PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
FEBRUARY 8, 1890.
UNTILED; OR, THE MODERN ASMODEUS.
"Tres volontiers," repartit le demon. "Vous aimez les tableaux changeans: je veux vous contenter."
Le Diable Boiteux.
"A Late Symposium! Yet they're not engaged In compotations. Argument hath raged Four hours by the dial; But zealotry of party, creed, or clique Marks not the clock, whilst of polemic pique There's one unvoided vial."
So smiled the Shade. Dusk coat and gleaming head, Viewed from above, before my gaze outspread Like a black sea bespotted With bare pink peaks of coral isles; all eyes Were fixed on one who reeled out rhapsodies In diction double-shotted.
A long and lofty room, with pillars cold, And spacious walls of chocolate and gold; The solid sombre glory Of tint oppressive and of tasteless shine, Dear to the modern British Philistine, Saint, sceptic, Whig, or Tory.
"No Samson-strength of intellect or taste Shall bow the pillars of this temple chaste Of ugliness and unction. What is't they argue lengthily and late? The flame of patriot passion for the State Fires this polemic function.
"A caitiff Government has done a thing To make its guardian-angel droop her wing In sickened indignation: That is, has striven to strengthen its redoubts, Perfidious 'Ins,' to foil the eager 'Outs.' Hence endless execration.
"Hence all Wire-pullerdom is up in arms; With clarion-toned excursions and alarms The rival camp is ringing. Hence perky commoners and pompous peers, 'Midst vehement applause and volleying cheers, Stale platitudes are stringing.
"The British Public—some five hundred strong— Is here to 'strangle a Gigantic Wrong,'— So MARABOUT is saying. Watch his wide waistcoat and his wandering eyes, His stamping boots of Brobdingnagian size, Clenched hands, and shoulders swaying.
"A great Machine-man, MARABOUT! He dotes On programmes hectographed and Party votes. For all his pasty pallor And shifty glance, he has the mob's regard, And he is deemed by council, club, and ward A mighty man of valour.
"A purchased henchman to a Star of State? Perhaps. But here he'll pose and perorate, A Brutus vain and voluble. And who, like MARABOUT, with vocal flux Of formulas, can settle every crux That wisdom finds insoluble?
"'Hear! hear!' That shibboleth of shallow souls Around his ears in clamorous cadence rolls; He swells, he glows, he twinkles; The sapient Chairman wags his snowy pate, Whilst cynic triumph, cautious yet elate, Lurks laughing in his wrinkles.
"And there sits honest zeal, absorbed, intent, And cheerfully credulous. MARABOUT has bent To the Commercial Dagon He publicly derides; but many here Will toast 'his genuine grit, his manly cheer,' Over a friendly flagon.
"Look on him later! There he snugly sits With his rich patron. Were it war of wits That wakes their crackling chuckles, They scarce were heartier. It would strangely shock MARABOUT'S worshippers to hear him mock The 'mob' to which he truckles.
"Truckles in platform speech. In club-room chat With WAGSTAFF, shrewd wire-puller, flushed and fat, Or DODD, the rich dry-salter, You'd hear how supply he can shift and twist, How BRUTUS with 'the base Monopolist' Can calmly plot and palter,"
"Whilst MARABOUTS abound, O Shade," I cried, "What wonder men are 'Mugwumps?'" Then my guide Laughed low. "The aesthetic villa Finds Shopdom's zeal on its fine senses jar; Yet the Mugwumps Charybdis stands not far From the Machine-man's Scylla.
"Culture derides the Caucus for its heat, Its hate—its absence of the Light and Sweet, So jays might flout the vulture. Partisan bitterness and purblind haste? Come, view the haunts of dilettante Taste, The coteries of Culture!
"Here Savants wrangle o'er a fossil bone, CHAMPER, with curling lip and caustic tone, At RUDDIMAN is railing. CHAMPER knows everything, from PLATO'S text To Protoplasm; yet his soul is vext, His cheeks with spite are paling.
"Why? Because RUDDIMAN, the rude, robust, Has pierced with logic's vigorous vulgar thrust The shield of icy polish. CHAMPER, in print, is hot on party-hate, Here his one aim is in the rough debate His rival to demolish.
"Sweet Reasonableness? Another host Of sages see! The habits of the Ghost, The Astral Body's action, Absorb them, eager. Does more furious fire The councils of the Caucusites inspire, Or light the feuds of faction?
"And there? They argue out with toil intense A 'cosmic' poet's esoteric sense, Of which a world, unwitting, Recks nothing. Yet how terribly they'd trounce Parliament's pettifogging, and denounce 'Political hair-splitting'!"
"O Shade, the difference is but small, one dreads. Betwixt logomachists at loggerheads, Whether their theme be bonnets Or British interests. Zealot ardour burns Scarce fiercer o'er Electoral Returns Than over SHAKSPEARE'S Sonnets.
"At MARABOUT the Mugwump sniffs and sneers; Gregarious 'votes of thanks' and sheepish 'cheers' Stir him to satire scornful. But when sleek Culture apes, irate and loud, The follies of the Caucus and the Crowd, The spectacle is mournful."
"True!" smiled the Shade. "Yon supercilious sage, With patent prejudice and petty rage, Penning a tart jobation On practised Statesmen, must as much amuse As Statesmen-sciolists venting vapid views On rocks and revelation."
(To be continued.)
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THE SOUTH-EASTERN ALPHABET.
A was the Anger evinced far and wide; B was the Boat-train delayed by the tide; C was the Chairman who found nothing wrong; D was the Driver who sang the same song; E was the Engine that stuck on the way; F stood for Folkestone, reached late every day; G was the Grumble to which this gave rise; H was the Hubbub Directors despise; I was the Ink over vain letters used; J were the Junctions which some one abused; K was the Kick "Protest" got for its crimes; L were the Letters it wrote to the Times; M was the Meeting that probed the affair; N was the Nothing that came of the scare; O was the Overdue train on its way; P was the Patience that bore the delay; Q was the Question which struck everyone; R the Reply which could satisfy none; S was the Station where passengers wait; T was the Time that they're bound to be late; U was the Up-train an hour overdue; V was the Vagueness its movements pursue; W stood for time's general Waste; X for Ex-press that could never make haste; Y for the Wherefore and Why of this wrong; And Z for the Zanies who stand it so long!
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STARTLING FOR GOURMETS.—"Bisques disallowed." But it only refers to a new rule of the Lawn Tennis Association; so "Bisque d'ecrevisses" will still be preserved to us among the embarras de richesse—(i.e. the trouble caused subsequently by the richness,—free trans.)—of a thoroughgoing French dinner.
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THE NEW TUNE.
Le Brav' General tootles:—
Heroes bold owe much to bold songs. What's that? "Cannot sing the old songs"? Pooh! 'Tis a Britannic ditty. Truth, though, in it,—more's the pity! "En revenant de la Revue." People tire of that—too true! I must give them something new. Played out, Frenchmen? Pas de danger! Whilst you've still your Brav' BOULANGER!
Do they think BOULANGER "mizzles," After all his recent "fizzles"? (Most expressive slang, the Yankee!) Pas si bete, my friends. No thank ye! Came a cropper? Very true! But I remount—my hobby's new, So's my trumpet. Rooey-too! France go softly? Pas de danger! Whilst she has her Brav' BOULANGER!
Cannot say her looks quite flatter. Rather scornful. What's the matter? Have you lost your recent fancy For me and my charger prancy? Turn those eyes this way, now do! Mark my hobby,—not a screw! Listen to my chanson new! BISMARCK flout you? Pas de danger! He's afraid of Brav' BOULANGER.
Of your smile be not so chary! The sixteenth of February Probably will prove my care is The especial charge of Paris. Then you'll know that I am true. "En revenant de la Revue;" Stick to me, I'll stick to you. Part with you, sweet? Pas de danger! Not the game of Brav' BOULANGER!
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THE CAPTAIN OF THE "PARIS."
Captain SHARP, of the Newhaven steamer, Paris, you're no craven; Grim and growling was the gale that you from your dead reckoning bore; And, but for your brave behaving, she might never have made haven, But have foundered in mid-Channel, or been wrecked on a lee-shore. With your paddle-floats unfeathered, wonder was it that you weathered Such a storm as that of Sunday, which upset our nerves on land, Though in fire-side comfort tethered. How it blew, and blared, and blethered! All your passengers, my Captain, say your pluck and skill were grand. Much to men like you is owing, when wild storms around are blowing, As they seem to have been doing since the opening of the year: Howling, hailing, sleeting, snowing; but for captains calm and knowing, Passage of our angry Channel were indeed a task of fear. Well, you brought them safely through it, when not every man could do it, And your passengers, my Captain, are inspired with gratitude. Therefore, Mr. Punch thus thanks you, and right readily enranks you, As a hero on the record of our briny island brood. Verily the choice of "Paris" in this case proved right; and rare is Fitness between name and nature such as that you illustrate. Captain SHARP! A proper nomen, and it proved a prosperous omen To your passengers, whom Punch must on their luck congratulate.
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ON BOARD THE CHANNEL STEAMER "PARIS" (Night of Saturday, January 25, 1890).—"SHARP'S the word!"
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The title of the second chapter of The Days of the Dandies, in Blackwood, is calculated to excite curiosity,—it is, "Some Great Beauties, and some Social Celebrities." After reading the article, I think it would have been styled more correctly, "A Few Great Beauties." However, it is discursively amusing and interesting. There is much truth in the paper on Modern Mannish Maidens. I hold that no number of a Magazine is perfect without a tale of mystery and wonder, or a ghost-story of some sort. I hope I have not overlooked one of these in any Magazine for this month that I have seen. Last month there was a good one in Macmillan, and another in Belgravia. I forget their titles, unfortunately, and have mislaid the Magazines. But After-thoughts, in this month's Macmillan, is well worth perusal.
My faithful "Co." has been looking through the works of reference. He complains that Dod's Peerage, Baronetage, and Knighthood for 1890 is carelessly edited. He notes, as a sample, that Sir HENRY LELAND HARRISON, who is said to have been born in 1857, is declared to have entered the Indian Civil Service in 1860, when he was only three years old—a manifest absurdity. As Mr. Punch himself pointed out this betise in Dod's &c., &c., for 1889, it should have been corrected in the new edition. "If this sort of thing continues," says the faithful "Co.," "Dod will be known as Dodder, or even Dodderer!" Sir BERNARD BURKE'S Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage is, in every sense, a noble volume, and seems to have been compiled with the greatest care and accuracy. KELLY'S Post Office Directory, of course, is a necessity to every man of letters. Whitaker's Almanack for 1890 seems larger than usual, and better than ever. WEBSTER'S Royal Red Book, and GARDINER'S Royal Blue Book, it goes without saying, are both written by men of address. The Century Atlas and Gazetteer is a book amongst a hundred. Finally, the Era Almanack for 1890, conducted by EDWARD LEDGER, is, as usual, full of information concerning things theatrical—some of it gay, some of it sad. "Replies to Questions by Actors and Actresses" is the liveliest contribution in the little volume. The Obituary contains the name of "EDWARD LITT LEMAN BLANCHARD," dramatist, novellist, and journalist, who died on the 4th of September, 1889. It is hard to realise the Era Almanack without the excellent contributions of poor "E. L. B.!"
"Co." furnishes some other notes in a livelier strain:—
Matthew Prior. (KEGAN PAUL.) If you are asked to go out in this abominable weather, shelter yourself under the wing of Mr. AUSTIN DOBSON, and plead a prior engagement. (Ha! Ha!) You will find the engagement both prior and profitable. Mr. DOBSON'S introductory essay is not only exhaustive, but in the highest degree interesting, and his selection from the poems has been made with great taste and rare discretion.
In the Garden of Dreams. The lack of poets of the softer sex has been recently a subject of remark. Lady-novelists we have in super-abundance, of lady-dramatists we have more than enough, of lady-journalists we have legions—but lady-poets we have but few. Possibly, they flourish more on the other side of the Atlantic. At any rate we have a good example of the American Muse in the latest volume by Mrs. LOUISE CHANDLER MOULTON. This little book is full of grace, its versification is melodious, and has the genuine poetic ring about it, which is as rare as it is acceptable. It can scarcely fail to find favour with English readers.
BARON DE BOOK-WORMS & CO.
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DEAR MR. PUNCH,—The Camel is reported to be greatly instrumental in the spread of cholera. This is evidently the Bacterian Camel, whose humps—or is it hump?—have long been such a terror to those who really don't care a bit how many humps an animal has.
Yours faithfully, HUMPHRY CAMPBELL.
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To THOSE WHO GET THEIR LIVING BY DYEING.—"Sweet Auburn!" exclaimed a ruddy, aureate-haired lady of uncertain age,—anything, in fact, after fifty,—"'Sweet Auburn!'" she repeated, musingly, "What does 'Sweet Auburn' come from?" "Well," replied her husband, regarding her coiffure with an air of uncertainty, "I'm not quite sure, but I think 'Sweet Auburn' should be GRAY."
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MR. PUNCH'S MORAL MUSIC-HALL DRAMAS.
No. V.—BRUNETTE AND BLANCHIDINE.
A Melodramatic Didactic Vaudeville, suggested by "The Wooden Doll and the Wax Doll." By the Misses Jane and Ann Taylor.
Blanchidine,} By the celebrated SISTERS STILTON, the Champion Brunette. } Duettists and Clog-dancers.
Fanny Furbelow. By MISS SYLVIA SEALSKIN (by kind permission of the Gaiety Management).
Frank Manly. By MR. HENRY NEVILLE.
SCENE—A Sunny Glade in Kensington Gardens, between the Serpentine and Round Pond.
Enter BLANCHIDINE and BRUNETTE, with their arms thrown affectionately around one another. BLANCHIDINE is carrying a large and expressionless wooden doll.
Duet and Step-dance.
Bl. Oh, I do adore BRUNETTE! (Dances.) Tippity-tappity, tappity-tippity, tippity-tappity, tip-tap!
Br. BLANCHIDINE'S the sweetest pet! (Dances.) Tippity-tappity, &c.
Together. When the sun is high, We come out to ply, Nobody is nigh, All is mirth and j'y!
With a pairosol, We'll protect our doll, Make a mossy bed For her wooden head!
[Combination step-dance, during which both watch their feet with an air of detached and slightly amused interest, as if they belonged to some other persons.
Clickity-clack, clickity-clack, clickity, clickity, clickity-clack; clackity-clickity, clickity-clackity, clackity-clickity-clack!
[Repeat ad. lib.
Bl. (apologetically to Audience). Her taste in dress is rather plain! (Dances.) Tippity-tappity, &c.
Br. (in pitying aside). It is a pity she's so vain! (Dances.) Tippity-tappity, &c.
Bl. 'Tis a shime to smoile, But she's shocking stoyle, It is quite a troyal, Still—she mikes a foil!
Br. Often I've a job To suppress a sob, She is such a snob, When she meets a nob! [Step-dance as before.
[N.B.—In consideration of the well-known difficulty that most popular variety-artists experience in the metrical delivery of decasyllabic couplets, the lines which follow have been written as they will most probably be spoken.
Bl. (looking off with alarm). Why, here comes FANNY FURBELOW, a new frock from Paris in! She'll find me with BRUNETTE—it's too embarrassing!
[Aside. To Brunette. BRUNETTE, my love, I know such a pretty game we'll play at— Poor TIMBURINA'S ill, and the seaside she ought to stay at. (The Serpentine's the seaside, let's pretend,) And you shall take her there—(hypocritically)—you're such a friend!
Br. (with simplicity). Oh, yes, that will be splendid, BLANCHIDINE, And then we can go and have a dip in a bathing-machine!
[BLAN. resigns the wooden doll to BRUN., who skips off with it, L., as FANNY FURBELOW enters, R., carrying a magnificent wax doll.
Fanny (languidly). Ah, howdy do—isn't this heat too frightful? And so you're quite alone?
Bl. (nervously). Oh, quite—oh yes, I always am alone, when there's nobody with me.
[This is a little specimen of the Lady's humorous "gag," at which she is justly considered a proficient.
Fanny (drawling). Delightful! When I was wondering, only a little while ago, If I should meet a creature that I know; Allow me—my new doll, the LADY MINNIE!
Bl. (rapturously). Oh, what a perfect love!
Fanny. She ought to be—for a guinea! Here, you may nurse her for a little while. Be careful, for her frock's the latest style.
[Gives BLAN. the wax doll.
She's the best wax, and has three changes of clothing— For those cheap wooden dolls I've quite a loathing.
Bl. (hastily). Oh, so have I—they're not to be endured!
Re-enter BRUNETTE with the wooden doll, which she tries to press upon BLANCHIDINE, much to the latter's confusion.
Br. I've brought poor TIMBURINA back, completely cured! Why, aren't you pleased? Your face is looking so cloudy!
F. (haughtily). Is she a friend of yours—this little dowdy?
Bl. (after an internal struggle). Oh, no, what an idea! Why, I don't even know her by name! Some vulgar child ...
[Lets the wax doll fall unregarded on the gravel.
Br. (indignantly). Oh, what a horrid shame! I see now why you sent us to the Serpentine!
Bl. (heartlessly). There's no occasion to flare up like turpentine.
Br. (ungrammatically). I'm not! Disown your doll, and thrust me, too, aside, The one thing left for both of us is—suicide! Yes, TIMBURINA, us no more she cherishes— (Bitterly.) Well, the Round Pond a handy place to perish is!
[Rushes off stage with wooden doll.
Bl. (making a feeble attempt to follow). Come back, BRUNETTE; don't leave me thus, in charity!
F. (with contempt). Well, I'll be off—since you seem to prefer vulgarity.
Bl. No, stay—but—ah, she said—what if she meant it?
F. Not she! And, if she did, we can't prevent it.
Bl. (relieved). That's true—we'll play, and think no more about her.
F. (sarcastically). We may just manage to get on without her! So come—(perceives doll lying face upwards on path)—you odious girl, what have you done? Left LADY MINNIE lying in the blazing sun! 'Twas done on purpose—oh, you thing perfidious! [Stamps. You knew she'd melt, and get completely hideous! Don't answer me, Miss—I wish we'd never met. You're only fit for persons like BRUNETTE!
[Picks up doll, and exit in passion.
Grand Sensation Descriptive Soliloquy, by BLANCHIDINE, to Melodramatic Music.
Bl. Gone! Ah, I am rightly punished! What would I not give now to have homely little BRUNETTE, and dear old wooden-headed TIMBURINA back again! She wouldn't melt in the sun.... Where are they now? Great Heavens! that threat—that rash resolve ... I remember all! 'Twas in the direction of the Pond they vanished. (Peeping anxiously between trees.) Are they still in sight?... Yes, I see them! BRUNETTE has reached the water's edge.... What is she purposing! Now she kneels on the rough gravel; she is making TIMBURINA kneel too! How calm and resolute they both appear! (Shuddering.) I dare not look further—but, ah, I must—I must!... Horror! I saw her boots flash for an instant in the bright sunlight; and now the ripples have closed, smiling over her little black stockings!... Help!—save her, somebody!—help!... Joy! a gentleman has appeared on the scene—how handsome, how brave he looks! He has taken in the situation at a glance! With quiet composure he removes his coat—oh, don't trouble about folding it up!—and why, why remove your gloves, when there is not a moment to be lost? Now, with many injunctions, he entrusts his watch to a bystander, who retires, overcome by emotion. And now—oh, gallant, heroic soul!—now he is sending his toy terrier into the seething water! (Straining eagerly forward.) Ah, the dog paddles bravely out—he has reached the spot ... oh, he has passed it!—he is trying to catch a duck! Dog, dog, is this a time for pursuing ducks? At last he understands—he dives ... he brings up—agony! a small tin cup! Again ... this time, surely—what, only an old pot-hat!... Oh, this dog is a fool! And still the Round Pond holds its dread secret! Once more ... yes—no, yes, it is TIMBURINA! Thank Heaven, she yet breathes! But BRUNETTE? Can she have stuck in the mud at the bottom? Ha, she, too, is rescued—saved—ha-ha-ha!—saved, saved, saved!
[Swoons hysterically, amid deafening applause.
Enter FRANK MANLY, supporting BRUNETTE, who carries TIMBURINA.
Bl. (wildly). What, do I see you safe, beloved BRUNETTE?
Br. Yes, thanks to his courage, I'm not even wet!
Frank (modestly). Nay, spare your compliments. To rescue Beauty, When in distress, is every hero's duty!
Bl. BRUNETTE, forgive—I'm cured of all my folly!
Br. (heartily). Of course I will, my dear, and so will dolly!
[Grand Trio and Step-dance, with "tippity-tappity," and "clickity-clack" refrain as finale.
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ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
COMMEMORATION BIRTHDAY CONCERT.—The programme you are preparing, after the fashion set the other evening in St. James's Hall, at an entertainment organised in honour of the birthday of the poet BURNS, for the purpose of paying a similar tribute to the memory of his great fellow-countryman, Sir WALTER SCOTT, certainly promises well. As you very truly point out that, as at the Concert which you are taking as your model, though the name of BURNS was tacked on to nearly every item in the programme, as if he had been responsible for the words, music and all, it did not seem limited to the Poet's work alone, you might certainly allow yourself the latitude you propose in arranging your own scheme. The fact that, at the Burns Celebration, M. NACHEZ played his own Hungarian dances, the connection between which and the Poet's birthday is not, at first sight, entirely obvious, and that another gentleman, with equal appropriateness, favoured the company with "The Death of Nelson," on the trombone, seems certainly to give you a warrant for the introduction you contemplate making, in commemoration of Sir WALTER, of the Chinese Chopstick Mazurka, and the Woora-woora Cannibal Islanders side-knife and sledge-hammer war-dance. It may of course be possible, in a remote way, to introduce them, as you suggest, into Old Mortality, but we should think you would be nearer the mark with that other item of your programme, that associates Jem Baggs with The Lay of the Last Minstrel. Your idea of accepting and utilising the offer of the GIRALFI family to introduce their Drawing-room Entertainment into your programme seems excellent, and has certainly as much in common with the Birthday of Sir WALTER SCOTT as the "Death of Nelson," on the trombone, has with that of the distinguished Novelist's great brother Poet. There is no reason, as you further point out, why you should not organise a whole Series of Commemorative Birthday Entertainments, as you think of doing, on the same plan, and with BEETHOVEN, MACAULAY, Dr. JOHNSON, and WARREN HASTINGS, the celebrities you mention, to begin upon, you ought to have no difficulty in working in the solo on the big drum, the performance of the Learned Hyaena, the Japanese Twenty-feet Bayonet-jump, and the other equally appropriate attractions with which you are already in communication. Anyhow, begin with Sir WALTER SCOTT, following the St. James's Hall lead, and let us hear how you get on.
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STRIKING WEDDING PRESENTS.—As you seem to think that a list of the presents made to your young friends who are about to be married will in all probability be published in some of the Society papers, "with the names of the donors," we think, on the whole, we would advise you not to give them, as you seem rather inclined to do, those three hundred weight of cheap sardines of which you became possessed through a seizure of your agents for arrears of rent. You might certainly present them with the disabled omnibus horse that came into your hands on the same occasion. Horses are sometimes given as wedding presents. There were four down in a list of gifts at a fashionable marriage only last week. But, of course, it would not suit your purpose to appear as the donor of a "damaged" creature. We think, perhaps, it would be wiser to accept the five pounds offered you through the veterinary surgeon you mention, and lay out the money, as you suggest, in sixteen hundred Japanese fans. If it falls through, and you find the horse still on your hands, there is no need to mention its association with the omnibus. "Mr. JOHN JOHNSON—a riding horse," doesn't read badly. We almost think this is better than the fans. Think it over.
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THE LUXURY OF PANTOMIME.
One day last week, after a struggle for life, Her Majesty's Theatre was shut up, five hundred persons, so it was stated, lost employment, and the Cinderella family, proud sisters and all, nay, even the gallant Prince himself, were turned adrift. Smiling, at the helm of the Drury Lane Ship, stands AUGUSTUS DRURIOLANUS, who sees, not unmoved, the wreck of "Her Majesty's Opposition," and murmurs to himself as Jack and the Beanstalk continues its successful course, "This is, indeed, the survival of the fittest," and, charitably, DRURIOLANUS sends out a life-boat entitled "Benefit Performance" to the rescue of the shipwrecked crew. Ave Caesar!
From this disaster there results a moral, "which, when found," it would be as well to "make a note of." It is this: as evidently London will not, or cannot, support two Pantomimes, several Circuses, and a Show like BARNUM'S, all through one winter, why try the experiment? especially when the luxe of Pantomime, fostered by DRURIOLANUS, is so enormous, that any competitor must be forced into ruinous and even reckless extravagance, in order to enter into anything like rivalry with The Imperator who "holds the field" for Pantomime, just as he holds "The Garden" for Opera, against all comers.
These rival establishments only do harm to one another, spoil the public by indulging their taste for magnificent spectacle, increasing in gorgeousness every year, until true Pantomime will be overlaid with jewelled armour, crushed under velvet and gold, and be lying helpless under the weight of its own gorgeosity. We should question whether the Olympian BARNUM has done much good for himself, seeing how gigantic the expenses must be; and certainly he can't have done good to the theatres. As to Shows, "The more the merrier" does not hold good. "The fewer the better" is nearer the mark in every sense, and perhaps the experience of this season may suggest even to DRURIOLANUS to give the public still more fun for their money (and there is plenty of genuine fun in Jack and the Beanstalk), with less show, in less time, and at consequently less expense to himself, and with, therefore, bigger profits. We shall see.
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THE FINISHING TOUCH;
OR, PREPARING FOR MR. SPEAKER'S PARTY.
Anxious Old (Legal) Nurses loquitur:—
Ah! he's ready now, thanks be! But a plaguier child than he I am sure we Nusses three Never dressed. But at last we have got through; Well-curled hair, and sash of blue! Yes, we rather think he'll do, Heaven be blessed!
Ah! the awful time it took! Never mind; by hook or crook We have togged him trimly. Look! There he stands! His long wailings nearly hushed, Buttoned, pinned, oiled, combed and brushed, And his tight glove-fingers crushed On his hands.
Does us credit, don't you think? How the chit would writhe and shrink, Get his garments in a kink Every way! Awful handful, hot and heady, Shuffling round, ne'er standing steady, Feared we'd never get him ready For the day.
Mr. SPEAKER'S Party,—yes! Hope he'll be a great success; His clean face and natty dress Ought to please. But there'll be no end of eyes On his buttons, hooks, and ties; Prompt to chaff and criticise, Tear and tease.
There'll be many an Irish boy Who will find it his chief joy To upset and to annoy The young Turk; And, with no particular call, Try to make him squeal and squall, Disarrange him, after all Our hard work.
Not to mention other lads, Regular rowdy little Rads, Full of ill-conditioned fads, And mean spite; Who will pinch and pull the hair Of our charge who's standing there, After all our patient care Right and tight.
For we know they don't like us, And they're sure to scold and cuss The tired three, and raise a fuss And a pother About Hopeful here. Heigho! But he's ready, dears, to go. Ah! they little little know All our bother!
On our hands heaven knows how long We have had him. 'Twould be wrong To indulge in language strong; But how hearty Is our joy that we have done! There now, REPPY, off you run! Only hope you'll have good fun At the Party!
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TO AN OLD FRIEND WITH A NEW WIG.
Delighted to hear that our friend CHARLES HALL, A.D.C., Trin. Coll. Cam., and Q.C., is likely to be made a Judge. Where will he sit? Admiralty, Probate, and Divorce Court, where wreckage cases of ships and married lives are heard? Health to the Judge that shall be, with a song and chorus, if you please, Gentlemen, to the ancient air of "Samuel Hall," revived for this occasion only:—
His name it is CHARLES HALL, A.D.C. and Q.C., His name it is CHARLES HALL. In cases great and small He's shone out since his call, All agree.
In Court of Admiraltee Did he drudge, (bis) In Court of Admiraltee, 'Bout lights and wrecks,—will he Henceforth be less at sea As a Judge?
(To quite another tune, i.e., the refrain of GEORGE GROSSMITH'S song, "How I became an Actor.")
And each of his friends makes this remark, (Retort he may with "Fudge!") "Now wasn't I the first to say, you're sure Some day to be a Judge!"
It will be a touching spectacle, as, indeed, it always is to the reflective mind, to see the new Judge sitting among the wrecks, like "Marius among the Ruins." Fine subject for Sir FREDERICK, P.R.A., in the next Academy Exhibition.
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(By the Foot of Clara Groomley.)
IN FOUR CHAPTERS.—III.
Nothing done! The whole Detective force of London, having nothing better to do, were placed at my disposal, and, after three weeks' search, they found a girl called SMITH; but it was the wrong one. My darling is blonde, and this was a dark, almost a black, SMITH. I came back to Ryde in a passion and a third-class carriage. I find from Mademoiselle that Miss SMITH has not yet returned.
JAMES seemed pleased to see me, but he noticed that in my anxiety and preoccupation I had forgotten to have my hat ironed. The hotel is quite full, and I am to sleep in the Haunted Room to-night.
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I am not a hysterical man, and this is not a neurotic story. It is, as a matter of fact, the same old rot to which the shilling shockers have made us accustomed. I cannot account in any way for my experiences last night in the Haunted Room, but they certainly were not due to nervousness. I had not been asleep long before I had a most curious and vivid dream. I felt that I was not in the hotel, and that at the same time I was not out of it. I had a curious sense of being everywhere in general, and nowhere in particular.
I saw before me a gorgeously furnished room. On the tiger-skin rug before the fire was a basket with a crewel-worked chair-back spread over it. What was in the basket? Again and again I asked myself that question. I felt like a long-division sum, and a cold shiver went down my quotient.
In one corner of the room stood a man of about thirty, with a handsome, wicked face. One hand rested on the drawer of a writing-table. Slowly he drew from it a folded paper, and read, in a harsh, raucous voice:—
"'To cleaning and repairing one——' No, that's not it."
He selected another paper. Ah, it was the right one this time!
"'Memorandum of Aunt JANE'S Will.' 'All property to go to ALICE SMITH, unless Aunt JANE'S poodle, Tommy Atkins, dies before ALICE SMITH comes of age. In which case, it all goes to me.' I remember making that note when the will was read. And now"—he glanced at the covered basket—"Tommy's kicked the bucket. Well, he stood in my way. Who's to know? But there must be no post-mortem, no 'vet' fetched in. Happy thought—I'll have the brute stuffed." He knelt down by the side of the basket, and slowly drew back the covering. "Ah!" he said—"it's cruel work."
Did he refer to the chair-back? or did he refer to the way in which, for the sake of gain, an honest dog had been MURDERED? For there before my eyes lay the dead poodle, Tommy Atkins!
"ALICE loses all her money," he continued, "but that doesn't matter. She tells me that she's picked up no end of a swell down at Ryde, and he may marry her. The question is—will he?" Once more I felt like a division sum. I yearned to call out loudly, and answer with a decided negative; but no words came. My strength was gone. I was utterly worked out, and there was no remainder.
When I came to myself, I found JAMES, the waiter, standing by my bedside with a gentleman whom I did not know. JAMES introduced him to me as a Mr. ALKALOID, a photographer who was stopping in the hotel. Mr. ALKALOID had been woken up by a wild shriek for a decided negative, and had rushed down to see if he could do a little business. "Take you by the electric light," he said; "just as you are,"—I was in my night-dress and the old, old hat, the rim of which had been slightly sprained,—"perfectly painless process, and money returned if not satisfactory." I thanked him warmly, and apologised for having disturbed him.
I went to London on the following day. I felt it my positive duty to explain that I should always regard ALICE SMITH as a sister, but nothing more.
I had quite forgotten that I did not know the house where ALICE SMITH lived, and the poodle dog lay dead.
(Here ends the Narrative of CYRIL MUSH.)
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Take it all in all, Marjorie at the Prince of Wales' is a very satisfactory production. The subject is English, the music is English, and the "book" is English too. So when we applaud the new Opera, we have the satisfaction of knowing that our cheers are given in the cause of native talent triumphant. This is appropriate to the "time" of the play (the commencement of the thirteenth century), which is the very epoch when the Saxons were beginning to hold their own in the teeth of their Norman conquerors. But leaving patriotism out of the question (a matter which, it is to be feared, is not likely to influence Stalls, Pit, and Gallery materially for a very lengthened period), the Opera qua Opera is a very good one. The company is strong—so strong, that it hears the loss of an accomplished songstress like Miss HUNTINGTON without severely suffering. It is true that an excellent substitute for the lady has been found in that tenor with the cheerful name, Mr. MARK TAPLEY, whose notes are certainly worth their weight in gold; but leaving the representatives of Wilfred "outside the competition," the remainder of the Dramatis Personae are excellent. They work well together, and consequently the ensemble is in the highest degree pleasing.
Assistance of rather a graver character than usually associated with comic opera is naturally afforded by Mr. HAYDYN COFFIN. Miss PHYLLIS BROUGHTON is introduced not only to sing but to dance, and performs the latter accomplishment with a grace not to be surpassed, and only to be equalled by Miss KATE VAUGHAN. Mr. ASHLEY, now happily returned to the melodious paths from which he strayed to play in pieces of the calibre of Pink Dominoes, seems quite at home in the character of Sir Simon—not "the Cellarer," but rather, "the sold one." Mr. MONKHOUSE, whose name and personality go to prove that a cowl does not preclude its occasional occupation by a wag, is most amusing as Gosric. Mr. ALBERT JAMES is a lively jester, whose quips and cranks might have been of considerable value to Mr. JOSEPH MILLER when that literary droll was engaged in compiling his comic classic. Miss D'ARVILLE and Madame AMADI both work with a will, and find a way to public favour. The dresses are in excellent taste, and the scenery capital.
That the mise en scene is perfect, goes without saying, as this Opera has been produced by that past master of stage-direction, the one and only AUGUSTUS DRURIOLANUS. The dialogue is sufficiently pointed—not too pointed, but pointed enough. It does not require a knowledge of the niceties of the law, the regulations of the British army, or a keen appreciation of the subtlest subtleties of logic to fully understand it. It is amusing, and provocative of innocent laughter, which, after all, seems to be a sufficient recommendation for words spoken within the walls of a play-house. The music is full of melody—"quite killing," as a young lady wittily observed, on noticing that the name of the Composer was SLAUGHTER. So Marjorie may be fairly said not only to have deserved success, but (it is satisfactory to be able to add) also to have attained it.
ONE WHO HAS PRACTISED AT THE MUSICAL BAR.
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STATESMEN AT HOME.
DCXLIII. THE RIGHT HON. W. E. GLADSTONE, M.P., AT HAWARDEN.
As you approach the historic home of the great English Statesman who is to be your host to-day, you become conscious of the fact that there are two Hawarden Castles. Moreover, as young HERBERT pleasantly remarks a little later in the day, "You must draw a Hawarden-fast line between the two." One, standing on a hill dominating a far-reaching tract of level country, was already so old in the time of EDWARD THE FIRST that it was found necessary to rebuild it. Looking through your Domesday Book (which you always carry with you on these excursions), you find the mansion referred to under the style of Haordine. This, antiquarians assume, is the Saxonised form of the earlier British Y Garthddin, which, being translated, means "The hill-fort on the projecting ridge."
When WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR came over, bringing with him a following the numerical proportions of which increase as the years roll by, he found the Fort on the Hill held by EDWARD of Mercia, and deemed it convenient to leave it in his possession. The Castle played its part in English history down to the time, now 130 years gone by, when it came into the hands of Sir JOHN GLYNN, and thence through long descent became an inheritance of the gracious lady who, with cambric cap-strings streaming in the free air of the Marches, joins your host in welcoming you.
It is, however, not on the steps of the old castle of which Prince LLEWELLYN was once lord that you are thus received. By the side of the old ruin has grown up another Hawarden Castle, a roomy mansion, statelily stuccoed, with sham turrets run up, buttresses, embrasures, portholes, and portcullises, putting to shame the rugged, looped and windowless ruin that still stands on the projecting ridge. This dates only from the beginning of the century, and, looking upon it, your face glows with honest pride, as you think how much better the generation near your own made for itself dwelling-houses compared with the earlier English.
Whilst you stand musing on these things you are conscious of a whishing sound, and a breath of swiftly moving cool air wantonly strikes your cheek. You look up and behold! there is your host, axe in hand, playfully performing a number of passes over your unconscious head. His dress is designed admirably to suit the exercise. Coat and waistcoat are doffed; the immortal collars are turned down, displaying the columnar throat and the brawny chest; the snow-white shirt-sleeves are turned up to the elbow, disclosing biceps that SAMSON would envy and SANDOW covet. His braces are looped on either side of his supple hips, and his right hand grasps the axe which, a moment ago had been performing over your head a series of evolutions which, remarkable for the strength and agility displayed, were, perhaps, scarcely desirable for daily repetition.
"Don't be frightened, TOBY M.P.," said the full rich voice so familiar in the House of Commons; "it's our wild woodsman's way of welcoming the coming guest. What do you think of my costume? Seen it before? Ah! yes, the photographs. Carte de visite style, 10s. 6d. a dozen; Cabinet size, a guinea. I have been photographed several times as you will observe."
And, indeed, as your host leads you along the stately passages, through the storied rooms, you find his photograph everywhere. The tables are covered with them, showing your host in all attitudes and costumes. "Yes," he says, with a sigh, "I think I have marched up to the camera's mouth as often as most men of my years."
Ascending the rustic staircase which leads from the garden, WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE takes you past the library into the drawing-room, in the upper parts of the leaded windows of which are inserted panels of rare old glass, cunningly obtained by melting superfluous Welsh ale bottles. He leads you to a table, as round as that at which a famous Conference was held, and points to a little ivory painting. It shows a chubby little boy some two years of age, with rather large head and broad shoulders, sitting at the knee of a young nymph approaching her fifth year. On her knee is a book, and the chubby boy, with dark hair falling low over his forehead, his great brown eyes staring frankly at you, points with his finger to a passage. When you learn that this is a portrait of your host and his sister taken in the year 1811, you naturally come to the conclusion that the young lady has, for party purposes, been misquoting some passages in her brother's speech, and that he, having produced an authorised record of his address, is triumphantly pointing to the text in controversion of her statement.
Your host, chopping grimly at the furniture as he passes along—here dexterously severing the leg of a Chippendale chair, and there hacking a piece off a Louis Quatorze couch—leads the way to an annexe he has just built for the reception of his treasured books. From the outside this excrescence on the Castle has but a poverty-stricken look. It is, to tell the truth, made of corrugated iron. But that is a cloak that cunningly covers an interior of rare beauty and rich design. Arras of cloth of gold hangs loosely on the walls, whilst here and there, on the far-reaching floor, gleams the low light of a faded Turkey carpet. Open tables, covered with broad cloths of crimson velvet, embroidered and fringed with gold, carry innumerable Blue Books. On marble tables, supported on carved and gilded frames, stand priceless vases, filled with rare flowers. In crystal flagons you detect the sheen of amber light (which may be sherry wine), whilst the ear is lulled with the sound of fountains dispensing perfumes as of Araby. In an alcove, chastely draped with violent violet velvet, the grey apes swing, and the peacocks preen, on fretted pillar and jewelled screen. Horologes, to chime the hours, and even the quarters, uprise from tables of ebony-and-mother-of-pearl. Cabinets from Ind and Venice, of filligree gold and silver, enclose complete sets of Hansard's Parliamentary Debates; whilst lamps of silver, suspended from pendant pinnacles in the fretted ceiling, shed a soft light over the varied mass of colour.
Casting himself down lightly by a cabinet worked with Dutch beads interspersed with seed-pearls, and toying with the gnarled handle of the axe, the Right Hon. WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE tells you the story of his life. At the outset you are a little puzzled to gather where exactly he was born. At first you think it was in Scotland. Anon some town in England claims the honour. Then Wales is incidentally mentioned, and next the tearful voice of Erin claims her son. But, as the story goes forward with long majestic stride, these difficulties fade in the glamour of the Old Man's eloquence, and when you awake and find your host has not yet got beyond the second course—the fish, as it were, of the intellectual banquet—you say you will call again.
Mention of the three courses naturally suggests dinner, and as you evidently enjoy the monopoly of the mental association, you take your leave, perhaps regretting that among his wild woodsman accessories your host does not seem to include the midday chop.
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GOLD-TIPPED cigarettes seem just now to be "the swagger thing." "Ah!" Master TOMMY sighed, as he set off for school with only five shillings in his pocket, in consequence of all his dearest—and nearest—relatives being laid up with the prevailing epidemic, "Ah, how I should like to be one of those cigarettes, and then I should be tipped with gold."
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