OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
December 13, 1890.
MR. PUNCH'S PRIZE NOVELS.
NO. IX.—THE CURSE OF COGNAC.
(By WATER DECANT, Author of "Chaplin off his Feet," "All Sorts of Editions for Men," "The Nuns in Dilemma," "The Cream he Tried," "Blue-the-Money Naughty-boy," "The Silver Gutter-Snipe," "All for a Farden Fare," "The Roley Hose," "Caramel of Stickinesse," &c., &c., &c.)
[Of this story the Author writes to us as follows:—"I can honestly recommend it, as calculated to lower the exaggerated cheerfulness which is apt to prevail at Christmas time. I consider it, therefore, to be eminently suited for a Christmas Annual. Families are advised to read it in detachments of four or five at a time. Married men who owe their wives' mothers a grudge should lock them into a bare room, with a guttering candle and this story. Death will be certain and not painless. I've got one or two rods in pickle for the publishers. You wait and see.—W.D."]
GEORGE GINSLING was alone in his College-rooms at Cambridge. His friends had just left him. They were quite the tip-top set in Christ's College, and the ashes of the cigarettes they had been smoking lay about the rich Axminster carpet. They had been talking about many things, as is the wont of young men, and one of them had particularly bothered GEORGE by asking him why he had refused a seat in the University Trial Eights after rowing No. 5 in his College boat. GEORGE had no answer ready, and had replied angrily. Now, he thought of many answers. This made him nervous. He paced quickly up and down the deserted room, sipping his seventh tumbler of brandy, as he walked. It was his invariable custom to drink seven tumblers of neat brandy every night to steady himself, and his College career had, in consequence, been quite unexceptionable up to the present moment. He used playfully to remind his Dean of PORSON's drunken epigram, and the good man always accepted this as an excuse for any false quantities in GEORGE's Greek Iambics. But to-night, as I have said, GEORGE was nervous with a strange nervousness, and he, therefore, went to bed, having previously blown out his candle and placed his Waterbury watch under his pillow, on the top of which sat a Devil wearing a thick jersey worked with large green spots on a yellow ground.
Now this Devil was a Water-Devil of the most pronounced type. His head-quarters were on the Thames at Barking, where there is a sewage outfall, and he had lately established a branch-office on the Cam, where he did a considerable business.
Occasionally, he would run down to Cambridge himself, to consult with his manager, and on these occasions he would indulge his playful humour by going out at night and sitting on the pillows of Undergraduates.
This was one of his nights out, and he had chosen GEORGE GINSLING's pillow as his seat.
* * * * *
GEORGE woke up with a start. What was this feeling in his throat? Had he swallowed his blanket, or his cocoa-nut matting? No, they were still in their respective places. He tore out his tongue and his tonsils, and examined them. They were on fire. This puzzled him. He replaced them. As he did so, a shower of red-hot coppers fell from his mouth on to his feet. The agony was awful. He howled, and danced about the room. Then he dashed at the whiskey, but the bottle ducked as he approached, and he failed to tackle it. Poor GEORGE, you see, was a rowing-man, not a football-player. Then he knew what he wanted. In his keeping-room were six carafes, full of Cambridge water, and a dozen bottles of Hunyadi Janos. He rushed in, and hurled himself upon the bottles with all his weight. The crash was dreadful. The foreign bottles, being poor, frail things, broke at once. He lapped up the liquid like a thirsty dog. The carafes survived. He crammed them with their awful contents, one after another, down his throat. Then he returned to his bed-room, seized his jug, and emptied it at one gulp. His bath was full. He lifted it in one hand, and drained it as dry as a University sermon. The thirst compelled him—drove him—made him—urged him—lashed him—forced him—shoved him—goaded him—to drink, drink, drink water, water, water! At last he was appeased. He had cried bitterly, and drunk up all his tears. He fell back on his bed, and slept for twenty-four hours, and the Devil went out and gave his gyp, STARLING, a complete set of instructions for use in case of flood.
STARLING was a pale, greasy man. He was a devil of a gyp. He went into GEORGE's bed-room and shook his master by the shoulder. GEORGE woke up.
"Bring me the College pump," he said. "I must have it. No, stay," he continued, as STARLING prepared to execute his orders, "a hair of the dog—bring it, quick, quick!"
STARLING gave him three. He always carried them about with him in case of accidents. GEORGE devoured them eagerly, recklessly. Then with a deep sigh of relief, he went stark staring mad, and bit STARLING in the fleshy part of the thigh, after which he fell fast asleep again. On awaking, he took his name off the College books, gave STARLING a cheque for L5000, broke off his engagement, but forgot to post the letter, and consulted a Doctor.
"What you want," said the Doctor, "is to be shut up for a year in the tap-room of a public-house. No water, only spirits. That must cure you."
So GEORGE ordered STARLING to hire a public-house in a populous district. When this was done, he went and lived there. But you scarcely need to be told that STARLING had not carried out his orders. How could he be expected to do that? Only fifty-six pages of my book had been written, and even publishers—the most abandoned people on the face of the earth—know that that amount won't make a Christmas Annual. So STARLING hired a Temperance Hotel. As I have said, he was a devil of a gyp.
The fact was this. One of GEORGE's great-great uncles had held a commission in the Blue Ribbon Army. GEORGE remembered this too late. The offer of a seat in the University Trial Eights must have suggested the blue ribbon which the University Crew wear on their straw hats. Thus the diabolical forces of heredity were roused to fever-heat, and the great-great uncle, with his blue ribbon, whose photograph hung in GEORGE's home over the parlour mantelpiece, became a living force in GEORGE's brain.
GEORGE GINSLING went and lived in a suburban neighbourhood. It was useless. He married a sweet girl with various spiteful relations. In vain. He changed his name to PUMPDRY, and conducted a local newspaper. Profitless striving. STARLING was always at hand, always ready with the patent filter, and as punctual in his appearances as the washing-bill or the East wind. I repeat, he was a devil of a gyp.
They found GEORGE GINSLING feet uppermost in six inches of water in the Daffodil Road reservoir. It was a large reservoir, and had been quite full before GEORGE began upon it. This was his record drink, and it killed him. His last words were, "If I had stuck to whiskey, this would never have happened."
* * * * *
"IT IS THE BOGIE MAN!"—BLACKIE'S Modern Cyclopedia. Nothing to do with the Christy Minstrel Entertainment, but a very useful work of reference, issued from the ancient house of publishers which is now quite BLACKIE with age. We have looked through the "B's" for "Bogie," but "The Bogie Man" is "Not there, not there, my child!" but he is to be found in that other BLACKIE's collection at the St. James's Hall, which Bogie Man is said to be the original of that ilk. Unde derivatur "Bogie"? Perhaps the next edition of BLACKIE's still-more-Modern-than-ever Cyclopedia will explain.
* * * * *
PARS ABOUT PICTURES (by Old Par).—At the Fine Art Society's Gallery I gazed upon the pictures of "Many-sided Nature" with great content, and came to the conclusion that Mr. ALBERT GOODWIN was a many-sided artist. "Now," said I, quoting SHAKSPEARE—Old Par's Improved Edition—"is the GOODWIN of our great content made glorious." O.P., who knows every inch of Abingdon, who has gazed upon Hastings from High Wickham, who is intimate with every brick in Dorchester, who loves every reed and ripple on the Thames, and has a considerable knowledge of the Rigi and Venice, can bear witness to the truth of the painter. There are over seventy pictures—every one worth looking at.
* * * * *
["Business!" cries the Sweater, when remonstrated with for paying the poor Match-box makers twopence-farthing or twopence-half-penny a gross, whilst his own profits reach 22-1/2 to 25 per cent.—Daily News.]
PUNCH TO THE SWEATING SHYLOCK.
Eh? "Business is business"? Sheer cant, Sir! Pure gammon? Of all the inhuman, sham Maxims of Mammon, This one is the worst, For under its cover lurks cruelty callous, With murderous meanness that merits the gallows, And avarice accurst.
Oh, well, I'm aware, Sir, how ruthless rapacity Loves to take shelter, with cunning mendacity 'Neath an old saw; But well says the scribe that such "business" is crime, Sir, And such would be but for gaps half the time, Sir, 'Twixt justice and law.
Bah! Many a man who's sheer rogue in reality, Hides the harsh knave in the mask of "legality." When 'tis too gross, Robbery's rash, but austere orthodoxies Countenance such things as modern match-boxes Nine-farthings a gross!
From seven till ten, and sometimes to eleven, For "six bob" a week. Ah! such life must be heaven; Whilst as for your "profit," That's bound to approach five-and-twenty per cent., That Sweaters shall thrive, let their tools be content With starvation in Tophet.
To starve's bad enough, but to starve and to work (Mrs. LABOUCHERE hints), the most patient may irk; And the lady is right— Business? On brutes who dare mouth such base trash, Mr. Punch, who loves justice and sense, lays his lash, With the greatest delight.
He knows the excuses advanced for the Sweater, But bad is the best, and, until you find better, 'Tis useless to cant Of freedom of contract, supply and demand, And all the cold sophistries ever on hand Sound sense to supplant.
A phrase takes the place of an argument often. And stomachs go empty, and brains slowly soften, And sense sick with dizziness, All in the name of the bosh men embody In one clap-trap phrase that dupes many a noddy, That—business is business!
Business? Yes, precious bad business for them, Sir, Whose joyless enslavement you take with such phlegm, Sir, Suppose, to enhance Their small share of ease, such as you, were content, Sir, To lower a trifle your precious "per cent.," Sir, And give them a chance!
* * * * *
* * * * *
In Camp and Studio, Mr. IRVING MONTAGU, some time on the artistic staff of The Illustrated London News, gives his experiences of the Russo-Turkish Campaign. He concisely sums up the qualifications of a War Correspondent by saying that he should "have an iron constitution, a laconic, incisive style, and sufficient tact to establish a safe and rapid connecting link between the forefront of battle and his own head-quarters in Fleet Street or elsewhere." As Mr. IRVING MONTAGU seems to have lived up to his ideal, it is a little astonishing to find the last chapters of his book devoted to Back in Bohemia, wherein he discourses of going to the Derby, a Hammersmith Desdemona, and of the Postlethwaites and Maudles, "whose peculiarities have been recorded by the facile pen of DU MAURIER." But as the author seems pleased with the reader, it would be indeed sad were the reader to find fault with the author. However, this may be said in his favour—he tells (at least) one good story. On his return from Plevna to Bohemia, a dinner was given in his honour at the Holborn Restaurant. Every detail was perfect—the only omission was forgetfulness on the part of the Committee to invite the guest of the evening! At the last moment the mistake was discovered, and a telegram was hurriedly despatched to Mr. MONTAGU, telling him that he was "wanted." On his arrival he was refused admittance to the dinner by the waiters, because he was not furnished with a ticket! Ultimately he was ushered into the Banqueting Hall, when everything necessarily ended happily.
One might imagine that Birthday Books have had their day, but apparently they still flourish, for HAZELL, WATSON, & VINEY publish yet another, under the title of Names we Love, and Places we Know. The first does not apply to our friends, but to the quotations selected, and places are shown by photos.
Of many Beneficent and Useful Lives, you will hear "in CHAMBERS,"—the reader sitting as judge on the various cases brought before him by Mr. ROBERT COCHRANE.
Unlucky will not be the little girl who reads the book with this name, by CAROLINE AUSTIN.
Everybody's Business, by ISMAY THORN, nobody likes interference, but in this case it proved the friend in need.
Chivalry, by LEON GAUTIER, translated by HENRY FRITH, is a chronicle of knighthood, its rules, and its deeds. To the scientific student, Discoveries and Inventions of the Nineteenth Century, by ROBERT ROUTLEDGE, B.S., F.C.S., will be interesting, and help him to discover a lot he does not know. Those who have not already read it, A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, by NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, will have a real treat in the myths related; Tanglewood Tales are included, and these are delightful for all. Rosebud, by Mrs. ADAMS ACTON, a tale for girls, who will love this bright little flower, bringing happiness all around.
Holly Leaves, the Special Number of The Sporting and Dramatic, is quite a seasonable decoration for the drawing-room table during the Christmas holidays.
My faithful "Co." has been reading Jack's Secret, by Mrs. LOVETT CAMERON, which, he says, has greatly pleased him. It has an interesting story, and is full of clever sketches of character. Jack, himself, is rather a weak personage, and scarcely deserves the good fortune which ultimately falls to his lot. After flirting with a born coquette, who treats him with a cruelty which is not altogether unmerited, he settles down with a thoroughly lovable little wife, and a seat in the House of Lords. From this it will be gathered that all ends happily. Jack's Secret will be let out by MUDIE's, and will be kept, for a considerable time—by the subscribers.
Girls will be the richer this year by Fifty-two more Stories for Girls, and boys will be delighted with Fifty-two more Stories for Boys, by many of the best authors: both these books are edited by ALFRED MILES, and published by HUTCHISON & Co. Lion Jack, by P.T. BARNUM, is an account of JACK's perilous adventures in capturing wild animals. If they weren't, of course, all true, Lyin' Jack would have been a better title.
Syd Belton, unlike most story-book boys, would not go to sea, but he was made to go, by the author, Mr. MANVILLE FENN. Once launched, he proved himself a British salt of the first water. Dumps and I, by Mrs. PARR, is a particularly pretty book for girls, and quite on a par with, her other works. METHUEN & CO. publish these.
Pictures and Stories from English History, and Royal Portrait Gallery, are two Royal Prize Books for the historical-minded child; they are published by T. NELSON AND SONS, as likewise "Fritz" of Prussia, Germany's Second Emperor, by LUCY TAYLOR. Dictionary of Idiomatic English Phrases, by JAMES MAIN DIXON, M.A., F.R.S.E., which may prove a useful guide to benighted foreigners in assisting them to solve the usual British vagaries of speech; like the commencement of the Dictionary, it is quite an "A1" book.
"Dear Diary!" as one of Mr. F.C. PHILLIPS's heroines used to address her little book, but DE LA RUE's are not "dear Diaries," nor particularly cheap ones. This publisher is quite the Artful Dodger in devising diaries in all shapes and sizes, from the big pocket-book to the more insidious waistcoat-pocket booklet,—"small by degrees, but beautifully less."
"Here's to you, TOM SMITH!"—it's BROWN in the song, but no matter,—"Here's to you," sings the Baron, "with all my heart!" Your comic gutta-percha-faced Crackers are a novelty; in fact, you've solved a difficulty by introducing into our old Christmas Crackers several new features.
This year the Baron gives the prize for pictorial amusement to LOTHAR MEGGENDORFER (Gods! what a name!), who, assisted by his publishers, GREVEL & CO., has produced an irresistibly funny book of movable figures, entitled Comic Actors. What these coloured actors do is so moving, that the spectators will be in fits of chuckling. Recommended, says THE BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
"WHERE IGNORANCE IS BLISS."
ARGUMENT.—EDWIN has taken ANGELINA, his fiancee, to an entertainment by a Mesmerist, and, wishing to set his doubts at rest, has gone upon the platform, and placed himself entirely at the Mesmerist's disposition. On rejoining ANGELINA, she has insisted upon being taken home immediately, and has cried all the way back in the hansom—much to EDWIN's perplexity. They are alone together, in a Morning-room; ANGELINA is still sobbing in an arm-chair, and EDWIN is rubbing his ear as he stands on the hearthrug.
Edwin. I say, ANGELINA, don't go on like this, or we shall have somebody coming in! I wouldn't have gone up if I'd known it would upset you like this; but I only wanted to make quite sure that the whole thing was humbug, and—(complacently)—I rather think I settled that.
Ang. (in choked accents). You settled that?—but how?... Oh, go away—I can't bear to think of it all! [Fresh outburst.
Ed. You're a little nervous, darling, that's all—and you see, I'm all right. I felt a little drowsy once, but I knew perfectly well what I was about all the time.
Ang. (with a bound). You knew?—then you were pretending—and you call that a good joke! Oh!
Ed. Hardly pretending. I just sat still, with my eyes shut, and the fellow stroked my face a bit. I waited to see if anything would come of it—and nothing did, that's all. At least, I'm not aware that I did anything peculiar. In fact, I'm certain I didn't. (Uneasily.) Eh, ANGELINA?
Ang. (indistinctly, owing to her face being buried in cushions). If you d-d-d-on't really know, you'd bub-bub-better-not ask—but I believe you do—quite well!
Ed. Look here, ANGIE, if I behaved at all out of the common, it's just as well that I should know it. I don't recollect it, that's all. Do pull yourself together, and tell me all about it.
Ang. (sitting up). Very well—if you will have it, you must. But you can't really have forgotten how you stood before the footlights, making the most horrible faces, as if you were in front of a looking-glass. All those other creatures were doing it, too; but, oh, EDWIN, yours were far the ugliest—they haunt me still.... I mustn't think of them—I won't! [Buries her face again.
Ed. (reddening painfully). No, I say—did I? not really—without humbug, ANGELINA!
Ang. You know best if it was without humbug! And, after that, he gave you a glass of cuc-cod-liver oil, and—and pup-pup-paraffin, and you dud-drank it up, and asked for more, and said it was the bub-bub-best Scotch whiskey you ever tasted. You oughtn't even to know about Scotch whiskey!
Ed. I can't know much if I did that. Odd I shouldn't remember it, though. Was that all?
Ang. Oh, no. After that you sang—a dreadful song—and pretended to accompany yourself on a broom. EDWIN, you know you did; you can't deny it!
Ed. I—I didn't know I could sing; and—did you say on a broom? It's bad enough for me already, ANGELINA, without howling! Well, I sang—and what then?
Ang. Then he put out a cane with a silver top close to your face, and you squinted at it, and followed it about everywhere with your nose; you must have known how utterly idiotic you looked!
Ed. (dropping into a chair). Not at the time.... Well, go on, ANGELINA; let's have it all. What next?
Ang. Next? Oh, next he told you you were the Champion Acrobat of the World, and you began to strike foolish attitudes, and turn great clumsy somersaults all over the stage, and you always came down on the flat of your back!
Ed. I thought I felt a trifle stiff. Somersaults, eh? Anything else? (With forced calm.)
Ang. I did think I should have died of shame when you danced?
Ed. Oh, I danced, did I? Hum—er—was I alone?
Ang. There were four other wretches dancing too, and you imitated a ballet. You were dressed up in an artificial wreath and a gug-gug-gauze skirt.
Ed. (collapsing). No?? I wasn't!... Heavens! What a bounder I must have looked! But I say, ANGIE, it was all right. I suppose? I mean to say I wasn't exactly vulgar, or that sort of thing, eh?
Ang. Not vulgar? Oh, EDWIN? I can only say I was truly thankful Mamma wasn't there!
Ed. (wincing). Now, don't, ANGELINA it's quite awful enough as it is. What beats me is how on earth I came to do it all.
Ang. You see, EDWIN, I wouldn't have minded so much if I had had the least idea you were like that.
Ed. Like that! Good Heavens. ANGIE, am I in the habit of making hideous grimaces before a looking-glass? Do you suppose I am given to over-indulgence in cod-liver oil and whatever the other beastliness was? Am I acrobatic in my calmer moments? Did you ever know me sing—with or without a broom? I'm a shy man by nature (pathetically), more shy than you think, perhaps,—and in my normal condition, I should be the last person to prance about in a gauze skirt for the amusement of a couple of hundred idiots? I don't believe I did, either!
Ang. (impressed by his evident sincerity). But you said you knew what you were about all the time!
Ed. I thought so, then. Now—well, hang it, I suppose there's more in this infernal Mesmerism than I fancied. There, it's no use talking about it—it's done. You—you won't mind shaking hands before I go, will you? Just for the last time?
Ang. (alarmed). Why—where are you going?
Ed. (desperate). Anywhere—go out and start on a ranche, or something, or join the Colonial Police force. Anything's better than staying on here after the stupendous ass I've made of myself!
Ang. But—but, EDWIN, I daresay nobody noticed it much.
Ed. According to you, I must have been a pretty conspicuous object.
Ang. Yes—only, you see, I—I daresay they'd only think you were a confederate or something—no, I don't mean that—but, after all, indeed you didn't make such very awful faces. I—I liked some of them!
Ed. (incredulously). But you said they haunted you—and then the oil, and the somersaults, and the ballet-dancing. No, it's no use, ANGELINA, I can see you'll never get over this. It's better to part and have done with it!
Ang. (gradually retracting). Oh, but listen. I—I didn't mean quite all I said just now. I mixed things up. It was really whiskey he gave you, only he said it was paraffin, and so you wouldn't drink it, and you did sing, but it was only about some place where an old horse died, and it was somebody else who had the broom! And you didn't dance nearly so much as the others, and—and whatever you did, you were never in the least ridiculous. (Earnestly). You weren't, really, EDWIN!
Ed. (relieved). Well. I thought you must have been exaggerating a little. Why, look here, for all you know, you may have been mistaking somebody else for me all the time—don't you see?
Ang. I—I am almost sure I did, now. Yes, why, of course—how stupid I have been! It was someone very like you—not you at all!
Ed. (resentfully). Well, I must say, ANGELINA, that to give a fellow a fright like this, all for nothing—
Ang. Yes—yes, it was all for nothing, it was so silly of me. Forgive me, EDWIN, please!
Ed. (still aggrieved). I know for a fact that I didn't so much as leave my chair, and to say I danced, ANGELINA!
Ang. (eagerly). But I don't. I remember now, you sat perfectly still the whole time, he—he said he could do nothing with you, don't you recollect? (Aside.) Oh, what stories I'm telling!
Ed. (with recovered dignity). Of course I recollect—perfectly. Well, ANGELINA, I'm not annoyed, of course, darling; but another time, you should really try to observe more closely what is done and who does it—before making all this fuss about nothing.
Ang. But you won't go and be mesmerised again, EDWIN—not after this?
Ed. Well, you see, as I always said, it hasn't the slightest effect on me. But from what I observed, I am perfectly satisfied that the whole thing is a fraud. All those other fellows were obviously accomplices, or they'd never have gone through such absurd antics—would they now?
Ang. (meekly). No, dear, of course not. But don't let's talk any more about it. There are so many things it's no use trying to explain.
* * * * *
HOW IT'S DONE.
(A HAND-BOOK TO HONESTY.)
NO. VII.—SELLING A HORSE.
SCENE I.—A Horse-Sale. Inexperienced Person, in search of a cheap but sound animal for business purposes, looking on in a nervous and undecided manner, half tempted to bid for the horse at present under the hammer. To him approaches a grave and closely-shaven personage, in black garments, of clerical cut, a dirty-white tie, and a crush felt hat.
Clerical Gent. They are running that flea-bitten grey up pretty well, are they not. Sir?
Inexperienced Person. Ahem! ye-es, I suppose they are. I—er—was half thinking of bidding myself, but it's going a bit beyond me, I fear.
C.G. Ah, plant, Sir—to speak the language of these horsey vulgarians—a regular plant! You are better out of it, believe me.
I.P. In-deed! You don't say so?
C.G. (sighing). Only too true. Sir. Why—(in a gush of confidence)—look at my own case. Being obliged to leave the country, and give up my carriage, I put my horse into this sale, at a very low reserve of twenty pounds. (Entre nous, it's worth at least double that.) Between the Auctioneer, and a couple of rascally horse-dealers—who I found out, by pure accident, wanted my animal particularly for a match pair—the sale of my horse is what they call "bunnicked up." Then they come to me, and offer me money. I spot their game, and am so indignant that I'll have nothing to do with them, at any price. Wouldn't sell dear old Bogey, whom my wife and children are so fond of, to such brutal blackguards, on any consideration. No, Sir, the horse has done me good service—a sounder nag never walked on four hoofs; and I'd rather sell it to a good, kind master, for twenty pounds, aye, or even eighteen, than let these rascals have it, though they have run up as high as thirty q——, ahem! guineas.
I.P. Have they indeed, now? And what have you done with the horse?
C.G. Put it into livery close by, Sir. And, unless I can find a good master for it, by Jove, I'll take it back again, and give it away to a friend. Perhaps, Sir, you'd like to have a look at the animal. The stables are only in the next street, and—as a friend, and with no eye to business—I should be pleased to show poor Bogey to anyone so sympathetic as yourself.
[I.P., after some further chat of a friendly nature, agrees to go and "run his eye over him."
SCENE II.—Greengrocer's yard at side of a seedy house in a shabby street, slimy and straw-bestrewn. Yard is paved with lumpy, irregular cobbles, and some sooty and shaky-looking sheds stand at the bottom thereof. Enter together, Clerical Gent and Inexperienced Person.
C.G. (smiling apologetically). Not exactly palatial premises for an animal used to my stables at Wickham-in-the-Wold! But I know these people, Sir; they are kind as Christians, and as honest as the day. Hoy! TOM! TOM!! TOM!!! Are you there, TOM? [From the shed emerges a very small boy with very short hair, and a very long livery, several sizes too large for him, the tail of the brass-buttoned coat and the bottoms of the baggy trousers alike sweeping the cobbles as he shambles forward]. (C.G. genially.) Ah, there you are, TOM, my lad. Bring out dear old Bogey, and show it to my friend here. [Boy leads out a rusty roan Rosinante, high in bone, and low in flesh, with prominent hocks, and splay hoofs, which stumble gingerly over the cobbles.] (Patting the horse affectionately.) Ah, poor old Bogey, he doesn't like these lumpy stones, does he? Not used to them, Sir. My stable-yard at Wickham-in-the-Wold, is as smoothly paved as—as the Alhambra, Sir. I always consider my animals, Sir. A merciful man is merciful to his beast, as the good book says. But isn't he a Beauty?
I.P. Well—ahem!—ye-es; he looks a kind, gentle, steady sort of a creature. But—ahem!—what's the matter with his knees?
C.G. Oh, nothing, Sir, nothing at all. Only a habit he has got along of kind treatment. Like us when we "stand at ease," you know, a bit baggy, that's all. You should see him after a twenty miles spin along our Wickham roads, when my wife and I are doing a round of visits among the neighbouring gentry. Ah, Bogey, Bogey, old boy—kissing his nose—I don't know what Mrs. G. and the girls will say when they hear I've parted with you—if I do, if I do.
Enter two horsey-looking Men as though in search of something.
First Horsey Man. Ah, here you are. Well, look 'ere, are you going to take Thirty Pounds for that horse o' yourn? Yes or No!
C.G. (turning upon them with dignity). No, Sir; most emphatically No! I've told you before I will not sell him to you at any price. Have the goodness to leave us—at once, I'm engaged with my friend here.
[Horsey Men turn away despondently. Enter hurriedly, a shabby-looking Groom.
Groom. Oh, look here, Mister—er—er—wot's yer name? His Lordship wants to know whether you'll take his offer of Thirty-five Pounds—or Guineas—for that roan. He wouldn't offer as much, only it happens jest to match—
C.G. (with great decisiveness). Inform his Lordship, with my compliments, that I regret to be entirely unable to entertain his proposition.
Groom. Oh, very well. But I wish you'd jest step out and tell his Lordship so yerself. He's jest round the corner at the 'otel entrance, a flicking of his boots, as irritated as a blue-bottle caught in a cowcumber frame.
C.G. Oh, certainly, with pleasure. (To I.P.) If you'll excuse me, Sir, just one moment, I'll step out and speak to his Lordship.
[Exit, followed by Groom.
Horsey Person (making a rush at I.P. as soon as C.G. has disappeared, speaking in a breathless hurry). Now lookye here, guv'nor—sharp's the word! He'll be back in arf a jiff. You buy that 'oss! He won't sell it to us, bust 'im; but you've got 'im in a string, you 'ave. He'll sell it to you for eighteen quid—p'raps sixteen. Buy it, Sir, buy it! We'll be outside, by the pub at the corner, my pal and me, and—(producing notes)—we'll take it off you agen for thirty pounds, and glad o' the charnce. We want it pertikler, we do, and you can 'elp us, and put ten quid in your own pocket too as easy as be blowed. Ah! here he is! Mum's the word! Round the corner by the pub! [Exeunt hurriedly.
Clerical Gent (blandly). Ah! that's settled. His Lordship was angry, but I was firm. Take Bogey back to the stable, TOM—unless, of course—(looking significantly at Inexperienced Person).
Inexperienced Person (hesitating). Well, I'm not sure but what the animal would suit me, and—ahem!—if you care to trust it to me—
Clerical Gent (joyously). Trust it to you, Sir? Why, with pleasure, with every confidence. Dear old Bogey! He'll be happy with such a master—ah, and do him service too. I tell you, Sir, that horse, to a quiet, considerate sort o' gent like yourself, who wants to work his animal, not to wear it out, is worth forty pound, every penny of it—and cheap at the price!
I.P. Thanks! And—ah—what is the figure?
C.G. Why—ah—eighteen—no, dash it!—sixteen to you, and say no more about it.
[Inexperienced Person closes with the offer, hands notes to Clerical Gent (who, under pressure of business, hurries off), takes Bogey from the grinning groom-lad, leads him—with difficulty—out into the street, searches vainly for the two horsey Men, who, like "his Lordship," have utterly and finally disappeared, and finds himself left alone in a bye-thoroughfare with a "horse," which he cannot get along anyhow, and which he is presently glad to part with to a knacker for thirty shillings.
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WRITE AND WRONG.
As so many private letters are sold at public sales nowadays, it has become necessary to consider the purport of every epistle regarded, so to speak, from a post-mortem point of view. If a public man expresses a confidential opinion in the fulness of his heart to an intimate friend, or proposes an act of charity to a cherished relative, he may rest assured that, sooner or later, both communications will be published to an unsympathetic and autograph-hunting world. Under these circumstances it may be well to answer the simplest communications in the most guarded manner possible. For instance, a reply to a tender of hospitality might run as follows:—
Private and Confidential. Not negotiable.
Mr. DASH BLANK has much pleasure in accepting Mr. BLANK DASH's invitation to dinner on the 8th inst.
N.B.—This letter is the property of the Writer. Not for publication. All rights reserved.
Or, if the writer feels that his letter, if it gets into the hands of the executors, will be sold, he must adopt another plan. It will be then his object to so mix up abuse of the possible vendors with ordinary matter, that they (the possible vendors) may shrink, after the death of the recipient, from making their own condemnation public. The following may serve as a model for a communication of this character. The words printed in italics in the body of the letter are the antidotal abuse introduced to prevent a posthumous sale by possible executors.
Private and Confidential. Not to be published. Signature a forgery.
DEAR OLD MAN,—I nearly completed my book. Your nephew, TOM LESLEIGH, is an ass. My wife is slowly recovering from influenza. Your Aunt, JANE JENKINS, wears a wig. TOMMY, you will be glad to learn, has come out first of twenty in his new class at school. Your Uncle, BENJAMIN GRAHAM, is a twaddling old bore. I am thinking of spending the Midsummer holidays with the boys and their mother at Broadstairs. Your Cousin, JACK JUGGERLY, is a sweep that doesn't belong to a single respectable Club. Trusting that you will burn this letter, to prevent its sale after we are gone,
I remain, yours affectionately,
N.B.—The foregoing letter is the property of the Author, and, as it is only intended for private circulation, must not be printed. Solicitors address,—Ely Place.
But perhaps the best plan will be, not to write at all. The telegraph, at the end of the century, costs but a halfpenny a word, and we seem to be within measurable distance of the universal adoption of the telephone. Under these circumstances, it is easy to take heed of the warning contained in that classical puzzle of our childhood, Litera scripta manet.
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A QUESTION OF TASTE.
Mr. Punch. Well, Madam, what can I do for you?
Female (of Uncertain Age, gushingly). A very great favour, my dear Sir; it is a matter of sanitation.
Mr. P. (coldly). I am at your service, Madam, but I would remind you that I have no time to listen to frivolous complaints.
Fem. I would ask you—do you think that a building open to the public should be crowded with double as many persons as it can conveniently hold?
Mr. P. Depends upon circumstances, Madam. It might possibly be excusable in a Church, assuming that the means of egress were sufficient. Of what building do you wish to complain?
Fem. Of the Old Bailey—you know, the Central Criminal Court.
Mr. P. Have you to object to the accommodation afforded you in the Dock?
Fem. I was not in the Dock!
Mr. P. (dryly). That is the only place (when not in the Witness-Box) suitable for women at the Old Bailey. I cannot imagine that they would go to that unhappy spot of their own free will.
Fem. (astonished). Not to see a Murder trial? Then you are evidently unaccustomed to ladies' society.
Mr. P. (severely). I do not meet ladies at the Old Bailey.
Fem. (bridling up). Indeed! But that is nothing to do with the matter of the overcrowding. Fancy, with our boasted civilisation—I was half stifled!
Mr. P. It is a pity, with our boasted civilisation, that you were not stifled—quite! (Severely.) You can go!
[The Female retires, with an expression worthy of her proper place—the Chamber of Horrors!
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(COMPILED A LA MODE.)
I have so often been urged by my friends to write my autobiography, that at length I have taken up my pen to comply with their wishes. My memory, although I may occasionally become slightly mixed, is still excellent, and having been born in the first year of the present century I consequently can remember both the Plague and Fire of London. The latter is memorable to me as having been the cause of my introduction to Sir CHRISTOPHER WREN, an architect of some note, and an intimate friend of Sir JOSHUA REYNOLDS, and the late Mr. TURNER, R.A. Sir CHRISTOPHER had but one failing—he was never sober. To the day of his death he was under the impression that St. Paul's was St. Peter's!
One of my earliest recollections is the great physician HARVEY, who, indeed, knew me from my birth. Although an exceedingly able man, he was a confirmed glutton. He would at the most ceremonious of dinner-parties push his way through the guests (treating ladies and gentlemen with the like discourtesy) and plumping himself down in front of the turtle soup, would help himself to the entire contents of the tureen, plus the green fat! During the last years of his life he abandoned medicine to give his attention to cookery, and (so I have been told) ultimately invented a fish sauce!
I knew HOWARD, the so-called philanthropist, very well. He was particularly fond of dress, although extremely economical in his washing bill. It was his delight to visit the various prisons and obtain a hideous pleasure in watching the tortures of the poor wretches therein incarcerated. He was fined and imprisoned for ill-treating a cat, if my memory does not play me false. I have been told that he once stole a pockethandkerchief, but at this distance of time cannot remember where I heard the story.
It is one of my proudest recollections that, in early youth, I had the honour of being presented to her late most gracious Majesty, Queen ANNE, of glorious memory. The drawing-room was held at Buckingham Palace, which in those days was situated on the site now occupied by Marlborough House. I accompanied my mother, who wore, I remember, yellow brocade, and a wreath of red roses, without feathers. Round the throne were grouped—the Duke of MARLBOROUGH (who kept in the background because he had just been defeated at Fontenoy), Lord PALMERSTON, nick-named "Cupid" by Mistress NELL GWYNNE (a well-known Court beauty), Mr. GARRICK, and Signor GRIMALDI, two Actors of repute, and Cardinal WISEMAN, the Papal Nuncio. Her Majesty was most gracious to me, and introduced me to one of her predecessors, Queen ELIZABETH, a reputed daughter of King HENRY THE EIGHTH. Both Ladies laughed heartily at my curls, which in those days were more plentiful than they are now. I was rather alarmed at their lurching forward as I passed them, but was reassured when the Earl of ROCHESTER (the Lord Chamberlain) whispered in my ear that the Royal relatives had been lunching. As I left the presence, I noticed that both their Majesties were fast asleep.
I have just mentioned Lord ROCHESTER, whose acquaintance I had the honour to possess. He was extremely austere, and very much disliked by the fair sex. On one occasion it was my privilege to clean his shoes. He had but one failing—he habitually cheated at cards. I will now tell a few stories of the like character about Bishop WILBERFORCE, THACKERAY, Mrs. FRY, PEABODY, WALTER SCOTT, and Father MATTHEW.
[No you don't, my venerable twaddler!—ED.]
* * * * *
THE LARGE CIGAR.
You lie on the oaken mantle-shelf, A cigar of high degree, An old cigar, a large cigar, A cigar that was given to me. The house-flies bite you day by day— Bite you, and kick, and sigh— And I do not know what the insects say, But they creep away and die.
My friends they take you gently up, And lay you gently down; They never saw a weed so big, Or quite so deadly brown. They, as a rule, smoke anything They pick up free of charge; But they leave you to rest while the bulbuls sing Through the night, my own, my large!
The dust lies thick on your bloated form, And the year draws to its close, And the baccy-jar's been emptied—by My laundress, I suppose. Smokeless and hopeless, with reeling brain, I turn to the oaken shelf, And take you down, while my hot tears rain, And smoke you, you brute, myself.
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* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Commons, Monday, December 1.—Tithes Bill down for Second Reading. GRAND YOUNG GARDNER places Amendment on the paper, which secures for him opportunity of making a speech. Having availed himself of this, did not move his Amendment; opening thus made for STUART-RENDEL, who had another Amendment on the paper. Would he move it? Only excitement of Debate settled round this point. Under good old Tory Government new things in Parliamentary procedure constantly achieved. Supposing half-a-dozen Members got together, drew up a number of Amendments, then ballot for precedence, they might arrange Debate without interposition of SPEAKER. First man gets off his speech, omits to move Amendment: second would come on, and so on, on to the end of list. But STUART-RENDEL moved Amendment, and on this Debate turned.
Not very lively affair, regarded as reflex of passionate protestation of angry little Wales. OSBORNE AP MORGAN made capital speech, but few remained to listen. Welshmen at outset meant to carry Debate over to next day; couldn't be done; and by half-past eleven, STUART-RENDEL's Amendment negatived by rattling majority.
Fact is, gallant little Wales was swamped by irruptive Ireland. To-day, first meeting of actual Home Rule Parliament held, and everybody watching its course. This historic meeting gathered in Committee-room No. 15; question purely one of Home Rule; decided, after some deliberation, that, in order to have proceedings in due dramatic form, there should be incorporated with the meeting an eviction scene. After prolonged Debate, concluded that, to do the thing thoroughly, they should select PARNELL as subject of eviction.
"No use," TIM HEALY said, "in half-doing the thing. The eyes of the Universe are fixed upon us. Let us give them a show for their money."
PARNELL, at first, demurred; took exception on the ground that, as he had no fixed place of residence, he was not convenient subject for eviction; objection over-ruled; then PARNELL insisted that, if he yielded on this point, he must preside over proceedings. TIM and the rest urged that it was not usual, when a man's conduct is under consideration upon a grave charge, that he should take the Chair. Drawing upon the resources of personal observation, Dr. TANNER remarked that he did not remember any case in which the holder of a tenure, suffering process of eviction, bossed the concern, acting simultaneously, as it were, as the subject of the eviction process, and the resident Magistrate.
Whilst conversation going on, PARNELL had unobserved taken the Chair, and now ruled Dr. TANNER out of order.
House sat at Twelve o'Clock; at One the Speaker (Mr. PARNELL), interrupting SEXTON in passage of passionate eloquence, said he thought this would be convenient opportunity for going out to his chop. So he went off; Debate interrupted for an hour; resumed at One, and continued, with brief intervals for refreshment, up till close upon midnight. Proceedings conducted with closed doors, but along the corridor, from time to time, rolled echoes which seemed to indicate that the first meeting of the Home-Rule Parliament was not lacking inanimation.
"I think they are a little 'eated, Sir," said the policeman on duty outside. "Man and boy I've been in charge of this beat for twenty years; usually a quiet spot; this sudden row rather trying for one getting up in years. Do you think, Sir, that, seeing it's an eviction, the Police can under the Act claim Compensation for Disturbance?"
Promised to put question on subject to JOKIM.
Long dispute on point of order raised by NOLAN. TIM HEALY referring to difficulty of dislodging PARNELL, alluded to him as "Sitting Bull." Clamour from Parnellite section anxious for preservation of decency of debate. Speaker said, question most important. Irish Parliament in its infancy; above all things essential they should well consider precedents. Must reserve decision as to whether the phrase was Parliamentary; would suggest, therefore, that House should adjourn five weeks. On this point Debate proceeded up to midnight.
Business done.—In British Parliament Tithes Bill read a Second Time; in Irish (which sat four hours longer), None.
Tuesday.—Cork Parliament still sitting upstairs in Committee Room No. 15, debating question of adjournment. We hear them occasionally through open doors and down long corridor. Once a tremendous yell shook building.
"What's that?" I asked DICK POWER, who happened to be taking glass of sherry-wine at Bar in Lobby.
"That," said RICHARD, "is the Irish wolves crying for the blood of PARNELL," and DICK, tossing down his sherry-wine, as if he had a personal quarrel with it, hurried back to the shambles.
Quite a changed man! No longer the debonnaire DICK, whose light heart and high spirits made him a favourite everywhere. Politics have suddenly become a serious thing, and DICK POWER is saddened with them.
"I take bitters with my sherry-wine now," DICK mentioned just now in sort of apologetic way at having been discovered, as it were, feasting in the house of mourning. "At the present sad juncture, to drink sherry-wine with all its untamed richness might, I feel, smack of callousness. Therefore I tell the man to dash it with bitters, which, whilst it has a penitential sound, adds a not untoothsome flavour in anticipation of dinner."
Even with this small comfort ten years added to his age; grey hairs gleam among his hyacinthine locks; his back is bent; his shoes are clogged with lead. A sad sight; makes one wish the pitiful business was over, and RICHARD himself again.
All the best of the Irish Members, whether Cavaliers or Cromwellians, are depressed in same way. Came upon SWIFT MacNEILL in retired recess in Library this afternoon; standing up with right hand in trouser-pocket, and left hand extended (his favourite oratorical attitude in happier times) smiling in really violent fashion.
"What are you playing at?" I asked him, noticing with curiosity that whilst his mouth was, so to speak, wreathed in smiles, a tear dewed the fringe of his closed eyelids.
"Ah, TOBY, is that you?" he said, "I didn't see you coming. The fact is I came over here by myself to have me last smile."
"Well, you're making the most of it," I said, wishing to encourage him.
"I generally do, and as this is me last, I'm not stinting measurement. They're sad times we've fallen on. Just when it seemed victory was within our grasp it is snatched away, and we are, as one may say, flung on the dunghill amid the wreck of our country's hopes and aspirations. This is not a time to make merry. Me country's ruined, and SWIFT MacNEILL smiles no more."
With that he shut up his jaws with a snap, and strode off. I'm sorry he should take the matter to heart so seriously. We shall miss that smile.
Business done.—Irish Land Bill in British Parliament. Cork Parliament still sitting.
Thursday.—Cork Parliament still sitting; PARNELL predominant; issues getting a little mixed; understood that Session summoned to decide whether, in view of certain proceedings before Mr. Justice BUTT, PARNELL should be permitted to retain Leadership. Everything been discussed but that. Things got so muddled up, that O'KEEFE, walking about, bowed with anxious thought, not quite certain whether it is TIM HEALY, SEXTON, or JUSTIN McCARTHY, who was involved in recent Divorce suit. Certainly, it couldn't have been PARNELL, who to-day suggests that the opportunity is fitting for putting Mr. G. in a tight place.
"You go to him," says PARNELL, "and demand certain pledges on Home Rule scheme. If he does not consent, he will be in a hole; threatened with loss of Irish Vote. You will be in a dilemma, as you cannot then side with him against me, the real friend of Ireland; whilst I shall be confirmed in my position as the only possible Leader of the Party. If, on the contrary, this unrivalled sophist is drawn into anything like a declaration that will satisfy you in the face of the Irish People, he will be hopelessly embarrassed with his English friends; I shall have paid off an old score, and can afford to retire from the Leadership, certain that in a few months the Irish People will clamour for the return of the man who showed that, if only he could serve them, he was ready to sacrifice his personal position and advantages. Don't, Gentlemen, let us, at a crisis like this, descend to topics of mere personality. In spite of what has passed at this table, I should like to shield my honourable friends, Mr. TIMOTHY HEALY, Mr. SEXTON, and that beau ideal of an Irish Member, Mr. JUSTIN McCARTHY, from references, of a kind peculiarly painful to them, to certain proceedings in a court of law with respect to which I will, before I sit down, say this, that, if all the facts were known, they would be held absolutely free from imputation of irregularity."
General cheering greeted this speech. Members shook hands all round, and nominated Committee to go off and make things hot for Mr. G. Business done.—In British House Prince ARTHUR expounded Scheme for Relief of Irish Distress.
Friday.—A dark shadow falls on House to-day. Mrs. PEEL died this morning, and our SPEAKER sits by a lonely hearth, OLD MORALITY, in his very best style, speaking with the simple language of a kind heart, voices the prevalent feeling. Mr. G., always at his best on these occasions, adds some words, though, as he finely says, any expression of sympathy is but inadequate medicine for so severe a hurt. Members reverently uncover whilst these brief speeches are made. That is a movement shown only when a Royal Message is read; and here is mention of a Message from the greatest and final King. Mrs. PEEL, though the wife of the First Commoner in the land, was not une grande dame. She was a kindly, homely lady, of unaffected manner, with keen sympathies for all that was bright and good. Every Member feels that something is lost to the House of Commons now that she lies still in her chamber at Speaker's Court.
* * * * *
THE DRAMA ON CRUTCHES.—A Mr. GREIN has suggested, according to some Friday notes in the D.T., a scheme for subsidising a theatre and founding a Dramatic School. The latter, apparently, is not to aid the healthy but the decrepit drama, as it is intended "to afford succour to old or disabled actors and actresses." Why then call it a "Dramatic School?" Better style it, a "Dramatic-Second-Infancy-School."
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DEATH IN THE FIELD.—If things go on as they have been going lately, the statisticians who compile the "Public Health" averages will have to include, as one important item in their "Death Rates," the ravages of that annual epidemic popularly known as—Football!
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"JUSTICE FOR IRELAND!"—The contest on the Chairmanship of the Irish Parliamentary Party may be summed up:—PARNELL—Just out, McCARTHY Just in.
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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.