OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
September 10, 1892.
WHY I DON'T WRITE PLAYS.
(FROM THE COMMON-PLACE BOOK OF A NOVELIST.)
Because it is so much pleasanter to read one's work than to hear it on the Stage.
Because Publishers are far more amiable to deal with than Actor-Managers.
Because "behind the scenes" is such a disappointing place—except in Novels.
Because why waste three weeks on writing a Play, when it takes only three years to compose a Novel?
Because Critics who send articles to Magazines inviting one to contribute to the Stage, have no right to dictate to us.
Because a fairly successful Novel means five hundred pounds, and a fairly successful Play yields as many thousands—why be influenced by mercenary motives?
Because all Novelists hire their pens in advance for years, and have no time left for outside labour.
And last, and (perhaps) not least, Why don't I send in a Play? Because I have tried to write one, and find I can't quite manage it!
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According to recent accounts, the attitude of the Salvation Army in Canada may be fairly described as "Revolting."
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A DIARY OF THE DEAD SEASON.
(SUGGESTED BY THE CONTENTS BILLS.)
Monday.—First appearance of "the Epidemic." Good bold line with reference to Russia. Not of sufficient importance to head the Bill, but still distinctly taking.
Tuesday.—Quite a feature. Centre of the Bill with sub-lines of "Horrible Disclosures," and "Painful Scenes." Becoming a boom. To be further developed to-morrow.
Wednesday.—Bill all "Epidemic." Even Cricket sacrificed to make room for it. "News from Abroad." "Horrors at Hamburg." No idea it would turn out so well. A perfect treasure-trove at this quiet season of the year!
Thursday.—Nothing but "Epidemic"—"Arrival in England"—"Precautions Everywhere." Let the boom go! It feeds itself! Nearly as good as a foreign war!
Friday.—Still "the Epidemic," but requires strengthening. "Spreading in the Provinces," but still, not like it was. Falling flat.
Saturday.—A good sensational Murder! The very thing for the Contents Bills. Exit "the Epidemic," until again wanted.
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SONGS OF SOCIETY;
I.—INTRODUCTORY. TO MY LYRE.
["Smoothly written vers de Societe, where a boudoir decorum is, or ought always to be, preserved; where sentiment never surges into passion, and where humour never overflows into boisterous merriment."—Frederick Locker's Preface to "Lyra Elegantiarum."]
Dear Lyre, your duty now you know! If one would sing with grace and glow Songs of Society, One must not dream of fire, or length, Or vivid touch, or virile strength, Or great variety.
Among the Muses of Mayfair A Bacchanal with unbound hair, And loosened girdle, Would be as purely out of place As Atalanta in a race O'er hedge or hurdle:
Our Muse, dear Lyra, must be trim, Must not indulge in vagrant whim, Of voice or vesture. Boudoir decorum will allow No gleaming eye, no glowing brow, No ardent gesture.
Society, which is our theme, Is like a well-conducted stream Which calmly ripples. We sing the World where no one feels Too pungently, or hates, or steals, Or loves, or tipples.
And should you hint that down below The subtle siren all men know Is hiding her face, Our answer is: "That may be true, But boudoir bards have nought to do Save with the surface."
And therefore, though Society feel The Proletariat's heavy heel Its kibe approaching, Some luxuries yet are left to sing, The Opera-Box, the Row, the Ring, And Golf, and Coaching.
Not e'en the Socialistic scare The dandyish and the debonair Has quite demolished; Whilst Privilege hath still a purse, There's yet a chance for flowing verse, And periods polished.
If IBSEN, BELLAMY, and GEORGE, Raise not the boudoir critic's gorge Beyond all bearing, Light lyrics may she not endure, On social ills above her cure, Below her caring?
Muse, with Society we may toy Without impassioned grief or joy, Or boisterous merriment; May sing of Sorrow with a smile; At least, it may be worth our while To try the experiment.
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QUITE THE TREBLE GLOUCESTER CHEESE!—The Three Quires' Festival this week. Do the Three Quires appear in the Cathedral? If so, as each quire means twenty-four sheets, there'll he quite a "Surplice Stock."
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CONTRIBUTION BY OUR OWN "MULEY HASSAN."—Puzzle—To find "three Single Gentlemen rolled into one?" Answer—Sir EUAN SMITH. Explanation—Sir, You, an' SMITH. [Exit MULEY HASSAN going to Bray.
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Why ought a Quack's attendance on a patient to be gratis?—Because he is No-Fee-sician.
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MORE REASONS FOR STOPPING IN TOWN.
Commodore Buncombe. Because I know those infernal Tentonners, and —— Chartreuse jaune only makes me worse.
William Sikes. Because of the gross incompetence of my Counsel, and the ridiculous adverse prepossessions of the Jury at my recent appearance in public at the C.C.C.
McStinger. Because there's bonny braw air on the braes of Hampstead, and it costs but a bawbee to get intil it.
Fitz-Fluke. Because, since that awkward affair at the Roulette Club, my country invitations haven't come in.
Capel Courtney. Because those beastly bucket-shops have collared all our business.
Bumpshus, M.P. Because the Lords of the Treasury (shabby crew of place-hunters) declined to adopt my suggestion, and to place a trooper, thoroughly well found, victualled, and overhauled, at the disposal of any Members of the Lower House whose profound sense of duty, and of the importance of the Imperial Federation idea, impelled them to take a six-months' trip round the world at the nation's expense.
Theodore John Hook Straight. Because of the old trouble—"got a complaint in the chest."
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"THE SPEECH OF MONKEYS."—Professor R.L. GARNER, who is a great hand at "getting his Monkey up" (he was naturally a bit annoyed at being, quite recently, accidentally prevented from giving his Monkey lecture), is about to commence operations by adapting the old song of "Let us be Happy Together" to Monkey Language, when it will re-appear as "Let us be Apey Together." It will be first given at Monkey Island on Thames.
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CRICKETERS WHO OUGHT TO BE GOOD HANDS AT PLAYING A TIE.—"The Eleven of Notts."
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Walpurgis Brocken Night at Crystal Palace last Thursday—Grand! Jupiter Pluvius suspended buckets, and celestial water-works rested awhile to make way for Terrestrial Fire-works. "Todgers's can do it when it likes," as all Martin-Chuzzlewiters know, and BROCK can do it too when he likes. A propos of DICKENS' quotation above, it is on record that Mr. Pickwick was once addressed as "Old Fireworks." Where? When? and How? Mr. Pickwick, we are led to infer by the commentary thereon, somewhat objected to the term, unless our Pickwickian memory fail us—which is not improbable—but Mr. BROCK would appropriate it to himself with pleasure, and be "'proud o' the title' as the Living Skeleton said." Despite wind and weather, and contretemps generally, BROCK has never brocken faith with the public. "Facta non verba" is his motto: and "Facta" means (here) Fire-works.
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"GREAT BRITAIN AND THE GILBERT ISLANDS."—Captain DAVIS of H.M. Screw Cruiser Royalist, on May 27, formally annexed "The Gilbert Islands." Where was SULLIVAN? Or is it that Sir ARTHUR, having been annexed as a Knight, was unable to interfere? Will D'OYLY CARTE explain?
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THE MENAGERIE RACE.
SCENE—The terrace in front of Hauberk Hall, which the LARKSPURS have taken for the Summer. TIME—An August afternoon. Miss STELLA LARKSPUR—a young lady with great energy and a talent for organisation—has insisted upon all the Guests taking part in a Menagerie Race.
The Rev. Ninian Headnote, the Local Curate (to Mr. PLUMLEY DUFF—after uneasily regarding Miss STELLA, as she shakes up some pieces of folded paper in a hat). Can you give me any idea of the precise nature of this amusement—er—nothing resembling a gambling transaction, I suppose?—or I really—
Mr. Plumley Duff. Well, I'm given to understand that we shall each be expected to take an animal of some sort, and drive it along with a string tied to its leg. Sounds childish—to me.
The Curate (relieved). Oh, exactly, I see. Most entertaining, I'm sure! (He coos.) What wonderful ingenuity one sees in devising ever-fresh pastimes, do we not? Indeed, yes!
Miss Stella. There, I've shuffled all the animals now. (Presenting the hat.) Mr. HEADNOTE, will you draw first?
The Curate. Oh, really. Am I to take one of these? Charmed! (He draws.) Now I wonder what my fate—(Opening the paper.) The Monkey! (His face falls.) Is there a Monkey here? Dear me, how very interesting!
Dick Gatling (of H.M. Gunboat "Weasel"). Brought him over my last cruise from Colombo. No end of a jolly little beast—bites like the—like blazes, you know!
Miss Stella (to her Cousin). Now, DICK, I won't have you taking away poor Jacko's character like that. He's only bitten BINNS—and, well, there was the gardener's boy—but I'm sure he teased him. You won't tease him, will you, Mr. HEADNOTE?
The Curate. I—I shouldn't dream of it, Miss STELLA,—on the contrary, I—(To himself.) Was it quite discreet to let myself be drawn into this? Shall I not risk lowering my office by publicly associating myself with a—a Monkey? I feel certain the Vicar would disapprove strongly.
Dick (to Colonel KEMPTON). Drawn your animal yet, Sir?
The Colonel (heatedly). Yes, I have—and I wish I'd kept out of this infernal tomfoolery. Why the mischief don't they leave a man in peace and quietness on a hot afternoon like this? Here am I, routed out of a comfortable seat to go and drive a confounded White Rabbit, Sir! Idiotic, I call it!
The Curate. Pardon me, Colonel KEMPTON; but if you object to the Rabbit, I would not at all mind undertaking it myself—and you could take my Monkey—
The Colonel. Thanks—but I won't deprive you. A Rabbit is quite responsibility enough for me!
The Curate (to himself, disappointed). He's afraid of a poor harmless Monkey—and he an Army man, too! But I don't see why I—
Miss Gussie Grissell. Oh, Mr. HEADNOTE, isn't it ridiculous! They've given me a Kitten! It makes me feel too absurdly young!
The Curate (eagerly). If you would prefer a—a more appropriate animal, there's a Monkey, which I am sure—(To himself, as Miss G. turns away indignantly). This Monkey doesn't seem very popular—there must be someone here who—I'll try the American Lady—they are generally eccentric. (To Mrs. HEBER K. BANGS.) I hope Fortune has been kind to you, Mrs. BANGS?
Mrs. Bangs. Well, I don't know; there are quadrupeds that can trot faster over the measured mile than a Tortoise, and that's my animal.
The Curate (with sympathy). Dear me! That is a trial, indeed, for you! But if you would prefer something rather more exciting, I should be most happy, I'm sure, to exchange my Monkey—
Dick Gatling (bustling up). Hallo, what's that? No, no, Mrs. BANGS—be true to your Tortoise. I tell you he's going to romp in—AEsop's tip, don't you know? I've backed you to win or a place. I say, what do you think I've drawn—the Mutton! Just my luck!
The Curate. DICK, just come this way a moment—I've a proposition to make; it's occurred to me that the Monkey would feel more—more at home with you, and, in short, I—
Mr. Plumley Duff (plaintively, to Miss CYNTHIA CHAFFERS). I shouldn't have minded any other animal—but to be paired off with a Goose!
Miss Chaffers (consolingly). You're better off than I am, at all events—I've got a Puppy!
Mr. Duff. Have you? (After a pause—sentimentally.) Happy Puppy!
Miss C. He'll be anything but a happy Puppy if he doesn't win.
Mr. Duff. Oh, but he's sure to. I know I would, if I was your Puppy!
Miss C. I'm not so sure of that. Don't they lodge objections, or something, for boring?
Mr. Fanshawe. Can anybody inform me whether I'm expected to go and catch my Peacock? Because I'll be hanged if—
The Curate. Oh, Miss STELLA, it's all right—Mr. GATLING thinks that it would be better if he undertook the Monkey himself; so we've arranged to—
Miss Stella. Oh, nonsense, DICK! I can't have you taking advantage of Mr. HEADNOTE's good-nature like that. What's the use of drawing lots at all if you don't keep to them? Of course Mr. HEADNOTE will keep the Monkey.
[The unfortunate Curate accepts his lot with Christian resignation.
Dick. Well, that's settled—but I say, STELLA, where's my Mutton's moorings—and what's to be the course?
Stella. The course is straight up the Avenue from the Lodge to the House, and I've told them to get all the beasts down there ready for us; so we'd better go at once.
The Competitors. STELLA, my dear, mustn't Miss GRISSELL tell her kitten not to claw my Tortoise's head every time he pokes his poor nose out? It isn't fair, and it's damping all his enthusiasm!... Now, Colonel KEMPTON, it isn't the Puppy's fault—you know your Rabbit began it!... Hi, STELLA, hold on a bit, my Mutton wants to lie down. Mayn't I kick it up!... DUFF, old chap, your Goose is dragging her anchor again, back her engines a bit, or there'll be a foul.... Miss STELLA, I—I really don't think this Monkey is quite well—his teeth are chattering in such a very.... All right, padre, only his nasty temper—jerk the beggar's chain. More than that!
Chorus of Spectators at Lodge Gates. My word, I wonder what next the gentry'll be up to, I dew. Ain't Miss STELLA orderin' of 'en about! Now she's started 'en. They ain't not allowed to go 'ittin of 'en—got to go just wheeriver the animiles want. Lor, the guse is takin his genlm'n in among the treeses! Well, if iver I did! That theer tartus gits along, don't he? Passon don't seem com'fable along o' that monkey. I'll back the young sailor gent—keeps that sheep wunnerful stiddy, he do. There's the hold peacock puttin' on a bust now. Well, well, these be fine doin's for 'Auberk 'All, and no mistake. Make old Sir HALBERD stare if he was 'ere, &c., &c.
The Colonel (wrathfully to his Rabbit, which will do nothing but run round and round him). Stop that, will you, you little fool. Do you want to trip me up! Of all the dashed nonsense I ever—!
Mrs. Bangs. My! Colonel, you do seem to have got hold of a pretty insubordinate kind of a Rabbit, too!
The Colonel (looking round). Well, you aren't getting much pace out of your Tortoise either, if it comes to that!
Mrs. Bangs. He puts in most of his time in stoppages for rest and refreshment. I'm beginning to believe that old fable's a fraud. Anyway, it's my opinion this Tortoise isn't going to beat any hare—unless it's a jugged one.
Dick Gatling (in front, as his Sheep halts to crop the turf in a leisurely manner). We've not pulled up—only lying-to to take in supplies. We're going ahead directly. There, what did I tell you! Now she's tacking!
The Curate (in the rear). Poo' little Jacko, then—there, there, quietly now! Miss STELLA, what does it mean when it gibbers like that? (Sotto voce.) I wonder, if I let go the chain—
Mr. Duff (hauling his Goose towards Miss CHAFFERS). It's no use—I can't keep this beast from bolting off the course!
Miss C. Do keep it away from my Puppy, at all events. I know it will peck him, and he's perfectly happy licking my shoe—he's found out there's sugar-candy in the varnish.
Mr. Duff (solemnly). Yes, but I say, you know—that's all very well, but it's not making him race, is it? Now I am getting some running out of my Goose.
Miss C. Rather in-and-out-running, isn't it? (Cries of distress from the rear.) But what is the matter now? That poor dear Curate again!
The Curate (in agony). Here, I say, somebody! do help me! Miss STELLA, do speak to your monkey, please! It's jumped on my back, and it's pulling my hair—'ow!
[Most of the Competitors abandon their animals and rush to the rescue.
Dick Gatling (coming up later). Why on earth did you all jack up like that? You've missed a splendid finish! My Mutton was forging ahead like fun, when FANSHAWE's Peacock hoisted his sail, and drew alongside, and it was neck and neck. Only, as he had more neck than the Mutton, and stuck it out, he won by a beak. Look here, let's have it all over again!
[But the Monkey being up a tree, and the Colonel having surreptitiously got rid of his Rabbit among the bracken, and the Tortoise having retired within his shell and firmly declined to come out again, sport is abandoned for the afternoon, to the scarcely disguised relief of the Curate, who is prevented from remaining to tea by the pressure of parish-work.
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LADY GAY'S SELECTIONS.
Mount Street, Grosvenor Square.
DEAR MR. PUNCH,
Once more I am back in my London "pied-a-terre"—(but how it can he a pied-a-TERRE, I don't quite know, considering it's a flat on the fourth floor!—ridiculous language French is to be sure!)—and
very glad to get home again I assure you. I have spent the last few weeks in the Isle of Wight, which is a British Possession in the latitude of Spithead—(I don't know why Spithead should want any latitude, but it seems to take a good deal!)—sacred to Tourists, Char-a-bancs, and Pirates—the latter disguised as Lodging-letters!
While there we suffered severely from Regattas; which swarm in the Island at this season, and are hotly pursued by the visitors, with the deadly telescope. I myself was bitten once by the Regatta Bacteria, and very painful it was. My friend, Baron VON HODGEMANN, owner of the Anglesey, persuaded me to go on board for a race, and we travelled the whole thirty miles sitting at an angle of forty-five degrees, and singing the war-cry of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club!—
To the mast-head high we nail the Burge, When the north wind snores its dismal dirge! In the trough of the sea with a mighty splurge, The quiv'ring Yacht beats down the surge, And weathers the Warner Light!
This experience having inspired me with courage, I indulged in another flight of daring which required all the aplomb of a leader of Fashion to carry out successfully; and, though few of the "smart" Ladies of my set habitually indulge in the habit. I am happy to think I am encouraging them in a healthy and amusing pastime, which, in the Summer, may in time even rival Lawn Tennis! However—not to beat about the bush any longer—an utterly absurd expression this is!—as if it could hurt the bush to beat it!—to say nothing of the difficulty of keeping a bush always handy to beat!)—it is time I told you what this great achievement of mine was—I went paddling! There!—the secret is out!—the Fashion is set!—the new Summer Amusement discovered! The Rules of the Game are being written, and will shortly be published under the title, "Routledge's Etiquette of Paddling, for Ladies of Good Standing." I need hardly tell you that the first thing necessary is to find a secluded bay, and it is also advisable to collect a few children to take with you—(there are usually plenty left about on the beach from which you can make a selection)—as a sort of excuse;—no other implements are required for the game, in fact, superfluities are a nuisance and only get wet—thus equipped—the game can be played with freedom—(not from pebbles)—combined of course with propriety, and will be found amusing and invigorating—(quotation from the preface to the Book of Rules written by the eminent German Doctor, HERR SPLASHENWASSER—inventor of the Water-Cure.
The next Race meeting requiring attention takes place at Doncaster this week, and the most important race, I take it—at least, I don't take it—but the winner will—another senseless expression—is naturally the St. Leger, for which I make a poetic selection, which has cost me weeks of anxious thought, no "leger" task!—(French joke)—owing to the number of horses engaged, so few of which will run!
Yours devotedly, LADY GAY.
ST. LEGER SELECTION.
The best of the classic events of the year We are told by the students of "form," Is a foregone conclusion, 'tis perfectly clear, For the noble possessor of Orme.
[Footnote 1: This should really be Burgee, but then it wouldn't rhyme, and a Poet may drop a syllable, if he or she mayn't drop an H!]
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STUDIES IN THE NEW POETRY.
It may be objected that Mr. Punch's fifth example does not strictly conform to the canons laid down by him in his prefatory remarks to No. I. Mr. Punch neither admits nor denies the charge. He is convinced, however, that those who do him the honour to read these Studies, might justly complain if he failed to include in them an example of the work of a Poet who has shown our generation how rusticity and rhymes, cattle and Conservative convictions, peasants and patriotism, may be combined in verse. It is scarcely necessary to add that the author of the following magnificent piece is Mr. A-FR-D A-ST-N. Like others who might be named, he has not the honour to be an agricultural labourer; but no living man has sung at greater length of rural life, and its simple joys. Many of his admirers have asserted that Britain ought to have more than one Laureate, and that Mr. A-FR-D A-ST-N ought to be among the number. Others are not prepared to go quite so far. They have been heard to complain that cows and trees, and woodmen and farms, and sheep and wains, and hay and turnips, do not necessarily suggest the highest happiness, and that it is not always dignified for an aspiring Poet to be led about helpless through the byeways of sense by those wilful, wanton playfellows, his rhymes. The two factions may be left to fight out their quarrel over the present example, which, by the way, is not taken from the collected edition of the Poet's works.
IS LUNCH WORTH LUNCHING?
(BY A-FR-D A-ST-N.)
Is Lunch worth lunching? Go, dyspeptic man, Where in the meadows green the oxen munch. Is it not true that since our land began The horned ox hath given us steaks for lunch?
Steaks rump or otherwise, the prime sirloin, Sauced with the stinging radish of the horse. Beeves meditate and die; we pay our coin, And though the food be often tough and coarse,
We eat it, we, through whose bold British veins Bold British hearts drive bubbling British blood. No true-born Briton, come what may, disdains To eat the patient chewers of the cud.
Or seek the uplands, where of old Bo Peep (So runs the tale) lost all her fleecy flocks; There happy shepherds tend their grazing sheep (Some men like mutton, some prefer the ox).
Ay, surely it would need a heart of flint To watch the blithe lambs caper o'er the lea, And, watching them, refrain from thoughts of mint, Of new potatoes, and the sweet green pea.
Is Lunch worth lunching? The September sun Makes answer "Yes;" no longer must thou lag. Forth to the stubble, cynic; take thy gun, And add the juicy partridge to thy bag.
Out in the fields the keen-eyed pigeons coo; They fill their crops, and then away they fly. Pigeons are sometimes passable in stew, And always quite delicious in a pie.
Or pluck red-currants on some summer day, Then take of raspberries an equal part, Add cream and sugar—can mere words convey The luscious joys of this delightful tart?
Is Lunch worth lunching? If such cates should fail, Go out of country bread a solid hunch, Pile on it cheese, wash down with country ale, And, faring plainly, yet enjoy thy lunch.
Yea, this is truth, the lunch of knife and fork, The pic-nic lunch, spread out upon the earth, Lunches of beef, bread, mutton, veal, or pork, All, all, without exception all, are worth!
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NINETY-NINE OUT OF A HUNDRED CANDIDATES MUST BE "PILLED."—The Living of "Easington-with-Liverton, Yorkshire, worth L600 per annum," is vacant. Is it in the gift of the celebrated Dr. COCKLE? or of Dr. CARTER, of Little-Liverpill-Street fame?
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PLAYFUL HEIFERVESCENCE AT HAWARDEN.
[Mr. GLADSTONE met with an extraordinary adventure in Hawarden Park one day last week. A heifer, which had got loose, made for Mr. GLADSTONE as he was crossing the park, and knocked him down. Mr. GLADSTONE took refuge behind a tree. The heifer scampered off, and was subsequently shot.]
How happy could I be with heifer, If sure it were only her play. Is't LABBY? or Labour? Together In one? I'll get out of the way. Singing (to myself)—With my tol de rol de rol LABBY, &c.
She comes! On her horns she is playing A tune with a nourish or two! No cow-herd am I but my staying To play second fiddle won't do. Singing (to myself)—With my tol de rol tol-e-rate LABBY, &c.
Don't chivey her! I would allot her "Three acres," and lots of sweet hay. Alas! while I'm talking, they've shot her! Well! heifers, like dogs, have their day! Singing (to myself, as before)—With my tol lol de rol-licking LABBY, &c.
Latest.—After dinner, Mr. GLADSTONE fell asleep in his chair! He was seen to smile, although his repose seemed somewhat disturbed. Presently he was heard to murmur melodiously the words of the old song, slightly adapted to the most recent event,—"Heifer of thee I'm fondly dreaming!" Then a shudder ran through his frame as he pronounced softly a Latin sentence; it was "Labor omnia vincit!" Then he awoke.
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SONGS OUT OF SEASON.
It's a pleasure worth the danger, Deems your gorgeous DE LA PLUCHE, To become the main arranger Of a drive in your barouche; And your Coachman, honest JOE too, When approached thereon by JEAMES, Doesn't say exactly "no," to Such inviting little schemes.
JEAMES has doffed them "'orrid knee-things;" Plush gives way to tweed and socks; And a hamper with the tea-things, Fills his place upon the box; With MARIA, JANE, and HEMMA, He is playing archest games, And they're in the sweet dilemma, Who shall make the most of JAMES.
Mr. COACHMAN smokes his pipe on His accustomed throne of pride, And, through driving, keeps an eye 'pon All the revellers inside. Mrs. COACHMAN there is seated; Children twain are on her lapped, Who alternately are treated, And alternately are slapped.
While the painters haunt your mansion, And you're "Hup" "The Halps" or "Rhind," Your domestics find expansion In diversions of the kind; And on such a day as this is, They will drink the health at Kew, Of "The Master and the Missis, And their bloomin' kerridge too!"
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THE PALLIUM AND ARCHIEPISCOPAL OATH CONTROVERSY IN THE "TIMES."—No wonder this is a very dry subject, when they've got such a strong THURST-ON among them. Our advice, by way of moistening it, is, "Drop it!"
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"CLERGY FEES" (see "Times" Correspondence).—Growl of the Archiepiscopal Ogre & Co.:—
"Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell the coin of a Clergyman! Hath he fat glebe, be he ill-fee'd, ill-fed, I'll grab his fees to butter my bread!"
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A NIGHTLY CHEVALIER.
Music-Hall Artists are not by any means "Fixed Stars." During the evening they manage to accomplish the somewhat paradoxical-sounding feat of shining in the same parts, yet in different places and at different times, appearing everywhere with undiminished brilliancy. The Student of the Music-Hall Planetary system, has only by observation to ascertain the exact time and place of the appearance of his favourite bright particular Star, and then to pay his money, take his choice between sitting and standing, and like a true astronomer, he will—glass in hand, a strong glass too,—await the great event of the evening, calmly and contentedly.
If the Wirtuous Westender wandering down the Strand, after having on some previous nights exhausted the Pavilion and the elaborately gorgeous Variety Shows given at the Empire and Alhambra, seeks for awhile a resting-place wherein to enjoy his postprandial cigar, and be amused, if such an one will drop into the classic Tivoli, he will find excellent entertainment, that is as long as their present programme holds the field. The Holborn and the Oxford may delight him on other nights, for it seems that much the same Stars shine all around; but for the present, taking Tivoli as synonymous with Tibur, he may, with Horation humour, say to himself ("himself" being not a bad audience as a rule):—
"Holborn Tibur amem ventosus, Tivoli Holborn,"
and he can then enter the Tivoli, now under the benign rule of that old Music Hall Hand, CAROLUS MORTONIUS, M.A., Magister Agens, while the experienced Mr. VERNON DOWSETT—"Experientia Dowsett"—manages the stage. Good as is the entire show, and especially good as is the performance of Mr. CHARLES GODFREY as an old Chelsea Pensioner recounting to several little Peterkins a touching and heart-stirring tale of the Crimean War, yet for me, the Costermonger Songs of Mr. ALBERT CHEVALIER are the great attraction. His now well-known "Coster's Serenade," and his "Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road," are supplemented by a song and dialogue about a Coster's son, a precocious little chap, about three years old, and "only that 'igh, you know," in whom his father takes so great a pride that it works his own temporary reformation. It is so natural as to be just on the borderland between farce and pathos, and recalls time past, when ROBSON played The Porter's Knot, and such-like pieces. Now what more do Music Halls want than what Mr. CHEVALIER gives them? This is the very essence of a dramatic sketch of character, given in just the time it takes to sing the song,—that is, about ten minutes, if as much. The compact orchestra, under the directorship of Mr. ASHER, discourses excellent accompaniments, and the music of the CHEVALIER's songs—composed, I believe, by himself—is not the least among the attractions. The CHEVALIER, who, as he takes more than one turn every evening, may be termed a Knight Errant, is certainly the Coster's Laureate and accepted Representative in the West; the mine, which is his own, is inexhaustible. He is a magician in his own peculiar line, and may write himself ALBERTUS MAGNUS.
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"AL FRESCO," the Lightning Artist, whose full name is "ALFRED FRESCO," writes to suggest that the Alhambra under Mr. JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD's management should start a Rotten Row Galop and Kensington Gardens Quadrille to follow as in a series the highly successful Serpentine Dance.
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NOVEL QUARTETTE.—At the next Hereford Festival there will be performed a concerted piece by four Short Horns.
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THE POOR VIOLINIST.—AN EPISODE, IN THE STYLE OF STERNE.
"Le Luthier de Cremone," observed EUGENIUS, "is a pathetic story."
"Indeed, EUGENIUS," replied YORICK, "it is extremely touching. I protest I never read, or hear it, without emotion."
"The violin," pursued EUGENIUS, "most sensitive, and, as it were, soulful of human instruments, lends itself, with particular aptness, to the purposes of literary pathos."
"Dear Sensibility!" said I, "source inexhausted of all that is precious in our (poetical) joys, or costly in our (dramatic) sorrows!"
"It were well," continued YORICK, drily, "if it were also the source inexhausted of more that is quick in our sympathy, and practical in our beneficence. It is scarcely in the columns of the daily news-sheet that Sensibility usually seeks its much-sought stimulus. And yet but lately, in the corner of my paper, I encountered a piteous story that 'dear Sensibility' (had it been more romantically environed) might deliciously have luxuriated in. I protest 'twas as pathetic as those of MARIA LE FEVRE, or LA FLEUR. It was headed, "Sad Death of a Well-known Violinist."
"Prithee, dear YORICK, let me hear it," cried EUGENIUS.
"'Twas but the prosaic report of a Coroner's Inquest," pursued YORICK. "Sensibility would probably have 'skipped' the sordid circumstance. 'FREDERICK MARTIN, aged seventy-two, a well-known Violinist, and Professor of Music, formerly a member of the orchestra of the Italian Opera at Her Majesty's and Covent Garden Theatres,' found life too hard for him. That is all. 'The deceased, a bachelor.'—Heaven help him!—'had of late been afflicted with deafness, which hindered his pursuit of his profession, and' (the witness an old friend feared) 'he was recently in straitened circumstances, but he was too proud and independent to ask or accept assistance.' The old friend, Mr. LEWIS CHAPUY, Comedian, had 'frequently offered him hospitalities, which he never accepted.' Offered him hospitalities! Worthy comedian! In faith, EUGENIUS, 'tis delicately worded. True 'Sensibility' here, supplemented by practical sympathy. Both, alas! unavailing. Somewhat of the doggedly independent spirit of the boot-rejecting Dr. JOHNSON in this poor deaf violinist apparently. Verily, EUGENIUS, the story requires but the 'decorative art' of the literary sentimentalist to make it moving, even to the modish. The ingeniously emotional historian of LA FLEUR would have made much of it."
"My gentle heart already bleeds with it," said I. "But the upshot, YORICK; the sequel, my friend?"
"'Tis short and simple," responded YORICK. "'The afflicted Violinist' occupied a room at 34, Compton Street, Brunswick Square, in which he lived alone. He suffered from lumbago, as well as from a proud spirit and a broken heart. He had a dread of 'coming to the Workhouse.' Spectral fear which haunts ever the sensitive and poverty-stricken! Unreasonable? Perhaps. But not the less agonising. What comfort may Political Economy and an admirable Poor Law yield to proud-spirited victims of poverty?"
"But surely," said I, "the compassion of the stranger would gladly have poured oil and wine into the wounds of his spirit—or into poor afflicted MARIA's—had he only known."
"Doubtless," said YORICK. "But 'the great Sensorium of the World,' as—in 'mere pomp of words'—thou dost designate 'Dear Sensibility,' did not 'vibrate' to the case of this 'well-known Violinist'—until 'twas too late to vibrate to any useful purpose. He was 'found lying dead in his bed, fully dressed, with the exception of his hat and boots,' mute as the untouched strings of his own violin. 'He had died suddenly from syncope, or heart-failure.' Heart-failure, EUGENIUS. Doth not thy gentle heart fail at the thought? 'Dr. COLLEY found the body in an advanced stage of decomposition, and life had probably been extinct since the preceding Thursday night.' Prithee, Sir, is 'MARIA, sitting pensive under her poplar, more pathetic than this poor broken musician, dying alone, in his poverty and pride?"
"Indeed, no!" I responded, musingly.
"Those," continued YORICK, "who go, like the 'Knight of the Rueful Countenance,' in quest of melancholy adventures, need not to make deliberately 'Sentimental Journeys' through France, or Italy, or by forest or mountain, picturesque hamlet, or romantic stream. The purlieus of great cities amongst the poverty-stricken members of what it is usual to call the 'lower middle-classes,' will furnish multitudinous subjects for pensive thought, and—what were a whole world better—for practical benevolence. 'Tis too late, alas! to do aught for this dead Violinist, but were eyes and pen more sedulously and sympathetically employed about real, if sordid-seeming, in place of imaginary, if picturesque, woes, why verily, EUGENIUS, something more, perchance, might be done in such pitiful cases as that I have described to thee in non-journalistic language, than what was formally done by the Coroner's Jury, who—as they were bound to do, indeed—'returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.'"
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LETTERS TO ABSTRACTIONS.
NO. XIII.—TO IRRITATION.
I have just come home from my Club in a state bordering upon distraction. No great misfortune has happened to me, my dearest friend has not been black-balled, the Club bore has not had me in his unrelenting clutches. The waiters have been, as indeed they always are, civil and obliging, the excellent chef catered with his usual skill to my simple mid-day wants, my table companions were good-humoured, cheerful, and pleasantly cynical. What then, you may ask, has happened to shatter my nerves and impair my temper for the day? It is a simple matter, and I am almost ashamed to confess it openly. But I am encouraged by the fact that two eminently solid and, so far as I could see, perfectly unemotional gentlemen were as deeply pricked and worried by what happened as I was myself. To begin with, I do not admit that my nerves vibrate more easily than those of my fellow-men. I have never killed an organ-grinder, I am guiltless of the blood of a German band, I have even gone so far as to spare guards who asked for my railway-ticket after I had carefully wrapped myself up for a journey, and no touting vendor of subscription books or works of art can truthfully say that I have kicked him. On the whole I think I am reasonably even-tempered and of higher than average amiability. Others may judge me differently. I don't wish to quarrel with them. I simply reiterate my opinion. Why then am I to-day in a seething state of exception to my rule? Here is the cause:
After I had done with my luncheon, and had puffed a friendly cigar, I proceeded to that room in the Club which is specially dedicated to literature and silence. What a feast of multitudinous periodicals is there spread out, how brightly the variegated array of books from the circulating library attracts the leisurely, how dignified and awe-inspiring are the far-stretching ranks of accumulated volumes upon the shelves. And the carpet, how soft, and the chairs how comfortably easy. Into one of these chairs I sank with a religious novel (I merely mention the fact, whether for praise or blame I care not), and began to think deeply about various life-problems that have much distressed me. Why must men wear themselves out prematurely with labour? Why must we suffer? And why, granting the necessity for pain, should I occasionally sink under a toothache, while HARRISON, a blatant fellow with a red face and a loud voice, continues in a condition of robust and oppressive health? These speculations were not so painful and disturbing as might be supposed. Indeed, they had a soothing effect. From the rhythmical breathing and the closed eyes of two other occupants of arm-chairs, I judged that they were similarly occupied in philosophic reflection. I was just composing myself to a bout of specially hard thinking, when, lo, the door opened, and in stepped Dr. FUSSELL!
Everybody, I take it, knows Dr. FUSSELL. He is a member of countless learned Societies. Over many of them he presides, to some he acts as secretary. He reads papers on abstruse questions connected with sanitation, he dashes with a kind of wild war-whoop into impassioned newspaper controversies on the component elements of a dust particle, or the civilisation of the Syro-Phoenicians. He is acute, dialectical, scornful and furious. He denounces those who oppose him as the meanest of mankind, he extols his supporters as the most illustrious and reasonable of all who have benefited the human race. In the Club he is always engaged in some investigation which keeps him continuously skipping from bookshelf to bookshelf, climbing up ladders to reach the highest shelves, rushing up and down-stairs with sheaves of paper bulging in his coat-pockets, or stowed under his arms. He lays his top-hat on the table, and makes it a receptacle for reams of notes and volumes of projected essays. In a word, he is a human storm.
Well, in he came with his grey hair streaming over his forehead, and his eyes aflame. I knew in a moment that repose in his presence was out of the question, though I still sat on, hoping against hope. First, the Doctor bounded to the fire-place, seized the poker, and began to rummage the fire. It was a good fire, and had done nothing to deserve this punishment. I shifted on my seat; the two other philosophers opened their eyes and frowned, and still Dr. FUSSELL continued to rummage. Now I knew, not only that that fire was being poked on an entirely wrong principle, but that I alone knew how it ought to be poked. My fingers itched, my whole body tingled with excitement. At last Dr. FUSSELL ceased. In a moment I was out of my seat and making a bee-line for the poker. I just managed to beat the other two by a short head, seized the poker, and relieved my soul by stirring the fire on strictly scientific principles. The others watched me hungrily. When I had finished, each of them took a short turn with the poker, and then we all returned, more or less appeased, to our seats.
But we had not done with the ineffable FUSSELL. By this time he was on the top of a step-ladder. Slowly he selected six tomes, and began his perilous descent. Our eyes were riveted upon him. Crash, bang! His arms were empty, and the unconscionable books fluttered and clattered to the floor. Slowly and ruefully did FUSSELL descend into the cloud of dust and gather his bruised treasures from the carpet. At last he heaped them on his table, and began to write. We hoped for peace, but it was not to be. A sudden thought struck him. He would sew his scattered leaves of MS. together. With dreadful deliberation he took needle and cotton from a little pocket housewife that he carried with him; and then began one of the most maddening performances I have ever watched. Carefully he held the needle to the light, carefully he wetted and trimmed his cotton to a point. And for ten stricken minutes we saw him miss the eye of the needle, sometimes by an inch, sometimes by a hair's breadth. It was a thrilling contest between obstinacy and evasiveness. I was fascinated by it. Every time, as the cotton neared the eye, my heart slowly ascended into my mouth, only to drop with a fatal swiftness into my boots as the triumphant needle scored another victory. I began to imitate FUSSELL's every movement. I threaded invisible needles by the gross with imperceptible cotton. I felt in my own breast all the ardour of the chase, all the bitter sorrow of repeated failures. My two companions in misfortune were similarly affected, and there we sat, three sane and ordinary men, feverishly going through all these itching movements with FUSSELL as our detested, but unconscious fugleman. The strain became too great. I sprang from my chair, "Sir," I said to the astonished FUSSELL, "permit me; I learnt the art of threading needles as a boy from an East End seamstress," and before he had time to protest, I had seized the offending instruments, and by a stroke of inspiration had passed the cotton through. Then without waiting to hear what FUSSELL might have to say, I fled from the room. And here consequently I sit with my nerves shattered, and an untasted crumpet cooling on the tea-tray.
Am I singular? I think not. There are others whose mannerisms plague me too. For instance, TRUBERRY, whom I meet occasionally, has a wild and venomous habit of relating to me his infinitesimal jokelets. That I could pardon. But when, having related one, he bursts, as he always does, into a helpless suffocation of purple laughter, the savage within me awakes and I murder TRUBERRY in fancy to an accompaniment of refined and protracted tortures. Once, as I helped him on with his overcoat, he joked and exploded. My fingers were horribly near his throat. But I mastered the impulse, and TRUBERRY will never know how near he was to destruction. And to make matters worse, he is one of the kindest and most considerately helpful of human beings. Oh, IRRITATION, IRRITATION, you have much to answer for. The fly in the ointment of the apothecary was a baby to you. Avaunt, avaunt!
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THE VERY LATEST.—Mrs. RAM had a paragraph read to her from the D.T.'s "London Day by Day," recounting how the Archbishop of CANTERBURY when staying at Haddo House, had attended service in the parish Kirk, which conduct might have provoked High Churchmen to assail him for "bowing the knee in the House of Rimmon." Thinking it over afterwards, when she had muddled up the name in her usual fashion, our old friend Mrs. R. observed, with some humour, that she thought "the Archbishop had shown his good scents by going to the House of RIMMEL."
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