PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
April 25th, 1891.
MR. PUNCH'S POCKET IBSEN.
(Condensed and Revised Version by Mr P.'s Own Harmless Ibsenite.)
No. III.—HEDDA GABLER.
SCENE—A Sitting-room cheerfully decorated in dark colours. Broad doorway, hung with black crape, in the wall at back, leading to a back Drawing-room, in which, above a sofa in black horsehair, hangs a posthumous portrait of the late General GABLER. On the piano is a handsome pall. Through the glass panes of the back Drawing-room window are seen a dead wall and a cemetery. Settees, sofas, chairs, &c., handsomely upholstered in black bombazine, and studded with small round nails. Bouquets of immortelles and dead grasses are lying everywhere about.
Enter Aunt JULIE (a good-natured looking lady in a smart hat).
Aunt J. Well, I declare, if I believe GEORGE or HEDDA are up yet! (Enter GEORGE TESMAN, humming, stout, careless, spectacled.) Ah, my dear boy, I have called before breakfast to inquire how you and HEDDA are after returning late last night from your long honeymoon. Oh, dear me, yes; am I not your old Aunt, and are not these attentions usual in Norway?
George. Good Lord, yes! My six months' honeymoon has been quite a little travelling scholarship, eh? I have been examining archives. Think of that! Look here, I'm going to write a book all about the domestic interests of the Cave-dwellers during the Deluge. I'm a clever young Norwegian man of letters, eh?
Aunt J. Fancy your knowing about that too! Now, dear me, thank Heaven!
George. Let me, as a dutiful Norwegian nephew, untie that smart, showy hat of yours. (Unties it, and pats her under the chin.) Well, to be sure, you have got yourself really up,—fancy that! [He puts hat on chair close to table.
Aunt J. (giggling). It was for HEDDA'S sake—to go out walking with her in. (HEDDA approaches from the back-room; she is pallid, with cold, open, steel-grey eyes; her hair is not very thick, but what there is of it is an agreeable medium brown.) Ah, dear HEDDA! [She attempts to cuddle her.
Hedda (shrinking back). Ugh, let me go, do! (Looking at Aunt JULIE'S hat.) TESMAN, you must really tell the housemaid not to leave her old hat about on the drawing-room chairs. Oh, is it your hat? Sorry I spoke, I'm sure!
Aunt J. (annoyed). Good gracious, little Mrs. HEDDA; my nice new hat that I bought to go out walking with you in!
George (patting her on the back). Yes, HEDDA, she did, and the parasol too! Fancy, Aunt JULIE always positively thinks of everything, eh?
Hedda (coldly). You hold your tongue. Catch me going out walking with your aunt! One doesn't do such things.
George (beaming). Isn't she a charming woman? Such fascinating manners! My goodness, eh? Fancy that!
Aunt J. Ah, dear GEORGE, you ought indeed to be happy—but (brings out a flat package wrapped in newspaper) look here, my dear boy!
George (opens it). What? my dear old morning shoes! my slippers! (Breaks down.) This is positively too touching, HEDDA, eh? Do you remember how badly I wanted them all the honeymoon? Come and just have a look at them—you may!
Hedda. Bother your old slippers and your old aunt too! (Aunt JULIE goes out annoyed, followed by GEORGE, still thanking her warmly for the slippers; HEDDA yawns; GEORGE comes back and places his old slippers reverently on the table.) Why, here comes Mrs. ELVSTED—another early caller! She had irritating hair, and went about making a sensation with it—an old flame of yours, I've heard.
Enter Mrs. ELVSTED; she is pretty and gentle, with copious wavy white-gold hair and round prominent eyes, and the manner of a frightened rabbit.
Mrs. E. (nervous). Oh, please, I'm so perfectly in despair. EJLERT LOeVBORG, you know, who was our Tutor; he's written such a large new book. I inspired him. Oh, I know I don't look like it—but I did—he told me so. And, good gracious, now he's in this dangerous wicked town all alone, and he's a reformed character, and I'm so frightened about him; so, as the wife of a Sheriff twenty years older than me, I came up to look after Mr. LOeVBORG. Do ask him here—then I can meet him. You will? How perfectly lovely of you! My husband's so fond of him!
Hedda. GEORGE, go and write an invitation at once; do you hear? (GEORGE looks around for his slippers, takes them up and goes out.) Now we can talk, my little THEA. Do you remember how I used to pull your hair when we met on the stairs, and say I would scorch it off? Seeing people with copious hair always does irritate me.
Mrs. E. Goodness, yes, you were always so playful and friendly, and I was so afraid of you. I am still. And please, I've run away from my husband. Everything around him was distasteful to me. And Mr. LOeVBORG and I were comrades—he was dissipated, and I got a sort of power over him, and he made a real person out of me—which I wasn't before, you know; but, oh, I do hope I'm real now. He talked to me and taught me to think—chiefly of him. So, when Mr. LOeVBORG came here, naturally I came too. There was nothing else to do! And fancy, there is another woman whose shadow still stands between him and me! She wanted to shoot him once, and so, of course, he can never forget her. I wish I knew her name—perhaps it was that red-haired opera-singer?
Hedda (with cold self-command). Very likely—but nobody does that sort of thing here. Hush! Run away now. Here comes TESMAN with Judge BRACK. (Mrs. E. goes out; GEORGE comes in with Judge BRACK, who is a short and elastic gentleman, with a round face, carefully brushed hair, and distinguished profile.) How awfully funny you do look by daylight, Judge!
Brack (holding his hat and dropping his eye-glass). Sincerest thanks. Still the same graceful manners, dear little Mrs. HED—TESMAN! I came to invite dear TESMAN to a little bachelor-party to celebrate his return from his long honeymoon. It is customary in Scandinavian society. It will be a lively affair, for I am a gay Norwegian dog.
George. Asked out—without my wife! Think of that! Eh? Oh, dear me, yes, I'll come!
Brack. By the way, LOeVBORG is here; he has written a wonderful book, which has made a quite extraordinary sensation. Bless me, yes!
George. LOeVBORG—fancy! Well, I am—glad. Such marvellous gifts! And I was so painfully certain he had gone to the bad. Fancy that, eh? But what will become of him now, poor fellow, eh? I am so anxious to know!
Brack. Well, he may possibly put up for the Professorship against you, and, though you are an uncommonly clever man of letters—for a Norwegian—it's not wholly improbable that he may cut you out!
George. But, look here, good Lord, Judge BRACK!—(gesticulating)—that would show an incredible want of consideration for me! I married on my chance of getting that Professorship. A man like LOeVBORG, too, who hasn't even been respectable, eh? One doesn't do such things as that!
Brack. Really? You forget we are all realistic and unconventional persons here, and do all kinds of odd things. But don't worry yourself! [He goes out.
George (to Hedda). Oh, I say, HEDDA, what's to become of our Fairyland now, eh? We can't have a liveried servant, or give dinner-parties, or have a horse for riding. Fancy that!
Hedda (slowly, and wearily). No, we shall really have to set up as Fairies in reduced circumstances, now.
George (cheering up). Still, we shall see Aunt JULIE every day, and that will be something, and I've got back my old slippers. We shan't be altogether without some amusements, eh?
Hedda (crosses the floor). Not while I have one thing to amuse myself with, at all events.
George (beaming with joy). Oh, Heaven be praised and thanked for that! My goodness, so you have! And what may that be, HEDDA, eh?
Hedda (at the doorway, with suppressed scorn). Yes, GEORGE, you have the old slippers of the attentive Aunt, and I have the horse-pistols of the deceased General!
George (in an agony). The pistols! Oh, my goodness! what pistols?
Hedda (with cold eyes). General GABLER'S pistols—same which I shot—(recollecting herself)—no, that's THACKERAY, not IBSEN—a very different person. [She goes through the back Drawing-room.
George (at doorway, shouting after her). Dearest HEDDA, not those dangerous things, eh? Why, they have never once been known to shoot straight yet! Don't! Have a catapult. For my sake, have a catapult! [Curtain.
* * * * *
The RAIKES' teeth were bared—a most terrible sight!— At the Messenger Companies. Now all seems joy For the Public, the P.O., the Co., and the Boy! The Dog in the Manger JOHN BULL did affright, But—his bark is perhaps rather worse than his bite!
* * * * *
* * * * *
SONS OF BRITANNIA.
From Boston Bay to Thobal fort Is a far cry, but bravery bridges The centuries, and of space makes sport. The shot that swept the salt sea-ridges When VERE BROKE of the Shannon smote The foe, and, struck, left WALLIS smiting,— Sends echoes down the years that float To Thobal o'er the sounds of fighting. Memories of greatness make men great! Brave centenarian, you with pleasure May greet the youth who guard our State. You, whose long memories can measure So wide a sweep of England's war, Must joy to see her served as boldly As in those sad mad days afar, When, gazing on her children coldly, She alienated kindred hearts, Which might till now have beaten loyal. At least you both played well your parts, Though blunderers blind, official, royal, May then or now have marred the work Of arduous years, and gallant spirits, My sons at least no peril shirk, Valour from age to age inherits. The old tradition, duteous stands For the old Flag, wherever flying! Brave WALLIS, gallant GRANT, clasp hands! My sons! Unfaltering, undying, Beneath grey hairs, or youth's brown locks, The spirit proud of patriot valour! Not desperate odds in war's wild shocks Shall strike its flush to craven pallor. Mud-fort, or "mealey" bastion, deck Of shot-torn ship, or red "death-valley," What odds? Of danger nought I reck, Whilst thus my sons to me can rally. Come what, come will! Whilst centuried age And youth in Spring strike hands before me, Let foemen band, let battle rage, You'll keep my Flag still flying o'er me!
* * * * *
* * * * *
The Yankee Oracle on the Three-Volume Novel.
Our people will not stand it—no! Of Fiction, limp or strong, Yanks want but little here below, Nor want that little long! (But oh! our (Saxon) stars one thanks, Romance is not (yet) ruled by Yanks!)
* * * * *
SONGS OF THE UN-SENTIMENTALIST.
THE TAX-COLLECTOR'S HEART.
I know his step, his ring, his knock, I hear him, too, explain, With emphasis my nerves that shock, That he "won't call again!" I know that bodes a coming storm— A summons looms a-head! I follow his retreating form, And note his stealthy tread! Some grace to beg, implore, beseech, 'Twere vain! Let him depart! I know no human cry can reach That Tax-Collector's heart!
He kept his word. To claim that rate He never called again. An outraged Vestry, loth to wait, Soon made their purpose plain. I know not how, I missed the day,— But that fell summons came. Two shillings costs it took to play That Tax-Collector's game. I own the outlay was not much! But, that is not the smart: 'Tis that no anguished shriek can touch That Tax-Collector's heart!
* * * * *
"MORS ET VITA."—A fine performance, April 15, at Albert Hall, with ALBANI, HILDA WILSON, Messrs. LLOYD, and WATKIN MILLS, and Dr. MACKENZIE, as conductor or con-doctor. I should have given, writes our correspondent, a full and enthusiastic account of it, but that I was bothered all the time by two persons near me, who would talk and wouldn't listen. Thank goodness, they didn't stay throughout the performance. In a theatre they'd have been hushed down, but this is such a big place that a talking duet is heard only in the immediate neighbourhood of the talkers; and then no one wants to have a row during the performance of sacred music. It's like brawling in church.
* * * * *
THE TITHES QUESTION.—I am the Vicar of a country Church in Wales; but owing to the total failure of my last attempt to distrain on the stock of a neighbouring farmer, on which occasion I was tossed over a hedge by an infuriated cow, my family and myself are starving. I wish to know if I can legally pawn the lectern, the ancient carved pulpit, and several rare old sedilia in the Church? Or they would be exchanged for an immediate supply of their value in groceries.—URGENT.
ANNOYANCE FROM NEIGHBOUR.—I live in a quiet street, and my next-door neighbour has suddenly converted his house into a Fried Fish Shop. Some of his boxes protrude into my front garden. Have I the right of seizing them, and eating contents, supposing them to be fit for human consumption? My house is perpetually filled with the aroma of questionable herrings, and very pronounced haddocks. I have asked, politely, for compensation, and received only bad language. What should be my next step?—PERPLEXED.
DEED OF GIFT.—Upon my eldest son's marriage I wish to make him a really handsome money present. My idea is to hand over to him L100, on condition that he repays me ten per cent, as long as I live, my age now being forty-five. Then as to security. Had I better get a Bill of Sale on the furniture, which he has just had given him by his wife's father for their new house, or how can I most effectually bind him?—GENEROUS PARENT.
HOLIDAY TRIP.—Would one of your readers inform me of a locality where I can take my next summer's holiday of a month, for L3 10s., fare included? It must be near the sea and high mountains, with a genial though bracing climate. Good boating and bathing. Strictly honest lodging-house keepers and romantic surroundings indispensable.—EASY TO PLEASE.
* * * * *
(Sweet Seventeen to the would-be Sumptuary Reformers at the Kensington Town Hall.)
Vainly on Fashion you make war, With querulous Book, and quaint Bazaar, Good Ladies of the Higher Light! A Turkish Tea-gown, loose or tight, Won't win us to the Rational Cult; Japanese skirts do but insult Our elder instincts, to which Reason Is nothing more nor less than treason. Your "muddy weather costume" moves us No more than satire, which reproves us Ad nauseam, and for whose rebuff We never care one pinch of snuff. No, Ladies HARBERTON and COFFIN. Your pleading, like the critics' "scoffin" Touches us not; have we not smiled, Mocking, at Mrs. OSCAR WILDE? And shall we welcome with delight Queer robes that make a girl "a fright?" Pooh-pooh! We're simply imperturbable, The Reign of Fashion's undisturbable. The "Coming Dress?"—that's all sheer humming, We only care for Dress be-Coming!
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Own Type Writer.)
No. XXV.—THE ADULATED CLERGYMAN.
The Adulated Clergyman possesses many of the genuine qualities of the domestic cat, in addition to a large stock of the characteristics which tradition has erroneously assigned to that humble hut misunderstood animal. Like a cat, he is generally sleek and has become an adept in the art of ingratiating himself with those who wear skirts and dispense comforts. Like a cat, too, he has an insinuating manner; he can purr quite admirably in luxurious surroundings, and, on the whole, he prefers to attain his objects by a circuitous method rather than by the bluff and uncompromising directness which is employed by dogs and ordinary honest folk of the canine sort. Moreover, he likes a home, but—here comes the difference—the homes of others seem to attract and retain him more strongly than his own. And if it were useful to set out the points of difference in greater detail, it might be said that the genuine as opposed to the traditional cat often shows true affection and quite a dignified resentment of snubs, is never unduly familiar, and makes no pretence of being better than other cats whose coats happen to be of a different colour. But it is better, perhaps, at once to consider the Adulated Clergyman in his own person, and not in his points of resemblance to or difference from other animals.
He who afterwards becomes an Adulated Clergyman has probably been a mean and grubby schoolboy, with a wretched but irresistible inclination to sneak, and to defend himself for so doing on principle. It is of course wrong to break rules at school, authority must be respected, masters must be obeyed, but it is an honourable tradition amongst schoolboys that boys who offend—since offences must come—should owe their consequent punishment to the unassisted efforts of those who hold rule, rather than to the calculating interference of another boy, who, though he may have shared the offence, is unwilling to take his proportion of the result. A sneak, therefore, has in all ages been invested with a badge of infamy, which no amount of strictly scholastic success has ever availed to remove from him; and his fellows, recognising that he has saved his own skin at the expense of theirs, do their best to make up the difference to him in contempt and abuse. Schoolboys are not distinguished for a fastidious reticence. If they dislike, they never hesitate to say so, and they have a painfully downright way of giving reasons for their behaviour, which is apt to jar on a temperament so sensitive that its owner always and only treads the path of high principle when self-interest points him in the same direction.
The school career of the future pastor was not, therefore, a very happy one, for at school there are no feeble women to be captivated by heartrending revelations of a noble nature at war with universal wickedness, and all but shattered by the assaults of an unfeeling world. Nor, strange to say, do schoolmasters, as a rule, value the boy who ranges himself on their side in the eternal war between boys and masters. However, he proceeded in due time to a University. There he let it be known that his ultimate destination was the Church, but he had his own method of qualifying for his profession. He was not afflicted with the possession of great muscular strength, or of a very robust health. Neither the river nor the football-field attracted him. Cricket was a bore, athletic sports were a burden; the rough manners of the ordinary Undergraduates made him shudder. However, since at College there are sets of all sorts and sizes, he soon managed to fashion for himself a little world of effete and mincing idlers, who adored themselves even more than they worshipped one another. They drank deep from the well of modern French literature, and chattered interminably of RICHEPIN, GUY DE MAUPASSANT, PAUL BOURGET, and the rest. They themselves were their own favourite native writers; but their morbid sonnets, their love-lorn elegies, their versified mixtures of passion and a quasi-religious mysticism, were too sacred for print, though they were sometimes adapted to thin and fluttering airs, and sung to sympathisers in private. Most of these gentlemen were "ploughed" in their examination, but the hero of this sketch secured his degree without honours, and departed to read for the Church.
Soon afterwards he was ordained, was plunged ruthlessly into an East-End parish, and disappeared for a time from view. He emerged, after an interval of several years. The occasion was the inaugural meeting of a Guild for the Conversion of Music-hall Artistes, which is to this day spoken of amongst the irreverent as the Song and Sermon Society. The sensation of the meeting was caused by the fervent speech of a clergyman, who announced that he himself had been for some months a professional Variety Singer, attached to more than one Music-hall, and that, having studied the life de pres, he knew all its temptations, and was therefore qualified to speak from experience as to the best means of elevating those who pursued it. The details of his story, as they fell from the mouth of the reverend speaker, were highly spiced. His hearers were amused, interested, and stirred; and, when a daily newspaper gave a headlined account of the speech, with a portrait of the speaker, the professional fortune of the Adulated Clergyman (for it was he) was assured.
Shortly afterwards his biography appeared in a series published in a weekly periodical under the title of Unconventional Clerics, and he himself wrote a touching letter on "The Plague Spots of Nova Zembla," in which an eloquent appeal was made for subscriptions on behalf of the inhabitants of that chill and neglected region. Ladies now began to say to one another: "Have you heard Mr. So-and-So preach? Really, not? Oh, you should. He's so wonderful, so convincing, so unlike all others. You must come with me next Sunday," and thus gradually he gathered round him in his remote church a band of faithful women, drawn from the West End by the fame of his unconventional eloquence. A not too fastidious critic might, perhaps, have been startled by a note of vulgarity in his references to sacred events, as well as by the tone of easy and intimate familiarity with which he spoke of those whose names are generally mentioned with bated breath, and printed with capital letters; but the most refined women seemed to find in all this an additional fascination. His sermons dealt in language which was at the same time plain and highly-coloured. He denounced his congregation roundly as the meanest of sinners. To the women he was particularly merciless. He tore to rags their little vesture of self-respect, shattered their nerves with emotional appeals, harrowed all their feelings, and belaboured them so violently with prophecies of wrath, that they left church, after shedding gallons of tears and emptying their expiatory purses into the subscription-plate, in a state of pale but pious pulp. In the drawing-rooms, however, to which he afterwards resorted, his manner changed. His voice became soft; he poured oil into the wounds he had inflicted. "How are you to-day?" he would say, in his caressing way. "Is the neuralgia any better? And the dulness of spirits? has meditation prevailed over it? Ah me! it is the lot of the good to suffer, and silence, perhaps, were best." Whereupon he is treated as a Father Confessor of domestic troubles, and persuades young married women that their husbands misunderstand them.
It is unnecessary to add that his subscription-lists flourished, his bazaars prospered, his missions and retreats overflowed with feminine money, and his Church was overloaded with floral tributes. The brutal tribe of men, however, sneered at him, and perversely suspected his motives; nor were they reconciled to him when they saw him relieving the gloom of a generally (so it was understood) ascetic existence by dining at a smart restaurant with a galaxy of devoted women, whom he proposed to conduct in person to a theatre. Such, then, is, or was, the Adulated Clergyman. It is unnecessary to pursue his career further. Perhaps he quarrelled with his Bishop, and unfrocked himself; possibly he found himself in a Court of Law, where an unsympathetic jury recorded a painful verdict against him.
* * * * *
My faithful "Co." says he has been reading the latest novel by "JOHN STRANGE WYNTER," called, The Other Man's Wife, as the French would observe, "without pleasure." As a rule he rather enjoys the works of the Author of Bootle's Baby, and other stories of a semi-ladylike semi-military character; but the newest tale is one too many for him. The "man" is a mixture of snob and cad,—say "a snad,"—the "other man" a combination of coward and bully, the "wife" a worthy mate to both of them. The plot shows traces of hasty construction, otherwise it is difficult to account for the "man's" intense astonishment at inheriting a title from his cousin, and the farfetched clearing up of a sensational West-End murder. My "Co." fancies that the peerage given to the "man," and the vendetta of the Polish Countess, both introduced rather late in Vol. II., must have been after-thoughts. However, the end of the story is both novel and entertaining. The feeble, fickle heroine is made to marry, as her second husband, the man who (as an accessory after the fact) has been the murderer of her first! And the best of the joke is—she does not know it! My "Co." has also been much amused by a brightly-written Novel, in one volume, called A Bride from the Bush. Mr. E. W. HORNUNG evidently knows his subject well, and has caught the exact tone, or rather nasal twang of our Australian cousins. My "Co." says that "the Bride" is a particularly pleasant young person, thanks to her youth, good heart, and beauty. However, it is questionable—taking her as a sample—whether her "people" would "pan out" quite so satisfactorily. On the whole it would seem that Australians who have "made their pile" by buying and selling land are better at a distance—say as Aborigines!
It is also the opinion of my faithful "Co." that the Clarendon Press series of Rulers of India, has never contained a better volume than the Life of Mayo, a work recently contributed by the Editor, Sir WILLIAM WILSON HUNTER. Admirably written, the book gives in the pleasantest form imaginable, a most eventful chapter in the History of Hindostan. But more, the pages have a pathetic personal interest, as the subject of the memoir was for many years misunderstood, and consequently, misrepresented. Even the London Charivari was unfair to the great Earl, but as Sir WILLIAM hastens to say, "at his death stood first in its generous acknowledgment of his real dessert, as it had led the dropping fire of raillery three years before." The author has, by publishing this most welcome addition to a capitally edited series, added yet another item to the long list of services he has rendered to our Empire in the distant East.
Since Miss FLORENCE WARDEN'S House on the Marsh, says the Baron, I have not read a more exciting tale than the same authoress's Pretty Miss Smith. It should be swallowed right off at a sitting, for if your interest in it is allowed to cool during an interval, you may find it a little difficult to get up the steam to the high-pressure point necessary for the real enjoyment of a sensational story.
THE BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
DEAR MR. EDITOR,
The great success that has attended the production of L'Enfant Prodigue at the Prince of Wales's Theatre has encouraged me to make a suggestion in the cause of English Art. Why not SHAKSPEARE in dumb show? The Bard himself introduced it in "The Play Scene." Allow me to suggest it thus:—
SCENE—A more remote part of the Platform in Elsinore Castle. Enter GHOST; then HAMLET.
Hamlet (in dumb show). "Where wilt thou lead me? Speak!" (In dumb show.) "I'll go no further."
Ghost, by kissing his hand towards the horizon, shows that his hour is almost come, when he is bound to render himself to sulphurous and tormenting flames. The latter part of his description is composed of his shrinking about the stage, as if suffering from intense heat.
Hamlet buries his face in his hands, and sobs pitifully, expressing "Alas, poor Ghost!"
Ghost repudiates compassion by turning up his nose, and throwing forward his hands; and then, by pointing from his mouth to his ear, demands HAMLET'S serious attention.
Hamlet touches his own lips, points to GHOST, slaps his heart, and bows, intimating that the GHOST is to "Speak!" and he is "bound to hear."
Ghost explains that he is his father's spirit by stroking HAMLET'S face, and then his own, and then shrinks about the stage to weird music, descriptive of his prison-house. He concludes by appealing to HAMLET'S love for him by pressing his clasped hands to his own heart, and then pointing towards the left-hand side of his son.
Hamlet jerks his hands passionately upwards, as if saying, "Oh Heaven!"
Ghost then asks for revenge by touching his dagger, and pointing towards the sky. He acts the murder in the garden, showing the serpent who stung him by gliding about the stage on his chest, like the boneless man. He shows his murderer to be of his own blood by walking up and down as himself, and then in the same way, but with a slight limp, as if he were his brother.
Hamlet might here exhibit "Zadkiel's Almanack" as "prophetic," and slap the sole of his shoe for "soul;" for "my Uncle" it would be sufficient to produce a pawnbroker's ticket:—"Oh my prophetic soul! Mine Uncle!"
Then the Ghost in great detail acts the murder in the orchard, imitating the apples and the singing birds, the setting sun, &c., &c. He shows the composition of the poison after its plucking from a bush, and its arrival in the laboratory. He represents the actual pouring of the poison in his ear. He hints too (by suggesting the action of the bell-ringer) that he was never really mourned, and concludes a most spirited Ballet d'Action by a rapid sketch of the paling of the ineffectual fires of the glow-worm. As he leaves to the music of "Then you'll Remember Me," HAMLET imitates cockcrow, which brings the entertainment to an appropriate termination.
Surely this would be an improvement upon the conventional reading? In this case where speech is silvern, silence would be golden.
Trusting some Manager will take the matter up,
I remain, always yours sincerely,
A DUMB WAITER.
* * * * *
Monday.—Faust and Foremost. Miss EAMES better even than she was last week. NED DE RESZKE not so diabolical a Mephistopheles as M. MAUREL.
NEDDY RESZKE Not so goblineske,
and a stouter sort of demon, but of course a "bon diable."
Wednesday.—Romeo et Julietta. JACK and NED DE RESZKE Romeo and The Friar. Why the waltz alone, which ought to be on every organ besides Miss EAMES'S, but which, strange to say, isn't thoroughly popular, should be enough to make an Opera; but it's like the proportion of one swallow in the composition of a summer, and, however well sung, it does not do everything. It's a dull Opera.
Thursday.—Carmen again. House not immense. Persons "of note" chiefly on the stage. JULIA same as before; therefore refer to previous notice. Cab and carriage service after the theatres everywhere wants reforming altogether. We may not be worse off than in any other capital of Europe, but we ought to be far ahead of them.
Somebody or other complained of my writing "GLU:CK" instead of "GLUCK," He didn't like the two dots; one too many for the poor chap, already in his dotage, so to relieve him and soothe him, I'll write it "GLUCK," and then he can go to the proprietor of "DAVIDSON'S Libretto Books" and ask him to take the dotlets off the "U:" in GLU:CK. I wonder if my strongly-spectacle'd fault-finder writes the name of HANDEL correctly? I dare say so correct a person never falls into any sort of error; or if he does, never admits it. I like it done down to dots, as "HA:NDEL," myself; it looks so uncommonly learned.
Saturday.—Tannhaeuser. Full and appreciative house to welcome the rentree of Madame ALBANI, who was simply perfection and the perfection of simplicity as the self-sacrificing heroine Elizabeth. From a certain Wagnerian-moral point of view, no better impersonator,—dramatically at least, if not operatically,—of the sensual Falstaffian Knight could be found than Signer PEROTTI; and, from every point of view, no finer representation of the Cyprian Venus than Mlle. SOFIA RAVOGLI. M. MAUREL was admirable in every way as the moral Wolframo, and Signor ABRAMOFF the gravest of Landgraves. The full title of this Opera should be Tannhaeuser; or, The Story of a Bard who sang a questionable kind of Song in the highest Society, and what came of it.
Fine effect at end of First Act, when prancing steeds, with secondhand park-hack saddles, at quite half-a-crown an hour, are brought in, and, on a striking tableau of bold but impecunious warriors refusing to mount, the Curtain descends.
Then what pleasure to see Albani-Elizabeth receiving the guests in Act II., varying the courtesies with an affectionate embrace whenever a particular friend among the ladies-of-the-court-chorus came in view. My LORD CHAMBERLAIN, viewing the scene from his private box, must have picked up many a hint for Court etiquette from studying this remarkable scene. Then how familiar to us all is the arrangement of the bards all in a row, like our old friends the Christy Minstrels, Tannhaeuser being the Tambourine, and Wolfram the Bones! Charming. Great success. Repeat it by all means.
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* * * * *
"PLEASE GIVE ME A PENNY, SIR!"
A NEW SONG TO AN OLD TUNE.
Poor Income-Tax Payer, loquitur:—
Please give me a Penny, Sir! My hope is almost dead; You hold the swag in that black bag, And high you lift your head. Some years I have been asking this, But no one heeds my plea. Will you not give me something then, This year, good Mister G.? Oh! please give me a Penny!
Please give me a Penny, Sir! You won't say "no" to me, Because I'm poor, and feel the pinch Of dreadful "Schedule D"! You're so high-dried, and so correct, So honest and austere! Remember the full "Tanner," Sir, I've stumped up year by year, And please give me a Penny!
Please give me a Penny, Sir! My Income is but small, And the hard Tax laid on our backs I should not pay at all. But I'm too feeble to resist, And do not like to lie; And Sixpence, under Schedule D, Torments me till I cry, Do please give me a Penny, Sir!
Consols, or Dividends, or Rents Don't interest me much; "Goschens," reduced or otherwise, Are things I may not touch, Two hundred pounds per year, all told, Leaves little room for "exes;" And 'tisn't only public men That "lack of pence" much vexes. So please give me a Penny, Sir!
The mysteries of High Finance I don't presume to plumb; So year by year my back they shear, Sure that they'll find me dumb. But the oft-trodden worm will turn; "Demand Notes" never slack; And "Schedule D" fast at twice three, Breaks the wage-earner's back. So please give me a Penny, Sir!
The moneyed swells who make "returns," Much at their own sweet will, Don't gauge the poor clerk's scanty purse, The small shopkeeper's till, How hard 'tis to make both ends meet, When hard times tightly nip; Or how small incomes sorely feel The annual sixpenny dip. So please give me a Penny, Sir!
Please give me a Penny, Sir! 'Tis heard on every side, Muttered by poverty's pinched lip, Silent so long—from pride. Ah! listen to their pleadings, Sir, And pity the true poor, Whose life is one long fight to keep The wolf from the house-door. Oh, please give me a Penny, Sir!
* * * * *
"ROOSE IN URBE."—Dr. ROBSON ROOSE has returned to town after a trip to Madeira.
* * * * *
By an Unionist M.P.
When PARNELL's mocked by HEALY, In strident voice and squealy; When HEALY'S snubbed by PARNELL, In voice as from the charnel— I understand the windy Wild charm of WAGNER'S shindy. Discord may be melodious, When Harmony sounds odious; Than Israfel more dear is Old Erin's latest Eris!
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THE IN-KERRECT KERR.
IT was once said that Pianos may now be had on "MOORE and MOORE" easy terms every day. Mrs. WALTER found that those "easy terms" involved such pleasures as returning the instrument she had paid many instalments on, getting an order from the masterful Mr. Commissioner KERR to pay costs as well, and committal to prison for three weeks on the charge of "contempt of Court"—for disobeying an order which Justices SMITH and GRANTHAM declare the genial Commissioner had no sort of right to make!!!
If this is the "hire-purchase system," a piano-less life is infinitely preferable to braving its manifold perils and penalties. Easy terms, indeed? Yes,—about as "easy" as "easy shaving" with a serrated oyster-knife! Mrs. WALTER'S fate should be a warning to would-be piano-purchasers, and, Mr. Punch would fain hope, to exacting System-workers and arbitrary Commissioners.
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FOR BETTER OR WORSE!
(Two Views of the Same Subject.)
SCENE—A Dungeon beneath the Castle Moat. Wife chained to a post, with bread and water beside her. Enter Husband, with cat-o'-nine-tails.
Husband. And now, after ten days' seclusion, will you make over your entire property to me, signing the deed with your life's blood?
Wife (in a feeble voice). Never! You may kill me, but I will defy you to the last!
Husband. Then die! [He is about to leave the dungeon, when he is met by a Messenger from the Court of Appeal.
Messenger. In the name of the Law, release your prisoner!
Husband. Foiled! [Joy of Wife, and tableau, as the Curtain falls.
SCENE—The Church-door of a fashionable Church. Wife bidding adieu to Husband.
Husband. Surely, now that my name and fortune are yours, you will reconsider your decision, and at least accompany me back to our wedding breakfast?
Wife (in a firm voice). Never! You may kill me, but I will defy you to the last!
Husband. This is rank nonsense! You must take my arm. [He is about to leave the Church-porch, when he is met by a Messenger from the Court of Appeal.
Messenger. In the name of the Law, release your prisoner!
Husband. Sold! [Joy of Wife, and tableau, as the Curtain falls.
* * * * *
"WHAT'S IN A NAME?"
The "Cony" is feeble, the Bear's a rough bore. But CONYBEARE'S both, and perhaps a bit more!
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* * * * *
THE OTHER MAN.
My health is good, I know no pain, I am not married to a wife; From all accounts I'm fairly sane, And yet I'm sick to death of life.
The path that leads to wealth and fame Cannot be traversed in a day; I find it twice as hard a game, Because a spectre bars the way.
It has no terrors such as his Away from which the children ran; It's not the Bogey, but it is The Other Man.
I met a girl, she seemed to be A kind of vision from above. She wasn't—but, alas! for me, I weakly went and fell in love.
Her father was a millionnaire, Which didn't make me love her less. I thought her quite beyond compare, And gave long odds she'd answer "Yes."
She thrilled me with each lovely look She gave me from behind her fan, She took my heart, and then she took— The Other Man.
Farewell to Love! I thought I'd try My level best to get a post; The salary was not too high, Two hundred pounds a-year at most.
Committeemen in conclave sat, Their questions all were cut and dried: Oh, was I this? And did I that? And twenty thousand things beside—
As did I smoke? and could I play At golf? or did I get the gout? And—most important—could I say My mother knew that I was out?
Then two were chosen. Should I "do"? Perhaps!—and, just as I began To hope, of course they gave it to The Other Man.
All uselessly I've learnt to swear And use expressions that are vile; In vain, in vain I've torn my hair In quite the most artistic style.
Yet one thing would I gladly learn— Yes, tell me quickly, if you can— Shall I be also, in my turn, The Other Man?
* * * * *
THE KEY TO A LOCK.
["A lock of ——'s hair, set in a small gold-rimmed case, and said to be an ancient family possession, was knocked down for forty pounds."]
Take yonder lock of tangled hair, A silver seamed with sable, Dim harbinger from dreamland fair Of reverie and fable;
Yes, grandson mine, the treasure take, A trinket loved, if little, And wear it, darling, for my sake, In yonder locket brittle;
Small, as my banker's balance, small And faint—a touching token; My luck, the lock, the locket, all Seem, child, a trifle broken.
Investments, boy, are looking glum; They flit and fade; in fine a Not inconsiderable sum Has gone to—Argentina.
Nay, chide me not; one day, refilled By these, may shine your pocket, And Fortune's resurrection gild The lock within the locket.
Because, you see, when strong and sage You grow, and all the serried Lights of the great Victorian age With me are quenched and buried;
When other men in other days Walk paramount—then shall you Submit the thing to such as praise The Past, its relics value.
The curl was worn, you'll tell your friends, By TENNYSON or BROWNING (The detail of the name depends On who is worth renowning).
You'll vaunt that one who knew the grand Victorian Stars, and rather Deserved himself to join the band (In fact your father's father),
Who, past expression, loved whate'er The market cottons then to, Committed to your childish care This genuine memento.
You'll catalogue it, as befalls Your choice, my little gran'son; You'll bear it to the deathless halls Of CHRISTIE, WOODS, AND MANSON.
So, when the fateful hammer sounds, And you have cashed in rhino A cheque for, haply, forty pounds, You'll bless your grandsire, I know;
Who, while his fortunes failed, and much Was life's horizon o'ercast, Created souvenirs with such A keen, commercial forecast.
* * * * *
* * * * *
BACCHUS OUTWITTED; OR, THE TRIUMPH OF SOBRIETY.
(Fragment from a Romance founded upon evidence given before the Select Committee upon Dram-drinking.)
"I really think the experiment should be made," said the Professor. "Our knowledge on the subject is so imperfect, that nothing definite can be accurately pronounced."
"True enough," replied one of his friends; "but although the end to be attained is excellent, may not the means be termed by the scrupulous 'questionable?'"
"By the over-scrupulous, perhaps," returned the Professor, with a smile.
"And the expense," observed a second of his intimates, "will be no small consideration. If we put the matter to a thorough test, a large quantity—a very large quantity of the necessary liquid will have to be purchased and disposed of. Am I not right in hazarding this supposition?"
"Undoubtedly," responded the Professor, "and the cost will be enhanced by the fact that the necessary liquids will have to be of the best possible quality. As Dr. PAVEY observed before the Committee 'It is not the alcohol in itself that is injurious, but the by-products.' Our aim must be to eliminate the by-products."
"I think the idea first-rate," said the third friend; and then he paused and added, seemingly as an after-thought, "Pass the bottle."
So the Professor and his three companions decided to make the investigation in the cause of scientific research. It was resolved that after a week they should meet again, and that in the meanwhile they should in their own persons carry on the experiment continuously. When this had been arranged the friends parted company.
At the appointed time the contemplated gathering became a concrete fact. The Professor's friends were the first to appear at the rendezvous. They were unsteady as to their gait, their neckties were in disorder and their hair falling carelessly over their eyes, added a fresh impediment to an eyesight that seemingly was temporarily defective. They sank into three chairs regarding one another with a smile that gradually resolved itself into a frown. Then they filled up the pause caused by the non-appearance of the Professor by weeping silently. Their emotion was not of long duration, as the originator of the experiment was soon in their midst. He seemed to be in excellent health and spirits.
"My dear friend," he said, and it was noticeable that he was prone to clip his words, and to use the singular, in lieu of the plural, when the latter would have been more conventional, "My dear friend, glad see you all. Hope you well."
His comrades received the well-meant greeting with a resentful frown, which ended in further weeping.
"This very painful," continued the Professor, resting his hand somewhat heavily on the back of a chair; "very painful indeed! Fact is, you been taking wrong things!"
His friends sorrowfully shook their heads negatively.
"Yes you have! Sure of it! You, Sir—imbibed whiskey! No harm in good whiskey—excellent thing, good whiskey! But injuriverius—should say, injurious—if has too much flavour of malt! Your whiskey too much flavour of malt! You took brandy—bad brandy—too much taste of grapes! You took rum—bad rum—too much mo—mo—molasses! Now I took all three—whiskey, brandy, rum, but pure—no by-products. No, not at all. Result! See! Sober as judge!"
And, succumbing to a sudden desire for slumber, the Professor, at this point of his discourse, joined his friends under the table!
* * * * *
* * * * *
LEAVES FROM A CANDIDATE'S DIARY.
March 20. "George Hotel," Billsbury.—Arrived here yesterday afternoon. Mother made up her mind to come with me, being very anxious, she said, to hear one of my splendid speeches. She brought luggage enough to last for a week, and insisted on taking her poodle Carlo, who was an awful nuisance, in the train. He growled horribly at old TOLLAND and BLISSOP when they came to see me at the Hotel before dinner. Very awkward. TOLLAND wanted to put before me the state of the case with regard to registration expenses. The upshot was that the Candidate is expected to subscribe L80 a year to the Association for this purpose, which I eventually agreed to do. Found fourteen letters waiting for me. No. 1 was from Miss POSER, the Secretary of the Billsbury Women's Suffrage League, asking me to receive a small deputation on the question, and to lay my views before them. No. 2 from the Anti-Vaccination League, stating that a deputation had been appointed to meet me, in order to learn my views, and requesting me to fix a date. No. 3 and No. 4, from two local lodges of Oddfellows, each declaring it to be of the highest importance that I should become an Oddfellow and proposing dates for my initiation. Nos. 5, 6 and 7 were from Secretaries of funds for the restoration or building of Churches and Chapels, appealing for subscriptions. Nos. 8, 9, and 10, from three more local Cricket Clubs, who have elected me an Honorary Member, and want subscriptions. No. 11 from a Children's Meat Tea Fund. No. 12 asked me to subscribe to a Bazaar, and to attend its opening in June. No. 13, from the local Fire Brigade, and No. 14 from the Secretary of the Local Society for improving the Breed of Bullfinches, recommending this "national object" to my favourable notice. Shall have to keep a Secretary, likewise a book of accounts. Where is it all going to end?
The Mass Meeting went off well enough. The Assembly Rooms were crammed. (The Meteor says, with its usual accuracy and good taste, "The attendance was small, the proceedings were dull. A wonderful amount of stale Jingoism was afterwards swept up by the caretakers from the floor. Our Conservative friends are so wasteful.") I was adopted as Candidate almost unanimously, only ten hands being held up against me. One or two questions were asked—one about local option, which rather stumped me—but I managed to express great sympathy with the Temperance party without, I hope, offending publicans.
Carlo somehow or other got out of the hotel and followed us to the meeting without being noticed. Poodles are all as cunning as Old Nick. He lay quite low in some corner or other, until Colonel CHORKLE was in the middle of a tremendous appeal to "the stainless banner which 'as so often been borne to triumph by Billsbury's embattled chivalry." The Colonel thumped on the table very hard, and Carlo, I suppose, had his eye on him and thought he was going to thump me. At any rate he sprang out and dashed at the Colonel, barking furiously. I had to seize him and take him outside. The Colonel turned quite pale. The Meteor says: "The war-like ardour which burns in the breast of Colonel CHORKLE was well-nigh extinguished by an intelligent dog, whose interruptions provoked immense applause." I had to apologise profusely to the Colonel afterwards. Mrs. CHORKLE looked daggers at me. Mother was delighted with the meeting. She has written about it to Aunt AMELIA.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Commons, Monday Night, April 13.—So long since Lord STALBRIDGE parted company from RICHARD GROSVENOR that he forgets manners and customs of House of Commons. Not being satisfied with choice made by Committee of Selection of certain Members on Committee dealing with Railway Rates and Charges, STALBRIDGE writes peremptory letter to Chairman, giving him severe wigging; correspondence gets into newspapers; House of Commons, naturally enough, very angry. Not going to stand this sort of thing from a mere Peer, even though he be Chairman of North-Western Railway. Talk of making it case of privilege. Sort of thing expected to be taken up from Front Bench, or by WHITBREAD, or some other Member of standing. Somehow, whilst thing being thought over and talked about, SEXTON undertakes to see it through. As soon as questions over to-night, rises from below Gangway, and in his comically impressive manner, announces intention of putting certain questions to JOHN MOWBRAY, Chairman of Committee of Selection. Ordinary man would have put his questions and sat down. But this a great occasion for SEXTON. Domestic difficulties in Irish Party kept him away from Westminster for many weeks. No opportunity for Windbag to come into action; now is the time, as champion of privileges of House of Commons. Position one of some difficulty. Not intending to conclude with a Motion, he would be out of order in making a speech. Could only ask question. Question couldn't possibly extend over two minutes; two minutes, nothing: with the Windbag full, bursting after compulsory quiescence since Parliament opened.
SEXTON managed admirably; kept one eye on SPEAKER, who from time to time moved uneasily in chair. Whenever he looked like going to interrupt, SEXTON lapsed into interrogatory, which put him in order; then went on again, patronising JOHN MOWBRAY, posing as champion of privileges of House, and so thoroughly enjoying himself, that only a particularly cantankerous person could have complained. Still, it was a little long. "This isn't SEXTON'S funeral, is it?" HARCOURT asked, in loud whisper.
"No," said CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN; "it was meant to be STALBRIDGE'S; but I fancy SEXTON will save him from full inconvenience of the ceremony."
So it turned out; House tired of business long before Windbag SEXTON had blown himself out. Poor JOHN MOWBRAY admittedly flabberghasted by the interminable string of questions under which SEXTON had tried to disguise his speech. STALBRIDGE got off without direct censure, and DONALD CAMERON abruptly turned the conversation in the direction of Opium.
Business done.—In Committee on Irish Land Bill.
House of Lords, Tuesday.—Lords met to-night after Easter Recess; come together with a feeling that since last they met a gap been made in their ranks that can never be filled. The gentle GRANVILLE'S seat is occupied by another. Never more will the Peers look upon his kindly face, or hear his lisping voice uttering bright thoughts in exquisite phrase.
KIMBERLEY sits where he was wont to lounge. K. a good safe man; one of the rare kind whose reputation stands highest with the innermost circle of those who work and live with him. To the outside world, the man in the street, KIMBERLEY is an expression; some not quite sure whether he isn't a territory in South Africa. Known in the Lords, of course; listened to with respect, much as HALLAM'S Constitutional History of England is occasionally read. But when to-night he rises from GRANVILLE'S seat and makes a speech that, with readjustment of circumstance, GRANVILLE himself would have made, an assembly not emotional feels with keen pang how much it has lost.
The MARKISS should be here. Perhaps for himself it is as well he's away. To him, more than anyone else in the House, the newly filled space on the Bench opposite is of direful import. _The MARKISS has no peer now GRANVILLE is gone; the two were in all characteristics and mental attitudes absolutely opposed, and yet, like oil and vinegar, the mixing perfected the salad of debate. The lumbering figure of the black-visaged Marquis at one side of the table talking at large to the House, but with his eye fixed on GRANVILLE; at the other, the dapper figure, with its indescribable air of old-fashioned gentlemanhood, the light of his smile shed impartially on the benches opposite, but his slight bow reserved for the MARKISS, as, leaning across the table, he pinked him under the fifth rib with glittering rapier—this is a sight that will never more gladden the eye in the House of Lords. GRANVILLE was the complement of the MARKISS; the MARKISS was to GRANVILLE an incentive to his bitter-sweetness. Never again will they meet to touch shield with lance across the table in the Lords. LYCIDAS is dead, not ere his prime, it is true;
"But, O the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return!"
It seemed in stumbling inadequate phrase that CRANBROOK, KIMBERLEY, DERBY, and SELBORNE strummed their lament. But, speaking from different points of view, without pre-concert, they struck the same chord in recognising the ever unruffled gentleness of the nature of LYCIDAS—a gentleness not born of weakness, a sweetness of disposition that did not unwholesomely cloy. Only Mr. G. could have fitly spoken the eulogy of GRANVILLE. After him, the task belonged to the MARKISS, and it was a pity that circumstances prevented his undertaking it. Business done,—Irish Land Bill in Commons.
Wednesday.—Brer FOX turned up to-day, unexpectedly. So did MAURICE HEALY, even more unexpectedly. Irish Sunday Closing Bill under discussion. Great bulk of Irish Members in favour of it. First note of discord introduced by Windbag SEXTON. Belfast Publicans, who find their business threatened, insist that he shall oppose the Bill; does so accordingly, separating himself from his party. Brer FOX quickly seized the opportunity; he, too, on he side of the Publicans, who hold the purse, and, money (like some of their customers) is tight. So PARNELL lavishly compliments Windbag SEXTON on his "large and patriotic view"; hisses out his scorn for the Liberal Party; declares that Ireland abhors the measure, which he calls a New Coercion Bill.
Then, from bench below him, uprises a bent, slight figure, looking less like a man of war than most things. A low, quiet voice, sounds clearly through the House, and Mr. MAURICE HEALY is discovered denying Brer FOX'S right to speak on this or any other public question for the constituency of Cork.
"If he has any doubt on this subject," the mild-looking young man continued, "let him keep the promise he made to me about contesting the seat."
That was all; only two sentences; but the thundering cheers that rang through House told how they had gone home.
Business done.—Irish Sunday Closing Bill read Second Time.
Friday.—GRANDOLPH looked in for few minutes before dinner. A little difficulty with doorkeeper. So disguised under beard, that failed to recognise him; thought he was a stranger, bound for the Gallery. But when GRANDOLPH turned, and glared on him, saw his mistake as in a flash of lightning.
"Same eyes, anyhow," said Mr. JARRATT, getting back to the safety of his chair with alacrity.
GRANDOLPH sat awhile in corner seat, stroking his beard, to the manifest chagrin of his jilted moustache.
"Awfully dull," he said. "Glad I'm off to other climes; don't know whether I shall come back at all. If Mashonaland wants a King, and insists upon my accepting the Crown, not sure I shall refuse."
"GRANDOLPH seems hipped," said WARING, watching him as he swung through the Lobby. "It's the beard. Never been the same man since he grew it.
"There was a Young Man with a beard, Who said, 'It is just as I feared! Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren, Have all built their nests in my beard.'"
Business done.—Committee on Irish Land Bill Dropping into Poetry, again.
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