OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
May 28, 1892.
(A SKETCH FROM A NUMBERED STALL AT OLYMPIA.)
On the Stage, the Scene represents "A Public Place before the Arsenal," where a number of artisans are apparently busily engaged in making horse-shoes on cold anvils in preparation for the launch of "The Adriatica." On extreme R. enter Antonio, who expresses commercial embarrassment by going through a sort of dumb-bell exercise on a bridge. On extreme L. enter Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Antonio, who observe, with mild surprise, that there are several other persons present, and proceed to point out objects of local interest to one another with the officious amiability of persons in the foreground of hotel advertisements. (Here a Small Boy in a box, who has an impression he is going to see a Pantomime, inquires audibly "when the Clown Part will begin?" and has to be answered and consoled.) Bassanio perceives Antonio afar off, and advances towards him with stately deliberation, throwing out signals with one arm at intervals; Antonio goes to meet him; they shake each other by both hands with affectionate cordiality, and then turn their backs on one another, as though, on reflection, they found they had less to say than they had imagined. Presently Bassanio recollects why he wanted to see Antonio so particularly, and, by describing a circle in the air, and pointing from the electric lights above to the balcony stalls in front, and tapping his belt, puts Antonio at once in possession of his chronic impecuniosity, his passion for Portia, and his need for a small temporary loan. Antonio curls up his fists, raises them to the level of his ears, and then pretends to take his heart out of his doublet and throw it at Bassanio, who fields it with graceful dexterity, instantly comprehending with Italian intuition that his friend is, like himself, rather pressed for ready money, but is prepared to back a bill for any amount. Shylock passes that way, and is introduced by Antonio as a gentleman in the city who is in the habit of making advances on personal security without inquiry. Shylock extracts imaginary ink from his chest, and writes with one hand on the palm of the other, and cringingly produces a paper-knife—whereupon the transaction is complete, and the parties, becoming aware that a Grand Triumphal Procession is waiting to come in, and that they are likely to be in the way, tactfully suggest to one another the propriety of retiring. After the Procession, Valentina, "the lovely daughter of the proud Visconti" embarks on a barge with her maidens to meet her betrothed.
(In the Stalls, a Lady with a Catalogue, who hasn't been here before, mistakes this proceeding for "The Launch of the Adriatica," but is set right by a friend who has, and is consequently able to inform her that Valentina is Portia on her way to plead against Shylock.)
A mimic battle takes place on a bridge—i.e., rival factions shake their fists with prudent defiance over one another's shoulders. (An Old Lady in the Balcony, who has been watching this desperate encounter, finds that she has missed a very important Scene between Shylock and Jessica at the other end of the stage, and remorsefully resolves to be more observant in future, as the Scene changes to "Portia's Palatial Home.") Portia enters (the Lady in the Stalls, who has been here before, tells her companion that Portia's dress was "lovely when it was clean"), and greets her guests by extending both arms and inviting them to inspect the palms of her hands, thereby intimating that the abundance of canopied recesses, and the absence of any furniture to sit down upon, is due to the fact that the apartment has been recently cleared for a parlour game. The company express a well-bred gratification by bowing. Enter the Prince of Morocco (who is of course identified by various Spectators in the Stalls without Catalogues as "Othello," or "the Duke of Thingumbob—you know the chap I mean"), followed by his retinue; he kisses Portia's hand, as she explains to him, the Prince of Arragon, and Bassanio, the rules of the game in three simple gestures. They reply, by flourishes, that they have frequently played it at home, and promise faithfully not to cheat. The three caskets are brought in and placed on a table; the Prince of Morocco is the first player, and walks towards them very slowly, stopping at every ten paces and signalling to Portia that he is all right so far, and that she is not to be at all uneasy on his account. On coming in sight of the caskets, he pauses and turns to the audience, as if it had only just occurred to him that the odds were two to one against him, and he must be careful. Presently he jerks his right arm above his head and strikes his forehead, to indicate a happy thought, rushes at the golden casket, opens it, and slams the lid disgustedly. After which he signals to Portia that it is not such an amusing game as he thought, and he doesn't mean to play any more, beckons to his retinue and goes off, throwing his cloak over his shoulder with a gesture of manly and not unnatural annoyance. The Prince of Arragon tries the silver casket next, with similar unsuccess. Then Bassanio—with an elaborate pretence of uncertainty, considering he can hardly have helped witnessing the proceedings—advances to the caskets, in front of which he performs a little mental calculation, finally arriving at the conclusion that, as the portrait is not in the gold and silver boxes, it may not improbably be in the leaden one. He actually does find it there, and exhibits it to Portia with extreme astonishment, as if it was quite the last thing he expected. Then he advances to meet her, comparing her frequently with the picture, and expressing his approval of it as a likeness, and his determination to be taken by the same artist. Mutual satisfaction, interrupted by the arrival of a gondola with a letter from Antonio. To read it and impart its contents and the entire history of the bond to Portia, by a semicircular sweep of the arm and sounding his chest, takes Bassanio exactly two seconds and a half, after which he departs in the gondola, and the scene changes to the Piazzetta, where a variety of exciting events—including the Trial, a Musical Ballet, and a Call to Arms—take place, culminating in the embarkation of Venetian soldiers to recapture Chioggia, in three highly ornamental but slightly unseaworthy barges, as the Curtain falls on Act I.
Interval of Fifteen Minutes, spent by some of the lady spectators in speculation whether the dark and light patches on the blue curtains are due to design or the action of damp. After which the Fortress of Chioggia is disclosed, with a bivouac of the Genoese garrison. A bevy of well-meaning maidens enter with fruit and vegetables for the military, but, on the discovery that their wares are properties, and too firmly glued to the baskets to be detached, they retire in confusion. A small sail is seen behind the battlements; the soldiers poke at it with halberds until it retreats, whereupon, soldier-like, they dance. The sail returns with a still smaller one; red fire is burnt under the walls, which so demoralises the Genoese soldiery that they all tumble down with precaution, and the Venetians burst in and stand over them in attitudes as the scene changes to an Island near Venice and a Grand Aquatic Procession. (Here intelligent Spectators in the Stalls identify the first four pairs of gondolas,—which are draped respectively in icicles, pale green, rose-colour, and saffron,—as typifying the Seasons; another pair come in draped in violet, which they find some difficulty in satisfactorily accounting for. When two more appear hung with white and gold with a harp and palette at the prows, they grow doubtful, and the entrance of the two last couples, which carry shrines and images, reduces them to hopeless mystification. The Small Boy wishes to know whether anybody will be upset in the water, and being told that this is not a fixture in the entertainment, conceives a poor opinion of the capacity of Mediaeval Venice for lighthearted revelry.)
Terrace near Portia's Palace, Portia, Bassanio and the Doge discovered enjoying a pasteboard banquet.
(A Lady in the Stalls "wonders whether it is correct to represent Portia as knowing a Doge so intimately as all that," and doubts whether it is in Shakspeare.)
The supper-table is removed, and the proceedings terminate by a Grand Al Fresco Carnival. Ladies of the ballet dance bewitchingly, while soldiers play at Bo-Peep behind enormous red hoops. Finally the entire strength of the ballet link arms in one immense line, and simultaneously execute a wonderful chromatic kick, upon which the blue draperies descend amidst prolonged and thoroughly well-deserved applause from a delighted audience.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE (POLITICAL) LADY-CRICKETERS.
(A COLLOQUY NEAR THE NETS.)
[At the meeting of the Women's Liberal Federation the following "operative mandatory resolution" was carried:—"That in pursuance of the resolution passed in May 1890, the Council now instructs the Executive Committee that they shall promote the enfranchisement of women, including the local and parliamentary votes for all women, who possess any of the legal qualifications enabling them to vote, among the other Liberal reforms now before the Country, whilst not making it a test question at the approaching Election."]
SCENE—"At the Nets" on the St. Stephen's Cricket Ground. "The Champion" has been practising in the interval, prior to playing in the Great Match of the Season, "Unionists v. Home-Rulers." Various admiring Volunteers of both sexes have been "scouting" for him.
First Admiring Bystander. By Jove, that was a slashing hit! What powder he puts into it, eh? At his age too!
Second A.B. Oh, the Grand Old 'Un's in great form this season. Like 'tother W.G., who's just back from the Antipodes and, at forty-four, can knock up his sixty-three in sixty-five minutes. There he goes again, clean over all the "scouts"!
First A.B. Oh! he gives 'em plenty to do, "in the country." Keeps 'em on the shift, eh?
Second A.B. Bless you, yes. Why a hit like that, run out, would be worth seven to his side-in a match!
First A.B. (knowingly). Ah, but I notice that in a match these tremendous swipes don't always come off, don'tcher-know. I've seen some tremendous sloggers at the nets make a wonderful poor show when between wickets with a watchful "field" round 'em.
Second A.B. (with candour). Ah, quite so, of course. Everyone must have noticed that. With a demon bowler in front of yer sending 'em down like hundred-tonners, and a blarmed cat of a wicket-keeper on the grab just at your back, not to mention a pouncer at point, it puzzles the best of them to get 'em away, though "in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility," practising at the nets, to wit, with only the ground-bowler and a few scouts fielding, they may punish 'em properly.
First A.B. Ah, well, one must allow that the Champion plays the game right away all the time.
Second A B. Yea. Age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety. Wonderful, all the same, what perversely bad hits he will persist in making, at times. Does things now and again you'd think a school-girl with a bat would be ashamed of.
First A.B. Ah, by the way, what do you think of these here new-fangled Lady-Cricketers?
Second A.B. (significantly). Ask the Old 'Un what he thinks of 'em.
First A.B. Ah! can't abide 'em, can he? And yet he likes the Ladies to look on and applaud, and even to field for him at times.
Second A.B. Yes; the Ladies have been good friends of his, and now he'd bar them from the legitimate game. I fancy it's put their backs up a bit, eh?
First A.B. You bet! And it do seem ray-ther ongrateful like, don't it now? Though as fur as that goes I don't believe Cricket's a game for the petticoats.
Second A.B. Nor me neither. But bless yer they gets their foot in in everything now; tennis, and golf, and rowing and cetrer. And if you let 'em in at all, for your own pleasure, I don't quite see how you're going to draw the line arbitrary like just where it suits you, as the Grand Old Slogger seems to fancy.
First A.B. No; and, if you ask me, I say they won't stand it, even from him. "No," says they, "fair's fair," they says. "All very well to treat us like volunteer scouts at a country game, or at the nets, returning the balls whilst you slog and show off. But when we want to put on the gloves and pads, and take a hand at the bat in a businesslike way, you boggle, and hint that it's degrading, unsexing, and all that stuff."
Second A.B. Ah, that won't wash. If it unsexes 'em to bat, it unsexes 'em to scout. And if the old cricketing gang didn't want the Ladies between wickets, why, they shouldn't have let em into the field, I say. Strikes me Lady CARLISLE'll show 'em a thing or two. That "operative mandatory resolution" of hers means mischief—after the next big match anyhow. "Ladies wait, and wait a bit more, wait in truth till the day after to-morrow." Yes; but they won't wait for ever.
First A.B. Not they. Why, look yonder! There's one of 'em in full fig. Lady-Cricketer from cap to shoes—short skirt, knickers, belt, blouse, gloves, and all the rest of it. D'ye think that sort means volunteer scouting only? Not a bit of it. Mean playing the game, Sir, and having regular teams of their own.
Second A.B. Look at her! She's a speaking to the Grand Old Champion himself!
First A.B. Giving him a bit of her mind, you bet. What's that she's saying?
Second A.B. Why, that she admires his style immensely, and doesn't want to spoil his game; but that, after the next great All England Match, if not sooner, they mean to have a team of their own and go in for the game all round!
First A.B. Ah, what did I say?
* * * * *
* * * * *
CONFESSIONS OF A DUFFER.
NO. X.—THE DUFFER ON THE TURF.
"A horse for a protection is a deceitful thing," as the Scotch translator of KING DAVID has it, and I entirely agree with him. I rather wish to be protected from a horse, than expect any succour from a creature so large, muscular and irrational. Far from being "courageous," as his friends say, the horse (I am not speaking of the war-horse) is afraid of almost everything, that is why I am afraid of him. He is a most nervous animal, and I am a nervous rider. He is afraid of a bicycle or a wheel-barrow, which do not alarm the most timid bipeds, and when he is afraid he shies, and when he shies I no longer remain. Irrational he is, or he would not let people ride him, however, I never met a horse that would let me do so. It is with the horse as an instrument of gambling that I am concerned. In that sense I have "backed" him, in no other sense to any satisfactory result. With all his four legs he stumbles more than one does with only a pair, an extraordinary proof of his want of harmony with his environment.
I was beguiled on to the Turf by winning a small family sweepstakes—L3 in fact. A sporting cousin told me that I had better "put it on Cauliflower," who was the favourite for The City and Suburban. He put it on Cauliflower for me, and we won, so that a career of easy opulence seemed open. Then I took to backing horses, a brief madness. I read all the sporting papers, and came to the conclusion that the prophets are naught. If you look at their vaticinations, you will find that they all select their winners out of the first four favourites. Anybody could do that. Now the first four favourites do not by any means always win, and, when they do, how short are the odds you get—hardly worth mentioning! Horses occasionally win with odds of forty to one against them, these are the animals of which I was in search, not the hackneyed favourites of the Press and the Public. This, I think you will find, is usually the attitude of the Duffer, who, in my time, was known, I cannot say why, as the "Juggins." I liked to bring a little romance into my speculations. Often I have backed a horse for his name, for something curious, or literary, or classical about his name. Xanthus, or Podargus, or Phaeeton, or Lampusa has often carried my investment to an inconspicuous position in the ruck. Another plan of mine, which I believe every Duffer adopts, was backing my dreams—those horses of air. About the time of the Derby one always reads about lucky persons who backed a dream. But one does not read about the unlucky persons who take the same precaution. Several millions of people in this country read, talk, and think about nothing but racehorses. When the Socialists have their way, may I advise them to keep up Government or communal racing studs and stables? What the betting is to be done in, if there is no money (which is contemplated as I understand), is not obvious. But the people will insist on having races, and what is a race without a bet? However, these considerations wander from the subject in hand. With a fourth of the population thinking about horses, a large proportion must dream about horses. Out of these dreams, perhaps one in one hundred and fifty thousand comes true, and about that dream we read in the papers. We don't read about the other dreams, such as mine were, for I have dreamed of winning numbers, winning colours, winning horses, but my dreams came all through the Ivory Gate, and my money followed them.
I don't pretend to be a judge of a horse; except for their colour they all seem pretty much alike to me. Nor did I haunt race-courses much, people there are often very unrefined, and the Ring is extremely noisy and confusing. Once I heard a man offering to lay considerable odds against the Field, and I offered in a shy and hesitating manner, to accept them. He asked me what horse I backed? I said none in particular, the Field at large, all of them, for really the odds seemed very remarkable. But he did not accede to my wishes, and continued to shout in rather a discourteous manner. Once, too, when I had won some money, I lost it all on the way back, at a simple sort of game of cards, not nearly so complex and difficult as whist. One need only to say which of three cards, in the dealer's hand, was the card one had chosen. Yet here I was finally unsuccessful, though fortunate at first, and I am led to suppose that some kind of sleight of hand had been employed; or, perhaps, that the card of my choice had in some manner been smuggled away. However, once on a racecourse I saw a horse which I fancied on his merits. He looked very tall and strong, and was of a pretty colour, also he had a nice tail. He was hardly mentioned in the betting, and I got "on" at seventy to one, very reasonable odds. I backed him then, and he won, with great apparent ease, for his jockey actually seemed to be holding him in, rather than spurring him in the regrettable way which you sometimes see. But when I went to look for the person with whom I had made my bet, I was unable to find him anywhere, and I have never met him since. He had about him ten pounds, the amount of my bet, which he had insisted on receiving as a deposit, "not necessarily for publication," he said, "but as a guarantee of good faith." Race-courses are crowded, confusing places, and I doubt not, that so scrupulous a man was also looking for me. But we have never met. If this meets his eye, probably he will send a cheque for L700 to the office of Mr. Punch. I have often regretted the circumstance, as it was my most fortunate coup on the Turf, and above all, reflected credit on my judgment of a horse.
Conversing afterwards with a friend on this event, I expressed surprise that my horse had not been a favourite, considering his agreeable exterior.
"Why, you Juggins," he answered, "Rumtifoo was a moral—everybody knew that; but everybody knew he wasn't meant; he was being kept for the Polehampton Stakes. He only won because he got the better of little BOTHERBY, his jockey, who couldn't hold him. Why, the crowd nearly murdered him, and his master sacked him on the spot—the little idiot!"
I do not quite understand this explanation. Poor Rumtifoo was "moral," like the "moral mare" mentioned by ARISTOTLE in the Ethics. He did his best to win, and he did win; what else can you ask for in a horse?
There is, apparently, more in horse-racing than meets the eye. I am not addicted to remembering much about the "previous performances" of horses, as some men are, who will tell you that Cynic was third in the Kelso Hunt Cup for last year, and that you ought to keep an eye on him for the Ayrshire Handicap. But I have remarked that horses are not like men; they do not always run almost equally well, though the conditions of the race seem similar. No doubt this is owing to the nervousness of the animal, who may be discouraged by the noise, the smell of bad tobacco, and so forth.
I have given up Racing. That was after last year's Ascot meeting. I was staying at a country house, some days before, and somehow I lost my betting-book. It is really extraordinary how things do get lost. Perhaps I left it in a railway carriage. Afterwards I tried to put my bets, as far as I could remember them, down on a large sheet of paper, and I think I got it very nearly right. But I left the paper lying about in the library in a very interesting first edition of Plotinus, I believe, and either the housemaid burned it, or my host threw it into the waste-paper basket. At all events, it was lost, and I have no head for figures, and things got mixed somehow. The book-maker's recollection of the circumstances was not the same as mine. But I began quite a fresh book, on imaginative principles, on the course. I had not a good Ascot. And as Racing gives me a headache, and I seldom meet any people on the Turf who are at all interested in the same things as myself, I have given it up for good. They say I am a good deal regretted by the Ring. It is always pleasant to remember having made a favourable impression.
* * * * *
THE OPERA-GOER'S DIARY.
Monday, May 16.—Sound the trumpets, Beat the drums! All Hail to Sir DRURIOLANUS OPERATICUS, the most successful Knight of the Season! A brilliant audience in a brilliant house lighted by thousands of additional electric lights, acclaimed with rapture the awakening of Opera. Philemon et Baucis began it, a work by GOUNOD (which is not intended for swearing) of great sweetness and light; and this was followed by PIETRO MASCAGNI's Cavalleria Rusticana, "Rustic Chivalry," which might be epigrammatically described as a "Clod-hoppera." Philemon et Baucis is charming. M. MONTARIOL was a capital Philemon, and Mlle. SIGRID ARNOLDSEN as Baucis, a sort of classical Little Bo-peep, received a hearty welcome on her return to the Covent Garden House and Home. M. PLANCON was the thoroughly French Jupin, and M. CASTELMARY an amiable Vulcan; both most accomplished Divines. Altogether, a perfect quartette. The graceful intermezzo only escaped an encore because the knowing ones among the gods and groundlings felt that too much enthusiasm at first might do serious damage to the subsequent reception of the great intermezzo of the evening. All on qui vive for great intermezzo. Anticipations of event heard in the lobbies. Anxiety depicted on some countenances, but most features looking happy and hopeful. The members of what was once known as "the Organising Committee" nod encouragingly to one another as they pass to and fro; the officials and habitues exchange greetings without any expression of opinion. Sir DRURIOLANUS does not issue forth until the right moment, when he can shut up his opera-glass with a click, and give the word to Field-Marshal MANCINELLI to lead his men to the attack. For the present, "Wait" is the mot d'ordre, "and this," quoth a jig-maker, "is the only weight in the entire entertainment."
Up goes the Curtain, and those who remember the Cavalleria as it was put on "in another place," to use parliamentary language, see at the first glance that this representation is going to be quite another pair of shoes. The stage management is admirable: not a second without movement, and every movement with a motive—musical or dramatic, or both. Madame CALVE's Santuzza is operatically and histrionically—but especially the latter—a triumph; and "this is the verdict of us all." GIULIA RAVOGLI makes a great part of Lola; the many-talented little Mlle. BAUERMEISTER's Lucia is not quite up to her own Marta in Faust. As for the men, the singing and the acting of Signor DE LUCIA as Turiddu (ye gods! what a name!), and of Mons. DUFRICHE as Alfio cannot be surpassed.
But—stop—the tremendous row (a quarrel quite representative of Whitechapel in Italy, and suggesting to some of us what Signor Coster CHEVALIER might do if this Opera were Londonised) between Turiddu-de-Lucia and Santuzza-Calve is over, the latter has denounced her former lover, there is thunder in the air—the atmosphere is heavy with fate—and the stage is clear. Then comes the intermezzo, foreboding ill, presaging tragedy,—magnificent! And as MANCINELLI bows from his seat, acknowledges the thunder of applause—this was the thunder in the atmosphere—and pulls his forces together again to repeat and emphasize the triumph—DRURIOLANUS shuts up his lorgnette, beams on the world around, and murmurs to himself, "Waterloo is won!" Decides thereupon to give the same performance on Thursday, and does so, with repetition of triumph.
Now one word as to a picturesque detail. The action takes place on Easter Sunday, not on Palm Sunday; but Archbishop DRURIOLANUS has issued a pastoral melody dispensing his flock from the usual custom, and allowing them to have the palms distributed on Easter Sunday, for the sake of the show. "Palmam qui meruit ferat,"—and well does each one of the Chorus deserve his or her palm. And do not those in front who are nervous as to splitting their glove-seams, also bare their palms to applaud this Opera? Why certainly. Truly, Sir DRURIOLANUS ARCHIEPISCOPUS DISPENSATOR, well hast thou inaugurated the palmy days of this Opera Season.
Friday.—Faust selected because alliteration in Faust and Friday. A trifle, but as DRURIOLANUS says, "The world is governed by trifles." Wise saw this, with practical modern instance. VAN DYCK looking like a Rembrandt, a Faust-rate Faust, and Miss EMMA EAMES a charming Marguerite, Mons. PLANCON's Mephistopheles a la Francaise. Mons. CESTE good as Valentine. A propos of Valentine and his soldiers, why do the army and their friends who come to welcome them, invariably turn their backs on the triumphal procession, taking no sort of interest in it whatever? Also, why is that banner persistently and purposelessly waved during the whole of the great Soldiers' Chorus? Is this the reason why nowadays the ever-popular Soldiers' Chorus is seldom encored? As this monotonous action on the part of the Bannerman (not CAMPBELL of that ilk, but the ensign-bearing supernumerary) suggests "flagging interest," hadn't it better be abolished altogether?
Saturday.—Great excitement in outer Hall. Everybody buzzing about. What has happened? Has dynamite been found? Has some eminent vocalist "gone up to see," and can't come down again in time? Sir DRURIOLANUS is present, explaining matters to the critics, and repeating explanation in various tongues to eager foreign inquirers. The sentinels eye the moving scene with determination and bayonets fixed. At a word from Sir DRURIOLANUS, they will give an extra charge, and rout the crowd. "What is it all about?" asks little PETERKIN. Sir DRURIOLANUS can tell him. Madame CALVE is indisposed, and L'Amico Fritz cannot be performed. So GLUCK's Orfeo is substituted in a happy-g'lucky sort of way. The two RAVOGLI are excellent, and Box and Stall are satisfied.
* * * * *
"MRS. HENNIKER," my Baronite writes, "dedicates to her brother, Lord HOUGHTON, her first essay in fiction, on the ground that he will be the most kindly critic. Bid me Good-bye (BENTLEY) does not stand in need of the adventitious aid of fraternal kindliness to recommend it to the reader. The story of woman's sacrifice to a sense of duty has been told before; but Mrs. HENNIKER endows her version with a charm of simplicity under which, here and there, glows the fire of passion. Moreover, she writes excellent English, which ladies who make books do sometimes. It is a pity the story is so sad. Colonel St. Aubyn might just as well have married Mary Giffard, and lived ever after in that charming Brereton Royal which Mrs. HENNIKER doubtless sketches from life. If she had insisted on his being a cripple for life, her dictum could not have been disputed. But there ought to have been a union between William and Mary."
* * * * *
Why are the Obstructives like last Season's Walnuts?—Because they are troublesome to PEEL.
* * * * *
* * * * *
TO LORD SALISBURY.
(BY A PERTURBED TORY.)
["We trust that the present Administration will not commit the blunder of attempting to 'gain favour with this or that section of the constituencies, by indulging in loose talk on economical questions.'"—The Standard.]
To thump the Drum Ecclesiastic Was very likely mere parade; But oh, why make yourself seem plastic To the fanatics of Fair Trade? Of course a warning's no "incitement"; You only said, in tones of thunder, The valiant Ulstermen to fight meant, And on your soul you didn't wonder. Encouragement in that? Go to! Did shouting SAUNDERSON so take it? (Still it did raise a hullabaloo. It's settling now, DON'T re-awake it!) No; civil war is far—and fudge! But why the dickens make suggestions That England is inclined to budge An inch, on Economic Questions? Let HOWARD VINCENT, if he likes, Talk "Fair Trade" fustian; no one listens. But you?—best keep to slating Strikes. You bet the eye of HARCOURT glistens, And GLADSTONE reading with a grin, Says, "Now I have him on the hip!" This will not do, if we're to win. Of course, dear Lord, 'twas but a slip, But then you do make such a lot; Explaining them away gets wearying. You seem as though—of course, 'tis rot!— Our Free Trade system you were querying. That cock won't fight; Protection's dead, Don't trot its ghost out. Just ask GOSCHEN! That Silver Conference, too! His head Must have gone woolly, I've a notion. Fire us with militant suggestions; Your loyal followers they embolden, But upon Economic Questions Remember Silence is so golden!
* * * * *
REPORTED DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BROAD GAUGE.—It has been "converted," and in this sense our old friend, The Broad Gauge, with its easy-going ways, is defunct for ever. Is the conversion for the better? From "broad" to "narrow" is not, ordinarily speaking, beneficial to the individual or to society. And as applied to lines that fall in such pleasant places as do those of the Great Western, will the change to "narrow" result in the same breadth of view which the passengers have hitherto enjoyed? Will the ideas of the management and direction of the G.W.R. change from "broad" to "narrow"? We see it mentioned that the "cross sleepers" have been disturbed and re-laid (enough to make them crosser than ever; the ceremony should have been accompanied by a band playing selections from "The Sleeper Awakened"), and that "an inner row of chairs" is already fixed. But chairs are not so comfortable for sleepers as the good old-fashioned broad-gauge-G.-W.-R. first-class seat, in which, after you had lunched, you could repose from Swindon to Exeter. However, we all know the safety of choosing the "narrow" in preference to the "broad" way in life, and so, no doubt, the spiritually-minded Directors of the G.W.R. have acted with the best intentions and upon the most unanimous resolutions. Yet "intentions" or "resolutions" are more compatible with the "broad" than the "narrow" way.
* * * * *
BORN 1808. DIED 1892.
Alas! The Busy "B" is dead, No more we'll hear him buzz a-wing, Nor picture with a smiling dread The pungent terrors of his sting. As Io's gadfly was this "B" To Sentiment and to Pretence. Oh, Property! Ah, Liberty! Fallen in your supreme defence! Gone is the friend that in a phrase The "Common Sense" of things could settle, That with a stroke could slay a craze, And folly lash with flail of nettle. Who now will thunder in the Times Against the Socialistic Rad's tone? Who'll flout the cant and check the crimes Of him, the all-surviving GLADSTONE?
* * * * *
Military Tournament at Islington successful as ever. All the glory of war, as Mr. JORROCKS observed in his lecture, with one-half per cent. of its danger. Under command of Major TULLY. For seats, apply per Tully-phone.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ON MY LADY'S POODLE.
I wonder what on earth it is That makes me think my lady's poodle (Her minion smug of solemn phiz,) The pink and pattern of a noodle: Its eyes are deep; their look, serene; Its lips are sensitive and smiling; But oh! the gross effect, I ween, Is, passing measure, dull and riling.
It is not that its locks are crisp; Your humble servant's hair is crisper, It is not that its accents lisp; I, too, affect a stammered whisper: Nor that a gorgeous bow it wears And struts with particoloured bib on; I like these macaronic airs; I'm very fond of rainbow ribbon.
Nor can it be—of this I'm sure— Because she pampers all its wishes And tempts her peevish epicure With dainty meats in dainty dishes. To tell the truth, while I'm her guest, My little wants and whims she studies; If "Beau"'s a rival, I protest No jealous tincture in my blood is.
I wonder, wonder, at a loss To justify such wayward snarling— It makes her very, very cross My poor opinion of her darling; The cause (should pride the cause withhold, She bodes and I deserve a scrimmage,) The cause is this—she calls, I'm told, The little brute my "Living image!"
* * * * *
LADY GAY'S SELECTIONS.
DEAR MR. PUNCH,—My dear friend, Lady HARRIET ENTOUCAS, said to me, the other day at Kempton, when I told her to have a sovereign on Conifer:—"My dear Lady GAY, your tips are so marvellous that I really wonder you don't write to the papers!" Being struck with the idea, my thoughts naturally flew to you—not only as the most gallant Editor of my acquaintance, but also as probably the only one hitherto unrepresented with a regular Turf Correspondent.
It is, therefore, with true feminine confidence that I place my services at your disposal, and, my information being of the most unreliable description (derived invariably from the owners), I feel sure that those of your readers who follow my tips will have no cause to regret their temerity, as, being like all women, nothing if not original, I intend to tip, not the probable winner, but the probable last horse in important races!
As I invariably attend all the fashionable meetings and most of the unfashionable (incognito of course the latter), it can be left to me to decide which horse was last—thus reducing the matter to a certainty—distinctly an object to be gained in making a bet—whatever men may say to the contrary.
An ancestor of mine (the poet of the name)—having transmitted to me a spark of his genius—I propose to give my selections in verse—select verse in fact, and will now in concluding my letter, give my tip for the probable last horse in the Derby—(which, by the way, happens in this case to be a mare—I repeat—I am nothing if not original!)—and, before doing so, I should like to express my sympathy with the Duke of WESTMINSTER and JOHN PORTER, who have indeed had an Orme-ful of trouble with the unfortunate erstwhile Derby Favourite, which would undoubtedly have been my selection had he not been scratched! Yours devotedly,
The Baron boldly said, "Je vais Renvoyer cette depeche: 'A Monsieur FRY of London Town. Un livre sur La Fleche.'"
* * * * *
HYDE PARK CORNER.
My hansom here completely stuck; No chance to catch my train, worse luck! I sit and wonder: Why should the roads be up in May? Who muddles matters in this way, With bungling blunder?
What use to make a shapeless space, Where rambling roadways interlace, And, in the Season, To close just what was meant to save This block, because they want to pave? What is the reason?
By Jove, it's like some years ago, The traffic stopping in a row In Piccadilly! The Vestry does not care a pin For all the muddle that we're in; They're much too silly.
Perhaps they'd say they meant it well. I do not know. All I can tell Is that I'm raving. I'd send that Vestry down below, Where all such good intentions go, To make more paving!
* * * * *
Lady friend of my wife's wants us to "try her tea"! Seems she's started (with two other Ladies) as Firm of Tea Merchants in City. What are we coming to? Or rather, what are male Tea Merchants coming to? Mr. Registrar BROUGHAM, most likely. In incautious moment—as I was out—wife promised to give her an order for a couple of pounds of her "best Ceylon Mixture."
Tried it. Never tasted such vile stuff! Wife agrees, and asks me to call at the Firm's Offices and see if they haven't got anything with more Ceylon and less Mixture in it. Don't much like the job. How can one blow up a woman whom one will have to meet in one's own drawing-room, calling?
Have looked in. Must say that Tea-dealeress is better than her tea. Really quite an attractive person. The three of them gave me afternoon tea in a little sanctum behind the shop, and chatted most pleasantly. My wife's friend the head of Firm. Said the Ceylon Mixture was a mistake—really intended for kitchen use—but as they've only just started business, their stocks have got jumbled together. She hoped—quite penitently—that I would "overlook the error."
What could I say? What I did was to order a whole box of their "Incomparable Congou," at four shillings a pound.
Wife (when I tell her of this) seems surprised. Says "she won't send me shopping again." But can one call this cosy—this tea-cosy—social visit to three accomplished women by the vulgar term "shopping "?
Wife incautiously mentions that she is "out of Coffee." Gives me an excuse to call on Firm again, and see if they sell Coffee too. Yes, they do. Head of Firm more fascinating than ever. Asks me "if I would mind, as a very great favour, mentioning her tea to all my City friends? She knows I have great influence in the City." Says this with winning smile. Query—is not Mincing Lane rather an appropriate locality for Lady Tea-dealers?
Later. Wife has forbidden my ever going to Mincing Lane again! Says the box of "Incomparable Congou" was mere "dust." So are my hopes!
* * * * *
A DENTIST'S WAITING-ROOM.
Clasping tight my jaw, I staggered, Pale and haggard, To this room, Where were fellow-martyrs sitting In befitting, Solemn gloom;
Whilst they turned, with air dejected, Books collected To amuse, Graphics, or accumulated Illustrated London News.
How they glared! No fellow-feeling O'er them stealing, Made them kind; "Touch of nature" that is dental Makes no mental Kin, I find.
There I sat, the numbers growing Less, each going To his fate— What a dismal occupation! My elation Was not great—
Heard the butler call each saddened, Toothache-maddened Victim's name; Watched them wincing as they strode out: I should no doubt Look the same.
Then, when me he had to take in, "Mr. AIKIN!" Made me quail; O'er the after vivisection Recollection Draws a veil!
* * * * *
FROM THE SHADES.
(AT THE SIGN OF THE "CASTOR AND POLLUX.")
DEAR MISTER PUNCH,—Look at 'ere! This is not one of your penny papers—there was none on 'em in my time—ups and says, says it:—"The travelling expenses from America of Mr. JACKSON, who is coming to England to fight Mr. SLAVIN for the Championship of the World, are reckoned at no less than L150."
Wy, wot a delikit plarnt, wot a blooming hexotic, this "Mister" JACKSON (oh, the pooty perliteness of it!) must be! Saloon passage and fust-class fare, I persoom, for the likes of 'im. Isters and champagne, no doubt, and liquoor brandy, and sixpenny smokes! A poor old pug like me wos glad of a steak and inguns, and a 'arf ounce o' shag, with a penny clay. And as to "travelling hexpenses"—I wonder wot the Noble Captings of our day would 'ave said to the accounts laid afore your "National Sporting Club!" L2000 for the Purse, and L150 for Mister JACKSON's travelling hexpenses!!! Oh, I say! Pugs is a-looking up! And yet I'm told some o' your cockered-up fly-flappers carnt 'it a 'ole in a pound o' butter, or stand a straight nose-ender without turning faint! Evidently funking and faking pays a jolly sight better than 'onesty and 'ard 'itting.
Well, well, Mister Punch, I'm hout of it now, thanksbe. And I ain't sure as I could shape myself 'andy to the Slugger SULLIVAN and JEM SMITH kind o' caper. The "resources o' science" is so remarkable different from what they wos in my days, and include so many new-fangled barnies as we worn't hup to. These 'ere pugilistic horchids, so to speak, wants deliket 'andling in the Ring, as well as hout on it, and a fair 'ammering from a 'onest bunch o' fives might spile the pooty look of 'em for their fust-clarss Saloons, Privet Boxes, and Swell Clubs. But you can tell Mister JACKSON, Eskvire, an cetrer, an cetrer, an cetrer (put it all in, please, Sir, as I vant to be perlite), that in my day I'd a bin only too 'appy to fight 'im to a finish (which mighn't ha' bin in five minutes, either, hunless he wanted it so), for—his Travelling Hexpenses!!!
Yours to kommand, THE CHICKEN.
* * * * *
O SHAW-LEFEVRE, was it but fatality, Or could it be because the subjects bore 'em, That, when you wished to argue on plurality. About one Member came to form a quorum? No doubt the others meant this to denote That when you speak you like "One Man, One Vote."
* * * * *
FRIENDLY ADVICE TO MRS. HUMPHRY WARD, A PROPOS OF HER TROUBLE WITH HER ADVERSE CRITICS.—Grieve no more!
* * * * *
* * * * *
ST. JOHN'S WOOD.
These hapless homes of middle class, Can they escape annihilation When come, in place of trees and grass, A filthy goods-yard and a station?
If such seclusion sheltered Peers, Their wealth and influence might save it; No speculator ever fears Artists or writers such as crave it;
Or if it housed the WORKING MAN, Would Lords or Commons dare eject him? Picture the clamour if you can! His vote, his demagogues, protect him.
But you, who only use your brains— The people's voice, the noble's money, Not yours—why save you from the trains? For quiet, do you say? How funny!
Perhaps you think, because in May The talk is all of Art and beauty, The Commons also think that way; Not so, they have a higher duty.
If only speculators shout, And millionnaires take up the story, They thrust all Art and Nature out, For Trade is England's greatest glory.
Then, if a careless House some day Permit the Channel Tunnel boring, Think how this railway line would pay; If you had shares you'd cease deploring.
Think of the cotton-laden trains Direct from Manchester to Asia! Think of the Sheffield Railway's gains, Not of your lilac or acacia!
* * * * *
"ONE TOUCH OF NATURE."
To introduce in a monument to a great writer a presentment of one of his most popular characters, as Mr. F. EDWIN ELWELL has done in his bronze statue of "Charles Dickens and 'Little Nell,'" is decidedly a pretty notion. "The child," looking up into the face of the great creative genius, who loved this offspring of his sympathetic fancy better than did all her other admirers, is a pathetic figure, and gives to the monument a more human and less coldly mortuary aspect than, unhappily, is usual in such work. It is a "touch of Nature" that makes even the adjunct of the mausoleum akin to the quick world of the living and loving. The vivid valiant genius, who so detested and denounced the superfluous horrors with which we surround death and the tomb, would cordially have approved it, little as was his love for monumental effigies, or care for the fame that is dependent on them.
* * * * *
VERY "FRENCH BEFORE BREAKFAST."—It was reported in the Times that a M. ROULEZ fought four duels between nine and ten on Wednesday morning, severely wounded his four adversaries, and then, after this morning's pleasure, went about his business, that is his ordinary business, as if nothing particular had happened. To this accomplished swordsman the series of combats had been merely like taking a little gentle exercise "pour faire Rouler le sang." The combatants, as it turns out, appear to have been like Falstaff's "men in buckram."
* * * * *
THE LIMB AND THE LAW.—"To whom does an amputated limb belong?" queries the Standard (a propos of the case of the boy HOUSLEY, whose father demanded that the arm cut off in the Infirmary should be given up to him). The answer is clear. An amputated limb belongs to no body!
* * * * *
IN DEFENCE OF THE GREAT PARADOXIST.
He may not be "earnest," he may not be "smart," You may say, if you please, he's unable to sing; But, oh, you must own he's a "work of art,"— A "beautiful untrue thing!"
* * * * *
ASPIRATIONS.—A Music-hall Manager told the Parliamentary Committee sitting on Theatres and Places of Entertainment, that he did not believe in Art with a capital A. Perhaps he believed in Art with a capital H?
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Commons, Monday, May 16.—This looked forward to in advance as grand field-night. SQUIRE OF MALWOOD been preparing onslaught on JOKIM's last Budget. Should have come off days ago, but Squire had other engagements in the country. Nothing to equal Prince ARTHUR's accommodating spirit. If the Squire not ready to demolish Budget, say, on Thursday, well, it shall be put off till Monday, or even later if that day not convenient. JOKIM doesn't mind; accustomed to have his Budgets torn up, and the little pieces returned to him postage unpaid; would feel lonely if Budget went through an uninterrupted course. Arranged accordingly that to-night the great onslaught shall he delivered. The Squire judiciously spent interval since Friday amidst quiet glades of Malwood.
"I always like, TOBY," he said, "if I get a chance, to have Monday set apart for one of my more important speeches. I make a point of going to the morning service on the day which, happily still, lies 'tween Saturday and Monday, and I don't know anything more conducive to the preparation of impromptus than a good sermon read out for space of twenty minutes; not more, or your wit begins to falter and you repeat yourself; just twenty minutes. A moderately comfortable pew, a voice not too loud in the pulpit, a fairly full congregation, and a general sense that you're doing the right thing and setting an example to your neighbours. Such circumstances preceding by some twenty-four hours my rising in the Commons, are calculated to make JOKIM sit up."
Calculation on this occasion somewhat astray. Rather hard to sit up all the way through the Squire's speech; an hour and a half long; bristling with figures; mellifluous with millions, throbbing with thousands. The Squire is in peculiar degree dependent for success upon mood of his audience. In crowded House, Members cheering, laughing, or, if you please, jeering and howling, the Squire improves with every five minutes of his Speech. To-night House not a quarter full; those present depressed with consciousness that no real fight meant; Mr. G. sat it out with some intervals of suspicious quietude. HENRY FOWLER also faithful found; sitting with folded arms waiting for the time when a new Chancellor of the Exchequer shall find opening made for him on a newly-arranged Treasury Bench.
Only JOKIM really listened; nervous, restless, murmuring comment, muttering contradiction, clutching at himself with strange gestures reminiscent of hereditary instinct to rend his garments in moments of tribulation. That was something in recompense for the meditations of yesterday morning. But as one swallow does not make a summer, neither does one Minister, however unhappy under criticism, make an audience. JOKIM followed with a speech scrupulously measured as to length by that of the Squire's; through the dead unhappy night the rain of talk fell on the roof, and everyone was glad when midnight, slowly coming, struck.
Business done.—Budget Resolutions agreed to.
Tuesday.—Small Holdings Bill through Committee. Last clause added amid buzz of admiration from a not too full House.
HAMLEY looked on in rapt admiration.
JESSE COLLINGS rose up and called CHAPLIN blessed.
"Not at all," said CHAPLIN, blushing; "as my friend TOOLE says from the deck of the Houseboat, anyone could do it."
"The fact is, TOBY," CHAPLIN whispered to me a little later, as we sat on the Terrace sharing a bottle of gingerbeer imbibed through a couple of straws, "I've really done a clever thing, only those fellows don't quite see it. Here we've been for a week pegging away at this Bill, bargaining and bickering. Sometimes I've yielded a trifle to the Opposition; sometimes I haven't. But it's pretty much all the same in the end. The Act will look very well in the Statute Book, and I hope will help us at the General Election. But as far as practical use goes, I have sometimes laughed when I look round the Committee and see Members seriously discussing the thing. Just before the Bill was printed, Prince ARTHUR asked me when I proposed the Act should come into operation. 'When are you going to have the General Election?' I asked, by way of reply. Prince ARTHUR said he couldn't exactly tell at the moment. 'Very well,' I said; 'let us put it this way. If you're going to dissolve at the end of June, the Act may as well come into operation as soon as it receives Royal Assent. But if you postpone Election over Autumn, better fix date for Act coming into force on the first of January. 'What d'you mean?' asked ARTHUR. 'I mean just this. If this Bill's to help us at the General Election, we mustn't give time for people to find it out.' 'Um!' said ARTHUR, and he can put a good deal of meaning into the observation."
Business done.—Small Holdings Bill in Committee.
Thursday.—Admiral JEREMIAH FIELD pacing quarter-deck, uttering lamentations over collapse of the Eastbourne stand against the Salvationists. Bill amending Eastbourne Improvement Act up for Third Reading. JEREMIAH had proposed to introduce Clause enabling inhabitants of town to protect themselves against the Sabbath incursions of a mob in red waistcoats and poke bonnets, with drums, trumpets also, and shawms. Evidently no use; so the Admiral lowered his topsails, pulled taut his lee scuppers, and sheered off. "We're living in flabby times," he complained to sympathetic House.
He heaved one sigh, then he hove-to, and Bill read Third Time.
Truth of Admiral's remark about living in flabby times proved through rest of Sitting. "Don't," said GEORGE TREVELYAN, yesterday, speaking about RUSSELL's Amendment on Plurality of Vote Bill—"don't drag this ghost of a dead red-herring across the path." Only the imagination of genius could conjure up this terrible vision. Realised it to-night when Irish Local Government Bill took the floor, and asked to be read a Second Time. Thought it was as dead as a herring, red or otherwise; but here's its ghost filling House with gloom. Promise of several days' cheerful conversation. SEXTON promptly turned on flood of everlasting talk, hopelessly swamping place to begin with. Here's a Bill no one believes Government seriously intend to proceed with; still feel bound, having introduced it, to take Second Reading. Must show it's not quite so ridiculous as it seemed when, three months ago, Prince ARTHUR introduced it, and House laughed it off premises. Sensible course suggested at close of Sitting by WILFRID LAWSOW. "Scandalous waste of time," he said; "the sooner we finish Debate the better."
SEXTON full of scorn for the hapless measure. Looked it all over, and behold! there is no good thing in it. Might have said this in ten minutes, or at most, quarter of an hour. But temptation to straddle irresistible; discoursed for full hour and half; talked clean out of Peers' Gallery FIFE and Earl SPENCER, who had innocently looked in. MADDEN, not to be outdone, talked for another hour and half; out of a possible seven hours' debate three appropriated by two speakers. Quite Maddening. Afterwards, RATHBONE, JOHNSTON (of Ballykilbeg), WEBB, COGHILL, BLANE, and AMBROSE.
A weary world, my masters!
Friday.—Morning Sitting for further discussion of Local Government Bill. Only four Members spoke, each Member at terrible length. At this rate quite clear, if every Member is to have his say—and why shouldn't he?—House must sit into August before even Second Reading stage of Bill is disposed of. Should have been Evening Sitting, but things rapidly approaching collapse. Members in state of coma. Couldn't get forty together; and as soon as SPEAKER took chair Counted Out.
* * * * *
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.