOD.
You vowed you loved me, but your eyes Said just the same to dozens, The music of your low replies, Was heard by several cousins. Forgive me if I could not cope, With charms so comprehensive; And scarce believed a love whose scope, Was really too extensive.
The fashion of the age you'll say, But I've a predilection For girls who in the olden way Retain one man's affection. You favoured me with witching smiles, You gave me frequent dances; But other men that I wished miles Away, enjoyed your glances.
Man loves as men loved in old times, And as in legends hoary, We celebrate a maid in rhymes, Is that too old a story? But still man loves one girl alone, And flies when he discovers— That she he thought was all his own, Has half a dozen lovers.
You sighed and said that you felt hurt, And prettily you pouted, When anybody called you flirt, A fact I never doubted. And yet such wheedling ways you had, Man yielded willy-nilly; And half your swains were nearly mad, And all of us were silly.
Youth's first illusions fly apace, And now one man confesses He scarcely can recal your face, Or colour of your dresses. And whether you were false or true, Or what fate followed after, Remembrance only keeps of you The echo of your laughter.
* * * * *
PROVERBIAL PRAYER FOR A PAUPER-HATING BUMBLE.—Give me neither poverty nor Ritchies!
* * * * *
A CREDITABLE INCIDENT IN THE NEXT WAR.
(AN ADVANCE SHEET FROM MR. PUNCH'S PROPHETIC HISTORY OF EUROPE.)
["Italy is bound to maintain abroad the appearance of a great and rich country, while at home she ought to conduct herself as if in straitened circumstances."—Daily Paper.]
The Italian Army had been completely victorious. There was but one drawback to the entire satisfaction of the Commander-in-Chief—one of his favourite Generals was under arrest, and was being tried by court-martial. The accused had refused the assistance of Counsel, and had insisted upon pleading "Guilty."
"But," urged the Commander-in-Chief, "you surely have some excuse. To sack a private house belonging to your own countryman was unpardonable. It was an aimless piece of Vandalism! For your own reputation—for the sake of your ancestors—on behalf of your descendants—some explanation should be afforded."
"Surely this is no time for levity," murmured a Warrior-Journalist, who was suspected of combining with the duties of a hero the labours of a Special Correspondent for a Roman journal.
"Do I look like a jester?" asked the Prisoner; and then he added, "My brave companions, it is for the honour of our country—to conceal her poverty from the sneers of foreigners—that I carry with me the secret of my action to the family vault. Press me no further—see, I am ready for the firing-party!"
There was nothing further to be said, and the little procession made its way to the Barrack Square. The Prisoner shook hands warmly with his Judges, and with the weeping soldiery who were to act as his executioners. "I will give the words of command myself. Ready—present—"
An aged man had approached the group. He was out of breath with running. The firing-party paused, and lowered their rifles.
"Do not listen to him!" shouted the Accused. "And if he will not desist, shoot him too—shoot us both."
"You exceed your duties, Sirrah," said the Commander-in-Chief, with some severity—for discipline was strict in the Italian Army. "It is for me to command, not you!" The Prisoner lowered his head at the just reproof, and then his superior officer continued, "Why do you ask us to desist?"
"Because the Prisoner is innocent. He acted from the best of motives. I was the proprietor of the shop he sacked, and I (for, after all, I am a patriot) demand his pardon!"
"You!" exclaimed the Commander-in-Chief. "Surely you ought to be the last to urge such a plea. We do not know what your shop contained, but presume that the contents was your property."
"You are right in the presumption," acquiesced the aged man; "but these documents will show that he was right, from a military point of view, to sack my shop."
The Commander-in-Chief hastily glanced at the papers, and with a thrill of pleasure, ordered his favourite General to be released.
"This mystery must never be revealed," he murmured. And it never would, had not the hero-journalist printed the story. Thus it was that the tale became international property. Now it is known all the world over that the General sacked a shop to obtain the arms and accoutrements of the Italian Army. But it is still (comparatively) a secret that the proprietor of the establishment carried on on the premises the business of a pawnbroker!
* * * * *
OR, BYRON UP TO DATE.
(A BRITISH BOY'S VIEW ON A BURNING QUESTION.)
Compulsory Greek! Compulsory Greek! Though "burning SAPPHO loved and sung," Why in Greek shackles should they seek To bind the British schoolboy's tongue? Eternal bores, that Attic set, But, heaven be thanked, we'll "chuck" them yet.
"The Scian and the Teian Muse" Ruled us as tyrants absolute; Now even pedagogues refuse To stodge us with such stale old fruit. Why should the STANLEY-dowered West Make the Anabasis a test?
They teach us about Marathon, But what is Marathon to me? Tell me of fights still going on, Men "rightly struggling to be free;" Nay, I find interest much more brave in The mill 'twixt Thingummy and SLAVIN.
Oh, feed me not on mythic lore, But Science and the modern Fact, Teach me Electric Fires to store, The difference 'twixt "Bill" and "Act." Why should a Cockney care a "cuss" For HOMER or for AESCHYLUS?
For who are they? But what art thou, My Country? On thy fertile shore The heroic lyre is tuneless now; To scheme for dividends, dig for ore, These are the things we hold divine, Not HOMER's long-resounding line.
If you would make a splendid name Amidst a lucre-loving race, You must be in god Mammon's game, And hustle for a foremost place. What do we want with poets here? For Greece a snub, for Greek a sneer!
Must we still pore o'er classic text Because our simple fathers said It made "a gentleman"? What next? Let the dead languages stay dead! Hooray for Fact and Rule of Three! Compulsory Greek is fiddle-de-dee.
Place me on Stock Exchange's steep With nought to do but sell and buy To Bull and Bear we need not keep Our classics up; that's all my eye. Ho! for the Factory, Mart, and Mine The toils of Greek our souls decline.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE POOR OVERWORKED PARLIAMENTARY OFFICIAL TRIES TO ESCAPE FOR A HOLIDAY WITHIN HIS OWN COUNTRY.
The poor overworked official escapes for a holiday
he is observed and followed by a crowd of officials
but Escapes—up in a Balloon Away!
The wind changes
He flies to the Seaside Oh horror!
a narrow Escape!
But eventually lands on his own estate
and is delighted to see his tenants coming out to welcome him!
but it turns out to be a demonstration against his policy!!
Escapes on board a friend's racing yacht—but finds that his political antagonist is one of the party!!
Alone by the shore he picks up a bottle
In it is a complaint about his office!!
Joy! upon his native stubble
No! who is this making Political Speech?
His Country House gets too hot for him So
he returns to Town disgusted.
* * * * *
SOLOMON PELL IN ALL HIS GLORY.
A DICKENSIAN DREAM AT PLYMOUTH.
"Boy!" cried Mr. SOLOMON PELL, in the tones of a severe Stentor. The small Boy with the Big Blue Bag responded promptly with a deferential "Yussir."
"Listen!" pursued Mr. PELL, with dignity. And he read with emphatic elocution from some closely-printed columns in the Times, interjecting exclamatory comments from time to time.
"'When we remember the importance of the work daily intrusted to Solicitors (Important, indeed!), and the amount of industry (Quite so!), judgment (Exactly!), learning (I believe you!), and integrity (Why, cert'n'ly!), it involves, and the responsibility which is necessarily incurred by them in advising, not only in public and political matters, but in all the details of private transactions, the dealings with property, and matters affecting not only the purses, but the honour and reputation (Ah!!!), of the members of the community (Well, and pointedly put, Boy!), and when we remember, in addition, what a powerful and (on the whole) respected body they are (I should think so!)—a body, too, consisting not merely of a "fortuitous concourse of atoms" (I should say not, indeed! Fancy me being a mere "atom," or fortuitous!) ("Please, Sir, I can't;" interjected the Boy with the Bag)—each going his own way, and seeking his own interest, but bound together, as the great bulk of its members are, and organised by means of this great Society, and of the kindred societies scattered over the country, and acting in harmony with it—it seems most surprising (Surprising? Astounding, Sir!) that so little in the way of dignity and reward can be looked forward to by the Solicitor, however honestly, ably, and conscientiously he may perform the arduous and responsible duties of his profession.'"
Mr. PELL here paused, and panted, like one who comes to the surface after a deep-sea dive. Then he pursued:—
"There, Boy! That is from the opening speech of the President of the Incorporated Law Society at Plymouth! And excellent it is,—though perhaps a little long-winded. As a mere sentence, a sinuous sequence of words, a 'breather' in syllables, an exercise in adjectives, it cuts the record and takes the cake. But look, Boy, at the sound common-sense of it! Since the famous, if flattering, remarks—concerning Me!—of my late friend, the ex-Lord-Chancellor, who said—nay, swore, that 'the country ought to be proud of me,' I have met with no observations concerning our Profession which so commend themselves to my judgment."
"Oh, please Sir, yussir, right you are, Sir!" jerked out the Boy with the Bag.
"Right Mr. MELMOTH WALTERS is," corrected Mr. PELL, severely. "I knew it would come, Boy, and it has. Though it has taken time, it has taken time. Listen yet further, and don't fidget with that Bag!
"'I contend (He contends!) that it is the duty of the State to provide due recognition of merit in the ranks of a Profession which has been set apart (Dedicated, as it were, like a—like a—sort of a scapegoat—ahem! no, not that, exactly, either, but—a—you know, Boy, you know!), and regulated (Just a leetle too much, perhaps) by it, from which so much is expected, and to which so much is confided.'
"Splendid! My sentiments to a touch! Sir, that Blue Bag is a Temple of Sacred Secrets, and should be a shrine of Open Honour. (Must make a note of that for my next speech at the Forum!) 'Sir SOLOMON PELL' would not sound badly, eh, Boy?"
"Oh, please Sir, yussir—I mean, no, Sir, fur from it, Sir—fur from it!"
"And yet the Bar gets all the honours, and most of the emoluments, whilst the Blue Bag, too often, is sent empty away. Is it just? Is it judicious? What says once again the Plymouth oracle?
"'I ask whether it is wise or prudent on the part of the State to leave unnoticed and disregarded the higher aspirations and ambitions of a large and useful and powerful class of the community?'
"No, Sir—a thousand times no! Let our 'higher aspirations' be considered. Some of us have souls above six-and-eightpence, and yearnings beyond bills of costs. Let 'em be gratified, Boy!"
"Oh, please Sir, yussir: let 'em! Immediately—if not sooner, Sir!"
"By the State—with a capital S! If a soldier may carry a Field Marshal's baton in his knapsack, why, why should not a Solicitor carry a Baronetcy in his Blue Bag?"
"And Ekker answers, 'Why?' Sir."
"I beg your pardon, Boy, it is the Times, not the Echo, which so answers. The Times says:—
"'They (Solicitors) are the guardians of our dearest (yes, our dearest) interests, the confidants of family secrets, the arbiters in family controversies, and not infrequently the custodians of the honour and the good name of their clients.'
"Quite so. Why, Boy, did we let out the Secrets of the Blue Bag, the contents of Old Nick's Sack, which that 'stupid old snuff-colour'd son of a gun,' Saint Medard 'cut into slits on the Red Sea shore' would be nothing to 'em!"
"Nothink at all, Sir; nothink, wotsomedever!"
"No matter—a time will come, Boy! In Mr. WILLIAM MELMOTH WALTERS's speech I see the dawn of it.
"'The Profession, it is true, does not receive in any great measure those official dignities and rewards which the President claims on its behalf, nor are we quite confident that, if it did, the fact would increase the confidence or the respect of its clients.'
"Well, the Times may not be 'quite confident.' I am! And so would the clients be, I'm sure. Remove that Blue Bag, Boy! Wonder what Mr. Pickwick's opinion of Mr. WALTERS's speech would have been, and that of the Wellers, father and son! [Sings.
"I'll place it in the hand of my Solicitors; I'll have this thing put right. We may make money, But—isn't it funny!— Few 'dignities' Solicitors delight!"
[Left considering it.
* * * * *
FROM DARKEST AFRICA.
Mrs. SHELDON is back from her travels abroad. Were she only a man, we should hail her as manly! As it is, there are some who, in wishing to laud, Are accustomed to call her the feminine STANLEY. But now this adventurous, much-daring she Through such perils has gone, and so gallantly held on, In time that's to come Mr. STANLEY may be Merely known to us all as the male Mrs. SHELDON!
* * * * *
MOTTO FOR THE OPPONENTS OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.—No noose is good news! (But what will grim Lord GRIMTHORPE say?)
* * * * *
The Cheapest Insurance Office must be the Fee-nix.
* * * * *
The boy had gone out to get change.
I was waiting in the studio, listening to the photographer. He was in quite a small way of business, and no one would have expected him to have any change for anything. I was sitting on a rustic stile, with a Greek temple and some wilted Spiraeas in the background. He was in the dark room, busy, splashing liquids about, and reminiscent. I still believe that he thought the time of waiting would seem shorter to me if he talked. The whole place seemed to suggest financial difficulties, and smelt of chemicals.
"You remember the Punyer case?" he asked. His voice sounded thin and far-off through the closed door of the dark room.
I did. PUNYER had been a cashier, and had absconded with rather more than the usual amount.
"Well, I had some dealings with PUNYER. As a cashier he was certainly dishonest, but as a man he was absolutely reliable, and nothing would induce him to break his word. I know that to be a fact from my personal experience of the man; indeed, it was through me that he was identified—or, rather, through one of my photographs."
"Yes. On the day that he absconded, a four-wheeler drove up to this house. The driver got off, and sent a message up to the studio that a gentleman in a cab outside wished to speak to me. So, of course, I went out. Inside the cab I found a man wearing a thick green veil. He explained to me that his face had been injured in a railway accident, and that he could not allow it to be seen by any one. He wanted me to photograph the back of his head. He knew that the request was unusual. 'But,' he said, pathetically, 'my few friends have got to know the back of my head, just as they know the faces of others who are—who are less unfortunate than myself. The doctors tell me that I have not long to live, and my friends are eager to have some slight memento of me.' I was much moved, and I agreed to photograph him at once."
"The man was PUNYER?"
"Of course. The photograph of the back of his head turned out admirably—clear and full of character."
"But why did he get photographed at all?"
"You shall hear; it all came out afterwards. I have already told you that PUNYER, in his private capacity, was a man of his word. It appears that he was engaged to a Miss MIRANDA BUDE. Indeed, it was to her that I was to send the photographs when they were finished. He had promised her that he would have his photograph taken for her on his birthday; and the day on which he absconded happened to be his birthday. He could not break his promise. What was he to do? At first he disguised himself as far as he could; he shaved off his luxurious beard and moustache; he had his long fair hair closely cropped and stained black. But there was on his face one certain mark of identification which he could not alter nor remove. It was a slight scar, extending diagonally across his forehead; when he was a child he once fell into the fender, and the mark had remained ever since. At last the bright idea occurred to him that he might have the back of his head photographed instead of his face, and so keep his promise to MIRANDA. It was really a brilliant idea. For there was absolutely nothing in the view of the back of his head by which he could be identified."
"But you told me just now that he actually was identified by your photograph."
"So he was;—I was just going to explain. I was sitting in my studio one day, touching up the photographs of the back-view of PUNYER, when in came a detective from Scotland Yard. From his appearance, a detective was the last thing on earth that you would have taken him to be."
"They generally say that in the detective stories," I said, meditatively.
"If you think I'm making this up—"
"No, no,—not at all. Go on."
"Well, he told me his business, and I at once showed him one of the photographs, telling him under what circumstances they were taken. He examined it carefully. 'Ah!' he said, 'if I only could prove that this was PUNYER, I should be able to complete my case, and my advancement would be certain. In my own mind I am convinced of it, but at present I cannot prove it. PUNYER had a scar on his face. It was like his devilish cunning to have only the back of his head photographed!' He was just leaving, when suddenly a new idea seemed to flash across him. He seized the photograph, and rushed across to the mirror. You know that if anything is written backwards, you can read it by holding it up to a looking-glass. So, of course, the detective, by holding up the photograph of the back-view, saw the full-face reflected. The scar showed just above the green veil, and consequently—"
At this point the boy returned with my change. The photographer had locked himself into the dark room, and I could not get at him; the law gives a man no redress under such circumstances, and so I came away.
I might have got over the story, perhaps; but my change, I found afterwards, was sixpence short, and that is not so easy to forgive.
* * * * *
["People of this high class (Royal Highnesses, &c.) are said to 'entertain' visitors, but that is an inversion of the actual fact; their object is to be entertained. And quite right too. Nothing can surely be more delightful than to have one's house full of friends at will, and then be able to turn them out at a moment's notice (as a life-boat gets rid of superfluous water) by that simple mechanism of a Chamberlain. When the Social System attains its acme, all of us will have a Chamberlain and be entertained."—JAMES PAYN.]
Host (concerning Guest):—
The twenty-first day, and no signs of a budge!— And it isn't for want of "suggestion." I begin to suspect Hospitality's fudge, Meaning—mutually ruined digestion! He is such a bore, and his wife is so fat, And as fond of her bed as a dormouse. My girls say—in confidence—she is a cat; I'm sure he's a prig and a poor-mouse. I fancied he'd "influence," which he might use For DICK, our third son, who's a duffer. It doesn't come off, and I really refuse In DICK's interests longer to suffer. PAYN's right, and a Chamberlain would be a boon. Ah! I know so precisely what PAYN meant. What! Be entertained—by one's guests? I'd as soon From a locust-swarm seek—Entertainment!
Guest (concerning Host):—
Hah! He wants to get rid of us, currish old cub! But, although it's by no means amusing, My only alternative now is the Club. Confound Mrs. JONES for refusing McMUNGO's "invite" into Scotland. She thought This crib was as swell, and more cosy. She hoped, too, to meet that young MAGNUS MCNAUGHT, Who once seemed so sweet on our ROSIE. We're bored to extinction, and BLOGGS is a "foots"; If we're late down to breakfast, he snorts at us. He worries our lives out with pic-nics and shoots, And will flourish his Clarets and Ports at us. My wife likes her ease and her breakfast in bed; I hate cellar-swagger and scurry. Entertainment indeed! We're as lumpish as lead When we're not on the whirl or the worry. But turn out to-morrow, my BLOGGS? No, not me, Though I know what your "little hints" signify. Your "dear DICK" forsooth! Such a noodle as he The title of "duffer" would dignify You've given up hope about him, and so now You would have us "make room." Not precisely! Till the Tenth, when we're due at Dunclacket, somehow "The Doldrums" will do pretty nicely. PAYN's right. With "high rank and no manners," a man His guests may "evict" at his pleasure; But BLOGGS—till he hits on some "Chamberlain" plan— Must leave 'em to flit at their leisure. I made up my mind when I came to this place; For a month, at the least, to remain meant. Though now my amusement at BLOGGS's wry face Is nearly my sole "Entertainment."
* * * * *
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.