OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
October 11, 1890.
(BY MR. PUNCH'S OWN TYPE WRITER.)
NO. XX.—THE DIVORCEE.
The Court over which Sir JAMES HANNEN presides was instituted for the purification of morals by the separation of ill-assorted couples. Matrimonial errors, which had hitherto stood upon the level of political grievances, capable of redress only after the careful and unbiassed attention of British legislators had been, at much expense both of time and money, devoted to them, were henceforth to form the subject of a special procedure in a division of the Courts of Law created for the purpose, and honestly calculated to bring separation and divorce within the reach even of the most modest incomes. The tyrant man, as usual, favoured himself by the rules he laid down for the playing of the game. For whereas infidelity on the part of the wife is held to be, in itself, a sufficient cause for pronouncing a decree in favour of the husband, a kind, though constantly unfaithful husband, is protected from divorce, and only punished by separation from the wife he has wronged. It is necessary for a man to add either cruelty or desertion to his other offence, in order that his wife may obtain from the laws of her country the opportunity of marrying someone else. But the wit of woman has proved equal to the emergency. Nowhere, it may be safely stated, have more tales of purely imaginative atrocity been listened to with greater attention, or with more favourable results, than in the Divorce Court. On an incautious handshake a sprained wrist and an arm bruised into all the colours of the rainbow have been not infrequently grafted. A British imprecation, and a banged door, have often become floods of invective and a knock-down blow; and a molehill of a pinch has, under favourable cultivation, been developed into a mountain of ill-treatment, on the top of which a victorious wife has in the end, triumphantly planted the banner of freedom.
Hence the Divorce Court, after some years of suspicion, has gradually come to be looked upon as one of the sacred institutions of the country. And, speaking generally, those who make use of its facilities, however much certain of the more strait-laced may frown, are considered by society at large to have done a thing which is surprisingly right and often enviable. The result at any rate is that the number of the divorced increases year by year, and that a lady whose failings have been established against her by a judicial decree, may be quite sure of a hand of ardent sympathisers of both sexes, amongst whom she can hold her head as high as her inclination prompts her without exciting a larger number of spiteful comments than are allotted to her immaculate and undecreed sisters. She may not have been able to abide the question of the Counsel who cross-examined her, but she is certainly free, even in a wider sense than before. She may not, perhaps, stand on so lofty a social pinnacle as the merely-separated lady whose husband still lives, and to whose male friends the fact that she in practically husbandless, and at the same time disabled from marriage, gives a delightful sense both of zest and security. On the other hand, the separated lady must be to a certain extent circumspect, lest she should place a weapon for further punishment in the hands of her husband. But to the Divorcee all things apparently, are permitted.
When she left the Court in which, to use her own words, "all her budding hopes had been crushed by the triumph of injustice," the beautiful Divorcee (for in order to be truly typical the Divorcee is necessarily beautiful) might have proceeded immediately to plant them afresh in the old soil. The various gentlemen who had sustained their reputation as men of honour by tampering on her behalf and on their own, with the strict letter of the truth, naturally felt that the boldness of their denials entitled them to her lasting regard, and showed themselves ready to aid her with their counsel. But, though she never ceased to protest her innocence of all that had been laid to her charge and proved against her, she was sufficiently sensible to give them to understand that for a time, at least, her path in the world would be easier if they ceased to accompany her. They accepted the sentence of banishment with a good grace, knowing perfectly well that it was not for long. The Divorcee then withdrew from the flaming placards of the daily papers, on which she had figured during the past week, and betook herself to the seclusion of her bijou residence in the heart of the most fashionable quarter. Here she pondered for a short time upon the doubtful unkindness of fate which had deprived her of a husband whom she despised, and of a home which his presence had made insupportable. But she soon roused herself to face her new lack of responsibility, and to enjoy it. At first, she moved cautiously. There were numerous sympathisers who urged her to defy the world, such as it is, and to show herself everywhere entirely careless of what people might say. Such conduct might possibly have been successful, but the Divorcee foresaw a possible risk to her reputation, and abstained. She began, therefore, by making her public appearances infrequent. In company with the devoted widow, whose evidence had almost saved her from an adverse verdict, she arranged placid tea-parties at which the casual observer might have imagined that the rules of social decorum were more strictly enforced than in the household of an archbishop. Inquiry, however, might have revealed the fact that a large proportion of the ladies present at these gatherings had either shaken off the matrimonial shackles, or proposed to do so, whether as plaintiffs or as defendants, whenever a favourable opportunity presented itself. The men, too, who were, after a time, admitted to these staid feasts, were not altogether archiepiscopal, though they behaved as they were dressed, quite irreproachably. To counter-balance them to some extent, the Divorcee determined to secure the presence and the countenance of a clergyman.
After some search, she discovered one who was enthusiastic, deficient in worldly knowledge, and susceptible. To him she related her own private version of her wrongs, which she seasoned with quite a pretty flow of tears. The amiable cleric yielded without a struggle, and readily placed at her service the protection of his white tie. Thus strengthened, she moved forward a little further. She revisited theatres; she was heard of at Clubs; she shone again at dinner-parties, and in a year or so had organised for herself a social circle which entirely satisfied her desires. Sometimes she even allowed herself to dabble in good works. She was accused of having written a religious poem for a serious Magazine; but all that was ever proved against her was, that a remarkable series of articles on The Homes of the Poor bore traces of a style that was said to be hers. Evil tongues still whispered in corners, and cynics were heard to scoff occasionally; but the larger world, which abhors cynics, and only believes what is good, began to smile upon her. She did not appear to value its smiles,—but they were useful. Whenever London tired her, she flitted to Paris, or to the Riviera, or even to Egypt or Algiers. She subscribed to charities, and acted in Amateur Theatricals. Finally, she married a gentleman who was believed by his friends to be a poet, and who certainly qualified for the title by the romance he had woven about her. With him she lived for many years a poetic and untrammelled existence, and, when she died, many dowagers sent wreaths as tokens of their sorrow at the loss of an admirable woman.
* * * * *
VERSES FOR A VIOLINIST.
"The violin has now fairly taken its place as an instrument for girls."—Daily News.
In old days of Art the painter much applause would surely win, When he showed us Saint Cecilia playing on the violin.
I've no skill of brush and palette like those unforgotten men; My Cecilia must content herself with an unworthy pen.
Fairy fingers flash before me as the bow sweeps o'er each string; Like the organ's vox humana, Hark! the instrument can sing.
That sonata of TARTINI's in my ears will linger long; It might be some prima donna scaling all the heights of song.
Every string a different language speaks beneath her skilful sway. Does the shade of PAGANINI hover over her to-day?
All can feel the passion throbbing through the music fraught with pain: Then, with feminine mutation, comes a soft and tender strain.
Gracious curve of neck, and fiddle tucked 'neath that entrancing chin— Fain with you would I change places, O thrice happy violin!
* * * * *
The Champions are mounted, a wonderful pair, And the boldest who sees them must e'en hold his breath. Their breastplates and greaves glitter bright in the air; They have sworn ere they met they would fight to the death. And the heart of the Queen of the Tournament sinks At the might of Sir GOLF, the Red Knight of the Links.
But her Champion, Sir TENNIS, the Knight of the Lawn, At the throne of the lady who loves him bows low: He fears not the fight, for his racket is drawn, And he spurs his great steed as he charges the foe. And the sound of his war-cry is heard in the din, "Fifteen, thirty, forty, deuce, vantage, I win!"
But the Red Knight, Sir GOLF, smiles a smile that is grim, And a flash as of triumph has mantled his cheek; And he shouts, "I would scorn to be vanquished by him, With my driver, my iron, my niblick and cleek. Now, TENNIS, I have thee; I charge from the Tee, To the deuce with thy racket, thy scoring, and thee!"
And the ladies all cry, "Oh, Sir TENNIS, our own, Drive him back whence he came to his bunkers and gorse." And the men shake their heads, for Sir TENNIS seems blown, There are cracks in his armour, and wounds on his horse. But the Umpire, Sir PUNCH, as he watches says, "Pooh! Let them fight and be friends; there is room for the two."
* * * * *
A LAMB-LIKE GAMBOL.
Some little time ago we noticed with great satisfaction, that the Committee of the Sunday School Union had advertised in the Athenaeum for the "best Tale on Gambling," for which they were anxious to pay One Hundred Pounds sterling. The principal "condition" that the C.S.S.U. attached to their competition was that "the tale must be drawn as far as possible from actual life, and must vividly depict the evils of gambling, setting forth its ruinous effects sociably and morally on the young people of our land." Perhaps the following short story may serve as a model to the candidates. This romance must be considered "outside the competition." Here it is.
PLEASANT POVERTY BETTER THAN WICKED WEALTH!
PETER was a good boy. He went to Sunday school regularly, and always took off his hat to his superiors—he so objected to gambling that he never called them "betters." One day PETER found a sovereign, and fearing, lest it might be a gilded jubilee shilling, decided to spend it upon himself, rather than run the risk of possibly causing the Police to put it in circulation, under the impression that it was a coin of the higher value. He spent ten shillings on a ticket to Boulogne-sur-Mer, and with the remaining half-sovereign played at Chemin de Fer at the Casino. And, alas! this was his first straying from the path of virtue. Unfortunately he was most unlucky (from a moral point of view) in his venture, leaving the tables with a sum exceeding forty pounds. Feeling reluctant that money so ill-gained should remain for very long in his possession, he spent a large slice of it in securing a ticket for Monte Carlo.
Arrived at this dreadful place he backed Zero fifteen times running, was unhappy enough to break the bank, and retired to rest with over ten thousand pounds. He now decided, that he had best return to England, where he felt sure he would be safe from further temptation.
When he was once more in London, he could not make up his mind whether he should contribute his greatly scorned fortune to the Committee of the Sunday School Union, or plank his last dollar on a rank outsider for a place in the Derby. From a feeling of delicacy, he adopted the latter course, and was indescribably shocked to pull off his fancy at Epsom. Thinking that the Committee of the same useful body would refuse to receive money obtained under such painful circumstances, he plunged deeply on the Stock Exchange, and again added considerably to his much-hated store. It was at this period in his history that he married, and then the punishment he had so justly merited overtook him. His wife was a pushing young woman, whose great delight was to see her name in the Society papers. This pleasure she managed to secure by taking a large house, and giving costly entertainments to all sorts and conditions of individuals. Poor PETER soon found this mode of life intolerably wearisome. He now never knew an hour's peace, until one day he determined to run away from home, leaving in the hands of his wife all that he possessed. His absence made no perceptible difference in Mrs. PETER's menage. It was generally supposed that he was living abroad. However, on one winter night there was a large gathering at his wife's house, and, it being very cold, the guests eagerly availed themselves of the services of the linkman, who had told himself off to fetch their carriages.
And, when everyone was gone, the poor linkman asked the mistress of the house for some broken victuals.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed that Lady, "if it isn't my husband! What do you mean, PETER, by so disgracing me?"
"Disgrace you!—not I!" returned PETER. "No one recognises me. Of all the guests that throng my house, and eat my suppers, I don't believe there is a solitary individual who knows me by sight."
And PETER was right. Ah, how much better would it have been had PETER remained at school, and not found that sovereign! Had he remained at school, he would some day have acquired a mass of information that would have been of immense assistance to him when his father died, and he succeeded to the paternal broom, and the right of sweep over the family street-crossing!
* * * * *
* * * * *
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
OSTRICH "FARMING."—We are afraid we cannot give you any sound or useful information to assist you in your project of keeping an ostrich-farm in a retired street in Bayswater; but that you should have already received a consignment of fifty "fine, full-grown birds," and managed, with the aid of five railway porters, and all the local police available, to get them from the van in which they arrived up two flights of stairs, and locate them temporarily in your back drawing-room, augurs at least for a good start to your undertaking. That three should have escaped, and, after severely kicking the Vicar, who happened to be dining with you, terrified the whole neighbourhood, and effected an entrance into an adjacent public-house, where they appear to have done a good deal of damage to the glass and crockery, upsetting a ten-gallon cask of gin, and frightening the barmaid into a fit of hysterics, being only finally captured by the device of getting a coal-sack over their heads, was, after all, but a slight contretemps, and not one to be taken into account when measured against the grand fact that you have got all your birds safely lodged for the night. A little arnica, and a fortnight in bed, will, in all probability, set the Vicar all right. With regard to their food, we should advise you to continue the tinned lobster and muffins, which they seem to relish. You appear to be alarmed at their swallowing the tins. There is no occasion for any anxiety on this point, the tin, doubtless, serving as the proverbial "digestive" pebble with which all birds, we believe, accompany a hearty meal. We fear we cannot enlighten you as to how you make your profits out of an ostrich-farm; but, speaking at random, we should say they would probably arise by pulling the feathers out of the tails of the birds and selling them to Court Milliners. Your idea of trying them in harness in a Hansom seems to have something in it. Turn it over, by all means. Meantime, get a Shilling Handbook on the Management of the Ostrich. We think you will have to cover in your garden with a tarpaulin as you suggest. You cannot expect the fifty birds to stay for ever in your back drawing-room; and the fact that you mention, of their having already kicked down and eaten one folding-door, is significant. They will be escaping from your balcony all over the neighbourhood if you do not take care to secure them; and as they seem fresh, very aggressive, and strong in the leg, such a catastrophe might lead you into a good deal of unpleasantness. Take our advice, and get them downstairs, tight under a stout tarpaulin, as soon as possible.
* * * * *
HOW IT'S DONE.
A HANDBOOK TO HONESTY.
NO. I.—"I'M MONARCH OF ALL I SURVEY!"
SCENE—Interior of newly-erected building. Present, the Builder and a Surveyor, the former looking timidly foxy, the latter knowingly pompous, and floridly self-important; Builder, in dusty suit of dittoes, carries one hand in his breeches-pocket, where he chinks certain metallic substances—which may be coins or keys—nervously and intermittently. Surveyor, a burly mass of broadcloth and big watch-chain, carries an intimidating note-book, and a menacing pencil, making mems. in a staccato and stabbing fashion, which is singularly nerve-shaking.
Surveyor (speaking with his pencil in his mouth). Well, Mister—er—er—WOTSERNAME, I—er—think—'m, 'm, 'm—things seem to be pretty right as far's I can see; though of course—
Builder (hastily). Oh, I assure you I've taken the greatest pains to conform to—er—rules in—er—in every way; though if there should be any little thing that ketches your eye, why, you've only to—
Surveyor. Oh, of course, of course! We know all about that. You see I can only go by rule. What's right's right; what's wrong's wrong; that's about the size of it. I've nothing to do with it, one way or another, except to see the law carried out.
Builder. Ex-ack-ly! However, if you've seen all you want to, we may as well step over to the "Crown and Thistle," and—
Surveyor (suddenly). By the way, I suppose this wall is properly underpinned?
Builder (nervously). Well—er—not exackly—but, 'er, 'er—well, the fact is I thought—
Surveyor (sternly). What you thought, Sir, doesn't affect the matter. The question is, what the Building Act says. The whole thing must come down!
Builder. But, I say, that'll run me into ten pounds, at least, and really the thing's as safe as—
Surveyor. Maybe, maybe—in fact, I don't say it isn't. But the Act says it's got to be done.
Builder. Well, well, if there's no help for it, I must do it, of course.
Surveyor (looking somehow disappointed). Very sorry, of course, but you see what must be must.
Builder (sadly). Yes, yes, no doubt. Well (brightening), anyhow, we may as well step over to the "Crown and Thistle," and crack a bottle of champagne.
Surveyor (also brightening). Well, ours is a dusty job, and I don't care if I do.
[They do so. Surveyor drinks his full share of Heidsieck, and smokes a cigar of full size and flavour. He and Builder exchange reminiscences concerning past professional experiences, the "tricks of trade," diverse devices for "dodging the Act," &c., &c. Surveyor explains how stubborn builders ("not like you, you know"), who don't do the thing handsome, often suffer by having to run themselves to expenses that might have been avoided—and serve 'em right too! Also, how others, without a temper above "tips," and of a generally gentlemanly tone of mind, save themselves lots of little extras, which, maybe, the letter of the law would exact, but which a Surveyor of sense and good feeling can get over, "and no harm done, neither, to nobody." As the wine circulates, it is noticeable that good-fellowship grows almost boisterous, and facetiousness mellows into chuckling cynicism of the winking, waggish, "we all do it" sort.
Surveyor (tossing off last glass, and smacking his lips). Well, well, the best of friends must part, and I guess I must be toddling. Very glad to have met you, I'm sure, and a better bit of building than yours yonder I haven't seen for some time. Seems a pity, hanged if it don't, that you should have to put yourself to such an additional outlay—ah, by the way, what did you say it would cost you?
Builder. Oh, about ten pounds, I suppose.
Surveyor (lighting another cigar). Humph! (Puff' puff!) Pity—pity! (Puff! puff!) Now look here, my boy—(confidentially)—suppose you and me just divide that tenner between us, five to you, and five to me; and, as to the "underpinning"—well, nobody'll be a bit the wiser, and the building won't be a halfpenny the worse, I'll bet my boots. Come, is it a bargain?
[After a little beating about the bush, the little "job" is arranged amicably, on the practical basis of "a fiver each, and mum's the word on both sides," thus evading the law, saving the Builder a few pounds, and supplementing the salary of the Surveyor. Ulterior results, unsanitary or otherwise, do not come within the compass of this sketch.
* * * * *
STRANGER THAN FICTION!
(POSTMARKS—LEEDS, HULL, AND ELSEWHERE.)
Mr. Punch was assisting at a Congress. The large room in which that Congress was being held was crowded, and consequently the heat was oppressive. The speeches, too, were not particularly interesting, and the Sage became drowsy. It was fortunate, therefore, that a fair maiden in a classical garb (who suddenly appeared seated beside him) should have addressed him. The interruption reassembled in their proper home his wandering senses.
"I fear, Mr. Punch," said the fair maiden, looking at herself in a small mirror which she was holding in her right hand, "that you are inclined to go to sleep."
"Well, I am," replied the Sage, with unaccountable bluntness; "truth to tell, these orations about nothing in particular, spouted by persons with an imperfect knowledge of, I should say, almost any subject, bore me."
"The information is unnecessary," observed the young lady; with a smile. "I share your feelings. But if you will be so kind as to pay a little attention to the speakers while they are under my influence, I think you will discover a new interest in their utterances."
"Are you an hypnotist, Madam?" asked Mr. Punch.
"Well, not exactly. But, when I have the chance, I can make people speak the Truth."
Then Mr. Punch listened, and was surprised at the strange things that next happened.
"I wish to be perfectly frank with you," said a gentleman on the platform; "I am here because I wish to see my name in the papers, and all the observations I have made up to date have been addressed to the reporters. I am glad I can control my thoughts, because I would not for worlds let you know the truth. It is my ambition to figure as a philanthropist, and on my word, I think this is the cheapest and most effective mode of carrying out my intention."
Then the gentleman resumed his seat with a smile that suggested that he was under the impression that he had just delivered himself of sentiments bound to extort universal admiration.
"That is not exactly my case," observed a second speaker, "because I do not care two pins for anything save the entertainments which are invariably associated with scientific research, or philanthropical inquiry. I pay my guinea, after considerable delay, and then expect to take out five times that amount in grudgingly bestowed, but competitionally provoked (if I may be pardoned the expression) hospitality. I attend a portion—a small portion—of a lecture, and then hurry off to the nearest free luncheon, or gratuitous dinner, in the neighbourhood. I should be a tax upon my friends if I dropped in at half-past one, or at a quarter to eight, punctually, and my motives would be too wisely interpreted to a desire on my part to reduce the sum total of my butcher's book. So I merely drop in upon a place where a Congress is being held, and make the most of my membership."
"These startling statements are decidedly unconventional," said Mr. Punch, turning towards his fair companion, "and that your influence should cause them to be made, astounds me. I trust you will not consider me indiscreet if I ask for—"
"My name and address," returned the fair maiden, smilingly, completing the sentence; "Learn, then, that I live at the bottom of a well, to which rather damp resting-place I am about to return; and that in England I am called Truth."
And as the lady disappeared, Mr. Punch fell from his chair, and awoke!
"Dear me, I have been dreaming!" exclaimed the Sage, as he left the meeting. "Well, as everyone knows, dreams are not in the least like reality! But the strangest thing of all was to find Truth in a Congress!"
And it was strange, indeed.
* * * * *
AT THE THEATRE!
THE LYCEUM AGAIN. THE HAYMARKET ONCE MORE.
"Great Scott!" we exclaim,—not Critical CLEMENT of that ilk, but Sir WALTER,—on again seeing Ravenswood. Since then an alteration in the modus shootendi has been made, and Edgar no longer takes a pot-shot at the bull from the window, but, ascertaining from Sir William Ashton Bishop that Ellen Lucy Terry is being Terryfied by an Irish bull which has got mixed up with the Scotch "herd without," Henry Edgar Irving rushes off, gun in hand; then the report of the gun is, like the Scotch oxen, also "heard without," and Henry reappears on the scene, having saved Ellen Lucy Ashton by reducing the fierce bull to potted beef.
"What shall he have who kills the bull?" "The Dear! the Dear!" meaning, of course, Ellen Lucy Ashton aforesaid. After this all goes well. Acting excellent all round—or nearly all round, the one exception being, however, the very much "all-round" representative of Lady Ashton, whose misfortune it is to have been selected for this particular part. Scenery lovely, and again and again must HAWES MCCHAVEN be congratulated on the beautiful scene of The Mermaiden's Well (never better, in fact), Act III. The love-making bit in this Act is charming, and the classic Sibyl, Ailsie, superb. Nothing in stage effect within our memory has equalled the pathos of the final tableau. It is most touching through its extreme simplicity.
The Haymarket has re-opened with the odd mixture of the excellent French Abbe Constantin and the weak, muddle-headed, Tree-and-Grundy-ised "village Priest," known as the Abbe Dubois, or "Abbe Do Bore," as 'ARRY might call him. Changes are in contemplation, and may have been already announced. Whatever they may be, it is some consolation to learn that this Tree-and-Grundy-ised French Abbe is not likely to be a "perpetual Curate."
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S PRIZE NOVELS.
NO. II.—BURRA MURRA BOKO.
(BY KIPPIERD HERRING, AUTHOR OF "SOLDIERS' TEA," "OVER THE DARODEES," "HANDSOME HEADS ON THE VALETS," "MORE BLACK THAN WHITE," "EXPERIMENTAL DITTOS," &C., &C.)
[NOTE.—The MS. of this story arrived from India by pneumatic despatch, a few puffs having been apparently sufficient. In a letter which was enclosed with it the author modestly apologises for its innumerable merits. "But," he adds, "I have several hundred of the same sort in stock, and can supply them at a moment's notice. Kindly send L1000 in Bank of England notes, by registered letter, to K. HERRING. No farther address will be required."]
Polla dan anta cat anta. What will you have, Sahib? My heart is made fat, and my eyes run with the water of joy. Kni vestog rind. Scis sorstog rind, the Sahib is as a brother to the needy, and the afflicted at the sound of his voice become as a warming-pan in a for postah. Ahoo! Ahoo! I have lied unto the Sahib. Mi ais an dlims, I am a servant of sin. Burra Murra Boko! Burra Murra Boko!
There came a sound in the night as of an elephant-herd trumpeting in anger, and my liver was dissolved, and the heart within me became as a Patoph But'ah under the noon-day sun. I made haste, for there was fear in the air, Sahib, and the Pleez Mahn that walketh by night was upon me. But, oh, Sahib, the cunning of the serpent was with me, and as he passed I tripped him up, and the raging river received him. Twice he rose, and the gleam of his eyes spake in vain for help. And at last there came a bubble where the man had been, and he was seen no more. Burra Murra Boko! Burra Murra Boko!
That night I spake unto her as she stood in the moonlight. "Oh, sister of an oil-jar, and daughter of pig-troughs, what is it thou hast done?" And she, laughing, spake naught in reply, but gave me the Tcheke Slahp of her tribe, and her fingers fell upon my face, and my teeth rattled within my mouth. But I, for my blood was made hot within me, sped swiftly from her, making no halt, and the noise of fifty thousand devils was in my ears, and the rage of the Smak duns burnt fierce within the breast of me, and my tongue was as a fresh fig that grows upon a southern wall. Auggrh! pass me the peg, for my mouth is dry. Burra Murra Boko! Burra Murra Boko! Then came the Yunkum Sahib, and the Bunkum Sahib, and they spake awhile together. But I, like unto a Brerra-bit, lay low, and my breath came softly, and they knew not that I watched them as they spake. And they joked much together, and told each to the other how that the wives of their friends were to them as mice in the sight of the crouching Tabbikat, and that the honour of a man was as sand, that is blown afar by the storm-wind of the desert, which maketh blind the faithful, and stoppeth their mouths. Such are all of them, Sahib, since I that speak unto you know them for what they are, and thus I set forth the tale that all men may read, and understand. Burra Murra Boko! Burra Murra Boko!
'"Twas the most ondacint bedivilmint ever I set eyes on, Sorr. There was I, blandandhering widout"—
"Pardon me," I said, "this is rather puzzling. A moment back you were a Mahajun of Puli, in Marwur, or a Delhi Pathan, or a Wali Dad, or something of that sort, and now you seem to have turned into an Irishman. Can you tell me how it is done?"
"Whist, ye oncivilised, backslidhering pagin!" said my friend, Private O'RAMMIS, for it was indeed he. "Hould on there till I've tould ye. Fwhat was I sayin'? Eyah, eyah, them was the bhoys for the dhrink. When the sun kem out wid a blink in his oi, an' the belly-band av his new shoot tied round him, there was PORTERS and ATHUS lyin' mixed up wid the brandy-kegs, and the houl of the rigimint tearin' round like all the divils from hell bruk loose.
"Thin I knew there'd be thrubble, for ye must know, Sorr, there was a little orf'cer bhoy cryin' as tho' his little heart was breakin', an' the Colonel's wife's sister, wid her minowderin' voice—"
"Look here, O'RAMMIS," I said, "I don't like to stop you; but isn't it just a trifle rash—I mean," I added hastily, for I saw him fingering his bayonet, "is it quite as wise as it might be to use up all your materials at once? Besides, I seem to have met that little Orf'cer bhoy and the Colonel's wife's sister before. I merely mention it as a friend."
"You let 'im go, Sir," put in PORTERS, with his cockney accent. "Lor, Sir, TERENCE knows bloomin' well wot 'e's torkin' about, an' wen 'e's got a story to tell you know there ain't one o' us wot'll get a bloomin' word in; or leastways, Hi carn't."
"Sitha," added JOCK ATHUS. "I never gotten but one story told mysen, and he joomped down my throaat for that. Let un taalk, Sir, let un taalk."
"Very well," I said, producing one of the half-dozen bottles of champagne that I always carried in my coat-tail pockets whenever I went up to the Barracks to visit my friend O'RAMMIS, "very well. Fire away, TERENCE, and let us have your story."
"I'm an ould fool," continued O'RAMMIS, in a convinced tone. "But ye know, JOCK, how 'twas. I misremember fwhat I said to her, but she never stirred, and only luked at me wid her melancolious ois, and wid that my arm was round her waist, for bedad, it was pretty, she was under the moon in the ould barrick square. 'Hould on there,' she says, 'ye boiled thief of Deuteronomy. D'ye think I've kem here to be philandhering afther you. I'd make a better man than you out av empty kyartridges and putty.' Wid that she turned on her heel, and was for marching away. But I was at her soide agin before she'd got her left fut on the beat. 'That's quare,' thinks I to myself; 'but, TERENCE, me bhoy, 'tis you know the thricks av the women. Shoulder arrums,' I thinks, 'and let fly wid the back sight.' Wid that I just squeezed her hand wid the most dellikit av all squeezings, and, sez I, 'MARY, me darlint,' I sez, 'ye're not vexed wid TERENCE, I know;' but you never can tell the way av a woman, for before the words was over the tongue av me, the bhoys kem raging an' ramshackling—"
"Really, O'RAMMIS," I ventured to observe, for I noticed that he and his two friends had pulled all the other five bottles out of my pocket, and had finished them, "I'm a little disappointed with you to-day. I came out here for a little quiet blood-and-thunder before going to bed, and you are mixing up your stories like the regimental laundress's soapsuds. It's not right of you. Now, honestly, is it?"
But the Three Musketeers had vanished. Perhaps they may reappear, bound in blue-grey on the railway bookstalls. Perhaps not. And the worst of it is, that the Colonel will never understand them, and the gentlemen who write articles will never understand them. There is only one man who knows all about them, and even he is sometimes what my friend O'RAMMIS calls "a blandandhering, philandhering, misundherstandhering civilian man."
Which his name is KIPPIERD HERRING. And that is perfectly true.
* * * * *
SO MUCH FOR KNOTTING'EM.—The Dean of Rochester to be henceforth known as The Dean of Knotting'em. His new motto,—
"Whack a 'Shack' Smack on his back."
Perhaps the Dean would then like to make a Moslem of the lolloping do-nothing offender, and call him "Shackaback."
* * * * *
* * * * *
"HERCULES (COUNTY) CONCILIANS;"
OR, "APPROACHING" THE HYDRA.
[The London County Council adopted the Report of a Committee: "That the Committee be authorised to enter into tentative negotiations with the Water Companies, for the purpose of ascertaining upon what terms the Companies will be prepared to dispose of their undertakings to the Council." The Vice-Chairman (Sir T. FARRER) thought that the Committee "would be as wax in the hands of the clever agents of the Companies." The Chairman (Sir JOHN LUBBOCK) was in favour of deferring the question.]
That Hydra again! Monster huge, hydro-cephalous, Haunting our city of blunders and jobs, Born, it would seem, to bewilder and baffle us, Who'll give you "one" for your numerous nobs. Many have menaced you, some had a shy at you; SALISBURY stout, and bespectacled CROSS, Each in his season has joined in the cry at you, Little, 'twould seem, to your damage or loss. Still you eight-headed and lanky-limbed monster, you Sprawl and monopolise, spread and devour. Many assail you, but hitherto, none stir you. Say, has the hero arrived, and the hour? No Infant Hercules, surely, can tackle you, Ancient abortion, with hope of success. It needeth a true full-grown hero to shackle you, Jupiter's son, and Alcmene's, no less! Our civic Hercules smacks of the nursery, Not three years old, though ambitious, no doubt; You'll scarce be captured by tentatives cursory. Snared by a "motion," or scared by a "spout," Hera's pet, offspring of Typhon, the lion-clad Hero assailed, con amore; but you, Callous as Behemoth, hard as an iron-clad, "Conciliation" with coldness will view Fancy "approaching" the Hydra with honey-bait, Tempting the monster to parley and purr! How will Monopoly look on a money-bait? Hercules, too, who would "like to defer?" Not quite a true hard-shell hero—in attitude— Hercules (County) Concilians looks; Thinks he to move a true Hydra to gratitude? Real Leviathan chortles at hooks! "Come, pretty Hydra! 'Agreement provisional,' Properly baited with sound L.S.D., Ought to entice you!" He's scorn and derision all, Hydra, if true to his breed. We shall see! Just so a groom, with the bridle behind him, Tempts a free horse with some corn in a sieve. Will London's Hydra let "tentatives" blind him, Snap at the bait, and the tempter believe? Or will the "hero"—in form of Committee— Really prove wax for the Hydra to mould? Yes, there's the club, but it's rather a pity Hercules seems a bit feeble of hold. Tentative heroes may suit modern urgency, LUBBOCK may win where a Hercules fails. If we now hunt, upon public emergency, Stymphalian Birds, 'tis with salt for their tails!
* * * * *
"YE GODS, WHAT A TERRIBLE TWIST!"
Statistics are sweet things, and full of startling surprises. Like the Frenchman in "Killaloe" "you never know what they'll be up to next." Here, for instance, is a "statement showing the decrease in price in the United States of many articles within the past ten years largely consumed by the agricultural community." And among these "many articles" "largely consumed," are "mowing machines, barb fence-wire, horseshoes, forks, wire-cloth, slop-buckets, wheelbarrows, and putty." No wonder dyspepsia is the national disease in America. Fancy "consuming" French staples, pie-plates (though they sound almost edible), and putty!!! The ostrich is supposed to be capable of digesting such dainties as broken bottles, and tenpenny nails, but that voracious fowl is evidently not "in it" with the "Agricultural community" of America.
* * * * *
ODD.—A Correspondent says he found this advertisement in the Guardian:—
RECTOR of S. Michael's, Lichfield, requires help of a LAY-READER. Visiting, S.-school, cottage services, ass. in choir, &c. Good salary.
The explanation, we believe, is, that "ass." is the abbreviated form of "assisting." The Rector had better have the unabbreviated assistant in choir, particularly if he be already short of choristers; unless the Rector should be also Vicar of Bray, in which case the "ass." could be transferred from Lichfield to the more appropriate living.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
JOURNAL OF A ROLLING STONE.
To my intense surprise—shared, as far as I can see, by all my friends and relatives—I have managed to pass the "Bar Final"! I attribute the portentous fact to the Examiners having discreetly avoided all reference to the "Rule in SHELLEY's Case."
Find that the Students who are going to be "called within the Bar," have to be presented to the Benchers on one special evening, after dinner, in Hall. Ceremony rather funereal, at my Inn—but not the same at all Inns. About twenty of us summoned one by one to the High Table; several go up before me, and as there is a big screen I can't see what happens to them. Only—most remarkable circumstance this—not one of them comes back! Have the Benchers decided to sternly limit the numbers of the Profession? Perhaps they are "putting in an execution." Just thinking of escape, when my name called out. March up to Table, determined not to perish without a spirited resistance.
To complete the idea of its being an Execution, here is the Chaplain! Will he say a "few last words" to the culprit—myself—prior to my being pinioned?
As matter of fact, Bencher at head of Table (portly old gentleman, who looks as if he might be described as a "bottle-a-day-of-port-ly" old gentleman) shakes hands, coldly, and that's all. Not even a Queen's Shilling given me, as I am conducted off to another table close by.
Mystery of disappearance of other candidates explained. Here they are—all at this table—"all silent, and all called"! It seems that this is the Barristers' part of the Hall, other the Students'.
Ceremony not over yet. After dinner we are invited, all twenty, to dessert and wine with the Benchers—or rather, at the Benchers' expense, because we don't really see and chat with these great men, only a single representative, who presides at table in a long bare room downstairs, resembling a cellar. Benchers' own Common-room above. Why don't they invite us up there? Bencher, who has come down to preside over this entertainment, has a rather forbidding air about him. Seems to be thinking—"I don't care much for this sort of function. Stupid old custom. But must keep it up, I suppose, for good of Inn; and Benchers (hang them!) have deputed me to take head of the table to-night—probably because I look so desperately lively."
There is a sort of "disinterred liveliness" (to quote Bishop WILBERFORCE) about him, after all. Tries to joke. No doubt regards us all as a pack of fools to join over-crowded profession—still, as we are here, he will try and forget that, in a few years, the majority of us will probably be starving.
After an interval, Bored Bencher thinks it necessary to rise and make little speech. Assures us (Query—hyprocrisy?) that we are all extremely likely to attain to high positions at the Bar. Says something feebly humorous about Woolsack. Bad taste, because we can't all sit on Woolsack at once; and mention of it excites feelings of emulation, almost of animosity, towards other new-fledged Barristers. I am conscious, for instance, of distinct repulsion towards man on my right, who is cracking nuts, and who must be a son or nephew of our Chairman, judging by the familiarity with which he treats latter. Probably his uncle will flood him with briefs—and that will be called "making his own way in the world." Pshaw!
Wine-and-dessert entertainment only lasts an hour. Forbidding Bencher evidently feels that an hour is as much as he can possibly stand. So we all depart, except the favoured nephew (or son), who, as I suspect, "remains to prey" on his uncle (or father), and probably to be invited in to the real feast which no doubt the Inn worthies are enjoying upstairs.
Next morning meet a legal friend, who asks, "When are you to be presented at Court?"
"Presented at Court?"—I ask in surprise.
"Yes—Court of Queen's Bench—ha! ha! You'll have to go one of these days in wig and gown to the Q.B.D., and inscribe your name in a big book, and bow to the Judges, and come out."
"What's the good of doing that?" I want to know.
"None whatever. An old custom, that's all. A sort of legal fiction, you know." (Query—If a Queen's Counsel writes a novel, isn't that a real legal fiction?) "You'll feel rather like a little boy going to a new school. Judges look at you with an air of 'I say, you new feller, what's your name? Where do you come from? What House are you in?—then a good kick. They can't kick you, so they glare at you instead. Interesting ceremony. Ta, ta!"
It turns out as my friend says. But previously there is the other little formality of purchasing the trailing garments of the Profession. Go to a wig-and-gown-maker near the Law Courts. Ask to see different kinds of wigs.
"We only make one kind," replies the wig-man, pityingly. "The Patent Ventilating Anticalvitium. You'll find it as light as a feather, almost. Made of superfine 'orse-'air." He says this as if he never got his material from anything below the value of a Derby Winner.
"Why do you call it the Anticalvitium?" I ask.
"Because it don't make the 'air fall off, Sir, as all other wigs do."
Do they? Another objection to the profession. Wish I had known this before I began to grind for the Bar Exam. Wig-man measures my head.
"Rather large size, Sir," he remarks. Says it as if I must have water on the brain at the very least. "Middle Temple, I suppose?"—he queries. Why? Somehow it would sound more flattering if he had supposed Inner Temple, instead of Middle. Wonder if I shall ever be described as an "Outer barrister, of the Inner Temple, with Middling abilities." Is there a special cut of face belonging to the Inner Temple, another for the Middle (there is a "middle cut" in salmon, why not in the law?) and a third for Lincoln's Inn?
Find, while I am meditating these problems, that I have been "suited" with a gown, also with a stock of ridiculous little linen flaps, which are called "bands." Think about "forbidding the bands," but don't know how to.
* * * * *
NOTE FOR THE NEW UNIONISM.
"Union is Strength." Let lovers of communion Remember Strength (of language) is not Union!
* * * * *
NEW DEFINITION OF A "FEATHER-BED FIGHTER."—A Boxer with gloves over four ounces in weight. And anything over that, we suppose, must be considered a "feather-weight." This gives a new significance to the saying, "You might have knocked me down with a feather."
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
A TALE OF THE TELEPHONE.
(A STORY OF WHAT MAY HAPPEN SOME DAY IN GEORGE STREET, HANOVER SQUARE.)
There were a few minutes unoccupied before the time appointed for the ceremony, and so the Pew-opener thought he could not do better than point out the many excellences of the church to the Bridegroom.
"You see, Sir," he said, "our pulpit is occupied by the best possible talent. The Vicar takes the greatest interest in securing every rising preacher, and thus, Sunday after Sunday, we have the most startling orations."
The Bridegroom (slightly bored) said that if he had happened to live in the neighbourhood, he should certainly have taken sittings.
"But living in the neighbourhood is not necessary, Sir," persisted the Pew-opener. "Let into the sounding-board is a telephone, and so our Vicar can supply the sermons preached here, hot and hot, to residents in the London Postal District. Considering the quality of the discourses, he charges a very low rate. The system has been largely adopted. As a matter of fact the whole service, and not only the pulpit, has been laid on to the principal Hotels and Clubs."
But further conversation was here cut short by the arrival of the Bride, who, led by her brother, advanced towards the altar with an air of confidence that charmed all beholders. This self-possession was the outcome of the lady being—as her grey moire-antique indicated—a widow. Congratulations passed round amongst the friends and relatives, and then the bridal party was arranged in front of the good old Vicar.
"Have you switched us on?" said he to the Clerk.
"Yes, Sir," was the reply. "We are now in communication with all the principal Hotels and Clubs."
"That's right. I am always anxious that my clients shall have their full money's-worth." And then the Vicar read with much emphasis the exhortation to the public to declare any "just cause or impediment" to the marriage. Naturally there was no response, and an opening hymn was sung by the choir, which, containing some half-dozen verses, lasted quite a quarter of an hour. At its conclusion the Vicar, who had allowed his attention to become distracted, instead of going on with the service, again read the exhortation. He once more gave the names of "HARRY SMITH, bachelor," and "AMY JONES, widow."
"If anyone knows any just cause or impediment," he continued.
"Stop; I do!" interrupted a gentleman in a dressing-gown, who had hurriedly entered the Church. "I heard you about a quarter of an hour ago, while I was breakfasting at the Shaftesbury Avenue Hotel, ask the same question, and came here without changing my coat. Very sorry to interrupt the ceremony, but this lady is my wife! Well, AMY, how are you?"
"What, JOEY!" exclaimed the (now) ex-Bride, delightedly. "We are glad to see you! We thought you were dead!"
Then the gentleman in the dressing-gown was heartily greeted on all sides. He seemed to be a very popular personage.
"But where do I come in?" asked Mr. BROWN, the ex-Bridegroom, who had, during this scene, shown signs of embarrassment.
"O JOEY, I quite forgot to introduce you to HARRY," said the ex-Bride. "You must know one another. I was going to marry him when you, darling, turned up just in the nick of time, like a dear good old boy!"
"Delighted to make your acquaintance, Sir," said Mr. JONES, shaking Mr. BROWN warmly by the hand. "And now I must go back to finish my breakfast!"
"Yes, with me," said the ex-Bride. "You must sit, darling, in the seat intended for poor HARRY. I know you won't mind, HARRY (or, perhaps, I ought to call you Mr. BROWN now?), as I have so much to say to dear JOEY. And you can have your breakfast at a side-table—now won't you, just to please me? You always are so kind and considerate!"
And, as the wedding-party left the Church, the Clerk hastily unswitched the electric communication.
"Be quiet, Sir!" he whispered, sternly, to Mr. BROWN, who had been talking to himself. "If our clients heard you, we should be ruined! We guarantee that our telephonic supply shall be perfectly free from bad language!"
* * * * *
PROPHET AND LOSS.—Good Mussulmen, so it is said, object to a play entitled Mahomet being produced in London. The objection was successful in Paris. London Managers (except, perhaps, Sheriff DRURIOLANUS, who revived Le Prophete this season) will be on the side of the objectors, as they would rather have to do with a genuine profit than a fictitious one. Perhaps the non-production of Mahomet may be a loss to Literature and the Drama.
* * * * *
A BACHELOR'S IDYL.
I am not married, but I see No life so pleasant as my own; I think it's good for man to be Alone.
Some marry not who once have been— A curious process—crossed in love, Who find a life's experience in A glove;
Or else will sentimental grow At recollections of a dance; But, luckily for me, I've no Romance.
Of course I know "love in a cot,"— The little wife who calls you "hub,"— But I'm content whilst I have got My Club.
In some fine way, I don't know how, Some fool, some idiot, who lacks A grain of sense, proposes now A tax.
A Tax on Bachelors! Ah, well, If this becomes the law's decree, I cheerfully shall pay the L. S.D.,
Quite happy with my single lot, Convinced beyond a doubt that life Is just worth living it you've not A wife.
(A LITTLE LATER.)
I'll sing exaltedly no more, But sadly in a minor key Will tell what fortune had in store For me.
I rather think, the other day, That someone asked, "Should women woo?" I'll answer that without delay— They do!
She came—I foolishly was glad— She took me captive with a glance, Of course I never really had A chance.
And when she bent her pretty head To ask the question, I confess That what at once with joy I said Was "Yes."
She says our wedding is to be On Monday—quite a swell affair. My wife and I shall hope to see You there.
* * * * *
"IS THIS THE HEND?"
The following, headed Scottish Leader, was sent to us as a quotation:—
"The Duke of FIFE has sold the estate of Eden, near Banff, to Mr. THOMAS ADAM, Deputy Chairman of the Great North of Scotland Railway Company."
If the above information be correct, this transfer of "Eden" to "ADAM" looks uncommonly like "Paradise Regained."
* * * * *
The Baron must say a word about Voces Populi, by F. ANSTEY, author of the immortal Vice Versa. That the series contained in this volume appeared in Mr. Punch's pages is sufficient guarantee for the excellence of its quality, and more than this it would not become the Baron to say; but of the illustrations by J. BERNARD PARTRIDGE the Baron can speak—and speak in terms of the highest admiration of them—as works of genuinely artistic humour. There are twenty illustrations, that is, ten brace of Partridges, if he will allow the Baron so far to make game of him. The book is published by LONGMANS, GREEN & Co.
The Leadenhall Press has brought out, in Pocket form, Prince Dorus, by CHARLES LAMB, with nine coloured illustrations, following the original Edition of 1811. The lines are not very Lamb-like, but the illustrations are very quaint, and the Pocket Volume is a curiosity of literature.
BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
A REALLY VALUABLE SUGGESTION.
(TO THE EDITOR OF PUNCH.)
DEAR SIR,—As the conductor of the recognised organ of the legal profession, I have the honour to address you. My learned and accomplished friend. Mr. MONTAGU WILLIAMS, Q.C., complained the other day that there was a right of appeal from the Police Court to the Bench of Middlesex Magistrates. He said that his colleagues were barristers and gentlemen of considerable eminence, and in those characters were better able to decide upon the merits of a case than the persons who compose the Tribunal to which appeal from their decision is permissible. I have not recently looked through the list of Metropolitan Police Magistrates, but, if they have been chosen from the ranks of literature and law, as they were thirty years ago, I can well understand that they are an exceedingly capable body of men. That so accomplished a litterateur and admirable an advocate as my friend Mr. MONTAGU WILLIAMS himself should have been raised to the Magisterial bench, is a proof that the standard has been maintained. But, Sir, can nothing be done for the other tribunal?
Would it not be possible to appoint a certain proportion of stipendiaries, with ample salaries, to that body? What is wanted are men with a perfect knowledge of the law, and a large experience of the adversities as well as the pleasures of life. If they occasionally dabble in literature, so much the better. But, it may be said, where are such men to be found? I answer, in very many places, and, to encourage the authorities in their search, shall be most happy to personally head the list.
Yours, very faithfully,
(Signed) A. BRIEFLESS, JUNIOR. Pump-handle Court, Oct. 4th, 1890.
* * * * *
THE GROAN OF THE GUSHLESS.
(A SONG A LA SHENSTONE.)
["What is described as an Anti-Gush Society has, according to a Pittsburg paper, been formed in New York, its object being to check the growing tendency, especially noticeable among young people of the period, to express themselves in exaggerated language."]
Girl Member of the A.G.S. loq.:—
Ye maidens, so cheerful and gay, Whose words ever fulsomely fall, Oh, pity your friend, who to-day Has become a Society's thrall. Allow me to muse and to sigh, Nor talk of the change that ye find; None once was more happy than I; But, alas! I've left Gushing behind!
Now I know what it is to have strove With the tortures of verbal desire. I must use measured terms, where I love, And be moderate, when I admire. No slang must my diction adorn, I must never say "awfully swell." Alas! I feel flat and forlorn, I have bidden Girl-Gushing farewell!
Since I put down my name in that book I have never called bonnets "divine," For our Sec. with a soul-shaking look, Would be down on your friend with a fine. So the milliners now I pass by; Though dearly they pleased me of yore; If a girl musn't gush, squirm, and sigh, Even shopping becomes quite a bore.
For "gorgeous" I languish in vain, And I pine for a "love"—and a "dear." Oh! why did I vow to be plain— In my speech? It sounds awfully queer! Stop! "Awfully" is not allowed. Though it will slip out sometimes, I own. Oh, I might as well sit in my shroud, As use moderate language alone.
To force us fair nymphs to forego The hyperbole dear to our heart, And the slang without which speech is "slow," Is to make us a "people apart." Oh, to say (without fines) "quite too-too!" For dear "awfully jolly" I yearn. I would "chuck" all my friends, sweet—save you— To the pathways of Gush to return.
Eh? "Chuck" did I say? That is Slang! And "Sweet?" That's decidedly Gush! Oh, let the A.G.S. go hang! My old love returns with a rush. It is "gorgeous" once more to be free, O'er a frock or a first night to glow. Come to-morrow! Go shopping with me, Ownest own—and we'll gush as we go!
[Footnote 1: SHENSTONE, not Mr. Punch, is responsible for the peccant participle.]
* * * * *
THE MODERN NELSON MOTTO.—At the Church Congress. Lord NELSON expressed a strong desire for the union of Dissenters with Churchmen. If his Lordship's reading of the old Nelsonian motto is "England expects that every clergyman (Dissenter or Churchman) should do somebody else's duty," then England will have to wait a considerable time for the Utopian realisation of this pious wish.
* * * * *
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.