Punch, Or The London Charivari, Vol. 100. March 14, 1891.
Produced by Malcolm Farmer, William Flis, and the Online Distributed
OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
March 14, 1891.
SPECIMENS FROM MR. PUNCH'S SCAMP-ALBUM.
NO. III.--THE BIOGRAPHER.
We will ask you, reader, this week, to compel your fancy to take a
further flight, and kindly imagine yourself a worthy merchant, who
has exchanged the turmoil of City-life for the elegant leisure of a
suburban villa--let us say at Norwood. You are in your dining-room,
examining the sky, and thinking that, if the weather holds up, you
will take your big dog out presently for a run before lunch, when you
are told that a gentleman is in the study who wishes to see you "on
particular business." The very word excites you, not unpleasantly,
nor do you care whether it is Churchwarden's business, or the District
Board, or the County Council--it is enough that your experience and
practical knowledge of affairs are in request--and, better still,
it will give you something to do. So, after a delay due to your own
importance, you march into your study, and find a brisk stranger, with
red whiskers and a flexible mouth, absorbed in documents which he has
brought with him in a black bag.
[Illustration: "Your Visitor has his Note-book out."]
"I _have_ the pleasure of addressing Mr. MARK LANE, I think?" he says.
"Just so. Well, Mr. MARK LANE, I consider myself extremely fortunate
in finding you at home, I assure you, and a very charming place
you have here--abundant evidence of a refined and cultivated mind,
excellent selection of our best-known writers, everything, if I may
say so, elegant in the extreme--as was to be expected! Even from the
cursory glimpse I have had, I can see that your interior would lend
itself admirably to picturesque description--which brings me to the
object of my visit. I have called upon you, Mr. LANE, in the hope of
eliciting your sympathy and patronage for a work I am now compiling--a
work which will, I am confident, commend itself to a gentleman of your
wide culture and interest in literary matters." (_Here you will look
as judicial as you can, and harden your heart in advance against a
new Encyclopaedia, or an illustrated edition of_ SHAKSPEARE's _works_.)
"The work I allude to, Mr. LANE, is entitled, _Notable Nonentities
of Norwood and its Neighbourhood." (Here you will nod gravely,
rather taken by the title._) "It will be published very shortly, by
subscription, Mr. LANE, in two handsome quarto volumes, got up in
the most sumptuous style. It is a work which has been long wanted,
and which, I venture to predict, will be very widely read. It is my
ambition to make it a complete biographical compendium of every living
celebrity of note residing at Norwood at the present date. It will
be embellished with copious illustrations, printed by an entirely
new process upon India and Japanese paper; everything--type, ink,
paper, binding, will be of the best procurable; the publishers being
determined to spare no expense in making it a book of reference
superior to anything of the kind previously attempted!" (_As he pauses
fur breath, you will take occasion to observe, that no doubt such a
work, as he contemplates, will be an excellent thing--but that, for
your own part, you can dispense with any information respecting the
Notabilities of Norwood, and, in short, that if he will excuse you_--)
"Pardon me, Mr. LANE," he interrupts, "you mistake my object. I should
not dream of expecting you to _subscribe_ to such a work. But, in
my capacity of compiler, I naturally desire to leave nothing undone
that care and research can effect to render the work complete--and
it would be incomplete indeed, were it to include no reference to
so distinguished a resident as yourself!" ("_Oh, pooh--nonsense!"
You will say at this--but you will sit down again_) "Norwood is a
singularly favoured locality. Sir; its charms have induced many of our
foremost men to select it for their _rus in urbe_. Why, in this very
road--May I ask, by the way, if you are acquainted with Alderman
MINCING? Alderman MINCING has been good enough to furnish me with many
interesting details of his personal career, a photo-gravured portrait
of him will be included, with views of the interior and exterior of
'The Drudgeries,' and a bit from the back-garden." (_You do know_
MINCING--_and you cannot help inwardly wondering at the absurd
vanity of the man_--_a mere nobody, away from the City!_) "Between
ourselves," says your interviewer, candidly, having possibly observed
your expression, "I am by no means sure that I shall feel warranted
in allotting Alderman MINCING as much space as I fear he will consider
himself entitled to. Alderman MINCING, though a highly respectable
man, does _not_ appeal to the popular imagination as others I could
mention do--he is just a _little_ commonplace!" ("_Shrewd follow,
this!" you think to yourself--"Got_ MINCING's _measure!_") "But I
should feel it an honour, indeed, if such a man as yourself, now,
would give me all the personal information you think proper to make
public, while, as a specimen of what Norwood can do in luxurious and
artistic domestic fittings, this house, Sir, would be invaluable! I
do trust that you will see your way to--" (_At first, you suggest that
you must talk it over with your Wife--but you presently see that if_
MINCING _and men of that calibre are to be in this, you cannot, for
your own sake, hold aloof, and so your Visitor soon has his note-book
out._) "Any remarkable traits recorded of you as an infant, Mr. LANE?
A strong aversion to porridge, and an antipathy to black-beetles--both
of which you still retain? Thank you, _very_ much. And you were
educated? At Dulborough Grammar School? Just _so_! Never took to
Latin, or learned Greek? Commercial aptitudes declaring themselves
thus early--curious, _indeed_! Entered your father's office as
clerk? Became a partner? Married your present lady--when? In 1860?
Exactly!--and have offspring? Your subsequent life comparatively
uneventful? That will do admirably--infinitely obliged to you, I am
sure. It would be useless to ask you if you would care to have a copy
of the work, when issued, forwarded to you--we can do it for you at
the very nominal sum of two guineas, if paid in advance--a gratifying
possession for your children after you have gone, Mr. LANE! I _may_
put you down? Thank you. For _two_ copies?" (_On second thoughts,
you do order two copies; you can send one out to your married
Sister in Australia_--_it will amuse her._) "One, two, three, four
guineas--_quite_ correct, Mr. LANE, and you shall have an early
opportunity of revising a proof, and we will send down a competent
artist, in a day or two, to take the photographs. Quite an agreeable
change in the weather, is it not? _Good_ day!"
[Illustration: "You may have to wait."]
He is gone, leaving you to wait for the proof, and the photographer,
and the appearance of that great work. _Notable Nonentities of
Norwood_,--and it is not at all unlikely that you may have to wait
a considerable time.
* * * * *
IAGO ON THE GREAT SERMON QUESTION.
Good name in Mayor or Parson, dear my public,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my _sermon_, steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been mouthed by dozens;
But he who "splits" on me as plagiarist,
Robs me of that which is no good to him,
And leaves me poor--in credit.
* * * * *
"WHEREVER WE WANDER," &c.--A new book of advice for intending
Travellers has recently been published, entitled, "_Where to Stay_."
It is both ornamental and useful; but so much depends on ways and
means, that, after careful consideration, _Mr. Punch_, when asked
"_Where to Stay_," considers the safest answer will always be, "_At
* * * * *
["The Bookmakers are in consternation, the Chamber having
yesterday (Feb. 28), by 330 Votes to 144, rejected a Bill
legalising the _pari mutuel_, and the Government having
pledged itself to enforce the law against gambling."--_Times
_The Bookie_. "ALL RIGHT, MOSSOO, I'M OFF TO ENGLAND! THERE'S NO PLACE
(_EXTRACT OF LETTER FROM_ DICKY DIDDLUM, _BOOKMAKER, PARIS, TO_
BOUNDING BOB, _DITTO, NEWMARKET._)
"... Our game here appears to be as decidedly _hup_ as the top of the
Awful Tower! Regular mugs, these Mossoos, after all. Thought we _had_
taught 'em a bit about _Ler Sport_ by this time: but, bless yer, BOB,
once a Pollyvoo, always a Pollyvoo! No Frenchy really hunderstands a
'Oss, or knows 'ow to make a Book!
"Abolish Betting!!! Wot next, I wonder? Wot with County Councils,
dunderheaded Deppyties, and Swells who do the Detective bizness in
their own droring-rooms, pooty soon there won't be a safe look in for
a party as wants to do a nice little flutter--unless, of course, he's
a Stock-Exchange spekkylator, or a hinvester in South American Mines.
_Then_ he can plunge, and hedge, and jockey the jugginses as much as
he's a mind to. Wonder how that bloomin' French _Bourse_ 'ud get along
without a bit o' the pitch-and-toss barney, as every man as _is_ a man
finds the werry salt of life. Yah! This here Moral game is a gettin'
played down too darned low for anythink. And wot's it mean, arter all?
Why, 'No Naughtiness, except for the Nobs!' That's about the exact
size of it, and it's blazing beastly, BOB!
"Only one of the dashed Deppyties talked a mossel o' sense, fur as _I_
see. A certain MOSSOO DER KERJEGU, a Republican, too, bless his boko!
said as 'races were essential to 'orsebreeding, and that without
betting there would be no races.' O.K. you are, MOSSOO DER K.!
And then they up and chuck hus Bookies! No bookies, no betting; no
betting, no races; no racing, no 'osses; no 'osses, no nothink! That's
how it runs, BOB, or I'm a sossidge!
"But this here bloomin' Republick is too rediklus for anythink. Look
at the kiddish kick-up along o' the visit of the Hempress! Why, if
_we_ 'ad that duffer, DEROULEDE, on Newmarket 'Eath, we should just
duck him in a 'orsepond, like a copped Welsher. Here they washup him,
or else knuckle under to him, like a skeery Coster's missus when
her old man's on the mawl, and feels round arter her ribs with his
bloomin' high-lows. _That's_ yer high-polite French Artists and brave
booky-banishin' Dippyties! Yah!
"'Owsomever, I suppose, BOB, I must clear out of this. MOSSOO
CONSTANS, he said, 'if the Bill were carried there would be an end to
bookmakers.' And it _was_ carried, by 340 mugs against 144 right 'uns.
And arter all me and my sort has done for Parry! It's mean, that's
wot it is, BOB. P'raps they'll chuck British _jockeys_ next! Much good
their _Grong Pree_, ancetrer, will be _then_, my boy. _Our_ 'osses,
_our_ jockeys, _and_ our bookies has bin the making of French
Sport,--and werrv nice little pickings there's bin out of it take it
all round. Wot'll _Ler Hig Life_, and Hart, and Leagues o' Patriots,
and miles o' bullyvards, and COOK's Tourists and Awful Towers do
for Parry without _hus_, I wonder? We shall _see_! Ah, Madame _lar
Republick_, maybe you'll be sorry, you and your bullyin' jondarms,
for chucking o' me afore you're through. As MAT MOPUS put it:--
It was all werry well to dissemble yer love,
But wy did yer kick me down-stairs?
Chucked it is, though, and I shall probably see yer next week, BOB.
Thanks be, the Flat Season's at 'and! Arter all, there's no place
like 'ome! No!--
'Mid _Boises_ and Bullyvards tho' we may roam,
Be it hever so foggy, there's no place _like_ 'ome;
A smile from the Swells seems to 'allow sport there,
Wich, look where you will, isn't met with elsewhere.
'Ome, 'ome, Sweet, sweet 'ome,
Be it hever so fog-bound, there's no place like 'ome!
A hexile from Parry, I'm off o'er the main;
Ah! give me my native Newmarkit again;
The mugs, smiling sweetly, wot come at my bawl,
Give me these, and the "pieces," far dearer than all.
Sweet, sweet 'ome,
With RAIKES, LOWTHER, CHAPLIN, there's no place like 'ome.
"Mean to sing _that_ at our next 'Smoker,' BOB. But till then,
[Footnote 1: Which gentleman declined to find out for Mr. SAMUEL
SMITH, "what proportion betting messages bear to the other telegrams
transmitted by the Post-office Department."]
* * * * *
DESDEMONA TO THE AUTHOR OF "DORIAN GRAY."
(_A PROPOS OF HIS PARAGRAPHIC PREFACE._)
"These are old fond paradoxes, to make boys crow i' the Club corner.
What miserable praise hast thou for him that's foul and foolish?"
* * * * *
SOMETHING IN A NAME.--A recent theatrical announcement informed us
that a new comedy would be produced from the pen of a Mr. HENRY DAM.
If successful, imagine the audience calling for the Author by name. If
a triumph, the new dramatist will be known as "The big, big D."
* * * * *
BY A TIRED AND CYNICAL CRITIC OF CURRENT FICTION.
A "School for Novelists," they say, has risen.
A School? What's really wanted is a Prison.
Life-long confinement far from pen and ink
_Might_ cure the crowd of fictionists, I _think_.
Or, if by Lessons you'd arrest the blight,
Go teach the Novelist how _not_ to write!
* * * * *
ATHLETICS.--It is said that the County Council are resolved to forbid
the popular feats of raising heavy weights, upon the ground that it
may lead to shoplifting.
* * * * *
WORKING AND PLAYING BEES.--_Lady B-ountiful_ first, at the Garrick,
and _Lady B-arter_ at the Princess's.
* * * * *
[Illustration: OLD FRIENDS.
_Big Ben_. "OH, FLATTERY'S THE BANE OF FRIENDSHIP! JUST LOOK AT YOU
AND ME, OLD MAN! WHY, I'VE _ALWAYS_ TOLD YOU THE TRUTH ABOUT YOURSELF,
HOWEVER DISAGREEABLE! IT'S A WAY I HAVE. AND YET WE'VE BEEN FAST
FRIENDS FOR FORTY YEARS, AND I LIKE YOU BETTER THAN ANY FRIEND I
POSSESS! INDEED, YOU'RE ABOUT THE ONLY FRIEND I'VE GOT LEFT!"
_Little Dick_ (_dreamily_). "AH, BUT YOU MUST REMEMBER THAT I'VE
_NEVER TOLD YOU THE TRUTH BACK AGAIN!_"]
* * * * *
THE FIRST ACT--AND THE LAST.
(_A DEPARTMENTAL TRAGI-COMEDY, IN ACTIVE REHEARSAL._)
ACT I.--_The Scene represents the Interior of a Military Instruction
Room. Black Boards, on which are displayed advanced Problems and
Calculations in the Higher Mathematics, and various Scientific Charts
cover the Walls. Models of mechanical contrivances and machinery
used in the construction of complicated Small Arms approved by the
Authorities, are scattered about in every direction._ TOMMY ATKINS
_is discovered, giving his best attention to the conclusion of a very
lengthy but rather abstruse explanatory Lecture._
_Military Instructor_ (_who has been for an hour and a half explaining
the intricate mechanism of the new Magazine Rifle, finally approaching
the end of his subject_). Well, as I have fully explained before, but
may state once more, so as to firmly impress it on your memory, you
will bear in mind that the cylindrical portion will be shortened
in front, the end of the rib being provided with tooth underneath,
and stud on top, both studs on rib to have undercut grooves, a
small keeper-screw, and bolt-head for cover, being added, while
the cocking-stud is enlarged. Then do not forget that jammed cases
or bullets are removed by two ramrods, screwed together by the
locking-bolt being omitted. I needn't again go over the twenty-four
different screws, but, in ease of accident, it will be well to retain
their various outside thread diameters in your memory, specially not
forgetting that those of the Butt Trap Spring, the Dial Sight Pivot,
and the Striker Keeper Screw, stand respectively at .1696, .1656, and
.116 of an inch. Of course you will remember the seven pins, and that,
if anything should go wrong with the Bolt Head Cover Pin, as you will
practically have to take the whole rifle to pieces, you should be
thoroughly familiar with the 197 different component items, which,
properly adjusted one with the other, make up the whole weapon. I
think I need not refer again to the "sighting," seeing that the Lewes
system is abolished, and that the weapon is now sighted up to 3,500
yards, "dead on," no matter what the wind may be. With this remark,
I have much pleasure in placing the rifle in your hands (_gives him
one_), at the same time advising you, if called upon to use it in the
heat of action, to be prepared with the knowledge I have endeavoured
to impart to you to-day, and, above all things, to keep your head
cool. I don't think I have anything more to add, ATKINS. I have made
myself pretty clear?
_Tommy Atkins_ (_with a grin_). 'Ees, Sir!
_Military Instructor_. And there is nothing more you wish to ask me?
_Tommy Atkins_ (_still grinning_). Noa, Sir!
_Military Instructor_. Ah! well then, good morning. I trust you will
find it, what they assure me it is,--a most serviceable weapon.
_Tommy Atkins_ (_saluting_). 'Ees, Sir!
[_Exit, still grinning as Act-Drop descends._
ACT II.--_The Scene represents a Field of Battle (after the fight)
in the immediate neighbourhood of London._ TOMMY ATKINS _and the_
Military Instructor _discovered lying badly wounded amidst a heap of
the slain. A European War having broken out suddenly, from which the
Country could not escape, and the Fleet at the last moment, finding
that it had only half its proper supply of guns, and that the very few
of these which did not burst at the first shot had ammunition provided
for them that was two sizes too large, the Country is invaded, while a
Committee of Experts is still trying to settle on a suitable cartridge
for the new Magazine Rifle. The result is, that after a couple of
pitched battles, though in an outburst of popular fury_, Mr. STANHOPE
_is lynched by the Mob to a lamp-post in Parliament Street, London
capitulates, and the French Commander-in-Chief, breakfasts, waited on
by the_ LORD MAYOR, _in the Bank of England._
_Military Instructor_ (_sitting up and rubbing his eyes_). Dear me!
we seem to have been beaten. That Rifle was no good, after all.
(_Recognising him._) Halloa, ATKINS!
_Tommy Atkins_ (_with a grin_). 'Ees, Sir!
_Military Instructor_. You remember all I told you?
_Tommy Atkins_ (_still grinning_). 'Ees, Sir!
_Military Instructor_. I'm afraid that wasn't such a serviceable
weapon, after all!
_Tommy Atkins_ (_still grinning_). Noa, Sir!
_Military Instructor_. Dear me! Well, we had better get out of this!
By Jove! it looks like the last Act!
[_Mutually assist each other to rise and quit the
Battle-field, the_ Military Instructor _threatening to write
to the "Times," and_ TOMMY ATKINS _still grinning as Curtain
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Sylvanus_. "FOXES ARE SCARCE IN MY COUNTRY; BUT WE
MANAGE IT WITH A DRAG NOW AND THEN!"
_Urbanus_. "OH--ER--YES. BUT HOW DO YOU GET IT OVER THE FENCES?"]
* * * * *
UNDER A CIVIL COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
["What possible chance would Col. X., Member for ----, feel
that he had of fair play if he walked into the Opposition side
in a Division?"--_Evening Paper_.]
SCENE--_A Battle-field. Colonel X. discovered apparently dying
in the hour of victory._
_Faithful Aide-de-Camp_. The enemy run, Sir! We have beaten them off
on every side!
_Colonel_ (_faintly_). That is well! (_with a sigh_) and yet my heart
is heavy within me! Believe me, SMITH, I cannot die easily.
_F.A.-de-C._ And yet the vacancy thus created would be found a
stimulus to promotion! Have you thought of that, Sir?
_Col. X._ I have not forgotten it, SMITH, and as a politician the idea
is comforting. Ah, SMITH, would that I had always done my duty in
the House of Commons! But no, with a view to obtaining this command,
I voted against my convictions! I supported the Government in their
proposal to tax perambulators! It was cruel, unmanly so to do, but I
was weak and foolish! And now I cannot die easily! Would that I could
live to repair the past.
_Opposition Whip_ (_suddenly springing up from behind a limber a la_
HAWKSHAW _the Detective_). It is _not_ too late! Return with me to
Westminster forthwith. The Third Reading is down for to-night! With
a special train we shall be in time! You can yet record your vote!
_Col. X._ (_suddenly reviving_). Say you so? Then I _will_ recover! I
_will_ do my duty!
[_Exit, to vote against his Party, and to be put permanently
on the shelf, from a military point of view!_
* * * * *
SIR EDWIN ARNOLD's paper on Japan, in _Scribner_, for March, is
interesting and also amusing. The Japanese seemed to be a charming
people; and the Japanese women delightful as wives; but then they can
be divorced for being talkative.
_A propos_ of Japan, to judge from one of our LIKA JOKO's capital
illustrations of Hospital Nursing in _The English Illustrated
Magazine_, the Matron's room must be "an illigant place, intoirely";
while as for amusement, if the picture of a nurse giving a patient a
cup of ink by mistake for liquorice-water isn't a real good practical
side-splitter, the Baron would like to be informed what is? Then we
come upon a delightful little picture of "_The Pet of the Hospital_";
and so she ought to be, for a prettier pet than this nursing Sister
it would be difficult to find. What becomes of her? Does she marry a
"Sawbones," or run off with a patient? Anyhow, she must be a "great
attraction," and if anything were to happen to the Baron, and he
couldn't be removed to his own palatial residence, he would say, "Put
me in a cab, drive me to the Furniss Hospital, and let me be in Pretty
The Baron has just been dipping into Mr. JUSTIN HUNTLY McCARTHY's
"Pages on Plays" in _The Gentleman's Magazine_. JUSTIN HUNTLY
expresses his opinion that "_The Dancing Girl_ will almost certainly
be the play of the season; it will probably be the principal play of
the year." "Almost certainly" and "probably" save the situation. The
Baron backs _The Idler_ against _The Dancing Girl_ for a run. In the
same Magazine Mr. ALBERT FLEMING has condensed into a short story,
called _Sally_, material that would have served some authors for a
It is a pleasure for the Baron to be in perfect accord on any one
point with the Author of _Essays in Little_, and in proportion to
the number of the points so is the Baron's pleasure intensified. Most
intending readers of these Essays, on taking up the book, would be
less curious to ascertain what ANDREW LANG has to say about HOMER
and the study of Greek, about THEODORE BE BANVILLE, THOMAS HAYNES
BAYLEY, the Sagas, and even about KINGSLEY, than to read his opinions
on DICKENS and THACKERAY, placing DICKENS first as being the more
popular. The Baron recommends his friends, then, to read these Essays
of ANDREW's, beginning with THACKERAY, then DICKENS; do not, on any
account, omit the delightfully written and truly appreciative article
on CHARLES LEVER; after which, go as you please, but finish with "_the
last fashionable novel_," wherein our M.A., in his Merriest-Andrewest
mood, treats us to an excellent parody.
The Baron has appointed an extra Reader, and this Extra-Ordinary
Reader to the Baron has just entered upon the discharge of his duties
by reading _Monte Carlo, and How to Do It_, by W.F. GOLDBERG, and
G. CHAPLIN PIESSE (J.W. ARROWSMITH). He reports in the following
terms to his loved Chief:--This book achieves the task of combining
extraordinary vulgarity with the flattest and most insipid
dulness--not a common dulness, but a dulness redolent of low slang
and dirty tap-rooms. The authors seem to plume themselves on their
marvellous success in reaching Monte Carlo, which, with their usual
sprightly facetiousness, they call "Charley's Mount." They are good
enough to tell such of the travelling public as may want to get there,
that the train leaving Victoria at 8.40 A.M. reaches Dover at 10.35.
Stupendous! These two greenhorns took their snack on board the steamer
(Ugh!), instead of waiting until they reached Calais, where there
is the best restaurant on any known line. Instead of going by the
_Ceinture_, they drove across Paris. The greenhorns arrive at Monte
Carlo, and then settle on their quarters. Anyone but an idiot would
have settled all this, and much more, beforehand. One gentlemanly
greenhorn, who wishes us to think that "_il connait son Paris_," talks
of "suppers of Bignon's" (which must be some entirely new dish),
and informs us that, "at the Hotel de l'Athenee, the staff esteem it
rather a privilege, and a mark of their skill in language, to grin
and snigger when sworn at in English." Oh, sweet and swearing British
greenhorn! now I know why the French so greatly love our countrymen.
But why, oh why do you imagine that you have discovered Monte Carlo?
For the details of the journey, and the instructions to future
explorers, are set out with a painful minuteness which not even
STANLEY could rival. As for Monaco, dear, restful, old-fashioned,
picturesque Monaco, whither the visitor climbs to escape from
the glare and noise of Monte Carlo, the greenhorn dismisses it
scornfully, as having "no interest." How much does this ten-per-center
want? He "waggles along the Condamine;" he mixes with many who
are "pebble-beached;" he speaks of his intimates as "Pa," "The
Coal-Shunter," "Ballyhooly," &c., and declares of the French soldier
that "the short service forty-eight-day men don't have a very
unkyperdoodlum time of it." There's wit for you, there's elegance!
Then he becomes Jeromeky-jeromistically eloquent on the subject of
fleas, throws in such lucid expressions as "chin music," "gives him
biff," "his craft is thusly," and, altogether, proves himself and
his fellow-explorer to be a couple of the slangiest and most foolish
greenhorns who ever put pen to any sort of paper. I can imagine
the readers who enjoy their stuff. Dull, swaggering, blatant,
gin-absorbing, red-faced Cockneys, who masquerade as sportsmen,
and chatter oaths all day. "Ditto to you," says the Baron to his
Extra-Ordinary Reader, and backs his opinion with his signature,
THE BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
Dear EDITOR,--Noticing that the author of _The Doll's House_ was to
have another morning, or, to use an equally suitable epithet, mourning
performance devoted to his works, I made up my mind, after bracing
up my nerves, to attend it. The 23rd of February (the date of the
proposed function) as the second Monday in Lent, seemed to me, too,
distinctly appropriate. By attending the performance--IBSEN recommends
self-execution--I sentenced myself to three hours and a half of
boredom, tempered with disgust. I cannot help feeling that whatever
my past may have been, the penance paid to wipe it out was excessive,
and therefore rendered it unnecessary that I should attend a second
performance announced for last week.
_Rosmershoelm_ is in four Acts and one Scene--a room in _Rosmer's_
House. Act I. _Rector Kroll_, who is the brother-in-law of _Pastor
Rosmer_, calls upon the latter, to ask him to edit a paper in the
Conservative interest. _Kroll_ (who, by the way, is a married man)
before seeing the widower of his dead sister, has a mild flirtation
with _Rebecca West_, a female of a certain age, who has taken up her
abode for some years in the Rector's house. And here I may observe
that the Rector's housekeeper, _Madame Helseth_, presumably a highly
respectable person, although she has excellent reasons, from the
first, for believing that the relations between her Master and
_Rebecca_ are scarcely platonic, accepts the domestic arrangements of
the Rosmer _menage_ with hearty acquiescence, not to say enthusiasm.
_Rosmer_ interrupts the Rector's _tete-a-tete_ with the fascinating
_Rebecca_, and declines the proffered editorship, because he is a
Radical, and an atheist. End of Act I.,--no action to speak of, but
a good deal of wordy twaddle. In Act II. we learn that the late _Mrs.
Rosmer_ has committed suicide, because she was informed that the
apostate Pastor could only save his villainy from exposure by giving
immediately the position of wife to her friend _Rebecca_. She has had
this tip on the most reliable authority,--it has been furnished by
_Rebecca_ herself. Then the Pastor asks _Rebecca_ to marry him, but
is refused, for no apparent reason, unless it be that she has tired
of her guilty passion. In Act III. _Rebecca_ admits to the widower and
his brother-in-law that she has deceived the deceased, and prepares
to decamp. In the final Act the apostate Pastor declares that he has
been in love with _Rebecca_ from the first, loves her now, but is not
sure that she loves him. To set his mind at rest on this point, will
she do him a small favour? Will she be so good as to jump into the
mill-stream, and drown herself? With pleasure--and she takes a header!
He explains that courtesy forbids him to keep a lady waiting, and
follows her example! So both are drowned, and all ends happily!
And this is the plot! And what about the characters? _Rebecca_ is
merely a hysterical old maid, who would have been set right, in
the time of the Tudors, with a sound ducking; and nowadays, had
she consulted a fashionable physician, she would have been probably
ordered a sea-voyage, and a diet free from stimulants. The Pastor is
a feeble, fickle fool, who seemingly has had but one sensible idea in
his life. He has believed his wife to be mad, and, considering that
she married him, his faith in the matter rested upon evidence of an
entirely convincing nature. The _Rector Kroll_ is a prig and a bore
of the first water. When he discovers _Rebecca's_ perfidy, he suggests
that she may have inherited her proneness for treachery from her
father--and, to her distressed astonishment, he gives the name of a
gentleman, not hitherto recognised by her as a parent! The best line
in the piece, to my mind--and it certainly "went with a roar"--is a
question of the housekeeper--answered in the negative--"Have you ever
seen the Pastor laugh?" Laugh! with such surroundings! Pretentious
twaddle, that would be repulsively immoral were it less idiotic. And
As a theatre-goer for more than a quarter of a century, I dislike
undue severity, and am consequently glad to find my opinion is
shared by others. "SCRUTATOR," the Dramatic Critic of _Truth_, wrote
last week--"The few independent persons who have sat out a play by
IBSEN, be it _The Doll's House_, or _The Pillars of Society_, or
_Rosmershoelm_, have said to themselves. 'Put this stuff before the
playgoing public, risk it at an evening theatre, remove your _claque_,
exhaust your attendance of the socialist and the sexless, and then see
where your IBSEN will be.' I have never known an audience that cared
to pay to be bored, and the over-vaunted _Rosmershoelm_ bored even the
Ibsenites." I only hope it did, for they deserve their martyrdom!
I believe that you personally, my dear Editor, have never seen a
dramatic performance of the "Master's" work. I wish I could say as
much, and I shall be surprised if you do not appreciate the feeling,
after you too have partaken of this truly Lenten fare. Yours
ONE WHO LIKES IBSEN--AT A DISTANCE.
* * * * *
NEW VERSION OF AN OLD STREET BALLAD.
(_BY A LABOURING ELECTOR._)
Cheer up, cheer up, you sons of toil, and listen to my song.
The times should much amuse you; you are up, and going strong.
The Working Men of England at length begin to see
That _their_ parsnips for to butter now the Parties all agree.
_It's high time that the Working Men should have it their own way,_
_And their prospect of obtaining it grows brighter every day!_
This is the time for striking, lads; at least, it strikes me so.
Monopoly has had some knocks, and under it must go.
NORWOOD we licked; LIVESEY licked us; his was an artful plan;
But luck now turns. Ask JOHNNY BURNS, and also TOMMY MANN!
_Chorus_--It's high time, &c.
It isn't "Agitators" now, but Parties and M.P.'s,
Who swear we ought to have our way, and do as we darn please.
Upon my word it's proper fun! A man should love his neighbour;
Yet Whigs hate Tories, Tories Whigs; but oh! they _all_ love _Labour_!
_Chorus_--It's high time, &c.
There's artful JOEY CHAMBERLAIN, he _looks_ as hard as nails,
But when he wants to butter _us_, the Dorset never fails;
He lays it on so soft and slab, not to say thick and messy.
He _couldn't_ flummerify us more were each of us a JESSE!
_Chorus_--It's high time, &c.
Then roystering RANDOM takes his turn; _his_ treacle's pretty thick;
_He_ gives the Tories the straight tip,--and don't they take it--quick?
And now, by Jove, it's comical!--where _will_ the fashion end?--
There's PARNELL ups and poses as the genuine Labourer's Friend!
_Chorus_--It's high time, &c.
Comrades, it makes me chortle. The Election's drawing nigh,
And Eight Hours' Bills, or anything, they'll _promise_ for to try.
They'll spout and start Commissions; but, O mighty Labouring Host,
Mind your eye, and keep it on them, or they'll have you all on toast!
_It's high time that the Working Men should have it their own way._
_They'll strain their throats,--you mind your votes, and you may find it pay!_
* * * * *
Some other fellow, in the _P.M.G._, has been beforehand with us in
spotting "A Preface to _Dorian Gray_," by our OSCAR WILDE-r than
ever, in this month's _Fortnightly. Dorian Gray_ was published some
considerable time ago, so it belongs to ancient history, and now,
after this lapse of time, out comes the preface. And this "preface"
occupies the better part, I use this expression in all courtesy, of
two pages; which two pages represent a literary flowerbed, where rows
of bright asterisks are planted between lines of brilliant aphorisms.
The rule of the arrangement seems to be.--"when in doubt, plant
asterisks." _Sic itur ad astra._ The garden is open to all, let us
cull; here one and there one. "_To reveal Art and conceal the Artist,
is Art's aim._" Is there not in this the scent of "_Ars est celare
artem_"? "Art" includes "the Artist," of course. Then "_Puris omnia
pura_" is to be found in two other full-blown aphorisms, if I mistake
not. St. PAUL's advice to TIMOTHY is engrafted on to the stalk of
another aphorism. "Why lug in TIMOTHY?" Well, to "adapt" Scripture to
one's purpose is not to quote it. _Vade retro!_ Do we not recognise
something familiar in "_When Critics disagree the Artist is in accord
But after it is all done, and the little flower-show is over, then
arises the despairing cry of our own cherished OSCAR. It is in the
_Last of the Aphorisms_; after which, exhausted, he can only sign his
name, fling away the goose-quill, and then sink back in his luxurious
arm-chair exhausted with the mental efforts of years concentrated into
the work of one short hour. Ah! "_La plupart des livres d'a present
ont l'air d'avoir ete faits en un jour avec des livres lus de la
veille._" Ask Messrs. ROCHEFOUCAULD, CHAMFORT, RIVAROL, and JEAN
MORLE. "_Ai! Ai! Papai! Papai!_ Phillaloo! Murther in Irish!" Let
us be natural, or shut up shop. Yet there is a chance,--to be
supernatural. The great Pan is dead, so there is a seat vacant among
the gods, open to any aspirant for immortality. "_All Art is quite
useless!_" cries OSCAR WILDE-ly. And has it come to this? "Is this
the Hend?" Yes, this is his last word--for the present. Pan is dead!
* * * * *
[Illustration: "CES AUTRES."
(HEARD AT CHURCH-PARADE.)
_Captain Bergamot_. "ARE ANY OF YOUR BROTHERS IN THE SERVICE, MISS DE
_Miss de Bullion_. "YES; ONE IN THE GUARDS, AND--A--" (_with
disgust_)--"THE REST IN THE COMMON ARMY, YOU KNOW."]
* * * * *
A SONG OF SYMPATHY.
(_SOME WAY AFTER A CELEBRATED BOATING SONG._)
["Sir HENRY PARKES concluded by declaring that if the Colonies
continued separate they must become hostile communities,
and, in order that they might prevent that, it was for
the whole people to join in creating one great Union
Mr. LEO BRITANNICUS, _an Old Blue, and a sympathetic on-looker,
Capital boating weather!
Ay, and a favouring breeze!
Oars upon the feather!
Sun of the Southern Seas!
Brave boys! Swing together,
Your bodies between your knees!
Pheugh! How old memory rushes
Over me!--Pulled indeed!
Though LEO seldom gushes,
And these be of LEO's breed,
The blood of an Old Blue flushes
At the Young Blues' power and speed!
Coach them, or patronise them?
Nay, I've no call for that.
To cheer them, not to advise them,
I'm on this path,--that's pat!
Affection admiringly eyes them:--
Once in a boat I sat!
Pulled my weight at a pinch,
For odds cared never a "cuss;"
No stern-chase caused me to flinch,
But--always detested fuss.
Strain the last ounce, and inch!
Races are won, boys, _thus_!
Look a most likely lot,
Lionlets lithe and young.
Pace? They will make it hot.
Few can have feathered and swung
Better. Tall talk is rot;
But, hang it! I _must_ give tongue!
There's "Queensland" and "New South Wales,"
"Australia South" and "West,"
"Victoria,"--each one scales
Good weight, and with girth of chest;
"New Zealand's" zeal prevails,
He'll swing in time with the rest.
The hero born of Thetis
Had pluck enow. What then?
Each hero here, whose meat is
"Hard steak and harder hen,"
As stalwart and as fleet is
As the Greek first of men!
"Stroke" sets it long and steady;
_That_ gladdens a true Old Blue.
There's nothing hot and heady
In sturdy Number Two.
There are coxens sharp and ready
In the Land of the Kangaroo!
Go it, lads! Swing together!
Push elders from their stools?
Pooh! _I_ shall moult no feather;
Old boys are not always old fools.
Out upon jealous blether!
You've learnt in the best of schools.
I want to see you win, lads;
Old LEO loves his cubs.
If cynics growl or grin, lads,
We'll drive them back to their tubs.
Do you think my blood's so thin, lads,
I'd diet upon cold snubs?
The cynics think they're clever;
Beshrew their big bow-wow!
Boys, swing together ever,
Steady from stroke to bow;
One chain shall sever never--
The love-links round us now!
* * * * *
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Will someone gifted with the _nous_,
Explain the "why" of Spinning House?
Is it to strike with wholesome fear
The thoughtless Maiden whose career
Looks like a sinning one?
And thus the Judge her conscience wakes,
Since he, when passing sentence, takes
Good care to name a _Spinning_ one?
Or is it that in such a habitation,
Herself a spinster more at home might feel;
And in a Spinning House find occupation,
Provided with a decent spinning-wheel;
But there,--no matter whence it came,
Or what's the meaning hidden in its name,
About its destination there's no fear;
And judging from a noted recent case,
The Spinning House will,--it is pretty clear,--
Itself be soon sent spinning into space.
* * * * *
"Is a husband worth having?" asks _Woman_. One reply would be, "Well,
that depends on whose husband it is." But, by the way, this view was
not under consideration.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "ADVANCE, AUSTRALIA!"
BRITISH LION. "BRAVO, BOYS!--SWING TOGETHER!!"]
* * * * *
A WILD WELCOME.
February's reign of gloom
Out of mind and sight is,
Noonday darkness of the tomb,
Carbon and bronchitis.
Though the air is keen and chill,
Cloudy though the skies are,
Buoyant breaths our bosoms fill,
Free from smart our eyes are.
Bursting on the lengthening day
Bellows March the Viking,
"I have blown the fogs away;
Is this to your liking?"
Yes, thy voice o'er moor and mead
Sets the spirits bounding,
Like the Major's chartered steed
At the trumpet's sounding.
Welcome, roaring moon of dust,
Welcome, Spring's reviver;
On the race again we must
Risk the wonted fiver;
Fields are showing brighter green,
Early buds are shooting;
On the early youth is seen
The new season's suiting.
Long it is since sparrows shrill
With their chirping woke us;
There is one with busy bill
Worrying a crocus.
How they love the flow'r of spring--
Never can resist it;
What a graceful little thing--
Bother, I have miss'd it!
Now the wind along the plain
Comes with roar and clatter--
There, my hat is off again!
Let it go--no matter.
What am I, to say thee nay
In thy rudest phases?
Blow my Sunday hat away.
Blow my hat to blazes.
'Tis but little we can do
For thy bounty's measure--
Sacrifice a hat or two?
Forty hats, with pleasure.
* * * * *
KENSINGTON GARDENS SMALL TALK.
_FROM THE RAILWAY IMPROVEMENT PHRASE-BOOK._
That Nursery-maid with the three children and the perambulator will
certainly get run over by the train if she stands there gossiping with
the man in the signal-box.
That is the nineteenth horse that has run away and thrown its rider
this morning, frightened by the smoke of the passing engine.
So it is not, after all, a tornado that has swept across the Gardens,
and rooted up all these trees, but merely the firm that has taken the
contract for the making of the new line.
Yes, there is no doubt that this wooden fence, stretching right across
the Gardens, relieved by overseers' moveable hatch-houses, puffing
steam-cranes, and processions of mud-carts, rather interfere with the
beauty and tranquillity of the place, but one must really bear in mind
_that it is, after all, only to last for live years._
Ha! I thought so! There go the whole of the water-fowl under that
It is true, the Gardens are ruined, but one must not forget the
inestimable advantage to the shareholders of the public being able to
get from Paddington to Chelsea in a tunnel for twopence.
* * * * *
QUERY FOR NEXT ELECTION.--No man has a vote until he has attained his
majority. How about some districts where they are nearly all Miners?
* * * * *
MEN WHO HAVE TAKEN ME IN--TO DINNER.
(_BY A DINNER-BELLE._)
NO. II.--DON JUAN SENIOR.
To share with men the prandial gloom
Of union forced that fatal custom
Decrees to wither "youth and bloom,"
(The phrase is from _Sohrab and Rustum_)
I've suffered boredom to the full;
Professors dull--of Hindostani!
Dull wits, dull statesmen, dandies dull--
He wasn't dull--was Don GIOVANNI.
A widower _feted_ far and wide,
The jauntiest Rake who drinks the waters,
Smartest of "smart" vulgarians, pride
And terror of his decent daughters;
_Old_ Don GIOVANNI, fraught with warm
Flirtations, free to fling his cash on
The dining Duchess, "mould of form!"
Antique, good-looking "glass of fashion."
He gossiped how the Viscount bets
(Some heiress he must really "pick up"),
How noble dames smoke cigarettes
And noble heels in ballets kick up.
How "H.R.H."--_n'importe!_ my friend
Experience shows me that the _laches_
Of such as air these letters tend
In the direction of their "H"'s.
He chatted next of German Spas,
Of Continental, English "P.B.'s,"
And how our matchmaking Mammas
Are scared by Transatlantic Hebes,
How he with Royalties had graced
The latest function--genial patrons--
While Beauty, perched on barrows, raced
Before the virtuous British matrons.
And then his compliments began
To rain like drops of Frangipanni,
A most insinuating man
He was, this ancient DON GIOVANNI.
You felt, if you could half believe,
You'd but to word a whim to find it,
You quite forgot he owned a sleeve,
And several teeth to laugh behind it.
There may be kindness, lofty souls,
Great Brains, and whatso ne'er grows older,
_Him_ the Material controls:
He shrugs a sleek, good-natured shoulder.
Time scatters dalliance, joy, and joke;
Your choicest vintage passes; e'en your
Supreme tobacco ends in smoke--
And so will poor DON JUAN, Senior.
* * * * *
MRS. MALAPROP is much puzzled at the announcement that it is proposed
to construct a new Tubercular Railway between England and France.
* * * * *
SONGS BY A CYNIC.
What's Love, and all that Love can bring,
Youth's earliest illusion:
What tender words _she_ used to sing,
And blush with sweet confusion.
How you would hang upon each word,
When under spells of Cupid;
When half she said was most absurd,
And all extremely stupid.
You loved her for her hair of gold.
Unwitting that she dyed it;
She vowed her love could ne'er grow cold,
Though Time had never tried it.
Your worship came to such a pass,
That, when you calmly view it,
You feel you were an utter ass,
Though then you never knew it.
What happened? Why, the usual thing:
While round her you would linger,
Her love was fragile as the ring
You bought to grace her finger.
She went off with another man,
And so you had to sever:
Thus women since the world began
Have done, and will do ever.
* * * * *
REVELATIONS OF A REVELLER.
I revelled at the Albert Hall, which last week was given up to a
festival called "_The Coming Race_." I was there at the opening on
Thursday, the 5th, when Princess BEATRICE, attended by her husband,
Prince HENRY of Battenberg, declared the Bazaar open. A gay and
festive scene. Here, there, and everywhere, Egyptian houses made
of cardboard, containing stalls full of the most useful articles
imaginable. On the dais, a number of sweet-faced ladies presenting
purses (containing L3 3s. and upwards) to the Princess, who received
them with an affability which won the hearts of all beholders. On the
floor of the building was a gaily-dressed throng, which included many
a distinguished person. The revelry continued for three days, and was,
I trust, the means of obtaining funds for a charity which, no doubt,
is most deserving of support. And here, I may say, I revelled so much
at the Albert Hall, that I had no desire to revel anywhere else.
* * * * *
FETE OR FATE?
OR, HOPPERS IN COVENT GARDEN, MARCH 4TH.
(_BY MR. PUNCH'S OWN IMPRESSIONIST._)
Lights and bouquets--flush and flare--
Motley medley--splash affair--
Deft disguises--flute and fife--
Half the world without his wife--
Dominos, and masks, and faces--
Graces three--and three Disgraces.
Janes in office--ancient stagers--
(Burlington) Arcadian tresses--
Primrose damsels,--clowns and follies,--
Macaronis, rather muddy,
Of the central stud a study--
England's mashers, Afric's dark sons--
NATHAN's stock-in-trade and CLARKSON's--
All costumes not apt the back to,
Some of them inclined to crack too--
Martyred revellers in upper
Rooms, and singing for their supper.
Bright confusion--many a mad hunt--
Five o'clock--_and wish I hadn't._
* * * * *
SOMETHING MARVELLOUS IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.--Revival of _Charles
the First_!!! (at the Lyceum).
* * * * *
[Illustration: ALL-ROUND POLITICIANS. NO. 2.--ARTHUR GOLFOUR.]
* * * * *
MR. JONATHAN AND MISS CANADA.
"What are you doing, my pretty Maid?"
"I'm coming from voting, Sir," she said.
"May I question you, my pretty Maid?"
"Yes, if you please, kind Sir," she said.
"Who is your father, my pretty Maid?"
"JOHN BULL is my father, Sir," she said.
"And what is your fortune, my pretty Maid?"
"My race is my fortune, Sir," she said.
"Then I can't annex you, my pretty Maid!"
"Nobody axed you, Sir!" she said.
* * * * *
GIVING A LODGER NOTICE TO QUIT.--_Mr. Punch_, Perpetual Universal
Grand Past, Present, and Future Master, congratulates H.R.H., Grand
Master of English Freemasons, on his plucky and straightforward action
with regard to the G.M. of Otago and Southland, New Zealand, who,
having contravened the resolution of Grand Lodge, March 6, 1878,
may now exclaim, in bitterness of spirit, "O for a Lodge in some
great Wilderness!" "for," says in effect, H.R.H., G.M., as the once
frequently quoted Somebody observed to a person whose name was _not_
Dr. FERGUSON, "you don't lodge here!"
* * * * *
RECIPROCITY.--"MACE," in _The Illustrated London News_, says,
sweepingly:--"No Under-Secretary ever has any opinion of his
own." Perhaps that is why the Public seldom has any opinion of an
[Illustration: AMERICAN "COPYRIGHT BILL" IN A NEW PART.
"The extinction of literary piracy in America has been
decreed."--_Times Leader, March 5._]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
_House of Commons, Monday, March 2._--Navy Estimates on to-night.
Millions of money to be voted, and only fourteen Members present. One,
it is true, is HARCOURT; so perhaps the most accurate enumeration of
the aggregate would be fifteen.
"_Que diable allait-il faire dans ce_ jolly-boat?" GEORGE HAMILTON
asks, pausing for a moment in his incessant occupation of tearing up
strips of paper to glance across table at portly figure reclining on
Front Opposition Bench. Several Admirals and Captains have spoken.
Members generally have fled the burning deck. Even OLD MORALITY's
sense of duty to his Queen and Country cannot restrain his flight;
but CASABIANCA HARCOURT still remains. A little provoking for the
Old Salts descanting on Naval affairs to observe smile of pitying
toleration with which he listens. Doesn't _say_ they're all wrong, but
smiles it. Even the voice of the Reverberating COLOMB falters when,
glancing round the great gaps of empty Benches opposite, his eye falls
"Sir, I repeat," he said, quite angrily, though no one had
contradicted him, "that during the period that has elapsed since
commencement of the present reign, the revenue of the United Kingdom
has increased only one-and-a-half times, while that of the outlying
Empire has multiplied five-fold."
General admission that HARCOURT is a master in nearly every department
of human knowledge. Up to to-night fondly thought that at least he
knew nothing about the Navy. But he does; knows more than Admiral
FIELD, or Admiral MAYNE, or even Colonel GOURLEY. Presently rose and
delivered slashing speech, laying low the Reverberating COLOMB as
if he had been set up in the Place Vendome; reviewing the British
Fleet in masterly style; nimbly running up the mainmast and sighting
Jerusalem and Madagascar, to the absolute confounding of the First
Lord of the Admiralty.
[Illustration: Something more than his full height.]
"Well," said KERANS, drawing himself up to something more than his
full height, "that's the most remarkable exhibition I ever heard,
even from HARCOURT. We've nothing like it on our side. HOWORTH knows
a thing or two, and HANBURY isn't lacking in accomplishment; but
for versatility, for profundity of knowledge, for readiness of
grasp, whether the object be a lawyer's brief, a Chancellor of the
Exchequer's ledger, the hilt of a sword, or the tiller of a ship,
give me HARCOURT."
_Business done_.--Committee on the Navy Estimates.
_Tuesday_.--WOLMER asked OLD MORALITY what about the Fog? Couldn't
something be done to lighten it, say by appointment of Royal
Commission? OLD MORALITY beamed across House upon his young friend
with expression of almost paternal solicitude. WOLMER is Whip of the
allied force. What did he mean by suddenly springing this question on
the First Lord of the Treasury? Was there more in it than met the eye?
Had it something to do, however obscurely, with the maintenance of the
CHAMBERLAIN sat on the Front Bench opposite, staring straight into
space with Sphynx-like countenance. HARTINGTON, with hat cunningly
tipped over eyes, hid what secret may have lain far in their pellucid
depths. HENRY JAMES became suddenly absorbed in the brown gaiters
he has recently added to the graces of his personal appearance, in
pathetic admission that the natural charms of youth are at length
Nothing to be gained by the inspection. If the cause of the Union
really was at stake, the springs of motive were hidden behind the
smiling countenance of the Machiavellian WOLMER. The only thing to
do, and it is quite foreign to the habits of OLD MORALITY, was to
meet guile with guile. WOLMER's question, plain enough as it appeared
in print on the prosaic Orders, was, "Will Her Majesty's Ministers
consider the advisability of appointing a Royal Commission to examine
and report how far the evil of Fog is one that may be mitigated by
"Sir," said OLD MORALITY, rising to the occasion, "I have to assure my
Noble Friend that Her Majesty's Government are, in common with other
inhabitants of the Metropolis, extremely sensible of the serious
injury, disturbance, and hardship inflicted by the increasing
prevalence of fog. What, it may be asked, is the cause of the London
fog? These fogs, which occur generally in the winter time, are
occasioned thus: some current of air, being suddenly cooled, descends
into the warm streets, forcing back the smoke in a mass towards the
earth. But, my Noble Friend might ask, why are there not fogs every
night? I will tell him, for this is a matter in which Her Majesty's
Government have nothing to hide, or, I may add, to conceal. Our wish
is to meet the convenience of Hon. Gentlemen in whatever part of the
House they sit. Fogs--this I have no hesitation in stating--do not
supervene without intermission on successive nights, because the air
will always hold in solution a certain quantity of vapour which varies
according to its temperature, and when the air is not saturated,
it may be cooled without parting with its vapour. Yes, I know.
My Right Hon. Friend, the Member for West Birmingham, with his
usual acumen--which I am sure we all recognise--asks me, In what
circumstances do fogs occur at night? I am much obliged to him for
reminding me of the point. Fogs happen at night, when the air has
been saturated with vapour during the day. When this is the case, it
deposits some of its superabundant moisture in the form known in rural
districts--as my Hon. Friend, the Member for the Bordesley Division,
is well aware--as dew. In the Metropolis it is more familiar as fog.
This process of deposition commences as soon as the capacity of the
air for holding vapour is lessened by the coldness of advancing night.
I think I have now answered the question of my Noble Friend fully,
and, I trust, frankly. He will, I am sure, upon consideration,
see that this is not a matter with which a Royal Commission could
be expected successfully to cope, and, therefore, I may add, Her
Majesty's Government do not, after full consideration of their duty
to the QUEEN and Country, think it desirable to adopt the suggestion
thrown out by my Noble Friend."
[Illustration: Feeling his Way through the Fog.]
BRAMSTON BEACH's face during this subtle discourse a study; remained
very quiet for rest of sitting; told me at ten minutes to eleven he
thought he was beginning to grasp OLD MORALITY's meaning. "Yes," he
added, with more cheerfulness, "I'm feeling my way through the fog."
_Business done_.--STANSFELD's Franchise Resolution negatived by 291
Votes against 189.
_Thursday_.--In Lords to-night, three white figures fluttered down
gently on to red Benches, like virgin flakes of snow. But, unlike
snow, they didn't melt. On close examination, turned out to be three
new Bishops; two of them old friends, with new titles.
"Like _Bottom_, translated," BRAMWELL growls.
Dr. MAGEE, walking out Bishop of Peterborough, comes back Archbishop
of York. The ceremony of their installation not nearly so comic as
that of ordinary Peers of Parliament. Garter King-at-Arms does not
appear; nor Black Rod; nor is there any game of Follow-my-leader round
"No, no," said the MARKISS, who Mr. G. quite unjustly says has no
strain of reverence in his disposition, "that would never do. Must be
careful with our Bishops."
[Illustration: The Inflammable Liquor Bill.]
So the three new-comers, having paid their respects to the
LORD-CHANCELLOR, straightway took their seats on the Episcopal Bench,
folded their hands over their surpliced knees, and lent an added air
of peace and purity to the precincts.
DENMAN bustling about, weighed down with cares of State. Had promised
to bring into Lords ATKINSON's Muffin-Bell Bill, limiting duration of
Speeches. But Bill stuck in the Commons, whilst ATKINSON turned his
attention to his Dowagers Bill.
"ATKINSON's a good fellow," said DENMAN. "Have sometimes thought an
alliance between him and me, a sort of coalition between two estates
of the realm, might work great things. But I'm beginning to lose
confidence in him. At certain periods of the lunar month he's too
comprehensive in his legislative ambition. Why wasn't he content
with his Muffin-Bell Bill? Why drag in the Dowager? These Dowagers,
dear TOBY, have, if I may say so--using the phrase strictly in
Parliamentary sense--got their arms round the neck of my friend
ATKINSON, and will pull him down. It's a pity, for I think, between
us, we could have put things straight generally."
_Business done_.--Navy Estimates in Commons.
_Friday_.--PHILIPPE EGALITE very rarely troubles House with ordered
speech. A good deal on his mind looking after JACOBY, and keeping
the Party straight. But his silence doesn't arise from incapacity to
speak. This shown to-night in his speech on Railway Rates and Charges.
Full of good matter, admirably delivered. After this, Dr. CLARK
proposed to discuss Home Rule; but House didn't seem to care about
it particularly. So at Half-past Eight was Counted Out. This was the
chief _Business done_.
* * * * *
THE FINE YOUNG GERMAN EMPEROR.
(_A NEW SONG TO AN OLD TUNE._)
I'll sing to you a brand new song, made by a modern pate,
Of a fine young German Emperor, an Oracle of State,
Who kept up his autocracy at the bountiful old rate,
With the aid of Socialism for the poor men at his gate;
This fine young German Emperor, all of the modern time.
His ancestors had "kept their fingers on the pulse of time"
(He said), and he'd do ditto in a fashion more sublime;
For, as BACON said of Nature, he who'd rule her must obey.
And that with modern "tendency," is the new imperial way,
Of this fine young German Emperor, &c.
He'd "mastered the new Spirit," which (how kind!) "he'd not oppose."
Social reform or Education _he_'d not treat as foes,
But keep step with the "Tendencies" which else might trip his toes,
And thus he'd "head the movement," and would lead it (by the nose?),
This fine young German Emperor, &c.
Now surely this is better far than all the old parade
Of tyranny in mufti, and of greed in masquerade;
And of this young German Emperor, whatever may be said,
Or of his new vagaries, you'll allow _he knows his trade_,
Does this fine young German Emperor, &c.
There were some who did not like it,--there are always such, one knows,
Who Ancient Order patronise, and Modern Style oppose.
Particularly one Old Man, who plainly did not see
Laying down his long-held power, and submitting tranquilly
To this fine young German Emperor, &c.
_He_ was no CINCINNATUS, and he did not love the plough,
So he talked, inspired the Papers, and, in fact, roused lots of row.
For this man of Blood and Iron, when thus laid upon the shelf,
Found that long control of others did _not_ mean control of self,
_Or_ this fine young German Emperor, &c.
Then this fine young German Emperor, who aims to lead the dance,
Has a very trying _vis-a-vis_, that fractious dame, _La France_,
To keep step with that lady, without treading on her train,
Would tax Terpsichore herself; _he_ finds the effort vain;
Does this fine young German Emperor, &c.
So this fine young German Emperor has got a stiffish task,
That all his strength will occupy, and all his tact will task.
Let us wish him patriot wisdom, _and_ respect for Elder Fame,
And then he'll give his country peace, and leave a noble name,
This fine young German Emperor, all of the modern time!
* * * * *
A ROUGH CROSSING.
That military-looking gentleman, with his arm in a sling, and his head
covered with bandages, has, I suppose, just returned from fighting the
Dacoits in Upper Burmah?
I certainly _am_ surprised when you inform me that he has only tried
to cross a London street in a fog.
Do you really mean to say that the vehicle that just thundered past at
twenty miles an hour, in the mist, was _not_ a fire-engine, but only a
Yes, I believe it _is_ a fact that special beds in all the Hospitals
are now reserved for Van-victims.
Of course it is difficult for a man in the Van to look to the Rear;
still he need not swoop down on pedestrians quite so much like a
highwayman, saying, "Your collar-bone or your life!"
If things go on as they are now doing, every covered Van will have to
carry its own Surgeon and ambulance about with it.
What is that crowd for, and why is somebody shouting angrily? Oh, I
suppose the old gentleman, who has been run over by the Coal-waggon
and is lying bleeding on the asphalte, is remonstrating with the
What? Can it really be the case that the driver is abusing the old
gentleman for his stupidity in getting in his way?
I _have_ heard that the Insurance Companies now insert in their
policies a condition forbidding the crossing of any street in London,
except under police escort.
And, finally, as nearly six thousand persons were run down in the
streets of the Capital last year, is it not almost time that something
were done to check the Van Mazeppa-Juggernaut in his wild career?
* * * * *
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