OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
April 2, 1892.
"'TIS MERRY IN HALL."
"What's in an 'at without an 'ed?" DISTAFFINA DE COCKAIGNE was wont to inquire, and "what's an 'all" (of Music like the London Pavilion) "without a NED" in the shape of Mr. EDWARD SWANBOROUGH, the all-knowing yet ever-green Acting Manager at this place of entertainment, who possessing the secret of perpetual youth in all the glory of ever-resplendent hat and ever-dazzling shirt-front, ushers us into the Stalls in time to hear the best part of an excellent all-round show. It is sad to think that, probably as we were disputing with the cabman, the celebrated Miss BOOM-TE-RE-SA, alias LOTTIE COLLINS, Serio-Comic and Dancer, was "booming" and "teraying" before the eyes of a delighted audience. Strange that we should not yet have heard the great original. But as she is not (so to adapt a line from the "Last Rose of Summer") "left booming alone," we have not escaped hearing several of her male and female imitators who, by her kind permission and that of her publishers, trade on her present exceptional success. However, when we entered the Stalls, Miss BOOM-TE-RE-SA had disappeared, and somebody with a song had "intervened"—a mode of proceeding not necessarily limited to the Queen's Proctor—before the object of our visit walked on to the stage, and when he did come a pretty object he was too, seeing that it was Mr. ALBERT CHEVALIER, the unequalled and inimitable Comedian of the Costermongers. He is a thorough artist in this particular line, and no indifferent one in others; but his Coster ballads are artistically first rate. The fashion of calling English singers by Italian names is on the wane, otherwise Mr. ALBERT CHEVALIER, of French extraction, would find an excellent Italian alias, closely associated with the operatic and musical professions, and most appropriate to the line he has adopted, in the name of "SIGNOR COSTA." The melody of Mr. CHEVALIER's "Coster's Serenade," of which, I rather think, he is the composer as well as librettist, is as charming as it is strikingly original. After the Chevalier sans peur et sans approche had retired, clever and sprightly Miss JENNY HILL gave as a taste of lodging-house-keeperism, following whom came the Two MACS belabouring each other in their old hopelessly idiotic, but always utterly irresistible style; and then Lieutenant W. COLE—King COLE we "crowned him long ago"—gave his ventriloquial entertainment, who, with his troop of talking dolls, should have his address at Dollis Hill. There were many "turns" yet to follow when we left, at a comparatively early hour; "and so," to quote old PEPYS, "home with much content."
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"TO HAVE AND TO HOLD."
Big promises and Party scoldings Won't cure "Small Savings" by "Small Holdings."
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THE MARVELS OF MODERN SCIENCE.
SCENE—Interior of Small Box containing telephone with book of addresses. Enter hurriedly Impatient Subscriber.
Impatient Subscriber (turning over leaves of address-book). Of course I can't find it! Ah! here it is! 142086. (Rings bell of telephone, and listens with receivers to his ear.) Now I have forgotten it! (Puts back receivers on rests, and refers again to book. Telephone bell rings in answer. He hurries back and calls.) One hundred and forty-two nought eighty-six.
First Voice (from telephone). One hundred and forty-two?
Imp. Sub. Yes, and nought eighty-six.
First Voice. Which do you want?
Imp. Sub. Why, both.
First Voice. You can't. Must have one at a time.
Imp. Sub. It's only one. One four two nought eight six.
First Voice. One four two nought eight six?
Imp. Sub. Yes, please. One four two nought eight six.
First Voice. Very well. Why didn't you give the number before?
Imp. Sub. (angrily). Well, I have given it now. (He listens intently, exclaiming now and again, "Are you there?" and then rings.) One four two nought eight six, please.
First Voice (after a pause). What!
Imp. Sub. One four two nought eight six, please.
First Voice (as if the number is now heard for the first time). One four two nought eight six?
Imp. Sub. Yes, please. And look sharp!
First Voice. What?
Imp. Sub. One four two nought eight six.
First Voice. I hear. One four two nought eight six. [The communication is cut off for a couple of minutes.
Imp. Sub. (for the sixth time). Are you there?
Second Voice. Yes. Who is it?
Imp. Sub. I am BOSH, BOODLE & CO.
Second Voice. RUSH, RUDDLE & CO.?
Imp. Sub. No. BOSH, BOODLE & CO.
First Voice. Have you finished?
Imp. Sub. No, no—we are still speaking. I want to know if you have sent that case of champagne to BUMBLETON?
Second Voice. What? I can't hear you.
Imp. Sub. (speaking very slowly, as if dictating to imperfectly educated infants). Have—you—sent—that—case—of—cham—pagne—to BUM—BLE—TON?
Second Voice (puzzled). Sent a case of champagne?
First Voice (interposing.) Have you finished?
Imp. Sub. No, we are still speaking. Yes—have you sent a case of champagne to BUMBLETON?
Second Voice. Sent a case of champagne to BUMBLETON? No; why should we?
Imp. Sub. Because you promised TICKLEBY you would.
Second Voice (evidently perplexed). Promised TICKLEBY?
Imp. Sub. (in a tone of reproach). Yes, promised TICKLEBY.
First Voice (interposing.) Have you finished?
Imp. Sub. No, we are still speaking; please don't cut us off. (Returning to the champagne subject). Yes, you promised TICKLEBY you would send the case of champagne to BUMBLETON. (With inspiration.) You are the Arctic Wine Company, aren't you?
Second Voice. No. I am Secretary of the Curate's Papier Mache Church Company.
Imp. Sub. (in a tone of sorrow). Aren't you one four two nought eight six?
Third Voice (coming from somewhere). Mind and bring a gun with you, and—.
Second Voice. No. We are two four eight nought six seven. Good morning!
First Voice. Have you finished?
Imp. Sub. (angrily). I have not begun! You have put me on the wrong number!
First Voice (calmly). What number do you want?
Imp. Sub. (angrily). One four two nought eight six.
First Voice. Two four two nought eight six?
Imp. Sub. (with suppressed rage). No, one four two nought eight six.
First Voice. Very well. One four two nought eight six.
Imp. Sub. Yes, and don't make a mistake.
[Long pause, during which he asks, "Are you there?" at intervals.
Fourth Voice. What is it?
Imp. Sub. Are you Arctic Wine Company?
Fourth Voice. Yes, all right! What is it?
Imp. Sub. (joyfully). Have you sent a case of champagne to BUMBLETON?
Fourth Voice. What? I can't hear you.
First Voice. (interposing). Have you finished?
Imp. Sub. No, we are still speaking. Have you sent a case of champagne to BUMBLETON?
Fourth Voice. We can't hear you. Send a messenger.
First Voice. Have you finished?
Imp. Sub. (shouting). Yes! (Is cut off.) Shorter to have done so at once!
[Uses intemperate language, and hurries off to get a Messenger. Curtain.
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THE CHURLISH CABMAN.
The Cabman's thrifty fares, Who would seek suburban airs, Desire, of course, a more extended "radius;" But, Cabby, it is clear, Thinks quite otherwise. I fear The controversy's growing rather "taydious." Whether by night or day, A fair fare the fare should pay, And Cabby should not overcharge unduly; But this is what riles me, When churl Cabby will not see A would-be fare, but just ignores him coolly.
"Hi! hi! Cab! Hi!" Oh, no! On the sullen brute will go; When he wants a fare, he's clamorous and unruly; But if he wants a drink, With a sneer or with a wink, He'll rumble on and just ignore you coolly.
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HOW TO REPORT THE PRACTICE OF THE CREWS.
Scarcely had the tintinabulum fixed on the altitude of the clock tower of the ecclesiastical building known to fame and rowing men as Putney Church sounded out the merry chimes of eleven in the forenoon, when the wielders of the sky-blue (or dark-blue) blades were observed by the eager frequenters of the tow-path carrying their trim-built ship to the water's edge. Not many moments were cut to waste before each man had safely ensconced himself on the thwart built for him under the experienced eyes of the champion boat-builder. The men looked, it must in all fairness be admitted, in the high level of condition. In each eye there blazed a stern determination to do or die on every possible occasion. When the signal to start was given, the boat was observed to move with the bounding speed of a highly-trained greyhound. The oars dipped into the water like one man, though a marked inclination was observed on the part of two or three of the oarsmen to "hurry," while the rest seemed equally disposed to be "late." A few fatherly words from the prince of modern coaches soon had the desired effect of placing matters on a more completely satisfactory footing. The suggestion often made in these columns that a swifter rate of striking should be introduced, was acted upon. The boat moved with perfect evenness, while the wavelets played round her like young dolphins out for a holiday.
I need only add that our old friend Jupiter Pluvius proved once again to be a kind friend to those who tempted the dangers of the foaming tide in Putney Reach. In conclusion, it must be observed that the stroke was sometimes "short" and occasionally "long," but the "slides" moved like things of life, and contributed greatly to the pleasure of a very enjoyable outing.
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DESTROYING THE SPIDER'S WEB;
OR, THE THIRTEENTH LABOUR OF HERSCHELLES.
"To Lion-Hearted Hercules," the strong, Sounded the clarion of Homeric song. "Alcides, forcefullest of all the brood Of men enforced with need of earthly food." Punch will sing gallant Herschelles, than whom Who was more worthy of Alcmene's womb Or Jovian parentage? Behold him stand With lion-hide on loins, and club in hand! Forceful and formidable to all foes, But fatal most especially to those Of Hydra presence and Stymphalian beak, Whose quarry is unseasoned youth, who seek By subtle snares the Infant's steps to trip, And catch the Minor in their harpy grip. To his Twelve Labours, against monsters grim, Who might have lived in safety but for him, To snare, to slay, to humbug, and to cozen, Herschelles, just to make a baker's dozen, Adds a Thirteenth! A wily, wicked wight, Dwelling in noxious nooks as dark as night, Beyond the radius of the housemaid's broom, And thence dispensing dire disgrace and doom Long time our homes hath haunted. Greedy Ghoul, As furtive of advance as fierce of soul, The Money-lending Spider is his name, And grim and gruesome was his little game. Of swollen body, of protuberant beak, He knew that Youths were green, and Infants weak, And spun his web, invisible but strong, Where'er GRAY's well-named "little triflers" throng, Who, verily unmindful of their doom, He watched from forth his grubby haunts of gloom, And strove by sinister device to lure, Till, 'midst his viscous mazes once secure, Them he might seize and suck. The Birds, the Boar, The Lion, or the Bull, all whom before Great Herschelles had tackled, were not worse Than the Colossal Spider, Albion's curse, The scourge of childish Wealth and youthful Rank, The Moloch of our Minors! Fathers, thank Our new Alcides, who, with legal club, Could dare the web assault, the Spider drub! Worse than Tarantula venom hath the bite Of this Conkiferous Ogre, which to fight Herschelles did adventure! Thump! Bang! Whack! The web is burst, the Spider's on his back, All impotently spluttering poisonous spleen Let's hope such monster may no more be seen. And let us hail great Herschelles, whose skill The high-nosed horror hath availed to kill. Blow, Infants, blow the pipe, and thump the tabor, In honour of the hero's Thirteenth Labour!
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CONFESSIONS OF A DUFFER.
VII.—THE DUFFER WITH A SALMON-ROD.
No pursuit is more sedentary, if one may talk of a sedentary pursuit, and none more to my taste, than trout-fishing as practised in the South of England. Given fine weather, and a good novel, nothing can he more soothing than to sit on a convenient stump, under a willow, and watch the placid kine standing in the water, while the brook murmurs on, and perhaps the kingfisher flits to and fro. Here you sit and fleet the time carelessly, till a trout rises. Then, indeed, duty demands that you shall crawl in the manner of the serpent till you come within reach of him, and cast a fly, which usually makes him postpone his dinner-hour. But he will come on again, there is no need for you to change your position, and you can always fill your basket easily—with irises and marsh-marigolds.
Such are our county contents, but woe befall the day when I took to salmon-fishing. The outfit is expensive, "half-crown flees" soon mount up, especially if you never go out without losing your fly-book. If you buy a light rod, say of fourteen feet, the chances are that it will not cover the water, and a longer rod requires in the fisherman the strength of a SANDOW. You need wading-breeches, which come up nearly to the neck, and weigh a couple of stone. The question has been raised, can one swim in them, in case of an accident? For one, I can answer, he can't. The reel is about the size of a butter-keg, the line measures hundreds of yards, and the place where you fish for salmon is usually at the utter ends of the earth. Some enthusiasts begin in February. Covered with furs, they sit in the stern of a boat, and are pulled in a funereal manner up and down Loch Tay, while the rods fish for themselves. The angler's only business is to pick them up if a salmon bites, and when this has gone on for a few days, with no bite, Influenza, or a hard frost with curling, would be rather a relief. This kind of thing is not really angling, and a Duffer is as good at it as an expert.
Real difficulties and sufferings begin when you reach the Cruach-na-spiel-bo, which sounds like Gaelic, and will serve us as a name for the river. It is, of course, extremely probable that you pay a large rent for the right to gaze at a series of red and raging floods, or at a pale and attenuated trickle of water, murmuring peevishly through a drought. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that the water is "in order," and only running with deep brown swirls at some thirty miles an hour. Suppose also, a large presumption, that the Duffer does not leave any indispensable part of his equipment at home. He arrives at the stream, and as he detests a gillie, whose contempt for the Duffer breeds familiarity, he puts up his rod, selects a casting line, knots on the kind of fly which is locally recommended, and steps into the water. Oh, how cold it is! I begin casting at the top of the stream, and step from a big boulder into a hole. Stagger, stumble, violent bob forwards, recovery, trip up, and here one is in a sitting position in the bed of the stream. However, the high india-rubber breeks have kept the water out, except about a pailful, which gradually illustrates the equilibrium of fluids in the soles of one's stockings. However, I am on my feet again, and walking more gingerly, though to the spectator, my movements suggest partial intoxication. That is because the bed of the stream is full of boulders, which one cannot see, owing to the darkness of the water. There was a fish rose near the opposite side. My heart is in my mouth. I wade in as far as I can, and make a tremendous swipe with the rod. A frantic tug behind, crash, there goes the top of the rod! I am caught up in the root of a pine-tree, high up on the bank at my back. No use in the language of imprecation. I waddle out, climb the bank, extricate the fly, get out a spare top, and to work again, more cautiously. Something wrong, the hook has caught in my coat, between my shoulders. I must get the coat off somehow, not an easy thing to do, on account of my india-rubber armour. It is off at last. I cut the hook out with a knife making a big hole in the coat, and cast again. That was over him! I let the fly float down, working it scientifically. No response. Perhaps better look at the fly. Just my luck, I have cracked it off!
Where is the fly-book? Where indeed? A feverish search for the fly-book follows—no use: it is not in the basket, it is not in my pocket; must have fallen out when I fell into the river. No good in looking for it, the water is too thick, I thought I heard a splash. Luckily there are some flies in my cap, it looks knowing to have some flies in one's cap, and it is not so easy to lose a cap, without noticing it, as to lose most things. Here is a big Silver Doctor that may do as the water is thick. I put one on, and begin again casting over where that fish rose. By George, there he came at me, at least I think it must have been at me, a great dark swirl, "the purple wave bowed over it like a hill," but he never touched me. Give him five minutes law, the hook is sure to be well fastened on, need not bother looking at that again. Five minutes take a long time in passing, when you are giving a salmon a rest. Good times and bad times and all times pass, so here goes. It is correct to begin a good way above him and come down to him. I'm past him; no, there is a long heavy drag under water, I get the point up, he is off like a shot, while I stand in a rather stupid attitude, holding on. If I cannot get out and run down the bank, he has me at his mercy. I do stagger out, somehow, falling on my back, but keeping the point up with my right hand. No bones broken, but surely he is gone! I begin reeling up the line, with a heavy heart, and try to lift it out of the water. It won't come, he is here still, he has only doubled back. Hooray! Nothing so nice as being all alone when you hook a salmon. No gillie to scream out contradictory orders. He is taking it very easy, but suddenly he moves out a few yards, and begins jiggering, that is, giving a series of short heavy tugs. They say he is never well hooked, when he jiggers. The rod thrills unpleasantly in my hands, I wish he wouldn't do that. It is very disagreeable and makes me very nervous. Hullo! he is off again up-stream, the reel ringing like mad: he gets into the thin water at the top, and jumps high in the air. He is a monster. Hullo! what's that splash? The reel has fallen off, it was always loose, and has got into the water. How am I to act now? He is coming back like mad, and all the line is loose, and I can't reel up. I begin pulling at the line to bring up the reel, but the reel only lets the line out, and now he is off again, down stream this time, and I after him, and the line running out at both ends at once, and now my legs get entangled in it, it is twisted all round me. He runs again and jumps, the line comes back in my face, all slack, something has given. It is the hook, it was not knotted on firmly to start with. He flings himself out of the water once more to be sure that he is free, and I sit down and gnaw the reel. Had ever anybody such bad fortune, but it is just my luck!
I go back to the place where the reel fell in, and by pulling cautiously I extract it from the stream. It shan't come off again; I tie it on with the leather lace of one of my brogues. Then I reel up the slack, and put on another fly, out of my cap, a Popham. Then I fish down the rest of the pool. Near the edge, in the slower part of the water, there is a long slow draw, before I can lift the point of the rod, a salmon jumps high out of the water at me,—and is gone! I never struck him, was too much taken aback at the moment; did not expect him then. Thank goodness, the hook is not off this time.
The next stream is very deep, strong and narrow; the best chance is close in on my side. By Jove, here he is, he took almost beside the rock. He sails leisurely out into the strength of the stream, if he will come up, I can manage him, but if he goes down, the water is very swift and broken, there are big boulders, and then a sheer wall of rock difficult to pass in cold blood, and then the Big Pool. He insists on going down, I hold hard on him, and refuse line. But he leaps, and then, well he will have it; down he rushes, I after him, over the stones, scrambling along the rocky face; great heavens! the top joint of the rod is loose; I did not tie it on, thought it would hold well enough. But down it runs, right down the line; it must be touching the fish. It is; he does not like it, he jiggers like a mad thing, rushes across the Big Pool, nearly on to the opposite bank. Why won't the line run? The line is entangled in my boot-lace. He is careering about; I feel that I am trembling like a leaf. There, I knew it would happen; he is off with my last casting-line, hook and all. A beauty he was, clear as silver and fresh from the sea. Well, there is nothing for it but a walk back to the house. I have lost one fly-book, two hooks, a couple of casting-lines, three salmon, a top joint, and I have torn a great hole in my coat. On changing my dress before lunch, I find my fly-book in my breast pocket, where I had not thought of looking for it somehow. Then the rain comes, and there is not another fishing day in my fortnight. Still, it decidedly was "one crowded hour of glorious life," while it lasted. The other men caught four or five salmon apiece; it is their Red Letter Day. It is marked in black in my calendar.
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["It is a noteworthy fact that while debates have been languishing at Westminster, at Tooting there have been Members enough to 'make a House' any day during the past fortnight, so keen an interest is the 'Royal and Ancient' game exciting."—Daily Telegraph.]
What's the use of hooting. Or cir-cum-lo-cuting? M.P.'s off To play at Golf. All the way to Tooting!
Petty points PAT's mooting! Chances not computing, M.P. slips, (Despite the Whips) Off to Golf at Tooting!
Landlords may be looting, Tenants may be shooting; Where's the fun In that? Let's run Off to Golf at Tooting!
So M.P.'s are "scooting," On-the-gay-galoot-ing; Cut the House (It shows their nous) For the Links at Tooting!
There is joy in shooting, Wine-ing or cherooting, Dinners, Moors, Weeds—all are bores, Compared with Golf at Tooting!
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"BEYOND THE DREAMS OF AVARICE."
["FIFTY POUNDS Reward will be gratefully paid to any Lady or Gentleman who will ASSIST in RECOVERING a valuable HEIRLOOM.... Anyone with wealthy or influential friends can at once secure above reward. Address, &c."]
I am an impecunious young man, and, the other day, on seeing this Advertisement in the Times, I was seized with a wild desire to "at once secure above reward." Said I to myself, "I have 'wealthy and influential friends.' There is my cousin's uncle, who has, I believe, thirty thousand a-year, though I never saw any part of it, or of him, for the matter of that; and there is my own aunt by marriage, whose second husband is a K.C.B., but I forget his name, and do not know where he lives." So I sat and thought about it for a time with my eyes shut, and then I started. The train was so full, that I imagined it must be market-day in some neighbouring town, but the station was so much fuller, that I could hardly get out of the train. At last, edgeways, I reached a pale and melancholy ticket-collector, and asked him where I should find the address mentioned. He turned a pitying eye upon me, and, pointing to the crowd that filled the station, said, wearily, "They're all a-goin' there. I know, cos they've all arst me. You'd better foller 'em."
This statement filled me with desperation; I fought and struggled through the vast crowd of persons "with wealthy and influential friends" until I reached the open street. By that time I was exhausted, and, finding that the street was even fuller than the station had been, I gave up the attempt. I saw that the reserve of gold at the Bank of England would not have sufficed to pay each applicant the promised L50. In any case I felt sure that by that time the whole of the money in the town must have been used up. So, without hat or umbrella, and with my coat as much divided up the back as up the front, I returned—to consciousness, and went on reading the newspaper.
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All the greatest swells Of the U.S.A. Come to see a new, Fascinating play. Verses by a Lord! Music by a Knight! Just the thing in which Democrats delight. When the hearty praise Bursts from Yankee lips, "Pass and blush the news Over glowing ships;" What are "glowing ships"? That I've never guessed, "Pass the happy news, Blush it thro' the West;" This I simply quote From the poet's muse; Hang me if I know How you "blush the news"! Anyhow, you do, If the lines will scan, "Till the red man dance," Do you think he can? "And the red man's babe Leap beyond the sea." Active sort of child, Surely, that must be! "Blush from West to East," Blush from left to right, "Till the West is East," And the black is white, DALY is the man! Daily is the play, "Dailies" puff it up, In the kindest way.
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MORE APPROPRIATE.—The Senate House, where the Degree Examinations take place, might well be termed "The Spinning House." It is there that unfortunate Candidates are "spun."
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THE TELEPHONE CINDERELLA;
OR, WANTED A GODMOTHER.
["Far from taking up and developing the new mode of communication thus given into its hands, it (the Post Office) could not forget its attitude of hostility to the innovation, or conceive any larger policy than one of repressing the telephone in order to make people stick to the telegraph.... The result is that England lags far behind all other civilised countries in the use of the telephone."—Times.]
Cinderella, you sit and look sober, Cinderella, you mope and look queer— You mope, and look dolefully queer; As chill as JOHN MILLAIS' "October," As you have done, this many a year. It is hard on you; MOZART or AUBER Might fail your depression to cheer— Had you taken the draught named of Glauber, You could scarce look duller, my dear
Our times, dear, are truly Titanic, Perfection seems Science's goal— Dim, distant, dark Science's goal— But we're still a bit given to panic. Monopolies moodily roll— Monopolies restlessly roll— That's why there's a movement volcanic That stirs us from pole unto pole— A moaning that's vainly volcanic, In the realms of the (Telegraph) pole.
Deputations are serious and sober, Officials look palsied and sere— They indulge in rhetoric small-beer (Instead of sound sparkling October) They're frightened about you, my dear— (You, at present in two senses, dear!) They would scan the far future, and probe her, But can't—and it makes them feel queer; As you sit by the fire, looking sober, You make them sit up and feel queer.
Your sisters, whose airs are unpleasant, Regard you with arrogant scorn— With arrogant, uneasy scorn— True, they have the pull, for the present, But fear you, the fair youngest born. They know that your glory is crescent, And, though each uplifteth her horn, Each feels that her glory's senescent, In spite of their duplicate scorn.
Miss Telegraph, lifting her finger, Says—"Sadly this minx I mistrust— Her manners I strangely mistrust— She'll distance us, dear, if we linger! Ah, haste!—let us haste!—for we must! She'll eclipse us—that would be a stinger! She'll rise, and our business is "bust"— My dear, we must snub her, and bring her Presumptuous pride to the dust— Till she sorrowfully sinks in the dust."
Post replies—"Oh, it's nothing but dreaming, Her hoping to put out our light!— Our brilliant and duplicate light! What did FERGUSSON say, blandly beaming Upon the tired House t'other night? He said he would make it all right. Ah, we safely may trust to his scheming— Be sure he will lead us aright— He won't let the damsel there dreaming Despoil us of what is our right— The monopoly plainly our right!"
Yet watch Cinderella, and list her! She yet will emerge from her gloom— Time will conquer her fears and her gloom. Before her she hath a bright vista. The fairy Godmother will come! Redtape shall not long seal her doom. What is written is written! No "sister," (Though scorning her beauty, and broom) Shall shroud her bright light in the tomb Which yet the whole land shall illume!
She's "some pumpkins"—though now she looks sober— She's brilliant; she is "no small beer." No, no, Cinderella, my dear! Your envious "sisters" may jeer, And sit on you yet, for a year; Redtape your advancement may fear, And Monopoly's patrons look queer; But, as sure as the month of October Is famous for sound British beer, Vested Interest time shall prove no bar To your final triumph, my dear!
[Footnote 1: POE, not Mr. Punch, should have the credit of this and certain other Cockney rhymes.]
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"HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE."—"The competition for the Evill Prize also took place yesterday" (i.e., last Thursday. Vide Times). The prize so Evilly named was won by Mr. PHILIP BROZEL, of the Royal Academy of Music, who must have expressed himself as being at least deucedly delighted, even if he did not use some much stronger and wronger expression. Henceforth PHILIP BROZEL has an Evill reputation. Let us hope he will live up to it, and so live it down.
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(A SKETCH AT ANY THEATRE ON MOST AFTERNOONS.)
SCENE—The Front of the House. In the Boxes and Dress-circle are friends and relations of the Author. In the Stalls are a couple of Stray Critics who leave early, actors and actresses "resting" more friends and relations. In the Pit, the front row is filled by the Author's domestic servants, the landladies of several of the performers, and a theatrical charwoman or two, behind them a sprinkling of the general public, whose time apparently hangs heavily on their hands. In a Stage-box is the Author herself, with a sycophantic Companion. A murky gloom pervades the Auditorium; a scratch orchestra is playing a lame and tuneless Schottische for the second time, to compensate for a little delay of fifteen minutes between the first and second Tableaux in the Second Act. The orchestra ceases, and a Checktaker at the Pit door whistles "Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay!" Some restless spirits stamp feebly.
The Author. I wish they would be a little quicker. I've a good mind to go behind myself and hurry them up. The audience are beginning to get impatient.
Her Companion. But that shows how interested they are, doesn't it, dear?
Author. I think it ought to interest them, but I did expect they would have shown a little more enthusiasm over that situation in the last tableau—they're rather a cold audience!
Comp. It's above their heads, dear, that's where it is—plays are such rubbish nowadays, people don't appreciate a really great drama just at first. I do hope Mr. IRVING, Mr. HARE and Mr. BEERBOHM TREE will come in—I'm sure they'll be only too anxious to secure it!
Author. I don't know that I should care for it to come out at the Lyceum, but of course if the terms were very—oh, they're beginning at last! I hope this light comedy scene will go well. (Curtain rises: Comic dialogue—nothing whatever to do with the plot—between a Footman and a Matinee Maidservant in short sleeves, a lace tucker, and a diamond necklace; depression of audience. Serious characters enter and tell one another long and irrelevant stories, all about nothing. When the auditor remarks, "Your story is indeed a sad one—but go on," a shudder goes through the house, which becomes a groan ten minutes later when the listener says: "You have told me your history—now hear mine!" He tells it; it proves, if possible, duller and more irrelevant than the other man's. A love-scene follows, characterised by all the sparkle and brilliancy of "Temperance Champagne"; the House witnesses the fall of the Curtain with apathy.)
Author. That love-scene was perfectly ruined by the acting! She ought to have turned her head aside when he said, "Dash the teapot!" but she never did, and he left out all that about dreaming of her when he was ill with measles in Mashonaland! I wish they wouldn't have such long waits, though. We timed the piece at rehearsal, and, with the cuts I made, it only played about four hours; but I'm afraid it will take longer than that to-day.
Comp. I don't care how long it is—it's so beautifully written!
Author. Well, I put my whole soul into it, you know; but it's not till this next Act that I show my full power. [Curtain rises on a drawing-room, furnished with dingy wrecks from the property-room—the home of JASPER, the Villain, who is about to give an evening party. Enter a hooded crone. "Sir JASPER, I have a secret of importance, which can only be revealed to your private ear!" (Shivers of apprehension amongst the audience.) Sir J. "Certainly, go into yonder apartment, and await me there." (Sigh of relief from spectators.) A Footman. "Sir, the guests wait!" Sir J. (with lordly ease). "Bid them enter!" (They troop in unannounced and sit down against the wall, entertaining one another in dumb-show.) Footman (re-entering). "Sir, a roughly-dressed stranger, who says he knew you in Norway, under an alias, requests a few words." Sir J. "Confusion!—one of my former accomplices in crime—my guests must not be present at this interview!" (To Guests.) "Ladies and Gentlemen, will you step into the adjoining room for a few minutes, and examine my collection of war-weapons?" (Guests retire, with amiable anticipations of enjoyment. The Stranger enters, and tells another long story.) "I smile still," he concludes—"but even a dead man's skull will smile. Allow me then the privileges of death!" (At this an irreverent Pittite suddenly guffaws, and the Audience from that moment perceives that the piece possesses a humorous side. The Stranger goes; the Guests return. Re-enter Footman). "Sir, an elderly man, who was acquainted with your family years ago, insists on seeing you, and will take no denial!" Villain (with presence of mind—to Guests.) "Ladies and Gentlemen, will you step into the neighbouring apartment, and join the dancers?" (The Guests obey. The Elderly Man enters, and denounces JASPER, who mendaciously declares that he is his own second cousin JOSEPH; whereupon the visitor turns down his coat-collar, and takes off a false beard.) "Do you know me now, JASPER SHOPPUN?" he cries. "I am JOSEPH—your second cousin!"... "What, ho, Sir Insolence!" the Villain retorts. "And so you come to deliver me to Justice?"... "Not so," says JOSEPH. "Long years ago I swore to my dying Aunt to protect your reputation, even at the expense of my own. I come to warn you that"—&c., &c. (The Audience, who are now in excellent spirits, receive every incident with uncontrollable merriment till the end of the Act. Another long wait, enlivened by a piccolo solo.)
Author. LAVINIA, it's too disgraceful—it's a deliberate conspiracy to turn the piece into ridicule. I never thought my own relations would turn against me—and yet I might have known!
Comp. It wasn't the play they laughed at, dear—that's lovely—but it's so ridiculously acted, you know!
Author. Of course the acting is abominable—but they might make allowances for that. It is so unfair! [The Play proceeds. The Heroine's jealousy has been excited by the Villain, for vague purposes of his own, and the Hero is trying to disarm her suspicions. She. "But why are you constantly going from Paris to London at the beck and call of that man?" He (aside). "If she only knew that I do it to shield my second cousin, JASPER—but my oath!—I cannot tell her! (To her.) The reason is very simple, darling—he is my Private Secretary!" (Roars of inextinguishable laughter, drowning the Wife's expressions of perfect satisfaction and confidence. The Hero wants to go out; the Wife begs him to stay; she has 'a presentiment of evil—a dread of something unseen, unknown.' He goes: the Villain enters in evening dress.) Villain. "Your husband is false to you. Meet me in half an hour at the lonely hut by the cross-roads, and you shall have proof of his guilt." (The Wife departs at once, just as she is. Villain, soliloquising.) "So—my diabolical schemes prosper. I have got JOSEPH out of the way by stratagem, decoyed his wife—my early love—to a lonely hut, where my minions wait to seize her. Now to abduct the child, destroy the certificate of vaccination which alone stands between me and a Peerage, set fire to the home of my ancestors, accuse JOSEPH of all my crimes, and take my seat in the House of Lords as the Earl of Addelegg! Ha-ha—a good night's work! a good—" Joseph (from back). "Not so. I have heard all. I will not have it. You shall not!" (&c., &c.) Villain. "You would thwart my schemes?" Joseph (firmly). "I would. My wife and child shall not—" (&c., &c.) Villain (slowly). "And the oath you swore to my Mother, your dying Aunt, would you break that?" Joseph (overcome). "My oath! my Aunt! Ah, no, I cannot, I must not break it. JASPER SHOPPUN, I am powerless—you must do your evil will!" (He sinks on a settee: Triumph of Villain, tableau, and Curtain.)
Author. I wouldn't have believed that a modern audience would treat heroic conduct like that as if it was laughable. It's enough to make one give up play-writing altogether!
Comp. Oh, I wouldn't do that, dear. You mustn't punish Posterity! [The Play goes on and on; the Villain removes inconveniently repentant tools, and saddles the Hero with his nefarious deeds. The Hero is arrested, but reappears, at liberty, in the next Act (about the Ninth), and no reference whatever is made to the past. Old serious characters turn up again, and are welcomed with uproarious delight. At the end of a conversation, lasting a quarter of an hour, the Lady's-maid remarks that "her Mistress has been very ill, and must not talk too much." Cheers from Audience. General joy when the Villain returns a hopeless maniac. Curtain about six, and loud calls for Author.)
Author. Nothing will induce me to take a call after the shameful way they've behaved! And it's all the fault of the acting. When we get home, I'll read the play all through to you again, and you'll see now it ought to have been done! A hundred and twenty pounds simply thrown away!
[Retires, consoled by her Companion, and the consciousness that true genius is invariably unappreciated.
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ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Commons, Monday, March 21.—Uneasy feeling spread through House to-night consequent on question addressed by MACINNES to UNDER-SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS. Wants to know "whether his attention has been called to the increase of drinking among Natives in the Coast Towns?" CAUSTON particularly depressed.
"I sat for Colchester for five years, you know," he said, "and grew into habit of regarding the Natives as my constituents. For five years never swallowed one without thinking I was reducing the number on the Register. Used to excuse myself on the ground that the particular bivalve that had disappeared must have been a Conservative, or it would never have been so stupid as to leave its comfortable bed to embark on such a journey. My interest in the oyster is now secondary. They don't flourish in Southwark; whelks more in our way down there. Still one cannot forget old associations, and confess I'm rather knocked over to hear this report MACINNES has brought up. Can't imagine anything more distressing than the spectacle of a drunken oyster—probably with dishevelled beard—coming home late at night and trying to get into another Native's shell under impression that he has recognised his own front door. Must see WILFRID LAWSON about this; get up an Oyster Temperance Society; framed certificates, blue ribbon, and all that, if the thing spreads, we shall have oysters emitting quite a rum-punch flavour when we add the lemon."
Gloom dissipated two hours later by appearance of BOBBY SPENCER at the Table. BOBBY doesn't often witch the House with oratory. Content with important though to outsiders obscure position he occupies in Party administration. His is the hand that pulls the strings to which Liberal Party dance. SCHNADHORST gets some credit, but everybody knows BOBBY's the man. To see these two political strategists in conference is sufficient to reassure the Liberal Party on the possible issues of the General Election.
SCHNADHORST complains that BOBBY has a trick, after addressing him through the ear-trumpet he (S.) carries in reminiscence of JOSHUA REYNOLDS, of putting his ear to the trumpet as if he expected the answer to arrive through that medium.
"Very embarrassing." SCHNADHORST says, "to have a fellow first putting his mouth and then his ear to other end of your trumpet. Sometimes I say to him, sharply, 'I don't speak through the trumpet.' 'Oh, no, of course not,' he says, 'I beg your pardon,' and draws away. Presently he's back again, politely, as I speak, applying his ear to the trumpet. But it's only the absence of mind that arises from preoccupation in matters of State."
BOBBY, besides being the political director of the strategy of the Liberal Party, is a County Member. It was in this last capacity he appeared at Table to-night in Debate on Second Reading of Small Holdings Bill. House received him with hearty cheer. No one more popular than BOBBY. Delight uproariously manifested when, daintily pulling at his abundant shirt-cuff, and settling his fair young head more comfortably upon summit of his monumental collar, he deprecatingly observed—
"Mr. SPEAKER, Sir, I am not an Agricultural Labourer."
The speech a model of Parliamentary debating, full of point, resting on sound argument, lucidly stated, and all over in five minutes. Business done.—Debate on Small Holdings Bill.
Tuesday.—Morning Sitting. SEXTON at length worked off the speech on Irish Education Bill, that has hung over House like cloud since Bill was introduced in earliest days of Session. Wasn't in his place the first night; so friends and colleagues wore out the sitting to preserve his opportunity. When this next presented itself, SEXTON thought the hour and condition of House unsuitable for person of his consequence; declined to speak. To-day, his last chance, things worse than ever. Benches empty, as usual at Morning Sitting. But now or never, and at least there would be long report in Irish papers. So went at it by the hour. Finished at a quarter to five. At Morning Sitting, debate automatically suspended at ten minutes to seven; two hours and five minutes for everyone else to speak. SINCLAIR long waiting chance to thrust in his nose. Found it at last; but House wearied and worn out; glad when seven o'clock approached, and Bill read First Time.
At Evening Sitting, Lawyers had it all to themselves. ROBERTSON opened Debate on Law of Conspiracy in admirable speech. Later came LOCKWOOD, speaking disrespectfully of "B." Then SQUIRE OF MALWOOD, girding at SOLICITOR-GENERAL; MATTHEWS followed, with plump assertion that Squire had not been talking about the Resolution. Finally CHARLES RUSSELL, with demonstration that "the Right Hon. Gentleman (meaning MATTHEWS) had displayed a complete misconception of the character and objects of the Resolution." Being thus demonstrated upon unimpeachable authority that nobody knew anything about the Resolution, House proceeded to vote upon it. For, 180; against, 226. Ministerialists cheered; Opposition apparently equally delighted. So home I to bed, everyone determined first thing in morning get hold of newspaper, and see what the Resolution really was about. Business done.—Miscellaneous.
Wednesday.—"I wonder," said SAGE OF QUEEN ANNE'S GATE, curiously regarding CHAMBERLAIN discoursing on the Eight Hours Bill, "whom JOE meant by his reference at Birmingham on Saturday night to 'the funny man of the House of Commons,'—'A man who has a natural taste for buffoonery, which he has cultivated with great art, who has a hatred of every Government and all kinds of restraint, and especially, of course, of the Government that happens to be in office.' Couldn't be HENEAGE, and I don't suppose he had JESSE in his mind at the moment. Pity a man can't make his points clearly. JOE used to be lucid enough. But he's falling off now in that as in other matters. Made me rub my eyes when I read his remarks about House of Lords, and remembered what he used to say on subject when he and I ran together. Certainly JOE is a man of courage. There are topics he might, with memory of past speeches, easily avoid or circumnavigate. But he goes straight at 'em, whether fence or ditch, takes them at a stride regardless of his former self, splashed with mud in the jump, or smitten with the horse's hoof. Makes me quite sentimental when I sit and listen to him, and recall days that are no more. Mrs. Gummidge thinking of the Old 'Un is nothing to me thinking of the Young 'Un who came up from Birmingham in 1876, and who from '80 to '85 walked hand in hand with me.
We were patriots together.—Ah! placeman and peer Are the patrons who smile on your labours to-day; And Lords of the Treasury lustily cheer Whatever you do and whatever you say. Go, pocket, my JOSEPH, as much as you will, The times are quite altered we very well know; But will you not, will you not, talk to us still, As you talked to us once long ago, long ago?
We were patriots together!—I know you will think Of the cobbler's caresses, the coalheaver's cries, Of the stones that we throw, and the toasts that we drink Of our pamphlets and pledges, our libels and lies! When the truth shall awake, and the country and town Be heartily weary of BALFOUR & CO., My JOSEPH, hark back to the Radical frown, Let us be what we were, long ago, long ago!"
"Bless me," I cried, "how beautiful! I didn't know that, among your many accomplishments, you were given to dropping into poetry."
"Tut, tut!" said the SAGE, blushing, "it isn't all my own; written years ago by MACKWORTH PRAED, about JOHN CAM HOBHOUSE. I've only brought it up to date."
Business done.—Eight Hours' Bill thrown out on a Division.
Thursday.—Private O'GRADY, of the Welsh Fusiliers, the hero of the hour. His annals short and simple. Got up early in the morning of St. Patrick's Day; provided himself with handful of shamrock, which he stuck in his glengarry. (Note.—O'GRADY, an Irishman, belongs to a Welsh Regiment, and, to complete the pickle, wears a Scotch cap.) The ignorant Saxon officer in command observing the patriot muster with what he, all unconscious of St. Patrick's Day, thought was "a handful of greens" in his cap, instructed the non-commissioned officer to order him to take it out.
"I won't do't," said gallant Private O'GRADY, the hot Celtic blood swiftly brought to boiling pitch by this insult to St. Patrick. Irish Members vociferously cheered when STANHOPE read the passage from Colonel's report. Another non-commissioned officer advancing from the rear, repeated order.
"I won't do't!" roared the implacable Private O'GRADY.
Once more the Irish Members burst into cheering, whilst a soldier in uniform in Strangers' Gallery looked on and listened. Would like to hear his account of scene confided to comrades in privacy of barrack-room.
When STANHOPE finished reading report of officer commanding battalion, Irish Members leaped to their feet in body, each anxious to stand shoulder to shoulder with Private O'GRADY defying the Saxon. NOLAN, who had set ball rolling, might have got in first, but was so excited as to be momentarily speechless; could only paw at the air in direction of Treasury Bench where STANHOPE sat, PAT O'BRIEN, ARTHUR O'CONNOR, the wily WEBB, and the flaccid FLYNN, all shouting together. But SEXTON beat them all, and will duly figure in Parliamentary Report as Vindicator of Nationality, Defender of St. Patrick, and Patron of Private O'GRADY.
"There's nothing new about Ireland," said POLTALLOCH, talking the matter over later in the Lobby. "'Tis the most distressful country that ever yet was seen, Where they punish T. O'GRADY For the wearing of the Green."
Business done.—Small Holdings Bill read Second Time.
Friday Night.—House behaved nobly to-night; FENWICK brought forward Motion proposing payment of Members. House arbiter of situation; might have voted itself anything a year it pleased. Only say the word, and JOKIM would have been bound to find the money. Members flocked down in large numbers: CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, seated on Front Opposition Bench, declares he could distinctly hear smacking of lips of Hon. Members below Gangway when FENWICK observed he thought L365 a year would be reasonable allowance. However insidious temptation may have been, it was nobly resisted. Of nearly 400 Members who took part in Division, only 162 reached out their hand for the pittance, 227 lofty souls going into other Lobby.
Business done.—Private Bill Procedure Bill brought in.
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["The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the life of a Peer is not a happy one."—Mr. Chamberlain, before the Jewellers' and Silversmiths' Association at Birmingham.]
The Orchid is a thoughtful plant—it loves the lordly hot-house, And naturally reprobates poor gilliflowers as "pot-house;" 'Tis rich, exotic, somewhat miscellaneously florid; The rough herbaceous annuals it vulgar deems, and horrid.
With all that's forced and precious it should fraternise in reason, With luscious fruits and rarest roots, and produce out of season; It may perhaps at primroses a condescending hand point; It might be friends with stocks—but from a pure commercial standpoint.
And yet—it is a thoughtful plant—though such a growth fastidious, The proud but simple strawberry still seems to it invidious; Those ducal leaves that shine and twine around the nation's garden, It fancies more delectable than all the blooms of Hawarden.
This orchid's bosom bleeds to feel that, while he flaunts in colour, The chaplet of the strawberry should duller pine and duller, That obsoleteness, though delayed, should still be on the tapis, That, pending its extinction, its existence isn't happy.
O courtly leaves of strawberries, old England's grace and glory, Emblazoned o'er the castle-keeps that moulder nigh and hoary, What comfort for your drooping days, what balm in dire dejection, That yonder orchid spruce extends his shelter and protection.
But, garland sere of Vere de Vere, wan ornaments of Fable, The orchid is a thoughtful plant, and likes a gorgeous table; And, should from out your coronals one berry bright be shining, His patronage may snap it up—to save it from declining!
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