OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
August 27, 1892.
TWO-PENN'ORTH OF THEOSOPHY.
(A SKETCH AT THE ISLINGTON ARCADIA.)
SCENE—The Agricultural Hall. A large Steam-Circus is revolving with its organ in full blast; near it is a "Razzle-Dazzle" Machine, provided with a powerful mechanical piano. To the combined strains of these instruments, the merrier hearts of Islington are performing a desultory dance, which seems to consist chiefly in the various couples charging each other with desperate gallantry. At the further end of the Hall is a Stage, on which a Variety Performance is in progress, and along the side of the gallery a Switchback, the rolling thunder of which, accompanied by masculine whoops and feminine squeaks, is distinctly audible. Near the entrance is a painted house-front with two doors, which are being pitilessly battered with wooden balls; from time to time a well-directed missile touches a spring, one of the doors opens, and an idiotic effigy comes blandly goggling and sliding down an inclined plane, to be saluted with yells of laughter, and ignominiously pushed back into domestic privacy. Amidst surroundings thus happily suggesting the idyllic and pastoral associations of Arcady, is an unpretending booth, the placards on which announce it to be the temporary resting-place of the "Far-famed Adepts of Thibet," who are there for a much-needed change, after a "3500 years' residence in the Desert of Gobi." There is also a solemn warning that "it is impossible to spoof a Mahatma." In front of this booth, a fair-headed, round-faced, and Spectacled Gentleman, in evening clothes, and a particularly crumpled shirt-front—who presents a sort of compromise between the Scientific Savant and the German Waiter has just locked up his Assistant in a wooden pillory, for no obvious reason except to attract a crowd. The crowd collects accordingly, and includes a Comic Coachman, who, with his Friend—a tall and speechless nonentity—has evidently come out to enjoy himself.
The Spectacled Gentleman (letting the Assistant out of the pillory, with the air of a man who does not often unbend to these frivolities). Now, Gentlemen, I am sure all those whom I see around me have heard of those marvellous beings—the Mahatmas—and how they can travel through space in astral bodies, and produce matter out of nothing at all. (Here the group endeavour to look as if these facts were familiar to them from infancy, while the Comic Coachman assumes the intelligent interest of a Pantomime Clown in the price of a property fish.) Very well; but perhaps some of you may not be aware that at this very moment the air all around you is full of ghosts.
The Comic Coachman (affecting extreme terror). 'Ere, let me get out o' this! Where's my friend?
The Sp. G. I am only telling you the simple truth. There is, floating above the head of each one of you, the ghostly counterpart of himself; and the ghost of anybody who is smoking will be smoking also the ghost of a cigar or a pipe.
The C.C. (to his attendant Phantom). 'Ere, 'and me down one o' your smokes to try, will yer?
The Sp. G. You laugh—but I am no believer in making statements without proof to support them, and I shall now proceed to offer you convincing evidence that what I say is true. (Movement of startled incredulity in group.) I have here two ordinary clean clay pipes. (Producing them.) Now, Sir, (to the C.C.) will you oblige me by putting your finger in the bowls to test whether there is any tobacco there or not?
The C.C. Not me. None o' those games for me! Where's my friend?—it's more in 'is line!
[The Friend, however, remains modestly in the background, and, after a little hesitation, a more courageous spirit tests the bowls, and pronounces them empty.
The Sp. G. Very well, I will now smoke the spirit-tobacco in these empty pipes. (He puts them both in his mouth, and emits a quantity of unmistakable smoke.) Now, in case you should imagine this is a deception, and I produce the smoke from my throat in some manner, will you kindly try my esoteric tobacco, Sir? (To a bystander, who, not without obvious misgivings, takes a few whiffs and produces smoke, as well as a marked impression upon the most sceptical spectators.) Having thus proved to you the existence of a Spirit World, allow me to inform you that this is nothing to the marvels to be seen inside for the small sum of twopence, where I shall have the honour of introducing to you Mlle. SCINTILLA, who is not only the most extraordinary Scientific Wonder of the World, but also the loveliest woman now living!
The C.C. 'Ere, I'm comin' in, I am. I'm on to this. Where's my friend? he'll pay for me. He promised to take care o' me, and I can't trust myself anywhere without 'im.
[He enters the Show, followed by the Tall Nonentity, and the bulk of the bystanders, who feel that the veil is about to be lifted, and that twopence is not an exorbitant fee for initiation. Inside is a low Stage, with a roughly painted Scene, and a kind of small Cabinet, the interior of which is visible and vacant; behind the barrier which, separates the Stage from the Audience stands Mlle. SCINTILLA, a young lady in a crimson silk blouse and a dark skirt, who if not precisely a Modern Helen, is distinctly attractive and reassuringly material.
The C.C. Oh, I say, if this is a Mahatma, I like 'em!
[The Sibyl receives this tribute with a smile.
The Sp. G. (appearing on the Stage as Showman). Now, Ladies and Gentlemen! (There is one Lady present, who stands at the side, by way of indicating that she declines to give the proceedings any moral support whatever.) You all know that Adepts have the power of disintegrating material objects and re-integrating them when they please. I have here a hollow mask. (He exhibits a Pantomime demon head.) I place it upon the roof of this cabinet, which as you perceive is empty. I raise it—and underneath you will see materialised a wonderful young lady who consists of a head and nothing else. (He discovers the head of a very human young person with short curly hair.) Now those of you who are unmarried would find this young lady an admirable wife for a man of small income, for, having no body, she will cost him nothing whatever for her food or frocks.
The C.C. (with a touch of cynicism). She'd make it up in 'ats and bonnets, though; trust 'er!
The Showman. She is extremely sweet-tempered; and, when she observes a number of good-looking gentlemen in the front row, as there are to-night, she will smile affectionately at them.
[The Head gives a very practical confirmation of this assertion, and the Lady in the corner sniffs with strong disapproval.
The C.C. 'Ere, I say—where's my friend? I want to take my 'ook out o' this—the young Lady's 'ed is a smilin' at me, and it ain't good enough, yer know—she's left too much of herself at 'ome to suit me!
The Showman (after extinguishing the Head, which is giggling helplessly, in the Mask). Now this other, young Lady, Mlle. SCINTILLA, known to her friends as "SPARKS," is equally wonderful in her way. It may surprise you when I inform you—(here he puts his arm affectionately round the Sibyl's neck)—that, beautiful as she is, she has never been kissed in her whole life!
The C.C. (with chivalrous indignation). What? Ere, if that's all!—
[He intimates, in pantomime, his perfect readiness to repair this omission at once.
The Showman. This is owing to the fact that she is impregnated with electricity to such an extraordinary degree, that any contact with her lips will produce a shock which would probably prove fatal!
The C.C. Oh, where is that friend o' mine? (To the Sibyl.) I come out without my lightnin' conductor this evenin', Miss; but I've got a friend somewhere in 'ere as 'll be 'appy to represent me.
[The Tall Nonentity tries to efface himself, but is relieved to find that the Sibyl does not take the offer seriously.
The Showman. As a proof that I am not speaking without foundation, this young lady will allow you to feel her hands, when you will at once become aware of the electric current. [The Sibyl leans across the barrier, and tenders a decidedly pretty palm for public pressure, but there is the usual reluctance at first to embrace the opportunity. At length a seeker after truth grasps the hand, and reports that he "can feel a somethink," whereupon his example is followed by the others, including the C.C., who, finding the sensation agreeable, pretends to be electrified to such an extent that he is unable to let go—which concludes the entertainment.
Spectators (departing). She may have 'ad one o' them galvanic belts on for all you can tell. But, mind yer, there's a lot in it, all the same. Look at the way he brought smoke out o' them clays!
The C.C. (to his Friend.) That was a lark, JIM! But look 'ere—don't you go tellin' the Missus; she ain't on the Me'atmer lay—not much, she ain't!
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* * * * *
WOT CHER, LABBY?
["Mr. LABOUCHERE, so he says, has come to London to enjoy the smiles of the new Ministry."—Morning Paper.]
Enjoy them, dear LABBY, smile back, if you can— Though your lip has a curl that portends something sinister— It is painful, I take it, to flash in the pan, While a rival goes off with a bang as a Minister.
But you (you're a cynic, that's one of the ways, And by no means the worst, to get credit for kindness), You can smile at this struggle for titles and praise, You can laugh at your friends while you envy their blindness.
A time, so I fancy you saying, will come; They are not done with LABBY, for all their sweet smiling; And they're vastly mistaken who think he'll be dumb, Or abandon his amiable habit of riling.
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"GREAT SCOTT!"—Mr. Punch's congratulations to the new Bart. of Scott's Bank, Cavendish Square, with the classic name of HORACE. His friends will be able to adapt MACAULAY's lines, and tell—
"How well HORATIUS kept the Bank, In the brave days of old."
Of course, be it understood that "keeping the Bank" has nothing whatever to do with Monte Carlo, or with any game of speculation. Ad multos annos! And to adapt again—
"On HORACE's head Honours accumulate!"
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BALFOUR AND SALISBURY.—The late Government couldn't help having a good dash of spirit in it, seeing it was a "B. and S." mixture. Now, "B. and S."—off! Vide Mr. Punch's Cartoon this week.
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IN OFFICE WITH THE LABOUR VOTE.
(HOW TO DEAL WITH AN AWKWARD MATTER, ACCORDING TO PRECEDENT.)
SCENE—A Smoking-Room and Lounge. Eminent Statesman discovered filling a pipe. Private Secretary in attendance.
Em. S. Now I think all's ready to begin. Mind, my lad, and have the tea and decanters in readiness when I ring for them. Enough chairs?
Pri. Sec. Only half-a-dozen expected, Sir; so I thought if I got six that would be enough.
Em. S. Quite so. And now, my dear fellow, show in the Deputation.
[Private Secretary opens door, when enter several Workmen in their Sunday best, headed by Fussy M.P.
Fussy M.P. (with effusion). My dear Sir, this is a great pleasure. I hope I see you well. (Shakes the hand of Eminent Statesman with profuse cordiality.) And now, if you will allow me, I will introduce these Delegates. It would have pleased them better if they could have had an Autumn Session, but they are quite prepared to be satisfied with an interview, as it is in the Recess. (Speaking in the soft tones of the House at Westminster.) Sir! My Right Hon. Friend! It is my privilege as well as my duty—a most pleasant one—to introduce what I may aptly declare to be the most representative body of men it has ever been my good fortune to meet. I, my dear Sir—
Em. S. (interrupting). Thank you very much, but I fancy we can get on better by talking it over quietly. It's very hot, so if you don't mind, I will take off my coat and sit in my shirt-sleeves.
[Removes his coat.
Fussy. M.P. (taken aback). My dear Sir!
Members of the Deputation. Thankee, Sir! We'll follow suit.
[They remove their coats.
Em. S. Now you would like to smoke? Well, my Private Secretary will hand round cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco. Don't be shy, Consider my house Liberty Hall. Well, tell me—what's it all about?
First Mem. of Dep. (pointing to Fussy M.P.) Why he said as how he would do all the speaking.
Em. S. Very likely, and do it (bowing to him) very well. But I would far rather that you should speak for yourselves. Come let us meet as old friends. Now—what do you want?
Second Mem. of Dep. Why, Sir, if you put it in that pleasant way, I may say, payment for hours of labour put in by some one else.
Em. S. Yes, very good. Capital notion. But how are you to manage it?
Third Mem. of Dep. (roughly). That's your business, and not ours. We tell you what we want, and you have to carry out our wishes.
Em. S. (smiling). You mean the wishes of your class—your order?
Second Mem. Well, that's about it. We do represent them. Why we are sent to you by over 100,000!
Em. S. And what is the full complement of your combined trades?
Second Mem. About nine millions, but that has nothing to do with it.
Em. S. With it! Do with what?
First Mem. of Dep. Why, what we require, Right Hon. Sir—what we require!
Em. S. (amiably). And that is—?
First Mem. of Dep. (triumphantly). Oh, you must tell us that! It is not our place, but yours—see?
Em. S. Not exactly. But will you not join me? (Offers cigarettes.) And now let us get at the heart of the question. Who is to do your work for you?
First Mem. of Dep. (puffing at the tobacco). Don't you think that could be done by the Government?
Em. S. I don't know. I am delighted to see you, because it is with your assistance that I propose mastering the details of the matter. But you really must help me.
Second Mem. of Dep. (taken aback). But, I say, Sir, is this quite fair? We are accustomed to put up someone such as he (pointing to the Fussy M.P.), and leave it to him to do all the talking.
Em. S. Yes, I know the old-fashioned plan; but I prefer the new. Pray go on. How will you get your work done gratuitously?
Fourth Mem. Oh, come! That's putting it a little too strong! We are not accustomed to it. What does it all mean?
Em. S. I think I can answer you. My good friends, until you can get an idea of what you really want, you can do nothing—nor can I. So now, if you have another appointment to keep, please don't let me detain you. All I can wish you I do wish you. May you all prosper in your undertakings. And now, farewell!
First Mem. Well, Sir, if you won't see us any more, good-bye!
Em. S. Good-bye! Mind the steps! Good-bye! [The Deputation leave. Eminent Statesman turns his attention to other matters with a smile of satisfaction.
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"EXCELSIOR! OR STRAIGHT UP!"—Sir DOUGLAS STRAIGHT was knighted last week. N.B.—Would have been mentioned earlier, if we had had the straight tip.
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'ARRY IN VENICE.
DEAR CHARLIE,—'Ow 'ops it, my 'earty? Yours truly's still stived up in Town. Won't run to a 'oliday yet, mate. I'm longing to lay on the brown By a blow from the briny, but, bless yer, things now is as bad as they're made. Hinfluenzas, Helections, and cetrer, has bloomin' nigh bunnicked up Trade.
My screw's bin cut down by a dollar; along of 'ard times, sez our bloke. I did mean doin' It'ly this year; but sez Luck, "Oh, go 'ome and eat coke!" Leastways, that's as I hunderstand 'er. A narsty one, Luck, and no kid; Always gives yer the rough of 'er tongue when you're quisby, or short of a quid.
When I 'eard about Venice in London, I thinks to myself, mate, thinks I, 'Ere's a 'oliday tour on the cheap! 'Ere's a barney as 'ARRY must try. No Continong this year, that's certain, old man, for the likes of poor me; But whilst I've a bob I've a chance for a boss at the Bride o' the Sea.
Them posters of IMRE KIRALFY's for gorgeousness quite takes the cake. Friend IMRE's a spanker, you bet, and quite fly to the popular fake. "Stupendious work," IMRE calls it, and I.K. is O.K. no doubt. Your old Country Fair Show takes a back seat when ikey young I.K.'s about.
Oh, the jam and the mustard, my pippin, the crimsing, the blue, and the gold! Scissorree, CHARLIE, rainbows ain't in it, and prisums is out in the cold. I do like a picteresk poster, as big as a bloomin' back yard, With the colour slopped on quite regardless; if that ain't 'Igh 'Art, wy it's 'ard.
'Owsomever I mustn't feeloserphise. Off to Olympia I 'ooks, To see Venice the Bride of the Sea, as set forth in them sixpenny books. Bless his twirly merstache, he's a twicer, this IMRE KIRALFY, dear boy, And he give me a two hours' spektarkle old LEIGHTON hisself might enjoy.
Bit puzzling the "Pageant" is, CHARLIE, until that Synopsis you've read; Wish I'd mugged it all up overnight; but I carn't get it straight in my 'ead. Sort o' mixture of Shylock and BYRON, with bits of Othello chucked in, Muddled up with "Chioggian wars," as seemed mostly blue fire and bright tin.
But the scenes wos 'splendiferous, CHARLIE. About arf a mile o' stage front, With some thousands of 'eroes and supers, as seemed all the time on the 'unt. Lor! 'ow they did scoot up and down that there stage at the double, old man, All their legs on the waggle, like flies, and their armour a-chink as they ran!
Old Shylock turns up quite permiskus, and always upon the full trot; He seemed mixed up with Portias, and Doges, smart gals, and the dickens knows wot. All kep waving their arms like mad semy-phores, doin' the akrybat prank, As if they was swimming in nothink, or 'ailing a 'bus for the Bank.
I sez to a party beside me, "Old man, wot the doose does it mean?" Sez he, "A dry attic, yer know, of wich Venice, yer see, wos the Queen. That cove in a nightcap's the Doge; for an old 'un he can move about. They had G.O.M.'s, mate, in Venice; of that there is not the least doubt.
"That's VETTORE PISANI, the Hadmiral; t'other is General ZENO Defending the State, I persoom, and they're 'aving a fust-class old beano. Wy PEDRO THE SECOND, of Cyprus, and Portia is made a rum blend With Turps Siccory's Revels, and so on, no doubt we shall twig at the hend."
I sez, "Thankee! that's werry instructive. You do know a lot, mate, you do!" Then the fight at Chioggia came on. Sech a rum pully-haully all through. But the Victory Percession wos proper, and so was the All Frisky feet, And the way as they worked the gondolers, them streaky-legged chaps, wos a treat.
But the best o' the barney came arter. I took a gondoler, old man, Sort o' wobbly black coffin afloat, and perpelled on the rummiest plan With one oar and a kind of notched post. But a dressy young party in pink 'Ad a seat in my ship, and seemed skeery. I cheered 'er up—wot do you think?
"No danger," sez I, "not a mossel! Now is there, old lollipop-legs? Sit 'ere, Miss, and trim the old barky! Go gently now, young 'Am-and-Eggs! 'Ow much for yer mustard-striped kicksies? Way-oh! Wy, you nearly run down The Ryhalto that time, you young josser. Look hout, Miss, he'll crack your sweet crown!"
Larf, CHARLIE? She did a fair chortle. I 'ave sech a way with the shes. We 'ad six sixpennorths together—I tell you 'twos go-as-you-please! Modern Venice, took out of a toy-box, with palaces fourteen foot 'igh. And Bridges o' Sighs cut in pasteboard, is larks all the same, and no fly.
Sort o' cosy romanticky feeling a-paddling along them canals, With the manderlines twangling all round, and the larf of the gayest of gals Gurgling up through the Hightalian hair—though it do 'ave a cockneyfied sniff,— Wy it's better than spooning at Marlow with MOLLY MOLLOY in a skiff.
I felt like Lord BYRON, I tell yer; I stretched myself, orty-like, hout, And wished it could go on all night, wich my pardner did ditto, no doubt. Modern Venice in minichure, CHARLIE, ain't really so dusty, you bet; I wos quite a Bassanio in breeks, and I ain't lost the twang of it yet.
My Portia wos POLLY MARIA; she tipped me her name fair and free; And a pootier young mossel o' muslin, I never 'ad perch on my knee. No side on 'er, nothink lowlived, CHARLIE, ladylike down to the ground, I called 'er my fair "Bride of Venice." In fact, we wos 'appy all round.
She said I wos 'er form to a hounce, and if anyone looked more O.K., In a nobby Gondoler than me, well that chap 'adn't travelled 'er way; Wich wos Barnsbury Park—so she whispered, with sech a sly giggle, dear boy! I sez "Bully for IMRE KIRALFY! His Show is a thing to henjoy!"
And so it is, CHARLIE, old hoyster. The music is twangly, I own, And if I've a fancy myself, 'taint hexactly the Great Xylophone; But the speeches of musical scratch-backs the dancers keep time with so pat, In that fairy-like Carnival Bally, fetched POLLY, ah, all round 'er 'at!
That 'at wos a spanker, I tell yer; as big as the Doge's State-Barge, And like all the "Four Seasons" in one! "Well," sez POLLY, "I do like 'em large, Them Venetian pork-pies ain't my fancy, no room for no trimmings above. They wouldn't suit Barnsbury Park, though they might do 'The Castle of Love'!"
Sort o' needled her somehow, I fancy; but, bless yer, I soon put that straight. Gals is wonderful touchy on togs! Covent Garden piled high on a plate With a blue hostrich-feather all round it, mayn't be man's hidea of a tile, But I flattered her taste a rare bat, and soon 'ad her again on the smile.
Well, "Venice the Bride of the Sea," is wuth more than one visit, old pal, And I've got a hengagement next week to go there with the same pooty gal. I'm going to read up the subjeck, I'll cram for it all I can carry, For I'm bound to be fair, in the know if young POLLY should question
* * * * *
INNS AND OUTS.
In a "Grand Hotel" again; abroad; never mind which or where; have experienced many Inns and many outings, but find all Grand Hotels much the same. "Lawn-tennis, English Church in the Spatious Grounds, good station for friends of the Fisch-Sport."—But the quintessence of Grand-Hotelism is "Mr." in his Bureau.
The main thing about "Mr." is his frock-coat ("made in Germany"). It is always buttoned; he is never without it; I believe he sleeps in it. Divest him of this magician's robe (so to speak) and he would be powerless.
The Hotel omnibus clatters in; "Mr." confronts us, smiling and serene, with his two Secretaries of Legation. He discriminates the Inn-comers at a glance.—"Numero 10, 11, 12, entresol;" for Noah-like Paterfamilias with Caravan; "Numero 656, for se Leddy's med;" "Numero 80, for me, the soi-disant Habitue;" it's the room I'm supposed to have always had, so I pretend to like it. One Unremunerative-looking Pedestrian, in knickerbockers, is assured that, if he waits half a day or so, he may get an attic—"Back of se house; fine view of se sluice-gate and cemetery."—U.-L.P. expostulates; he has telegraphed for a good room; it's too bad.—"Ver' sawy, but is quite complete now, se Hotel." U.-L.P., furious; "Hang it," &c. "Mr." deprecates this ingratitude—"Ver' sawy, Sor; but if you don't like," (with decision), "se whole wide wurrld is open to you!" Pedestrian retires, threatening to write to the Times. Preposterous! as if the Editor would print anything against "Mr."! "Mr.'s" attitude majestic and martyred; CASABIANCA in a frock-coat! Bless you! he knows us all, better than we know ourselves. He sees the Cook's ticket through the U.-L.P.'s Norfolk-jacket.
When "Mr." is not writing, he is changing money. The sheepish Briton stands dumb before this financier, and is shorn—of the exchange, with an oafish fascination at "Mr.'s" dexterous manipulation of the rouleaux of gold and notes. Nobody dares haggle with "Mr." When he is not changing money, he is, as I have said, writing, perhaps his Reminiscences. It is "Mr." "What gif you se informations;" and what questions! The seasoned Pensionnaire wants to know how she can get to that lovely valley where the Tiger-lilies grow, without taking a carriage. The British Matron, where she can buy rusks, "real English rusks, you know." A cantankerous tripper asks "why he never has bread-sauce with the nightly chicken." And we all troop to "Mr." after breakfast, to beg him to affix postage-stamps to our letters, and to demand the precise time when "they will reach England;" as if they wouldn't reach at all without "Mr.'s" authority. It gives the nervous a sense of security to watch "Mr." stamping envelopes. It is a way of beginning the day in a Grand Hotel.
"Mr." gives you the idea of not wishing to make a profit; but he gives you nothing else. You wish to be "en pension"—"Ver' well, Sor, it is seventeen francs (or marks) the day;" but you soon discover that your room is extra, and that you may not dine "apart;" in a word, you are "Mr.'s" bondsman. Then there is the persuasive lady, who perhaps, may be stopping a week or more, but her plans are undecided—at any rate six days—"Will 'Mr.' make a reduction?" "Mr." however, continues his manuscript, oh ever so long! and smiles; his smile is worse than his bite! I, the Habitue, approach "Mr." with a furtive clandestine air, and observe cheerily, "I hope to remain here a month." "Certainly, Sor; is better you do; will be se same as last year; I gif you se same appartement, you see."—This with an air of favour. I thank him profusely—for nothing. My bill turns out to be higher than if I had been overcharged separately for everything. "Mr." is the Master of the Arts of extras. He does not wish to make a profit; oh no! but—ahem—he makes it. As for the outsiders who straggle in casually for luncheon and want to be sharp with "Mr." afterwards, they are soon settled. One who won't be done, complains of a prince's ransom for a potato-salad.—"If you haf pertatas, you pay for pertatas."—TALLEYRAND could not have been more unanswerable.
"Mr." is immense at entertainments; it is "Mr." who organises "Se Spanish Consairt," "Se Duetto of se Poor Blinds," and, of course, "Se Bal"; he is very proud of his latest acquisition—the Orchestrion that plays the dinner down. To see "Mr." dispatch itinerant minstrels would do our County Council good.
"Mr." knows our compatriots au fond; he makes no extra charge for toast at breakfast, and you only pay half-a-crown for a pot of George the Third Marmalade, to lubricate it withal. Five-o'clock tea comes up at six, just as at home. He makes much of Actors, Peers, and Clergymen. Sunday is a great day for "Mr." He directs everyone to the English Church in "The Grounds"—(fifteen benches and one tree, with a fountain between them); and then goes off to play cards, but always in his frock-coat. The "Chaplain" gets his breakfast-egg gratis; and a stray Bishop writes, "Nothing can exceed the comfort of this Hotel," in that Doomsday Book of Visitors.
When you depart—and, abroad, this is generally about daybreak—"Mr." is always on the spot, haughty, as becomes a man about to be paid, but considerate; there is a bouquet in petticoats for the Entresol—even, for me, a condescending word. "When you see Mr. SHONES in London, you tell him next year I make se Gulf-Links." I don't know who the dickens JONES may be, but I snigger. It all springs from that miserable fiction of being an Habitue. "Sans adieux!" ejaculates "Mr.," who is great at languages; so am I, but, somehow, find myself saying "Good-bye" quite naturally. A propos of languages, "Mr." is very patient with the Ladies who will speak to him in so-called French or German, when they say, "Ou est le Portier?" or "Es ist sehr schoen heute," he replies, in the genuine tongue. I once overheard a lady discussing the chances of rest and quiet in the "Grand Hotel." "Oui c'est une grande reste." said she. It only puzzled "Mr." for a moment. "Parfaitement, Madame; c'est ravissant, n'est-ce pas?" and then "Mr." sold her the little Hand-book, composed by the Clergyman, on which he receives a commission.
* * * * *
NEED I SAY MORE?
I loved—and need I say she was a woman? And need I say I thought her just divine? Her beauty (like this rhyme) was quite uncommon. Alas, she said she never could be mine!
My Uncle was a Baronet, and wealthy, But old, ill-tempered, deaf, and plagued with gout; I was his heir, a pauper young and healthy; My Uncle—need I say?—had cut me out.
I swore—and need I say the words I muttered? Sir HECTOR married KATE, and changed his will. Dry bread for me! For her the tea-cake buttered. I starved—and, need I say, I'm starving still!
* * * * *
"A CARPET KNIGHT"—Sir BLUNDELL MAPLE. Likewise that Sir B.M. is "a Knight of the Round Table." [N.B. Great rush to let off these. Contribution-Box joke-full of 'em. Impossible, therefore, to decide "who spoke first." Reward of Merit still in hand.]
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SUGGESTION.—The Music-and-Hartland Committee will permit the performance of brief "Sketches" in the Music Halls. Wouldn't "Harmonies" by our own WHISTLER be more appropriate?
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TIP TO TAX-COLLECTORS.
(AFTER HERRICK'S "COUNSEL TO GIRLS.")
A SONG OF THE EXCHEQUER.
Air—"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may."
Gather ye Taxes while ye may, The time is fleetly flying; And tenants who'd stump up to-day, To-morrow may be shying.
That annual "Lump," the Income Tax, Still higher aye seems getting; The sooner that for it you "ax," The nearer you'll be netting.
That payer's best who payeth first The Exchequer's pert purse-stormer: As the year wags still worse and worst Times, still succeed the former.
Then be not lax, but keep your time, And dun, and press, and harry; Tax-payers shirk, nor deem it crime, If long Collectors tarry.
* * * * *
"WHERE SHALL WE GO?" is of course an important subject in the holiday-time, and one to which Sala's Journal devotes a column or two weekly; but a still more important one is "How shall we go it?" and having totted up the items there comes the final question, "Where shall we stay?" And the wise, but seldom-given answer is—"At Home." In any case, the traveller's motto should always be, "Wherever you go, make yourself quite at Home"—and stay there, may be added by the London Club Cynic, who wants everything all to himself.
* * * * *
THE LOST JOKE.
(A SONG OF A SAD BUT COMMON EXPERIENCE.)
Air:—"The Lost Chord."
Seated one day in my study I was listless and ill at ease, And my fingers twiddled idly With the novel upon my knees. I know not where I was straying On the poppy-clustered shore, But I suddenly struck on a Sparkler Which fairly made me roar.
I have joked some jokes in my time, Sir, But this was a Champion Joke, And it fairly cut all record As a humoristic stroke. It was good for a dozen of dinners, It was fit to crown my fame As a shaper of sheer Side-splitters, For which I have such a name.
It flooded my spirit's twilight Like the dawn on a dim dark lake, For I knew that against all rivals It would fairly "take the cake." I said I will try it to-morrow,— I won't even tell my wife,— It will certainly fetch Lord FUMFUDGE, And then—I am made for life!
It links two most distant meanings Into one perfect chime— * * * * * Here my servant broke the silence, And said it was dinner-time! * * * * * I have sought, but I seek it vainly, That great Lost Joke of mine, Which had slipped from my mind entirely When I sat me down to dine.
It may be that something some day May bring it me back again; But I only wish—confound it!— I had fixed it with pencil or pen. It may be that luck—bright Angel!— May inspire me once more with that stroke, But I fear me 'tis only in Limbo I shall light on my great Lost Joke!
* * * * *
MRS. R., who has been busy with her juniors, tells us that she has been horrified to learn from her Nephew, who has been fighting the Slave-hunters on the Congo, that in that country they "preserve" the bodies of their enemies. He writes to her—"I have 'potted' several Arabs."
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE SONG OF THE BAR.
Work, work, work! Sang HOOD, in the "Song of the Shirt," Of the seamstress slave who worked to her grave In poverty, hunger, and dirt. Work, work, work! The Bar-maid, too, can say, Work for ten hours, or more; Oh, for "eight hours" a day!
Is she a happier slave Where gilding and mirrors abound? Of what can she think when eternal drink Is the cry of all around? Stand, stand, stand! Serving sots from far and near; Stand, stand, stand! More whiskey! More brandy! More beer!
Possibly some one may say, "What can that matter to us? She is frail, frivolous, gay; She is not worth a fuss." Prig, all her life is a snare, You, so excessively good, Would pity her rather if there Once for ten hours you stood.
How would you feel at the end? You may not think she is fit, Quite, for your sister's friend— Is she too wicked to sit? Stand stand, stand! In the smoke of pipe and cigar, Always to think of eternal drink; Oh, pity the Slave of the Bar!
* * * * *
BY A RIBBON GIRL WHO HAS BEEN TO FRANCE.—"Sure the town itself must be full of go-a-head young women that a decent female wouldn't be seen spaking to—else why is it called Belle-Fast?"
* * * * *
THE OPERA IN THE FUTURE.
(AS SUGGESTED BY "MUSICAL PAUPERS.")
SCENE—Interior of Covent Garden on a Subscription Night. The house is filled in the parts reserved for Subscribers. The remainder of the Auditorium is less crowded. The Overture is over, when there is a loud cry for the Manager. Enter before the Curtain Courteous Gentleman, who bows, and waits in an attitude of respectful attention.
Person in the Amphitheatre. I say, Mister, look 'ere, after charging me sixpence for a seat, I'm 'anged if they don't want an extra penny for a bill of the play.
Courteous Gentleman. Highly improper, Sir. I will look into the matter to-morrow, and if you are kind enough to identify the attendant who has attempted this overcharge, I will have him dismissed. And now, with your permission, your Royal Highnesses, my Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen, we will go on with the Musical performances.
[The Opera continues. At the end of the Third Act there is another cry for the Manager. The Courteous Gentleman re-enters before the Curtain, as before.
Very Stout Person in the Amphitheatre Stalls. I say, look here—I paid two shillings for this seat, and the back's coming off.
Cour. Gen. Perhaps, Sir, you have been leaning with a weight it is unable to bear.
Very S.P. Never mind about that. As I pay two shillings for my seat, I expect you to stop the show until it's mended.
Cour. Gen. As the show (as you call it, Sir) costs about two pounds a minute, I fear that would be rather an extravagant proceeding. If I may suggest, I would counsel you to change your seat to a more perfect one.
Very S.P. I like that! and get turned out by someone who had reserved it. No, thankee! But there, after all, I am rather heavy, so let's say no more about it.
Cour. Gen. I am infinitely obliged to you.
[Exit. The Opera continues until the commencement of the last Act, when there is a frantic cry for the Manager. The Courteous Gentleman again appears before the Curtain.
Voices from the Cheaper Parts of the House. Here, cut it short! Let's get to the end. Let's see how the story finishes!
Cour. Gent. I am at your disposal.
Spokesman. Well, look here, Mister. There's a lot of us here who want to catch the 11.40 train, so can't you cut the performance?
Cour. Man. Although your proposal, Sir, may cause some trouble and complications, I will honestly do my best. [Bows and exit.
* * * * *
TO THE ROLLER-SKATING FIEND.
O Boy!—O injudicious boy!— Who, swayed by dark and secret reasons, Dost love thine elders to annoy At sundry times and frequent seasons, Why hast thou left thy tempting top— Thy penny-dreadful's gory garble— Thy blue-and-crimson lollipop— Thy aimlessly meandering marble?
Thy catapult, so sure of aim, In cold neglect, alas! reposes, And even "tip-cat's" cherished game No longer threatens eyes and noses; Thy tube of tin (projecting peas) At length has ceased from irritating; But how much worse than all of these Thy latest craze—for roller-skating!
For, mounted on twin engines dread, Thou rushest (with adventures graphic) Where even angels fear to tread, Because there's such a lot of traffic. At lightning-speed we see thee glide, (With malice every narrow shave meant), And charge thine elders far and wide, Or stretch them prone upon the pavement.
Round corners sharp thou lov'st to dart, (Thou skating imp! Thou rolling joker!) And hit in some projecting part The lawyer staid, or solemn broker. Does pity never mar thy glee, When upright men with torture double? Oh, let our one petition be That thou may'st come to grievous trouble!
* * * * *
* * * * *
ADVERTISING IN EXCELSIS.
SCENE—Interior of the Universal Advertisement Stations Company's Offices. Managing Director discovered presiding over a large staff of Clerks. Enter Possible Customer.
Possible Customer. I see from the papers that it is proposed to turn the Suez Canal to account by erecting hoardings—have you anything to do with it?
Managing Director. No, Sir; but we do a very large cosmopolitan business of the same sort. Have you anything to advertise?
Pos. Cus. Well, yes—several things. For instance, I am bringing out a new sort of Beer. Can you recommend me good stations for that?
Man. Dir. Certainly, Sir. We have contracted for the whole of the best positions in the Desert of Sahara. If you get out a good poster in Arabic, it should be the means of furthering the trade amongst the Arabs.
Pos. Cus. Thanks. Then I have a fresh Pill. What about that?
Man. Dir. Well, Sir, pills (excuse the pleasantry) are rather a drug in the market; but I think we might try it amongst the Esquimaux. We have some capital crossroads in the Arctic Regions, and a really commanding position at the North Pole.
Pos. Cus. What can I do with a newly-patented Disinfectant?
Man. Dir. We have the Spire of Cologne Cathedral, and both sides of the Bridge of Sighs; in fact, if you like to push the sale in Venice, we would offer you the front of the Doge's Palace on the most advantageous terms.
Pos. Cus. Then I have an Everlasting Boot.
Man. Dir. I must confess, Sir, that boots (you will excuse the pleasantry) are rather worn out; but perhaps the Himalayas (where we have all the summits vacant) might suit your purpose.
Pos. Cus. Well, I will give your suggestions my best consideration.
Man. Dir. (anxious to trade). Can't I tempt you, Sir, with a million bills or so? We have all the best Royal Palaces in Europe, and the most frequented of the Indian Temples. There is scarcely a spot of any historical interest that we have not secured for our hoardings. Just added the Field of Waterloo, the Temple Gardens, and site of ancient Carthage to our list. We can do it very cheaply for you, Sir, if your order is a large one.
Pos. Cus. How about the papers?
Man. Dir. Well, we insert advertisements in them, too. Shall we begin with three columns in all the leading journals of the world?
Pos. Cus. No, thank you. I think I will commence on a somewhat smaller scale. (Gives document.) Here is an order for three inches for one insertion on the leader-page of the Pimlico Pump.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Lords, Monday, August 15th.—Lords met to-day in charmingly casual way. Since they were last here, Government been defeated; the MARKISS out, Mr. G. in, and all that means or portends. Not many present, but the MARKISS in his place smiling in unaffected joyousness, just as Prince ARTHUR did in Commons when the end came.
"Very odd," said PICKERSGILL, pressing his hat to his bosom; "it seems nothing amuses the CECILS and their family belongings so much as a reverse at the Poll."
The MARKISS in such exuberant good humour at seeing KIMBERLEY opposite to him, could not resist temptation to try on little joke. It was not, he said, either desirable or usual that he, as outgoing Minister, should say anything on present occasion. But perhaps KIMBERLEY would oblige, and would give House full exposition of intentions of new Ministry with respect to foreign and domestic affairs. KIMBERLEY gravely answered, that not yet being Minister of the Crown, nor having had opportunity of consulting with his colleagues, he was unprepared to make statement on subject.
In this dilemma DENMAN came to front. "My Lords—" he said. What more he would have uttered is lost to posterity. MARKISS had moved adjournment of House, and HALSBURY, who has had long practice on this particular wicket, promptly bowled DENMAN out, by putting question and declaring it carried. DENMAN stood moment looking, more in sorrow than anger, at noble Lords hurrying out with unwonted agility.
"They made a mistake," he murmured; "especially HALSBURY. All I wanted was to propose vote of thanks to him for the grace and dignity with which he has presided over Debates in this House, and the manner in which he has, by his dispensation of patronage, preserved the highest traditions of his office, and even raised its lofty tone. Too late now, too late;" and the old gentleman putting his crumpled papers in his pocket, and wrapping his soiled pocket-handkerchief round the knob of his walking-stick, strode sadly forth.
Perhaps it was sight of this pathetic figure that sobered the MARKISS. Anyhow, as we walked out together, found him in subdued mood, more fitting the occasion than that assumed when addressing House. "All over at last, TOBY," he said; "and I may go down to Hatfield, take off my coat, and have a day's, or even a week's serene pleasure in my workshop. I'm nobody of any account now, ni Premier, ni Foreign Minister. Do you remember the lines written by an unknown hand on the ruins of Berytus, which TRYPHON, King of Syria, sacked a hundred and forty years before the Star rose at Bethlehem? I was thinking of them just now, even when I was chaffing KIMBERLEY:—
'Stay not your course, O Mariners, or me, Nor furl your sails—is not my harbour dry? Nought but one vast, forsaken tomb am I. But steer for other lands, from sorrow free, Where, by a happier and more prosp'rous shore, Your anchor ye may drop, and rest your oar.'"
"Not at all," I said.
Rather an inadequate remark, I see, when I come to write it down. I'd say something better if the MARKISS would repeat the lines.
Business done.—MARKISS announces Resignation of Ministry.
* * * * *
House of Commons, Thursday.—House seems to have been meeting all day. Began at three o'clock: Sitting suspended at half-past; resumed at 4.30; off again till nine; might have been continued indefinitely through night, only thunderstorm of unparalleled ferocity burst over Metropolis, and put an end to further manoeuvring. "Bless me!" tremulously murmured Lord SALISBURY's Black Man, as a peal of thunder shook Clock Tower, and lighted up House of Lords with lurid flame, "if these are home politics, wish I'd stayed in far-off Ind."
At first gathering in Commons, parties changed sides. "The sheep to the right, the goats to the left," as WILLIAM FIELD, Esq., M.P., said, daintily crossing the floor.
This remark does not imply anything rude. Fact is FIELD, when at home in Dublin, holds lofty position of President of Irish Cattle-Traders' and Stock-Owners' Association. Similes from the stockyard come naturally to his lips. Promises to be acquisition to Parliamentary life. Is certainly lovely to look upon, with his flowing hair, his soft felt hat, the glossy black of his necktie contrasting with glossy white of his boundless shirt-front. Thought at first he was a poet; rather disappointing to find he's only a butcher. Whatever he be, he's refreshing to the eye, wearied with monotony of last Parliament.
Writs moved for new Elections consequent on acceptance of Office. Lobby seems full of new Whips, whom JACOB grimly eyes. CAUSTON with unusually troubled look on manly brow. "What's the matter?" I asked. "Afraid you'll be chucked?"
"Oh, no!" he said; "Southwark's safe enough. But they're such doose of fellows down there. Remember at General Election one took me neat. After I had made speech to crowded meeting, lot of questions put. Answered them all satisfactorily. At last one fellow got up, asked me, in voice of thunder, 'Are you, in favour of temperance?' Rather ticklish thing that, you know. As many against it as for it. Looked all round the room; seemed remarkably decent lot; the man who was heckling me a little rubicund as to the nose; but that might be indigestion. Anyhow, felt unless I could satisfy him, I'd lose his vote. 'Are you in favour of temperance?' he roared again. 'Yes, I am;' I said, heartily. 'Then I ain't!' he roared back; and stamped his way out of the room. That's the sort of fellows they are down at Southwark. Never know where you have 'em. Generally turns out they have you."
Business done.—Thunderstorm and Prorogation.
* * * * *
THE BUILDER AND THE ARCHITECT.
The sun was shining on the fog, Shining with all his might: He did his very best to make The London day look bright— And yet it seemed as though it were The middle of the night.
The Builder and the Architect Were walking close at hand; They wept like anything to see Such eligible land: "If this were only built upon," They said, "it would be grand!"
"Oh, Tenants, come and live with us!" The Builder did entreat, "And take a little villa in This countrified retreat, Where stand straight rows of houses, So very new and neat!"
The elder Tenants looked at him, But never a word said they; The elder Tenants winked their eyes, As though they meant to say, "Old birds, like we, are never caught By chaff in such a way."
But four young Tenants hurried up, Each eager to rent one; Their looks were pale, their faces white, Like muffins underdone— Which was not odd, because, you know, They never saw the sun.
The Builder and the Architect Went on a year or so Building damp villas on damp ground Conveniently low: And still some little houses stood Quite empty in the row.
"I cannot think," the Builder said, "Why people should complain Of mortar made of mud from roads, Or roofs that let in rain, Or sewer-gas that comes from an Unventilated drain."
"A fair return," the Builder said, "Two hundred, say, per cent., Is all the profit that I want On anything I've spent, Now, if you're ready, Tenants dear, I'll take the quarter's rent."
"But not from us," the Tenants cried, "The houses are so new, They've made us all so very ill We don't know what to do." "The County Court," the Builder said, "Is very near to you."
"I tell you what," the Builder said, "I fear that I must seize Your furniture, unless you pay; So fork out, if you please." And even he, in that damp air, Began to cough and sneeze.
"Oh, Tenants," said the Architect, "Just think what I have done, Designing such aesthetic homes!" But answer came there none— And this was scarcely odd, because They'd perished every one.
* * * * *
UNDER CONSIDERATION, AUGUST 21.
No appointment could be more appropriate and in accordance with the fitness of things than to make a GARDNER the new Minister of Agriculture. Of course it has been suggested that a Rural Dean should succeed to the vacant Chaplincy.
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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.