PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
January 18th, 1890.
AMONG THE AMATEURS.
SCENE—Theatre Royal, Blankbury, on the first night of the performance of the well-known Comedy of "Heads or Tails?" by the "Thespian Perambulators." Time, 7:50 P.M. A "brilliant and fashionable assemblage" is gradually filling the house. In the Stalls are many distinguished Amateurs of both Sexes, including Lady SURBITON, who has brought her husband and Mrs. GAGMORE (Lady SURBITON'S particular friend). The rest of the Stalls are occupied by the immediate friends and relations of the Actors. A few professional Critics are to be seen. They are addressed with much politeness by the Amateurs in front of the House, and "played to" with feverish anxiety by the Amateurs on the Stage. The Orchestra is composed of excellent Amateur Musicians. The Curtain has not yet risen.
Lady Surbiton (to Mrs. GAGMORE). My dear, it's a wonder we ever got here. CHARLES of course forgot the date, and told me only yesterday he'd invited some men to stay for a shoot. He had to listen to reason, though, and so we spent all yesterday sending telegrams to put them off. I've been at every performance of The Thespians for years, and it wouldn't do to begin missing them now, would it?
Mrs. Gagmore. Certainly not, dear, it would have been quite a calamity. There's the Duchess of MIDDLESEX nodding to you.
Lady S. So it is. (Smiles sweetly at the Duchess, who is sitting three rows off.) I call it scandalous of her to come out like this when both her twins have got the measles. Did I tell you I lent Mr. SPINKS my pet parrot, Penelope, for this performance?
Mrs. G. No, dear. I didn't know they ever played it with a parrot.
Lady S. Well, they don't usually, but Mr. SPINKS told me that, after studying the piece very very carefully, he had come to the conclusion that there ought to be a parrot in Lady Shorthorn's drawing-room, and he begged me to lend him mine. Fortunately it scarcely ever talks. Oh, there's Mr. PENFOLD! How old he's getting to look. He never seems to have a good word to say for anyone in his critiques. They're very late in beginning. I hope nothing has happened to Penelope. Ah! at last.
The Orchestra strikes up. After a few minutes the Curtain rises on "the Drawing-room at Bullivant Court." Sc. 1, Act 1. HARRY HALL, in livery as JOHN the Footman, is reclining on a sofa, reading a magazine. Penelope, in her cage, is a conspicuous object on the O.P. side.
John (yawning). "Nothink in the Fortnightly, as per usual. Heigh-ho! This is slow work. Who's that?"
Enter BELINDA, the Nursery-maid. The usual amatory scene follows. They both disappear, as TIFFINGTON SPINKS enters made up as "Colonel DEBENHAM," with a saffron complexion, a grey moustache, a red tie and an iron-grey wig. He shivers. A great deal of preliminary applause. He bows with dignity, conscious of his fame, and proceeds.
Col. Debenham. "Ugh! how horribly cold this is. I shall have to speak seriously to SHORTHORN about the state of his fires."
Penelope the Parrot (suddenly and with terrible distinctness). "Old fool!" [A titter from the irreverent. SPINKS pays no heed to the interruption.
Lady Surbiton. How awful! I declare I haven't heard Penelope speak for six months. I hope to heaven she won't do it again.
Mrs. Gagmore. I thought it sounded so natural.
Lord S. So it did, that's why it was so out of place. He's getting on all right now, though.
Col. Debenham (concluding a peppery soliloquy). "And as for Lady SHORTHORN and that spiteful cat of a sister of hers, all I can say of TOM DEBENHAM is——"
Penelope (loudly). "Old fool!"
[Whistles up and down the scale. Much laughter. SPINKS feels that violent measures are necessary if the piece is not to be utterly ruined. He perceives JARP standing at the wings made up as BINNS the Butler. A happy thought flashes on him. He nods meaningly at JARP.
Col. Debenham (improvising gag). "Oh, confound that bird! I must have it removed. I'll ring for the butler."
[Rings. Enter JARP as BINNS.
Binns. "'Er Ladyship's compliments, Colonel DEBENHAM, and she would like——"
Spinks (in a whisper of concentrated fury to JARP). Not yet; take that infernal parrot away, quick!
Jarp (loses his head; still the Butler is strong within him). "'Er Ladyship is served!"
Spinks (aloud). "Oh, nonsense—nonsense, man! You're an idiot. Here, take this bird, and kill it!"
[Seizes cage, thrusts it into the flustered JARP'S arms, and pushes him off, the Parrot, horribly frightened, yelling, "Old fool!"
Lady Surbiton. How dare he speak of Penelope in that way? Kill her! If Mr. JARP so much as lays a finger upon her——
Lord S. She'll bite him. Oh, you may make your mind quite easy about that parrot. She's bitten every finger of mine to the bone, and I'm certain she's quite equal to defending herself against JARP.
The Act proceeds without any further hitch, until BELINDA wheels on her double perambulator containing two red-headed infants, one of whom is terrified into tears and calls for "Father!" in a shrill voice. After this everything, however, goes well, and the Curtain falls amidst thunders of applause.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN.
Spinks. Yes, GUSHBY, I believe you did it. You were closeted with that parrot for an hour yesterday. I believe you deliberately taught it to say that, in order to crab my part. What's more, I'm certain of it, for I distinctly recognised your voice in the parrot's.
Gushby. Pooh! nonsense! If I had taught it to say anything, it would have been something worse than that, you may be sure.
Spinks. You always were kind. As for JARP, he was in the plot. Otherwise do you think any man could have made such a fool of himself?
IN FRONT OF THE CURTAIN.
Lady Surbiton. That's what I've always said. There's so much esprit de corps and good feeling amongst Amateurs—none of that wretched jealousy and bickering which ruins professionals.
Mrs. Gagmore. It is delightful to listen to them, certainly. They all look and act like perfect gentlemen. All Mr. JARP'S Butlers are splendid. You can see at a glance that they have only been with good families.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN.
Hon. B. Boldero. I fancy we shall have good notices to-morrow in the Morning Moonbeam. I saw PENFOLD laughing immensely.
Spinks (down on his luck). Did you? (Plucking up a bit.) Well, it "went" capitally. It was only that blessed parrot.
[Goes off intending to buy several copies of next morning's "Moonbeam."
IN FRONT OF THE CURTAIN.
Mr. Penfold (to his neighbour, a brother journalist): Are you going to write anything about this? I have got to do a short notice for the Morning Moonbeam. It's no use abusing these fellows. That's been tried. I'll give them a little butter this time, and see whether that won't stop them. How would it do to say something like this?—"We advise the Thespians to keep clear as much as they can of professionalism. Of course, tradition demands that the ladies' parts should be played by professionals, but the introduction of a professional parrot and a professional baby in the First Act was a mistake, which might have ruined the performance."
[His Friend nods approval. Exeunt severally. Imagine tableau next day. Delight of Amateurs on reading the notice of their performance in the "Moonbeam."
* * * * *
Mr. P. Now little Master JACK HORNER, from your corner in Drury Lane, what plums do you pick out of the Pantomime?
Master J. H. The Hansom Cab and King HARRY (NICHOLLS) returning home confronted by the Queen, then the GRIFFITHS Cow, the Giant's Dinner and his Servants, and the Dame LENO'S wonderful Fowl.
Mr. P. What else?
Master J. H. Lots of things, but at the Circus at Covent Garden, the Shetland Ponies lovely. They come first, so you must be early.
Mr. P. Did you see anything else that pleased you?
Master J. H. I should think so. Such a game! Mlle. GOU-GOU quite shocked my little sister POLLY, by her strange conduct. But when it turned out that he was a man, how we laughed! It was funny.
Mr. P. And I suppose you stayed for the Lion?
Master J. H. You may be sure we did! POLLY was a little frightened at first; but when we found that the Royal Dane Boarhound and the Horse didn't mind him a bit, why we didn't mind either. Isn't it wonderful? Oh, you ought to go and see them. They are prime!
* * * * *
BARNUM'S MOTTO.—"Tout a fait La Shows."
* * * * *
MUZZLED AND PUZZLED; OR, "LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG."
(A Carol of Kentish Conservatism. Some way after Goldsmith.)
Good Tories all, of County Kent, Give ear unto my song, And spare your puerile intent To do your Party wrong.
* * * *
There was a mighty Minister, To power appointed late; A virtuous and valiant Vir, A Pillar of the State.
If one who doth fat oxen drive Should in himself be fat, This Minister seemed bound to thrive As to his post most pat.
A more bucolic personage Bucolics never sang; And when he took that post and wage, All round his praises rang.
O'er Agriculture to preside, CHAPLIN was surely born; He bore his honours with the pride Of Chanticleer at morn.
In Kent there were some Tories found, For Tories still there be; In fact, the species doth abound In spite of W. G.
CHAPLIN and they at first were friends, But when a feud began They—whom a little thing offends— Rounded on that good man.
The motto of these Men of Kent Was, "Love me, love my Dog;" And soon with angry discontent The County was agog.
For CHAPLIN—it was like his cheek, Cockiest of Ministers!— Quite supererogant, did seek To muzzle Kentish Curs!
Around to all the counties near An angry protest ran; To touch a Kentish dog, 'tis clear, Touches a Kentish Man.
Fanatic lovers of the hound Scorn hygienic laws, And though their dogs should snap all round You must not bind their jaws.
Restraint appeared both sore and sad To every Kentish eye, And, whilst they swore the Man was mad, They swore the Dogs would die.
Nay, more, there came this fearsome threat From true-blue Tory throats: "With muzzles if our dogs you fret, You shall not have our votes!"
O patriots true! Rads grin with glee! The puzzle CHAPLIN fogs; 'Tis plain that Party loyalty Is going to the dogs!
Kent's choice 'twixt Party seems, and pup, The question stirs the town, Whether the Tories will give up, Or CHAPLIN will climb down!
* * * * *
* * * * *
SLAPS FOR SLIPPERS.
SIR,—I am at a loss to understand what is the meaning of all this futile discussion as to the respective merits of the various kinds of road pavement. There cannot be a moment's doubt, as to which is, far and away, the cheapest, the safest, and—in a word—the—best. Without any hesitation, I maintain that it is the Asphalte. And I do not speak without experience. For many years I have picked mine up from the box-seat of a hearse, which I think my most virulent opponents will admit, from the ticklish character of its cattle, accustomed as they are to a stiff, formal and lugubrious method of progression, affords a test that must be regarded as supreme by all candid and unprejudiced inquirers into the matter under dispute.
In the wettest weather I have never had so much as a slip on the asphalte, whereas the moment I have got on to the wood, when it has been comparatively dry, I have frequently had the horses down as many as seven or eight times in half a mile, and on one occasion, that I can recall, the stumbling was so frequent, that the Chief Mourner stopped the procession, and sent me an irritable message to the effect that, if I could not manage to keep my horses more securely on their feet, I had better then and there "hand over the corpse, and let it finish its journey to the Cemetery on the top of the first mourning-coach." Fortunately, we came shortly to a bit of asphalte, on which I was able to bowl merrily along, and make up for lost time; and, as at length we reached the Cemetery only an hour and three-quarters after the appointed time, the Chief Mourner, whatever may have been his disposition to make complaints, had the good taste to keep them to himself. Still, the incident was annoying, and I attribute its occurrence simply and solely to that pest of all sure and stately-footed hacks—the Wood Pavement.
Beyond holding three thousand Preference Shares in the European and Inter-oceanic Asphalte Paving Company, and having signed a contract to supply them for seventeen years with the best Pine Pitch on favourable terms, I have not the slightest interest to subserve in writing this letter, which I think any quite impartial critic will allow, curtly, but honestly, expresses the unprejudiced opinion of
AN UNBIASSED JUDGMENT.
SIR,—I am a private gentleman, who keeps a carriage, or rather, a four-horse coach, in which I am continually driving about all over London at full speed. We dash at such a rate over those portions of the Metropolis that are blessed with a wood pavement that my coachman is frequently summoned for furious driving, but we have never yet had a horse down. No sooner, however, do we get to the asphalte than all this is changed. Leaders and wheelers alike are instantly on their backs, and I have now made it a rule, the moment we come to a street paved with this dangerous and detestable composition, to put my horses inside the coach, and, with the assistance of a policeman or two, drag the vehicle to the other end myself. Only yesterday, I think it was, on the north side of Leicester Square, I counted as many as nineteen ugly falls in as many minutes, necessitating, in nearly every case, the despatch of the creature on the spot by a shot from a revolver. The fact is, the laying of asphalte anywhere should be made criminal in a Vestry. I write impartially on this subject, as, beyond being a sleeping partner in a large firm of Wooden Road-Paving Contractors, I have no sort of interest to serve, one way or the other. But it must be obvious, from the account I have given of my own personal experience above, that in addressing you on the subject, I am actuated by no motives that are not consistent with and fitting to the signature of
AN UNPREJUDICED OBSERVER.
SIR,—I am in no way interested in the present pavement controversy, but I would direct public attention to the real source of all the mischief, and that is the ineffective shoeing of the unhappy horses, who are compelled to struggle with the difficulties created for them by a parcel of Paving Authorities. What we want is a general order issued by the Board of Trade obliging all horse-owners to provide those they possess with a couple of pairs of The Patent India-rubber frog and flannel-soled Horse-Shoes, warranted to support the most stumbling beast on any pavement whatever. I said I was in no way interested in the present controversy, and as I am merely the Inventor of the shoe above referred to, it must be obvious, that in making this communication to you, I am only fulfilling the commonest duties of
AN ORDINARY SPECTATOR.
SIR,—Will not you, or someone, step in and deal with the matter comprehensively, without paying regard to vested interests? Surely, if the right people would only put their heads together, they must hit on some method of bettering the present wretched condition of those much ill-used but patient and long-suffering creatures, among whom the first to subscribe himself is
THE ORDINARY LONDON OMNIBUS HORSE.
* * * * *
ANOTHER TITLE FOR THE GUIDE TO THE EXHIBITION AT THE NEW GALLERY.—"New Edition of the Tudor's Assistant."
* * * * *
TO BE CREATED A KNIGHT HOSPITALLER.—Mr. PETER REID.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE JUBILEE OF THE PENNY POST.
"On Jan. 10, 1840, the Penny Post became an accomplished fact."—Times.
ATTEND, all ye who like to hear a noble Briton's praise! I tell of valiant deeds one wrought in the Century's early days: When all the legions of Red Tape against him tore in vain, Man of stout will, brave ROWLAND HILL, of true heroic strain.
It was about the gloomy close of Eighteen Thirty Nine, MELBOURNE and PEEL began to melt, the P.O. "sticks" to pine, For vainly the Official ranks and the Obstructive host Had formed and squared 'gainst ROWLAND HILL'S plan, of the Penny Post. Still poor men paid their Ninepences for sending one thin sheet From Bethnal Green to Birmingham by service far from fleet; Still she who'd post a billet doux to Dublin from Thames shore, For loving word and trope absurd must stump up One-and-four; Still frequent "friendly lines" were barred to all save Wealth and Rank, Or Parliamentary "pots" who held the privilege of "Frank;" Still people stooped to dubious dodge and curious device To send their letters yet evade the most preposterous price; Still to despatch to London Town a business "line or two" Would cost a Connemara peasant half his weekly "screw;" Still mothers, longing much for news, must let their letter lie Unread at country post-offices, the postage being too high For their lean purses, unprepared. And Trade was hampered then, And Love was checked, and barriers raised—by cost—'twixt men and men. Then up and spake brave ROWLAND HILL in accents clear and warm, "This misery can be mended! Read my Post Office Reform!" St. Stephens heard, and "Red Tape" read, and both cried out "Pooh! Pooh! The fellow is a lunatic; his plan will never do!" All this was fifty years ago. And now,—well, are there any Who do not bless brave ROWLAND HILL and his ubiquitous Penny? One head, if 'tis a thinking one, is very often better Than two, or twenty millions! That's just why we get our letter From Aberdeen, or Melbourne, from Alaska or Japan, So cheaply, quickly, certainly—thanks to one stout-soul'd Man.
Fifty years since! In Eighteen Forty, he, the lunatic, Carried his point. Wiseacres winced; Obstruction "cut its stick." He won the day, stout ROWLAND HILL, and then they made him Knight. If universal benefit unmarred by bane gives right To titles, which are often won by baseness or a fluke, The founder of the Penny Post deserved to be a Duke. But then he's something better—a fixed memory, a firm fame; For long as the World "drops a line," it cannot drop his name. 'Tis something like a Jubilee, this tenth of Janua-ree! Punch brims a bumper to its hero, cheers him three times three, For if there was a pioneer in Civilisation's host, It was the cheery-hearted chap who schemed the Penny Post. And when the croaking cravens, who are down on all Reform, And shout their ancient shibboleth, and raise their tea-pot storm, Whene'er there's talk of Betterment in any branch of State, And vent their venom on the Wise, their greed upon the Great, Punch says to his true countrymen, "Peace, peace, good friends—be still! Reform does not spell Ruin, lads. Remember ROWLAND HILL!!!"
* * * * *
A CURIOUS CURE.
DEAR MR. PUNCH, January13, 1890.
So much attention is now bestowed upon the prevailing epidemic that I will not apologise for troubling you with a letter detailing a case that has recently come under my own notice. My eldest son, AUGUSTUS, returned home from the educational establishment admirably conducted by my eminent and reverend friend, Dr. SWISHTALE, apparently in excellent health and spirits, shortly before Christmas Day. On the 4th (just a week before the date fixed for his return to the educational establishment to which I have referred) he showed symptoms of influenza. He complained of low spirits, seemed inclined to quarrel with (and thrash) his younger brothers, and flatly declined to accompany me to an inspection of the treasures contained in the Natural Historical Museum at South Kensington. I immediately prescribed for him a diet of bread and water, and an enforced retirement to bed. He spent the remainder of the day in loudly-expressed expostulation and lamentation. On the Sunday (after a consultation with his mother) I decided to adopt a home treatment of kindness, which I trusted would prevent the necessity of calling in our family doctor. I give the remainder of the case in diary form.
Monday.—AUGUSTUS very poorly. Complains of pains in his head, arms, legs, back, nose, and right little finger. Says he has no appetite, but, urged by his mother, manages to eat for breakfast two sausages and a couple of eggs. Quite unable to get up; but shortly before two o'clock, on learning that I proposed visiting the Morning Performance at Her Majesty's Theatre, expresses his desire to accompany me. He seemed to enjoy Cinderella thoroughly, in spite of his ailments; but, at the conclusion of the performance, became so very languid, that we found it desirable to take a Hansom home.
Tuesday.—AUGUSTUS prostrate. Pain in the right little finger unconsciously shifted to the left little finger. He says he had nightmare continuously, but "had not slept a wink." Breakfast, of course, in bed. No appetite for anything save muffins, herrings, and marmalade on buttered toast. Unable to move until one o'clock, when he thought (at the suggestion of his mother) that a visit to the Crystal Palace might probably do him good. The excursion was a happy thought, as certainly he seemed quite himself at Sydenham. After a hearty dinner from soup and the joint, he once more seemed languid, and had to be carried home by rail and cab.
Wednesday.—AUGUSTUS still very unwell. Seems much troubled at a dream he has had, in which he apparently died through going back to school. Still complains of insomnia. Says he did not close his eyes all night. Wished to "punch the head" (to adopt his own phraseology) of his younger brother for saying, that he had heard him snoring. However, recovered towards the evening sufficiently to accompany the rest of the family to the Circus at Covent Garden. In the theatre appeared more himself, but ill immediately afterwards.
Thursday.—AUGUSTUS (according to his own account) alarmingly ill. Found by his bedside a medical dictionary (taken from the shelves of my library) which he says, he had been reading. He thinks, that he has all the worst symptoms of delirium tremens. This is strange, as his habitual drink is ginger-beer. He complains of pains in his ears, eyes, knees, elbows, and big toes on both feet. Quite unable to get up before five o'clock, when he was fortunately, sufficiently recovered to accompany his younger brothers to a juvenile party and Christmas tree. According to SAMMY (my second son) AUGUSTUS danced every dance, and served as an assistant to an amateur conjuror. But this last statement I give with some reserve, as it does not correspond with the report furnished by AUGUSTUS himself.
Friday.—AUGUSTUS at his worst. In the morning he alarmed his mother by a passionate burst of weeping. He seems to think that, if he goes back to school to-morrow, he will die immediately. Feeling that this was an unhealthy state of mind, I took him to the Zoological Gardens in the afternoon, and must confess that, while there, he appeared to experience a keen delight in feeding the bears with fragments of newspaper, concealed in stale buns. But at night his melancholia returned, and he was scarcely able to eat his dinner.
Saturday.—Received a letter from my eminent and reverend friend, Dr. SWISHTALE, informing me that, in consequence of the prevalence of influenza, it had been thought advisable to extend the Christmas vacation for a fortnight or three weeks. On conveying this intelligence to my eldest son, he seemed to rapidly recover, and has (I am happy to say) been well ever since.
Trusting that the history of this singular case may afford some hints and comfort to parents with children afflicted (as was my dear AUGUSTUS) with a disease so eccentric in its ramifications as influenza,
I remain, dear Mr. Punch,
Yours most truly, SIMON SIMPLE WIDEAWAKE.
Malinger Villa, Blarney Road, S. W.
* * * * *
THE CADI OF THE CURBSTONE.
SCENE—A thoroughfare near Hyde Park. Shortly before Scene opens, an Elderly Gentleman has suddenly stopped the cab in which he has been driving, and, without offering to pay the fare, has got out and shuffled off with a handbag. The Cabman has descended from his seat and overtaken the old gentleman, who is now perceived to be lamentably intoxicated. The usual crowd springs up from nowhere, and follows the dispute with keen and delighted interest.
Cabman. Look 'ere, you ain't goin' not without payin' me, you know—where's my two shillings?
The Elderly Gentleman (smiling sweetly, and balancing himself on his heels against some railings). I'm shure I dunno.
Cabman. Well, look, can't yer? don't keep me 'ere all day—feel in yer pockets, come!
[The Old Gentleman makes an abortive effort to find a pocket about him somewhere, and then relapses into abstraction.
Crowd. Let 'im take 'is time, he'll pay yer right enough, if you let the man alone.
A Woman. Ah, pore gentleman, the best of us is took like that sometimes!
[Murmurs of sympathy.
Cabman. I don't want no more than what's my own. 'E's rode in my keb, and I want my fare out of 'im—an' I mean 'aving it, too!
[Here the Old Gentleman, who seems bored by the discussion, abruptly serpentines off again and is immediately overtaken and surrounded.
The E. G. Wha' d'ye mean? 'founded 'perrinence! Lemme 'lone ... 'portant bishniss!
Cabman. Pay me my fare,—or I'll have your bag!
[Seizes bag; the Elderly Gentleman resisting feebly, and always smiling.
Crowd. Why can't yer pay the man his fare and have done with it? There, he's feeling in his pockets—he's going to pay yer now!
[Elderly Gentleman dives vaguely in a pocket, and eventually produces a threepenny bit, which he tenders magnificently.
Cabman. Thruppence ain't no good to me—two shillings is what I want out o' you—a florin—'j'ear me?
The E. G. (after another dive fishes up three halfpence). Thash all you're 'titled, to—go 'way, go 'way!
Crowd (soothingly to Cabman). 'E'll make it up in time—don't 'urry 'im.
Cabman. D' ye think I kin stand 'ere cooling my 'eels, while he's payin' me a 'apn'y every 'arf 'our? I've got my living to earn same as you 'ave!
Crowd. Ah, he's right there! (Persuasively to Elderly Gentleman.) 'Ere, Ole Guv'nor, fork out like a man!
[The Old Guv'nor shakes his head at them with a knowing expression.
Cabman. Well, I shan't let go o' this 'ere bag till I am paid—that's all!
[Here a Policeman arrives on scene.
Policeman. Now, then, what's all this? Move along 'ere, all of you—don't go blocking up the thoroughfare like this! (Scathingly.) What are yer all lookin' at? (The Crowd, feeling this rebuke, move away some three paces, and then linger undecidedly.) 'Ere, Cabman, you've no right to lay 'old on that gentleman's bag—you know that as well as I do!
Cabman (somewhat mollified by this tribute to his legal knowledge, releases bag). Well, he ain't got no right to ride in my keb, and do a guy, without paying nothink, 'as he?
Policeman. All I tell you is—you've no right to detain his bag.
Cabman. Let 'im pay me my legal fare, then—two shillings it is 'e owes me. I don't want to hinterfere with 'im, if he'll pay me.
Pol. (with a magnificent impartality, to the E. G.). What have you got to say to that?
The E. G. (with a dignified wave of the hand). Shay? Why, tha' I'm shimply—a gerrilm'n.
Pol. (his impartiality gradually merging into official disgust). Well, all I can say to you is, if you are one, don't abuse it.... Where are you going to?
The E. G. (brimming over with happy laughter). I dunno!
Pol. (deciding to work on his fears). Don't you? Well, I do, then. I know where you're goin' to—ah, and where you'll be, too, afore you're much older—the station-'us!—(with a slight lapse into jocularity, in concession to his audience)—"for one night honly"—that's your direction, unless you look out. (With virtuous indignation.) 'Ere are you—calling yourself a gentleman, and old enough to know better—riding in this man's keb, and trying to bilk him out of his money. Why, you ought to be ashamed o' yourself!
A Funny Onlooker. Now, Policeman, why do you interfere? Why can't you leave them to settle it between them?
Pol. (turning on him with awful dignity). I don't want no suggestions from you, Sir. I know my dooty, and them as tries to obstruck me'll get no good by it. I'm not 'ere to take one man's part more than another.
Cabman. Well, ain't you goin' to do something now you are here? What's the good of a Copper if he won't 'elp a man to git his rights, eh?
[Murmurs of sympathy from Crowd.
Pol. Now, you mind yourself—that's what you'd better do, or you'll be gitting into trouble next! I've told you I can't interfere one way or the other; and—(generally, to Crowd)—you must pass along 'ere, please, or I shall 'ave to make yer.
Crowd (to Eld. G.). Give the man his money, can't yer? Pay 'im!
Cabman. Come, look sharp! Just you pay me!
The E. G. How c'n I pay, man? P'fectly 'shurd! Go to bleeshes!
[Bolts again, and is once more overtaken by the indignant Cabman.
Pol. (following up). Now, then, Cabman, don't go hustling him!
[Crowd's sympathy veers round to the E. G. again.
Cabman. 'Oo's 'ustlin'? I ain't laid a finger on 'im. (Magnanimously.) I've no wish to 'inder 'im from going wherever he likes, so long as he pays me fust!
Pol. You've no right to touch the man, nor yet his bag; so be careful, that's all I tell you!
The E. G. (with maudlin enthusiasm). Pleeshman's perfelly ri'! Pleeshman always knowsh besht!
[Tries to pat Policeman on back.
Pol. (his disgust reaching a climax). 'Ere, don't you go pawin' me about—for I won't 'ave it! If I'm right, it's more than what you are, anyhow! Now be off with you, wherever it is you're going to!
Cabman (desperate). But look 'ere—can't you take his name and address?
Pol. (rising to the occasion). Ah! that's what I was waitin' for! Now you've ast me—now I kin act! (Pulls out a pocket-book full of dirty memoranda, and a stumpy pencil.) Now then, Sir, your name, if you please?
The E. G. (sleepily). Shtupid thing a-do, but qui' forgot.... Come out 'ithout mi' name, 'shmornin'!
Pol. (sternly). That won't do with Me, you know. What's your name? Out with it!
The E. G. (evidently making a wild shot at it). FERGUSHON.
[Smiles, as if he feels sure the Policeman will be pleased with a name like that.
Pol. JOHN? GEORGE? JAMES?—or what?
The E. G. You can purr 'em all down t' me—it don' marrer!
Pol. (briskly). Where do you live, Mr. FERGUSON?
The E. G. (mechanically). Shirty-one, Lushington Street, Gargleshbury Park.
Pol. (writing it down, and giving leaf to Cabman). There, will that do for you?
Cabman. That's all I want. (To the E. G.) You'll 'ear from me later on.
The E. G. (affectionately). Alwaysh pleash'd shee you, any time.... Pleeshman too.... Shorry can't shtop—mos' 'portant bishnish!
Pol. Which way do you want to go?
The E. G. Earlsh Court.
Pol. Then get there, if you're capable of it. And now, you boys, clear the road, will you?
[The Elderly Gentleman, smiling in the full conviction of having extricated himself from a difficult situation with consummate tact and diplomacy, goes off unsteadily in the direction of Piccadilly, accompanied by a suite of small boys who have kindly resolved to see him through any further adventures that may await his progress. The Cabman remains to discuss the affair at great length on the curbstone. The Policeman paces slowly on, conscious that he has worthily maintained the dignity of his office.
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A CORRESPONDENT, a propos of the prevailing epidemic, writes,—"Sir, there must have been an epidemic of influenza at Cambridge about thirty-three years ago, as in a travesty of Faust, produced at the A. D. C. about that time, occurs a parody of the song 'Di Frienza' from La Traviata, commencing 'Influenza is about, So I'll stay no longer out.' History repeats itself occasionally.—I am, Yours,
AN INFLUENZIAL PERSONAGE, Trin. Coll. Cam."
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JOHN BULL loquitur:—
"ENGLISH as she is spoke," my little friend, Is not precisely what your pundits deem it. Let me give you a lesson! This must end. That flag, however lightly you esteem it, Has not so long waved folds fair, broad, and ample To all earth's winds for you at last to trample.
No! What the mischief is your little game? Monkeyish tricks help neither power nor dignity. A little country heir of much fair fame, I'd like to treat with patience and benignity; But memories of CAMOENS and DE GAMA Should save you from the clown's part in earth's drama.
Clowning it is to caper in this style, Trying to make a foot-cloth of my banner. You ought to know the temper of our Isle, You've tested it in circumstantial manner. Down before SOULT and JUNOT you'd have gone But for that very flag, and WELLINGTON.
Old friends? Of course we are. Old rivals too, In commerce and adventure the world over. From JOHN THE GREAT'S time to the present, you In Africa have been a daring rover; "The Rover's free"! Ah! that's good lyric brag— He is not free to trample on my flag!
VASCO DE GAMA and CABRAL, no doubt, Held an exceedingly free hand aforetime. Cocks of the walk were those adventurers stout, But then their time was different from your time. In what you call your "civilising labours," You'll have to think a little of your neighbours.
"Prancing proconsuls" often stir up strife, Which to abate diplomacy must strain. Your PINTO seems to mean war to the knife— He's too much given to the 'Ercles vein. I'm sure I do not want to hurt your feelings, I simply say I can't stand SERPA'S dealings.
Plain English this, my little Portuguee, And BARROS GOMES will tell you I mean it. Fight? Pigmy versus Titan? Fiddlededee! My meaning—without menaces, you'll glean it— Is this—I would not hector, no, nor "nag," Only, my lad—you'll just come off that Flag!
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LONDON FOR THE LONDONERS;
Or, How to Please Everybody.
SCENE—Railway Compartment. BROWN and JONES discovered reading Newspapers.
Brown (putting down his journal). Not much news, Sir.
Jones (following the example). Quite so, Sir—not much.
Brown. Perhaps, Sir, the most interesting item is this talk about London Improvement.
Jones. So I think, Sir. But what do we want with this plan for widening the Strand, and making a road to Holborn? It seems to me, Sir, that the suburbs are being neglected.
Brown. I agree with you, Sir. Now, if they would develop the North of London, it would be more to the purpose. If they would run a road direct from Charing Cross to, say Zanzibar Terrace, Upper Kensal Green, West, it would really be of service to the public.
Jones. Very likely, Sir—very likely. For my part, it seems to me that Chiswick also requires a helping hand. The construction of a broad boulevard running from Charing Cross in a straight line to, say, Upham Park Road, would tend to show that the County Council justly appreciated its own responsibilities. And I say this, knowing the necessities of Chiswick, for in that neighbourhood I happen to reside.
Brown. And I, too, Sir, am equally cognisant of the requirements of Upper Kensal Green West. As a matter of fact, Sir, I happen to have a comfortable house in Zanzibar Terrace.
Jones. And I, Sir, a delightful villa in Upham Park Road.
[Whistle. Train enters tunnel, and further conversation is drowned by the rattle of the carriages.
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A Musical Anticipation.
FRED COWEN'S Viking Sure to be striking. Think there is luck in BARTON MCGUCKIN.
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UNSOUGHT HONOUR.—After his last Birthday, Mr. GLADSTONE was unanimously elected a Member of "the Eighty Club."
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OLD COLDS FOR NEW.
(A Fairy Tale of Anglo-Russian Origin.)
ONCE upon a time there was a feeble little Ailment called "Cold-in-the-head," which was treated in the most contemptuous fashion by its relations. The nearest of its kith and kin—Measles and Scarlatina—absolutely laughed when its name was mentioned, and scarcely recognised it as a connection. So Cold-in-the-head had rather a bad time of it generally.
One day the feeble little Ailment was wandering aimlessly about in search of a resting-place, when it came upon an enormous establishment thronged with thousands of working-men. When the employes are described as "working-men," it is not, however, quite accurate, for at that moment they were not working.
"Why are you idle?" sneezed out little Cold-in-the-head in a tone of compassion.
"Because," replied one of the employes, rather gruffly, "there is nothing to do. If you want further information, you had better inquire at that office."
And the man pointed to a door bearing the legend, "Editor's Room." The poor little Ailment entered the apartment, and found a Gentleman seated in front of a desk covered with papers. The Gentleman was staring before him, and the ink in his pen had dried up.
"What do you want?" asked the Gentleman. "And why don't you shut the door behind you?"
"I should cease to exist without draughts," explained the poor little Ailment, "and please don't speak roughly to me, as I want to help you."
"You help me!" exclaimed the Editor—for the Gentleman was an Editor. "How can you do that?"
"I think I can give you a subject."
"You are very welcome if you can do that," was the reply, "as in this dead season of the year ideas are as scarce as coals; nay scarcer. But surely, didn't you do something for the Press ages ago?"
"That was in the 'forties;' but I am quite different now."
Then the little Ailment related to the Editor stories of Russia, and the East, and all sorts of wonderful things.
"Well," murmured the Editor, after some consideration, "I think you may be useful, after all, if we are helped by the Doctors."
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"What a fuss they are making about this new rival of ours!" said Measles, angrily.
"Too absurd!" commented Scarlatina, in a tone of annoyance.
Then there was a grand procession. First came Correspondents, then Interviewed Physicians, then the General Public. It was a sight that had never been seen before. In the midst of the excitement an Ailment appeared.
"Why, bless me!" cried Measles. "Only fancy!"
"Can I believe my eyes?" shouted Scarlatina. "Why, it's poor little Cold-in-the-head, that no one used to care a jot about six months ago!"
"Silence!" said the Ailment, with great dignity. "You must learn to treat me with the respect due to my exalted station. And please don't call me 'Cold-in-the-head,' for I am known as 'The Russian Influenza!'"
Then the Ailment turned towards Mr. Punch, who (as was his wont) was smiling, and bade him do homage.
"Not a bit of it," exclaimed the Sage of Fleet Street, raising a glass of Ammoniated Tincture of Quinine to his lips, and quaffing merrily a teaspoonful. "I defy you! You are puffed up with conceit, my poor little Illness, and when, in a few weeks' time, we have another sensation to talk and think about, you will sink back into your native obscurity."
And Mr. Punch (as the event will prove) was—as he always is—entirely right!
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AT THE PORTE ST. MARTIN.—If there were ever any question as to the genius of SARA BERNHARDT, she has now settled it by appearing as Jeanne d'Arc, and showing us what she is Maid of. By the way, as of course she wears golden or auburn hair, Jeanne d'Arc must appear as Jeanne Light. Irreverent scoffers may say this is historically correct, as from their point of view Joan was rather light-headed. Of course, Joan is coming over to London. Why not to Mr. HARE'S Theatre, and finish the evening with a prime Garrick Stake.
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A COMING BIG BORE.
Being a probable Extract from the "City Intelligence" for 1900.
THE half-yearly meeting to discuss the Report just issued by the Chairman and Directors of the Amalgamated International Anglo-French Submarine Channel Tunnel Railway Company was held in the Company's Fortress Boardroom yesterday afternoon, and, owing to the present critical Continental outlook, as might have been expected, succeeded in securing the attendance of an unusually large number of shareholders.
The Chairman, who on rising was received with prolonged hooting and a chorus, again and again renewed con amore by the assembled audience, of "And he's a jolly bad fellow!" having, at length, though frequently interrupted, obtained something like a hearing, was understood to say, that he had little to offer in the shape of comment on the Report submitted to the meeting. (Groans.) The causes of its unsatisfactory nature were patent to all. Owing to their having been compelled, in what he now fully recognised was a slavish and mistaken obedience to a popular clamour (a Voice, "You're right!"), three years ago, in the height of a sudden scare about invasion—("Oh! oh!")—to let the water in and flood the Tunnel—(groans)—they had been occupied ever since in pumping it out again, and though now he was glad to announce that the last bucketful had been emptied out, and that the traffic would be resumed forthwith—(cheers)—still the operation had cost them three millions of money, that they had to get from the market in the shape of Seventeen per Cent. First Preference Debentures—("Oh! oh!")—on which, however, he trusted that a favourable season's receipts might enable them possibly to pay a next half-year's dividend of three and sixpence. (Prolonged groans.) It was not much; still, it was something. ("Oh! oh!") But if they wished to secure even this modest remuneration for their money, they must make up their minds, especially at the present moment, when there was a daily,—he might almost say, an hourly,—expectation of the withdrawal of their Ambassador from Paris, that there must be no more craven yielding to delusive impulses of an idiotic patriotism—(loud cheers),—in a word, no more talk about closing the Tunnel on the paltry plea of "national security." (Prolonged cheering.) He was glad to hear those cheers. It was an endorsement of the standpoint that he and his Directors meant to take in the present crisis, which was, in effect, to remind themselves that they were shareholders of the Anglo-French Submarine Channel Tunnel Railway Company first—and Englishmen afterwards—(thunders of applause, and loud and prolonged cheering);—and that, if called upon to shed their life's blood, it would be solely in defence of that great engineering work, the true monument of peace, in which their aspirations, their hopes, and, above all, their capital, had been so fearlessly embarked and largely invested.(Renewed enthusiasm.)
A Shareholder here rose, and said, that if there really was, as the Chairman seemed to imply, a probability that war with our friendly neighbours might break out at any minute, would it not be advisable, in the interests of the Company, to come to some amicable and therefore satisfactory commercial arrangement for the transit of troops through the Tunnel, which, no doubt, it would be their first object to secure.(Laughter.) There might possibly be some stupid attempt of our own Government forces to seize upon and even damage, with a view to rendering the Tunnel useless, the works commanding this end of it. Should not a Volunteer Corps of Shareholders be at once organised—("Hear! hear!")—for the purpose of keeping them until the French Military Authorities came over in sufficient force to enable them to seize and securely hold them against all comers? He trusted he was not wanting in a well-balanced and legitimate patriotism—("No! no!")—but like their respected Chairman, he felt that there was a higher claim, a louder call than that addressed to an Englishman by his country, and that was the deep, grim, stern and stirring appeal made to the Seventeen per Cent. Debenture-holder by his Company.(Roars of laughter.)
Considerable uproar here arose over the ejection from the meeting of a protesting Shareholder, who injudiciously proposed an Amendment to the Report to the effect that, "In the face of grave National danger, the Company ought to be prepared, even if it involved serious financial loss, to close their Tunnel, if such a step should be regarded as necessary to the security of the country by the military advisers of the Government." This proposition was howled down, and the Chairman was again about to address the now somewhat quieted meeting, when a copy of an evening paper, announcing the declaration of war, and the simultaneous seizure of the British end of the Tunnel that morning by two hundred French troops, who had crossed from Boulogne by yesterday's evening Mail-boat, and had passed the night at Folkestone in disguise, was handed up on to the platform.
THE CHAIRMAN (after reading out the various items of intelligence to the Audience, who listened to them with breathless excitement). Well, Gentlemen, in the face of this not entirely unsuspected news—(laughter)-our course is, I think, pretty clear. We must at once dispatch a deputation to make the best terms we can with the French General in command, for the transit of the one or two, or even three hundred thousand troops they propose to bring over. (Cheers.) Even if we get only an excursion fare out of them, it will be something. ("Hear, hear!") And, at least, we shall be able to congratulate ourselves on this occasion with a sterling and heartfelt satisfaction that, whether the country go to the dogs or not—(roars of laughter)—the property of the Company will, at any rate, be preserved. (Enthusiastic applause.) The Chairman, who continued his address amid mingled cheers and laughter in the same strain, having submitted the names to form the proposed deputation to the meeting, the Shareholders dispersed, apparently in the highest spirits, singing a parody of the great national ditty, in which the line, "Britons ever, ever, ever will be knaves," with an accompaniment of loud guffaws of laughter, struck the listening ear, as they betook themselves to their respective homes.
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THE IRISH QUESTION IN BOND STREET.
VERY calmly and pleasantly is this matter settled at Messrs. DOWDESWELL'S Galleries. Mr. O. RICKATSON takes us a mighty pleasant tour through Wicklow, Wexford, and Waterford. He gives us his views on the Land Question (Shure there are Sixty-two of them, bedad!) in Water-colours, and very bright, breezy, and delightful they are. If they will have Home Rule, if they persist in having Ireland for the Irish, we have no desire to pick a quarrel with this accomplished aquarelliste (Ha! ha!) for showing us the beauties of the "distrissful counthry;" and if we are not allowed to have the real thing, we shall find the peaceful possession of Mr. RICKATSON'S delightful pictures no mean substitute.
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TO ALL VOLAPUK-SPEAKING FOLK.
THERE exists at this moment no institution which even aspires to be to the Volapuk-speaking world what We were whilst still We remained in Northumberland Street, and looked after things generally. The wise are few. The governing minds are never numerous. But We have one, and We have determined to expand it over a new Monthly Magazine. At the outset We, being, after all, human, were confronted by the difficulty of finding a title. Several suggested themselves to a Mind not lacking in scope. A few may be mentioned. There was the Filibuster; the Summum Bone-'em; Macheath's Miscellany; the Monthly Marauder; the Eviscerator; the Literary Leech; the Monthly Misappropriator; the Sixpenny Scoop. Each has its particular attraction and appropriateness. But, having submitted the selection of titles for the consideration of some of the foremost men of letters, lawyers, soldiers, scientists, and divines of our time, with a request for an expression of their opinion, we decided upon the title which appears at the head of these few preliminary remarks. We are the Pilferer, price sixpence, published monthly; a reduction on taking a quantity.
The Pilferer will not be a colourless reflection of public opinion for the time being. It will certainly not be a Party organ, and that for sufficient reason. Neither Party has at this moment any distinctive body of doctrine, any well-conceived system of faith, which would justify Us in labelling Our new monthly with a Party badge. Moreover than which, We have some reason to believe that neither Party, nor any subdivision of Party, particularly cares to be associated with Us. We shall therefore be independent of Party, because, having a very clear, intelligible belief in Ourselves, We are able to survey the struggles of contending parties from the standpoint of sublime egotism. We are the man who can interpret the best thought of his day in such a manner as to render it accessible to the general intelligence of Our age. We are the true Prophet of Our time, and We hope to make a modest profit out of Our new venture. Hence, Our first starting point will be a deep and almost awestruck regard for the destinies of the Volapuk-speaking race. The American Republic we especially take under our wing (price of the Magazine in the United States 50 cents.), whilst we work for the Empire, seek to strengthen it, to develop it, and, when necessary, to extend it. We believe in Ourselves, in England, and in Humanity. We are not mad. We do not "hear them dancing in the hall," as used to happen when HENRY RUSSELL still filled the stage of the Concert Hall. But we have our mission, which is to hold the world straight, keep ourselves en evidence, and earn a modest living.
How is this to be done? By the preaching of a man who energises the activity of the Church by the ideals of chivalry and the production of a Sixpenny Monthly, made up of pickings from other people's pockets. Visible in many ways is the decadence of the Daily Press since We left it. The Mentor of Young Democracy has abandoned philosophy, and stuffs the ears of his TELEMACHUS with the skirts of CALYPSO'S petticoats, the latest scandals of the Court, and the prurient purrings of abandoned womankind in places where you accept the unaccustomed cigar, and drink the unfamiliar champagne. All the more need, then, that there should be a Voice which, like that of the Muezzin from the Eastern minaret, shall summon the Faithful to the duties imposed by their belief. We go into this waste land to possess it. It is capable of being made to flourish as of old under the stimulating radiance of a great ideal, and the diligent and intelligent culture of one who, like Ourselves, has the capacity for direction.
Who will help Us? There is not a street in London, nor a village in the country, which is not capable of producing, even at short notice, and under slight pressure, a man or a woman who will spend two hours a week, every week in the year, in more or less irksome voluntary exertion in order to sell the Pilferer. To such we say, "If, by canvassing, or otherwise, you secure, say, six subscribers, the Pilferer shall be sent to you as long as the six continue their subscriptions." In this case, the subscriptions should be paid in advance.
Are there any among the readers of the Pilferer craving for counsel, for sympathy, and for the consolation of pouring out their soul's grief at so much a quart, so to speak? If so, may we ask them to communicate with Us? Their cases, as they submit them, will be placed before such competent and skilful advisers as We are able to gather round Us from the best men and women in the Volapuk-speaking world. Their confidences will be printed free of cost, and, touched up with the literary art that shaped many a spicy series, are likely to produce copy at once tasty and cheap. We have a heap of letters and post-cards from eminent persons to whom we submitted the design lightly sketched above. They may be known as "Some Letters of Marque to the Editor of the Literary Privateer."
DEAR MR. PILFERER,—The idea you suggest appears to me highly useful, as well as ingenious in relation to all who are able to appreciate it. Personally I am outside this circle, and so will save my sixpence a month. I hope you enjoyed your 'bus tour along the Commercial Road?
Yours faithfully, W. E. GL-DST-NE.
1, Carlton Gardens, S.W., Dec. 12, '89.
I THINK your scheme ought to prove useful. But isn't there some difficulty with the original proprietors of the goods? If I can help you in any way, by putting anyone in prison, pray count upon me. Obstruction must be put down in any form in which it presents itself.
A. J. B-LF-R.
EARL OF C-RN-RV-N.
THERE is, no doubt, a large amount of valuable matter which appears from time to time in the Magazines, but which, being buried under a mass of unimportant writing, is overlooked. I have found this in reference to my own contributions, which have occasionally been passed over by the public, who have preferred to read the other contents.
AT one time of my life I wrote far too many articles to have much opinion of the ability required to produce them, or their value to anyone when produced. What I did write was much better than the general run of articles. Now I do not write, there is nothing in the Magazines. If you can get it out for nothing, and sell it for sixpence, you will do well.
Ranger's House, Greenwich Park, S.E. Sunday.
DEAR MR. PILFERER,—In answer to your note, I have nothing to say of any interest.
Hangford, Freshwater, Isle of Wight.
LORD T-NNYS-N presents his compliments to Mr. Pilferer, and begs to point out to him that had he thrust his corporeal presence upon Lord T-NNYS-N over his garden hedge, or by his area-steps, he would have been incontinently cast forth by the domestics. Lord T-NNYS-N finds it impossible to discover any appreciable difference between that step and the one whereby Mr. Pilferer impertinently, through the medium of the unsuspecting penny post, forces himself upon Lord T-NNYS-N'S notice, and impudently begs him to assist him with a gratuitous advertisement for a commercial undertaking.
MR. CHARLEY BATES.
Middle of Next Week. Nix Alley, No. 0.
DEAR PAL,—Excuse this address, but sometimes it's well not to go into too many perticklers. I have yours giving me an account of your new lay. As far as I can make out, there's a lot of tradesmen in London who, at considerable give out of swag, get swell fellers to write articles for them. Then you plunge in, romp around, fill your pockets with the pick of the lot, and go and sell it on your own hook. That's good. But what I like best is the putting on of the bands and surplice, the taking of the good book in the right hand, the uprising of the eyeballs, and the general trotting out of the loftiest principles, the purest motives, and the general welfare of our brother men. You are a regular wonner, old pal, and should do; leastways, you have the good wishes of your old friend,
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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.