PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
JUNE 11, 1892
A DAY AT ANTWERP.
(BY THE "VACUUS VIATOR.")
In the Place Verte.—"The traveller," according to Baedeker, "should at once direct his steps to the Cathedral." Not going to be bullied by Baedeker! Shall assert my independence by directing steps somewhere else first. Carillon tinkling fitfully up in tower. Like an elderly ghost with failing memory, trying to play every tune she ever knew all at once on a cracked, old spinnet. Fancy I detect fragment of "The Heavens are Telling," tripped up by the "Old Hundredth," and falling over "Haydn's Surprise." Ghost tries back, and just as she seems about to arrive at something definite—suddenly gives it up as hopeless. To Church of St. Paulus, to see the Calvary. Small but highly intelligent Belgian Boy, who speaks English, insists on volunteering services. (Why aren't our street-boys taught French and German in Board Schools?—make all the difference to foreigners in London.) Boy takes me up avenue of heroic-sized scriptural statues, introduces me to "Moise," "Dahvit mit de 'arp," and others. Kind of him—but I wish he would go. Offer him twopence. Boy declines with indignation. Young Belgium evidently high-minded and sensitive. He informs me that, in a certain church he refers to as "Sin Yack," there are "RUBENS' peecture—moch fine," and plainly proposes to conduct me thither. Mustn't hurt his feelings again—so accept. Boy clumps on ahead, down alleys, and through back-streets, and round corners, looking round severely at intervals to see that I am not giving him the slip. Nice friendly little fellow—but despotic. Don't seem to be much nearer; "Sin Yack" evidently a saint of retiring disposition.... At last. Boy points him out triumphantly. Thank him, with apologies for taking him so much out of his way. Boy demands two francs. Hint, as delicately as possible, that I consider this estimate of the value of his time and society somewhat high. Boy peremptory. Give him fifty centimes. Boy abusive; follows me with uncomplimentary remarks. I can not go about Antwerp all day with a hostile boy harassing my rear like this! So undignified. However, shall find sanctuary with "Sin Yack." Every door closed. Boy at a distance—chuckling, I am afraid. Shall walk on—not hurrying, but briskly. Boy gone at last—thank goodness!—with Parthian yelp of "Rosbif!"
In the Cathedral.—Being shown round by Sacristan, in company with two respectable young Britons. "You shee dot oltarbiece, gentlemens," says Sacristan, "paint by RUBENS, in seexteen day, for seexteen hondert florin." Whereupon both Britons make a kind of "cluck" with their tongues. "Dat vos von hondert florin efery day he vas paint," explains the Sacristan. Britons do this division sum in their heads, check it as correct, and evidently feel increased respect for RUBENS as capable-for an artist—of driving a good bargain. "RUBENS baint him ven he vas seexteen," which younger Briton considers "very creditable to him, too!" They inspect the High Altar, with more clucks, and inform one another, with the air of Protestants who are above prejudice, that it's a marvellous piece o' work, though, mind yer! Sacristan points out holes underneath choir-stalls. "De organ is blay over dere, and de mooshique he com out hier troo de 'oles, so all be beoples vas vender vere de schounds com from!" First Briton remarks to me that "That's a rum start, and no mistake." I agree that it is a rum start. I shall find myself clucking presently, I know! "Haf you scheen yed de bortraits of GLATSHTONE and Lort BAGONSFELDT?" Sacristan asks us "... 'No?' then I show you." He leads us up to the finial of one of the stalls, which is carved in the figure of a monk. "Is not dat de Ole Grandt Man himself?" he asks, triumphantly. Second Briton agrees "It's a wonderful likeness, reelly." His Companion admits "They've got old GLADSTONE there to a t"—but adds that "come to that, it might do for either of 'em." "Lort BAGONSFELDT" is opposite, but, as Sacristan observes, would be more like "if dey only vas gif him a leedle gurl on de vorehead." Next we are taken to the Retro-Choir and shown the "mosh gurious and peautiful bainting in de ole Cathedrale. Schtand yust hier, Gentelmens, now you see him. Beoples say, 'Oh, yais, ve know, yust a marble-garvings—a baw releff!' I dell you, nodings of de kindt. All so flat as a biece of vite baper—com close op. Vat you tink? Vonderful, hey?" Britons deeply impressed by this and other wonders, and inform Sacristan that their own Cathedrals "ain't in it." "Look at the value of the things they've got 'ere, you know," they say to me, clucking, and then depart, after asking Sacristan the nearest way to the Zoo.
At Table d'hote.—Fellow-countrymen to the fore; both my immediate neighbours English, but neither shows any inclination to converse. Rather glad of it; afternoon of Museums and Galleries instructive—but exhausting. Usual Chatty Clergyman at end of table, talking Guide-book intelligently; wife next him, ruminating in silence and dismally contemplating artificial plant in a plated pot in front of her. It is a depressing object—but why look at it? Horror of two Sportsmen opposite on being offered snipe. "Snipe now—Great Scott!" they exclaim, "And ain't they high too?" One helps himself to some, with a sense that being on the Continent makes all the difference. But even his courage fails on being offered stewed apricots with it. Close by a couple of Americans; a dry middle-aged man, and a talkative young fellow who informs him he was at Harvard. Elder man listens to him with a grim and wooden forbearance. "Ez fur languages," the younger man is saying. "I'd undertake to learn any language inside of six months. Fur enstance, I got up Trigonometry in two. You'll tell me that isn't a language, and that's so, but take Latin now, I'd learn Latin—to write and speak—in a year, Italian I'd learn in a fortnight—with constant study, you understand. Then there's German. Well. I cann't read German—not in their German text, I cann't, and I don't speak it with fluency, but I can ask my way in it, and order anything I want, and I reckon that's about as much as a man requires to know of any language. Will you take a glass of wine outer my bottle? I've another coming along." Elder man declines stiffly, on plea that he is almost a teetotaller. "Well, maybe you're wise," says the Harvard man, "but I've discovered a thing that'll put you all right in the morning when you've eaten or drunk more'n's good for you overnight. I'll tell you what that thing is. It's just persly—plain ordinary simple persly. You eat a bunch o' fresh persly first thing you get up, and it don't matter what you've taken, you'll feel just as bright!" Elder man, who has been cutting up his chicken into very small pieces, looks up and says solemnly, "You may consider yourself vurry fortunate in being able to correct the errors you allude to by a means which is at once so efficacious and so innocent." After which he subsides into his salad. Harvard man shut up.
In the Fumoir.—Two drearily undecided men trying to make up their minds where to go next. Shall they stay at Antwerp for a day or two, or go over to Brussels, or go back to Calais and stay there, or what? "Calais is on their way home, anyhow," says one, and the other, without attempting to deny this, thinks "there may be more to see at Brussels." "Not more than there is here," says his friend: "all these places much about the same." "Well," says the first, yawning, "shall we stay where we are?" "Just as you please," says the other. "No; but what would you rather do?" ... "Me? oh, I'm entirely in your hands!" First man, who has had Green Chartreuse with his coffee and seems snappish, annoyed at this, and says, "it's dam nonsense going on like that." "Oh," says the second, "then you leave it to me—is that it?" "Haven't I been saying so all along!" growls the other. Second Undecided Man silent for a time, evidently forcing himself to come to a decision of some sort. At last he looks up with relief. "Well," he says, very slowly, "what do you think about it?" Whereupon they begin all over again. This indecision is catching—leave them.
In the Street—about 11:30 P.M.—Back from Variety Theatre. Hotel doors closed. Have rung several times—no result at present. Curious impression that I shall be hauled up before a Dean or somebody for this to-morrow and fined or gated. Wish they'd let me in—chilly out here. Is there a night-porter? If not—awkward. Carillon again from Cathedral tower. Ghost has managed to recollect a whole tune at last, picking it out with one finger. Seem to have heard it before—what the Dickens is it? Recognise it as the "Mandolinata in E." Remember the VOKES Family dancing to it long ago in the Drury Lane Pantomime. Not exactly the tune one would expect to meet in a Cathedral.... Unbolting behind doors. Nervous feeling. Half inclined to assure Porter penitently that this shall not occur again. Wish him good-night instead—pleasantly. Porter grunts—unpleasantly. Depressing to be grunted at the last thing at night. To bed, chastened.
* * * * *
THE MOAN OF THE MUSIC-HALL MUSE.
[It is hinted that the vogue of the tremendously successful but tyrannously ubiquitous "Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-ay!" is beginning, at last, to wane.]
She museth upon "the Boom that waneth every day," and wondering what she shall "star" with next, breaketh forth into familiar strains:—
AIR—"What will you do, Love?"
What shall I do now? My song was going Like a tide flowing, all Booms beyond; What shall I do, though, when critics hide it, And cads deride it who're now so fond? "Ta-ra-ra" chiding, "Boom-de-ay" deriding!— Nought is abiding—that's sadly true! I'll pray for another Sensation Notion. With deep emotion—that's what I'll do!
(Gazes mournfully at her unstrung harp, and, smitten by another reminiscence, sings plaintively):—
AIR—"The harp that once through Tara(ra)'s Halls."
The harp that once through Music Halls Sheer maddening rapture shed, Now hangs as mute on willow-walls As though that Boom were dead. So dims the pride of former days, So fame's fine thrill is o'er, And throngs who once yelled high with praise, Now find the Boom a bore.
No more to toffs and totties bright Thy tones, "Ta-ra-ra" swell. The gloom that hailed my turn to-night Sad tales of "staleness" tell. The Chorus now will seldom wake, The old mad cheers who gives? And LOTTIE some new ground must break To prove that still she lives.
She harketh back to the old strain:—
What would you do now if distant tidings, Thy fame's confidings should undermine,— Of some "Star" abiding 'neath other skies, In the public eyes yet more bright than thine? Oh, name it not! 'Twould bring shade and shame On my new-made name, and it can't be true. This far fame of mine, did some rival share it, I could not bear it—what would I do?
What would you do, now, if home returning, With anger burning at the fickle crew, You found the prospect of another Boom, To dispel your gloom—ah! what would you do? Why then by Ta-Ra, I'd bless the morrow And banish sorrow, and raise my "screw." I'd re-string this Harp hung no more on the willow, And with tears my pillow no more bedew.
* * * * *
TO BE, OR NOT TO BE—DISCOVERED!
SCENE—A Borough. TIME—Within measurable distance of the General Election. Enter BROWN and JONES.
Brown. Well JONES, I am glad to hear that you purpose standing for Parliament. You are a first-class man, and the House will be all the better for having your assistance.
Jones. You are mistaken, my dear BROWN. I did intend to stand for Parliament, but since the Archbishop has published his letter, I have determined to retire from the contest.
Brown. What nonsense! Why I, as you know, have been in the House for years and I assure you I have never met a more suitable man for the place. Why, my dear JONES, you are absolutely cut out for Parliament—absolutely cut out for it!
Jones (sadly). I wish I could think so. But alas, no, after the Archbishop's letter, I must, I will give it up.
Brown. Have you not made the question of the Criminal Code your own?
Jones. Yes, but I must admit (and I make the admission with shame) that years ago at school I was rightly accused of stealing apples.
Brown. And was the accusation believed—were you punished?
Jones (struggling with his emotion). Alas! it was, and I received (from the Bench) a severe reprimand. It brings the red blood into my cheeks—a severe reprimand!
Brown. Then you know all about the Libel Acts,—you are up in a slander?
Jones (bitterly). And should I not be? Do you not know that I was once fined ten shillings and costs for saying that a drunken cook was intoxicated!
Brown. Surely there was not much harm in that?
Jones. It was immoral to call the cook intoxicated, and the Archbishop says, "that persons previously condemned on grounds of immorality of all kinds are not proper legislators." Under the circumstances I have detailed, I should not be a proper legislator!
Brown. But look at me! Here am I living a free life, doing exactly what I please, and deserving the censure of the Bench five times a week! I will undertake to say that you are three times as good a fellow as I am; yet I am as certain of my seat as possible.
Jones (sadly). But there is a gulf between us—the gulf that divides not-entirely-conscious innocence and half-imaginary vice. You are safe, and I am not.
Brown. I don't see why! Why am I safe? Or rather let me mend the question—why do you think your chance of being elected so small?
Jones. Because, my dear BROWN, I have been found out!
[Scene closes in upon conventional virtue perfunctorily triumphant.
* * * * *
A BLIZZARD FROM THE NORTH.
["The plea of the existence of such custom, or habit, or practice of copying as is set up can no more be supported when challenged than the highwayman's plea of the custom of Hounslow Heath."—Justice North's Judgment in the Copyright Action "Walter v. Steinkopff."]
So "Stand and deliver!" will not quite do In the year eighteen hundred and ninety-two; And if you are caught on the Queen's highway, With a something for which you've omitted to pay, No use to try putting in—under your breath— The plea of the custom of Hounslow-Heath!
Thanks to the Times and to Justice NORTH! The highway—of-News—may be clearer henceforth Of robber daring and footpad sly. To stop a coach, or to fake a cly, Boldly to lift or astutely sneak, Will expose a prig to the bobby's tweak, And he shall not shelter himself beneath The plea of the custom of Hounslow Heath.
Autolycus now must buy his wares, And not with his neighbours go (gratis) shares. "Thou shalt not steal—not even brains," Says Justice NORTH, and his rule remains. Thanks to the Justice, thanks to the Times! Plain new definitions of ancient crimes Are needful now when robbers unsheath The old plea of the custom of Hounslow Heath!
* * * * *
OUR SAL VOLATILE; OR, A WRIGGLER SARPINT OF OLD NILE.
CLEOPATRE, quittant la Seine, Ici tu viens en souveraine, Where "Britons never will be slaves," And "BRITANNIA rules the waves." (Ritournelle egoiste et vaine!)
* * * * *
* * * * *
DEFINITION OF "STUFF AND NONSENSE."—A Junior urging a ridiculous plea.
* * * * *
THE WINNER OF THE DERBY.—Hugo in future is to be remembered as "Victor Hugo."
* * * * *
Monday.—GOUNOD's Romeo et Juliette. Les deux freres ("Brothers of Corse"), JEAN and EDOUARD, excellent respectively as Romeo and Friar Laurent. EDWARD looked the reverend, kind-hearted, but eccentric herbalist to the life, singing splendidly. But Brother JOHN, in black wig, black moustache, and with pallid face, look so unhealthy a Romeo that his appearance must have first excited Juliet's pity, which we all know is akin to love. My advice to JOHNNIE DE RESZKE is to "lighten the part," and "do it on his head,"—which, being summed up, means flaxen-haired wig and light moustache. Juliette Eames charming. Nurse Bauermeister too young. Tybalt Montariol, when killed, must not lie "toes up" too close to Curtain. Friendly members of Capulet faction rescued his legs, otherwise these members must have suffered. M. DUFRICHE, as Mercutio, mistaken for EDOUARD DE RESZKE. Subsequent appearance of the real Simon Pure as The Friar only complicates matters, but death of Mercutio settles it. The survivor is EDOUARD DE RESZKE. Mr. ALEC MARSH, late of English Comic Opera, appears as the Duke of Verona, and everyone admires his Grace.
Tuesday.—Orfeo. Everyone talking of to-morrow's Derby. Bets "taken and Orf-"eo.
Wednesday.—Derby Day Night—celebrated by performance of Philemon and Cavalleria. Both favourites. But in honour of the winner Hugo, the Opera ought to have been the Hugo-nots.
Thursday.—Lohengrin. Rentree of Madame NORDICA as Elsa, who couldn't be bettered by anybody Elser. Lohengrin is "The Johnnie of the Opera," i.e., JOHNNIE DE RESZKE. First-rate: no longer does he appear in dark hair as in Romeo; but as a Knight light, suitable to the time of year.
Friday.—Il Vascello Fantasma, which is the Flying Dutchman with MAGGIE MACINTIRE Mac-in-tirely restored to us as the charming Senta—quite an Eighty-per-Senta—of attraction. Awful appearance of Phantom Ship! Evidently straight from Dead Sea. Racing conversation in all parts of house. "Ancient Mariners," or "Old Epsom Salts," talking about Flying Dutchman's year, 1849,
Saturday.—Progress reported generally. MELBA very good. Miss EAMES being absent, we miss EAMES. House counted out by midnight. DRURIOLANUS satisfied with Derby Week.
* * * * *
THE WELSHERS AT THE MANSHUN HOUSE.
We've ad the Welshers ere, and did they injy theirselves? Didn't they jest! And wosn't they all jest perlite to us Waiters, as all true gents allus is, and didn't they amost shout theirselves hoarse when the LORD MARE got up to perpose the fust Toast! But not qwite, oh no, not by no means, or they woodn't have bin abel to sing what they calls their Nashnal Hanthem so bewtifoolly that they made the werry tears cum into my old eyes! One on 'em kindly told me as they calls it, "Him glad to find Ada," which means, "The Land of my Fathers"! and a werry nice name too, tho I don't quite see why they shoud leave out their pore Mothers, but it's the ushal way of the world, out of site out of mind! but they makes up for it by calling the Land of their Fathers, their Mother country, so it comes all rite in the end.
The same kind Gent told me he oped they would sing their favrit song, "Ah, hide her nose!" commonly called "Poor MARY ANN!" so I should think indeed.
I didn't see, in looking down the long list of Gests, no gent by the name of TAFFY, at which I was summut serprized.
I heard a gent interdoosed as the Edditer of "the General Gimrig," which I takes to be a Raddicle Paper. I didn't at all no afore what a wunderfooll harrystokratic place little Wales is. Why we had about a duzen Nobbelmen inclewding a reel Dook, and as if that wosn't rayther a staggerer, we had no less than four reel Bishups with Harchdeecuns to match, about thirty Members of Parlement, and quite a brood of Welch Mares.
I suttenly thort as I had had a werry fair sampel of Welch enthusyasm and Welch loyalty when I herd them jine in singin our Nashnal Anthem; but lor it was nothin to their recepshun of the LORD MARE when he guv 'em the Toast of the hevening, "Wales!" Why they sprung to their feet, Bishups, and Harchdeecuns, and Dook, and Nobbelmen, and M.P.'s and all, and shouted and cheerd and emtied their glasses, and then gave three such cheers as made the hold All ring again! Which I wished as the Prinse of WALES was there to heer 'em.
BROWN and me had our nice quiet larf together at the ushal bit of fun. When sum werry ellerkent gent was a makin a speach as was rayther too long for them as wanted to heer the lovely Welch mewsic, they began for to hammer on the table with our bewtifool silver spoons and reel cut glasses, meaning to say, "That's about enuff," but the pore delewded Horrator thort it meant, "Keep it up, my boy; it's splendid!" So he kep it up till two of our best glasses was broke, and then he kindly sat down looking the werry pictur of happiness. It reminded me of a simlar little delushun as we practises early in the year. "Waiter," says sum hungry Gent, "bring me sum more Whitebait," and I takes him sum more Sprats, and he is quite content! As our Grate Poet says, "Where hignorance makes you 'appy, remane as you are"! Upon the whole, I wentures to think as the Welch Nashnal Bankwet, given by Lord Mare EVANS, was about the most sucksessful as I have ewer assisted at during my menny years of such pleasant xperiences. I finishes by saying, I should werry much like to see a reel Irish Lord Mare try his hand in the same Nashnal way.
* * * * *
A TIP-TOP TIPSTER.
[In some spirited verses that appeared in the Sportsman, on the morning of Derby Day, Mr. JOHN TREW-HAY, alone amongst the prophets, selected Sir Hugo as the winner.]
Ye Gods, what a Prophet! We thought 'twas his fun, For the horse that he picked stood at fifty to one, And we all felt inclined in our pride to say, "You go To Bath and be blowed!" when he plumped for Sir Hugo. But henceforth we shall know, though the bookies may laugh, That this HAY means a harvest, and cannot mean chaff. Though it lies on the turf, there's no sportsman can rue That he trusted such HAY when he knew it was TREW!
* * * * *
"RESIGNATION OF AN ALDERMAN."—He had had two basins of Turtle. He asked for yet another. "All gone, Sir; Turtle off!" was the Waiter's answer. The Alderman said not a word; he smiled a sickly smile. There was no help for it, or "no helping of it," as he truthfully put it. He would do his best with the remainder of the menu. The resignation of the Alderman was indeed a sight to touch the heart even of ROBERT the City Waiter.
* * * * *
BRER FOX AND OLE MAN CROW.
(A FABLE SOMEWHAT IN THE FASHION OF "UNCLE REMUS," BUT WITH APPLICATIONS NEARER HOME.)
Ole Man Crow he wuz settin' on der rail, Brer Fox he up en he sez, sezee, "Dis yer's a sight dat yo' otter see!" En he show him der tip of his (Ulster) tail. "Eve'y gent otter have a lick at dis yer, So's ter know w'at's w'at; en yer needn't fear!" "Oho! Oho!" Sez Ole Man Crow. "But der Irish butter I've a notion dat I know!"
Brer Fox he boast, and Brer Fox he bounce, But Ole Man Crow heft his weight to an ounce. "Wat, tote me round der Orange-grove?" Sez Ole Man Crow, sezee; "Tooby sho dat's kyind, but I radder not rove Wer der oranges are flyin' kinder free; Wer One-eyed RILEY en Slipshot SAM Sorter lam one ernudder ker-blunk, ker-blam! Tree stan' high, but honey mighty sweet— Watch dem bees wid stingers on der feet! Make a bow ter de Buzzard, en den ter de Crow, Takes a limber-toe'd gemman for ter jump Jim Crow!"
Den Brer Fox snortle en Brer Fox frown. Sezee, "You're settin dar sorter keerless-like," sezee. "But yer better come down, Der is foes a broozin' roun' W'at will give yer wus den butter in der North Countree. You'll get mixed wid der Tar-Baby ef inter der North yo' pitch, For der North ain't gwinter cave in, radder die in der las' ditch!"
Den Ole Man Crow up en sez, sezee, "You been runnin' roun' a long time, en a-sassin' atter me; But I speck you done come to de end er de row. You wun't frighten me not wuth a cent.," sez Ole Man Crow. "I ain't gwine nowhere skasely; I'll be busy near dis rail. You wun't tempt me wid de butter—or der powder—on yo' tail. Good-bye, Brer Fox, take keer yo' cloze, For dis is de way de worril goes; Some goes up en some goes down. You'll get ter de bottom all safe en soun'! I'll watch yo' 'strategy' wid int'rest, now en den, En—well, I'll try ter look, des as frightened as I ken!"
* * * * *
The House of Lords Committee of Privileges decided that Captain FORESTER's action in the Barnard Peerage case was a Vane attempt. "The chance," said the Times, "of such a prize as Raby Castle, with L60,000 a-year, is likely to tempt a man to think his arguments and claims are better than they really are." Raby Castle on the brain would soon become a sort of Rabies.
* * * * *
HAMLET IN HALF AN HOUR.
(PREPARED FOR THE HALLS IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE SUGGESTIONS OF MR. PLUNKET'S COMMITTEE.)
SCENE—An open space outside Elsinore. View of the Palace and the Battlements. HAMLET discovered talking to the Ghost.
Ham. And is it really within thy power to show me illustrations to the story that has so much interested me?
Ghost. It is! Behold!
[He waves his baton and a rock becomes transparent, displaying a tableau of the play-scene in "Hamlet."]
Ham. Ah, how well do I remember the occasion! It was after I had met thee, and thou hadst told me the sad story of thy decease by my Uncle. And then I contrived this device to catch the conscience of the King! Thou art sleeping calmly, and a cloaked figure is pouring poison—real poison—into thy ear! and look, the King is greatly disturbed! Ah, how it all comes back to me! (The rock resumes its normal condition.) And canst thou show me more?
Ghost. Ay, and I will! Behold!
[He waves his baton, and another rock discovers a tableau representing the Burial of OPHELIA.
Ham. (deeply interested). Why, these must be the maimed rites that were all that was given to my poor lost love—the lady I desired to visit a nunnery—to OPHELIA. And see there are the comic Grave-diggers. Show me more. Show me more!
[The vision fades away like its predecessor.
Ghost. I would, did not the decision of statute law limit the time. And now I must away. But mind, my son—six principal characters, and no more! Thou wilt remember!
Ham. Ay, marry; and yes, I will! (The Ghost disappears.) And so I have to meet LAERTES at a fencing-bout. I will!
Trumpets. Enter King, Queen, LAERTES, OSRIC and Court.
King. HAMLET, all hail! I wish thee joy! May'st thou be the victor at to-day's trial of skill!
Ghost (heard from below). Remember! Six principal characters. He and thou and I are three. Three! Six, and no more!
Hamlet (aside). Peace, perturbed spirit!
Laertes (approaching). My good Lord, I wish thee well, for I do love thee.
Ghost (from below). Four! Remember—Four! Six, and no more! and mind the time goes apace. Ten minutes of the thirty gone!
Hamlet (aside). Peace, perturbed spirit! (Aloud.) The foils!
Osric (approaching). My Lord, the weapons!
Ghost (as before). He maketh five! Beware! Six, and no more!
Ham. (aside). Rest, perturbed spirit! (Aloud.) I will take this one!
[HAMLET and LAERTES take the foils and salute.
King. Now will I drink to HAMLET after the first bout. OSRIC, be ready to give him a cup when he is tired! Mind me well. (Aside.) The cup of which HAMLET shall drink contains poison. Ha! ha! ha! A time will come! I triumph!
[HAMLET and LAERTES fence and drop their foils.
Osric.—Let me return them, good Sirs!
[He gives the weapons in such a fashion that they are exchanged.
King. Now will I drink to HAMLET. Give him the other cup.
Ham. Nay, your pardon. Sire. I am fat and scant of breath, but I will crush a cup with thee, later!
Queen. Give me the cup. I will drink to thee, HAMLET! [Drinks.
Ghost (as before). I hear the well-remembered voice of thy mother, boy! That makes six. The limit's reached!
Ham. (aside). Rest, perturbed spirit! (Aloud.) And now, good LAERTES, I am at thy service.
[They fight. HAMLET is wounded.
Osric. A hit, a hit, a palpable hit!
Ham. (annoyed). I am hurt, and by thee!
[Fights fiercely and wounds LAERTES.
Queen. Oh! I am poisoned! [Dies.
Ham. What, treachery! Ah, thou brute!
[Rushes up and kills King with his foil.
Laertes. I am dying! Forgive me, HAMLET. It was the doing of the King. [Dies.
Ghost (as before). Twenty and nine minutes have expired! The time is all but up!
Ham. (aside, with difficulty). Rest, perturbed spirit! Farewell, farewell, a long farewell to all my—
Ghost (as before). Ring down! The time is up!
* * * * *
* * * * *
"INNINGS DECLARED CLOSED."
SCENE—Grounds of the St. Stephen's C.C. SALISBURY (Captain) and BALFOUR (Champion Bat) at Wickets. The latter has just despatched the ball to the boundary for "another four," eliciting "applause all round the ring," as the (Cricket) saying is.
Captain. Well hit, my dear ARTHUR!
Champion Bat (modestly). Ah! bit of a fluke.
Captain. Come, come! Cricket swagger may merit rebuke, But take your fair kudos; don't run yourself down.
Wicket-Keeper (aside). Bah! that's his old trick. At the ball he will frown, And fumble the bat as though funk, or don't care, Filled his soul; but when slogging's the game he's all there. Mere posing, not playing the game,—yet he scores! I wonder how WILL likes the ring's frantic roars At their flashy young favourite?
Bowler (aside). Humph! he lays on! I did hope, with that ball, that his wicket was gone. 'Twas a curly one, one of my regular old sort. Good batting and bowling, that's true Cricket sport, As CLARKE, Grand Old Trundler, declared was the case When he bowled and PILCH batted.
Champion Bat (aside). Just twig HARCOURT's face! Thought he'd had me ere now. Can't you hear his "How's that?"— If I gave him a chance?
Captain. He's a fine slogging bat, But behind the sticks—humph! Well, let's see, lad, your score Wants but eight of the "century." Ninety-two more Towards your "average," ARTHUR! The Cricketer's Bard Will be rhyming your doings!
Champion Bat. An awful "reward"! But shall we play on?
Captain (thoughtfully). Well, now, what do you think? From fighting it out to the end I don't shrink, But time's running short; we stand well for a win: They say that their eager desire's to go in. Perhaps if they got their desire they'd be posed. Suppose we declare that our innings is closed?
[Left considering it.
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The Gentleman who sits on a pin with its business-end uppermost.
The Follower "not Allowed," on Missus making a quite unexpected appearance in the Kitchen.
Clerk, who having written to say that he is unable to attend to business as he is laid up with symptoms of influenza, comes face to face with the Senior Partner on the river at Bolton Lock.
LOTHARIO on his knees to his dearest friend's Wife. Enter Husband.
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"TEXTUEL."—Mr. TOOLE was horrified at overhearing portions of a conversation between two Gentlemen who were evidently provincial Managers, one of whom was saying, "Yes, I agree with you. We have settled to re-open our pits at a reduction of ten per cent." "I beg pardon, Gentlemen," anxiously put in the Comedian, who had just returned from the race-course, having been tooled down to Epsom and back on a drag; "but I am going on tour, and if the price of admission to the pit is to be so largely reduced—" Then they explained to him that they were Wenham Coal-owners. Mr. J.L. TOOLE was immensely relieved, and immediately invited his two acquaintances to partake of refreshment on board the Houseboat now moored off King William Street, Charing Cross.
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"TE DUCE," &c.—Old Pupils who were at "Balston's," are requested by Lord DUCIE to hurry up with their subscriptions to Memorial in Eton College Chapel. A Ducie'd good idea.
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CLEAR CASE OF SUPERSTITION.—Mr. GLADSTONE trusting to "SHIPTON's" Prophecies.
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THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUFFER.
NO. XI.—THE DUFFER IN LOVE.
Mrs. MCDUFFER never greatly admired the lady with whom this confession is concerned. She denies that CECILIA BRAND was pretty, and when I do not answer (for where is the use of argument in such a case?), she remarks that I am too short-sighted to know whether a woman is pretty or not. This appears to myself to be an injudicious assertion, and the flank of my opponent might be turned if it were worth while. But it is not worth while. A Duffer I may be, but not such a duffer as to reason with a woman. If you score a point (and how many times one sees an opening in the fair one's harness), a woman is angry, or cries, or both, and there is no repartee to that ultima ratio.
I maintain, then, that CECILIA was pretty, and very pretty; pleasant, and very pleasant. No doubt she keeps those qualities yet. I do not believe in the syllogism by which a man persuades himself that he was a fool, that he had a lucky escape, that a girl becomes quite another person, and usually very stout and stupid, because she has preferred someone else to himself. No, if we met to-morrow—But Fortune forbid that we should meet to-morrow, or any other day! I have no relics of CECILIA. I had some,—an old glove, a lash of a riding-switch, and other trifles. I kept them in the secret drawer of a bureau, and in my absence that bureau was traded away for a new aesthetic article, relics and all, of course. Perhaps some minor poet bought the piece of furniture, and found the things, and wrote a poem on them. That is what makes me uncomfortable. If CECILIA sees the poem in one of the Magazines, and remembers the incidents which the souvenirs recall, she will certainly not be pleased with me, whether she fancies that I wrote the poem, or that I forgot all about the treasures, and traded their receptacle away. Life is really very complicated.
I met CECILIA at a house in the country. We sat next each other at dinner. I found her charming. We had the same taste in novels,—she knew Miss AUSTEN almost off by heart, and, like me, she was very fond of field sports. I flattered myself that she did not find my company uncongenial. In the evening there was a little dance: I don't dance, or at least, it was some time since I had danced, not in fact since the used to make me take dancing lessons at school. How I hated it! However, this time I thought it seemed very easy and pleasant, though the floor was extremely polished and slippery, dangerously so. CECILIA, of course, was my partner. You know how they describe waltzing in novels, the ecstasy of it, the wild impassioned delight. Consult GUY LIVINGSTONE and OUIDA. Well, it was not at all like that.
I do not exactly remember what occurred. We started, there was a buzz. I think there was a collision. I became extremely dizzy.... When I recovered my senses, it was not to find the dark grey eyes of CECILIA bending over me with an expression of anxiety. No, she was not there. I went to bed: I know there was a great contusion on my elbow.
Next morning, it was winter, everyone was going to skate. Now I could not skate. At school, when there was a skating holiday, I always passed it beside the fire, which I had all to myself, roasting apples, and reading Ivanhoe. These were among my happiest hours. However, I did not tell CECILIA that I could not skate. I pretended (it seemed safe) to be desperately fond of hunting, and to despise skating. Besides I had work, literary work, I told CECILIA, an article on Miss AUSTEN. This pleased her, but nobody accepted the article. In fact, I was bent on secretly learning to skate. I sent to town for a pair of "Acmes," for I knew I never could manage all the straps and buckles of the ordinary modern skate. I knew of a pond where nobody came, and thither, under cover of night, I smuggled a bed-room chair. They say that pushing a chair in front of you is a good way to learn. My terror was extreme; it would be awkward to be caught, at a friend's house, stealing a bed-room chair. That I ventured this risk shows how fond of CECILIA I was. I reached the pond safely, and hid the chair in a dry ditch. Next day, when presumed to be engaged on literary labours, I sneaked back, sat down on my chair, and tried to put on the skates. It always seemed so easy when one saw an expert do it, like Mercury donning his winged shoon, and sailing over the ice. But my hands grew blue as I struggled with the key and the nuts, till I became certain that my boots were in fault.
There was no help for it, I hid my chair in its ditch, and returned, to take the village cobbler into my confidence. He, good man, rose to the situation, and pointed out what I had surmised to be the case, viz., that the heels of my boots were too long to allow the chisel-edged flange to be adjusted by the lever, and admit at the same time of the other end of the heel being gripped by the cramps,—but he promised to whittle away part of the heel, and send the skates home without delay: and he was as good as his word.
This time I took the precaution of fitting them on in my room. I walked about in them, and was happy. Next day I got to work again: gingerly I brought my chair into action, but I was wholly unprepared for the extreme slipperiness of the ice, even though forewarned to some extent by the painful experiences of Mr. Winkle. I had read that the skater "is very highly favoured when contending with the great enemy of motion, viz., friction," a proposition which I found to be perfectly true. My legs developed separatist tendencies, and started on independent orbits. Often I found myself sitting down in a position affected by acrobats, but unusual in Society. As for the chair, it would rear and plunge like a horse, or escape across the ice, where I had to crawl to it on my knees. It was while thus engaged that I heard a sound of female voices, and, lo! there were CECILIA and two other girls, who had heard of this pond in the wood, and come to try it. I presented a singular spectacle, kneeling before a bed-room chair in the middle of a lonely pond. They laughed, a lover should never be ridiculous, but how could I help it! I thought it best to be frank, indeed, what excuse could I make, what explanation could I offer? In the evening I told CECILIA that I had undergone all this for her sake; that, expert in other pastimes (except dancing), I had hoped to make myself more worthy of "figuring" in her society. But, as a matter of fact, I never got so far as figures.
Next day there was a thaw, and soon I had an opportunity of riding with CECILIA. It was "The Last Ride Together," as in Mr. BROWNING. I don't like to speak about it. When we got off the road on to the turf my horse began to kick and plunge. I have read that it is not right, but I did what I always do, I held on by the pummel. Would you not hold on by the carpet, in an earthquake. It felt like a young and lively earthquake. We came home soon, CECILIA leading my horse. People staying in the house met us.
I did not propose to CECILIA. I thought, like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, "It is four to one she'll none of me." Nay, the odds were probably even longer. Ah, CECILIA, if these lines meet thine eyes, thou wilt know that one heart still is true. In another life, less begirt by material difficulties, we may meet amongst the asphodel, where there is no opportunity for the display of mere mechanical accomplishments. Till then, au revoir!
* * * * *
APPROPRIATE.—At Nancy, the Maire pledged the Czech gymnasts, in a goblet of Pommery. Their chief, returning thanks in French, with a strong Bohemian accent, remarked that he took this as a great compliment to his own nationality, the champagne being "tres Czech."
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* * * * *
LADY GAY'S SELECTIONS.
DEAR MR. PUNCH,—Of my two selections to supply the last Horse in the Derby—one—La Fleche, so far forgot what was due to my prophetic utterances as to finish second—and indeed, very nearly win! However, as such reprehensible conduct was mainly owing to the absurd wish of her jockey, BARRETT, to be first, my readers will see that no blame attaches to me—as the mare would doubtless not have hurried so much had she been left to her own devices—(the sex notoriously dislikes hurry)—it being a well-known fact that she would make a race with a donkey!—though why donkey races should be spoken of with such contempt. I don't know, for I once rode one with Lord ARTHUR on Hampstead Heath—(it was during our engagement, when people will do foolish things; we had been "slumming," and he was disguised in "pearlies," whilst I was gowned "a la 'ARRIETT")—and I assure you our Donkeys went very fast. However—this is a digression—as the man said when he walked over the cliff, so let us "noch einmal zu unser schafen," as the German proverb runs. Although disappointed in the behaviour of La Fleche, my second string Llanthony maintained my reputation for correct tips, by running last, as I said he would!—It is true that some papers report him as having finished seventh and El Diablo last; but as he did not win, he might just as well have been last as seventh—and as I am sure my friend Lord ELTHAM will not mind the placings being reversed—I therefore place Llanthony last—and those of my readers who took my advice and backed him, will have every reason to congratulate themselves when they draw their money!
With regard to the winner, Sir Hugo, whose success was a general surprise to all except myself—(surprise is bad form)—I can only follow the example of all other writers on turf matters in declaring that, "he always had my good word, and was in fact my winter favourite, as anyone can see who will take the trouble to glance through my earlier advices!"—these will be difficult to find, as they were only conveyed in private letters which will not be published until my biography is written later on!—(very much, I hope). Still, had I pursued the ordinary course of trying to tip the Winner, Sir Hugo would undoubtedly have been my sole selection—a fact which should not fail to weigh with my followers—and I have followers in plenty, as Lord ARTHUR knows!
Having done the whole of Epsom week, I shall be glad of a rest to get ready for Ascot—(four new gowns to try on)—and besides there are some smart parties to attend next week, so Doncaster will not be blessed with my sweet presence. However, I have a friend there on the Press who can be trusted. So, in concluding this letter with my selection for the last horse in the Manchester Cup, I am able to recommend it very strongly, as my friend will do the placing; and as I am not there, no collusion can be suspected!
I must just mention that among the shows provided on Epsom Downs for the entertainment of the multitude, was one which I should like to see done away with, namely, the so-called "glove contests"—which to my mind are not calculated to advance "England's greatness" nor are they pleasing to look on at. The "abolition of Slavin(g)" is undoubtedly a fine thing, but is hardly perhaps an unmixed blessing when it makes heroes of Dusky Warriors!
I hear from my friend Major CLEMENT that we are going to have a most successful Ascot in spite of the regrettable absence of Royalty; indeed he could have let all the Boxes twice over—and as I shall be staying there all the week with my friends the Baron and Baroness LUTHER VON MONTAG, I hope to collect some valuable information for my betting readers.
Yours devotedly, LADY GAY.
To ride the first horse in the Manchester Cup Is a thing for which jockeys might quarrel! But if modest young WOODBURN should have the "leg up," He's content to be last on "Balmoral."
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Commons, Monday, May 30.—House met to-day, with pretty assumption of things being just as usual. SPEAKER in Chair; Mace on Table; paper loaded with questions; House even moderately full. Mr. G. not present, but SQUIRE OF MALWOOD makes up for that, and all other deficiencies. Quite radiant in white waistcoat and summer pants; wish he would crown the effect by wearing white hat; draws the line at that. "People are apt to forget," he says, "that my father was a dignitary of the Church. It is well sometimes to hint at the circumstance, and it would be impossible to do it from under the brim of a white hat." The item scarcely needed to complete joviality of Squire's appearance and bearing; looks like the best man at a wedding-party. "That's just what I am, TOBY," he said; "Mr. G. is going to the country to wed the majority at the polls, and I'm the best man."
Meanwhile, farce of there being nothing particular in the wind admirably kept up. Odd to see how even mention of that blessed word Dissolution is avoided. Even when, last Thursday, Mr. G. and Prince ARTHUR practically settled the matter, the word not uttered. Mr. G. hinted at possibility of ARTHUR's sometime, in some convenient circumstances, making a statement as to the business of the Session; the Prince, adopting the phraseology, said he would do so. Since then the same precaution been observed.
"It's not a new idea," Prince ARTHUR said just now, when I commented on the peculiarity. "When a man is sick unto death, people don't mention in his presence the particular form of disease that is carrying him off. Neither do we openly talk of Dissolution in a Parliament whose days are numbered."
SEXTON finally got off his speech on Irish Education Bill, though under peculiarly distressing circumstances. Might have delivered it before Easter, when Bill was reached one evening at eleven o'clock. SEXTON thought the hour inconvenient and the audience inadequate for the oration; insisted upon postponing it. Must be delivered to-night or never; so worked it off, speaking for an hour in almost empty and sadly inattentive House. TIM HEALY, not to lose an opportunity that might be final, joined in debate. Audience being chiefly composed of JACKSON, TIM took opportunity of genially observing, a propos of the Bill, that if he had to spend his time on a desert island with either a Chief Secretary or an Irish peasant, he would prefer the peasant. "I'm glad of that," said JACKSON; "it would be lonely for the one that was left. Within a week the population would certainly be reduced by one-half. Whether the survivor would be TIM or the other one, would depend upon circumstances." Business done.—Irish Education Bill read Second Time.
Tuesday.—ELCHO's speech to-day, in supporting WILFRID LAWSON's Motion against Adjournment over Derby Day, most excellent fooling. A dangerous thing to play practical jokes with House; only a person of ELCHO's supreme coolness would have faced the fearful odds. A desperate man having done so, might, by swerving however slightly to left or right, have made mistake, and been angrily dropped on by watchful House. GRICE-HUTCHINSON had some experience of this in his truncated speech. Commenced at length to be funny in usual ante-Derby Day fashion; beginning to draw picture of his leading WILFRID LAWSON by hand over Epsom Downs. Members opposite snorted disapproval; GRICE-HUTCHINSON abruptly shut up; like the unfinished window in Aladdin's Tower, his carefully-prepared joke unfinished must remain. With this awful warning, ELCHO rose unperturbed and unabashed. Was a success from first moment; SPEAKER artlessly contributed to it; GEDGE had something to say; been popping up whenever opening occurred; here again competing with ELCHO; which should be preferred?
"Does the noble Lord," said SPEAKER, with bland sarcasm, "rise to second the Amendment?"
Now the Amendment was WILFRID LAWSON's, and met with direct negative proposal to adjourn over Derby Day. Last time question to the fore ELCHO had moved the Adjournment. To suppose he was now going to back up WILFRID LAWSON in opposing it was an exquisite jape, worthy of the Chair. But ELCHO capped it. "Yes, Sir," he gravely answered.
This was a flash of humour everyone could see. The crowded House, wearied with what had gone before, positively jumped at it. But it was a kind of joke that had to be lived up to. Could ELCHO do it? Would he spoil it by going too far, or would he shrink affrighted from the position audaciously assumed? He did just the right thing, in tone, manner, and matter, affording the House the merriest moments ever enjoyed on a deathbed. It seemed so good that it was idle to expect anything better to follow. But something there was. It was the Division, in which ELCHO, walking up to the Table by side of WILFRID LAWSON, acted as co-teller whilst the figures were announced that abolished the Derby Day holiday in the House of Commons. ELCHO had had his jest, and the Opposition had his estate.
Business done.—Motion for Derby Day negatived by 158 Votes against 144.
Wednesday.—Spent quite cheerful Derby Day in Commons. House met shortly after twelve; when I say House, I mean the SPEAKER and me. "Dearly beloved TOBY," said the SPEAKER, "it seems we're to have the place to ourselves." But presently HOWELL arrived, and GEDGE, terribly afraid that he should miss prayers. "I suppose my opportunities will not be extended. Stockport doesn't seem to care to have me in the new Parliament, and I'm not aware of any competition for my hand among other constituencies. So I mean to make the most of what time is left. I fancy they'll at least miss me at St. Margaret's. Proudest moment in my life, TOBY, when the other Sunday, I overheard one of the Vergers saying to another, 'Man and boy I've been in this 'ere church for forty year, but I never heard a Amen carry so far as Muster GELGE pitches his.' It's something to be appreciated, TOBY. Can't say that House of Commons has taken to me kindly; but toward what may be the close of a Parliamentary career, the tribute of this honest Verger is, I will admit, soothing."
(12:25.)—GEDGE moves Count; bells ring; SQUIRE OF MALWOOD strolls in with the pleased expression of a man who might be at the Derby, but isn't; HORACE DAVY and some others; all told only 13. "If you'll excuse me. Gentlemen," said the SPEAKER, "I'll retire; look in again little later."
(1 P.M.)—SPEAKER back in Chair; ATTORNEY-GENERAL moves Count; bells ring as before; SQUIRE OF MALWOOD again comes in; no deception; wasn't lurking about with intent to show up in House, then rush off to catch half-past twelve train for Epsom. Heads counted; only 19 present; must have forty or no House. "Look here, Gentlemen," said the SPEAKER, "this won't do. The Chair is not to be trifled with. I shall again retire, and won't come back till four o'clock, or till I am assured there are forty Members present."
SPEAKER gathered up skirts and strode forth. Three hours before House can be Counted Out. What's to be done in the time? ELLIOT LEES determines to make a book; 6 to 4 no House (t. and o.); HENRY FOWLER wouldn't bet; but ROBY put something on, and ALBERT ROLLIT staked a fiver.
(4 P.M.)—SPEAKER back again; House much fuller now; ELLIOT LEES looking anxious; made a nice book if he can only pull it off. But arrival of half a dozen Members would upset everything. ROBY and ALBERT ROLLIT rushing about corridors trying to bring men in; LEES KNOWLES moves Count; more ringing of bells; ROLLIT and ROBY, on picket-duty to last moment, nearly locked out; SPEAKER counts; finds only 35. "The House will now adjourn," says the SPEAKER. "Don't see why we should have met at all," says ROBY, snappishly. "I do," says ELLIOT LEES, making his little collection. "I've had a pleasant and profitable afternoon."
Business done.—House not made.
Friday.—House met at two o'clock; might have sat till seven; but at five minutes to five gently broke up. Won't be back till Thursday. "Not much of a holiday." said Viscount GRIMSTONE, formerly of the Herts Militia; "better make the most of it;" and he set off at the rate of five miles an hour.
Business done.—Adjourned for the Whitsun Recess.
* * * * *
THE VIGOROUS VICAR.—Dr. MILLS of Coventry, to which place his bitterest enemies cannot relegate him as he is already there, acts up to his name, as a Member of the Church Militant, with pluck and perseverance, whether right or wrong it is not for amicus curiae to say. But, it may be asked, is this action for the rates, on the part of the Vicar, a Vicar's first-Rate Act or not? Some parishioners suspend payment; we suspend judgment.
* * * * *
VERY NATURAL ERROR.—A gentleman who up till now has been a quiet sort of man, with nothing suggestive of the "P.R." about him, sent to excuse himself from appearing at our old friend Mrs. RAM's dinner-party, because as he wrote to her nephew, who read the letter aloud, "I am off to see Woodhall Spa." "What!" she exclaimed, "Prize-fighting beginning again! And isn't Mr. WOODHALL or WOODALL a Member of Parliament? He ought to know better. Where are the police?"
* * * * *
"IT WILL WASH!"—"Abolition of the House of Peers!" No, stop—spell it with an "a," and make it "Pears,"—now a Company Limited. Going along in first-rate style. The Pears' Soap Christmas Book, illustrated, is to be a new edition of "His Soaps Fables." Next form of advertisement,—"Very good morning! Just bought Pears' Soap Shares."
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FRENCH PLAYS IN LONDON.—The old saying applies, "They do these things better in France." London prefers to go to Paris for its French plays; but when two rivals, a BERNHARDT and a COQUELIN, come over to London, Londoners give the lady a chance of making her charming voice heard, but the clever French actor has, literally, to "shut up."
* * * * *
ROYAL DECISION.—When the QUEEN goes from Balmoral to Mar Lodge, Her Majesty takes a Deesided course.
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NOTICE.—Rejected Communications or Contributions, whether MS., Printed Matter, Drawings, or Pictures of any description, will in no case be returned, not even when accompanied by a Stamped and Addressed Envelope, Cover, or Wrapper. To this rule there will be no exception.