OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
November 22, 1890.
* * * * *
A GOOD-NATURED TEMPEST.
It was stated in the Echo that, during the late storm, a brig "brought into Dover harbour two men, with their ribs and arms broken by a squall off Beachy Head. The deck-house and steering-gear were carried away, and the men taken to Dover Hospital." Who shall say, after this, that storms do not temper severity with kindness? This particular one, it is true, broke some ribs and arms, and carried away portions of a brig, but, in the very act of doing this, it took the sufferers, and laid them, apparently, on the steps of Dover Hospital. If we must have storms, may they all imitate this motherly example.
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"WHAT A WONDERFUL BO-OY!"—In the Head-Master's Guide for November, in the list of applicants for Masterships, appears a gentleman who offers to teach Mathematics, Euclid, Arithmetic, Algebra, Natural Science, History, Geography, Book-keeping, French Grammar, Freehand, and Perspective Drawing, the Piano, the Organ, and the Harmonium, and Singing, for the modest salary of L20 a-year without a residence! But it is only just to add; that this person seems to be of marvellous origin, for although he admits extreme youth (he says he is only three years of age!) he boasts ten years of experience! O si sic omnes! So wise, so young, so cheap!
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If spectacular effects are worth remembering, then Sheriff DRURIOLANUS ought to be a member of the Spectacle-makers' Company.
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ALICE IN BLUNDERLAND.
(ON THE NINTH OF NOVEMBER.)
["Our difficulties are such as these—that America has instituted a vast system of prohibitive tariffs, mainly, I believe, because ... American pigs do not receive proper treatment at the hands of Europe.... If we have any difficulty with our good neighbours in France, it is because of that unintelligent animal the lobster; and if we have any difficulty with our good neighbours in America, it is because of that not very much nobler animal, the seal."—Lord Salisbury at the Mansion House.]
The Real Turtle sang this, very slowly, and sadly:—
"We are getting quite important," said the Porker to the Seal, "For we're 'European Questions,' as a Premier seems to feel. See the 'unintelligent' Lobster, even he, makes an advance! Oh, we lead the Politicians of the earth a pretty dance. Will you, won't you, Yankee Doodle, England, and gay France. Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, let us lead the dance?
"You can really have no notion how delightful it will be, When they take us up as matters of the High Diplomacee." But the Seal replied, "They brain us!" and he gave a look askance At the goggle-eyed mailed Lobster, who was loved (and boiled) by France. "Would they, could they, would they, could they, give us half a chance? Lobsters, Pigs, and Seals all suffer, Commerce to advance!"
"What matters it how grand we are!" his plated friend replied, If our destiny is Salad, or the Sausage boiled or fried? Though we breed strife 'twixt England, and America, and France, If we're chopped up, or boiled, or brained where is our great advance? Will you, won't you, will you, won't you chuck away a chance Of peace in pig-stye, or at sea, to play the game of France?"
"Thank you, it's a very amusing dance—to watch," said ALICE, feeling very glad that she had not to stand up in it.
"You may not have lived much under the Sea" (said the Real Turtle) ("I haven't," said ALICE), "and perhaps you were never introduced to a Lobster—" (ALICE began to say "I once tasted—" but checked herself hastily, and said, "No, never"),—"So you can have no idea what a delightful dance a (Diplomatic) Lobster Quadrille is!"
"I dare say not," said ALICE.
"Stand up and repeat ''Tis the Voice of the Premier,'" said the Griffin.
ALICE got up and began to repeat it, but her head was so full of Lobsters, Pigs, and Seals, that she hardly knew what she was saying, and the words came very queer indeed:—
"'Tis the voice of the Premier; I heard him complain On the Ninth of November all prophecy's vain. I must make some sort of a speech, I suppose. Dear DIZZY (who led the whole world by the nose) Said the world heard, for once, on this day, 'Truth and Sense' (I.e. neatly phrased Make-believe and Pretence), But when GLADDY's 'tide' rises, and lost seats abound, One's voice has a cautious and timorous sound."
"I've heard this sort of thing so often before," said the Real Turtle; "but it sounds uncommon nonsense. Go on with the next verse."
ALICE did not dare disobey, though she felt sure it would all come wrong, and she went on in a trembling voice:—
"I passed by the Session, and marked, by the way, How the Lion and Eagles would share Af-ri-ca. How the peoples, at peace, were not shooting with lead, But bethumping each other with Tariffs instead, How the Eight Hours' Bill, on which BURNS was so sweet, Was (like bye-elections) a snare and a cheat; How the Lobster, the Pig, and the Seal, I would say At my sixth Lord Mayor's Banquet—"
"What is the use of repeating all that stuff," the Real Turtle interrupted, "if you don't explain it as you go on? It's by far the most confusing thing I ever heard!"
"Yes, I think you'd better leave off," said the Griffin; and ALICE was only too glad to do so.
* * * * *
GAMES.—It being the season of burglaries, E. WOLF AND SON—("WOLF," most appropriate name,—but Wolf and Moon would have been still better than WOLF AND SON)—take the auspicious time to bring out their new game of "Burglar and Bobbies." On a sort of draught-board, so that both Burglar and Bobby play "on the square," which is in itself a novelty. The thief may be caught in thirteen moves. This won't do. We want him to be caught before he moves at all.
* * * * *
* * * * *
AT A SALE OF HIGH-CLASS SCULPTURE.
SCENE—An upper floor in a City Warehouse; a low, whitewashed room, dimly lighted by dusty windows and two gas-burners in wire cages. Around the walls are ranged several statues of meek aspect, but securely confined in wooden cases, like a sort of marble menagerie. In the centre, a labyrinthine grove of pedestals, surmounted by busts, groups, and statuettes by modern Italian masters. About these pedestals a small crowd—consisting of Elderly Merchants on the look out for a "neat thing in statuary" for the conservatory at Croydon or Muswell Hill, Young City Men who have dropped in after lunch, Disinterested Dealers, Upholsterers' Buyers, Obliging Brokers, and Grubby and Mysterious men—is cautiously circulating.
Obliging Broker (to Amiable Spectator, who has come in out of curiosity, and without the remotest intention of purchasing sculpture). No Catlog, Sir? 'Ere, allow me to orfer you mine—that's my name in pencil on the top of it, Sir; and, if you should 'appen to see any lot that takes your fancy, you jest ketch my eye. (Reassuringly.) I shan't be fur off. Or look 'ere, gimme a nudge—I shall know what it means.
[The A.S. thanks him profusely, and edges away with an inward vow to avoid his and the Auctioneer's eyes, as he would those of a basilisk.
Auctioneer (from desk, with the usual perfunctory fervour). Lot 13, Gentlemen, very charming pair of subjects from child life—"The Pricked Finger" and "The Scratched Toe"—by BIMBI.
A Stolid Assistant (in shirtsleeves). Figgers 'ere, Gen'lm'n!
[Languid surge of crowd towards them.
A Facetious Bidder. Which of 'em's the finger, and which the toe?
Auct. (coldly). I should have thought it was easy to identify by the attitude. Now, Gentlemen, give me a bidding for these very finely-executed works by BIMBI. Make any offer. What will you give me for 'em? Both very sweet things, Gentlemen. Shall we say ten guineas?
A Grubby Man. Give yer five.
Auct. (with grieved resignation). Very well, start 'em at five. Any advance on five? (To Assist.) Turn 'em round, to show the back view. And a 'arf! Six! And a 'arf! Only six and a 'arf bid for this beautiful pair of figures, done direct from nature by BIMBI. Come, Gentlemen, come! Seven! Was that you, Mr. GRIMES? (The Grubby Man admits the soft impeachment.) Seven and a 'arf. Eight! It's against you.
Mr. Grimes (with a supreme effort). Two-and-six!
[Mops his brow with a red cotton handkerchief.
Auct. (in a tone of gratitude for the smallest mercies). Eight-ten-six. All done at eight-ten-six? Going ... gone! GRIMES, Eight, ten, six. Take money for 'em. Now we come to a very 'andsome work by PIFFALINI—"The Ocarina Player," one of this great artist's masterpieces, and an exceedingly choice and high-class work, as you will all agree directly you see it. (To Assist.) Now, then, Lot 14, there—look sharp!
Stolid Assist. "Hocarina Plier," eyn't arrived, Sir.
Auct. Oh, hasn't it? Very well, then. Lot 15. "The Pretty Pill-taker," by ANTONIO BILIO—a really magnificent work of Art, Gentlemen. ("Pill-taker, 'ere!" from the S.A.) What'll you give me for her? Come, make me an offer. (Bidding proceeds till the "Pill-taker" is knocked down for twenty-three-and-a-half guineas.) Lot 16, "The Mixture as Before," by same artist—make a charming and suitable companion to the last lot. What do you say, Mr. MIDDLEMAN—take it at the same bidding? (Mr. M. assents, with the end of one eyebrow.) Any advance on twenty-three and a 'arf? None? Then.—MIDDLEMAN, Twenty-four, thirteen, six.
Mr. Middleman (to the Amiable Spectator, who has been vaguely inspecting the "Pill-taker.") Don't know if you noticed it, Sir, but I got that last couple very cheap—on'y forty-seven guineas the pair, and they are worth eighty, I solemnly declare to you. I could get forty a-piece for 'em to-morrow, upon my word and honour, I could. Ah, and I know who'd give it me for 'em, too!
The A.S. (sympathetically). Dear me, then you've done very well over it.
Mr. M. Ah, well ain't the word—and those two aren't the only lots I've got either. That "Sandwich-Man" over there is mine—look at the work in those boards, and the nature in his clay pipe; and "The Boot-Black," that's mine, too—all worth twice what I got 'em for—and lovely things, too, ain't they?
The A.S. Oh, very nice, very clever—congratulate you, I'm sure.
Mr. M. I can see you've took a fancy to 'em, Sir, and, when I come across a gentleman that's a connysewer, I'm always sorry to stand in his light; so, see here, you can have any one you like out o' my little lot, or all on 'em, with all the pleasure in the wide world, Sir, and I'll on'y charge you five per cent. on what I gave for 'em. and be exceedingly obliged to you, into the bargain, Sir. (The A.S. feebly disclaims any desire to take advantage of this magnanimous offer.) Don't say No, if you mean Yes, Sir. Will you 'ave the "Pill-taker," Sir?
The A.S. (politely). Thank you very much, but—er—I think not.
Mr. M. Then perhaps you could do with "The Little Boot-Black," or "The Sandwich-Man," Sir?
The A.S. Perhaps—but I could do still better without them.
[He moves to another part of the room.
The Obl. Broker (whispering beerily in his ear). Seen anythink yet as takes your fancy, Sir; 'cos, if so—
[The A.S. escapes to a dark corner—where he is warmly welcomed by Mr. MIDDLEMAN.
Mr. M. Knew you'd think better on it, Sir. Now which is it to be—the "Boot-Black," or "Mixture as Before"?
Auct. Now we come to Lot 19. Massive fluted column in coral marble with revolving-top—a column, Gentlemen, which will speak for itself.
The Facetious Bidder (after a scrutiny). Then it may as well mention, while it's about it, that it's got a bit out of its back!
Auct. Flaw in the marble, that's all. (To Assist.) Nothing the matter with the column, is there?
Assist. (with reluctant candour). Well, it 'as got a little chipped, Sir.
Auct. (easily). Oh, very well then, we'll sell it "A.F." Very glad it was found out in time, I'm sure.
First Dealer to Second (in a husky whisper). Talkin' o' Old Masters, I put young 'ANWAY up to a good thing the other day.
Second D. (without surprise—probably from a knowledge of his friend's noble, unselfish nature). Ah—'ow was that?
First D. Well, there was a picter as I 'appened to know could be got in for a deal under what it ought—in good 'ands, mind yer—to fetch. It was a Morlan'—leastwise, it was so like you couldn't ha' told the difference, if you understand my meanin'. (The other nods with complete intelligence.) Well, I 'adn't no openin' for it myself just then, so I sez to young 'ANWAY, "You might do worse than go and 'ave a look at it," I told him. And I run against him yesterday, Wardour Street way, and I sez, "Did yer go and see that picter?" "Yes," sez he, "and what's more, I got it at pretty much my own figger, too!" "Well," sez I, "and ain't yer goin' to shake 'ands with me over it?"
Second D. (interested). And did he?
First D. Yes, he did—he beyaved very fair over the matter, I will say that for him.
Second D. Oh, 'ANWAY's a very decent little feller—now.
Auct. (hopefully). Now, Gentlemen, this next lot'll tempt you, I'm sure! Lot 33, a magnificent and very finely executed dramatic group out of the "Merchant of Venice," Othello in the act of smothering Desdemona, both nearly life-size. (Assist., with a sardonic inflection. "Group 'ere, Gen'lm'n!") What shall we say for this great work by ROCCOCIPPI, Gentlemen? A hundred guineas, just to start us?
The F.B. Can't you put the two figgers up separate?
Auct. You know better than that—being a group, Sir. Come, come, anyone give me a hundred for this magnificent marble group! The figure of Othello very finely finished, Gentlemen.
The F.B. I should ha' thought it was her who was the finely finished one of the two.
Auct. (pained by this levity). Really, Gentlemen, do 'ave more appreciation of a 'igh-class work like this!... Twenty-five guineas?... Nonsense! I can't put it up at that.
[Bidding languishes. Lot withdrawn.
Second Disinterested Dealer (to First D.D., in an undertone). I wouldn't tell everyone, but I shouldn't like to see you stay 'ere and waste your time; so, in case you was thinking of waiting for that last lot, I may just as well mention—[Whispers.
First D.D. Ah, it's that way, is it? Much obliged to you for the 'int. But I'd do the same for you any day.
Second D.D. I'm sure yer would!
[They watch one another suspiciously.
Auct. Now 'ere's a tasteful thing, Gentlemen. Lot. 41. "Nymph eating Oysters" ("Nymph 'ere, Gen'lm'n!"), by the celebrated Italian artist VABENE, one of the finest works of Art in this room, and they're all exceedingly fine works of Art; but this is truly a work of Art, Gentlemen. What shall we say for her, eh? (Silence.) Why, Gentlemen, no more appreciation than that? Come, don't be afraid of it. Make a beginning. (Bidding starts.) Forty-five guineas. Forty-six—pounds. Forty-six pounds only, this remarkable specimen of modern Italian Art. Forty-six and a 'arf. Only forty-six ten bid for it. Give character to any gentleman's collection, a figure like this would. Forty-seven pounds—guineas! and a 'arf.... Forty-seven and a 'arf guineas.... For the last time! Bidding with you, Sir. Forty-seven guineas and a 'arf—Gone! Name, Sir, if you please. Oh, money? Very well. Thank you.
Proud Purchaser (to Friend, in excuse for his extravagance). You see, I must have something for that grotto I've got in the grounds.
His Friend. If she was mine, I should put her in the hall, and have a gaslight fitted in the oyster-shell.
P.P. (thoughtfully). Not a bad idea. But electric light would be more suitable, and easier to fix too. Yes—we'll see.
The Obl. Broker (pursuing the Am. Spect.). I 'ope, Sir, you'll remember me, next time you're this way.
The Am. Spect. (who has only ransomed himself by taking over an odd lot, consisting of imitation marble fruit, a model, under crystal, of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and three busts of Italian celebrities of whom he has never heard). I'm afraid I shan't have very much chance of forgetting you. Good afternoon!
[Exit hurriedly, dropping the fruit, as Scene closes.
* * * * *
* * * * *
FROM OUR MUSIC HALL.
I had a fine performance at my little place last week. Gave the Elijah with a chorus whose vigorous delivery and precision were excellent, and except for uncertain intonation of soprani in first chorus, I think though perhaps I say it who shouldn't, I never heard better chorussing within my walls. Madame SCHMIDT-KOEHNE has a good voice, but I can't say I approve of her German method, nor do I like embellishments of text, even when they can be justified. The contralto, Madame SVIATLOVSKY (O Heavenly name that ends in sky!) is not what I should have expected, coming to us with such a name. Perhaps not heard to advantage: perhaps 'vantage to me if I hadn't heard her. But Miss SARAH BERRY brought down the house just as SAMSON did, and we were Berry'd all alive, O, and applauding beautifully. Brava, Miss SARAH BERRY!
"As we are hearing Elijah," says Mr. Corner Man, "may I ask you, Sir, what Queen in Scripture History this young lady reminds me of?" Of course I reply, "I give it up, Sir." Whereupon he answers, "She reminds me, Sir, of the Queen who was BERENICE—'Berry-Nicey'—see?"
Number next in the books. Mr. WATKIN MILLS was dignified and impressive as Elijah; but, while admitting the excellence of this profit, we can't forget our loss in the absence of Mr. SANTLEY. BEN MIO DAVIES sang the tenor music, but apologised for having unfortunately got a pony on the event,—that is, he had got a little hoarse during the day. "BEN MIO" is—um—rather troppo operatico for the oratorio. Mr. BARNBY bravely batoned, as usual. Bravo, BARNBY! He goes on with the work because he likes it. Did he not, he would say with the General Bombastes—
"Give o'er! give o'er! For I will baton on this tune no more."
Perhaps the quotation is not quite exact, but no matter, all's well that ends well, as everyone said as they left.
Yours truly, ALBERT HALL.
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S PRIZE NOVELS.
NO. VII.—A BUCCANEER'S BLOOD-BATH.
BY L.S. DEEVENSON, AUTHOR OF "TOLDON DRYLAND," "THE WHITE HETON," "WENTNAP," "AMISS WITH A CANDLETRAY," "AN OUTLANDISH TRIP," "A TRAVELLED DONKEY," "A QUEER FALL ON A TREACLE SLIDE," "THE OLD PERSIAN BARONETS," &C., &C., &C.
[For some weeks before this Novel actually arrived, we received by every post an immense consignment of paragraphs, notices, and newspaper cuttings, all referring to it in glowing terms. "This" observed the Bi-weekly Boomer, "is, perhaps, the most brilliant effort of the brilliant and versatile Author's genius. Humour and pathos are inextricably blended in it. He sweeps with confident finger over the whole gamut of human emotions, and moves us equally to terror and to pity. Of the style, it is sufficient to say that it is Mr. DEEVENSON's." The MS. of the Novel itself came in a wrapper bearing the Samoan post-mark.—ED. Punch.]
I am a man stricken in years, and-well-nigh spent with labour, yet it behoves that, for the public good, I should take pen in hand, and set down the truth of those matters wherein I played a part. And, indeed, it may befall that, when the tale is put forth in print, the public may find it to their liking, and buy it with no sparing hand, so that, at the last, the payment shall be worthy of the labourer.
I have never been gifted with what pedants miscall courage. That extreme rashness of the temper which drives fools to their destruction hath no place in my disposition. A shrinking meekness under provocation, and a commendable absence of body whenever blows fell thick, seemed always to me to be the better part. And for this I have boldly endured many taunts. Yet it so chanced that in my life I fell in with many to whom the cutting of throats was but a moment's diversion. Nay, more, in most of their astounding ventures I shared with them; I made one upon their reckless forays; I was forced, sorely against my will, to accompany them upon their stormy voyages, and to endure with them their dangers; and there does not live one man, since all of them are dead, and I alone survive, so well able as myself to narrate these matters faithfully within the compass of a single five-shilling volume.
On a December evening of the year 17—, ten men sat together in the parlour of "The Haunted Man." Without, upon the desolate moorland, a windless stricture of frost had bound the air as though in boards, but within, the tongues were loosened, and the talk flowed merrily, and the clink of steaming tumblers filled the room. Dr. DEADEYE sat with the rest at the long deal table, puffing mightily at the brown old Broseley church-warden, whom the heat and the comfort of his evening meal had so far conquered, that he resented the doctor's treatment of him only by an occasional splutter. For myself, I sat where the warmth of the cheerful fire could reach my chilled toes, close by the side of the good doctor. I was a mere lad, and even now, as I search in my memory for these long-forgotten scenes, I am prone to marvel at my own heedlessness in thus affronting these lawless men. But, indeed, I knew them not to be lawless, or I doubt not but that my prudence had counselled me to withdraw ere the events befell which I am now about to narrate.
As I remember, the Doctor and Captain JAWKINS were seated opposite to one another, and, as their wont was, they were in high debate upon a question of navigation, on which the Doctor held and expressed an emphatic opinion.
"Never tell me," he said, with flaming aspect, "that the common term, 'Port your helm,' implies aught but what a man, not otherwise foolish, would gather from the word. Port means port, and starboard is starboard, and all the d——d sea-captains in the world cannot move me from that." With that the Doctor beat his fist upon the table until the glasses rattled again and glared into the Captain's weather-beaten face.
"Hear the man," said the Captain—"hear him. A man would think he had spent his days and nights upon the sea, instead of mixing pills and powders all his life in a snuffy village dispensary."
The quarrel seemed like to be fierce, when a sudden sound struck upon our ears, and stopped all tongues. I cannot call it a song. Rather, it was like the moon-struck wailing of some unhappy dog, low, and unearthly; and yet not that, either, for there were words to it. That much we all heard distinctly.
"Fifteen two and a pair make four, Two for his heels, and that makes six."
We listened, awestruck, with blanched faces, scarce daring to look at one another. For myself, I am bold to confess that I crept under the sheltering table and hid my head in my hands. Again the mournful notes were moaned forth—
"Fifteen two and a pair make four, Two for his heels, and—"
But ere it was ended, Captain JAWKINS had sprung forward, and rushed into the further corner of the parlour. "I know that voice," he cried aloud; "I know it amid a thousand!" And even as he spoke, a strange light dispelled the shadows, and by its rays we could see the crouching form of BILL BLUENOSE, with the red seam across his face where the devil had long since done his work.
I had forgot to say that, as he ran, the Captain had drawn his sword. In the confusion which followed on the discovery of BLUENOSE, I could not rightly tell how each thing fell out; indeed, from where I lay, with the men crowding together in front of me, to see at all was no easy matter. But this I saw clearly. The Captain stood in the corner, his blade raised to strike. BLUENOSE never stirred, but his breath came and went, and his eyelids blinked strangely, like the flutter of a sere leaf against the wall. There came a roar of voices, and, in the tumult, the Captain's sword flashed quickly, and fell. Then, with a broken cry like a sheep's bleat, the great seamed face fell separate from the body, and a fountain of blood rose into the air from the severed neck, and splashed heavily upon the sanded floor of the parlour.
"Man, man!" cried the Doctor, angrily, "what have ye done? Ye've kilt BLUENOSE, and with him goes our chance of the treasure. But, maybe, it's not yet too late."
So saying, he plucked the head from the floor and clapped it again upon its shoulders. Then, drawing a long stick of sealing-wax from his pocket, he held it well before the Captain's ruddy face. The wax splattered and melted. The Doctor applied it to the cut with deft fingers, and with a strange condescension of manner in one so proud. My heart beat like a bird's, both quick and little; and on a sudden BLUENOSE raised his dripping hands, and in a quavering kind of voice piped out—
"Fifteen two and a pair make four."
But we had heard too much, and the next moment we were speeding with terror at our backs across the desert moorland.
You are to remember that when the events I have narrated befell I was but a lad, and had a lad's horror of that which smacked of the supernatural. As we ran, I must have fallen in a swoon, for I remember nothing more until I found myself walking with trembling feet through the policies of the ancient mansion of Dearodear. By my side strode a young nobleman, whom I straightway recognised as the Master. His gallant bearing and handsome face served but to conceal the black heart that beat within his breast. He gazed at me with a curious look in his eyes.
"SQUARETOES, SQUARETOES," said he—it was thus he had named me, and by that I knew that we were in Scotland, and that my name was become MACKELLAR—"I have a mind to end your prying and your lectures here where we stand."
"End it," said I, with a boldness which seemed strange to me even as I spoke; "end it, and where will you be? A penniless beggar and an outcast."
"The old fool speaks truly," he continued, kicking me twice violently in the back, but otherwise ignoring my presence; "and if I end him, who shall tell the story? Nay, SQUARETOES, let us make a compact. I will play the villain, and brawl, and cheat, and murder; you shall take notes of my actions, and, after I have died dramatically in a North American forest, you shall set up a stone to my memory, and publish the story. What say you? Your hand upon it."
Such was the fascination of the man that even then I could not withstand him. Moreover, the measure of his misdeeds was not yet full. My caution prevailed, and I gave him my hand.
"Done!" said he; "and a very good bargain for you, SQUARETOES!"
Let the public, then, judge between me and the Master, since of his house not one remains, and I alone may write the tale.
(To be continued.—Author.) THE END.—Ed. Punch.
[Footnote 1: Editor to Author: "How did the glasses manage to glare? It seems an odd proceeding for a glass. Answer paid."
Author to Editor: "Don't be a fool. I meant the Doctor—not the glasses."]
* * * * *
The Children of the Castle, by Mrs. MOLESWORTH (published by MACMILLAN), will certainly be a favourite with the children in the house. A quaintly pretty story of child life and fairies, such as she can write so well, it is valuably assisted with Illustrations by WALTER CRANE.
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE evidently means to catch the youthful book-worm's eye by the brilliancy of his bindings, but the attraction will not stay there long, for the contents are equal to the covers.
These are days of reminiscences, so "Bob," the Spotted Terrier, writes his own tale, or, wags it. Illustrations by HARRISON WEIR. And here for the tiny ones, bless 'em, is The House that Jack Built,—a paper book in actually the very shape of the house he built! And then there's the melancholy but moral tale of Froggy would a-Wooing Go. "Recommended," says the Baron.
Published by DEAN AND SON, who should call their publishing establishment "The Deanery," is The Doyle Fairy Book, a splendid collection of regular fairy lore; and the Illustrations are by RICHARD DOYLE, which needs nothing more.
The Mistletoe Bough, edited by M.E. BRADDON, is not only very strong to send forth so many sprigs, but it is a curious branch, as from each sprig hangs a tale. The first, by the Editor and Authoress, His Oldest Friends, is excellent.
Flowers of The Hunt, by FINCH MASON, published by Messrs. FORES. Rather too spring-like a title for a sporting book, as it suggests hunting for flowers. Sketchy and amusing.
HACHETTE AND CIE, getting ahead of Christmas, and neck and neck with the New Year, issue a Nouveau Calendrier Perpeteul, "Les Amis Fideles," representing three poodles, the first of which carries in his mouth the day of the week, the second the day of the month, and the third the name of the month. This design is quaint, and if not absolutely original, is new in the combination and application. Unfortunately it only suggests one period of the year, the dog-days, but in 1892 this can be improved upon, and amplified.
No nursery would be complete without a Chatterbox, and, as a reward to keep him quiet, The Prize would come in useful. WELLS, DARTON, & GARDNER, can supply both of them.
F. WARNE has another Birthday-book, Fortune's Mirror, Set in Gems, by M. HALFORD, with Illustrations by KATE CRAUFORD. A novel idea of setting the mirror in the binding; but, to find your fortune, you must look inside, and then you will see what gem ought to be worn in the month of your birth.
WILLERT BEALE's Light of Other Days is most interesting to those who, like the Baron, remember the latter days of GRISI and MARIO, who can call to mind MARIO in Les Huguenots, in Trovatore, in Rigoletto; and GRISI in Norma, Valentina, Fides, Lucrezia, and some others. It seems to me that the centre of attraction in these two volumes is the history of MARIO and GRISI on and off the stage; and the gem of all is the simple narrative of Mrs. GODFREY PEARSE, their daughter, which M. WILLERT BEALE has had the good taste to give verbatim, with few notes or comments. To think that only twenty years ago we lost GRISI, and that only nine years ago MARIO died in Rome! Peace to them both! In Art they were a glorious couple, and in their death our thoughts cannot divide them. GRISI and MARIO, Queen and King of song, inseparable. I have never looked upon their like again, and probably never shall. My tribute to their memory is, to advise all those to whom their memory is dear, and those to whom their memory is but a tradition, to read these Reminiscences, of them and of others, by WILLERT BEALE, in order to learn all they can about this romantic couple, who, caring little for money, and everything for their art, were united in life, in love, in work, and, let us, peccatores, humbly hope, in death. WILLERT BEALE has, in his Reminiscences, given us a greater romance of real life than will be found in twenty volumes of novels, by the most eminent authors. Yet all so naturally and so simply told. At least so, with moist eyes, says your tender-hearted critic,
THE SYMPATHETIC BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
WIGS AND RADICALS.
["As a protest against the acceptance by the Corporation of Sunderland of robes, wigs, and cocked hats, for the Mayor and Town Clerk, Mr. STOREY, M.P., has sent in his resignation of the office of Alderman of that body."—Daily Paper.]
Brutus. Tell us what has chanced to-day, that STOREY looks so sad.
Casca. Why, there was a wig and a cocked hat offered him, and he put it away with the back of his hand, thus; and then the Sunderland Radicals fell a-shouting.
Brutus. What was the second noise for?
Casca. Why, for that too.
Brutus. They shouted thrice—what was the last cry for?
Casca. Why, for that too—not to mention a municipal robe.
Brutus. Was the wig, &c, offered him thrice?
Casca. Ay, marry, was it, and he put the things by thrice, every time more savagely than before.
Brutus. Who offered him the wig?
Casca. Why, the Sunderland Municipality, of course—stoopid!
Brutus. Tell us the manner of it, gentle CASCA.
Casca. I can as well be hanged, as tell you. It was mere foolery, I did not mark it. I saw the people offer a cocked hat to him—yet 'twas not to him neither, because he's only an Alderman, 'twas to the Mayor and Town Clerk—and, as I told you, he put the things by thrice; yet, to my thinking, had he been Mayor, he would fain have had them. And the rabblement, of course, cheered such an exhibition of stern Radical simplicity, and STOREY called the wig a bauble, though, to my thinking, there's not much bauble about it, and the cocked-hat he called a mediaeval intrusion, though, to my thinking, there were precious few cocked-hats in the Middle Ages. Then he said he would no more serve as Alderman; and the Mayor and the Town Clerk cried—"Alas, good soul!"—and accepted his resignation with all their hearts.
Brutus. Then will not the Sunderland Town Hall miss him?
Casca. Not it, as I am a true man! There'll be a STOREY the less on it, that's all. Farewell!
* * * * *
"NOT THERE, NOT THERE, MY CHILD!"
By some misadventure I was unable to attend the pianoforte recital of Paddy REWSKI, the player from Irish Poland at the St. James's Hall last Wednesday. Everybody much pleased, I'm told. Glad to hear it. I was "Not there, not there, my child!" But audience gratified—
"And Stalldom shrieked when Paddy REWSKI played,"
as the Poet says, or something like it. I hear he made a hit. The papers say he did, and if he didn't it's another thumper, that's all.
* * * * *
"SO NO MAYER AT PRESENT FROM YOURS TRULY THE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE FRENCH PLAYS, ST. JAMES'S THEATRE."—It is hard on the indefatigable M. MAYER, but when Englishmen can so easily cross the Channel, and so willingly brave the mal-de-mer for the sake of a week in Paris, it is not likely that they will patronise French theatricals in London, even for their own linguistic and artistic improvement, or solely for the benefit of the deserving and enterprising M. MAYER. Even if it be mal-de-mer against bien de Mayer, an English admirer of French acting would risk the former to get a week in Paris. We are sorry 'tis so, but so 'tis.
* * * * *
"THE MAGAZINE RIFLE."—Is this invention patented by the Editor of The Review of Reviews? Good title for the Staff of that Magazine, "The Magazine Rifle Corps."
* * * * *
* * * * *
BETWEEN THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.
The Appeal's to Justice! Justice lendeth ear Unstirred by favour, unseduced by fear; And they who Justice love must check the thrill Of natural shame, and listen, and be still. These wrangling tales of horror shake the heart With pitiful disgust. Oh, glorious part For British manhood, much bepraised, to play In that dark land late touched by culture's day! Are these our Heroes pictured each by each? We fondly deemed that where our English speech Sounded, there English hearts, of mould humane. Justice would strengthen, cruelty restrain. And is it all a figment of false pride? Such horrors do our vaunting annals hide Beneath a world of words, like flowers that wave In tropic swamps o'er a malarious grave?
These are the questions which perforce intrude As the long tale of horror coarse and crude, Rolls out its sickening chapters one by one. What will the verdict be when all is done? Conflicting counsels in loud chorus rise, "Hush the thing up!" the knowing cynic cries, "Arm not our chuckling enemies at gaze With charnel dust to foul our brightest bays! Let the dead past bury its tainted dead, Lest aliens at our 'heroes' wag the head." "Shocking! wails out the sentimentalist. Believe no tale unpleasant, scorn to list To slanderous charges on the British name! That brutish baseness, or that sordid shame Can touch 'our gallant fellows,' is a thing Incredible. Do not our poets sing, Our pressmen praise in dithyrambic prose, The 'lads' who win our worlds and face our foes? Who never, save to human pity, yield One step in wilderness or battlefield!"
Meanwhile, with troubled eyes and straining hands, Silent, attentive, thoughtful, Justice stands. To her alone let the appeal be made. Heroes, or merely tools of huckstering Trade, Men brave, though fallible, or sordid brutes, Let all be heard. Since each to each imputes Unmeasured baseness, somewhere the black stain Must surely rest. The dead speak not, the slain Have not a voice, save such as that which spoke From ABEL's blood. Green laurels, or the stroke Of shame's swift scourge? There's the alternative Before the lifted eyes of those who live. One fain would see the grass unstained that waves In the dark Afric waste o'er those two graves. To Justice the protagonist makes appeal. Justice would wish him smirchless as her steel, But stands with steadfast eyes and unbowed head Silent—betwixt the Living and the Dead!
* * * * *
What's a Drama without a Moral, and what's Rigoletto without a MAUREL, who was cast for the part, but who was too indisposed to appear? So Signor GALASSI came and "played the fool" instead, much to the satisfaction of all concerned, and all were very much concerned about the illness or indisposition of M. MAUREL. DIMITRESCO not particularly strong as the Dook; but Mlle. STROMFELD came out well as Gilda, and, being called, came out in excellent form in front of the Curtain. Signor BEVIGNANI, beating time in Orchestra, and time all the better for his beating.
* * * * *
"FOR THIS RELIEF MUCH THANKS."—The difficulties in The City, which Mr. Punch represented in his Cartoon of November 8, were by the Times of last Saturday publicly acknowledged to be at an end. The adventurous mariners were luckily able to rest on the Bank, and are now once more fairly started. They will bear in mind the warning of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, as given to the boys in the above mentioned Cartoon.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Of course there is nothing very new in the idea of a cripple loving a beautiful maiden, while the beautiful maiden bestows her affections on somebody else. SHERIDAN KNOWLES's Hunchback, Master Walter, is an exception to Hunchbacks generally, as he turns out to be the father, not the lover, of the leading lady. It has remained for Mr. CARTON to give us in an original three-act play a deformed hero, who has to sacrifice love to duty, or, rather, to let self-abnegation triumph over the gratification of self. This self-sacrificing part is admirably played by Mr. GEORGE ALEXANDER, whose simple make-up for the character is irreproachable. That something more can still be made by him of the scene of his great temptation I feel sure, and if he does this he will have developed several full leaves from his already budding laurels, and, which is presently important, he will have added another 100 nights to the run.
Maud (without the final "e") capitally played by Miss MAUDE (with the final "E") MILLETT. (Why didn't the author choose another name when this character was cast to Miss MILLETT? Not surely for the sake of someone saying, "Come into the garden"—eh? And the author has already indulged his pungent humour by giving "George" Addis to "GEORGE" ALEXANDER. Mistake.) This character of Maud is a sketch of an utterly odious girl,—odious, that is, at home, but fascinating no doubt, away from the domestic circle. Is a sketch of such a character worth the setting? How one pities the future Bamfield menage, when the unfortunate idiot Bamfield, well represented by Mr. BEN WEBSTER, has married this flirting, flighty, sharp-tongued, selfish little girl. To these two are given some good, light, and bright comedy scenes, recalling to the mind of the middle-aged playgoer the palmy days of what used to be known as the Robertsonian "Tea-cup-and-saucer Comedies," with dialogue, scarcely fin de siecle perhaps, but pleasant to listen to, when spoken by Miss MAUDE MILLETT, MISS TERRY, and Mr. BEN WEBSTER.
In Miss MARION TERRY's Helen, the elder of the Doctor's daughters, we have a charming type, nor could Mr. NUTCOMBE GOULD's Dr. Latimer be improved upon as an artistic performance where repose and perfectly natural demeanour give a certain coherence and solidity to the entire work. Mr. YORKE STEPHENS as Mark Denzil is too heavy, and his manner conveys the impression that, at some time or other, he will commit a crime, such, perhaps, as stealing the money from the Doctor's desk; or, when this danger is past and he hasn't done it, his still darkening, melodramatic manner misleads the audience into supposing that in Act III, he will make away with his objectionable wife, possess himself of the two hundred pounds, and then, just at the moment when, with a darkling scowl and a gleaming eye, he steps forward to claim his affianced bride, Scollick, Mr. ALFRED HOLLES, hitherto only known as the drunken gardener, will throw off his disguise, and, to a burst of applause from an excited audience, will say, "I arrest you for murder and robbery! and—I am HAWKSHAW the Detective!!!" or words to this effect. In his impersonation of Mark Denzil Mr. STEPHENS seems to have attempted an imitation of the light and airy style of Mr. ARTHUR STIRLING.
The end of the Second Act is, to my thinking, a mistake in dramatic art. Everyone of the audience knows that the woman who has stolen the money is Mark Denzil's wife, and nobody requires from Denzil himself oral confirmation of the fact, much less do they want an interval of several minutes,—it may be only seconds, but it seems minutes,—before the Curtain descends, occupied only by Mark Denzil imploring that his wife shall not be taken before the magistrate and be charged with theft. This is an anti-climax, weakening an otherwise effective situation, as the immediate result of this scene could easily be given in a couple of sentences of dialogue at the commencement of the last Act. It is this fault, far more than the unpruned passages of dialogue, that makes this interesting and well acted play seem too long—at least, such is the honest opinion of A FRIEND IN FRONT.
* * * * *
THE BURDEN OF BACILLUS.
Is there no one to protect us, is existence then a sin, That we're worried here in London and in Paris and Berlin? We would live at peace with all men, but "Destroy them!" is the cry, Physiological assassins are not happy till we die. With the rights of man acknowledged, can you wonder that we squirm At the endless persecution of the much-maltreated germ.
We are ta'en from home and hearthstone, from the newly-wedded bride, To be looked at by cold optics on a microscopic slide; We are boiled and stewed together, and they never think it hurts; We're injected into rabbits by those hypodermic squirts: Never safe, although so very insignificant in size, There's no peace for poor Bacillus, so it seems, until he dies.
It is strange to think how men lived in the days of long ago, When the fact of our existence they had never chanced to know. If the scientific ghouls are right who hunt us to the death, Those who came before them surely had expired ere they drew breath: We were there in those old ages, thriving in our youthful bloom; Then there was no KOCH or PASTEUR bent on compassing our doom.
Men humanity are preaching, and philanthropists elate Point out he who injures horses shall be punished by the State; Dogs are carefully protected, likewise the domestic cats, Possibly kind-hearted people would not draw the line at rats: If all that be right and proper, why then persecute and kill us? Lo! the age's foremost martyr is the vilified Bacillus!
* * * * *
As far as Vigo Street, and see Mr. NETTLESHIP's Wild Beast Show at the sign of "The Rembrandt Head." Here are Wild Animals to be seen done from the life, and to the life; tawny lions, sleepy bears, flapping vultures, and eagles, and brilliant macaws—all in excellent condition. Observe the "Lion roaring" at No. 28, and the "Ibis flying" with the sunlight on his big white wings against a deep blue sky, No. 36. All these Wild Animals can be safely guaranteed as pleasant and agreeable companions to live with, and so, judging from certain labels on the frames, the British picture-buyer has already discovered. Poor Mr. NETTLESHIP's Menagerie will return to him shorn of its finest specimens—that is, if he ever sees any of them back at all.
* * * * *
IN OUR GARDEN.
It has occurred to me in looking back over these unpremeditated notes, that if by any chance they came to be published, the public might gain the impression that the Member for SARK and I did all the work of the Garden, whilst our hired man looked on. SARK, to whom I have put the case, says that is precisely it. But I do not agree with him. We have, as I have already explained, undertaken this new responsibility from a desire to preserve health and strength useful to our QUEEN and Country. Therefore we, as ARPACHSHAD says, potter about the Garden, get in each other's way, and in his; that is to say, we are out working pretty well all day, with inadequate intervals for meals.
ARPACHSHAD, to do him justice, is most anxious not to interfere with our project by unduly taking labour on himself. When we are shifting earth, and as we shift it backwards and forwards there is a good deal to be done in that way, he is quite content to walk by the side, or in front of the barrow, whilst SARK wheels it, and I walk behind, picking up any bits that have shaken out of the vehicle. (Earth trodden into the gravel-walk would militate against its efficiency.) But of course ARPACHSHAD is, in the terms of his contract, "a working gardener," and I see that he works.
At the same time it must be admitted that he does not display any eagerness in engaging himself, nor does he rapidly and energetically carry out little tasks which are set him. There are, for example, the sods about the trees in the orchard. He says it's very bad for the trees to have the sods close up to their trunks. There should be a small space of open ground. ARPACHSHAD thought that perhaps "the gents," as he calls us, would enjoy digging a clear space round the trees. We thought we would, and set to work. But SARK having woefully hacked the stem of a young apple-tree (Lord Suffield) and I having laboriously and carefully cut away the entire network of the roots of a damson-tree, under the impression that it was a weed, it was decided that ARPACHSHAD had better do this skilled labour. We will attain to it by-and-by.
ARPACHSHAD has now been engaged on the work for a fortnight, and I think it will carry him on into the spring. The way he walks round the harmless apple-tree before cautiously putting in the spade, is very impressive. Having dug three exceedingly small sods, he packs them in a basket, and then, with a great sigh, heaves it on to his shoulder, and walks off to store the sods by the potting-shed. Anything more solemn than his walk, more depressing than his mien, has not been seen outside a churchyard. If he were burying the child of his old age, he could not look more cut up. SARK, who, probably owing to personal associations, is beginning to develop some sense of humour, walked by the side of him this morning whistling "The Dead March in Saul."
The effect was unexpected and embarrassing. ARPACHSHAD slowly relieved himself of the burden of the three sods, dropped them on the ground with a disproportionate thud, and, producing a large pocket-handkerchief, whose variegated and brilliant colours were, happily, dimmed by a month's use, mopped his eyes.
"You'll excuse me, gents," he snuffled, "but I never hear that there tune, 'Rule Britanny,' whistled or sung but I think of the time when I went down to see my son off from Portsmouth for the Crimee, 'Rule Britanny' was the tune they played when he walked proudly aboard. He was in all the battles, Almy, Inkerman, Ballyklaver, Seringapatam, and Sebastopol."
"And was he killed?" asked the Member for SARK, making as though he would help ARPACHSHAD with the basket on to his shoulder again.
"No," said ARPACHSHAD, overlooking the attention—"he lived to come home; and last week he rode in the Lord Mayor's coach through the streets of London, with all his medals on. Five shillings for the day, and a good blow-out, presided over by Mr. AUGUSTIN HARRIS, in his Sheriff's Cloak and Chain at the 'Plough-and-Thunder,' in the Barbican."
HARTINGTON came down to see us to-day. Mentioned ARPACHSHAD, and his natural indisposition to hurry himself.
"Why should he?" asked HARTINGTON, yawning, as he leaned over the fence. "What's the use, as Whosthis says, of ever climbing up the climbing wave? I can't understand how you fellows go about here with your shirt-sleeves turned up, bustling along as if you hadn't a minute to spare. It's just the same in the House; bustle everywhere; everybody straining and pushing—everybody but me."
"Well," said SARK, "but you've been up in Scotland, making quite a lot of speeches. Just as if you were Mr. G. himself."
"Yes," said HARTINGTON, looking admiringly at ARPACHSHAD, who had taken off his coat, and was carefully folding it up, preparatory to overtaking a snail, whose upward march on a peach-tree his keen eye had noted; "but that wasn't my fault. I was dragged into it against my will. It came about this way. Months ago, when Mr. G.'s tour was settled, they said nothing would do but that I must follow him over the same ground, speech by speech. If it had been to take place in the next day or two, or in the next week, I would have plumply said No. But, you see, it was a long way off. No one could say what might not happen in the interval. If I'd said No, they would have worried me week after week. If I said Yes, at least I wouldn't be bored on the matter for a month or two. So I consented, and, when the time came, I had to put in an appearance. But I mean to cut the whole business. Shall take a Garden, like you and SARK, only it shall be a place to lounge in, not to work in. Should like to have a fellow like your ARPACHSHAD; soothing and comforting to see him going about his work."
"I suppose you'll take a partner?" I asked. "Hope you'll get one more satisfactory than SARK has proved."
HARTINGTON blushed a rosy red at this reference to a partner. Didn't know he was so sensitive on account of SARK; abruptly changed subject.
"Fact is, TOBY," he said, "I hate politics; always been dragged into them by one man or another. First it was BRIGHT; then Mr. G.; now the MARKISS is always at me, making out that chaos will come if I don't stick at my place in the House during the Session, and occasionally go about country making speeches in the recess. Wouldn't mind the House if seats were more comfortable. Can sleep there pretty well for twenty minutes before dinner; but nothing to rest your head against; back falls your head; off goes your hat; and then those Radical fellows grin. I could stand politics better if Front Opposition Bench or Treasury Bench were constructed on principle of family pews in country churches. Get a decent quiet corner, and there you are. In any new Reformed Parliament hope they'll think of it; though it doesn't matter much to me. I'm going to cut it. Done my share; been abused now all round the Party circle. Conservatives, Whigs, Liberals, Radicals, Irish Members, Scotch and Welsh, each alternately have praised and belaboured me. My old enemies now my closest friends. Old friends look at me askance. It's a poor business. I never liked it, never had anything to get out of it, and you'll see presently that I'll give it up. Don't you suppose, TOBY my boy, that you shall keep the monopoly of retirement. I'll find a partner, peradventure an ARPACHSHAD, and we'll all live happily for the rest of our life."
With his right hand thrust in his trouser-pocket, his left swinging loosely at his side, and his hat low over his brow, HARTINGTON lounged off till his tall figure was lost in the gloaming.
"That's the man for my money," said ARPACHSHAD, looking with growing discontent at the Member for SARK, who, with the only blade left in his tortoiseshell-handled penknife, was diligently digging weeds out of the walk.
* * * * *
IN THE CLUB SMOKING-ROOM.
"Lux Mundi," said somebody, reading aloud the title heading a lengthy criticism in the Times.
"Don't know so much about that," observed a sporting and superstitious young man; "but I know that 'Ill luck's Friday.'"
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
PARS ABOUT PICTURES.
Yes, quite so. It's a very good excuse! Whenever I do not turn up when I am expected, my children say, "Pa's about pictures." It's just the same as a doctor, when he forgets to keep an appointment, says, "he has unexpectedly been called out." Yah! I'd call some of 'em out if I had the chance. I took French leave the other day, and went to the French Gallery, expecting to see sketches in French chalk, or studies in French grey. Nothing of the kind! Mr. WALLIS will have his little joke. The main part of the exhibition is essentially English, and so I found my Parisian accent was entirely thrown away. If it had only been Scotch, I could have said something about the "Scots wha hae wi' WALLIS," but I didn't have even that chance. Too bad, though, the show is a good one. "English, you know, quite English." Lots of good landscapes by LEADER, bright, fresh, breezy. Young painters should "follow their Leader," and they can't go very far wrong. I would write a leader on the subject, and introduce something about the land-scape-goat, only I know it would be cut out. Being very busy, sent Young Par to see Miss CHARLOTTE ROBINSON's Exhibition of Screens. He behaved badly. Instead of looking at matters in a serious light, he seemed to look upon the whole affair as a "screening farce," and began to sing—
Here screens of all kinds you may see, Designed most ar-tist-tic-a-lee, In exquisite va-ri-e-tee, By clever CHARLOTTE ROBINSON! They'll screen you from the bitter breeze, They'll screen you when you take your teas, They'll screen you when you flirt with shes— Delightful CHARLOTTE ROBINSON!
He then folded his arms, and began to sing, "with my riddle-ol, de riddle-ol, de ri, de O," danced a hornpipe all over the place, broke several valuable pieces of furniture, and was removed in charge of the police. And this is the boy that was to be a comfort to me in my old age!
Yours parabolically, OLD PAR.
* * * * *
Novel praise from the D.T. for the Lord Mayor's Show, during a pause for lunch:—"It is so quaint, so bright, so thoroughly un-English." The Lord Mayor's Show "So Un-English, you know"! Then, indeed have we arrived at the end of the ancient al-fresco spectacle.
* * * * *
IN A HOLE.
(BRIEF IMPERIAL TRAGI-COMEDY, IN TWO ACTS, IN ACTIVE REHEARSAL.)
["Well, if it comes to fighting, we should be just in a hole."—A Linesman's Opinion of the New Rifle, from Conversation in Daily Paper.]
SCENE—A Public Place in Time of Peace.
Mrs. Britannia (receiving a highly finished and improved newly constructed scientific weapon from cautious and circumspect Head of Department). And so this is the new Magazine Rifle?
Head of Department (in a tone of quiet and self-satisfied triumph). It is, Madam.
Mrs. Britannia. And I may take your word for it, that it is a weapon I can with confidence place in the hands of my soldiers.
Head of Department. You may, Madam. Excellent as has been all the work turned out by the Department I have the honour to represent, I think I may fairly claim this as our greatest achievement. No less than nine firms have been employed in its construction, and I am proud to say that in one of the principal portions of its intricate mechanism, fully seven-and-thirty different parts, united by microscopic screws, are employed in the adjustment. But allow me to explain. [Does so, giving an elaborate and confusing account of the construction, showing that, without the greatest care, and strictest attention to a series of minute precautions on the part of the soldier, the weapon is likely to get suddenly out of order, and prove worse than useless in action. This, however, he artfully glides over in his description, minimising all its possible defects, and finally insisting that no power in Europe has turned out such a handy, powerful, and serviceable rifle.
Mrs. Britannia. Ah, well, I don't profess to understand the practical working of the weapon. But I have trusted you implicitly to provide me with a good one, and this being, as you tell me, what I want, I herewith place it the hands of my Army. (Presents the rifle to TOMMY ATKINS.) Here, ATKINS, take your rifle, and I hope you'll know how to use it.
Tommy Atkins (with a broad grin). Thank'ee, Ma'am. I hope I shall, for I shall be in a precious 'ole if I don't.
[Flourish of newspaper articles, general congratulatory chorus on all sides, as Act-drop descends.
A Battle-field in time of War. Enter TOMMY ATKINS with his rifle. In the interval, since the close of the last Act, he is supposed to have been thoroughly instructed in its proper use, and, though on one or two occasions, owing to disregard of some trifling precaution, he has found it "jam," still, in the leisure of the practice-field, he has been generally able to get it right again, and put it in workable order. He is now hurrying along in all the excitement of battle, and in face of the enemy, of whom a batch appear on the horizon in front of him, when the word is given to "fire."
Tommy Atkins (endeavours to execute the order, but he finds something "stuck," and his rifle refuses to go off.) Dang it! What's the matter with the beastly thing! It's that there bolt that's caught agin' (thumps it furiously in his excitement and makes matters worse.) Dang the blooming thing; I can't make it go. (Vainly endeavours to recall some directions, committed in calmer moments, to memory.) Drop the bolt? No! that ain't it. Loose this 'ere pin (tugs frantically at a portion of the mechanism.) 'Ang me if I can make it go! (Removes a pin which suddenly releases the magazine), well, I've done it now and no mistake. Might as well send one to fight with a broomstick. (A shell explodes just behind him.) Well, I am in a 'ole and no mistake. [Battle proceeds with results as Act-drop falls.
* * * * *
OLD FRENCH SAW RE-SET.—FROM THE STANDARD, NOVEMBER 14:—
"The duel between M. DEROULEDE and M. LAGUERRE occurred yesterday morning in the neighbourhood of Charleroi, in Belgium. Four shots were exchanged without any result. On returning to Charleroi the combatants and their seconds were arrested."
"C'est Laguerre, mais ce n'est pas magnifique."
* * * * *
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.