Punch, Or The London Charivari, Vol. 100, May 23, 1891
Produced by Malcolm Farmer, William Flis, and the Online Distributed
OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
May 23, 1891.
MR. PUNCH'S POCKET IBSEN.
(_CONDENSED AND REVISED VERSION, BY MR. P.'S OWN HARMLESS IBSENITE._)
NO. IV.--THE WILD DUCK.
_At WERLE's house. In front a richly-upholstered study.
(R.) a green-baize door leading to WERLE's office. At back,
open folding doors, revealing an elegant dining-room, in
which a brilliant Norwegian dinner-party is going on. Hired
Waiters in profusion. A glass is tapped with a knife. Shouts
of "Bravo!" Old Mr. WERLE is heard making a long speech,
proposing--according to the custom of Norwegian society on
such occasions--the health of his Housekeeper, Mrs. SOeRBY.
Presently several short-sighted, flabby, and thin-haired
Chamberlains, enter from the dining-room, with HIALMAR
EKDAL, who writhes shyly under their remarks._
_A Chamberlain_. As we are the sole surviving specimens of Norwegian
nobility, suppose we sustain our reputation as aristocratic sparklers
by enlarging upon the enormous amount we have eaten, and chaffing
HIALMAR EKDAL, the friend of our host's son, for being a professional
[Illustration: "Father, a word with you in private. I loathe you!"]
_The other Chamberlains_. Bravo! We will.
[_They do; delight of HIALMAR. Old WERLE comes in, leaning
on his Housekeeper's arm, followed by his son, GREGERS
_Old Werle_ (_dejectedly_). Thirteen at table! (_To_ GREGERS, _with
a meaning glance at_ HIALMAR.) This is the result of inviting an old
College friend who has turned Photographer! Wasting vintage wines on
[_He passes on gloomily._
_Hialmar_ (_to Gregers_). I am almost sorry I came. Your old min is
_not_ friendly. Yet he set me up as a Photographer fifteen years ago.
_Now_ he takes me down! But for him, I should never have married GINA,
who, you may remember, was a servant in your family once.
_Gregers_. What? my old College friend married fifteen years ago--and
to our GINA, of all people! If I had not been up at the works all
these years, I suppose I should have heard something of such an event.
But my father never mentioned it. Odd!
[_He ponders; Old EKDAL comes out through the green-baize
door, bowing, and begging pardon, carrying copying work. Old
WERLE says "Ugh" and "Puh" involuntarily. HIALMAR shrinks
back, and looks another way. A Chamberlain asks him
pleasantly if he knows that old man._
_Hialmar_. I--oh no. Not in the least. No relation!
_Gregers_ (_shocked_). What, HIALMAR, you, with your great soul, deny
your own father!
_Hialmar_ (_vehemently_). Of course--what else _can_ a Photographer
do with a disreputable old parent, who has been in a Penitentiary
for making a fraudulent map? I shall leave this splendid banquet. The
Chamberlains are not kind to me, and I feel the crushing hand of fate
on my head! [_Goes out hastily, feeling it._
_Mrs. Soerby_ (_archly_). Any Nobleman here say "Cold Punch"?
[_Every Nobleman says "Cold Punch," and follows her out in
search of it with enthusiasm. GREGERS approaches his father,
who wishes he would go._
_Gregers_. Father, a word with you in private. I loathe you. I am
nothing if not candid. Old EKDAL was your partner once, and it's my
firm belief you deserved a prison quite as much as he did. However,
you surely need not have married our GINA to my old friend HIALMAR.
You know very well she was no better than she should have been!
_Old Werle_. True--but then no more is Mrs. SOeRBY. And _I_ am going to
marry _her_--if you have no objection, that is.
_Gregers_. None in the world! How can I object to a stepmother who
is playing Blind Man's Buff at the present moment with the Norwegian
nobility? I am not so overstrained as all that. But really I can_not_
allow my old friend HIALMAR, with his great, confiding, childlike
mind, to remain in contented ignorance of GINA's past. No, I see my
mission in life at last! I shall take my hat, and inform him that his
home is built upon a lie. He will be _so_ much obliged to me! [_Takes
his hat, and goes out._
_Old Werle_. Ha!--I am a wealthy merchant, of dubious morals, and I
am about to marry my housekeeper, who is on intimate terms with the
Norwegian aristocracy. I have a son who loathes me, and who is either
an Ibsenian satire on the Master's own ideals, or else an utterly
impossible prig--I don't know or care which. Altogether, I flatter
myself my household affords an accurate and realistic picture of
_HIALMAR EKDAL's Photographic Studio. Cameras, neck-rests,
and other instruments of torture lying about. GINA EKDAL and
HEDWIG, her daughter, aged 14, and wearing spectacles,
discovered sitting up for HIALMAR._
_Hedvig_. Grandpapa is in his room with a bottle of brandy and a jug
of hot water, doing some fresh copying work. Father is in society,
dining out. He promised he would bring me home something nice!
_Hialmar_ (_coming in, in evening dress_). And he has not forgotten
his promise, my child. Behold! (_he presents her with the menu card;
HEDVIG gulps down her tears_; HIALMAR _notices her disappointment,
with annoyance._) And this all the gratitude I get! After dining out
and coming home in a dress-coat and boots, which are disgracefully
tight! Well, well, just to show you how hurt I am, I won't have any
_beer_ now! What a selfish brute I am! (_Relenting._) You may bring
me just a little drop. (_He bursts into tears._) I will play you a
plaintive Bohemian dance on my flute. (_He does._) No beer at such a
sacred moment as this! (_He drinks._) Ha, this is real domestic bliss!
[_GREGERS WERLE comes in, in a countrified suit._
_Gregers_. I have left my father's home--dinner-party and all--for
ever. I am coming to lodge with you.
_Hialmar_ (_still melancholy_). Have some bread and butter. You won't?
then I _will_. I want it, after your father's lavish hospitality.
(_HEDVIG goes to fetch bread and butter._) My daughter--a poor
shortsighted little thing--but mine own.
_Gregers_. My father has had to take to strong glasses, too--he
can hardly see after dinner. (_To Old EKDAL, who stumbles in very
drunk._) How can you, Lieutenant EKDAL, who were such a keen sportsman
once, live in this poky little hole?
_Old Ekdal_. I am a sportsman still. The only difference is that once
I shot bears in a forest, and now I pot tame rabbits in a garret.
Quite as amusing--and safer.
[_He goes to sleep on a sofa._
_Hialmar_ (_with pride_). It is quite true. You shall see.
[_He pushes back sliding doors, and reveals a garret full of
rabbits and poultry--moonlight effect. HEDVIG returns with
bread and butter._
_Hedvig_ (_to GREGERS_). If you stand just there, you get the best
view of our Wild Duck. We are very proud of her, because she gives the
play its title, you know, and has to be brought into the dialogue a
good deal. Your father, peppered her out shooting, and we saved her
_Hialmar_. Yes, GREGERS, our estate is not large--but still we
preserve, you see. And my poor old father and I sometimes get a day's
gunning in the garret. He shoots with a pistol, which my illiterate
wife here _will_ call a "pigstol." He once, when he got into trouble,
pointed it at himself. But the descendant of two lieutenant-colonels
who had never quailed before living rabbit yet, faltered then. He
_didn't_ shoot. Then I put it to my own head. But at the decisive
moment, I won the victory over myself. I remained in life. Now we
only shoot rabbits and fowls with it. After all I am very happy and
contented as I am. [_He eats some bread and butter._
_Gregers_. But you ought _not_ to be. You have a good deal of the
Wild Duck about you. So have your wife and daughter. You are living
in marsh vapours. To-morrow I will take you out for a walk and explain
what I mean. It is my mission in life. Good night! [_He goes out._
_Gina and Hedwig_. What _was_ the gentleman talking about, Father?
_Hialmar_ (_eating bread and butter_). He has been dining, you know.
No matter--what _we_ have to do now, is to put my disreputable old
whitehaired pariah of a parent to bed.
[_He and GINA lift old ECCLES--we mean old EKDAL--up by the
legs and arms, and take him off to led as the Curtain falls._
* * * * *
COCKNEY MOTTO FOR A FEEBLE CRICKETER.--"Take 'Art of GRACE!"
* * * * *
[Illustration: PROPOSED HERALDIC DEVICE FOR THE LONDON COUNTY COUNCIL.
(_See opposite page._)]
* * * * *
KEY TO THE PROPOSED HERALDIC DEVICE.
_Arms_.--Quarterly: 1. A female figure habited in white robes reaching
to the ankles, with Arms elevated, all quite proper, for _Grace_. 2.
A wildman or ratepayer rampant, for _Thrift_. 3. A bend (or bar)
sinister on a chart vert, for _Bloomsbury_. 4. Three demi-councillors,
wings elevated, regardant an empty seat, for _Vacancy_.
_Crest_.--On a beadle's hat erased, a new broom.
_Supporters_.--Dexter, a Paul Pry regardant, grasping an eyeglass
sinister. Sinister, a Stiggins. Both gorged.
_Motto_.--"_Ubi nunc sumus?_"
* * * * *
FAMILIARITY BREEDS RESPECT.
(_A PAGE FROM THE DIARY OF A WOULD-BE BUT COULDN'T-BE DUELLIST._)
_Monday_.--Arrived on the ground ready to fight my opponent to the
death. We had just measured the ground, when an agent of Police
appeared upon the scene, and we had to decamp hurriedly. Duel
postponed till to-morrow.
_Tuesday_.--New spot chosen. Pistols this time instead of rapiers.
Just as we were about to fire, appearance of the agents of the law.
Postponement again absolutely necessary.
_Wednesday_.--Once more ready to meet. Both of us rather amused at
the precautions we have to take to prevent interruption. Opponent
obligingly suggested a new and suitable spot for the settlement of
our little differences. Found it to be a most excellent selection,
but before we could fight, once more interrupted. Both of us greatly
annoyed, and arranged to meet to-morrow.
_Thursday_.--Amused to find myself first in the field--my opponent
five minutes late. Both of us had come before the seconds, and so
spent the time in a pleasant little chat, and cigarettes. My opponent
not half a bad fellow when you come to know him. Just as he was in the
middle of a most amusing story, our seconds arrived--with the Police!
Postponement once more imperative.
_Friday_.--Opponent turned up first, and, at my request, completed
his yesterday's story--one of the best I have ever heard. Most amusing
chap--should have liked to have heard another, when, finding ourselves
uninterrupted, we thought we had better seize the opportunity to
settle our affair of honour. Our customary luck! Seemingly had just
time to kill one another, when enter the Police! Programme as before.
_Saturday_.--Met again. Really quite pleased to have made the
acquaintance of such a nice fellow as my opponent. Full of fun and
anecdote. On comparing notes, we found that we had entirely forgotten
what on earth we had quarrelled about. So shook hands and arranged
that if we fired at anyone, our target should be the Police.
* * * * *
A PLEA FOR THE CART-HORSE PARADE SOCIETY.
All who love English horses, and back English Trade,
Should welcome the annual "Cart-Horse Parade."
No function of Fashion on Racecourse or Row
Should "fetch" our equestrian enthusiast so.
First-rate English horses in holiday guise!
A sight that to please a true Britisher's eyes.
And then the Society--surely _that_ will be
Supported by Britons. Ask good WALTER GILBEY
(Cambridge House, Regent's Park). He will tell you no doubt
What the C.-H.P.S. have, some time, been about.
Fancy prizes to Carmen for care of their horses!
That charms a horse-lover. To plump the resources
Of such a Society--by their support
In subscriptions--all friends of the horse and of sport
Should surely be eager; so, horse-lovers willing,
Despatch the gold pound plus the odd silver shilling!
* * * * *
HISTORY AND ART.--Doubts have been thrown on the genuineness of the
story about St. ELIZABETH of Hungary as illustrated by Mr. CALDERON's
well-known and striking picture in this year's Academy. Mr. CALDERON
affirms, according to the best of his high lights, that he has simply
portrayed the naked truth. So far, in a certain sense, the Court is
with him. Still, historians are neither unbiassed nor infallible, and
painters are inclined to sacrifice much for effect. For our part,
we should be inclined to refer the situation, which this picture
illustrates, to some incident in the life of the celebrated Miss
ELIZABETH MARTIN, generally known as "BETTY MARTIN." The legend may
be found in some work by that voluminous writer _Finis_, or by the
oft-quoted _Ibid_, under the quaint heading, _Historia Mei et Beati
* * * * *
THE PICK OF THE PICTURES. (AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY.)
[Illustration: No. 164. Pilling Him. Affectionate wife insisting on
the invalid taking a Bolus. Sidney Paget.]
[Illustration: No. 259. "A Select Committee." H. Stacy Marks, R.A.]
No. 278. "_The Fleecy Charge_." A title that suggests an attempt at
extortion, but is here applied to _A picture in wool-work_ by the
veteran, T. SYDNEY COOPER, R.A. Of course whatever the artist may ask
for it, it will always be "sheep at the price."
No. 388. "_Writing a Message to St. Helena_." Hope St. Helena received
it. Probably forwarded by a winged messenger as suggested by the name
of the artist, which is EYRE CROWE, A.
No. 519. "_Gorse_." By DAVID MURRAY. Good? Why certainly, as a matter
No. 697. Rather mixed subject, being "_Eventide_" by KNIGHT.
No. 1161. "_A Maiden Fair_." By G.A. STOREY, A. Never heard of such a
thing as "a Maiden Fair," except in Oriental countries. She seems to
be having all the fun of the Fair to herself. This concludes a series
of Storeys in four numbers, 356, 704, 1043 and 1161, making up his
"Tale." "And now my STOREY's done," that is, for this Season.
No. 1962. "_Triumph_" of ADRIAN JONES. It is so. Quite a triumph. The
SMITHS, BROWNS and ROBINSONS nowhere compared with A. JONES.
No. 2001. "_H.M. Stanley--bust._" Is he? Poor STANLEY! It is to be
hoped that the EMIN-ent explorer will forgive the sculptor, who is
C.B. BIRCH, A. Fancy the indomitable STANLEY never yet beaten, but
BIRCH'd at last!
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S PRIZE NOVELS.
NO. XVIII.--MARIAN MUFFET: A ROMANCE OF BLACKMORE.
(_BY_ R.D. EXMOOR, _AUTHOR OF "BORN A SPOON;" "PADDOCK ROWEL;" "WIT
AND WITTY;" "TIPS FOR MARRIERS;" "SCARE A FAWN;" "'BRELLAS FOR RAIN,"
&C., &C., &C._)
["This," writes Mr. EXMOOR, "is another of my simple tales.
Yet I send it forth into the world thinking that haply there
may be some, and they not of the baser sort, who reading
therein as the humour takes them, may draw from it nurture
for their minds. For truly it is in the nature of fruit-trees,
whereof, without undue vaunting, I may claim to know somewhat,
that the birds of the air, the tits, the wrens, ay, even unto
the saucy little sparrows, whose firm spirit in warfare hath
ever been one of my chiefest marvels, should gather in the
branches seeking for provender. So in books, and herein too
I have some small knowledge, those that are of the ripest
sort are ever the first to be devoured. And if the public
be pleased, how shall he that made the book feel aught but
gratitude. Therefore I let it go, not being blind in truth
to the faults thereof, but with humble confidence too in much
Fate, that makes sport alike of peasants and of kings, turning the
one to honour and a high seat, and making the other to lie low in the
estimation of men, though haply (as 'tis said in our parish) he think
no small beer of himself, hath seemingly ordained that I, THOMAS
TIDDLER, should set down in order some doings wherein I had a share.
And herein I make no show of learning, being but an undoctrined farmer
and not skilled in the tricks of style, as the word is in these parts,
but trusting simply to strength and honesty (whereof, God knows,
there is but little beyond the limits of our farm), and to that breezy
carriage of the pen which favoureth a plain man treading sturdily the
winding paths and rough places of his native tongue. Notwithstanding
I take no small encouragement from this, that whereas of those that
have made to my knowledge the bravest boasting and the loudest puffing
(though of this I am loth to speak, never having had a stomach for
the work), the writings often perish neglectfully and nothing said,
some, writing afar in quiet places removed from the busy rabblement
of towns, not seldom steer their course to fame and riches, whereof,
thanks be to Heaven, I never yet had covetousness, deeming theirs the
happier lot to whom a dry crust with haply a slice of our good country
cheese and a draught of the foaming cider bring contentment. Each to
his own fashion, say I, and the fashion of the TIDDLERS hath always
been in a manner plain and unvarnished, like to the large oak press
wherein mother stores her Sunday gown and other woman's finery such
as the mind of man, being at best but a coarse week-day creature, hath
never fairly conceived. But lo! I am tarrying on my way, losing myself
in a maze of cheap fancies, while the reader perchance yawns and
stretches his limbs as though for bed. All I know is paper and ink are
cheaper than when I began to write.
Now it fell on a Summer morning, I being then but newly come home
from the Farmers' College, in the ancient town of Cambridge, that our
whole household was gathered together in our parlour. Mother sat by
the head of the great table, ladling out a savoury mess of porridge,
not rashly, as the custom of some is, but carefully, like a prudent
housewife, guarding her own. And by her side sat MOLLY and BETTY, her
daughters, and next to them the maids, and they that pertained to the
work of the house. First came old POLLY THISTLEDEW, gaunt of face, and
parched of skin, the wrinkles running athwart her face, and over her
hooked nose, like to the rivers drawn with much labour of meandering
pen in the schoolboys' maps, though for such my marks were always low,
I being better skilled in the giving of raps with the closed fist than
in the making of maps with inky fingers--a bootless toil, as it always
hath seemed to me. Next to her sat SALLY, the little milkmaid, casting
coy glances at mother, who would have none of them, but with undue
sternness, as I thought then, and still think, tossed them back to the
shame-faced SALLY. Lower down sat JOHN TOOKER, "GIRT JAN DOUBLEFACE"
he was ever called, not without a sly hint of increasing obesity,
for JOHN, though a mighty man of thews and sinews, was no small
trencherman, and, as the phrase is, did himself right royally whenever
porridge was in question. All these sat, peaceably swallowing, while
I, at the table's foot, faced mother, stirring my steaming bowl with
my forefinger, forgetting the heat thereof, but not daring to wince,
lest BETTY, whose tongue cut shrewdly when she had a mind, should make
sport of me.
Although I had, for the most part, so very stout an appetite that my
bowl stood always first for the refilling, I had no desire for my food
that day, but idly sat and stirred, and the burden of my thoughts wore
deeply inward with the dwelling of my mind on this view and on that of
it. But, on a sudden, what a turmoil, what a rising of maids, what a
jumping on chairs, what a drawing up of gowns, and what a scurrying!
For, out of a corner, comes the great brown rat, gliding sedately,
and never so much as asking by your leave or with your leave. Then
mother's old tom-cat, _Trouncer_, slowly rising, stretches his limbs,
and bares his claws, making ready for what is to come, but not,
me-thinks, with much alacrity for the conflict, for rats have teeth,
as _Trouncer_ knows--ay, and can use them to much purpose. Therefore
_Trouncer_, making belief to be brave, as is the custom both of
cats and of others that walk on two legs, and have thumbs to their
fore-paws, gathers himself to the spring, but springs not. Then comes
GIRT JAN's terrier, _Rouser_, at last--where hath the terrier been
tarrying? Terriers should not tarry--and, with scant ceremony, leaps
upon _Trouncer_. Cuff, cuff, go the claws. _Trouncer_ swears roundly.
Nay, _Trouncer_, 'tis a coward's part to fly beneath the chair.
To him, good _Rouser_, to him, my man. But _Rouser_ hath forgot
the claw-bearer, though his bleeding nose for many a day shall
remember. _Rouser_ hath the rat in view. Round the parlour they go,
helter-skelter, _Rouser_ on the tracks of the life-desiring rat, while
the maids upon the chairs show ankles, in proof of terror, until, lo!
he hath him pinned fast, never more to stir, or clean his whiskers in
And then all come down, and JAN boasts loudly how he all but trod him
flat, ay, and could have done so had rat not fled in terror of his
boot; and _Trouncer_ returns, smugly purring, and mother rates the
And I to the fields, having work to do, but liking not the doing.
Now I with _Rouser_ at my heels went manfully on my way. Gaily I went
over the parched brown wastes where lately the flood had lain heavy
upon the land, past the whispering copses of fir and beech and oak
that top the upland, through the yellowing corn that stands waving
golden promise in the valley, till I came to where the land bends
suddenly with a sharp turn from the eastward whence a pearly brook,
now swollen to a roaring torrent, babbles bravely over the stones.
Sudden I stopped as though a palsy had gripped me, though of the
TIDDLERS, as is well known, none hath ever suffered of a palsy, they
being for the most part a lusty race, and apt for enduring moisture
both within and without. Never till my dying day shall I forget the
sight that met my eyes. For there seated upon a tuffet, her beautiful
blue eyes fixed in horror and despair, her jug of curds and whey
scarce tasted, was my MARIAN, while beside her, lolling at ease with
the slothful stretch of his great limbs, and the flames as of Tophet
in his fierce eyes sat SPIDER, the great black-haired giant SPIDER
that would make a feast of her.
I know not how I ran, nor what mighty strength was in my limbs, but
in a moment I was with them, and his hairy throat was in my clutch.
Quickly he turned upon me and fain had freed himself. Our breast-bones
cracked in the conflict, his arms wound round and round me, and a
hideous gleam of triumph was in his face. Thrice he had me off my
feet, but at the fourth close I swayed him to the right, and then with
one last heave I flung him on his back, and had the end of it, leaving
him dead and flattened where he lay.
Then gently I bore my MARIAN home, and mother greeted her fondly,
saying, "Miss MUFFET, I presume?" which pleased me, thinking it only
right that mother should use ceremony with my love. But she, poor
darling, lay quiet and pale, scarce knowing her own happiness or the
issue of the fight. For 'tis the way of women ever to faint if the
occasion serve and a man's arms be there to prop them. And often
in the warm summer-time, when the little lads and lasses gather to
the plucking of buttercups and daisies, likening them gleefully to
the gold and silver of a rich man's coffers, my darling, now grown
matronly, sitteth on the tuffet in their midst, and telleth the tale
of giant SPIDER and his fate.--[THE END.]
* * * * *
One of our "Co."--and the Baron may observe that, when "Co." is
written it is not an abbreviation of "Coves"--has been reading _Sir
George_ (BENTLEY), a Novel, which Mrs. HENNIKER has the courage to put
forth in one volume. At the outset, the writing is a little slipshod.
Mrs. HENNIKER has, moreover, a wild passion for the conjunction. When
she can't summon another "which," she sticks in a "that." On one page
appears the following startling announcement--"The March winds this
year were unusually biting, and her nervous guardian would therefore
[why therefore?] never allow her to walk out without a respirator,
till they blew no longer from the East." We assume that, as soon as
respirators blew from the West, this injunction would be withdrawn.
But, as Mrs. HENNIKER, gets forward in her story, the style improves,
"which's" disappear as they did in _Macbeth's_ time, and the tale
is told in simple strenuous language. _Uncle George_ is a character
finely conceived, and admirably drawn.
The Baron returns thanks to the publisher, W. HEINEMANN, for sending
a volume of DE QUINCEY's _Posthumorous Works_. A small dose of
them, taken occasionally the last thing at night, may be confidently
recommended to admirers of _The Opium Eater_, and will probably be
found of considerable value to some who hitherto may have been the
victims of _insomnia_. Highly recommended by the Faculty.
(_Signed._) BARON DE BOOK-WORMS & Co.
* * * * *
EVENINGS FROM HOME.
At the Court Theatre, _Le Feu Toupinel_, adapted for the English
stage as _The Late Lamented_, is decidedly funny, that is, if you can
once get over the idea that all its humour depends upon the immoral
vagaries of an elderly scoundrel, an habitual criminal, who has
departed this life in the odour of respectability, without his
immoralities ever having been discovered. Had he been found out during
his lifetime, he would have been tried for bigamy, convicted, and
punished accordingly. This piece has been adapted from the French for
the English stage; but, query, is it adapted to an English audience?
That's the point. The run must decide. If the best possible acting can
carry it along, then that it has got; for, though Mrs. JOHN WOOD has
frequently had better chances, yet she has never worked harder, and
never has she more deserved the laughter she excites. The same may be
said of Mr. STANDING and Miss FILLIPPI, and also of Mr. ARTHUR CECIL,
whose make-up is perfect, especially the dressing and colouring of
his hair, which is an artistic triumph. Mr. GILBERT FARQUHAR's _Mr.
Fawcett_, the Solicitor, contributes much to the fun of the scenes in
which he appears with Mrs. JOHN WOOD; and Mr. CAPE, as _Parker_, the
Confidential Servant, is excellent. There's plenty of "go" in it, but
will it "stay"?
Great attraction at the Lyceum! _The Corsican Brothers_ and _Nance
Oldfield_! ELLEN TERRY as _Nance_ is delightful. Chorus, Gentlemen,
if you please, "_For_--all our fancy, Dwells upon Nancy!" Our ELLEN
is charming in this, so natural and so theatrical: herself as _Nance_,
and then as _Mrs. Oldfield_, the actress, in the characters that
_Nance_ assumes. For 'tis ELLEN playing _Nancy_, and _Nancy_ again
playing Tragedy and Comedy. It is an old piece revived: there never
was so old a piece, for there are only four characters in it, and
they're all Old. There are two _Oldfields_ and two _Oldworthys_.
Mr. WENMAN as _Oldfield Senior_, or the Old Obadiah, is a trifle too
blusterous, but on the other hand, I am not prepared to say that a
country attorney of that period wouldn't be uncouth and blusterous.
His son _Alexander_, the Young Obadiah, is prettily played by Mr.
GORDON CRAIG, who is a trifle too windmilly with his hands and arms;
but in the whole play nothing becomes him so well as the pathos of his
broken-hearted exit. He was touching and going. Henceforth, this young
actor may justly describe himself as of the "Touch-and-go" school, and
be, like "the livin' skeleton" mentioned by _Sam Weller_, "proud o'
the title." Miss KATE PHILLIPS as _Anne's_ sister--though, as Mr.
J.L. T-LE observed, as she is younger than _Anne_, she cannot well be
her Anne-sister--is as bright and lively as need be, considering her
menial position, which is rather odd in her sister's house. Visit
Mistress NANCE TERRY; you'll find her very much "at home" in the part.
After which _The Corsican Brothers_ revived, Ghost and all.
[Illustration: The Corsican Brothers and Nance Oldfield at the
When some years ago the Irvingesque version of it was produced, the
twin who lived in Corsica, Brother _Fabien_, used to behave in the
wildest Corsican way. Who that saw it some years ago does not remember
how he used to chuck his gun up in the air, when it caught on to a
hook in the wall! with what gusto he used to light a tiny cigarette
from an enormous flaming brand snatched from the burning wood fire on
the hearth! and how badly the starving guest from Paris fared in the
Corsican household where he hadn't a chance against the appetite of
Master _Fabien_, who, after a hard day's sport, came in ready for
anything, and ate everything! It was the only occasion when this
fearless son of destiny ever "bolted." But, my! how the food used to
disappear! what a short time the supper occupied, and how very much
third best the poor stranger came off under the hospitable roof of
the _Dei Franchis_. Even now the supper is a brief one, but justice
is done to it, _and_ to the weary traveller. Never was such an unhappy
tourist! He comes to a house in the wilds of Corsica; he is choke-full
of Parisian gossip, he has a lot to say of course, but he never gets
a chance, as _Fabien_ tells him family stories one after the other, as
if he hadn't had such an opportunity or so good a listener for ever
so long. Then, when on the entrance of his mother _Fabien_ breaks off
in the middle of one of his many anecdotes, which evidently can't be
told before ladies, the Parisian gent, who now sees something like
an opening for some light Boulevardian chit-chat, is presented with a
flat candlestick and bowed off to bed, without being allowed a word to
say for himself. All this is just the same as ever; there have been
no alterations nor repairs; the piece is as curiously old-fashioned
as are the exquisitely correct costumes; while the Masked Ball at
the Opera and the Duel in the snow are as effective as ever, and the
latter, if anything, more so. They make a first-rate fight of it, do
Messrs. _Irving dei Franchi_ and _M. Terriss de Chateau Renaud_, until
the latter collapses, and "subsequent proceedings interested him no
more." As long as the strong right arm of the Corsican Brother can
draw a good and shining rapier, he will draw as good and brilliant
a house as he did on the first night of this revival. Why ought this
piece to go well in the first theatre in Ireland? Why? because it's a
great play for Doublin'. _Exeunt omnes._
* * * * *
THE EPIDEMIC.--Up to now Members of Parliament have been generally
considered as "influential personages." This year many M.P.'s will be
remembered as "very influenzial personages."
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE MOST IRRESISTIBLE SIRENS ARE NOT THOSE WHO SING,
BUT THOSE WHO LISTEN (OR PRETEND TO)!
_Daughter of the House_. "TELL ME, PROFESSOR BORAX, HOW DID YOU LIKE
THE LADY MAMMA GAVE YOU TO TAKE IN TO DINNER?"
_The Professor_ (_innocently_). "MY DEAR GIRL, SHE'S SIMPLY THE MOST
CHARMING WOMAN I EVER MET! _I NEVER TALKED SO MUCH IN MY LIFE!_"]
* * * * *
IN A MAZE.
"Mr. BALFOUR brought up a new sub-section, which he admitted
was so obscure that he only 'more or less' understood it
himself, and which, indeed, is of '_plusquam_-Thucydidean'
dimness and involution.... There is no excuse, we must say,
for the muddle into which the Government has got over the
Bill.... The House of Commons has adjourned for a short
holiday, but the Irish Land Purchase Bill is not yet through
Committee.... There still remained all the new clauses, for
which no time had been found."--_Times_.
_Little Bill loquitur_:--
Oh do, if you please, Mr. BALFOUR, Sir, if you _can_,--and who can if you
Get me out of this Maze, where for days and days I have strayed till I'm
all of a pant, Sir.
Twelve months ago we started, you know, and I've been on my feet ever
And oh, if you please, I feel weak at the knees, and the pains in my back
make me wince, Sir.
Mister HOOD's "Lost Child" wasn't half as had, for he only strayed in the
While this dreadful Maze is enough to craze; and _my_ feeling of lostness
Oh, my poor feet! This is worse than Crete, and old Hampton Court isn't
Oh stop, _do_ stop! for I feel I shall drop if I don't sit down half a
I really thought you knew the way out--which I own _I_'m unable to guess,
And now 'twould appear you are far from clear, and are puzzled "more or
The paths are really so twirly-whirly, the hedges so jimble-jumbled;
It must be hundreds and hundreds of miles along which we have staggered
I thought you _were_ a cool card. Mister BALFOUR, and did know your way
But what I should like to know at present is, when we are like to get
How LABBY will laugh at the Labyrinth-maker, who gets lost in his own
Great Maze, Sir!
Don't say, Sir, pray, that you've lost _your_ way,--you, whom people so
cosset and praise Sir.
You won't be hurried, and you can't be flurried, and you're always as
cool as a cucumber.
Can a little 'un like me, your own child, don't you see, such a smart
pioneer as are _you_ cumber?
You, the modern Theseus? Where's your Ariadne? Oh, I know you are cool,
Yet I feel a doubt. When _shall_ we get out?--which I _can't_ go on
wandering for ever!
Poor little man! Yes, I _had_ a plan, and a perfectly plain one, too, boy;
But--I fear--for a moment--I've--lost the clue! Ah! I'm awfully sorry for
You have been on your feet for a precious long time, and all this
_Is_ "_plusquam_-Thucydidean," perhaps, and at any rate mean aggravation.
But you'll please understand I'm a very "cool hand;" there's abundance of
"humour" about me,
And though for a jiffy I _seem_ at a loss, don't you come for to go for to
'Tis most complicated, this Miz-Maze! I've stated the clue I've let slip
for a moment,
And LABBY, no doubt, and his henchmen, will shout and indulge in invidious
The _Times_, too, may gird, and declare 'tis absurd not to know _one's own
The _Times_ is my friend, but a trifle too fond of the goad and the scourge
and the fetter;
You really can't rule the whole civilised world with the aid of the whip
and the closure;
Though I _should_ enjoy--but no matter, my boy, let us try to maintain our
_When shall we get out?_ That's a matter of doubt, cross-hedges my pathway
The clue I've let slip, but you just take my tip; we'll get clear--if you
keep up your pecker!
* * * * *
CHANGE FOR THIRTY-FIVE SHILLINGS.
There is a singular directness of purpose in the following
advertisement which appears in the _Daily News_:--
REPORTER (27), now on Weekly, WANTS CHANGE. 35s.
The advertiser not only wants change, but he mentions the exact sum.
It seems odd. One often wants change for a sovereign, and even oftener
wants the sovereign itself. But what precise coin a man hands you when
he wants thirty-five shillings change is not quite clear.
* * * * *
[Illustration: IN A MAZE.
MASTER LAND BILL. "OH, MR. BALFOUR, I'M _SO_ TIRED!"
MR. B. "CHEER UP, LITTLE MAN! NEXT TURN TO THE RIGHT,--AND I HOPE WE SHALL BE
OUT OF IT!!"]
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Dealer's Man_ (_confidentially_). "NICE 'OSS, SIR.
JUST SUIT _YOU_, SIR. NICE PERMISCUOUS 'OSS, SIR!--_YOU CAN SIT ON HIM
* * * * *
LEAVES FROM A CANDIDATE'S DIARY.
_Billsbury, May 5_.--Received the following letter from TOLLAND
45, _Main Street, Billsbury, May 3._
DEAR MR. PATTLE,
A committee Meeting of our Council has been summoned for the day after
to-morrow (May 5) at eight o'clock P.M., at the Beaconsfield Club, to
consider some important questions affecting your Candidature and the
plan of campaign to be adopted in prosecuting it. I trust that you may
be able to make it convenient to attend, and shall be glad to receive
a wire from you to this effect. I may mention to you that I have
lately heard, in confidence, that Sir THOMAS CHUBSON's health is
causing considerable anxiety to the Radical leaders here. He has
attended very few divisions lately, and has offended many of the
advanced section by his conduct over the Strike Subvention Bill, which
was backed by the Labour Members. Sir THOMAS, however, abstained from
the division on the Second Reading. It is just possible that, under
the circumstances, he may decide to apply for the Chiltern Hundreds
very shortly, and we must be prepared for every emergency.
Yours faithfully, JAMES TOLLAND.
It was a confounded nuisance. I had arranged to take the BELLAMYS to
the Scandinavian Exhibition this afternoon, and to dine and go to the
theatre with the JACKSONS. Had to put off everything. MARY BELLAMY
will be dreadfully annoyed. Wrote specially to her to apologise and
explain. They're sure to get that beast POMFRET to take them instead.
He's always hanging round. Last week he wrote a lot of verse in MARY's
Confession Album, in this style (I copied some of it out, in order to
show it to VULLIAMY, who hates him):--
Though, when he's asked his favourite name, a man is apt to stare, he
_Must_ answer, if he knows what's what, "My favourite name is MARY."
The vice I detest and abhor above all
Is not dancing four _times_ with _you_ at a ball.
And this, in answer to the question, "What or who would you rather be,
if you were not yourself?"--
I'd rather be the rosebud that nestles in your hair,
Or the aunt whose hand you took in yours and pressed upon the stair.
They all admired this slip-slop immensely, and MARY asked me, when
I called the other day, if I didn't think it wonderfully clever. I
know, when I wrote my answers in her album, it took me days of thought
to get them done in prose, and even then they turned out the most
ordinary, commonplace things. However I thought they pleased MARY,
and now POMFRET steps in with his confounded rhymes. Mrs. BELLAMY's
father once published a volume of verse, and is still talked of in the
household as "your grandfather the poet." She told me that she thought
"a faculty for versification was the mark of a truly refined and
delicate mind." Bah! POMFRET's one of the most selfish and calculating
ruffians outside a convict prison, and always haggles over his
luncheon bills at the Club, till the head-waiter and all the rest
nearly go off their heads.
However, I had to come to Billsbury, nilly-willy. Met the Committee
after dinner. They were anxious that I should do some canvassing soon,
and wanted me, when next I spoke, to explain myself more fully (1) on
the Temperance Question and the question of Compensation to Publicans;
(2) on the Women's Suffrage Question; (3) on the Labour Question;
(4) on Foreign Policy; and (5) with reference to the Billsbury Main
Drainage Scheme. I said I would, but I should probably require more
than one speech to do it in. Afterwards a very solemn member of the
Committee, whose name I forget, got up and made a long speech, in
which he observed that my habit of appearing in dress clothes at
the meetings had annoyed a good many of my supporters, and that
he ventured to suggest to me, for my own good, that I should wear
ordinary dress. It seems a good many of the lower lot thought it
looked uppish. I'm glad enough not to have to do it any more. There
were other points, but I'm too tired to remember them. By the way, I
have subscribed to about a dozen more Clubs and Institutions, and have
promised to get Mother to open a bazaar here at the end of the month.
Back to London to-morrow. What a life!
* * * * *
THE LATEST "LABOR PROGRAM."
(_BY A NEW-UNIONIST._)
I am all for myself, and 'tis perfectly true
That the "labor" I love is regardless of "u."
But, _per contra_, informing my "program" you see
Though I wink (with two I's), I eliminate "me."
* * * * *
[Illustration: POLITICAL BOATING-PARTY DURING THE RECESS.
(_By Our Own Instantaneous Photographer_.)]
* * * * *
IN A LOCK.--A WHITSUNTIDE WARBLE.
"_Lock! Lock!_"--Shock! Rock! That's a pretty frock bulging over the
She looks like to choke with that horrible smoke, which is fuming out
of the Steam-Launch funnel.
Pleasant old cry! All in, and dry. though we're awfully crowded this
first Spring holiday,
Better this than St. Stephen's dead-lock! Our serious Senators out
for a jolly day
Might do worse. Who carries the purse? That ten-foot rod with the
toll-net ending it
Means a hint. They must make "a mint"; and, by Jove, there are many
worse ways of spending it,--
Money, I mean. Now were G-SCH-N seen collecting cash for his dry
With pole and net, it were nicer, you bet, than keeping up his
With Spirit Duties! Those two blonde beauties in Cambridge blue are
B-LF-R now at that same boat's bow would be quite in his element--eh,
And OLD MORALITY cooling his legs in the stern-sheets yonder would
find the steering
Easier far than amidst the jar of St. Stephen's, hot with T-M H-LY
S-L-SB-RY, too, with a well-trained crew, would put his back--that
broad back of his!--in it.
Don't be in a hurry, my nautical friend! we shall all get out in
Just like life! Such fidgety strife to be first to the front when the
What does it matter, friends, after all? The slow, the skilful, the
dull, the clever,
The snake-swift "swell" and the splashing 'ARRY, the puffing launch,
and the trim outrigger,
The calm canoest who hugs the timbers, the fussy punter who toils
like a nigger,
All will anon be well out in the cutting, the old gates shutting
slowly behind them,
And where are those who so shoved to the front? At the tail of the
race you may presently find them.
The G.O.M. (with his collars for sails), that jaunty skiff might be
handling. Bless us!
Can he take holiday, he whom toil seems to encoil like a shirt of
Well, Union_ist_ or Separat_ist_, or chap with a twist like
Or howling PAT, or Aristo_crat_ with manners like BRUMMEL and voice
Peppery G-SCH-N, or pompous H-RC-RT, or genial SM-TH, the new-made
All, all, to-day, when the world is gay, the stream like silver, the
banks a garden,
_Much_ worse might do than tog up in blue and join a crew on the
"Beyond the tide," dropping all their "side," party or personal,
And Influenza, and other "Obstructions," all party-jobbers, all
jibbers and jolters,
In sunny weather to crowd together in Moulsey Lock, or it might be
* * * * *
[Illustration: ELEMENTARY INSTRUCTION IN COOKERY.
_Young Lady_. "AND NOW, JANE, WHAT'S THE _NEXT_ THING TO DO, AFTER
PUTTING THE MEAT AND POTATOES IN THE STEWPAN?"
_Village Girl_. "PLEASE, MISS, WASH THE BABY!"]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
_The Kennel, Barks, Friday, May 15_.--This entry in Diary is dated
from my ancestral home, pleasantly situated in the County I have the
honour to represent. Haven't been to Westminster this week. Hear,
through usual channels of information, that House adjourns to-day
for Whitsun Recess. When I say House, I mean fragment that remains;
a few doors and chimneys, with here and there a ruined wing. Fact
is, majority absent with influenza. Some seventy or eighty of us
have formed House of our own; meet regularly at usual hour; get
through business in a way that would astonish the residuum left at
Westminster; and jog off comfortably for dinner. All Parties and all
sections of Party represented. SPEAKER and Chairman of Committees
still stick to Westminster. But we have GORST, one of the
Deputy-Speakers, who presides with dignity and despatch. JACKSON
looks after arrangement of business. AKERS-DOUGLAS whips up the
Conservatives, assisted by SYDNEY HERBERT and ARTHUR HILL. THOMAS
ESMONDE brings up to the scratch TANNER, SWIFT MACNEILL, and PIERCE
MAHONY. On Treasury Bench MICHAEL BEACH sits in place of OLD MORALITY,
being supported by GEORGIE HAMILTON, STUART WORTLEY, and JAMES
FERGUSSON, whilst KNUTSFORD and DERBY look down from Peers' Gallery.
On Front Opposition Bench Mr. G., just arrived; finds JOHN MORLEY,
OSBORNE AP MORGAN, KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH, and MUNDELLA. WOLMER not yet
arrived, but daily expected. Meanwhile JOHN LUBBOCK, MUNTZ, T.W.
RUSSELL, and the Wiwacious WIGGIN here, ready to obey the Whip, when
CHARLES FORSTER, looks after petitions for us; FRANK LOCKWOOD draws us
out (or in, as the case may be); ALGERNON BORTHWICK throws an air of
fashionable society around us; the Reverberating COLOMB lifts his tall
head in our midst; ISAAC HOLDEN never tires of telling the fascinating
story of how he discovered the lucifer-match; HENNIKER HEATON
passes the time writing letters to RAIKES, and complains that the
Postmaster-General has his communications ostentatiously fumigated
before opening them; SEYMOUR KEAY says he must get back to Westminster
(nobody says him nay), or Land Bill would be getting passed through
Committee; and here is the Grand Young GARDNER _and_ his wife--Lady
WINIFRED, of course, looking down on us from Ladies' Gallery.
Have on the whole a very good time. Looked after by RUSTEM ROOSE,
whose cure is as alluring as it is infallible. "Eat, drink and sleep,"
he says. "Lie on your back and sedulously do nothing." So whilst they
storm and fret at Westminster, here, in hollow Lotos Land we live and
lie reclining. Pleasant to hear RUSTEM ROOSE's voice as he goes his
morning rounds, stethoscope in hand. "A long breath, dear friend: say
'74; Pommery, certainly if you like; a pint at luncheon and a roast
chicken. Turn over, dear friend; another long breath; say '80; de
Lanson, of course, if you prefer it; a pint at dinner with a fried
sole and a porterhouse steak; or, if you are tired of champagne, take
a pint of claret with a glass or two of port. A long breath, dear
friend; say '50; three glasses if '50 port won't do you any harm."
Worst of it is we're all getting better, and shall be back to the
grind at Westminster after Whitsuntide. _Business done_.--All taking
* * * * *
THE DIS-ORDER OF THE DAY.--In the House of Commons on the Motion of
the First Lord of the Treasury, it was resolved that Influenza, M.P.,
be expelled. Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Leader of the Opposition, _pro
tem._, moved to amend the Resolution by adding "at once." This was
agreed to _nem. con._ The Serjeant-at-Arms was thereupon ordered to
remove Influenza. He declined on the ground that if he did he might
catch it. After some conversation the debate was adjourned. Influenza
left sitting on Members generally.--_Extract from the Fifteenth of
May's Parliamentary Report_.
* * * * *
A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS!
(_BY A PERPLEXED READER OF THE PENNY PAPERS._)
When you're lying awake, with a horrid headache (to adopt a suggestion
When too freely you've dined, or too heavily wined, or munched too many
walnuts or filberts;
When your brain is a maze, and creation a haze, then each queer social
craze--there are many!--
Gets your wits in a spool, and there isn't a fool for your thoughts
would advance you a penny.
You can't sleep a wink, so the question of Drink, though you timidly
shrink from it, harries you.
Your wit's in a whirl, as you think, if some girl with a _penchant_ for
you, ups and marries you.
And ties you for life to the thing called a Wife,--that figment, that
fraud, that illusion,
Where, _what_ will you be? And you can't find a key to the epoch's
It seems Local Option is sure of adoption, and what a tyrannic majority
May "opt" for one day, you're unable to say, and in vain you appeal to
The Law of the Land is a labyrinth grand, which you can't understand,
nor can anyone,
And _that_ is a thought, with delirium fraught, an appalling, if 'tis
not a penny one.
Now Law, the Old Antic, seems utterly frantic, absurdly romantic and
And Cool Common Sense has gone dotty and dense, in dim deserts of
Now Reason and Right, hydrocephalous quite, are both Della-Cruscan and
Life (barring the fun) like "The Mulberry One," seems a mixture of
diddling and snivelling.
There's LAWSON who jaws on the Abstinence Cause on, and would lay his
claws on the Nation,
And put sudden stopper on all that's improper (as _he_ thinks) without
And then there's Sir EDWARD, who, when he goes bedward, must have _his_
It seems, from such rigs, that our biggest Big Wigs are scarcest to
govern a parish.
MCDOUGALL again, is agog to restrain all that gives _his_ soul pain--it's
a squeamish one!--
He thinks he's a stayer as Jabberwock-slayer, mere Angry Boy he, _not_ a
These Oracles windy do raise such a shindy, and kick such a doose of a
One would think without _them_ we were wrong stern and stem, and the whole
of creation would bust up.
But verily why men should _new_ worship Hymen,--who, just as unshackled as
(See decision _Re_ JACKSON), take burdens their backs on, I can_not_
conceive. It seems stupid
Beyond all expression to have a "possession" whose "ownness" there's
desperate doubt of,
And which (if she's _nous_) you can't keep _in_ your house, nor yet (if
she's "savvy") keep _out_ of!
What _is_ "Hymen's halter"? I fidget and falter! The Beaks seem to palter
In such a strange fashion, I fly in a passion, and vow that the world is a
Law seems a wigged noodle, as tame as a poodle, the whole darned caboodle
(as 'ARRY sees)
Is ructions and "rot," and our "rulers" a lot of confounded old foodles
Yes, that's what _I_ think about Marriage and Drink--if you may call it
thought, which with frenzy is fraught, and gives me a "head" like bad
whiskey; whose dread is on me day and night, makes me wake in a fright,
from visions most solemn of column on column of such "printed matter"
and paragraph chatter, as makes me feel flatter than cold eggless batter
upon a lead platter--as mad as a hatter, and who will relieve me? Can anyone?
I tell you it's dreadful to face a whole bedful of spectres and spooks (born
of papers and books) with, most horrible looks, limbs contorted in crooks,
and bat-wings with big hooks, which haunt all the nooks of tester and
curtain, and which, I am certain, will drive me insane if _some_ one can't
explain where the mischief we are, 'midst the jumble and jar of factions
and fads, of crotchets and cads, of Tolstois and Jeunes, and Ibsens (whose
lunes are more lunatic still). Oh, I'd learn with a will from any or aught,
who could bring me, fresh caught, with lucidity fraught (what so long I have
sought) a Clear Comforting Thought--though a Penny One!
* * * * *
_IN RE_ THE INFLUENZA.
(_AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTE ON THE APPEARANCE OF THE EPIDEMIC IN THE
Owing to recent sentimental legislation, many members of the learned
profession, to which I have the honour to belong, have found
their practice becoming (to quote the poet) "small by degrees and
beautifully less." Times were when I could scarcely pass a week in
term time without appearing in Court holding a consent brief, or armed
with authority to move (unopposed) for the appointment of a receiver.
But that was long ago--a deep contrast with to-day--when my admirable
and excellent Clerk PORTINGTON, finds an hour a day ample, almost too
ample, time for posting up to date my Fee Book. However, occasionally
a gleam of the old sunshine illumines, so to speak, the chambers I
occupy, and such a gleam was my retention for the Defence in the
cause of _Quicksilver_ v. _Nore_. It was a Patent Case, and one of
the deepest possible interest. It is my good fortune to know the
Defendant, personally, and it was through his kind offices that the
instructions to appear for him were left at my chambers. My friend
and client (who is unjustly said to be eccentric in his habits) has
recently patented and produced a most important invention, which
greatly facilitates the retention of dinner-napkins, after those
useful, nay, necessary articles have been used for the purpose for
which they are manufactured. Like all really valuable inventions, the
patent is simplicity itself, the napkin-ring consisting of the section
of the thicker end of an elephant's tusk cut to an appropriate size
and hollowed out. It is necessary to fold the dinner-napkin in such a
fashion that, when inserted through the ring, its shape is retained
by the adherent properties inseparable from the ivory. The patent can
also be produced in other materials, such as gold, silver and jewels
for the wealthy, and in bone, tin and even glass for purchasers of
smaller means. I must say that when the ring was shown to me I was
greatly struck with the cleverness and simplicity of the idea, and
could not understand how Mr. QUICKSILVER could have allowed himself to
be so badly advised as to bring an action for infringement, merely on
the strength of _his_ patent being also a dinner-napkin-holder with
the ring element so far introduced that it consisted of a circle
closed and opened by a hinge. However, it was no part of my duty
to advise the other side, so I set to work to get up my case (as I
invariably do) _con amore_. I hunted up all the causes in the Digest,
that seemed to be on all-fours with the matter in dispute, and spent
days in the Public Library of the Patent Office searching for patents
having to do with table-napkins. As the specifications were not
consecutively published, I had to wade through a large number of these
interesting documents that treated of other subjects. For instance,
the first specification I would take out of the box in which it was
kept, would perhaps have to do with house-raising without disturbance
to the foundations, the second would prove to be an article half
umbrella, half revolver, while in the third I would perhaps find an
extremely quaint notion for a portable pocket corkscrew. I myself
picked up many ideas for future use, and hope some day, if I do
nothing else, at least to perfect a clever little contrivance of
my own for arousing the inmates of a house invaded by burglars
by casement concussions. I propose calling this valuable little
instrument (which is founded to some extent on the simple construction
by which the figures in a child's box of wooden soldiers are enabled
to advance and retire in a scissors-like fashion), when produced, the
Policeman's Upper Floor Window Tapper.
The day for the hearing at length arrived, and, armed with a mass of
carefully selected information, I was in my seat ready to defend the
originality of the Nore Napkin Ring, so to speak, to the death. In my
notes before me I had the skeleton of a really fine oration, which I
felt (if I mastered my normal nervousness) would bristle with epigram,
and thrill with heartfelt, brain-inspired eloquence. So deeply
interested was I in the matter, that I scarcely listened to my
friend's opening, and only became aware of what was happening in
Court by the rising of the Judge. Suddenly his Lordship bowed,
and disappeared. I looked at the clock--it was only noon--and,
consequently, an hour and thirty minutes in advance of the time
usually selected for the mid-day adjournment. And then, to my dismay,
I found that his Lordship was suffering from the influenza! Well,
there was nothing to do but to collect my papers, and, assisted
by PORTINGTON, return to my chambers. The next day my head ached
violently, and I could not move. Then I have a recollection
of dictating to my wife long telegrams to PORTINGTON, which I
subsequently discovered were neither despatched nor delivered.
* * * * *
When I awoke, I found that the matter of _Quicksilver_ v. _Nore_ had
been arranged and settled--out of Court!
_Pump-handle Court._ (_Signed_) A. BRIEFLESS, JUNIOR.
* * * * *
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.
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