PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
November 21st, 1891.
* * * * *
CANCEL, OR RECALL.
The World last week sounded a note about the compulsory retirement, by reason of age, from one of the large Revenue Departments, of a gentleman who has the great honour to be the son of "the most distinguished Irishman of this century." If this sentence has really been passed authoritatively, which Mr. Punch takes leave to doubt, then said "Authority" will do well to recall it in favour of the son of the Liberator, which his name is also "DAN." And, to give the well-known lines so often quoted,—
"When DAN'L saw the writing on the wall, At first he couldn't make it out at all."
And the sooner the official writing on the wall—if it exists—be obliterated, the better for the public service, as, when the public, like the Captain in the ballad of "Billy Taylor," "Comes for to hear on't," the said British Public will "werry much applaud what has been done" in suppressing, not issuing, reconsidering, or revoking the order. So says "Mr. P.," and the "B.P." will agree with him.
* * * * *
THE ANCIENT MILLINER.
(His Reminiscences of the Recent Gale.)
It was the Ancient Milliner Stood by his open door; The tale he told was something like A tale I'd heard before.
* * * * *
I called forthwith a Hansom, and "Now, Cabman, drive!" I cried; "For I must get this bandbox home Before the eventide.
"The bride a-pacing up the aisle Mad as a dog would be, Without this sweet confection of Silk and passementerie."
Westward the good cab flew. The horse Was kick-some, wild, and gay; He tossed his head from side to side In an offensive way.
He tossed his head, he shook his mane, And he was big and black; He wore a little mackintosh Upon his monstrous back.
I mused upon that mackintosh, All mournfully mused I; It was too small a thing to keep So large a beastie dry.
And on we went up Oxford Street With a short, uneasy motion; What made the beast go sideways I Have not the faintest notion But we ran into an omnibus With a short, uneasy motion.
All in a hot, improper way. The rude 'bus-driver said, That them what couldn't drive a horse Should try a moke instead.
Never a word my cabman spoke— No audible reply— But, oh, a thousand scathing things He thought; and so did I.
"What ails thee, Ancient Milliner? What means thy ashen hue? Why look'st thou so?"—I murmured, "Blow!" And at my word it blew.
The storm-blast came down Edgware Road, Shrieking in furious glee, It struck the cab, and both its doors Leaped open, flying free.
I shut those doors, and kept them close With all my might and main; The storm-blast snatched them from my hands, And forced them back again,
It blew the cabman from his perch Towards the horned moon; I saw him dimly overhead Sail like a bad balloon.
It blew the bandbox far away Across the angry sea; The English Channel's scattered with Silk and passementerie.
The silly horse within the shaft One moment did remain; And then the harness snapped, and he Went flying through the rain; And fell, a four-legged meteor, Upon the coast of Spain.
First Voice. "What makes that cab move on so fast Wherein no horse I find?"
Second Voice. "The horse has cut away before; The cab's blown from behind."
Then just against the Harrow Road I made one desperate bound— A leprous lamp-post and myself Lay mingled in a swound!
And cables snapped, and all things snapped; When the next morn was grey, The Telegraph appeared without Its "Paris Day by Day."
Oh, cheapness is a pleasant thing, Beloved from pole to pole! To get a thing at one-and-four, For which your friend pays twopence more, Is balm unto the soul.
And cheaper than that Hansom cab Whose tale I've told thee thus, Far cheaper it had been to take The stately omnibus!
To take the stately omnibus Where all together sit; Each takes his ticket in his hands, Obeys the Company's commands, And pays his pence for it.
And if you would not find yourself Wrecked in the Edgware Road, Do not be vulgar and declare You wish you may be blowed!
* * * * *
THE "MASHER'S" ANSWER,
[Dr. ARABELLA KENEALY, in the Westminster Review, is severe on the young men of the day for not dancing, and avoiding matrimony.]
Bless me, Doctor ARABELLA, Hard a lady's hand can strike! Do you really mean a fella' Is to dance; just when you like? Why so savagely sarcastic, That we will not "take the floor" And account the "light fantastic" An unmitigated bore?
You avow we're shy of marriage. Is not that too hard again? When a maiden wants a carriage, And a mansion in Park Lane, Diamonds, furs, and opera-boxes: Although ardently one loves, All the balance I've at Cox's Wouldn't keep a girl in gloves.
* * * * *
"WILL YOU, WONT YOU?"
(A Lay of the Lord Chancellor. Very latest Version, NOT from "Iolanthe.")
["The Lord Chancellor declares himself the foe of any 'technical system' which excludes 'anybody who knows anything about the facts from the opportunity of stating what is the truth.' ... We may take it that very soon we shall see that which may appear strange to English lawyers, but really is most reasonable—the accused stepping out of the dock into the witness-box, and giving his evidence, subject to the ordeal of cross-examination. It may be a bad look-out for rogues, but for nobody else."—Times.]
The Law should be the embodiment Of everything that is excellent. But I fancy I've found one diminutive flaw In that else impeccable thing, the Law. As its constitutional guardian, I Must extract that mote from the legal eye. It seems a preposterous paradox To exclude the accused from the Witness's Box. To alter that is a duty for A very unprejudiced Chancellor.
Here's the Box, my SIKES! With particular pride I invite you, WILLIAM, to—step inside, Some peculiar things, things rich and rare, I shall have to show you when you are there. "Will you walk into my par——" dear me! What a curious matter is memory! What, what has that old song to do With the little matter 'twixt me and you? I apologise for the irrelevance, for I am such a logical Chancellor!
If you step inside—as I trust you will— We shall worm out the Truth with forensic skill; And if you decline—as I hope you won't— We shall know there are reasons, friend, why you don't. So the Truth must benefit any way, My beloved BILL. What is that you say? You don't care a cuss for the Truth? Oh, fie! Truth makes one a free man. Step in and try! The triumph of Truth is a triumph for A highly inquisitive Chancellor!
'Twill be most instructive to Judge and Jury To hear you give evidence. Why this fury? We can judge, you see, by the way he'll behave, 'Twixt a simpleton and a clever knave. The Times says so. Eh! Confound the Times? Oh, don't say so, BILL! A man of crimes Might funk the ordeal; but this is the plan To help the Law—and the Honest Man; And therefore the plan of all plans for A highly compassionate Chancellor!
* * * * *
ROBERT ON THE LORD MARE'S SHO.
Well, I've had the grate good luck to have seen praps as menny Lord Mare's Shos as most peeple, praps more—not so menny, in course, as that werry old but slitely hexadgerating Lady, as bowsted as she had seen hunderds on 'em—but for sum things, speshally for Rain, and mud, and slush, the last one beats 'em all holler! What poor little Whales could have done to put the Clark of the Whether into sitch a temper, in course I don't know, but if he'd have had a good rattling attack of the gout in both big Tos, like some past Lord Mares as we has most on us heard on, he coudn't posserbly have bin in a wuss one.
Praps them as most xcited my reel pitty was the LORD MARE'S six genelmen in their luvly new State liverries, and their bewtifool pink silk stockings a showing of their manly carves, all splashing along through the horful mud, and made crewel fun of by the damp and thortless crowd. The fust reel staggerer was the reel Firemen, about a thowsand on 'em, a marching along as bold as their brass Helmets. What did they care for the rain and the mud! and didn't they look as it they was a longing for a jolly grand Fire to bust out, jest to show us how easy it was to put it out, tho' they had lost their jolly Captin. Then there was the pretty Welch Milk Maids, in their chimbley-pot Hats, and their funny-looking custooms, all a being drawn by six horses, and having some Bards and Arpers to take care on 'em, and lend 'em humberrellars to keep off the rain. Ah! won't they have sum nice little stories to tell all their frends when they gits back to Whales, inclewding their singing of wun of their hold Welch songs afore the LORD MARE and all his nobel gests in the evening. No wonder that they was so estonished and bewillderd that they quite forgot to take off their chimbley-pot Hats wile they was a singing. But their LORD MARE and countryman kindly forgave 'em all, and away they went rejoysing.
Upon the hole, I'm quite reddy to bear my testimoney to the fack that, if we coud by any posserbility have left out the horful rain, and the mud, and the pore soaked and dismal-looking mothers and children, it woud have been about the werry finest looking Sho ewer seen. The Bankwet at nite was jest as good as ushal, and indeed rayther better, and just to sho how thuroly eweryboddy had recovered from his morning's drenshing, the compny acshally larfed at the LORD CHANCELLOR'S Speach, and cheered the LORD MARE to the Hekko!
* * * * *
[Illustration: A STAGGERER!
Rector's Wife (instructing an Aspiring Buttons, who has answered her advertisement). "YOU'LL HAVE TO OPEN THE SHUTTERS AND THE HALL-DOOR, SEE TO THE STUDY FIRE, PUT THE THINGS READY IN THE BATH-ROOM, THEN CALL YOUR MASTER PUNCTUALLY AT SIX, CLEAN HIS BOOTS AND BRUSH HIS CLOTHES, CLEAN ALL THE CHILDREN'S BOOTS AND SHOES, AND BRUSH THEIR CLOTHES, LAY THE BREAKFAST PUNCTUALLY AT EIGHT, AFTER WHICH YOU'LL HAVE TO GET THE PONY AND TRAP READY TO DRIVE THE CHILDREN TO SCHOOL, AND BE BACK IN GOOD TIME. AFTER YOU'VE DRESSED THE PONY AND CLEANED YOUR KNIVES AND SILVER, YOU WILL MAKE YOURSELF TIDY, AND THEN YOU'LL LAY THE LUNCH—"
Aspiring Buttons (gasping). "PLEASE, 'M—BEG PARD'N—PLACE WON'T DO FOR ME. WHY, I SHOULD WANT A NEW SUIT O' CLOTHES BEFORE YOU'VE FINISHED TELLING ME WHAT I'VE GOT TO DO, AND THEN I SHOULDN'T FIND TIME TO BE MEASURED FOR 'EM! GOOD MORN'N."
* * * * *
RATHER VAGUE.—Sir EDWARD BRADFORD, Commissioner of Police, informs the Public, through a paragraph in the Times, about a meeting at the Marylebone Vestry, that whenever in the Metropolis a street is found to be dangerously slippery, some one (probably a policeman) is to telegraph to the "local authority" (who? what? which? where?) and inform him, her, them (whatever represents the aforesaid "local authority"), of the fact. Well, and what then? Who's to do what, and when is it to be done? And what is the penalty for not doing whatever it is?
* * * * *
SHORTLY TO APPEAR.—Amiable Almonds, by the Authoress of Cross Currents. To be followed by Rum Raisins, Delightful Dates, and Polly Peach. Also, Dolt Care What Apples to Me! being the Story of "A Mal wil a Cold id is Ed."
* * * * *
BIGOTED.—An Anti-Ritualistic old Lady objected to paying her water-rate, when she was informed that she would be patronising "a High Service."
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MEMORANDUM FOR MINOR POETS.—It is an elegant thing to write ballades and rondeaux, but it is tyrannous to read them to your visitors.
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THE TRAVELLING COMPANIONS.
SCENE—The Table d Hote at Lugano: CULCHARD has not yet caught Miss PRENDERGAST'S eye.
Culchard (to Mr. BELLERBY). Have you—ah—been up Monte Generoso yet?
Mr. B. No. (After reflecting) No, I haven't. But I was greatly struck by its remarkably bold outline from below. Indeed, I dashed off a rough sketch of it on the back of one of my visiting cards. I ought to have it somewhere about me now. (Searching himself.) Ah, I thought so! (Handing a vague little scrawl to CULCHARD, who examines it with the deepest interest.) I knock off quite a number of these while I'm abroad like this. Send 'em in letters to relatives at home—gives them a notion of the place. They are—ar—kind enough to value them. (CULCHARD makes a complimentary mumble.) Yes, I'm a very rapid sketcher. Put me with regular artists, and give us half an hour, and I—ar—venture to say I should be on terms with them. Make it three hours, and—well, I daresay I shouldn't be in it.
Podbury (who has dropped into the chair next to Miss PRENDERGAST and her brother). BOB, old chap, I'll come in the middle, if you don't mind. I say, this is ripping—no idea of coming across you so soon as this. (Lowering his voice, to Miss P.) Still pegging away at my "penance," you see!
Miss Prend. The pleasure is more than mutual; but do I understand that Mr. ——? So tiresome, I left my glasses up in my room! [She peers up and down the line of faces on her own side of the table.
Miss T. (to Culch.) I want you should notice that girl. I think she looks just as nice as she can be, don't you?
Culch. (carefully looking in every other direction). I—er—mumble—mumble—don't exactly— [Here a Waiter offers him a dish containing layers of soles disguised under thick brown sauce; CULCHARD mangles it with an ineffectual spoon. The Waiter, with pitying contempt, "Tut-tut-tut! Pesce Signore—feesh!" CULCH. eventually lands a sole in a very damaged condition.
Podb. (to Miss P.) No—not this side—just opposite. (Here CULCH., in fingering a siphon which is remarkably stiff on the trigger, contrives to send a spray across the table and sprinkle Miss PRENDERGAST, her brother, and PODBURY, with impartial liberality). Now don't you see him? As playful as ever, isn't he! Don't try to make out it was an accident, old fellow. Miss PRENDERGAST knows you! [Misery of CULCHARD.
Miss P. (graciously). Pray don't apologise, Mr. CULCHARD; not the least harm done! You must forgive me for not recognising you before, but you know of old how provokingly shortsighted I am, and I've forgotten my glasses.
Culch. (indistinctly). I—er—not at all ... most distressed, I assure you ... really no notion—
Miss T. (in an undertone). Say, you know her, then? And you never let on!
Culch. Didn't I? Oh, surely! yes, I've—er—met that lady. (With grateful deference to Mr. BELLERBY, who has just addressed him.) You are an Art-Collector? Indeed? And—er—have you—er—?
Mr. B. I've the three finest Bodgers in the kingdom, Sir, and there's a Gubbins—a Joe Gubbins, mind you, not John—that's hanging now in the morning-room of my place in the country that I wouldn't take a thousand pounds for! I go about using my eyes and pick 'em up cheap. Cheapest picture I ever bought was a Prout—thirty-two by twenty; got it for two pound ten! Unfinished, of course, but it only wanted the colour being brought up to the edge. I did that. Took me half a day, and now—well, any dealer would give me hundreds for it! But I shall leave it to the nation, out of respect for PROUT'S memory.
Bob Pr. (to PODBURY). Yes, came over by; the St. Gothard. Who is that girl who was talking to CULCHARD just now? Do you know her? I say, I wish you'd introduce me some time.
Miss T. (to CULCHARD). You don't seem vurry bright this evening. I'd like you to converse with your friend opposite, so I could get a chance to chip in. I'm ever so interested in that girl!
Culch. Presently—presently, if I have an opportunity. (Hastily, to Mr. B.) I gather that you paint yourself, Sir?
Mr. B. Well, yes. I assure you I often go to a Gallery, see a picture there that takes my fancy, go back to my office, and paint it in half an hour from memory—so lake the original that, if it were framed, and hung up alongside, it would puzzle the man who painted it to know t'other from which! I have indeed! I paint original pictures, too. Most important thing I ever did was—let me see now—three feet by two and three-quarters. I was most successful in getting an effect of rose-coloured snow against the sky. I sponged it up, and—well, it came right somehow. Luck, that was, not skill, you know. I sent that picture to the Royal Academy, and they did me the honour to—ar—reject it.
Culch. (vaguely). An—er—honour, indeed.—(In despair, as Mr. B. rises.)—You—You're not going!
Mr. B. (consolingly). Only into the garden, for coffee. I observe you are interested in Art. We will—ar—resume this conversation later.
[Rises; Miss PRENDERGAST rises too, and goes towards the garden.
Culch. (as he follows, hastily). I must get this business over—if I can. But I wish I knew exactly how much to tell her. It's really very awkward—between the two of them. I'm afraid I've been a little too precipitate.
In the Garden; a few minutes later.
Miss Prend. (who has retired to fetch her glasses, with gracious playfulness). Well, Mr. CULCHARD, and how has my knight performed his lady's behests?
Culch. May I ask which knight you refer to?
Miss P. (slightly changing countenance). Which! Then—you know there is another? Surely there is nothing in that circumstance to—to offend—or hurt you?
Culch. Offended? (Considers whether this would be a good line to take.) Hardly that. Hurt? Well, I confess to being pained—very much pained, to discover that I was unconsciously pitted—against PODBURY!
Miss P.. But why? I have expressed no preference as yet. You can scarcely have become so attached to him that you dread the result of a successful rivalry!
Culch. (to himself). It's a loop-hole—I'll try it. (Aloud.) You have divined my feeling exactly. In—er—obeying your commands, I have learned to know PODBURY better—to see in him a sterling nature, more worthy, in some respects, than my own. And I know how deeply he has centred all his hopes upon you, Miss PRENDERGAST. Knowing, seeing that as I—er—do, I feel that—whatever it costs me—I cannot run the risk of wrecking the—er—life's happiness of so good a fellow. So you must really allow me to renounce vows accepted under—er—an imperfect comprehension of the—er—facts! [Wipes his brow.
Miss P. This is quite too Quixotic. Reflect, Mr. CULCHARD. Is such a sacrifice demanded of you? I assure you I am perfectly neutral at present. I might prefer Mr. PODBURY. I really don't know. And—and I don't like losing one of my suitors like this!
Culch. Don't tempt me! I—I mustn't listen, I cannot. No, I renounce. Be kind to PODBURY—try to recognise the good in him ... he is so devoted to you—make him happy, if you can!
Miss P. (affected). I—I really can't tell you how touched I am, Mr. CULCHARD. I can guess what this renunciation must have cost you. It—it gives me a better opinion of human nature ... it does, indeed!
Culch. (loftily, as she rises to go in). Ah, Miss PRENDERGAST, don't lose your faith in human nature! Trust me, it is—er—full of surprises! (Alone.) Now am I an abominable humbug, or what? I swear I felt every word I said, at the time. Curious psychological state to be in. But I'm out of what might have been a very unpleasant mess at all events!
Miss T. (coming upon him from round a corner). Well, I'm sure, Mr. CULCHARD!
Culch. You are a young lady of naturally strong convictions, I am aware. But what are you so sure of at the present moment?
Miss T. Well, I guess I'm not just as sure of you as I should like to be, anyway. Seems to me, considering you've been so vurry inconsolable away from me, you'd a good deal to say to that young lady in the patent folders. And I'd like an explanation—you're right down splendid at explaining most things.
Culch. (with virtuous indignation). So you actually suspect me of having carried on a flirtation!
Miss T. I guess girls don't use their pocket-handkerchiefs that way over the weather. Who is she, anyway?
Culch. (calmly). If you insist on knowing, she is the lady to whom Mr. PODBURY has every prospect of being engaged. I hope your mind is at ease now?
Miss T. Well, I expect my mind would have stood the strain as it was—so it's Mr. PODBURY who's her admirer? See here, you're going to introduce me to that girl right away. It's real romantic, and I'm perfectly dying to make her acquaintance!
Culch. Hum—well. She is—er—peculiar, don't you know, and I rather doubt whether you will have much in common.
Miss T. Well, if you don't introduce me, I shall introduce myself, that's all.
Culch. By all means. (To himself.) Not if I can prevent it, though!
* * * * *
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* * * * *
We are in a position to give an emphatic contradiction to the rumour, put forward with much assurance, that the King of SPAIN has entered upon negotiations of a matrimonial character with reference to the grand-niece of the Crown Prince of ROUMANIA. No one familiar with His Majesty's views on the Triple Alliance, and his openly-expressed opinion with respect to the occupation of Egypt, could for one moment give credence to a report so intrinsically absurd.
* * * * *
RYMUND has been imposed upon by one of his young men. Our friend, whose susceptibility to the wiles of impostors, though an amiable weakness, somewhat militates against his perfect success in life, has printed a paragraph announcing that the QUEEN will leave Balmoral on Friday the 20th inst. at half-past two in the afternoon, Her MAJESTY reaching Windsor at nine o'clock on Saturday morning. It is twenty-five minutes to three when the Royal train will start, and Windsor will not be reached till five minutes after the hour mentioned by RYMUND. It is crass inaccuracies like these that lower the weekly press in the estimation of an observant public.
* * * * *
HENED has been at it again. Two months ago we published the intelligence that the Princess FREDERICA of Hanover would pass the winter months at Biarritz, a well-known watering-place almost on the border-land between Spain and France. This news was received with gratifying tokens of interest at every Court of Europe, and has been noted in innumerable communications passing privately between high personages. Then HENED comes upon the scene, and pompously makes an identical announcement as a piece of news! Far be it from us to take advantage of infirmity imposed upon a man by the idiocy of his godfathers and godmothers at his baptism. But we are compelled to ask, What can be expected from a man named HENED?
* * * * *
Sir HENRY WOLFF still lingers in town, Bucharest, in the meantime, having to get along as best it may without a British Minister. In private circles likely to be well-informed, the delay is understood to arise directly out of the fact that Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL is now "beyond the reach of regular postal arrangements."
"I wrote to tell GRANDOLPH about ARTHUR BALFOUR stepping into his old shoes as Leader of the House of Commons," says WOLFFY, showing his white teeth; "and, begad, I shall not leave Pall Mall till I hear what he says on the subject."
* * * * *
What is this scandal we hear about the THINGUMMIES? The family are naturally reticent on the subject, but WHOSETHIS has furnished us with some particulars which we believe may be relied on. On Wednesday afternoon, at five minutes to three (as nearly as we can fix the time), Mrs. THINGUMMY was walking down Bond Street, when, just as she reached the point where, as the Directory says, "Here is Bruton Street," who should pass her but WHATSHISNAME. THINGUMMY, who, by a strange chance, happened to be passing in a Hansom cab, was a witness to the rencontre, and following up the clue, came upon particulars which WHATDYECALLIT informs us is likely to make a stir. Mr. GEORGE LEWIS, being a friend of all parties concerned, will not accept a retainer from either side.
* * * * *
The Daily News, in its report of the opening of the Food and Cookery Exhibition at the Agricultural Hall, remarks:—
"It will not be the least attractive feature of the exhibition that samples may be tasted at nearly all the stalls. The exhibition includes samples of gas and asbestos stoves and kitchen ranges."
We have brought this announcement under the notice of a friend who knows what's what when he's out to luncheon, and are disappointed at his lack of enthusiasm. He says he doesn't care about taking his gas that way, and as for asbestos stoves he knows nothing more indigestible, unless it be a kitchen range.
* * * * *
BALDER THE FAIR.
[Eminent Physiologists assert that the most intellectual types of the future will be completely bald.]
Do'st imagine all Poets by locks hyacinthine Distinguished from Lawyers, Physicians, and Aldermen, By capillary cataracts, thick as are thin thine?— Bald, sooth to say, few undeniably balder men Can be found, for the comfort of heads without hair, Than that exquisite troubadour, BALDER the Fair.
Yes, the times are gone by when a SWINBURNE or BYRON Were loved for their love-locks and famed for their frizziness, When Olympian craniums, worthy of MYRON Or ANGELO, bowed to the hair-dresser's business, When Macassar's luxuriant essences fed At once metrical foot and symmetrical head.
DULCINEA, who dotes on that pure, polished surface (Like ivory turned to the billiard-room's spherosid), BALDER'S occiput glassing bewitchingly her face, The face of his Dear, by herself in her hero eyed— DULCINEA would deem it profanity, were It in nature to beg for a tress of his hair!
So take warning, ye Minstrels whose locks are a feature, Be bald, e'en as bald as your verse peradventure is; To be bald is the crown of the civilised creature, And barbers are relics of barbarous centuries: Still, howe'er you may strive, you will never compare, For perfection of baldness, with BALDER the Fair.
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* * * * *
A WARNING.—After the recent gale, the papers reported "WHOLESALE DESTRUCTION OF HOARDINGS." Very hard that hoardings couldn't be saved. Still, after all, the fact must be taken as a providential warning to Misers.
* * * * *
FROM THE NOTE-BOOK OF A REFLECTIVE GOURMET.—"The only thing your friend has a right to saddle you with is ... fine five-year old mutton."
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* * * * *
THE "EGYPTIAN PET."
["We desire that Egypt should he strong enough of herself to repel all external attack, and to put down all internal disturbance."—Lord Salisbury at the Guildhall.]
Professor of the Noble Art of Self-Defence (the "Pet's" Trainer), loquitur:—
Change in my attitude? Nay, not a bit of it! Like JOAN'S true DARBY I'm "always the same." Parties may flout, but I can't see the wit of it; Surely they ought to be fly to my game. Such "disquisitions" are strangely unfortunate, Pain us extremely, delighting our foes; Worry one too, like a busy, importunate Fly on one's nose.
Don't know the play of our pugilist system, "Pet," Parties abroad who give heed to such chat. Rival lot out of it; nobody's missed 'em, "Pet," (Nobody ever knew what they'd be at). Now, in position of much "greater freedom," "Pet," Fancy they'll badger me into a hole. One thing is certain, nobody will heed 'em, "Pet," Poor little soul!
They were nice trainers and backers for you, my lad. Pretty nigh muffed any small chance you'd got. Square up those shoulders a little bit, do, my lad! That form won't put in a slommocking shot. Their fumbling style and contemptible flabbiness Clings to you yet. Ah! thanks be, you've changed hands. They'd crab our swim, but the Old Scuttler's shabbiness BULL understands.
We didn't bring you out, put you in training, "Pet," Or crack you up as the Coming Young Copt. (Straighten up, boy! Such corkscrewing and craning, "Pet," Never a rib-roasting wunner in-popt.) No, you 're a legacy! Would not deceive you, "Pet," You are a stick, and have cost a good bit. Still we have charge of, and don't mean to leave you, "Pet," Till you are "fit."
Biceps? Ah, verily, feeling your muscle, "Pet," Isn't a job that brings SANDOW to mind. Where would you be in a real hard tussle, "Pet"? You're not a Pug of the wear-and-tear kind. Foes many menace you. Champions, boy, you know, Challenge all comers; they have to—you bet. When you can do so, I'll leave you with joy, you know. But—'tisn't yet!
Thanks to our care, you're improving, my "Pet," a bit. Promising Novice, of that there's no doubt. But up to Champion form? No, not yet a bit. Just try that on, and you'll soon get knocked out. Can't say exactly how long we must bide with you, Help you develope grit, muscle, and pipe; But we must own you to-day—(though we side with you)— Not "Cherry Ripe!"
[Left putting the "Pet" through his paces.
* * * * *
VERY NEAR.—"The man who never makes a mistake, never makes anything," said Mr. PHELPS, the American Minister, in the course of a farewell after-dinner speech. Happening to be re-reading Mr. SURTEES' inimitable Soapy Sponge, we find that Mr. Bragg, when applying for the situation of Huntsman to Mr. Puffington, remarked, "He, Sir, who never makes an effort, Sir, never risks a failure," which is just the premiss to Mr. PHELPS'S celebrated conclusion.
* * * * *
A NUPTIAL PENEDICTION.—"Pless you, my children!" as Sir CORNWALLIS WEST will say in his best Principality-English to the happy Bride and Bridegroom on December 8 next.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(A Military Sketch according to precedent.)
SCENE—Sanctum of the Coming General. To him enter Intelligent Foreigner.
Intelligent Foreigner (politely). I trust you will forgive me for intruding upon you, but the fact is I am very anxious to obtain a few useful hints for the Government I have the honour to represent.
Coming General (effusively). Oh, certainly. Only too glad to lay down any work I may have in hand, to tell you everything. Of course you have been over Woolwich Arsenal and the Dockyards, and no doubt you have—
Int. For. (interrupting). Yes, thanks, I have seen everything, and had everything explained to me. I do not believe that there is a single official secret that has not been revealed to me in the kindest manner possible.
Com. Gen. (heartily). Come, that is as it should be! We like to tell the whole world what we can do.
In. For. (drily). Exactly, and teach your neighbours how to do it?
Com. Gen. (gazing at his neglected work). But if you know everything, why do you come to me?
In. For. Well, I thought if I got it first hand from the Commander of the Future, it would strengthen the opinion I have already formed of the unpreparedness of the British Empire. For I take it that the British Empire is unprepared?
Com. Gen. (amused). Why, certainly! I thought everybody knew that! If war were declared now, according to all the rules of the game, we ought to be absolutely ruined.
In. For. Dear me! I am sorry to hear it! But surely your Fleet is fairly strong?
Com. Gen. (laughing). What a joke! Oh, I dare say, ship for ship and gun for gun, we are more powerful than any other nation. But if hostilities broke out, our Fleet would be valueless. We should want every vessel to guard our island shores, and our commerce and colonies would have to shift for themselves.
In. For. (with concern). Dear me! This is very sad! But then you have an Army?
Com. Gen. (with another burst of laughter). What! Call our wretched force an Army! Why, to quote a writer, whose letters have been published in our leading journal, "Nobody could tell the Secretary of State for War how a force of forty thousand men, if it had to be supplemented for defensive purposes by Volunteers, could be supplied with ammunition for six weeks." Call our force an Army! Why, my dear Sir, the notion is absolutely ridiculous!
In. For. But does not such a state of things make you uneasy?
Com. Gen. Uneasy! Of course it does! Why, at a moment's notice, this grand old country might disappear for ever! Why we all feel that we are on the point of dissolution! We know that only a ninth-rate Power has to send a fleet to invade us, and we should have to submit—that we should be absolutely effaced, and be known in future as merely a geographical expression!
In. For. But surely this is lamentable—demoralising?
Com. Gen. I should rather think it was!—awfully demoralising!—(Sound of telephone bell.)—But will you pardon me? Some one wishes to speak to me from Head Quarters. I won't be a second.
In. For. Certainly. Pray see what it is.
Com. Gen. (listening, and speaking through telephone). What! Not really? Hurray!
In. For. Why, what is the news?
Com. Gen. (excitedly). Splendid! The Great Powers of Europe have simultaneously declared war against us! This will be grand!
In. For. (in a tone of deep commiseration). My poor fellow, this means ruin!
Com. Gen. Ruin! Rot! (Through telephone.) All right, will start to-night, and should be in Paris by Thursday, and at St. Petersburg at latest by the end of week. We can take Vienna and Berlin on our way home! I will be with the men at Portsmouth within an hour. Never mind our baggage; send it on afterwards.
In. For. (astounded). But what are you going to do?
Com. Gen. (with determination). Going to do! Why give them another thrashing! By-by, no time for talking! See you again soon!
[Exit hurriedly to beat the foe, and, strange to say, the object is subsequently attained—somehow!
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AN ANTI-ONIONIST LIBERAL.—Mr. LEAKE lately made a radically plucky speech, and is in future to be known in the North as Cocky Leakey.
* * * * *
OUR FINANCIAL COLUMN.
Telegraphic Address.—"Croesus," Everywhere.
Of course I knew perfectly well what would happen after I had put forth the programme of my financial operations. I said at the time to my friend GUS BRUMMAGEM, "Mark my words," I said, "I shall have all the Crowned Heads of the world grovelling at my feet and imploring, actually imploring me to allow them to hand over their money and their ancestral regalia to me for investment. They're bound to do it. I know the beggars well, and a more grasping lot you couldn't find within a day's march of Holloway Gaol." Dear old GUS (Beau GUS he is always called on account of his singularly attractive appearance) went so far as to pooh-pooh what I said. I don't bear him any ill-will. Gus was always a bit of a courtier, and got his head turned for good, when the Japanese Prince CHI IKAH invited him to stay a week at his country house, and to act as godfather to the infant prince, KA CHOOKAH, the necessary ceremony haying been postponed for six months in order to allow GUS to get there in time. That, as I say, was the ruin of GUS, and since that time he has had an offensive way of giving himself not merely airs, but what I may call regular blasts in the company of men better than himself. He ought to recollect that he owes his start in life to the lucky chance that threw him in my way. If I hadn't appointed him Chairman of the Turp, Pin and Bolt Company, and Managing Director of the New Gatefringe Syndicate, Limited, he might still be engaged in sweeping out the tenth-rate office which was formerly the scene of his labours. But I never expect gratitude. I am content to do good to my fellow-creatures without the least hope of merely temporal reward. On this particular occasion I was right, as usual. Telegrams stamped with the coats-of-arms of all the principal dynasties of the world have been inundating me. For instance, H.R.H. the Hereditary Grand Duke of LEIBWEH has wired to me in the following terms, of which I have caused an accurate translation to be executed by my staff of paid short-hand clerks:—"Have on my faithful and with-joy-inspired subjects a tax of ten reichsgulden each after great on the part of my ministers reluctance imposed. Invest proceeds for me in the best to your wisdom known company, and without delay. Perfect confidence." Now I can assure His Royal Highness, who will look in vain for any other answer than this, that no power on earth, and least of all the cajoleries or menaces of the great and highly-placed shall induce me to depart by one jot or tittle from the course I have marked out for myself. And I take this occasion to assure all other potentates that I do not propose by any effort of mine to bring wealth to the foreigner. The welfare of the British people is my only care. For them, but for no others, my investments are open; to them alone I devote my unrivalled experience. And after this I trust I shall be troubled with no further importunities from abroad.
I have to announce this week that I have formed The Croesus Club Company. I have, at immense expense, secured a splendid site in the very heart of the fashionable quarter of London. Building operations will begin immediately, and within the next three weeks the members will be housed in a Club-house unrivalled for comfort and luxury. Ten French chefs will preside over the kitchen, and house dinners at a minimum price of L5 a-head will be served in the Ruby Hall to the strains of the Brass Potsdammer Buben Hussar Band, specially retained for the exclusive service of the Club. The first list of members will consist of 2000, and, in order to insure exclusiveness, the subscription will be fixed at L500 without any entrance fee. A list of the Provisional Committee, containing a Duke as Chairman and four Peers as ordinary members, will be issued at once. I have the authority of the Committee to receive subscriptions.
I may point with pride to the fact that all the investments recommended by me have prospered, and the list of British millionnaires has been heavily increased. Canadian Boodlers fairly firm, but with a tendency to cross the border-line. No returns. I say, "Sell." M.T. Coffer Co. not very promising. (294 stk.; lim. pref., 19; mortg. deb., 44.) Clear out, if possible. Tight Rates Ry. Co. must be bought. But enough of this. All that is necessary is that correspondents should send remittances. The rest may be left to me.
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* * * * *
QUITE A LIBEL'Y PROSPECT!
(Or what may be expected after a recent Verdict.)
SCENE—An Editor's Room. Editor and Chief Sub. discovered in conversation.
Editor. And I think you have asked the Solicitors who have threatened us with proceedings to be in attendance?
Chief Sub. Yes, Sir. They are below—shall I send them up?
Ed. If you please. One by one; and kindly impress upon them the value of my time.
Chief Sub. Certainly. But I think you will find they will get over their business pretty speedily. After they have gone, no doubt you would like to look at the Contents Bill, Sir?
Ed. Yes, please; and now send up the Lawyers.
[Exit Chief Sub., when the Editor returns to his writing, until interrupted by First Solicitor.
First Solor. Sorry to intrude upon you when you seem to be busy, but it was your own idea that I should look you up.
Ed. Entirely. And now, Sir, perhaps you will kindly explain of what your client has to complain.
First Solor. Certainly. You said of the senior member of the Bounding Brothers of Bohemia, that, "although a very marvel of strength and grace, he could scarcely, after fifty years service in the ring, be described as a trapeze-practising acrobat."
Ed. Well, surely that is a most complimentary allusion to his personality! What does he want more than to be "a marvel of grace and strength"?
First Solor. You say he can scarcely be described as a "trapeze-practising acrobat."
Ed. Well, can he? Does he ever practise on the trapeze?
First Solor. Well, no. But he might if he liked! You see his chief business is to stand at the base of the pyramid, at the apex of which is his smallest and lightest Bounding Brother. But he might use the trapeze, I repeat, if he liked.
Ed. If what I hear is correct—it would have to be a strong one?
First Solor. Certainly—an extra strong one. We don't deny that our client weighs over twenty stone. But there, as we can accept no explanation, will you kindly tell me the name of your Solicitor?
[Gives the requisite information, and returns to his work, until interrupted by Second Solicitor, who has taken the place of the First.
Second Solor. I am afraid this interview is absolutely useless. Our client can accept no apology. You announced that you believed that JOHN SNOOKS had ceased to be in the employment of the Universal Cab and Fly Company.
Editor. Who is John SNOOKS?
Second Solor. He is a driver in the service of the organisation I have just named—and we act for the organisation. We complain that you have seriously injured us by telling the public that you believed we had lost the services of one of our thousand drivers.
Editor. But if we did believe it?
Second Solor. That is your business and not ours; and so, Sir, we shall be glad of the names of your Solicitors.
[The information is afforded, and the Editor returns to his work, until interrupted by Third Solicitor.
Third Solor. Sorry to disturb you, but you have been libelling one of our clients. He objects to your putting his Christian name in the paper—says that even with another surname it will injure him with his neighbours. He doesn't want his Christian name to be figuring in the public prints.
Ed. And what is his Christian name?
Third Solor. ZOZIMUS.
Ed. Why, that is mine! I thought I was the only man in the world with that name, with the solitary exception of my godfather!
Third Solor. Very likely you are—your godfather is our client.
Ed. Then mustn't I print my own name?
Third Solor. Certainly not without running the risk of an action for libel. The address of your Solicitors, please?
[The Editor gives the desired information, and then sends up "the Pleasure of Editing" to the Composing Room as a line for the Contents Bill as the Scene closes in.
* * * * *
An Elevating Exhibition.
At the Alhambra, the Little GEORGIA MAGNET ought to attract thousands. Three heavy swells seated on a chair she can lift, chair and all, so that the little lady's exhibition of power must have a wonderfully elevating effect on all who come within the reach of her influence. At all events, there can be no doubt that her magnetic force will give the Alhambra itself a tremendous lift.
* * * * *
"I can't write seasonable verses," replied Our Festive Poet, "until I've had my Christmas dinner, and then I'm mincepie-r'd!"
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* * * * *
AN IMPERIAL STAGE-MANAGER.
"GUILLAUME DEUX," says the Figaro, "prend tres au serieux sa tache de moralisateur." He is his own Licenser of plays, and, it may be presumed, collars the fees for doing the official Licenser's work; that is, if there be a department of this nature in the Lord Chamberlain's Office. And His Imperial Highhandedness not only is his own licenser, but is a self-appointed Stage-Manager, for, continues the Figaro, "Il a prescrit que, dans une piece moderne, LE NOUVEAU MAITRE, une scene un peu violente ne fut pas jouee a l'avant-scene, mais au fond du theatre." If His Imperial Majesty should permit some of IBSEN'S plays to be performed, Ghosts for example, or Hedda Gabler, no doubt most of the dialogue would be given right at the back of the stage, out of ear-shot of the audience. In ordinary dramas the Villain who may have to use strong language, or in farce the Eccentric Comedian who frequently has to utter more or less playfully a meaningless "big big D," would by Imperial command be compelled to "retire up" to deliver himself of the expletive, and then would have to "come down to the front" and continue the stage-business. But, not satisfied with merely giving the above stage-directions, His Imperial Majesty "est alle samedi s'assurer en personne que ses ordres etaient bien executes." No dodging such an Emperor as this. How would Herr Von IRVING and Herr TOOLE like this personal supervision? And how about Herren JONES, PINERO, W.S. GILBERT and a few others, who would not particularly enjoy having their stage-directions upset by even an Imperial amateur. The next move of GUILLAUME DEUX will be to make himself honorary prompter, and it may be to cast himself for the leading parts.
* * * * *
"DICKENSII nihil a me alienum puto," quoth the Baron, taking up A Week's Tramp in Dickens-Land. By W.K. HUGHES, F.L.S., with Illustrations by F.G. KITTON, and Others, published by Messrs. CHAPMAN AND HALL. Ahem! The frisky KITTON, having several tales to play with (probably some relation to the Cat-'o-nine-tails, eh?), has done his work well; and the same may be said for Others. The work can be recommended as a book of pictorial reference for Dickensian students, but otherwise it is—ahem—superfluous. If this kind of trading on the name of DICKENS continues, we shall probably become HUGHES'd to seeing such announcements as, "Shortly to appear,—The Collected Bills of the Butcher and Baker of Charles Dickens; Upper Storeys of Houses in whose Neighbourhood Charles Dickens resided; Some Tradesmen's Accounts, Receipted and Returned with Thanks, Autographically, to Charles Dickens, &c., &c.
A sad story, picturesquely commenced, and powerfully ended, is RUDYARD KIPLING'S The Light that Failed. But, between these two extremes, the conversations have the deadly fault of being wearisome, and, as to the manner of their conversation, were the Baron compelled to listen to much of it, life would indeed not be worth living. The women-kind in it are all detestable; there is none of them that doeth good in the novel, no, not one. It becomes gradually gloomier and gloomier, and, indeed, it is well styled The Light that Failed. Since DAUDET'S Jack, the Baron calls to mind no book more pitiful, no characters more heartless, and no sadder ending. Clever, of course; artistic, equally so; but—well, the Baron's advice to his enemies is, Go in heavily for Christmas festivities, have an orgy of plum-pudding, creams, sweets, and mince-pies, and, on the day after Boxing Day, stay indoors, and read The Light that Failed.
In the Baron's office there are several departments, where SAM the Skipper for novels, CHILD HAROLD for children's books, and PETER the Salt for tales of the sea, are specially busy at Christmas time. To quote the ancient song of the "Mistletoe Bough":—
"The Baron's retainers were Blythe and Gay;"
and so are they now, as the Ladies BELINDA BLYTHE and GRISELDA GAY undertake a considerable proportion of such seasonable reviewing as is more or less expected from the BARON DE BOOK-WORMS about this season of the year. But the Baron reviews the reviewers, and presents the public with only the pick of the basket. Now, once for all, the Baron gives notice hereby and herewith nevertheless and all to the contrary notwithstanding, that neither he nor his retainers will take notice of Christmas puzzles, such as, for example, the bilious-looking "Spots Puzzle," which ought to be dedicated to Little Red Riding Hood, as it is brought out by "WOLF." The Baron cannot listen to "the cry of WOLF." Let that he understood. Now, in the way of Books, what is there for Christmas fare? There is friend BLACKIE, who doesn't keep himself dark, but comes out with Henty in Plenty, whose Dash for Khartoum will be appreciated even by those who don't ordinarily care a dash for anything. Ask for HENTY, and see that you get him. Mr. MANVILLE FENN ought long ago to have changed his name to BOYVILLE FENN, as he is so associated with Books for Boys, and his Brownsmith's Boy is more boyant than ever. "A capital book" says the Baron's chief adviser. Find out The Rover's Secret, by HARRY COLLINGWOOD; it is worth knowing, and make friends with ANNIE ARMSTRONG'S Three Bright Girls.
Angling Sketches, by ANDREW LANG—Andrew L'Angler—are delightful reading. The Baron pictures to himself the thoughtful and Balfour-like ANDREW on a bank by the river, rod stuck into ground, pencil and note-book in his hand. "What is he doing, my boy?" inquires the Baron, of the hook-baiting boy. "He's ketching sumthink," whispers the urchin. Is it Historical Notes on the Diet of Wurms? Is it necessary to show that the fish have no consciousness of Pain? Or, is he composing Lines to my Rod? Or is it a disquisition on "ingratitude," showing how the stream goes on murmuring? And does he classically remind it how silent it ought to be,—Dumb defluit annis? Or does the stream murmur because our ANDREW the Fisherman has been "whipping" it? Should he betake himself to fly-fishing, let his motto be "Strike and spare not!" and if he would be wise above his fellows in the gentle art of catching fish, let him consult The Incomplete Angler, says, disinterestedly,
THE BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
MEMS FROM MONKEY-LAND.
(Being a Report made to the "Royal Simian Society" by Professor Hairy Myas, F.R.S.S., with compliments to Professor Garnier, who continues his articles on "a Simian Language" in "The New Review" for this month.)
I have for some time past paid considerable attention to the sounds uttered by the Human Beings who are permitted to observe our movements, in the wire house which the Proprietor of these gardens has so obligingly placed at our disposal, rent free. My object has been to discover whether the Human Species, though belonging to a rather low form of animal life, can be said to have anything corresponding to the language which is the recognised means of communicating between Apes.
I have been much assisted in my investigations by the kind help afforded me by the great Anubis Baboon, who has frequently abandoned the consumption of nuts to come and make experiments on our human visitors; the elder members of the Chimpanzee Family have also been most useful, and have often restrained the young of their household from interrupting my inquiries by ill-timed pleasantries. Only once in the whole course of these scientific labours have I had seriously to complain of my tail being made use of as a swing.
It was not long before I came to the conclusion that men do really mean something by the extraordinary gibberings and chatterings in which they indulge. My first experiment was on a female of the species, with a blue feather in her bonnet. At a sign from me, a young Chimpanzee suddenly and adroitly snatched the bonnet from her head. The sound she uttered was, as nearly as I can put it, wh-oo-w! ending in a shrill scream. I therefore take the oo sound to indicate alarm, or dissatisfaction. Exactly the same vowels were used by the Male.
The mischievous young of the Human Species, we have discovered, also have this oo sound, and use it when they wish to frighten us.
The three conclusions which I have drawn from my inquiries are:—
1. That Human Beings understand the sounds they utter to each other, and therefore possess a language, as we do.
2. That Human Beings have, in a very imperfect and rudimentary shape, the faculty of reason.
3. That Apes have descended from Men! In other words, that a Monkey is only a highly-developed and more agile Man.
These, no doubt, are startling conclusions, and I expect them to excite controversy. In fact, an Ourang-Outang friend of mine, to whom I mentioned them, was so shocked, that he has declined all nourishment ever since. But I rely on the scientific spirit of this great society to do me justice; and I venture to add a request that it will see fit to endow research by voting an extra supply of apples and nuts to the Chimpanzees, the Anubis Baboon, and myself, while we are at work on this very fatiguing field of inquiry.
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—> NOTICE.—Rejected Communications or Contributions, whether MS., Printed Matter, Drawings, or Pictures of any description, will in no case be returned, not even when accompanied by a Stamped and Addressed Envelope, Cover, or Wrapper. To this rule there will be no exception.