OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
June 4, 1892.
(OR THE EXPERIENCES OF A "VACUUS VIATOR.")
At the Douane, Ostend.—Just off Princesse Henriette; passengers hovering about excitedly with bunches of keys, waiting for their luggage to be brought ashore. Why can't they take things quietly—like me? I don't worry. Saw my portmanteau and bag labelled at Victoria. Sure to turn up in due time. Some men when they travel insist on taking hand-bags into the carriage with them—foolish, when they might have them put in the van and get rid of all responsibility. The douaniers are examining the luggage—don't see mine—as yet. It's all right, of course. People who are going on to Brussels and Antwerp at once would naturally have their luggage brought out first. Don't see the good of rushing about like that myself. I shall stay the night here—put up at one of the hotels on the Digue, dine, and get through the evening pleasantly at the Kursaal—sure to be something going on. Then I can go comfortably on by a mid-day train to-morrow. Meanwhile my luggage still tarries. If I was a nervous man—luckily I'm not. Come—that's the bag at all events, with everything I shall want for the night.... Annoying. Some other fellow's bag.... No more luggage being brought out. Getting anxious—at least, just a shade uneasy. Perhaps if I asked somebody—Accost a Belgian porter; he wants my baggage ticket. They never gave me any ticket. It did occur to me (in the train) that I had always had my luggage registered on going abroad before, but I supposed they knew best, and didn't worry. I came away to get a rest and avoid worry, and I won't worry.... The Porter and I have gone on board to hunt for the things. They aren't there. Left behind at Dover probably. Wire for them at once. No idea how difficult it was to describe luggage vividly and yet economically till I tried. However, it will be sent on by the next boat, and arrive some time in the evening, so it's of no consequence. Now for the Hotel. Ask for the bus for the Continental. The Continental is not open yet. Very well, the Hotel de la Plage, then. Closed! All the hotels facing the sea are, it seems. Sympathetic Porter recommends one in the town, and promises to come and tell me as soon as the luggage turns up.
At the Hotel.—Find, on getting out of the omnibus, that the Hotel is being painted; entrance blocked by ladders and pails. Squeeze past, and am received in the hall by the Proprietress and a German Waiter. "Certainly they can give me a room—my baggage shall be taken up immed—" Here I have to explain that this is impracticable, as my baggage has unfortunately been left behind. Think I see a change in their manner at this. A stranger who comes abroad with nothing but a stick and an umbrella cannot expect to inspire confidence, I suppose. I remark to the Waiter that the luggage is sure to follow me by the next boat, but it strikes even myself that I do not bring this out with quite a sincere ring. Not at all the manner of a man who possesses a real portmanteau. I order dinner—the kind of dinner, I feel, that a man who did not intend to pay for it would order. I detect this impression in the Waiter's eye. If he dared, I know he would suggest tea and a boiled egg as more seemly under the circumstances.
On the Digue.—Thought, it being holiday time, that there would be more gaiety; but Ostend just now perhaps a little lacking in liveliness—hotels, villas, and even the Kursaal all closely boarded up with lead-coloured shutters. Only other person on Promenade a fisher-boy scrooping over the tiles in sabots. I come to a glazed shelter, and find the seats choked with drifting sand, and protected with barbed wire. This depresses me. I did not want to sit down—but the barbed wire does seem needlessly unkind. Walk along the sand-dunes; must pass the time somehow till dinner, and the arrival of my luggage. Wonder whether it really was labelled "Ostend." Suppose the porter thought I said "Rochester" ... in that case—I will not worry about it like this. I will go back and see the town.
I have; it is like a good many other foreign towns. I am melancholy. I can't dismiss that miserable luggage from my mind. To be alone in a foreign land, without so much as a clean sock, is a distressing position for a sensitive person. If I could only succeed in seeing a humorous element in it, it would be something—but I can't. It is too forlorn to be at all funny. And there is still an hour and a half to get through before dinner!
I have dined—in a small room, with a stove, a carved buffet, and a portrait of the King of the BELGIANS; but my spirits are still low. German Waiter dubious about me; reserving his opinion for the present. He comes in with a touch of new deference in his manner. "Please, a man from de shdation for you." I go out—to find the sympathetic Porter. My baggage has arrived? It has; it is at the Douane, waiting for me. I am saved! I tell the Waiter, without elation, but with what, I trust, is a calm dignity—the dignity of a man who has been misunderstood, but would scorn to resent it.
At the Station.—I have accompanied the Porter to the Terminus, such a pleasant helpful fellow, so intelligent! The Ostend streets much less dull at night. Feel relieved, in charity with all the world, now that my prodigal portmanteau is safely reclaimed. Porter takes me into a large luggage-room. Don't see my things just at first. "Your baggage—ere!" says the Porter, proudly, and points out a little drab valise with shiny black leather covers and brass studs—the kind of thing a man goes a journey with in a French Melodrama! He is quite hurt when I repudiate it indignantly; he tries to convince me that it is mine—the fool! There is no other baggage of any sort, and mine can't possibly arrive now before to-morrow afternoon, if then. Nothing for it but to go back, luggageless, to the Hotel—and face that confounded Waiter.
Walk about the streets. Somehow I don't feel quite up to going back to the Hotel just yet. The shops, which are small and rather dimly lighted, depress me. There is no theatre, nor cafe chantant open apparently. If there were, I haven't the heart for them to-night. Hear music from a small estaminet in a back street; female voice, with fine Cockney accent, is singing "Oh, dem Golden Slippers!" Wonder where my slippers are!
In my Bedroom.—I have had to come back at last, and get it over with the Waiter. If he felt any surprise, I think it was to see me back at all. I have had to ask him if he could get me some sleeping-things to pass the night in. And a piece of soap. Humiliating, but unavoidable. He promised, but he has not brought them. Probably this last request has done for me, and he is now communicating with the police....
A tap at my door. "Please, de tings!" says the Waiter. I have wronged him. He has brought me such a nightgown! Never saw anything in the least like it before. It has flowers embroidered all down the front and round the cuffs, and on every button something is worked in tiny blue letters, which, on inspection, turns out to be "Good-night." I don't quite know why, but, in my present state, I find this strangely consoling, and even touching—like a benediction. After all, he must believe in me, or he would hardly confide his purple and fine linen to me like this. Go to bed gorgeous, and dream that my portmanteau, bag, and self-respect are all restored to me by the afternoon boat.... There must be something in dreams, for, oddly enough, this is exactly what does happen.
Next morning, at breakfast, I am handed a mysterious and, at first sight, rather alarming telegram from the Station-master at Dover. "Your bones will be sent on next boat." Suspect the word in the original was "boxes." But they may call them what they like, so long as I get them back again.
* * * * *
"The Campaign against the Jebus. Gallant Advance of the British." Dear old Mrs. RAM wants to know "who is commanding the British forces in the campaign against the Jebus" (which she spells "Gibus")? Mr. Punch is glad to inform his estimable correspondent that the principal officers commanding in the Gibus Campaign are Generals WIDE-AWAKE, BILLICOCK, JIMCROW, POTT, and BELTOPPER. Their strategical movements are worthy of the First Nap.
* * * * *
CONSIDERATE.—Arrangements are to be made for all Standing Committees in future to sit at certain hours. "For this relief, much thanks," as WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE, M.P., observed.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE BURIAL OF THE "BROAD-GAUGE."
MAY 23, 1892.
["Drivers of Broad-Gauge Engines wandering disconsolately about with their engine-lamps in their hands; followed by their firemen with pick and shovel over their shoulder, waiting in anxious expectation of the time when that new-fangled machine, a narrow-gauge engine, should come down a day or two after."—Times' Special at Plymouth on Death of Broad Gauge.]
Not a whistle was heard, not a brass bell-note, As his corse o'er the sleepers we hurried; Not a fog-signal wailed from a husky throat O'er the grave where our "Broad-Gauge" we buried.
We buried him darkly, at dead of night, The sod with our pickaxes turning, By the danger-signal's ruddy light, And our oil-lamps dimly burning.
No useless tears, though we loved him well! Long years to his fire-box had bound us. We fancied we glimpsed the great shade of BRUNEL, In sad sympathy hovering round us.
Few and gruff were the words we said, But we thought, with a natural sorrow, Of the Narrow-Gauge foe of the Loco. just dead, We should have to attend on the morrow.
We thought, as we hollowed his big broad bed, And piled the brown earth o'er his funnel, How his foe o'er the Great-Western metals would tread, Shrieking triumph through cutting and tunnel.
Lightly they'll talk of him now he is gone, For the cheap "Narrow Gauge" has outstayed him, Yet BULL might have found, had he let it go on, That BRUNEL's Big Idea would have paid him!
But the battle is ended, our task is done; After forty years' fight he's retiring. This hour sees thy triumph, O STEPHENSON; Old "Broad Gauge" no more will need firing.
The "Dutchman" must now be "divided in two"!— Well, well, they shan't mangle or mess you! Accept the last words of friends faithful, if few:— "Good-bye, poor old Broad-Gauge, God bless you!"
Slowly and sadly we laid him down. He has filled a great chapter in story. We sang not a dirge—we raised not a stone, But we left the "Broad Gauge" to his glory!
[Footnote 1: The Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the uniformity of railway gauges, presented their report to Parliament on May 30, 1846.]
[Footnote 2: Words found written on one of the G.-W. rails.]
* * * * *
TO A DEAR YOUNG FEMININE FRIEND, WHO SPELT "WAGON" AS "WAGGON."
Bad spelling? Oh dear no! So tender, she Wished that the cart should have an extra "gee."
* * * * *
KILLING NO MURDER.
(TO THE EDITOR OF "PUNCH.")
MY DEAR SIR,—I have just been reading with a great deal of surprise "The Life and Letters of Charles Samuel Keene, by GEORGE SOMES LAYARD." Seeing the name of one of your colleagues as the first line of the "Index," I turned to page 74 and looked him out. I found him mentioned in an account given by Mr. M.H. SPIELMANN of the Punch Dinner, which Mr. GEORGE SOMES LAYARD had extracted from Black and White, no doubt to assist in making up his book. The following is the quotation:—"The Editor, as I have said, presides; should he be unavoidably absent, another writer—usually, nowadays, Mr. ARTHUR A'BECKETT—takes his place, the duty never falling to an artist." Then, to show how thoroughly Mr. GEORGE SOMES LAYARD is up to date, he adds to the name of Mr. ARTHUR A'BECKETT (after the fashion of Mr. Punch in the drama disposing of the clown or the beadle), "since dead." Now Mr. ARTHUR A'BECKETT is not dead, but very much alive. Do you not think, Sir, it would be better were gentlemen who write about yourself and your colleagues, to verify their facts before they attempt to give obituary notices, even if they be as brief as the one in question?
Yours, truly, MORE GAY THAN GRAVE.
* * * * *
NEW AND APPROPRIATE NAME FOR MODERN PUGILISM.—The "Nobble" Art.
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* * * * *
STUDIES IN THE NEW POETRY.
The world is of course aware by this time that a New Poetry has arisen, and has asserted itself by the mouths of many loud-voiced "boomers." It has been Mr. Punch's good fortune to secure several specimens of this new product, not through the intervention of middle men, but from the manufacturers themselves. He proposes to publish them for the benefit and enlightenment of his readers. But first a word of warning. There are perhaps some who believe that a poem should not only express high and noble thoughts, or recount great deeds, but that it should do so in verse that is musical, cadenced, rhythmical, instinct with grace, and reserved rather than boisterous. If any such there be, let them know at once that they are hopelessly old-fashioned. The New Poetry in its highest expression banishes form, regularity and rhythm, and treats rhyme with unexampled barbarity. Here and there, it is true, rhymes get paired off quite happily in the conventional manner, but directly afterwards you may come upon a poor weak little rhyme who will cry in vain for his mate through half a dozen interloping lines. Indeed, cases have been known of rhymes that have been left on a sort of desert island of a verse, and have never been fetched away. And sometimes when the lines have got chopped very short, the rhymes have tumbled overboard altogether. That is really what is meant by "impressionism" in poetry carried to its highest excellence. There are, of course, other forms of the New Poetry. There is the "blustering, hob-nailed" variety which clatters up and down with immense noise, elbows you here, and kicks you there, and if it finds a pardonable weakness strolling about in the middle of the street, immediately knocks it down and tramples upon it. Then too there is the "coarse, but manly" kind which swears by the great god, Jingo, and keeps a large stock of spread eagles always ready to swoop and tear without the least provocation.
However, Mr. Punch may as well let his specimens speak for themselves. Here, then, is
NO. I.—A GRAVESEND GREGORIAN.
BY W.E. H-NL-Y. (CON BRIO.)
Deep in a murky hole, Cavernous, untransparent, fetid, dank, The demiurgus of the servants' hall, The scuttle-bearing buttons, boon and blank And grimy loads his evening load of coals, Filled with respect for the cook's and butler's rank, Lo, the round cook half fills the hot retreat, Her kitchen, where the odours of the meat, The cabbage and sweets all merge as in a pall, The stale unsavoury remnants of the feast. Here, with abounding confluences of onion, Whose vastitudes of perfume tear the soul In wish of the not unpotatoed stew, They float and fade and flutter like morning dew. And all the copper pots and pans in line, A burnished army of bright utensils, shine; And the stern butler heedless of his bunion Looks happy, and the tabby-cat of the house Forgets the elusive, but recurrent mouse And purrs and dreams; And in his corner the black-beetle seems A plumed Black Prince arrayed in gleaming mail; Whereat the shrinking scullery-maid grows pale, And flies for succour to THOMAS of the calves, Who, doing nought by halves, Circles a gallant arm about her waist, And takes unflinching the cheek-slap of the chaste And giggling fair, nor counts his labour lost. Then, beer, beer, beer. Spume-headed, bitter, golden like the gold Buried by cutlassed pirates tempest-tossed, Red-capped, immitigable, over-bold With blood and rapine, spreaders of fire and fear. The kitchen table Is figured with the ancient, circular stains Of the pint-pot's bottom; beer is all the go. And every soul in the servants' hall is able To drink his pint or hers until they grow Glorious with golden beer, and count as gains The glowing draughts that presage morning pains.
* * * * *
* * * * *
EPISCOPACY IN DANGER.—Mr. Punch congratulates Dr. PEROWNE, Bishop of Worcester, on his narrow fire-escape some days ago, when his lawn sleeves (a costume more appropriate for a garden-party than a pulpit) caught fire. It was extinguished by a bold Churchwarden. In future let Churchwardens be prepared with hose whenever a prelate runs any chance of ignition from his own "burning eloquence." If Mr. Punch's advice as above is acted upon, a Bishop if "put out" may probably mutter, "Darn your hose." But this can be easily explained away.
* * * * *
BETTER AND BETTER.—The Report last week about Sir ARTHUR SULLIVAN was that "he hopes to go to the country shortly." So do our political parties. Sir ARTHUR cannot restrain himself from writing new and original music at a rapid pace. This, is a consequence of his having taken so many composing draughts.
* * * * *
"OUR BOOKING OFFICE."—Not open this week, as the Baron has been making a book. Interesting subject, "On the Derby and Oaks." Being in sporting mood, the Baron adopts as his motto King SOLOMON's words of wisdom, out of his (King SOLOMON's) own mines of golden treasures,—"And of book-making there is no end." He substitutes "book-making" for "making of books," and with the poetic CAMPBELL (HERBERT of that ilk) he sings, "it makes no difference."
* * * * *
AFTER THE EVENT.—Last Sunday week was the one day in the year when ancient Joe Millers were permissible. It was "Chestnut Sunday." We didn't like to mention it before.
* * * * *
The Royal General Theatrical Fund Dinner, held last Thursday, will be remembered in the annals of the Stage as "ALEXANDER's Feast."
* * * * *
HORACE IN LONDON. TO A COQUETTE. (AD PYRRHAM.)
What stripling, flowered and scent-bedewed, Now courts thee in what solitude? For whom dost thou in order set Thy tresses' aureole, Coquette.
"Neat, but not gaudy"?—Soon Despond (Too soon!) at flouted faith and fond, Soon tempests halcyon tides above Shall wreck this raw recruit of Love;
Who counts for gold each tinsel whim, And hopes thee always all for him, And trusts thee, smiling, spite of doom And traitorous breezes! Hapless, whom
Thy glamour holds untried. For me, I've dared enough that fitful sea; Its "breach of promise" grim hath curst Both purse and person with its worst.
My "dripping weeds" are doffed; and I Sit "landed," like my wine, and "dry;" What "weeds" survive I smoke, and rub My hands in harbour at my Club!
* * * * *
Monday.—L'Amico Fritz at last! Better late than never. A Dramatic Operatic Idyl. "Nothing in it," as Sir Charles Coldstream observes, except the music, the singing, and the acting of Signor DE LUCIA as Fritz Our Friend, of M. DUFRICHE as the Rabbi of Mlle. GIULIA RAVOGLI as Boy Beppe, of Mlle. BAUERMEISTER as Caterina, and of Madame CALVE as Suzel. Not an indifferent performer or singer among them, and not an individual in the audience indifferent to their performance. Cherry-Tree Duet, between Suzel and Fritz, great hit. Admirably sung and acted, and vociferously encored. Nay, they would have had it three times if they could, but though Sir DRURIOLANUS sets his face against encores, allowing not too much encore but just encore enough, he, as an astute Manager, cannot see why persons who have paid to hear a thing only once should hear it three times for the same money. No; if they like it so much that they want it again, and must have it, and won't be happy till they get it, then let them encore their own performance of paying for their seats, and come and hear their favourite morceaux over and over again as often as they like to pay. He will grant one encore no more. Sir DRURIOLANUS is right. Do we insist on Mr. IRVING giving us "To be or not to be," or any other soliloquy, all over again, simply because he has done it once so well? Do we ask Mr. J.L. TOOLE to repeat his author's good jokes—or his own when his author has failed him? No; we applaud to the echo, we laugh till, as Mr. CHEVALIER says, "we thort we should ha' died," but we don't encore the comic jokes, telling situations, or serious soliloquies as rendered by our accomplished histrions.
Were a collection of pictures made of Mlle. BAUERMEISTER in different characters, it would, for interest and variety, become a formidable rival of the CHARLES MATHEWS series now in the possession of the Garrick Club. To-night she is the busy, bustling Caterina, Friend Fritz's housekeeper, who, as she has to provide all the food for their breakfast, and set it on the table, might be distinguished as Catering Caterina. No one now cares to see an Opera without Mlle. BAUERMEISTER in it, whether she appear as a dashing lady of the Court, probably in a riding-habit, or as a middle-class German housekeeper, or as Cupid God of Love, or as Juliet's ancient nurse, or as an impudent waiting-maid, or as an unhappy mother, or as,—well,—any number of characters that I cannot now recall, but all done excellently well. Never have I heard of her being either "sick or sorry." Some few seasons ago I drew public attention to this most useful and ornamental artiste, and now I am glad to see that here and there a critic has awoke to the fact of her existence, and has done her tardy justice. Long may the Bauermeistersinger be able to give her valuable assistance, without which no Covent Garden Opera Company could possibly be perfect.
As to L'Amico Fritz, I should suggest that it be played in one Scene and two Acts. That this one Scene should be the Exterior of Cherry-Tree Farm (which should be Fritz's, not the Rabbi's) and that instead of lowering the Curtain, the intermezzo—not I venture to opine equal to the marvellous intermezzo in Cavalleria Rusticana—should be played. L'Amico is certain of an encore, and this will give the singers a rest. It could then commence at nine—a more convenient hour to those who would like to hear every note of it, than 8:15, and it would be over by eleven sharp. A nod is as good as a wink to Sir DRURIOLANUS, but all the same, Heaven forefend I should be guilty of either indiscretion in the Imperial Operatorial presence. Thus much at present.
Friday.—"It's the smiles of its AUGUSTUS and the heat of its July"—adapted quotation from "Old Song." "I cannot sing the old song"—except under a sense of the deepest and most unpardonable provocation; and when I do!!—Cave canem, ruat coelum! I bring down the house as Madame DELILAH's SAMSON did. To-night Manon is indeed warmly welcomed. "A nice Opera," says a young lady, fanning herself. "I wish it were an iced Opera," groans WAGSTAFF, re-issuing one of his earliest side-splitters. M. VAN DYCK strong as the weak Des Grieux, but Madame MRAVINA apparently not strong enough. "What made author-chap think of calling her Manon?" asks languid person in Stalls. WAGSTAFF, revived after an iced B.-and-S., is equal to the occasion. "Such a bad lot, you know—regular man-catcher; hooked a man on, then, when he was done with, hooked another man on. Reason for name evident, see?" The Cavalleria Rusticana is the favourite for Derby Night. All right up to now, Sir DRURIOLANUS.
* * * * *
TENNER SONG FOR DERBY DAY.—"He's got it on!"
* * * * *
* * * * *
A VERY "DARK HORSE."
["The Country knows ... what it is we desire to do. What the Right Hon. Gentleman (Mr. GLADSTONE) desires to do no human being knows. If we have done our part, as we have done, to clear the issues, all we can ask him is to do his part, to lay before the electorate of this country in the same plain, unmistakable outline, the policy which he desires to see adopted."—Mr. Balfour on Second Reading of Irish Local Government Bill.]
SCENE—The Paddock, before the Great Race. Rising Young Jockey, ARTHUR BALFOUR, mounted on the Crack Irish Horse. Enter Grand Old Jockey, at the moment minus a mount.
Grand Old Jockey (aside). Humph! Don't look so bad, now, despite the dead set That against him we've made since his very first running, Do they mean him to win after all? Artful set, That Stable! It strikes me they've been playing cunning. One wouldn't have backed him, first off, for a bob. His owner concerning him scarcely seemed caring. Eugh! No one supposed he was fair "on the job"; A mere trial-horse, simply "out for an airing." When he first stripped in public he looked such a screw, He was hailed with a general chorus of laughter; Young BAL seemed abashed at the general yahboo! And pooh-poohed his new mount! What the doose is he after? I'm bound to admit the Horse looks pretty fit, And the boy sits him well, and as though he meant trying. I say, this won't do! I must bounce him a bit. Most awkward, you know, if his "slug" takes to flying!
Rising Young Jockey (aside). Hillo! There's Old WILLIAM! He's out on the scoot. The artful Old Hand! Hope he'll like what he looks on! He slated this nag as a peacocky brute, Whose utter collapse they've been building their books on. How now, my spry veteran? Only a boy On a three-legged crock? Well, I own you are older, And watching your riding's a thing to enjoy; There isn't a Jock who is defter and bolder; Your power, authority, eloquence—yes, For your gift of the gab is a caution—are splendid; But—the youngster may teach you a lesson, I guess, As to judgment of pace ere the contest is ended.
Grand Old Jockey (aloud). Well, ARTHUR my lad, in the saddle again! Is that your crack mount?
Rising Young Jockey. The identical one, WILL.
Grand Old Jockey. Dear, dear, what a pity! It quite gives me pain To see you so wasted.
Rising Young Jockey. That's only your fun, WILL.
Grand Old Jockey. Nay, nay, not at all! Don't think much of his points. He's not bred like a true-blood, nor built like a winner. Not well put together, so coarse in his joints, In fact—only fit for a hunting-pack's dinner!
Rising Young Jockey (laughing). Oh! "Cat's-meat!" is your cry, is it, WILLIAM? Well, well! We shall see about that when the winning-post's handy.
Grand Old Jockey. You won't, my brave boy; that a novice could tell. You'll be left in the ruck at the end, my young dandy,
Rising Young Jockey. Perhaps! Still the pencillers haven't,—as yet— Quite knocked the nag out with their furious fever Of hot opposition. Some cool ones still bet On his chance of a win.
Grand Old Jockey (contemptuously). Ah, you're wonderful clever. But we have got one in our Stable, my lad, Who can—just lick his head off!
Rising Young Jockey (drily). Now have you indeed, WILL? I fancy I've heard that before. Very glad That your lot are in luck; and I hope you'll succeed, WILL, But bless me! yours seems such a very Dark Horse! Oh! there, don't fire up so! Your word I won't doubt, WILL. You say so, and one must believe you, of course; But—isn't it time that you brought the nag out, WILL?
* * * * *
* * * * *
HISTORY AS SHE IS PLAYED!
Questioner. Why should M.V. SARDOU be called the Historian of the French Revolution?
Answerer. Because in Thermidor he has given an entirely new version of the "Reign of Terror."
Q. Was the "Reign of Terror" very terrible?
A. Not very. At the Opera Comique it had its comic side.
Q. How was that?
A. For instance, les tricoteuses were represented by comely, albeit plump maidens, who seemed more inclined to dance round a Maypole than haunt a scaffold.
Q. Were ROBESPIERRE, ST. JUST, and the rest, cruel and vindictive?
A. I should say not; and I found my conclusion on the fact that they engaged an actor given to practical joking as an officer of the Public Security.
Q. From this, do you take it that ROBESPIERRE must have had a subtle sense of humour?
A. I do; and the impression is strengthened by his order for a general slaughter of Ursuline Nuns.
Q. Why should he order such a massacre?
A. To catch the heroine of Thermidor, a lady who had taken the vows under the impression that her lover had been killed by the enemy.
Q. Had her lover been killed?
A. Certainly not; he had preferred to surrender.
Q. Can you give me any idea of the component part of a revolutionary crowd?
A. At the Opera Comique, a revolutionary crowd seems to consist of a number of mournful loungers, who have nothing to do save to take a languid interest in the fate of a tearful maiden, and a few gens d'armes a little uncertain about their parade-ground.
Q. How do the mournful loungers express their interest in the fate of the tearful maiden?
A. By pointing her out one to another, and when she is ordered off to execution removing their hats, and fixing I their attention on something concealed behind the scenes.
Q. What is your present idea of the Reign of Terror?
A. My present idea of the Reign of Terror is, that it was the mildest thing imaginable. In my opinion, not even a child in arms would have been frightened at it.
Q. Do you not consider M. MAYER deserving of honour?
A. Certainly I do. For has he not removed (with the assistance of M. SARDOU and the Opera Comique) several fond illusions of my youth?
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE MORNING OF THE DERBY.—Hamlet considering whether he shall go to Epsom for the great race or not, soliloquises, "Der-be or not Der-be, that is the question." [N.B.—As to the other lines, go as you please. "The rest is silence."]
* * * * *
"MARRIED AND SINGLE" should be played by Lady-Cricketers. No single young person under seventeen should be permitted an innings, as any two sweet sixteens would be "not out," and there would be no chance for the other side. Match-makers are only interested in the Single.
* * * * *
LADY GAY'S SELECTIONS.
DEAR MR. PUNCH,—For the first time have I seen myself in print!—and I must say I think it very becoming—and so nice and cool too this hot weather! You are indeed a sweet creature for adopting my idea so readily—and I really must say that if these obstinate Members of Parliament who oppose Women's Suffrage would only alter their views, it would be much better for the Country—or worse—I don't know which!
Sir MINTING BLOUNDELL, whose criticism on my contribution to your well-written journal I invited, complimented me on my style, and suggested that when giving my selections it might be as well to refer to the "Home Trials" of the horses mentioned—but I venture to disagree with him! Goodness knows we all have home trials enough! (Lord ARTHUR and I frequently do not speak for a week unless someone is present)—but I do not think these things should be made public, and besides, it is an unwritten law amongst "smart" people to avoid subjects that "chafe"—which sounds like an anachronism—whatever that means! Having an opportunity of a "last word" on the Derby, I should like to say that, although my confidence in my last week's selection, La Fleche, is unshaken, I wish to have a second "arrow" to my bow in Llanthony—of whom a very keen judge of racing (Lord BOURNEMOUTH to wit) has formed the opinion that—in his own words—"he will be on the premises"! The premises in question being Epsom Downs, there will undoubtedly be room for him without his filling an unnecessarily prominent position, so I will couple Llanthony with La Fleche to supply the probable last in the Derby.
Meanwhile, I must say a word or two about the Ladies' Race at Epsom on Friday next. There is absolutely no knowing what will start for the Oaks nowadays until the numbers go up—and no Turf Prophet will venture a selection until the morning of the race—and this is where the perspicuity of an Editor like yourself, Mr. Punch, scores a distinct hit—for such a paltry consideration as "knowing nothing about it" is not likely to daunt a woman who takes as her motto the well-known line from SHAKSPEARE: "Thus Angels rush where Cowards fear to tread!"—so herewith I confidently append my verse selection for the last Mare in the Oaks!
Yours devotedly, LADY GAY.
'Tis the voice of the Sluggard, I hear him complain, You have waked me too soon—an unpleasant surprise! In an hour or so later pray call me again, When, if feeling refreshed, I will straightway "Arise!"
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QUITE IN KEEPING.—The Earl of DYSART has left the ranks of the Liberal Unionists and become a Gladstonian Home-Ruler. "What more natural?" asked one of his former Unionist friends. "Of course he's dysarted us!"
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ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
House of Commons, Monday, May 23.—REDMOND, Junior, said really funny thing just now. Rising to take part in resumed Debate on Irish Local Government Bill, he announced in loud angry tone that it would be waste of time to discuss a Bill the Government evidently did not intend to press through this Session, and he for one would be no party to such a farce. Then he went on to talk for half an hour.
Debate on the whole something better than last week's contribution. O'BRIEN delivered himself of glowing denunciation full of felicitous phrases, all got through in half an hour. CHAMBERLAIN followed; has not yet got over startling novelty of his interposition in Debate being welcomed by loud cheers from Conservatives; thinks of old Aston-Park days, when the cheering was, as WEBSTER (not Attorney-General) says, "on the other boot." Now, when JOSEPH gets up to demolish his Brethren sitting near, Conservatives opposite settle themselves down with the peculiar rustling motion with which a congregation in crowded church or chapel arrange themselves to listen to a favourite preacher. Pretty to watch them as CHAMBERLAIN goes forward with his speech, delighting them with surprise to find how much better is their position than they thought when it was recommended or extolled from their own side. JOSEPH not nearly so acrimonious to-night as sometimes. Still, as usual, his speech chiefly directed to his former Brethren who sit attentive, thinking occasionally with regret of the fatal shallowness of the pit, and the absence of arrangement for hermetically sealing it. If only—But that is another story. COURTNEY at end of Bench is thinking of still another, which has the rare charm of being true. It befel at a quiet dinner where JOSEPH, finding himself in contiguity with Chairman of Committees, took opportunity of rebuking him for his alleged laxity in repressing disorder.
"I should like to know," he asked, "whether, supposing I were to fire a pistol across the House, you would call it a breach of order."
"I don't think, CHAMBERLAIN," said Prince ARTHUR, who was sitting at the other side of the table, "that if you were going to fire a pistol in the Commons, you would point it across the House." TIM HEALY just back from Dublin, where he's been appearing in his favourite character of pacificator; followed CHAMBERLAIN, and later came SAUNDERSON. But even he suffered from prevailing tone of dulness, and WILFRID LAWSON, fast asleep in the corner by Cross Benches, did not miss much. Business done.—More talk on Local Government Bill.
Tuesday.—If anyone looking on at House of Commons at three o'clock this afternoon had predicted that within an hour it would be teeming with life, brimming over with human interest, he would have been looked upon with cold suspicion. NOLAN had taken the floor, and was understood to be expressing his deliberate opinion on merits of Irish Local Government Bill. He was certainly saying something, but what it might be no man could tell. LYON PLAYFAIR, who is up in all kinds of statistics, tells me 120 words per minute is the average utterance of articulate speech. NOLAN was doing his 300, and sometimes exceeded that rate. Not a comma in a column of it. A humming-top on the subject would have been precisely as instructive and convincing. Some twenty Members sat there fascinated by the performance. It was not delivered in a monotone, in which case one could have slept. NOLAN was evidently arguing in incisive manner, shirking no obstacle, avoiding no point in the Bill, or any hit made by previous speaker. His voice rose and fell with convincing modulation. He seemed to be always dropping into an aside, which led him into another, that opened a sort of Clapham Junction of converging points. One after the other, the Colonel, with full steam up, ran along; when he reached terminus of siding, racing back at sixty miles an hour; and so up and down another. Only guessed this from modulation of his voice and the intelligent nodding of the head with which he compelled the attention of ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND. For just over half an hour he kept up this pace, and, saving a trot for the avenue, fell back into his seat gasping for breath, having concluded a sentence nine hundred words long worked off in three minutes by the astonished clock.
An interval of T.W. RUSSELL, with one of his adroitly-argued, lucidly-arranged speeches. Then Mr. G. and transformation scene. House filled up as if by magic. In ten minutes not a seat vacant on floor; Members running into Side Gallery, nimbly hopping over Benches, to get on front line so as to watch as well as hear the last and the greatest of the old Parliamentarians. As suddenly and swiftly as the House had filled, the limp lay figure of the Debate throbbed with life. Scene of the kind witnessed only once or twice in Session. Six hundred pair of eyes all turned eagerly upon figure standing at Table, denouncing with uplifted arm, and voice ringing with indignation, the iniquities of the MARKISS, safely absent, and of his nephew, Prince ARTHUR, serenely present.
A great speech; an achievement which, if it stood alone, sufficient to make a reputation. And yet, when result of Division announced, it was found that majority of an iniquitous Government had run up to 92!
Everyone delighted to hear the interesting news from 27, St. James's Place, which gives an heir to the Spencer Earldom, and has spread a feeling of joy and contentment throughout Althorpe and Mid-Northamptonshire. The latest news, brought down just now by MARJORIBANKS, is "BOBBY is doing as well as can be expected." Business done.—Irish Local Government Bill read Second Time, by 339 votes against 247.
Wednesday.—Hail! Sir HENRY WIGGIN, Bart, M.P.; B.B.K., as ARTHUR ORTON called himself when resident in the wilds of Australia, and explained that the style imported Baronet of the British Kingdom. Now we know what was the meaning of that foray upon the House the other day, when, with the Chairman in the Chair, and Committee fully constituted, the waggish WIGGIN walked adown the House, with his hat cocked on one side of his head, in defiance of Parliamentary etiquette. The Birthday Gazette was even then being drafted, and to-day the wanton WIGGIN is Sir HENRY, Baronet of the United Kingdom. Not a more popular announcement in the list. An honest, kindly, shrewd WIGGIN it is, with a face whose genial smile all people, warming under it, instinctively return.
Business done.—WIGGIN made B.B.K.
Thursday.—Quite a long time reaching Vote on Account; two hours taken for discussion of Birmingham Water Bill; Gentlemen in Radical camp much exercised about size of fish in streams annexed for purposes of Birmingham water supply. CHAMBERLAIN, who has charge of Bill, says he never caught one longer than two inches. DILLWYN protests that fishing in same waters he rarely caught one less than a pound weight. Evidently a mistake somewhere. House perplexed, finally passed Bill through Committee.
Then Rev. SAM SMITH wants to know more about Polynesian Labour Traffic. The NOBLE BARON who has charge of Colonial affairs in Commons, whilst controverting all his statements, says "everyone must admit that the Hon. Member has spoken from his heart." "Which," NOVAR says, "it reminds me of the couplet Joe Gargery meant to put on the tombstone of his lamented father, 'What-sume'er the failings on his part, Remember, reader, he were that good in his hart.'"
At length in Committee of Supply; Vote on Account moved; Mr. G. on his feet wanting to know you know; doesn't once mention the Dissolution; but puts it to Prince ARTHUR whether, really, the time hasn't come when House should learn something with respect to intentions of Government touching finance, their principal Bills, and, in short, "so far foreshadowing the probable termination of the Session?" Wouldn't on any account hurry him; any day he likes will do; only getting time something should be said. Prince ARTHUR, gratefully acknowledging Mr. G.'s kind way of putting it, agreed with his view. Some day he will tell us something; to-day he will say nothing. A pretty bit of by-play; excellently done by both leading Gentlemen; perfectly understood by laughing House.
Business done.—Shadow of Dissolution gathering close.
Friday.—I see TAY PAY, in the interesting Sunday journal he admirably edits, reproaches me because, in this particular page of history, "Mr. SEXTON," he says, "is derided constantly and shamefully." Anglice: Occasionally when, in a faithful record of Parliamentary events, SEXTON's part in the proceedings must needs be noticed, it is gently hinted that among his many admirable qualities terseness of diction is not prominent. In fact he has been sometimes alluded to by the playful prefix WINDBAG. If TAY PAY had been content to administer reproof, it would have been well. But he goes on to discuss SEXTON's parliamentary style, and comes to this conclusion:—"Mr. SEXTON's one fault as a speaker is that he does not proportion his observations sufficiently at certain stages in his speeches; and that preparation sometimes has the effect of tempting him to over-elaboration." If TAY PAY likes to put it that way, no one can object. Only, space in this journal being more valuable, the same thing is said in a single word.
Business done.—Small Holdings Bill sent on to the Lords.
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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.