PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
April 23, 1892
TOWN THOUGHTS FROM THE COUNTRY.
(WITH THE USUAL APOLOGIES.)
Oh, to be in London now that April's there, And whoever walks in London sees, some morning, in the Square, That the upper thousands have come to Town, To the plane-trees droll in their new bark gown, While the sparrows chirp, and the cats miaow In London—now! And after April, when May follows And the black-coats come and go like swallows! Mark, where yon fairy blossom in the Row Leans to the rails, and canters on in clover, Blushing and drooping, with her head bent low! That's the wise child: she makes him ask twice over, Lest he should think she views with too much rapture Her first fine wealthy capture! But,—though her path looks smooth, and though, alack, All will he gay, till Time has painted black The Marigold, her Mother's chosen flower,— Far brighter is my Heartsease, Love's own dower.
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A WANT.—"There is only one thing," a visitor writes to us, "that I missed at Venice, S.W. I've never been to the real place, which is the Bride, or Pride, of the Sea, I forget which, but, as I was saying, there's only one thing I miss, and that is the heather. Who has not heard of 'the moor of Venice'? And I daresay good shooting there too, with black game and such like. I only saw pigeons flying, who some one informed me are the pigeons of SAM MARK. Next time I go, I shall inquire at the Restaurant for fresh Pigeon Pie. However, if Mr. KIRALFY will take a hint, he will, in August provide a moor. It will add to the gaiety of the show. 'The moor the merrier,' eh?"
* * * * *
NEO-DRAMATIC NURSERY RHYME.
MRS. GRUNDY, good woman, scarce knew what to think About the relation 'twixt Drama and Drink. Well, give Hall—and Theatre—good wholesome diet, And all who attend will be sober and quiet!
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SPRING'S DELIGHTS IN LONDON.—"VIA MALODORA"—clearly a lady, "DORA" for short—wrote to the Times complaining that the result of the splendid weather for the first ten days of the month was the reproduction of "summer effluvium rank and offensive" in Piccadilly. Poor Piccadilly! Oh, its "offence is rank," and Miss DORA might add, quoting to her father from another scene in Hamlet, "And smells so. Pa'!" West-Enders, in a dry summer, must he prepared to have "a high old time of it."
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I'm the maker of a Soap, which I confidently hope In the advertising tournament will win, And remain the fit survival, having vanquished every rival Which is very detrimental to the skin.
I will now proceed to show, what the public ought to know, Unless they would be blindly taken in. How in every soap but mine certain qualities combine To make it detrimental to the skin.
But surely at this date it is needless I should state That the cheaper soaps are barely worth a pin, For they all contain a mixture, either free or as a fixture, Which is very detrimental to the skin.
And every cake you buy is so charged with alkali, To soda more than soap it is akin; It is really dear at last, for it wastes away so fast. And is very detrimental to the skin.
The public I must warn of the colours that adorn The soaps ambitious foreigners bring in; They are often very pretty, but to use them is a pity, For they're very detrimental to the skin.
There are soaps which you can see through. I ask, What can it be through? Is it resin, or some other form of sin? There are soaps which smell too strong, and of course that must be wrong, And extremely detrimental to the skin.
And too much fat's injurious, and so are soaps sulphureous, Though they say they keep the hair from growing thin; They may keep a person's hair on, like the precious oil of AARON, And yet be detrimental to his skin.
In short, the only soap which is fit for Prince or Pope (I have sent some to the KAISER at Berlin) Is the article I sell you. Don't believe the firms who tell you It is very detrimental to the skin.
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A LIQUOR QUESTION.—Why does a toper—especially when "before the beak"—always say that he was "in drink," when he evidently means that the drink was in him? The only soaker on record who could rightly be said to be "in drink" was,
"Maudlin Clarence in his Malmsey butt."
He was "in liquor" with a vengeance. But less lucky wine-bibbers need not be illogical as well as inebriate.
* * * * *
MR. GOSCHEN'S BUDGET.—"From a fiscal point of view, the Tobacco receipts are extremely good." So unlike JOKIM. Of course, as he never loses a chance of a jeu de mot, what he must have said was, that "the Tobacco 'returns' are extremely good." "A birthday Budget,—many happy 'returns,'" he observed jocosely to PRINCE ARTHUR, "quite japing times!" And off he went for his holiday; and, weather permitting, as he reclines in his funny among the weeds, he will gently murmur, "Dulce est desipere in smoko."
* * * * *
THE NEWEST NARCISSUS;
OR, THE HERO OF OUR DAYS.
["—The curious tendency towards imitation which is observed whenever some specially sensational crime is brought into the light of publicity."—Morning Post.']
NARCISSUS? He, that foul ill-favoured brute, A fevered age's most repulsive fruit, The murderous coxcomb, the assassin sleek? Stranger comparison could fancy seek?
Truly 'tis not the self-admiring boy Nymph Echo longed so vainly to enjoy; Yet the old classic fable hath a phase Which seems to fit the opprobrium of our days. Criminal-worship seems our latest cult, And this strange figure is its last result. Self-conscious, self-admiring, Crime parades Its loathly features, not in slumdom's shades, Or in Alsatian sanctuaries vile. No; peacock-posing and complacent smile Pervade the common air, and take the town. The glory of a scandalous renown Lures the vain villain more than wrath or gain, And cancels all the shame that should restrain: Makes murder half-heroic in his sight, And gilds the gallows with factitious light.
And whose the fault? Sensation it is thine! The garrulous paragraph, the graphic line, Poster and portrait, telegram and tale, Make shopboy eager and domestics pale. Over the morbid details workmen pore, Toil's favourite pabulum and chosen lore, Penny-a-liners pile the horrors up, On which the cockney gobe-mouche loves to sup, And paragraph and picture feed the clown With the foul garbage that has gorged the town. "Vice is a monster of such hideous mien As to be hated needs but to be seen." So sang the waspish satirist long ago. Now Vice is sketched and Crime is made a show. A hundred eager scribes are at their heel To tell the public how they look and feel, How eat and drink, how sleep and smoke and play. Murder's itinerary for a day, Set forth in graphic phrase by skilful pens, With pictures of its face, its favourite dens, Its knife or bludgeon, pistol, paramour, Will swell the swift editions hour by hour, More than high news of war or of debate, The death of heroes or the throes of state. From club-room to street-corner runs the cry After the newest fact, or latest lie: The hurrying throng unfolded broad-sheets grasp, And read with goggled eyes and lips a-gasp, Blood! Blood! More Blood! It makes hot lips go pale, But gives the sweetest zest to the unholy tale.
What wonder if the Horror, homaged thus By frenzied eagerness and foolish fuss, Swells to a hideous self-importance, struts In conscious dignity, and gladly gluts With vanity's fantastic tricks the herd Whose pulses first by murderous crime it stirred. Narcissus-like, the slayer bends to trace Within Sensation's flowing stream its face, And, self-enamoured, smiles a loathsome smile Of fatuous conceit and gloating guile; Laughs at the shadow of the lifted knife, And thinks of all things save its victim's life. The "Noisy Nymph," the Echo of our times, The gossip, with an eager ear for crimes, Lurks, half-admiring, all-recording there, Watching Narcissus with persistent stare, And ready note-book. Nothing but a Voice? No, but its babblings travel, and rejoice A myriad prurient ears with noisome news, Fit only for the shambles and the stews. These hear, admire, and sometimes imitate!—
Narcissus is a danger to the State, And Echo hardly less. Vain-glorious crime; That pestilent portent of a morbid time, Would flourish less could sense or law avail To strangle coarse Sensation's clamorous tale, Silence the "Noisy Nymph," for half crime's ill Would end were babbling Echo's voice but still.
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* * * * *
FETTERED.—In reply to the Unemployed Deputation which found employment in paying a visit to the L.C.C. at Spring Gardens, Messrs. BURNS and BEN TILLETT (Alderman) intimated that as Mr. POWER, the U.D.'s spokesman, was not a member of the L.C.C., that body was Power-less to assist them in their trouble. A nasty time of it had the Labour Candidates on this occasion. Nothing like putting men of Radical revolutionary tendencies into responsible positions.
* * * * *
A SHADY VALET.—One DONALD CROSS was a Valet in the service of an absent master, whose best clothes and jewellery DONALD wore, while he kept his flat well aired by giving little supper-parties to young ladies who took him at his own valuation,—for a very superior swell. Alas! he was but a valet de sham! "Cross purposes," but Magistrate "disposes"; and the once happy Valet is in the shade for the next six months.
* * * * *
IN FANCY DRESS.
A SKETCH AT COVENT GARDEN THEATRE.
Before Supper the proceedings are rather decorous than lively; the dancers in fancy dress forming a very decided minority, and appearing uncomfortably conscious of their costume. A Masker got up as a highly realistic Hatstand, hobbles painfully towards a friend who is disguised as a huge Cannon.
The Hatstand (huskily, through a fox's mask in the centre of his case, to the Cannon). Just a trifle slow up to the present, eh?
The Cannon (shifting the carriage and wheels to a less uncomfortable position.) Yes, it don't seem to me as lively as usual—drags, don't you know.
The Hatstand (heroically). Well, we must wake 'em up, that's all—put a little go into the thing!
[They endeavour to promote gaiety by crawling through the crowd, which regards them with compassionate wonder.
A Black Domino (to a Clown, who is tapping the barometer on the Hatstand's back). Here, mind how you damage the furniture, SAMMY, it may be here on the hire system.
[The Hatstand executes a cumbrous caper by way of repartee, and stumbles on.
A Folly (to a highly respectable Bedouin in a burnous and gold spectacles). Well, all I can say is, you don't seem to me to behave much like an Arab!
The Bedouin (uneasily, as he waltzes with conscientious regularity). Don't I? How ought I to behave then?
The Folly. I should have thought you'd jump about and howl, the way Bedouins do howl. You know!
The Bed. (dubiously). Um—well, you see, my dear, I—I don't feel up to that sort of thing—before supper.
The Folly (losing all respect for him). No—nor yet after it. I expect you've told some old four-wheel caravan to come and fetch you home early, and you'll turn into your little tent at the usual time—that's the sort of wild Bedouin you are! Don't let me keep you. [She leaves him.
The Bed. (alone). If she only knew the absolute horror I have of making myself conspicuous, she wouldn't expect it!
Mephistopheles (to a Picador). This was the only thing I could get to go in. How do you think it suits me?
The Picador (with candour). Well, I must say, old fellow, you do look a beast!
[Mephisto appears wounded.
A Masker (with his face painted brown, and in a costume of coloured paper decorated with small boxes and packets, to a Blue Domino). You see what I am, don't you? The Parcels Post! Had a lot of trouble thinking it out. Look at my face, for instance, I made that up, with string—marks and all, to look like a brown-paper parcel.
The Blue Domino. Pity you haven't got something inside it, isn't it?
The Parcels Post (feebly). Don't you be too sharp. And it really is a first-rate idea. All these parcels now—I suppose there must be fifty of 'em at least—
The Blue Domino. Are there? Well, I wish you'd go and get sorted somewhere else. I haven't time for it myself.
Sardonic Spectator (pityingly—to a Masker in a violent perspiration, who represents Sindbad carrying the Old Man of the Sea). 'Ow you are worrying yourself to be sure!
A Polite Stranger (accosting an Individual who is personifying the London County Council by the aid of a hat surmounted by a sky-sign, a cork bridge and a tin tramcar, a toy Clown and a butterfly on his chest, a portrait of Mlle. Zoeo on his back, a miniature fireman under an extinguisher, and a model crane, which he winds up and down with evident enjoyment). Excuse me, Sir, but would you mind showing us round you—or is there a catalogue to your little collection?
[The L.C.C. maintains a dignified silence.
Pierrot (critically to Cleopatra). Very nice indeed, my dear girl,—except that they ought to have given you a serpent to carry, you know'
Cleopatra. Oh, they did—only I left it in the Cloak-room.
A Man with a False Nose (to a Friend who is wearing his natural organ). Why, I thought you said you were coming in a nose?
His Friend. So I did (he produces an enormous nose and cheeks from his tail-pocket). But it's no mortal use; the minute I put it on I'm recognised (plaintively). And I gave one-and-ninepence for the beastly thing, too!
Young Man of the Period (meeting a female acquaintance attired in ferns, rock-work, and coloured shells, illuminated by portable electric light). Hul-lo! You are a swell! And what are you supposed to be?
The Lady in Rock-work. Can't you see? I'm a Fairy Grotto. Good idea, isn't it?
He. Rippin'! But what the mischief have you got on your shoulder?
She. Oh, that's an aquarium—real goldfish. See!
[Exhibiting them with pride.
He. Ain't you lettin' 'em sit up rather late? They will be chippy to-morrow—off colour, don't you know.
She. Will they? What ought I to do for them, then?
He. Do? Oh, just put a brandy-and-soda in their tank.
Later; Supper is going on in the Boxes and Supper-room, and the festivity has been further increased by the arrival of a party of Low Comedians and Music-Hall Stars. The Lancers have been danced with more abandonment, and several entirely new and original figures.
The Chevalier Bayard (at the Refreshment Bar—to a Watteau Shepherdess). I say, you come along and dance with me, will you?—and look here, if you dance well, I'll give you a drink when it's over. If you don t dance to please me, you'll get nothing. See?
The Watteau Shepherdess (with delicate disdain). 'Ere, you go along, you silly ass!
[Hits him with her crook.
A Gentleman who has obviously supped (catching hold of a passing Acquaintance, whose hand he wrings affectionately). Dear ole HUGHIE! don't go away just yet. Shtop an' talk with me. Got lotsh er things say to you, dear ole boy—mosh 'portant things! Shure you, you're the on'y man in the wide world I ever kicked a care—cared a kick about. Don't you leave me, HUGHIE!
Hughie (who is looking for his partner). Not now, old man—can't stop. See you later!
[He makes his escape.
The Affect. G. (confidentially—to a Policeman). Thash a very dear ole pal o' mine, plishman, a very dear ole pal. Worsht of him ish—shimply imposhble get a lit' rational conversation with him. No sheriousness in his character!
[Exit unsteadily towards Bar, in blissful unconsciousness that somebody has attached a large false nose and spectacles to the buttons of his coat-tails.
A Troubadour (jealously—to an Arleguina). No—but look here, you might just as well say right put which costume you like best—mine or—(indicating a Cavalier on her other side)—his.
Arleguina (cautiously—not desiring to offend either). Well, I'd rather be him—not as a man, I wouldn't—but, as myself, I'd like to be this one.
[Both appear equally satisfied and soothed by this diplomatic, but slightly mystic response.
A Vivandiere (to a Martyr, who is shuffling along inside a property-trunk, covered with twigs, and supposed to represent a Bird in the Hand). Well, that's one way of coming out to enjoy yourself, I suppose!
A Middle-aged Man (wandering behind the Orchestra). It's beastly dull, that's what it is—none of the give-and-take humour and practical fun you get in Paris or Vienna!... That's a nice, simple-looking little thing in the seat over there. (The simple-looking little thing peeps at him, with one eye over her fan, in arch invitation.) Gad, I'll go up and talk to her—it will be something to do, at any rate—she looks as if she wouldn't mind. (He goes up.) Think I know your face—haven't we met before?
The Simple Little Thing (after an elaborate wink aside at a Fireman). Shouldn't wonder. Don't you run away yet. Sit down and talk to me—do now. No, not that side—try the arm-chair, it's more comfortable.
The M.M. (throwing himself gracefully into a well-padded chintz chair). Well, really—(The chair suddenly digs him in the ribs with one of its elbows). Eh, look here now—'pon my—(He attempts to rise, and finds himself tightly pinioned by the arms of the chair.) There's some confounded fool inside this chair!
The Simple Little Thing (tickling him under the chin with her fan). Shouldn't call yourself names! I'm going—don't get up on my account. [She goes off, laughing; a crowd collects and heartily enjoys his situation.
The M.M. (later—very red after his release). If I could have found a policeman, I'd have given that chair in custody! It's scandalous to call that coming in Fancy Dress! [Exit indignantly.
* * * * *
THE BROWN-JONES INCIDENT.
(ADAPTED FROM THE FRENCH.)
SCENE—A Street. Enter BROWN and JONES. They meet, and regard one another for a moment, fixedly. Then they salute one another respectfully.
Brown. I have been looking for you everywhere.
Jones. Then I am delighted to have met you.
Brown. I have said of you that you are a trickster, a scoundrel, a fool, and an idiot!
Jones. Yes—and I have regretted the saying, because it shows to me that you have misunderstood the great literary movement of the present day, in its vast and varied effort.
Brown. Of that I know nothing, for I confess I have never read your books.
Jones (reproachfully). Yes—and yet you accuse me of being a trickster, a scoundrel, and a fool, without knowing my works?
Brown. It was my duty. But still I had no wish to be guilty of an outrage.
Jones. An outrage—how an outrage?
Brown. Had I known you had been present to hear me I would not have caused you the pain of listening to me.
Jones (with admiration). But it was the act of a brave man! Did it not occur to you that had I been within reach of you that you too would have suffered pain?
Brown. It did not, I was unconscious of your presence. I would have preferred to have spoken behind your back. It is brutal to speak before any face. It might lead to an unpleasantness.
Jones. No, it is your duty to do what you think is right. It is also my duty to do what I think is right. We are now face to face. Have you anything further to say to me?
Brown (hurriedly). You have immense gifts—gifts which are those of genius.
Jones. I thought you would understand me better when we met. My dear friend, I am delighted at this reconciliation. Give me your hand.
Brown (clasping palms). With all the pleasure in the world. But still I owe you reparation. How can I—
Jones (interrupting). Not another word, my dear friend. That is a matter we can leave in the hands of our Solicitors.
[Scene closes in upon the suggestion.
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It is curious to find a coincidence in style and in idea between an earnest, witty and pious English author of the Sixteenth Century, and an American author of our own day. Yet so it is, and here is the parallel to be found between the quaint American tales about the old negro, Uncle Remus, by JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS, in this year of Grace, 1892, and the fables writ by Sir THOMAS MORE in 1520, or thereabouts, which he represents as if told him by an old wife and nurse, one Mother MAUD. Here are "The Wolf,"—"Brer Wolf"—and the simple-minded Jackass, both are going to confession to Father Fox—"Brer Fox." AEsop is, of course, the common origin of all such tales. The extracts which I have come across, are to be found in a small book compiled by the Rev. THOMAS BRIDGETT, entitled, The Wit and Wisdom of Sir Thomas More. The Baron wishes that with it had been issued a glossary of old English words and expressions, as, to an ordinary modern reader, much of Sir THOMAS MORE's writing is well-nigh unintelligible; nay, in some instances, the Baron can only approximately arrive at the meaning, as though it were a writ in a foreign language with which his acquaintance was of no great profundity. Certes, the learned and reverend compiler hath a keen relish for this quaintness, but not so will fifteen out of his twenty readers, who, pardie! shall regret the absence of a key without which some of the treasure must, to them at least, remain inaccessible. With this reservation, but with no sort of equivocation, doth the Baron heartily recommend The Reverend BRIDGETT's compilation of Sir THOMAS MORE's "English as she is writ" in the Sixteenth Century, to all lovers of good books in this "so-called (O, immortal phrase!) Nineteenth Century." The Rev. THOMAS hath well and ably done his work, and therefore doth the Baron advise his readers to go to their booksellers, and, being there, to imitate the example of DICKENS's oft-quoted Oliver, and "ask for MORE."
Quoth the Baron, "Much liketh me the Macmillanite series of English Men of Action, and in a very special manner do I laud the latest that, to my knowledge, hath appeared 'yclept Montrose, by Master MOWBRAY MORRIS—a good many 'M's' in these names—who hath executed his Montrose with as loving a heart and as tender a touch as ever did use old IZAAK towards the gentle that he, and the simple fish, did love so well. Did not the very hangman burst into tears as he thrust the unfortunate nobleman off the step? and did not a universal sob of pity break from the vast crowd assembled to see the last of the noble cavalier, victim to an unfortunate tradition of loyalty? What wonder then if we sympathise with this luckless hero of romance? The weak-knee'd villain of this historical drama was 'Charles (his friend),' in which character, be it allowed, this sad dog of a Merry Monarch not infrequently appeared. Thank you much, Mr. MOWBRAY MONTROSE MORRIS," quoth
THE BENEFICENT BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
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OR, A SPOILED EASTER HOLIDAY.
(A VACATION CANTATA.)
Master George (stretching forth his fingers to feel if the shower is abating) sings:— Rain! Rain! Go away! Come again Another day!
Master Arthur (gloomily). Pooh! Rain won't go away, not in these times, By being sung at to old nursery rhymes: Especially in such a voice as yours!
Master George. Needn't be nasty, ARTHUR!
Master Robert. How it pours! Thought we were going to have a real jolly day, And now it's set in wet, to spoil our holiday.
Master George. Always the way at Easter. Shall we trudge it?
Master Arthur. Not yet. What have you got, GEORGE, in your Budget?
Master George. Not very much, I fear!
Master Arthur. Ah, that's vexatious! It might have cheered us up a bit.
Master George (indignantly). Good gracious! You're always down on me, with no good reasons. You know I'm not the ruler of the Seasons. Now if I'd been in your place—but no matter!
Master Robert. By Jingo, how the raindrops rush and clatter! Ah, Primrose-gathering is not half so jolly As once it used to be.
Master Arthur. Ah! my dear SOLLY, The springs are now so awfully wet and cold, The "cry" don't seem so fetching as of old.
Recitative. "Who will buy my pretty, pretty Pri-im-ro-o-ses! All fresh gathered from the va-a-a-ll-ey?"
Master George. The wet and cold have got into your throat, A quaver and a crack on every note!
Master Robert. Don't aggravate each other, boys; 'tis wrong, But while it rains I'll tootle out a song:— (Sings.) The days we went a-Primrosing!
AIR—"The days we went a-Gipsying!"
The days are gone, the happy days When we were in our Spring; When all the Primrose loved to praise, And join its gathering. Oh! we could sing like anything, We felt the conqueror's glow, In the days when we went Primrosing, A long time ago.
Chorus.—In the days, &c.
Then April's flowery return Was "Peace-with-Honour's" goal. And the bright brimstone-bunch would burn In every button-hole. Our Dames were gaily on the wing, With blossoms in full blow, In the days when we went Primrosing, A long time ago.
Chorus.—In the days, &c.
But now Progressive storms prevail Election blizzards chill; The Primroses seem sparse and pale In valley and on hill. Yon cloud looks black as raven's wing! Things did not menace so. In the days when we went Primrosing A long time ago!
Chorus.—In the days, &c.
Both. Oh, brayvo, BOBBY!
Master Robert. Thanks. Yet my song's burden Is dismal as the croakings of Dame Durden. Our holiday is spoilt by driving showers. I fear we shall have no great show of flowers; But—anyhow my boys we're under cover; And let us hope that storm-cloud will pass over Without first giving us a dreadful drenching, And all our April-hopes entirely quenching.
All (singing together). Rain! Rain! Go away! Come again Another day!
[Left crouching and singing.
* * * * *
FROM THE THEATRES, &C. COMMISSION.—"I am afraid," said Mr. P.S. RUTLAND, speaking of the Music Halls, and in answer to a question of Mr. BOLTON's, "we cannot do a wreck. (Laughter.)" Mr. WOODALL: "Without being wrecked in the attempt. (Renewed laughter.)" Oh, witty WOODALL! Why, encouraged by this applause, he may yet be led on to make a pun on his own name, and say, "Would all were like him!" or some such merry jest. The proceedings in this Committee were becoming a trifle dull, but it is to be hoped that they may yet hear something still more sparkling from the wise and witty WOODALL.
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* * * * *
TO MY COOK.
Oh, hard of favour, fat of form, How fairer art thou than thy looks, Whose heart with kitchen fires is warm, Thou plainest of the plainer Cooks!
Low down upon thy forehead grows Thick hair of no conducive dye; Short and aspiring is thy nose, Watched ever by a furtive eye.
In shy defiance rarely seen Where kitchen stairways darkly tend, A foe to judge thee by thy mien, Proclaimed in every act a friend!
I know thee little; not thy views On public or on private life, Whether a single lot thou'dst choose, Or fain would'st be a Guardsman's wife;
For who can rightly read the change When, still'd the work-day traffic's din, In best apparel, rich and strange, Thou passest weekly to thy kin!
A silken gown, that bravely stands Environing thy form, or no; Stout gloves upon thy straining hands, For brooch, the breastplate cameo.
Shod with the well-heeled boots, whose knell Afar along the pavement sounds, Blent with the tinkling muffin-bell, Or milkman, shrilling on his rounds.
Nil tangis quod non ornas. Nay, 'Tis not alone the parsley sprig, The paper frill, the fennel spray, The Yule-tide's pertly-berried twig;
But common objects by thy art Some proper beauty seem to own; Thy chop is as a chop apart, Fraught with a grace before unknown;
The very egg thou poachest seems Some work of deft orfevrerie,— A yolk of gold that chastely gleams Through a thin shrine of ivory.
From thee no pale and wilted ghost, Or branded by the blackening bar, But crisp and cheery comes the toast, And brown as ripening hazels are.
Thy butter has not lost the voice Of English meads, where cowslips grow, And oh, the bacon of thy choice— Rose-jacinth labyrinthed in snow!
And mutton, colder than the kiss Of formal love, where loathing lurks Its deadlier chill doth wholly miss, Fired with the spirit of thy works.
To true occasion thou art true, As upon great occasions great; Doing whatever Cook may do When PHYLLIS, neat, alone will wait,
As when the neighbouring villas send Their modish guests to statelier fare, And PHYLLIS, neat, is helped to tend By that staid man the Greengrocer.
Though thou art more than plain in look, Thou wieldest charms that never tire— O Cook—we will not call thee Cook, Thou Priestess of the Genial Fire.
* * * * *
LAYING A GHOST!
PROSPECTIVE ARRANGEMENTS.—Owing to the continued success of Hamlet, it has been decided (by arrangement with the Author) to postpone, &c.—Extract from Advertisement in Daily Paper.
SCENE—Sanctum of Popular Actor-Manager of Theatre Royal Haymarket, Popular Actor-Manager dozing over a submitted Play. He closes his eyes and slumbers. When to him enter Master WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.
Master W.S. (shouting). What ho, Sir Player! Wake up, Sir, wake up!
P.A.-M. (rousing himself). Delighted to see you, Mr. SHAKSPEARE. I hope you have been in front and seen us?
Master W.S. Yes, I just had a glance. Find you have put in some new business. When will all you fellows leave me alone?
P.A.-M. (earnestly). I hope, Sir, that in the cause of Art you do not object, that—
Master W.S. (interrupting). Oh, no! It makes little difference to me what you do. My author's fees ceased years ago! But look here, What do you mean by this? (Produces Press-cutting of advertisement and reads)—"Theatre Royal, Haymarket, Prospective Arrangements. Owing to the continued success of Hamlet, it has been decided (by arrangement with the Author) to postpone" another play. Now, Master TREE, or as I may call ye, "Master up a Tree," what have you to say to that? You see your advertisement has caught my eye. I am here to answer it!
P.A.-M. Most wonderful! I do not know how or wherefore my pen slipped, but slip it did, indeed. However, I apologise. Is that enough?
Master W.S. More than enough!
Enter the Ghost of HAMLET's Father suddenly.
Ghost (with a glance at W.S.). Ah, the Governor here already! Still, I may have my chance as well as he! I gave the plot of Hamlet! Why shouldn't I have another shot? (To P.A.-M.)— But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison-house, I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul.
P.A.-M. (eagerly). The very thing for a melodrama. Delighted to make your acquaintance—hem—in the Spirit!
Master W.S. Nay, good Master Player, this is scarcely business! If anything in that line is to be done, I should do it. (To Ghost of HAMLET's Father). Begone, Sirrah!
Ghost. Nay, this is professional jealousy! (To P.A.-M.). I find thee apt—
[A book falls, and Master WM. SHAKSPEARE and Ghost of HAMLET's Father vanish together.
P.A.-M. (opening his eyes). Was I dreaming? (With a recollection of "The Red Lamp") I wonder! [Left wondering.
* * * * *
TAKING A SIGHT AT RINGANDKNOCK.
(BY RUDDIER STRIPLING.)
After the roughness of the Atlantic, in which to my taste there is far too much water moving about, I stepped on to America with considerable relief. I was quite satisfied, after that excellent dinner, the first I had enjoyed since Liverpool slid away eastward, to walk aimlessly through the streets till I fell into the arms of a broad-shouldered, pug-nosed, Irish New York policeman. I remember no more till New York passed away on a sunny afternoon, and then I fell asleep again and slept till the brakeman, conductor, Pullman-car conductor, negro porter and newsboy somehow managed to pull me out into the midnight temperature of 80 below freezing. It was just like having one's head put under the pump, but it did not quite revive me, for I mistook my host in his sleigh for a walrus, and tried to harpoon him with my umbrella. After matters had been explained, we went off, at least I did, and never woke up till I fell out into a snow-drift, just as we turned a corner at our journey's end.
In the morning, I had some idea that the sky was a great sapphire, and that I was inside it, and that the fields were some sort of velvet or wool-work, going round and round with the sun rioting over them, whatever that may mean, till my head ached. I can't quite understand all this now, but it seemed a very picturesque, impressionist description when I wrote it. Then I went for a walk down Main Street. I think it is about 400 miles long, for I got nowhere near the end, but this was perhaps owing to my uncertainty as to which side was the pleasanter to walk on. At last I gave it up, and sat down on the side-walk. Now, the wisdom of Vermont, not being at all times equal to grasping all the problems of everybody else's life with delicacy, sometimes makes pathetic mistakes, and it did so in my ease. I explained to the policeman that I had been sitting up half the night on a wild horse in New Zealand, and had only just come over for the day, but it was all in vain.
The cell at Vermont was horribly uncomfortable. I dreamt that I was trying to boil snow in a thimble, to make maple syrup, and to swim on my head in deep water, with a life-belt tied to my ankles. There was another man there, and in the early morning he told me about Mastodons and Plesiosauri in a wood near the town, and how he caught them by the tails and photographed them; and also that Ringandknock, a mountain near, was mentioned by EMERSON in a verse, which I remembered, because he made "co-eval" rhyme with "extended." Only a truly great Philosopher could have done that.
It was all new and delightful; and it must have been true, because my informant was a quiet, slow-spoken man of the West, who refrained from laughing at me. I have met very few people who could do that. Next day all the idleness and trifling were at an end, and my friends conveyed me back to New York.
* * * * *
EPITAPH ON A DYER.
This Dyer with a dire liver tried To earn a living dyeing, and he died.
* * * * *
THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUFFER.
NO. VIII.—THE DUFFER AS A HOST.
Of course I don't try to give dinners at home. The difficulties and anxieties are too enormous. First there is inviting the people. I like to have none but very clever men and very pretty women, but nobody's acquaintance is limited to those rare beings, and, if I did invite them, they would all have previous engagements: I do not blame them. But suppose that two or three of the wits and beauties accept, that is worse than ever, because the rest are a Q.C. (who talks about his cases) and his wife, who talks about her children. An old school-fellow, who has no conversation that does not begin, "I say, do you remember old JACK WILLIAMS." This does not entertain the beauty, who sits next him.
A Dowager Duchess, she knows none of the other people and wonders audibly (to me) who they are. A clever young man, whose language is the language of the future, and whose humour is of a date to which I humbly hope my own days may not be prolonged. A Psychical Researcher, with a note-book; he gets at the Duchess at once, and cross-examines her about a visionary Piper who plays audible pibrochs through Castle Blawearie, her ancestral home. Does she think the pibroch could be taken down in a phonograph. Could the Piper be snapped in a kodak? The Duchess does not know what a phonograph is; never heard of a kodak. She does not like the note-book any more than Mr. Pickwick's cabman liked it. She is afraid of getting into print. Then there is the Warden of St. Jude's, a great scholar; he pricks up his ears, not the keenest, at the word kodak, and begins to talk about a newly-discovered Codex of PODONIAN the Elder. Nobody knows what a Codex is. There is a School-board Lady, but, alas, she is next the Warden of St. Jude's, not next the enthusiastic Clergyman, who proses about a Club for Milliners. There is GRIGSBY, who develops an undesirable interest in the Milliners' Club. Have they a Strangers' Room? Do they give suppers? Are they Friendly Girls? Everyone thinks GRIGSBY flippant and coarse; I wish I had not asked him to come. There is a Positivist, who sneers at the Clergyman; there are a Squire and his wife from Rutlandshire: she is next the Radical Candidate for the Isle of Dogs. They do not seem to get on well together. GRIGSBY and the humorist of the future are chaffing each other across the table: nobody understands them; I don't know whether they are quarrelling or not. Miss JONES, the authoress of Melancholy Moods (in a Greek dress, with a pince-nez: a woman should not combine these attributes) is next the Squire: he has never heard of any of her friends the Minor Poets: she takes no interest in Hay, nor in Tithes. I see the Guardsman and the Beauty looking at each other across the flowers and things: the language of their eyes is not difficult, nor pleasant, to read. Why is the champagne so hot, and why are the ices so salt and hard? I know something is the matter with the claret: something is always the matter with the claret. It has been iced, and the champagne has been standing for days in an equable temperature of 65 deg..
When they want to go away, it is a wet night, and those who have come in cabs cannot get cabs to go back in. The Duchess's coachman lost his way, coming here, she was half-an-hour late: she is anxious about his finding his way home. GRIGSBY has got at the Psychical-Researcher, and I hear him telling stories, as personal experiences, which I know are not true. Psychical-Researchers have no sense of humour. "S.P.R.," why not "S.P.Q.R.?" I hear GRIGSBY asking, and suggesting "Society for Propagating Rubbish." It is very rude of him, and not at all funny.
However, they do go away at last, that advantage a dinner at home has over a dinner at the Club, there they often seem as if they would never go away at all.
On the other hand, the wine is all right at the Club, I believe, for I know nothing about wine myself. Some men talk of nothing else, and seem to know the vintages without looking at the names on the bottles.
The worst of giving a dinner at the Club is, that I never know how many men I have asked, nor even who they are. It is enough if I remember the date. It might be a good thing to write these matters down in a Diary, or on a big sheet of paper, pinned up in one's room. I know I have written to ask some Americans whom I have not seen: they brought letters of introduction. I forget their names—there is a Professor who has written a novel, there is a General, I think, and a Mad Doctor.
My best plan will be to stand about in the drawing-room, and try to select them as they come in. Here is WILKINSON, who was at St. Jude's with me: I shake hands with him warmly. He looks blank. It is not WILKINSON, after all; it is a stranger, he is dining with somebody else. Some other men have come in while I am apologising. One of them comes up and says, "Mr. McDUFFER!" He must be an American. Which? He tells me: he is the Mad Doctor. He introduces his countrymen; they all say "Mr. McDUFFER!" How am I to remember which is the General and which is the Professor? Other people drop in. Here is CRIMPTON. He is a Reviewer. Clever fellow, CRIMPTON. Here is old BEILBY—he is hot from the University Match. He begins to tell me all about it. JONES was awfully well set, but that muff SMITH ran him out. BEILBY does not believe it was out. Odd the spite umpires always have at our side. Feel that I must tear myself from BEILBY, the only man whose conversation really interests me. Here is an English writer on military subjects. I introduce him to the American General. Find he is the Professor, after all. We get down-stairs somehow. BEILBY is opposite me. CRIMPTON is next the Professor. The Military Writer is next the General. Things do not appear to go very smoothly. It seems that the Military one has said something about General BEAUREGARD which he should not have said. The General is getting red. I hate it, when men begin to talk about the American War. Any other war they are welcome to: the Danish War, the war of 1866, the war of 1870, the glorious affair of Majuba. But Americans are touchy about their war, not easy to please them whatever you say. Much best to say nothing. CRIMPTON is laughing at American novels. He does not know that the Professor is an American novelist. What am I to do? I try to kick him under the table. I kick the Mad Doctor, and apologise. Was feeling about for a footstool. BEILBY is trying to talk about Base Ball to the General, who is still red. Nothing is more disagreeable than these international discussions at dinner.
Now, a clever host would know how to get out of this; he would start some other subject. I can think of no other subject. Happy thought: gradually glide into American cookery, clams, canvas-backed ducks, what is that dish with a queer name—Jumbo? I don't feel as if it were Jumbo. Squambo? Terapin soup? It sounds rather like the Hebrew for a talisman, or an angel of some sort. However, they are talking about cookery now, and wines. Is there not an American wine called Catawampus? The Mad Doctor has his eye on me; he seems interested. I thought I heard him murmur Aspasia, or Aphasia, or something like that. It is not Catawampus—it is Catawba. I feel that I patauge—flounder, I mean. I am getting quite nervous; feel like a man in a powder-magazine, with lighted cigarettes everywhere. If one can withdraw them to the smoking-room, they will settle down somehow. They do. The Military Critic gets into a corner with BEILBY. The Americans and I consort together. Most agreeable fellows; have been everywhere, and seen everything. CRIMPTON, luckily, is reading one of his own reviews in the evening paper. I glance at it; it is a review of the Professor's novel. Not a kind review—rather insulting than otherwise. He hates BEILBY, and he does not know the Military Critic. If he joins us, there will be more international discussion. I get them on to the balcony, and pretend to go to ring the bell for coffee. I whisper to CRIMPTON. He is quite taken aback. "Awfully sorry; never dreamed the Professor was not English." He wants to tell the Professor that, thinks he will be pleased. He apologises to me; it is dreadfully disagreeable to be apologised to by a guest. "All my fault," I say; and, really, so it is. CRIMPTON remembers an evening engagement, and goes off a l'Anglaise.
The Americans go off; say they have enjoyed themselves. I feel inclined to apologise for CRIMPTON. On second thoughts, I don't. They do not look like men who write about their adventures in their native newspapers. Ladies do that. A weight is off my mind. The Military Writer goes home. He asks, "Who was that old man who fancied himself so about SHERMAN's March?" "That was General HOME, who held a command under SHERMAN." The Military Writer whistles; wishes I had told him that before dinner. I wish I had, but I got so flurried and confused. It is midnight; I am tired to death. Yes, BEILBY will have something to drink, and another cigar—a very large one. He begins to talk about the University Match, about all University Matches, about old scores, and old catches, from MITCHELL's year to the present day.
It is three o'clock before I get home; the Americans may have enjoyed themselves, I have not. I dream about the Mad Doctor; perhaps he will put me into his next book on Incipient Insanity. Serve me right.
* * * * *
THE YOUNG GIRL'S COMPANION.
(BY MRS. PAYLEY.)
I.—THE YOUNG GIRL'S DIARY.
My very dear young girls, those Arts and accomplishments which form part of the average education will be taught you by your Governess, and in some cases, if your parents think it judicious, by a male Professor. I do not propose in these papers to deal with such subjects. But there are certain points in the life of the young girl, about which the handbooks have but little to say, which your teachers do not include in their course of tuition. Some of these points are particularly intimate and sentimental. It is here that I would wish to act as your adviser, and, if I may, as your confidential friend. I shall always be glad, while these papers are being published, to receive and answer any letters from young girls on questions of sentiment and propriety. If we had no sentiment, life would not stand thinking about; if we had no propriety, life would not stand talking about. Of the two, propriety is, perhaps, for the woman the more important, but I shall be glad to answer questions on both. And now let me say a few words on the subject of the Young Girl's Diary.
You must most certainly keep a Diary.
When I was a young girl of twenty-eight—it is not so very long ago—I had my Diary bound in pale blue watered silk; it had three locks and a little silver key which I wore on a riband round my neck. I never took it off except to—I mean for the purposes of the toilette. There was a pocket at the end of the book, which would hold a faded flower or any little souvenir. I always wrote it in solitude and by night. Secresy has its ritual, and it is infinitely sweet and consoling. If you should ever choose to read any passage from your Diary to the dearest of your girl-friends, the confidence becomes in consequence so much more confidential; for she will know that you are reading to her what was never intended for any human eye to see, and will enjoy it more. If you have the least appreciation of what sentiment really means, if you feel that you are misunderstood, or if you suffer from the most sacred of all emotions, you will most certainly keep a Diary.
The entries in the Diary need not be of any great length. I once had a dear girl-friend who, during the happy season of her first love, became in the pages of her Diary almost entirely interjectional. I think this was from natural delicacy. I was recently stopping at her house, and owing to circumstances over which she had no control, I am able to reproduce here the entries which she made in the few days which culminated in her engagement.
You observe that she is puzzled to account for her own emotions, and yet hesitates to give the inevitable solution. The intense reticence of this entry seems to me peculiarly beautiful.
"September 7.—I hate MARY BINDLER."
I can remember the circumstances very well, and I am inclined to think that she had some reason to be jealous of MARY BINDLER. MARY was not at all a nice girl.
"September 8.—Joy, joy, joy!"
I think I can explain this entry. MARY BINDLER had been called away hurriedly. Somebody was dead, or something of that sort. My friend's expression of relief seems to me very pretty and natural.
In that little word "Ah!" there is the whole history of a pic-nic and a carriage accident. It was there that she first guessed his feelings towards her. I am sorry to say that I have not been able to obtain any adequate explanation of the "Oh!" But I know they went out after dinner to see if it was possible to play tennis by moonlight. I conclude that it was not, for the next entry, which consists simply of a note of exclamation, is really a record of her engagement.
Of course I need not point out the impropriety of mixing in the pages of your Diary the record of the most sacred emotions, and notes of things more commonplace. I knew a girl who invariably did this. She always commenced with an account of any money that she might have spent during the day. I have managed, with considerable difficulty, to make a copy of one of these entries, and I give it as a warning:—
"Chocolate, one-and-six. ALGERNON has written to me, asking me to see him again for the last time. I have written back that my decision is unalterable. It breaks my heart to have to be so cruel—but fate wills it, and it's no good fighting against Mamma. Sent my grey to be cleaned—but it won't look anything when it's done."
In another entry I found the following:—
"A dear long letter from EGBERT. How perfect his sympathy is! Not feeling very well to-day—will always refuse vol-au-vent in future."
I need hardly say that a girl who would chronicle the state of her digestion and the sympathy of her lover in one paragraph could not possibly have any soul.
The perfect Diary is something of a paradox. It should be composed chiefly of what is unpublishable—of one's secrets and sentiments—but it should always be written as if with a view to publication. In your Diary you can say things about yourself which it would be conceited to say openly, and you can say things about your friends which it would be unkind to say openly; you can make your own pose seem more real to yourself. So, my dear young girls, take my advice, and commence Diaries. And remember I shall be very glad to answer any questions on the subject.
* * * * *
JOKIM'S LATEST LITTLE JOKE.
(BY A MANY TIMES DISAPPOINTED INCOME-TAX PAYER.)
It is out at last, but it falls very flat; Such a very big "bag," such a very small "cat"! Popularity Budget? It can't be called that! The Budget that was to have been such "good biz," And have caused the Election to go with a "whizz," Fizzles out in—reducing the duty on Fizz! Ah, JOKIM, my joker, you've hardly the knack Of holding the Bag, so we'll give you "the Sack!"
* * * * *
"MEET IT IS I SET IT DOWN."—"Mr. J. McN. WHISTLER," it was remarked by one of his visitors on the closing day of his recent Exhibition, "has in his Catalogue put down all unfavourable criticisms." How, in this respect, would all of us like to imitate the Eccentric Knight of the Order of the Butterfly, and put down all adverse criticism.
* * * * *
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.