OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
January 2, 1892.
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BORN, APRIL 27TH, 1808. DIED, DECEMBER 21ST, 1891.
Learned, large-hearted, liberal Lord of Land, As clear of head as generous of hand, He lived his honourable length of days, A "Duke" whom doughtiest Democrat might praise. "Leader" in truth, though not with gifts of tongue, Full many a "Friend of Man" the muse has sung Unworthier than patrician CAVENDISH. Seeing him pass who may forbear the wish, Would more were like him!—Then the proud command, "Noblesse oblige" e'en Mobs might understand!
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AFTER DINNER—AT THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR.
SCENE—A Private Room in a well-known Dining Hotel. Eminent Politicians discussing "shop" over their walnuts before dispersing for the Christmas holidays.
First Eminent Politician. I say that recent speech of yours at Skegness was a little strong. Preferring the Navy to the Army! Although the Army is of course the "Best possible Army," and all that! Eh? I say it was a little too thick!
Second Em. Pol. (quickly). Not a bit of it! You don't know how well we are getting on at Pall Mall. I give you my word everything's first-rate. Department working splendidly. You can't say that at Whitehall and Somerset House?
First Em. Pol. (warmly). Not say it! We do! Everything's most satisfactory. Discipline splendid. Never had such a fine Fleet. And the fireworks we had at the Royal Naval Exhibition all through the Summer! Well you ought to have seen them!
Second Em. Pol. (carelessly). Yes, I daresay. But what have fireworks got to do with the Navy?
First Em. Pol. Why they increased our recruiting awfully. Fellows went to the Royal Naval Exhibition and saw all sorts of good things, automatic weighing machine, a fishing-smack, and Nelson wax-works—and—and that kind of thing you know, and joined the Navy! Precious good thing for the Service, I can tell you.
Second Em. Pol. Well, to go back to an old story—you can't defend the bullying on board The Britannia.
First Em. Pol. Oh, that's all bosh. Those newspaper fellows got hold of it for the Silly Season and ran it to death, but it's the best possible place in the world. No end of good training for a fellow to command other fellows.
Second Em. Pol. Well, they were down upon you pretty smartly.
First Em. Pol. (airily). May be. But it's because they didn't know what they were writing about. How can a fellow become a good naval officer unless he has been robbed of his pocket-money, and taught how to lie for his seniors. Thing's too ridiculous! Hallo, JIMMY, they tell me things are in a dreadful mess at St. Martin's-le-Grand!
Third Em. Pol. (promptly). Then they tell you wrong. Never saw anything like it—most perfect organisation in the world! Absolutely marvellous, Sir—absolutely marvellous! And the clerks so civil and obliging. Everybody pleased with them.
Second Em. Pol. Come, that won't do. Your statement is as hard to digest as too-previous turkey and premature plum-pudding. The papers are full of complaints all through the Autumn, and have only stopped recently to make room for those descriptive and special law reports. You will have them again, now Term is over.
Third Em. Pol. Who cares for the papers? I tell you we are absolutely inundated with letters of thanks from Dukes and Duchesses upwards. No; if you had said that the Colonies were in a mess, why then—
Fourth Em. Pol. (angrily). What are you talking about? Why, we are absolutely romping in! Never knew the Colonies so prosperous as they are now! And we have had to put on half-a-dozen extra clerks to open and answer the letters of congratulation we receive hour by hour from every part of the Empire. Why, everything's splendid—absolutely splendid!
Second Em. Pol. Well, matters have decidedly mended since transportation was prohibited. But to return to our muttons. Waterloo was won—
Fourth Em. Pol. (interrupting). Yes, I know, by the Militia and the dregs of the population! By the way, though, the gaols have had better company than now.
Fifth Em. Pol. Hold hard! Don't you abuse my Prisons. As a matter of fact, the present convicts are the finest, cleverest, most trustworthy fellows that ever existed. It is quite an honour to get into a prison nowadays. (With a sudden burst of anger.) And if any of you doubt my word, hang me, I will have satisfaction! (Looking round for opponents.) Come now, who will tread on the tail of my coat!
Chief and Most Eminent Politician. Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Come it's getting late, and if we are to see the dress-rehearsal of the Pantomime, we must be off at once!
[The Party breaks up to meet later on in the neighbourhood of Drury Lane.
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FROM OUR SPORTING CITY MAN.—"Pounded before the Start."—Mr. GOSCHEN's One-pound Note scheme.
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(FRAGMENTS OF A DICKENSIAN DREAM UP TO DATE.)
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It was some time before the great-little old fellow could compose himself to mend the fire, and draw his chair to the warm hearth. But, when he had done so, and had trimmed his lamp, he took his "Extra Special" from his pocket, and began to read—carelessly at first, and skimming up and down the columns, but with an earnest and sad attention very soon.
For this same dreadful paper re-directed Punch's thoughts into the channel they had taken all that day; thoughts of the sufferings of the poor, the follies of the rich, the sins of the wicked, the miseries of the outcast. Seasonable thoughts, if not exactly festive. For all is not festive, even at the Festive Season.
Scandals in high life, starvation in low life; foul floods of nastiness in Law Courts; muddy tricklings of misery in lawless alleys; crimes so terrible and revolting; pains so pitiless and cureless; follies so selfish and wanton, that he let the journal drop, and fell back in his chair, appalled.
"Unnatural and cruel, Toby!" he cried. "Unnatural and cruel! None but people who were born bad at heart—born bad—who had no business on the earth, could do such deeds. We're Bad!"
The Chimes took up the words so suddenly—burst out so loud, clear, and sonorous—that the Bells seemed to strike him in his chair.
And what was it that they said?
"Punch and Toby! Toby and Punch! Waiting for you, Toby and Punch! Come and see us! Come and see us! Come and see us! Drag them to us! Haunt and hunt them! Haunt and hunt them. Break their slumbers! Break their slumbers! Punch, Toby; Toby, Punch; Toby, Punch; Punch, Toby!!" Then fiercely back to their impetuous strain again, and ringing in the very bricks and plaster on the Sanctum's walls!
Toby barked! Punch listened! Fancy, fancy! No, no! Nothing of the kind. Again, again, and yet a dozen times again. "Haunt and hunt them! Haunt and hunt them!"
"If the tower is really open," said Punch, "what's to hinder us, Toby, from going up to the steeple, and seeing for ourselves?" "Nothing," yapped Toby, or sounds to that effect.
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Up, up, up! and round and round; and up, up, up! higher, higher, higher up!
There was the belfry where the ringers came. Punch caught hold of one of the frayed ropes which hung down through the apertures in the oaken roof. But he started; other hands seemed on it; he shrank from the thought of waking the deep Bell. The Bells themselves were higher. Higher, Punch and Toby, in their fascination, or working out the spell upon them, groped their way; until, ascending through the floor, and pausing, with his head raised just above its beams Punch came among the Bells. It was barely possible to make out their great shapes in the gloom; but there they were. Shadowy, and dark, and dumb.
He listened, and then raised a wild "Halloa!" "Halloa!" was mournfully protracted by the echoes. Giddy, confused, and out of breath, Punch looked about him vacantly, and sank down in a swoon.
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He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had brought him, swarming with dwarf phantoms, sprites, elfin creatures of the Bells. He saw them leaping, flying, dropping, pouring from the Bells without a pause. He saw them, round him on the ground; above him in the air; clambering from him by the ropes below; looking down upon him from the massive iron-girdered beams; peeping in upon him through the chinks and loopholes in the walls; spreading away and away from him in enlarging circles. He saw them of all aspects and all shapes. He saw them ugly, handsome, crippled, exquisitely formed. He saw them young, he saw them old; he saw them kind, he saw them cruel; he saw them merry, he saw them grim; he saw them dance, he heard them sing; he saw them tear their hair, he heard them howl. He saw the air thick with them.
Wh-o-o-o-sh! With what a wild whirr of startled wings the owls and bats scurried away, dim spectral hiding things that love the darkness and the silence of night, and shrink from light and cheerful sounds! "Well rid of you!" murmured Punch, as Toby barked at the flying phantoms.
But among the other swarming sprites, and circling elfs, and frolic phantoms of the Bells, Punch beheld brighter things. That pleasant pair, hand in hand, princely-looking both, and loving withal, bring a music as of marriage-bells "all in the wild March morning." And those other goodly and gracious presences, hint they not of Health and Home Happiness, and Benignant Art, and Humanity-serving Science, of Electric Sympathy, and Ready Rescue, of Mammon-thwarting Reform, and Misery-staying Benevolence; of all the spiritual charities and fairy graces that can bless and brighten country and hearth, Sire and citizen, master and servant, employer and employed, struggling man, suffering woman and helpless child? Punch read in their whirling forms and expressive faces the signs and promise of all the best and brightest influences of the time, happy and opportune attendants upon the auspicious hour of this the opening day of the New Year!
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Bim, Bom, Boom!!! Clang, Cling, Clang!!! What are those hands tugging at the ropes, swinging the Bells big and little, evoking the stormy clashes and soothing cadences of the Chimes?
Surely those of the youthful New Year himself! An echo from the long-silent lips of the great Christmas-glorifier and lover of poor humanity seemed to ring in Punch's ears:—
"Who hears in us, the Chimes, one note bespeaking disregard, or stern regard, of any hope, or joy or pain, or sorrow, of the many-sorrowed throng; who hears us make response to any creed that gauges human passions and affections, as it gauges the amount of miserable food on which humanity may pine and wither, does us wrong!"
"Right you are!" cried Punch, cordially, Toby yapping assent.
He might have said more, but the Bells, the dear familiar Bells, his own dear constant, steady friends, the Chimes, began to ring the joy-peals for a New Year so lustily, so merrily, so happily, so gaily, that he (like poor old Trotty Veck) leapt to his feet, and broke the spell that bound him.
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"Yes, that is still the true Spirit of the Chimes," mused Mr. Punch, as he took pen in hand to open up his new Volume. "And that's the spirit I hope to keep up right through the twelve months of just-born Eighteen Hundred and Ninety-two, which I trust may be—with my willing assistance,
A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU!!!"
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One of the Baron's Critical Faculty sends him his opinion of our Mr. DU MAURIER's latest novel, which is also his first. And here let it be published urbi et orbi that there is no truth whatever in a report which appeared in an evening paper to the effect that Mr. DU MAURIER, however retiring he may be, was about to retire or had retired from Mr. Punch's Staff. The St. James's Gazette has already "authoritatively" denied the assertion; and this denial the Baron for Mr. Punch, decisively confirms. Now, to the notice of the book above-mentioned. Here it is:—
"There has been a certain deliberateness in Mr. DU MAURIER's incursion into literature that speaks eloquently for his modesty. He is, to our certain knowledge, at least 40 years old, and Peter Ibbetson, which Messrs. OSGOOD & CO. present in two daintily dressed volumes, is his first essay in romantic writing. Reading the book, it is hard to conceive this to be the fact. The work is entirely free from those traces of amateurishness, almost inseparable from a first effort. The literary style is considerably above the average modern novelist; the plot is marked by audacious invention, worked out with great skill; the hero is a madman, not in itself an attractive arrangement, but there is such admirable method in his madness, such fine poetic feeling in the conception of character, and the ghosts who flit through the pages of the story are so exceedingly human, that one feels quite at home with Peter, and is really sorry when, all too soon, his madness passes away, and he awakes to a new life, to find himself an old man. Apart from its strong dramatic interest, Peter Ibbetson has rare value, from the pictures of Old Paris in the last days of LOUIS-PHILIPPE, which crowd in charming succession through the first volume. Mr. GEORGE DU MAURIER, the well-known artist in black and white, has generously assisted Mr. GEORGE DU MAURIER, the rising novelist, by profusely illustrating the work. 'Tis a pretty rivalry; hard to say which has the better of it. Wherein a discerning Public, long familiar with DU MAURIER's sketches, will recognise a note of highest praise for the new departure."
The Baron recommends Mrs. OLIPHANT's The Railway Man and his Children, which is a good story, with just such a dash of the improbable—but there, who can bring improbability as a charge against the plot constructed by any novelist after this great Jewel Case so recently tried? Mrs. OLIPHANT's types are well drawn; but the story is drawn out by just one volume too much. "For a one-volume novel commend me," quoth the Baron, "to Miss RHODA-BROUGHTON-CUM-ELIZABETH-BISLAND's A Widower Indeed. But ... wait till after the festivities are over to read it, as the tale is sad." En attendant, A Happy New Year to everyone, says
THE BENIGN BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
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"BE ALWAYS KIND TO ANIMALS WHEREVER YOU MAY BE!"
FRANK AND THE FOX.
FRANK was a very studious and clever little boy.
He took the keenest delight in music, and when he had mastered his lessons, he was very fond of playing on the concertina, and singing to his own accompaniment. He could already play "The Bells go a-ringing for Sarah!" with considerable finish and expression, and since his Uncle DODDLEWIG had presented him with half-a-crown for his performance, he had given the air with variations, and the song with every description of embellishment, all over the paternal mansion, and in most corners of the ancestral estate.
To tell the truth, his family were getting somewhat tired of his continued asseverations concerning the tintinabulatory tribute everlastingly rendered to the excellent young woman. And had he not been so markedly encouraged by rich old Uncle DODDLEWIG, there is every reason to suppose that FRANK and his concertina would have been speedily suppressed.
FRANK heard his Papa lamenting that foxes were so very scarce, that recently they had had no sport whatever. "There must be plenty of foxes in the country," said the Squire, "but they won't show."
Now FRANK had been reading about Orpheus, and how he charmed all the wild beasts with his melody. It was true the boy had not a lyre, but he had no doubt that his concertina would do as well, and he was quite certain he had seen a fox while taking his rambles in Tippity Thicket,
One day when he had a holiday, and his Papa had gone a hunting with his friends, he strolled off with his concertina to endeavour to lure a fox out into the open. He approached the hole where he had previously seen the fox, and sat down, and began to play vigorously on his concertina, and to sing at the top of his voice, "The Bells go a-ringing for Say-rah! Say-rah! Say-rah!" Presently he saw a huge Fox poke his nose out of the hole. He was delighted! He sang and played with renewed energy, and began to walk away, still singing and playing.
The Fox followed, snarling, and snapping, and appearing very angry. The more he played, the more the Fox snarled and snapped. At last the animal became furious, all the hair on its back stood on end, and it began to make short runs with its mouth open at the young musician.
It sprang upon him! He was terrified! He dropped his song and his concertina at the same moment, and scrambled up the nearest tree.
The Fox's fury then knew no bounds; he trampled on the concertina, he bit it, he tore open the bellows, and having reduced it to a shapeless mass, bore it away to his hole.
When the coast was quite clear, FRANK descended, and slunk home.
The next morning one of the keepers found a dead fox. It had apparently died of suffocation, as sixteen ivory concertina-stops were found in its throat.
FRANK now has entirely ceased to believe in Ancient Mythology, and has been even heard to hint that he considers Dr. LEMPRIERE a bit of a humbug.
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"LOST TO SIGHT, TO MEMORY DEAR."—An animal very difficult to secure again when once off ... and that is ... "a pony," when you've lost it on Newmarket Heath.
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LETTERS TO ABSTRACTIONS.
NO. IX.—TO CROOKEDNESS.
I dispense with all formal opening, and I begin at once. I want to tell you a story. Don't ask me why; for, even if I answered the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, you would hardly believe me. Let me merely say that I want to tell you a story, and tell it without much further preface.
Two days ago I chanced, for no special reason, to open the drawers of an old writing-table, which for years past had stood, unused, in a corner of an upper room. In one I found a rusty screw, in another a couple of dusty envelopes, in a third a piece of sealing-wax, half-a-dozen nibs, and a broken pencil. The fourth, and last drawer, was very stiff. For a long time it defied my efforts, and it was only by a great exertion of strength that I was at last able to wrench it open. To my surprise I saw two packets of letters, tied together with faded ribbon. I took them up, and then remembered, with a start, what they were. They were all in their envelopes, and all were addressed, in the same hand-writing, to Sir CHARLES CALLENDER, Bart., Curzon Street, Mayfair. They were his wife's letters, and, after the death of Sir CHARLES, whose sole executor I was, they came into my possession,—Sir CHARLES, for some inscrutable reason, never having destroyed them, although, after his wife's death, the reading of them cannot have given him much pleasure. No doubt I ought to have destroyed them. I had never read them; but there, in that forgotten drawer, they had lain, the silent dust accumulating upon them as the years rolled on. They reminded me of the story I am about to relate—a story of which, I think, no one except myself has guessed the truth, and which, in most of its details, I only knew from a paper, carefully closed, heavily sealed, and addressed to me, which I found amongst my friend's documents. It was in his hand-writing throughout, but I shall tell it in my own words, and in my own way.
Nobody who was about in London Society some thirty years ago, could fail to know or know about the beautiful Lady CALLENDER. She was of a good county family. She was clever and accomplished. She had married a man rich, generous, amiable, and cultivated, who adored her. Unfortunately they had no children, but, in every other respect, Lady CALLENDER seemed to be very justly an object of envy and admiration to most of the men and women of her circle. Personally I had no great liking for her. I don't take any credit for that—far from it. The reason may have been that her Ladyship (although I was one of her husband's best friends, had been his school chum, and had "kept" with him in the same set of rooms at Cambridge, where his triumphs, physical and intellectual, are still remembered) never much cared for me. She could dissemble her real feelings better than any woman I ever knew, she always greeted me with a smile, she even made a parade of taking my advice on little family difficulties, but there was an indefinable something in her manner which convinced me that beneath all her smiles she bore me no good-will. The fact is that, without any design on my part, I had detected her in one or two bits of trickery, and, in what I suppose I must call her heart of hearts, she never forgave me. The truth is, though her guileless husband only knew it too late, she was perhaps the trickiest and the most heartless woman in England. If there were two roads to the attainment of any object, the one straight, broad, smooth and short, the other round-about, obscure, narrow and encompassed with pitfalls and beset by difficulties, she would deliberately choose the latter for no other reason that I could ever see except that by treading it she might be able to deceive her friends as to her true direction. She carried to a fine art the small intrigues, the petty jealousies, the mean manoeuvres in the science of outwitting; the shifts, the stratagems, the evasions by which power in Society is often supposed to be confirmed, reputations are frequently ruined, and lives are almost invariably made wretched. But Sir CHARLES knew none of these things. He was apparently only too proud to be dragged at his wife's chariot-wheels in her triumphant progress. For the strange part of the business is that there was absolutely no need for any of her deeply-laid schemes. Success, popularity and esteem would have come to her readily without them. She was, as I said, beautiful. Innocence seemed to be throned on her fresh and glowing face. Her smile fascinated, her voice was a poem, and she was musical in the best sense of the word at a time when good music, although it might lack popular support, could always command a small band of enthusiastic votaries in London.
There was at this time living in London an Italian artist, man of letters and musical virtuoso, who was the spoiled darling of Society. All the women raved about him, the men liked him, for he had fought bravely on the field of battle, was a sportsman and had about him that frank and abundant gaiete de coeur, which powerfully attracts the less exuberant Englishman. For his part CASANUOVA (that was his name) bore all his successes with good-nature and without swagger. Of course there were whispers about him. Where so many women worshipped, it was certain that two or three would lose their heads. Amongst this limited number was little Mrs. MILLETT, one of Lady CALLENDER's most intimate friends. She made no secret of her grande passion. She poured her tale into the ears of Lady CALLENDER, and asked for sympathy and help. Lady CALLENDER promised both, and at the self-same moment, made up her mind that she would withdraw from Mrs. MILLETT such affection as CASANUOVA had honoured her with, and bring him, not because she cared for him, but merely for the sport of the thing, to her own feet. She succeeded admirably. Under the pretence of bringing CASANUOVA and Mrs. MILLETT together (such things, you know, have been done in good Society) she invited him constantly to her house; she gave musical parties in his honour, she used all her fascinations, and finally, having fooled Ariadne to the top of her bent, she captured Theseus, and bore him off.
Mrs. MILLETT was a foolish and frivolous little woman. Rage and despair made her a demon. She resolved on revenge, and proceeded to it with a cool and astonishing persistency. Now I do not myself believe that Lady CALLENDER cared two straws about CASANUOVA. What she aimed at and enjoyed was the discomfiture of a friend. In order to obtain it, however, she committed a fatal imprudence. She wrote some letters which would have convinced even a French jury of her guilt. By a master-stroke of cunning wickedness, Mrs. MILLETT gained possession of them, and sent them to Sir CHARLES. It happened that about this time Sir CHARLES was in a very low state of health, and his friends were anxious about him. One afternoon, when Sir CHARLES was confined to his bed, Lady CALLENDER was playing the piano to her Italian slave. A message was brought to her that her husband desired to see her for a few minutes, and she tripped gaily away, saying to CASANUOVA, "Wait here; I shall return directly." In a quarter of an hour, however, her maid came to tell him that her Ladyship was suffering, and begged him to excuse her, and he departed. When the maid returned to Lady CALLENDER, she found her lying dead on the floor of her room, with a small phial, which had contained prussic acid, clasped tightly in her hand.
This is what had happened: Sir CHARLES had received the letters; they left no doubt in his mind that the wife he adored was betraying him, and he, too, resolved on revenge. He sent for his wife. When she came in, he at once confronted her with her letters, and taxed her with her guilt. A terrible scene of tears, entreaties, and bitter reproaches ensued, but Sir CHARLES was as adamant, and his wife retired to her bedroom in a state of nervous prostration, which immediately brought on a toothache. At this point she sent for her maid, and gave her the message to CASANUOVA.
The Coroner was sympathetic, and did what he could, but the evidence in favour of the suicide theory seemed overwhelming, and the jury returned a verdict to this effect, with a rider strongly commenting on the danger of selling such deadly poisons. But it was never explained how Lady CALLENDER obtained the prussic acid, nor why she had selected that particular moment for its use. I ought to add, that CASANUOVA left England before the inquest, and has never returned. On the mystery of the final catastrophe the manuscript throws no light. It ends abruptly. But the whole tone of it leads me to believe, that in some unexplained manner Sir CHARLES himself had been instrumental in causing his wife's death. But you, no doubt, know, and could tell us if you wished.
So there, my friend, you have the story. Sorry I couldn't make it more cheerful. Do you remember the part you played in it?
Yours, &c., DIOGENES ROBINSON.
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* * * * *
THE COMING OF NINETY-TWO.
(WITH HUMBLE APOLOGIES, AND HEARTY NEW-YEAR GREETINGS, TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS AUTHOR OF "THE COMING OF ARTHUR.")
And PUNCHIUS ever served the good Old Year Before his death-hour struck; and on the night When he, on twelve's last stroke must pass away, Room making for his heir, great PUNCHIUS-MERLIN Left the Old King, and passing forth to breathe, Then from the mystic gateway by the chasm Descending through the wintry night—a night In which the bounds of year and year were blent— Beheld, so high upon the wave-tost deep It seemed in heaven, a light, the shape thereof An angel winged, and all from head to feet Bright with a shining radiance golden-rayed, And gone as soon as seen; and PUNCHIUS knew The oft-glimpsed face of Hope, the blue-eyed guest, Avant-courier of Peace and of Good Will, And herald of Good Tidings. Then the Sage Dropt to the cave, and watched the great sea fall Wave after wave, each mightier than the last. Till last, a great one, gathering half the deep And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged, Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame. And down the wave and in the flame, was borne A naked Babe, and rode to PUNCH's feet, Who stoopt, and caught the Babe, and cried "The Year! Here is an heir for Ninety-One!" The fringe Of that great breaker, sweeping up the strand Lashed at the wizard as he spake the word, And all at once all round him rose in light, So that the Child and he were clothed in light, And presently thereafter followed calm, Loud bells, and song! "And this same Child," PUNCH said, "Twelve moons shall reign, nor will I part with him Till these be told." And saying this the Sage, The Modern MERLIN of the motley coat, Wizard of Wit and Seer of Sunny Mirth, Took up the wave-borne youngster in his arms, His nurse, his champion, his Mentor wise, And bare him shoreward out of wind and wet, Into his sanctum, where choice fare was spread, And cosy comfort ready to receive Young Ninety-Two, and give him a "send-off" Such as should strengthen and encourage him To make fair start, and face those many moons Of multiform vicissitude with pluck, Good hope and patient pertinacity. And when men sought the Modern MERLIN's ear And asked him what these matters might portend, The shining angel, and the naked Child Descending in the glory of the seas, He laughed, as is his wont, and answered them In riddling triplets of old time, and said:
"Peace and good-will! Croaking is all my eye! A young man will be wiser by-and-by, An old man's wit should ripen ere he die.
"Patience and pluck! Fretting is fiddle-de-dee. And youth has yet to learn to act and see, And youth is well-advised that trusts to Me!
"Hope and good cheer! This youngster's fate who knows? Sun, rain, and frost will greet him ere life's close; From the great dark to the great dark he goes."
So MERLIN, riddling, answered them; but thou, Fear not to face thy fate, O sea-born Child! Young Ninety-Two! Great Bards of thee may sing Hereafter; and great sayings from of old Ranging and ringing thro' the minds of men, Of Progress, and Improvement, and of Peace, Of nobler Work, and a more ample Wage, Of wider culture, and of worthier joys, Larger attainments, and less coarse desires, And gentler tastes; these shall be heard of youth. And echo'd by old folk beside their fires, For comfort after their wage-work is done— No workhouse fires, but cosy fires of Home!— These thee shall greet, PUNCH-MERLIN, in thy time, Shall voice them also, not in jest, and swear, Though men may wound Truth, that she will not die, But pass, again to come; and, then or now, Utterly smite foul Falsehood underfoot, Till, with PUNCH, all men hail her for their Queen!
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CLIMATIC NOMENCLATURE FOR THE NEW YEAR.
(SUGGESTED BY RECENT DEVELOPMENTS OF THE BRITISH SEASONS.)
Spring = The Clog Days. Summer = The Dog Days. Autumn = The Bog Days. Winter = The Fog Days.
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ATRABILIOUS LIVERPOOL.—The City Council of Liverpool—notwithstanding the generous urgings of its more important members—refuses to bestow the "honour of" the freedom "of that City" upon its illustrious if—from their point of view—errant son, Mr. GLADSTONE. As Madame ROLAND ought to have said:—O "Freedom," what liberties are taken (with common sense and good feeling) in thy name!
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Just take a look round, most respectable Madam; New Year's Day is an excellent time for the task, When serious thoughts come to each son of Adam Who dares to peep under Convention's smug mask. Your sword looks a little bit rusty and notched, Ma'am; Your scales now and then hang a trifle askew; A lot of your Ministers need to be watched, Ma'am! Punch isn't quite pleased with the prospect—are you? If one could but take a wide survey, though summary, Of all the strange "sentences" passed in one year By persons called "Justices"—(yes, it sounds flummery) Justice would look like Burlesque, Ma'am, I fear. Excellent subject for whimsical GILBERT, But not a nice spectacle, Madam, for me. Long spell of "chokee" for prigging a—filbert (Given, you bet, by some rural J.P.); Easy let-off for a bogus "Promoter," Helping the ruin of hundreds for gain; Six months for stealing a turnip or "bloater," Ditto for bashing a wife on the brain: Sentences cut to one-twelfth on appealing, Judges and juries at loggerheads quite! Really each day brings some curious revealing, Putting you, Ma'am, in a very strange light. Take my advice, Ma'am, this bright New Year's morning, Give a look up to your agents all round; To some give the sack, and to others a warning; The Public will back up your move, I'll be bound!
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GREEK MEETS GREEK.—"What!" exclaimed an indignant scholar, who had not peeped into a Classic for some forty years, "no more compulsory Greek at our Universities! What are we coming to? All I can say is, 'Absit omen'!" "'Scuse me!" replied his friend, who was all for the new learning, "but I should say, 'Absit Homer'!"
* * * * *
SEASONABLE (AND SUITABLE) GOOD WISHES.
To a Card-player A Nappy } To a Smart Girl A "Snappy" } To a Flirt A "Chappy" } To an Old Maid A Cappy } To an Infant A Pappy } To a Pigeon-shot A Trappy } To an Explorer A Mappy } New Year to you! To a Student A Sappy } To a Cross Child A Slappy } To an aspiring Pugilist A "Scrappy" } To a Spiritualist A Tappy } To a Toper A "Lappy" } To Toby A Yappy } To a Snuff-taker A Rappee }
* * * * *
GIFTS FOR THE NEW YEAR.
H-r M-j-sty.—The hearty congratulations of a loyal and united people.
The Pr-nce and Pr-nc-ss.—The most welcome of daughters-in-law.
Prince Alb-rt V-ct-r.—MAY in February.
The Rest of the R-y-l F-m-ly.—The best of wishes from everybody.
L-rd S-l-sb-ry.—A General Election.
Mr. Arth-r B-lf-r.—A Translation from the Irish.
Mr. J. Ch-mb-rl-n.—Promotion.
Sir W-ll-m H-rc-rt.—A Vision of the Woolsack.
The Cz-r of R-ss-a.—A Vision of another sort of Sack.
The G-rm-n Emp-r-r. New toys personally selected.
President C-rn-t.—The compliments of the Marquis of DUFFERIN.
Herr Ibs-n.—A tale without a plot.
Mr. R-dy-rd K-pl-ng.—Quite another story.
The Corporation of L-v-rp-l.—The Freedom of the Grand Old Man.
The Gr-nd Old M-n.—The loss of the Corporation of Liverpool.
And Mr. P-nch.—Tons of material (voluntarily contributed) for the Grand Old Waste Paper Basket.
* * * * *
BOS V. BOSS.
[One of the Delegates at the Conference on Rural Reforms said, "We do not want to be bossed by the Parsons"; another, "We don't want soup or blankets, but fair play."]
O GENEROUS gents, who have the "cure of souls," Learn hence that justice wins far more than doles. Blankets and soup Dames Bountiful may give, But what HODGE craves is a fair chance to live On labour fairly paid, not casual boons. SALISBURY's "Circuses," and smart buffoons, Won't move him, by "amusement," from that wish. Parties may mutually denounce or "dish;" But what will win the Labourer for a friend Is Home and Work, without the Workhouse end! Listen! Those who heed not will bide the loss, For Bos locutus est,—against the "Boss"!
* * * * *
LAYS OF MODERN HOME.
NO. I.—"MY HOUSEMAID!"
Who, as our Dresden's wreck we scanned, Protested, with assurance bland, "It come to pieces in my 'and"? My Housemaid.
Who "tidies" things each Monday morn, And hides—until, with search outworn, I wish I never had been born? My Housemaid.
Who "turns" my study "out" that day, And then contrives to pitch away As "rubbish" (which it is) my Play? My Housemaid.
Who guards within her jealous care, Mending or marking, till I swear, The underclothes I long to wear? My Housemaid.
Who cultivates a habit most Perverse, of running to "The Post" To meet her brothers (such a host!)? My Housemaid.
Who, if she spends her "Sundays out" At Chapel, as she does, no doubt, Must be protractedly devout? My Housemaid.
Who takes my novels down (it must Be, as she vows, of course, "to dust"), And thumbs them, much to my disgust? My Housemaid.
Who "can't abide" a play or ball, But dearly loves a Funeral, Or Exeter's reproachless Hall? My Housemaid.
Who late returning thence, in fits Of what she terms "Histories," sits,— And this day month my service quits? My Housemaid.
* * * * *
QUITE CLEAR.—"Aha! mon ami," exclaimed our friend JULES, during the recent murky weather in Town, "you ask me the difference between our Paris and your London. Tenez, I will tell you. Paris is always tres gai, veritablement gai; but London is toujours faux gai—you see it is always fo-gay." And he meant "fog-gy." Well, he wasn't far wrong, just now.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE TRAVELLING COMPANIONS.
SCENE—The Steps of the Hotel Dandolo, about 11 A.M. PODBURY is looking expectantly down the Grand Canal, CULCHARD is leaning upon the balustrade.
Podbury. Yes, met BOB just now. They've gone to the Europa, but we've arranged to take a gondola together, and go about. They're to pick me up here. Ah, that looks rather like them. (A gondola approaches, with Miss PRENDERGAST and BOB; PODBURY goes down the steps to meet them.) How are you, Miss PRENDERGAST? Here I am, you see.
Miss Prendergastt (ignoring C.'s salute). How do you do, Mr. PODBURY? Surely you don't propose to go out in a gondola in that hat!
Podb. (taking off a brown "pot-hat," and inspecting it). It—it's quite decent. It was new when I came away!
Bob (who is surly this morning). Hang it all, 'PATIA! Do you want him to come out in a chimney-pot? Jump in, old fellow; never mind your tile?
Podb. (apologetically). I had a straw one—but I sat on it. I'm awfully sorry, Miss PRENDERGAST. Look here, shall I go and see if I can buy one?
Miss P. Not now—it doesn't signify, for once. But around hat and a gondola are really too incongruous!
Podb. Are they? A lot of the Venetians seem to wear 'em. (He steps in.) Now what are we going to do—just potter about?
Miss P. One hardly comes to Venice to potter! I thought we'd go and study the Carpaccios at the Church of the Schiavoni first—they won't take us more than an hour or so; then cross to San Giorgio Maggiore, and see the Tintorets, come back and get a general idea of the exterior of St. Mark's, and spend the afternoon at the Accademia.
Podb. (with a slight absence of heartiness). Capital! And—er—lunch at the Academy, I suppose?
Miss P. There does not happen to be a restaurant there—we shall see what time we have. I must say I regard every minute of daylight spent on food here as a sinful waste.
Bob. Now just look here, 'PATIA, if you are bossing this show, you needn't go cutting us off our grub! What do you say, JEM?
Podb. (desperately anxious to please). Oh, I don't know that I care about lunch myself—much.
[Their voices die away on the water.
Culch. (musing). She might have bowed to me!... She has escaped the mosquitoes.... Ah, well, I doubt if she'll find those two particularly sympathetic companions! Now I should enjoy a day spent in that way. Why shouldn't I, as it is? I daresay MAUD will—
[Turns and sees Mr. TROTTER.
Mr. T. My darter will be along presently. She's Cologning her cheeks—they've swelled up again some. I guess you want to Cologne your cheeks—they're dreadful lumpy. I've just been on the Pi-azza again, Sir. It's curious now the want of enterprise in these Vernetians. Anyone would have expected they'd have thrown a couple or so of girder-bridges across the canal between this and the Ri-alto, and run an elevator up the Campanile—but this ain't what you might call a business city, Sir, and that's a fact. (To Miss T. as she appears.) Hello, MAUD, the ice-water cool down your face any?
Miss T. Not much. My face just made that ice-water boil over. I don't believe I'll ever have a complexion again—it's divided up among several dozen mosquitoes, who've no use for one. But it's vurry consoling to look at you, Mr. CULCHARD, and feel there's a pair of us. Now what way do you propose we should endeavor to forget our sufferings?
Culch. Well, we might spend the morning in St. Mark's—?
Miss T. The morning! Why, Poppa and I saw the entire show I inside of ten minutes, before breakfast!
Culch. Ah! (Discouraged.) What do you say to studying the Vine and Fig-tree angles and the capitals of the arcades in the Ducal Palace? I will go and fetch the Stones of Venice.
Miss T. I guess you can leave those old stones in peace. I don't feel like studying up anything this morning—it's as much as ever I can do not to scream aloud!
Culch. Then shall we just drift about in a gondola all the morning, and—er—perhaps do the Academy later?
Miss T. Not any canals in this hot sun for me! I'd be just as sick! That gondola will keep till it's cooler.
Culch. (losing patience). Then I must really leave it to you to make a suggestion!
Miss T. Well, I believe I'll have a good look round the curiosity stores. There's ever such a cunning little shop back of the Clock Tower on the Pi-azza, where I saw some brocades that were just too sweet! So I'll take Poppa along bargain-hunting. Don't you come if you'd rather poke around your old churches and things!
Culch. I don't feel disposed to—er—"poke around" alone; so, if you will allow me to accompany you,—
Miss T. Oh, I'll allow you to escort me. It's handy having someone around to carry parcels. And Poppa's bound to drop the balance every time!
Culch. (to himself). That's all I am to her. A beast of burden! And a whole precious morning squandered on this confounded shopping—when I might have been—ah, well! [Follows, under protest.
On the Grand Canal. 9 P.M. A brilliant moonlight night; a music-barge, hung with coloured lanterns, is moving slowly up towards the Rialto, surrounded and followed by a fleet of gondolas, amongst which is one containing the TROTTERS and CULCHARD. CULCHARD has just discovered—with an embarrassment not wholly devoid of a certain excitement—that they are drawing up to a gondola occupied by the PRENDERGASTS and PODBURY.
Mr. Trotter (meditatively). It's real romantic. That's the third deceased kitten I've seen to-night. They haven't only a two-foot tide in the Adriatic, and it stands to reason all the sewage—
[The two gondolas are jammed close alongside.
Miss P. How absolutely magical those palaces look in the moonlight! BOB, how can you yawn like that?
Bob. I beg your pardon, 'PATIA, really, but we've had rather a long day of it, you know!
Mr. T. Well, now, I declare I sort of recognised those voices! (Heartily.) Why, how are you getting along in Vernis? We're gettin' along fust-rate. Say, MAUD, here's your friend alongside!
[Miss P. preserves a stony silence.
Miss T. (in an undertone). I don't see how you can act so, Poppa—when you know she's just as mad with me!
Mr. T. There! Electrocuted if I didn't clean forget you were out! But, see here, now—why cann't we let bygones be bygones?
Bob. (impulsively). Just what I think, Mr. TROTTER, and I'm sure my sister will—
Miss P. BOB, will you kindly not make the situation more awkward than it is? If I desired a reconciliation, I think I am quite capable of saying so!
Miss T. (in confidence to the Moon). This Ark isn't proposing to send out any old dove, either—we've no use for an olive-branch. (To Mr. T.) That's "Santa Lucia" they're singing now, Poppa.
Mr. T. They don't appear to me to get the twist on it they did at Bellagio!
Miss T. You mean that night CHARLEY took us out on the Lake? Poor CHARLEY! he'd just love to be here—he's ever so much artistic feeling!
Mr. T. Well, I don't see why he couldn't have come along if he'd wanted.
Miss T. (with a glance at her neighbour). I presume he'd reasons enough. He's a vurry cautious man. Likely he was afraid he'd get bitten.
Miss P. (after a swift scrutiny of Miss T.'s features). Oh, BOB, remind me to get some more of that mosquito stuff. I should so hate to be bitten—such a dreadful disfigurement!
Miss T. (to the Moon). I declare if I don't believe I can feel some creature trying to sting me now!
Miss P. Some people are hardly recognisable, BOB, and they say the marks never quite disappear!
Miss T. Poppa, don't you wonder what CHARLEY's doing just now? I'd like to know if he's found anyone yet to feel an interest in the great Amurrcan Novel. It's curious how interested people do get in that novel, considering it's none of it written, and never will be. I guess sometimes he makes them believe he means something by it. They don't understand it's only CHARLEY's way!
Miss P. The crush isn't quite so bad now. Mr. PODBURY, if you will kindly ask your friend not to hold on to our gondola, we should probably be better able to turn. (CULCHARD, who had fondly imagined himself undetected, takes his hand away as if it were scorched.) Now we can get away. (To Gondolier.) Voltiamo, se vi piace, prestissimo!
[The gondola turns and departs.
Miss T. Well, I do just enjoy making PRENDERGAST girl perfectly wild, and that's a fact. (Reflectively.) And it's queer, but I like her ever so much all the time. Don't you think that's too fonny of me, Mr. CULCHARD, now?
[CULCHARD feigns a poetic abstraction.
* * * * *
* * * * *
We are supplied by our special reporter with some interesting and significant facts in connection with the last Cabinet Council. Lord SALISBUY arrived early, walking over from the Foreign Office under cover of an umbrella. The fact that it was raining may only partly account for this manoeuvre. Lord CROSS arrived in a four-wheeled cab and wore his spectacles. Lord KNUTSFORD approached the Treasury walking on the left hand side of the road going westward, whilst Lord CRANBROOK deliberately chose the pavement on the other side of the way. This is regarded as indicating a coolness between the Colonial Office and the Council of Education. Lord HALSBURY alighted from a bus at the bottom of Downing Street, accomplishing the rest of the journey on foot. He wore a new suit of the latest fashionable cut and a smile. Mr. STANHOPE, approaching Downing Street from the steps, started violently when he caught sight of a figure on the steps of the Treasury fumbling with the door-handle. He thought it was "VETUS," but recognising the Home Secretary, advanced without further hesitation. Lord GEORGE HAMILTON walked arm-in-arm as far as the door with Sir M. HICKS-BEACH. Here they were observed to hastily relieve themselves from contiguity and enter in single file. As they had up to that moment been engaged in earnest conversation, this little incident caused a sensation among the crowd looking on. The new Chief Secretary was easily recognised as he descended from his hansom with a sprig of shamrock in his coat and another of shillelagh in his right hand. Whilst waiting for change out of eighteenpence he softly whistled "God Save Ireland." Mr. RITCHIE did not appear, pleading influenza. Our reporter informs us that there is more behind, and that before the Session is far advanced a change may be looked for at the Local Government Board.
* * * * *
A TRIAL IN NOVEL FORM.
SCENE—The Interior of Court during a sensational trial. Bench, Bar, and Jury in a state of wild excitement as to what will happen next.
Judge (mysteriously handing note to Bar engaged in the case). I have received this letter, which is deeply interesting. It will form appropriately what I may call our Third Volume. I hand it to Counsel, but they must keep it entirely to themselves.
First Leader (after perusal of document). Did you ever?
Second Leader (ditto). No I never!
Judge (greatly gratified). I thought I would surprise you! Yes, it came this afternoon, and I found it too startling to keep all to myself, so I have revealed the secret, on the condition you tell no one else.
First Lead. You may rely on the discretion of my learned friend, my Lord.
Second Lead. My Lord, on the discretion of my learned friend you may rely.
Judge. Thank you (dipping his pen in the ink), and now we will go on with the case.
[A Witness is called—he hides his face under a cloak.
First Leader (in examination-in-chief). I think you wish to preserve your incognito?
Wit. (in sepulchral tones). I do. But if his Lordship desires it, I will write my name on a piece of paper and pass it up.
Judge. Well, certainly, I think I ought to know everything, and— (Receives piece of paper disclosing the information, and starts back in his chair astonished). Dear me! Good gracious! Dear me!
First Lead. I think I should mention that I have not the faintest idea who this witness is, and only call him, acting under instructions. (To Witness.) Do you know anything about the matter in dispute?
Witness (with a sepulchral laugh). Ha! ha! ha! Nothing. Your question is indeed a good joke. Nothing, I repeat, absolutely nothing!
First Lead. (annoyed). Then you can sit down.
Second Lead. (sharply). Pardon me—not quite so fast! You say you know nothing about the matter in dispute, and yet you come here!
Witness (in a deeper voice than ever). Exactly.
Second Lead. But why, my dear Sir—Why? What is the point of it? Who may you be?
Witness. It is not may be—but who I am!
Second Lead. Well, tell us who you are. (Persuasively.) Come, who are you?
Witness (throwing off his disguise). Who am I? Why, HAWKSHAW the Detective!
Counsel Generally (to Judge). Then, my Lord, under the altered circumstances of the case, we can appear no longer before you. (With deep and touching emotion.) We retire from the case!
Judge (not very appropriately). Then if Box and Cox are satisfied, all I can say is that I am. I may add that I consider that the case has been conducted nobly, and that I knew how it would end from the very first. I am thoroughly satisfied.
Jury. And so are we, my Lord—never so interested in our lives!
Newspaper Editor (departing). Ah, if we only had a trial like this every day, we should require but one line on the Contents Bill! (Curtain.)
* * * * *
THE SAFEST NEW YEAR RESOLVE.—To make none.
* * * * *
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.