Produced by Malcolm Farmer, William Flis, and the Online Distributed
OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
April 4, 1891.
MR. PUNCH'S POCKET IBSEN.
(_CONDENSED AND REVISED VERSION BY MR. P.'S OWN HARMLESS IBSENITE._)
NO. II.-NORA; OR, THE BIRD-CAGE (ET DIKKISVOeIT).
_A Room tastefully filled with cheap Art-furniture. Gimcracks
in an etagere; a festoon of chenille monkeys hanging from
the gaselier. Japanese fans, skeletons, cotton-wool spiders,
frogs, and lizards, scattered everywhere about. Drain-pipes
with tall dyed grasses. A porcelain stove decorated with
transferable pictures. Showily-bound books in book-case.
Window. The Visitors' bell rings in the hall outside. The
hall-door is heard to open, and then to shut. Presently
NORA walks in with parcels; a Porter carries a large
Christmas-tree after her--which he puts down. NORA gives
him a shilling--and he goes out grumbling. NORA hums
contentedly, and eats macaroons. Then HELMER puts his
head out of his Manager's room, and NORA hides macaroons
_Helmer_ (_playfully_). Is that my little squirrel twittering--that my
lark frisking in here?
_Nora_. Ess! (_To herself._) I have only been married eight years, so
these marital amenities have not yet had time to pall!
_Helmer_ (_threatening with his finger_). I hope the little bird has
surely not been digging its beak into any macaroons, eh?
_Nora_ (_bolting one, and wiping her mouth_). No, most certainly not.
(_To herself_.) The worst of being so babyish is--one _does_ have to
tell such a lot of taradiddles! (_To H._) See what _I_'ve bought--it's
been _such_ fun!
_Helmer_ (_inspecting parcels_). H'm--rather an _expensive_ little
[_Takes her playfully by the ear._
_Nora_. Little birds like to have a flutter occasionally. Which
reminds me--(_Plays with his coat-buttons._) I'm such a simple ickle
sing--but if you _are_ thinking of giving me a Christmas present, make
_Helmer_. Just like your poor father, _he_ always asked me to make it
cash--he never made any himself! It's heredity, I suppose. Well--well!
[_Goes back to his Bank. NORA goes on humming._
_Enter Mrs. LINDEN, doubtfully._
_Nora_. What, CHRISTINA--why, how old you look! But then you are
poor. I'm not. TORVALD has just been made a Bank Manager. (_Tidies the
room._) Isn't it really wonderfully delicious to be well off? But,
of course, you wouldn't know. _We_ were poor once, and, do you know,
when TORVALD was ill, I--(_tossing her head_)--though I _am_ such a
frivolous little squirrel, and all that, I actually borrowed L300 for
him to go abroad. Wasn't _that_ clever? Tra-la-la! I shan't tell you
_who_ lent it. I didn't even tell TORVALD. I am such a mere baby I
don't tell him everything. I tell Dr. RANK, though. Oh, I'm so awfully
happy I should like to shout, "Dash it all!"
_Mrs. Linden_ (_stroking her hair_). Do--it is a natural and innocent
outburst--you are such a child! But I am a widow, and want employment.
_Do_ you think your husband could find me a place as clerk in his
Bank? (_Proudly._) I am an excellent knitter!
_Nora_. That would really be awfully funny. (_To HELMER, who
enters._) TORVALD, this is CHRISTINA; she wants to be a clerk in your
Bank--_do_ let her! She thinks such a lot of _you_. (_To herself._)
_Helmer_. She is a sensible woman, and deserves encouragement. Come
along, Mrs. LINDEN, and we'll see what we can do for you.
[_He goes out through the hall with Mrs. L., and the front-door is
heard to slam after them._
_Nora_ (_opens door, and calls_). Now, EMMY, IVAR, and BOB, come
in and have a romp with Mamma--we will play hide-and-seek. (_She
gets under the table, smiling in quiet satisfaction; KROGSTAD
enters--NORA pounces out upon him_). Boo!... Oh, I _beg_ your
pardon. I don't do this kind of thing _generally_--though I may be a
_Krogstad_ (_politely_). Don't mention it. I called because I happened
to see your husband go out with MRS. LINDEN--from which, being a
person of considerable penetration, I infer that he is about to give
her my post at the Bank. Now, as you owe me the balance of L300,
for which I hold your acknowledgment, you will see the propriety of
putting a stop to this little game at once.
_Nora_. But I don't at all--not a little wee bit! I'm so childish, you
know--why _should_ I? [_Sitting upright on carpet._
_Krogs._ I will try to make it plain to the meanest capacity. When
you came to me for the loan, I naturally required some additional
security. Your father, being a shady Government official, without a
penny--for, if he had possessed one, he would, presumably, have left
it to you--without a penny, then, I, as a cautious man of business,
insisted upon having his signature as a surety. Oh, we Norwegians are
_Nora_. Well, you _got_ Papa's signature, didn't you?
_Krogs._ Oh, I _got_ it right enough. Unfortunately, it was dated
three days after his decease--now, how do you account for _that_?
_Nora_. How? Why, as poor Papa was dead, and couldn't sign, I signed
_for_ him, that's all! Only somehow I forgot to put the date back.
_That's_ how. Didn't I _tell_ you I was a silly, unbusinesslike little
thing? It's very simple.
_Krogs._ Very--but what you did amounts to forgery, notwithstanding.
I happen to know, because I'm a lawyer, and have done a little in the
forging way myself. So, to come to the point--if _I_ get kicked out, I
shall not go alone! [_He bows, and goes out._
_Nora_. It _can't_ be wrong! Why no one but KROGSTAD would have been
taken in by it! If the Law says it's wrong, the Law's a goose--a
bigger goose than poor little me even! (_To HELMER, who enters_.)
Oh, TORVALD, how you made me jump!
_Helmer_. Has anybody called? (_NORA shakes her head_.) Oh, my little
squirrel mustn't tell naughty whoppers! Why, I just met that fellow
KROGSTAD in the hall. He's been asking you to get me to take him
back--now, hasn't he?
_Nora_ (_walking about_). Do just see how pretty the Christmas-tree
_Helmer_. Never mind the tree--I want to have this out about KROGSTAD.
I can't take him back, because many years ago he forged a name. As a
lawyer, a close observer of human nature, and a Bank Manager, I have
remarked that people who forge names seldom or never confide the fact
to their children--which inevitably brings moral contagion into the
entire family. From which it follows, logically, that KROGSTAD has
been poisoning his children for years by acting a part, and is morally
lost. (_Stretches out his hands to her._) I can't bear a morally lost
Bank-cashier about me!
_Nora_. But you never thought of dismissing him till CHRISTINA came!
_Helmer_. H'm! I've got some business to attend to--so good-bye,
little lark! [_Goes into office and shuts door._
_Nora_ (_pale with terror_). If KROGSTAD poisons his children because
he once forged a name, I must be poisoning EMMY, and BOB, and IVAR,
because _I_ forged Papa's signature! (_Short pause; she raises
her head proudly._) After all, if I _am_ a doll, I can still
draw a logical induction! I mustn't play with the children any
more--(_hotly_)--I don't care--I _shall_, though! Who cares for
[_She makes a face, choking with suppressed tears, as Curtain
N.B.--The tremendous psychological problem of whether NORA is as much
of a doll, a squirrel, and a lark, as she seems, and if so, whether
it is her own fault, or HELMER's or Society's, will be solved in
* * * * *
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.--At last by the authority of the L.C.C. his
Grace of BEDFORD has been notified that within three months from
now "Locks, bolts, and bars must fly asunder" in the parish of St.
Pancras, where henceforth existence of all such obstruction is to
cease. We hope that the gate-keepers, whose occupation is gone, have
been amply provided for, as they will now have no gates, but only
themselves to keep. _Mr. Punch_ has persistently advocated the reform.
And now, Gentlemen, how about Mud Salad Market, which, like Scotland
in _Macbeth's_ time, "stands where it did"?
* * * * *
"APOLLONIUS, by some probable conjectures, found her out to be a
serpent, a Lamia; and that all her furniture was, like Tantalus's
gold described by HOMER, no substance, but mere illusion."--_Burton's
Anatomy of Melancholy._]
A LAMIA, this? Nay, obvious coil, and hiss most unequivocal, betray the
As fell ophidian as in fierce meridian of Afric ever lurked in swamp or
And yet Corinthian LYCIUS never doted on the white-throated charmer of
With blinder passion than our fools of Fashion
Feel for this gruesome ghoul.
Poor LYCIUS had excuse. Who might refuse worship to Lamia, "now a lady
But foul-fanged here, fierce-eyed, a shape of fear, the serpent stands,
revealed to general sight,
A loathly thing, close knotted ring on ring, of guise unlovely, and
And yet strong witchery draws to those wide jaws
Whose touch is shameful death.
See how the flattering things on painted wings, foolish as gnat-swarms
near the shrivelling blaze,
Flock nearer, nearer! Forms, too, quainter, queerer, frog-dupes of folly,
rabbit-thralls of craze,
Butterfly triflers, gay-plumed would-be riflers of golden chalices, of
Flitter and flutter in delirium utter,
As drawn by wizard powers.
Oh, "Painted Lady," Summer coverts shady, the greenwood home, the sweep
of sunny fields,
A butterfly befit; but where's the wit that mire-befouled to the
Oh, birds of Iris-glitter, black and bitter will be the wakening when
those gaudy plumes
Fall crushed and leaden, as your senses deaden
In poisonous Python fumes!
Ye _gobemouche_ creatures of batrachian features, who "go a-wooing" such
a fate as this,
Have ye no vision of that doom's decision? Have ye no ear for rattle or
Salammbo's craving, morbid and enslaving, was sanity compared with your
As well the swallow the fierce shrike might follow,
Or hawk be chased by dove!
Tantalus' gold is all such Lamias hold; 'tis Devil's dice such Mammon
A sordid fever fires each fool-believer in the gross glitter, the unholy
Vile is your Dagon! Circe's venomed flagon embruted less than doth the
Than Comus' cup more perilous to sup--
As snakes are worse than swine.
The poet's snake enchanted, who so flaunted her borrowed robes amidst the
Hath piteous touches. She, from Fate's clutches, free some brief space,
"escaped from so sore ills,"
Moves our compassion. But this modern fashion of Snake Enchanter looks
Greed's inspiration its sole fascination.
Low selfishness its thrall.
"A Serpent!" So the Sophist murmured low, and "LYCIUS' arms were empty of
LAMIA had fled! Would that some sage cool head, some modern APOLLONIUS,
with the might
Of sense magnanimous, would banish thus the bestial Lamia of our later day,
Whose fascination draws a noble nation
To sordid slow decay!
* * * * *
DANTE NOT "IN IT"!--The Italian language is to be excluded from the
Indian Civil Service Examination. "The story is extant, and written
in very choice Italian," said _Hamlet_, and SHAKSPEARE knew that the
reference would be intelligible to his audience. But _Hamlet_ "up to
date" in this "so-called nineteenth century" would be compelled to
give the speech thus, "The original story, I believe, is written in
the Italian language, with which none of us here are acquainted."
But, after all, the candidates may be inclined to adapt the
Gilbert-Sullivan words and music to the occasion, and sing--
"So, in spite of all temptation,
At the next examination
They'll bar I-tal-i-an!"
Though, years hence, it may happen that they'll be sorry they weren't
compelled to get up Italian as one of the subjects.
* * * * *
"O WOMAN, IN OUR HOUR OF EASE!"--which line would make a suitable
motto for our very useful, chatty, and interesting weekly contemporary
entitled _Woman. A propos_ of "headings," the only one in the
above-mentioned publication to which objection can possibly be taken
"on the face of it" is "Wrinkles." Wouldn't "Whispers" be better? It
is quite enough for _Woman_ to appear with lines, but it's too bad
that wrinkles should be added while she is yet so young.
* * * * *
"CHARLES OUR FRIEND."--Once again occurs an illustration of the
applicability of Dickensian characters to modern instances. In last
Thursday's _Times_, by special Razzle-Dalziel wire, we read of the
return of another great Arctic explorer, Mr. WASHBURTON PIKE, after
having braved dangers demanding the most dauntless courage. Here,
then, are two single gentlemen rolled into one: it is _Pike_ and
* * * * *
[Illustration: BEATUS POSSIDENS.
"I'VE COME ABOUT A JOB. I HEARD THERE WAS A BOY WANTED."
"OH, YOU 'EARD AS THERE WAS A BOY WANTED, DID YER? THEN YOU'RE JUST
TOO LATE, 'COS MASTER'S SOOTED!"]
* * * * *
WANTED FOR THE ETON LOAN COLLECTION.
1. The earliest specimen of the Birch. (_Suggested by a Merry Swish
2. Salt-cellar used for holding the Salt at Montem time.
3. Specimen of Haberdashery, from an Eton "Sock" shop.
4. Model of the most powerful "Long-glass" from "Tap."
5. Chips from the Earliest Block, with authentic history of Etonian
Original Transgression, or "First Fault."
6. Documents tracing the connection between "Pop" and the Pawnbroking
7. Specimen of Lower Boy's Hat, with motto, "_Sub Tegmine Fag-I!_"
8. Portraits of Eminent "Sitters" on Fourth of June and Election
Saturday in the early part of present century.
9. Scull of a "Wet-Bob" originally feathered.
10. A copy (perfect and signed) of another boy's verses. (N.B. Not
11. Portraits of eminent Landlords who, acting on SHERIDAN's advice,
have "kept up the Xtopher."
12. Also, portrait, with life and times of the crabbed old Thames
Waterman, known on the river as "Surly HALL."
[Any future suggestions that maybe sent to us will be entirely
at the service of the Duke of FIFE and others, interested in
promoting this most interesting exhibition.]
* * * * *
A PUBLISHER AND HIS FRIENDS.--In order to worthily celebrate the
hearty reception, by the critics and the public generally, of this
most interesting and successful work, the present representatives of
the great publishing firm of MURRAY will give a grand banquet, and,
with SMILES, will sing in chorus the once popular refrain, "We are a
Murray family, we are, we are, we are!" _Prosit!_
* * * * *
TO THOSE IT MAY CONCERN.--In reply to several Correspondents, _Mr.
Punch_ begs to suggest that ANTHONY TROLLOPE would certainly have
observed, "_I say Yes!_" had he been told that WILKIE COLLINS had
written "_I Say No!_"
* * * * *
THE WAY OF WESTMINSTER.
(_A STORY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY BAR._)
"You will not forget, Sir," said my excellent and admirable clerk,
"that to-morrow you have to appear before a Committee of the House of
Commons, in the matter of the Glogsweller Railway Extension?"
I glanced somewhat severely at PORTINGTON, but was gratified to find
that his face was quite free from any suggestion of levity. I was
the more pleased with the result of my investigation, as, truth to
tell, the delivery of a brief in the matter of the Extension of the
Glogsweller Railway Company had been somewhat of an event in my life.
I had never before had the honour of practising at the Parliamentary
Bar. So for months my mind had been entirely occupied with the date
fixed for my appearance in the Committee Room of the House of Commons,
known technically, I believe, at St. Stephens, as "upstairs."
"You will be sure to meet me there, to-morrow, PORTINGTON?" I
"Certainly, Sir," replied my clerk. "But, as I have to be down at the
Mayor's Court with Mr. CHARLES O'MULLIGAN in the morning, I daresay
you won't mind if I come with your sandwiches and sherry, Sir, at two,
I acquiesced, somewhat unwillingly. O'MULLIGAN shares with me the good
offices of PORTINGTON, but generally contrives to secure the lion's
portion of his services. I had arranged--understanding that no
adjournment was made for luncheon--that some refreshment should be
conveyed to me during the day's proceedings, so that my voice should
lose none of its wonted resonance (owing to famine-produced weakness)
when the time arrived for my advocacy of the cause of my clients.
Those clients had, so to speak, but a collateral interest in the day's
proceedings. The great North-East Diddlesex Railway were promoting
a Bill to carry a new line into the neighbourhood of the Glogsweller
Extension, and my duty was confined to cross-examining one of the
expert witnesses that I knew would be asked to support the G.N.E.D.R.
To be candid, we had a goods depot near their suggested terminus, and
were fearful that their proposed proximity would damage our mineral
traffic. The matter was simple enough, but I had taken months in
carefully studying a small library of charts, Encyclopaedias, and
Parliamentary Blue Books, in mastering it.
On the morning following my conversation with PORTINGTON, duly robed
(I had put on my wig and gown in Chambers), I travelled by hansom
to Westminster, and presented myself at the side entrance to St.
Stephen's Hall. I had no difficulty in finding the Committee Room
devoted to the consideration of the alleged necessities of the Great
North-East Diddlesex Railway. It was a large and pleasant apartment,
with a distant view through the windows of St. Thomas's Hospital. At
a horse-shoe table sat the Committee, some four or five gentlemen, who
might have filled equally appropriately any one of the pews reserved
in the Royal Courts for the accommodation of a Special Jury. I took
my place amongst a number of my learned brethren, who were perfect
strangers to me. The table in front of us was littered with plans,
charts, and documents of all descriptions. A Q.C. brought with him
a large bag of buns, and two cups of custard, and there were other
refreshments mingled with the exhibits before us. On chairs at the
side were Solicitors; at our back, separated from us by a bar,
were the Public. On the walls were hanging huge charts, giving in
pantomimic proportions the proposed progress of the projected line.
In the corners of these charts were explanations why such a part
was coloured green, or red, or blue. During the day's proceedings an
attendant was told off to trace the course of a counsel's harangue by
pointing out, with a lecturer's wand, the various places referred to
in his speech.
I was gratified to find that the expert whose evidence it was my duty
to test by cross-examination, was soon in the witness-box. He was a
gentleman of considerable bulk, which gave one of my learned friends,
who was the first to take him in hand, the opportunity of saying,
that he was a "witness of great weight," a remark which caused much
laughter--even the Chairman of the Committee, a somewhat austere
person, indulging in a stealthy smile at the ingenious sally. Such
waggish flashes as this, I need scarcely say, were most welcome, and
afforded, when they came, a pleasant relief to the necessary dryness
that characterised, perforce, the proceedings. As the hands of the
clock progressed, waiters carried into the Committee, various light
refreshments, such as brandy-and-sodawater, sandwiches, and buns. My
colleagues, too, when not actively engaged in the declamatory duties
of their profession, partook of the viands with which they had
provided themselves before the commencement of the day's labours. Thus
the cups devoted to custard soon were empty, and the paper bags, once
occupied by buns, crumpled up and discarded. I gazed at the clock.
It was past two, and I was getting terribly hungry. I felt that my
voice was becoming weak from famine. This would never do, and might
endanger my clients' interests. I looked round eagerly for PORTINGTON.
He was nowhere to be seen. I whispered to a colleague, "would the
examination-in-chief last much longer?" and was told it could not
possibly be concluded within a quarter of an hour. I made up my mind
to hasten to a refreshment-bar I had seen in the corridor before I had
entered the room, and hurriedly left my seat. I pushed my way through
the public, and had scarcely got outside when I found my faithful
clerk laden with sandwiches and sherry making post-haste towards me.
"Get back, Sir, as quick as you can," he cried, as he thrust the
invigorating ingredients of my midday meal into my hands; "run, Sir,
run; I hope they haven't noticed your absence!"
Rather offended at the peremptory tone adopted by my subordinate
I returned to my seat, and was pleased to find that the
examination-in-chief was nearly ended. I pulled myself together.
I drank a glass of sherry and finished a sandwich. My voice was in
excellent tone, and I felt that the crisis of my life had indeed been
reached. I knew that it was now or never. I had this great chance of
distinguishing myself by pleasing my clients and securing a practice
at the Parliamentary Bar, which might mean hundreds, nay, thousands
a-year. I imagined my children at Eton, my wife in a carriage and
pair, my address in Grosvenor Place. All I had to do to secure these
tardily-attained luxuries was to protect my clients by my careful
attention to their interests. The moment at length arrived. I rose to
"And now, Sir," I said; feeling that I was master of the situation,
and that my voice had a magnificent resonance, which was striking
terror into the heart of the witness before me, _I_ am going to put a
few questions to you!"
"I beg pardon," said the Chairman, promptly--"you will do nothing of
the sort. You were not present during the _whole_ of the witness's
* * * * *
I could have wept! The momentary search for sandwiches and sherry had
ruined me! Eton and Grosvenor Place vanished together (in the carriage
and pair) for ever!
_Pump-Handle Court_. (_Signed_) A. BRIEFLESS, JUNIOR.
* * * * *
OLLENDORFF IN LONDON;
OR, THE COCKNEY'S FAMILIAR PHRASE-BOOK.
NO. I.--AT THE ESTATE AGENT'S.
Have you some nice houses to let furnished?--Here is our Catalogue,
Sir.--I perceive that most of these are Queen Anne houses; "sanitation
perfect;" where is the satisfactory explanation of the fine
advertisement?--It is in Spain with the other castles (idiom).--What
is "Queen Anne"?--Victoria comes first, Elizabeth second, but
Queen Anne is (the) last.--Is then sanitation also something?--It
is the little game of the big builder; it is all your (my, his,
her,) eyes.--Can we have some nice furniture?--You can have (the
furniture of) Chippendale, Sheraton, M'Adam, or Louis-Quinze.--It
is too dear.--No, Sir; my brother bought it yesterday of the clever
carpenter.--I was done by you or by your brother; I require a room
for my mother-in-law (neuter).--The good mother-in-law sleeps in the
chamber of boxes (box-room), but the evil mother-in-law prefers the
best bed-room.--How many persons are you?--We are sixteen.--You are,
indeed, suited, Sir; it is an eight-roomed house.--Is not the noble
drawing-room smaller than we have a mind to?--On the contrary,
it is very lofty. There is room near the chandelier.--Where is
the "moderate-sized garden"?--It is on the leads with the broken
flower-pots, the capital smuts, and the industrious cats (masculine
or feminine).--Is it then much larger than a postage-stamp?--Decidedly
not, Sir. It is also nearly as sticky. Much rain produces
weeds.--Where are "the bath-rooms"? I only perceived a
watering-pot.--Any rooms in which you put baths, are bath-rooms.--What
is then the price?--The exorbitant client of the first-class agent
demands four hundred guineas for the season.--It is too much.--He
would take less in some minutes; but my commission will rest the
same.--Here are "Commanding mansions," "Bijou maisonettes," and
"Desirable residences."--It is not difficult; the mansion that has a
back-staircase is commanding, the "Bijou" is for the newly-married, or
the actress, but the "Desirable residence" is what you desire.--What
is then the "square hall"?--It is neither round nor oblong; therefore
it is square. It is likewise in a square.--Is it geometrically the
same as the Bridge of Asses?--I do not know. Sir.--Where is the
capital accommodation for the poor servants?--It resembles the
dark kennel of the sad dog.--What are dilapidations and electric
light?--The first, Sir, is what you break; the second is what breaks
_you_.--If I were to let my own house, and then to myself take it,
would it be on the same terms?--No, the buyer is usually sold, but
the seller loves the first of April.--If another agent were to let my
house, would you, likewise, expect commission?--Why not? I am the best
friend of the little lawyer with the long nose.--I was inquiring of
you about flats.--It were better that you should be _sharp_, Sir.--I
was not born yesterday (proverb.)--Right (adjective) you are, Sir; we
will write (verb) to you till you take or let something, not alone
I, but also some others; if you refuse me something, I will be very
discontented.--Have you ever let well alone? (idiom).--We have let
many things alone (bare), but you must, notwithstanding, pay for
the fixtures.--I think I will be going.--Here are pens, paper, and
a form of an attorney.--No, I thank you.--We shall not charge for
this interview, but one must live.--I do not see the necessity
(_v_. Anecdotes in Appendix).--The Necessity is the mother of the
inventory.--Who is the Caretaker?--She is the great-grandmother of the
superannuated laundress. She becomes sleepy during the Winter. Shall
we send her to your house?--Not if I know it (expletive). Receive
the assurance (insurance) of my highest consideration. By the bye
(interjection), which is the topmost storey?--The topmost story is the
last thing you have heard me mention. I salute you, Sir.
* * * * *
TAKEN UPON TRUST.
(_A FAIR-AND-UNFAIRY STORY, FOUNDED UPON A MAGIC ACT._)
Once upon a time there existed two fatherless and motherless orphans,
who were just old enough to work for their living. Unfortunately they
did not know how to dig, were too proud to beg, and had conscientious
scruples that prevented them from stealing. Besides, one of the two
was a girl; and there were not many openings for her. And matters
would have gone very hard with them, indeed, had not a distant, but
benevolent relative, kindly died and left them as a legacy a sum of
money, of which they were to have the interest until they attained
their majority, when it was to be divided equally between them. They
were overjoyed, and rushed to the executor, who happened to be a
"Yes," said the man of costs, "I am indeed charged with the execution
of the trust, and for your own sakes I hope you will not give me much
trouble, as I shall, under the conditions of the will, have to make
you pay for it."
And after he had entered their visit (which he called an attendance)
in his diary, to be subsequently copied into a ledger, he bowed them
So the two orphans disappeared a little crestfallen; and they soon
discovered that their legacy had the faculty of diminishing. The
lawyer immediately transferred the money, which was invested in
what he called "second-rate securities," into Consols, and this cost
something, and considerably diminished their income. When the two
orphans remonstrated, the lawyer said, that as he made scarcely more
than out-of-pocket expenses in the matter, he did not feel justified
in incurring the slightest risk.
"I am only a simple girl," murmured one of the orphans, with a nervous
blush; "but does not a recent statute give trustees power to invest
the funds of their _cestui que_ trusts in securities yielding a larger
return than 23/4 Goschens?"
"Do not bandy words with me, Miss," replied the lawyer, angrily;
"I shall act as I please, and if you or I ask for the estate to be
administered, it will cost you a pretty penny."
"Which no doubt will find its way into your pocket," returned the
maiden, simply. "But surely a 41/2 mortgage on real property can be
obtained without risk, if you do not act contrary to the provisions of
the Trustee Relief Act?"
But the lawyer was very angry, and threatened her that if she made any
further complaint he would appeal to the Chancery Division of the High
Court of Justice, which would mean, probably, the absorption of the
entire estate in a gigantic bill of costs.
So, with a sigh, the maiden and her brother retired. That night, as
she was sitting over the fire, before retiring to rest, she had a
dream, when a nice-looking old gentleman appeared before her, and
asked her "why she was so sad?"
"Because we have a lawyer for our trustee, who is most unobliging, and
expensive. I am afraid, kind Sir, _you_ cannot help us."
"Do not say so until you have perused this scroll," he replied, with a
benevolent smile, and he gave her a paper. "To-morrow, if your trustee
again threatens you, and offers to retire, take him at his word. If
I replace him, I will do all you wish--enter into mortgages, invest
your capital to the best possible advantage, and make myself generally
"But how shall we pay you for so much kindness?" asked the now
"By a tariff fixed by the Government. It will be my duty to do my best
for you, and I shall have no personal interest in running up costs
like the common (or garden) kind of family Solicitor."
So the next day, when the lawyer began to threaten to resign, the
orphans took him at his word, and all that the nice-looking old
gentleman had foretold came to pass. And when the orphans were getting
the best possible interest for their money, at a trifling expense, the
maiden looked at the scroll which had been given to her, and found it
was inscribed, "The Public Trustee Act."
And, so far as the lawyer, who had been discarded, knew (or cared),
the maiden and her brother lived happily ever afterwards.
* * * * *
More about DICKENS. By the loving hand of PERCY FITZGERALD the
Bookmaker,--not sporting, but literary. Of making books, with PERCY
FITZ there is no end. He is the king of the Bookmakers, _Per se Fitz_.
This time it is the _History of the Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick
Club_, published by CHAPMAN AND HALL, and "inscribed"--why not
"dedicated?"--to HENRY FIELDING DICKENS, son of "The Only One,"
the Master. _Interesting?_ Of course it is, anything about DICKENS,
specially in connection with the immortal _Pickwick_, must be
interesting, and for chatty, gossiping bookmaking we only say, "Give
us Fitz." He is to the manor born. He is neither romancer nor poet:
"_poeta nascitur non_ 'Fitz.'" Occasionally FITZ is aggravatingly
reticent. For instance, at page 16 we read, "_Two or three years
ago_"--which? two or three?--"_a curious and amusing coincidence
brought the author's son, a barrister in good practice_"--Which son?
His name? There were more sons than one: were they all barristers? And
was this one the only one in good practice?--"_into connection with
his father's famous book. It occurred at a trial on the Circuit._"
Which Circuit? Which is "_the_ Circuit"? The Baron, who is now the
Last of the Barons but one, only asks because the phrase "on Circuit"
would not have required his query; but "on the Circuit" is another
pair of shoes. "_A trial_." What trial? When? At p. 17, "_The Judge
entered into the humour of the thing_"--what Judge? The Baron is
of opinion that in the well-known advertisement about the Waverley
Pen, quoted in a note at p. 25, the correct order should be, "_The
Pickwick, the Owl, and the Waverley Pen_"--not Pickwick last. Did
CHARLES DICKENS ever write to FORSTER that he was "_getting on like a
house o' fire"?_ Surely this should be a "house a-fire," or "a house
on fire"; for a "house o' fire" means a "house of fire," which is not
what the expression is intended to convey. At p. 51, in a note, FITZ
says, "'_Phiz, Whizz,' or something of that kind, was_ T. HOOD's
_joke_." Was it? If so, where does the joke come in?
My friend, the late GEORGE ROSE, better known as "ARTHUR SKETCHLEY,"
used to say that DICKENS took _Sam Weller_ from (as I understood him)
a character in one of O'KEEFE's comedies. This statement was given
on the authority of Mr. BAYLE BERNARD. But I am bound to say I can
find nothing like _Sam_ in O'KEEFE's; but I have found DICKENS there
bodily. It is in Sc. 1, Act I. of _Life's Vagaries; or, The Neglected
Son._ "'Oh!' exclaims FANNY, 'if my papa was to see me--oh!' (_Seeing_
DICKENS, _runs; he stops her._)" And, oddly enough, in this edition of
1798, frequently as the above-mentioned character appears, it is "on
this occasion only" that the name is spelt with an "E."
Mr. FITZGERALD, at p. 136 of this book, says, that an actor named
SAM VALE, appearing as _Simon Splatterdash_, in a piece called _The
Boarding-House_, was in the habit of "interlarding his conversation
with metaphorical illustrations"--and then follow the examples. _The
Boarding-House_, however, is not by O'KEEFE, but, as appears from a
note in _Sketches by Boz_, was being performed when DICKENS's short
tale of _The Boarding-House_ appeared. For my part, I long ago came to
the conclusion that _Sam Weller_ was absolutely an original creation,
as far, that is, as anything outside the immaterial realms of fancy
and fairyland can be an original creation. Our FITZ gives CALVERLEY's
Examination Paper, and also an Oxford imitation of it, which, however,
is not by any means up to the CALVERLEY-BLADES mark. There is also a
preface to _Pickwick_, specially interesting, as not being found in
later editions. Then our Fitz informs us how many dramatic versions of
_Pickwick_ there have been, some with and some without music, bringing
the list down to the latest "Dramatic Cantata" (it oughtn't to have
been so described, as there was dialogue in it), the music of which
will always hold a first place among the compositions of the Musical
Baron's friend claiming to be the gifted descendant of the Wise and
Musical King SOLOMON.
Altogether a vote of thanks should be presented to Mr. PERCY
FITZGERALD for his entertaining, instructive, and most readable book
on the immortal _Pickwick_, says THE BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
[Illustration: TELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION.
_Husband_ (_off to Paris_). "DON'T CRY, DARLING. IT'S _TOO_ SAD TO
LEAVE YOU, I _KNOW_! BUT YOU CAN TALK TO ME THERE JUST AS IF WE WERE
TOGETHER--ONLY BE CAREFUL, AS IT'S EXPENSIVE!"
_Wife_. "IS IT, DARLING? HA-HA-HADN'T YOU BETTER LEAVE ME A FEW BLANK
* * * * *
TALKING BY TIME.
The growing pressure of the business having already obliged the
Belgium Postal Authorities to cut down the time allowed for a
telephonic communication between Paris and Brussels, from five minutes
to three, it is to be presumed that the rush of public patronage that
may be expected when the wire is opened between London and the French
Capital, will soon necessitate the substitution, in place of the
promised ten minutes, of an allowance to each speaker of a minute,
or at most a minute and a half for his interview, which it may
confidently be expected will not unfrequently take the following
_Inexorable Official_. Now, Sir; your turn next.
[_Shuts intending London Talker in, and switches him "on."_
_London Talker_. Dear me! How quick they are, one hardly knows what
one is about. I wonder how loud, now, one ought to speak. Better
shout. Anyhow, I'll try that first. (_At the top of his voice through
the tube._) Hullo! Hi! I say. Are you there?
_Paris Listener_ (_replying_). Oh! don't bawl like that. Of course I'm
here, I've been waiting quite half a minute; thought you were never
going to begin. But I suppose it is JONES I am speaking to?
_London Talker_. Oh yes, I'm JONES. It's all right. But can't you
recognise my voice?
_Paris Listener_. Not when you bawl fit to break the drum of one's
ear. But come, now, get on quick with what you want to say.
_London Talker_. All right--I'll get on. But now tell me, do I pitch
my voice about right now? Can you catch distinctly all I say?
_Paris Listener_. Oh yes! Bother! But do get on. Timesgoifast.
_London Talker_. What? I didn't catch that last word. Time's what?
_Paris Listener_ (_very distinctly, with emphasis_). I
said--that--time--was--going fast. Can you hear that?
_London Talker_. Oh yes, I can hear that, and most distinctly. Really,
it is a most wonderful invention.
_Paris Listener_. Oh, bother the invention! Do come to business! What
did you want me for?
_London Talker_. Oh. of course. Well, it was just this. I thought--
_Inexorable Official_. Time's up, Sir. Trouble you to make room for
[_Switches him "off," and turns him out._
* * * * *
"THAT CON-FOUNDLAND DOG!"
Mr. JOHN BULL _loquitur_:--
"Love me, love my Dog!" Well, _I_ don't want to flog
The fine but excitable fellow.
With a nip on his tail e'en a Bull wouldn't fail
To bounce round a bit, and to bellow.
I'd do my square best with the greatest good will,
If only he'd--just for a moment--stand still.
Stand still, with a nip like crocodile's grip
On one's caudal appendage? Ah, just so!
I know 'tis a task that seems _too_ much to ask.
I'm reasonable,--or I trust so.
But there _is_ the Lobster, it's holding on fast.
And--hang it! this state of affairs cannot last!
How came it about? That's a matter of doubt,
Which there isn't much use in discussing,
To part them's my aim; I would manage that same
Without either fighting or fussing.
Newfoundland or not, there's no dog finds it nice
To live very long with its tail in a vice!
I want to get near if I can, but, oh dear!
The Dog to my call won't attend. I
Conceive, if he would, it might be for his good,
I'd hit on some _modus vivendi_.
But if Dog _won't_ stand still, and if Lobster _won't_ loose,
My heartiest help cannot be of much use.
One ANDROCLES bold eased a lion of old
Of a thorn in his foot--a great worry!
But ANDROCLES, sure, would have failed of a cure
If poor Leo had kept on the scurry,
As you, my dear Dog, do at present. _Verb. sap.!_
Do just let me _get at_ the Lobster, old chap!
While it's fast to your tail, and you wriggle and wail,
And romp all around, the best master,
And kindest of heart, Dog and Lobster can't part.
_Don't_ think I deride your disaster!
The pinch of it might make an elephant prance;
No, all that I ask is--_just give me a chance!_
* * * * *
[Illustration: "THAT CON-FOUNDLAND DOG!"
JOHN BULL. "IF I COULD ONLY GET HIM TO STAND STILL, I COULD SOON
SETTLE THE LOBSTER!"]
* * * * *
A TEN MINUTES' IDYL.
Life is a farce, a dreary round,
A fraud--of that there's not a doubt,
Although I've only lately found
Bad boldly masquerades as good,
Fruit turns to ashes in the taking,
Unpleasant very is the rude
'Tis Spring, when something, so one learns,
Seems to affect the burnished dove,
And when a young man's fancy turns
With window open to the breeze,
The tramp of passers-by unheeding,
I sit reclining at mine ease,
I've read enough--and not amiss
I rather fancy now would be
A little rest--ah! what is this
A sight that's almost past belief,
And makes me think I must be raving,
For there a girl a handkerchief
Like to a light that in the black
And inky night shines o'er the main,
It disappears, and then comes back
I know the house quite well--I've heard
Her father's something in the City,
And she's a blue-eyed girl absurd-
By Jove! she does it with a whirr,
It's clear this inexpressive she
Is given to the _fortiter_
Of course it's forward--and indeed
It's worse--it's shockingly imprudent
Thus to encourage me, a need-
Her form is shadowy--I must
Get out my glasses, so to bring
Her nearer. Yes--the range is just
* * * * *
Life is a farce, without a doubt!
The cause of all this fuss and fluster
Is just a housemaid shaking out
* * * * *
IN THEIR EASTER EGGS.
_Lord Salisbury_.--Allegorical Cartoon representing BRITANNIA
astonished at the success of her recent Foreign Policy.
_Mr. Gladstone_.--Pocket Edition of Cyclopaedia of Universal
Information, copiously illustrated, for the use of veteran Statesmen.
_The Emperor of Germany_.--Prize Homily on the Art of Governing, with
special reference to the science as applied to the subordination of
_Mr. Parnell_.--Sculptured Group representing the Reptile of Egotism
turning the tables on St. Patrick, and endeavouring to drive him out
_The President of the United States_.--An Italian Iron--over-heated.
_Ex-King Milan of Servia_.--A Monthly Cheque for amusement and
travelling expenses, but not including a return ticket to Belgrade.
_The Post-Master-General_.--One hundred Receipts for getting into hot
_Mr. Sheriff Augustus Harris_.--Draft Proposal for buying up and
working the British Government with duly audited Schedule, showing how
the "takings" could be more than doubled by spirited management.
_Mr. Jackson of Clitheroe_.--Prize Farce entitled, "Lynch Law and
* * * * *
MEN WHO HAVE TAKEN ME IN--
(_BY A DINNER-BELLE._)
NO. III.--THE GREAT UNKNOWN.
_He_ was a dapper, dumpy thing,
With nought decisive on him graven
But smiles, like footlights flickering
O'er visage shaven.
And _it_, that kind of social myth
Where every guest (and each a rum one)
Is Somebody, because the kith
Or kin of Someone.
The Great Siberian Victim's Aunt,
The Godfather of Colonel CODY,
And some affinity I can't
Recall to DAUDET.
In fine, a Tussaud's once removed,
Not waxworks, but their far connections;
The names, the attitudes, approved,
But mere reflections.
Our hostess, wont to pedigree
Her portents, slurred his surname sweetly;
So up my smiler tripped--to me
Thus mystified, I needs must bruit
The weather--"It was rainy, rather."
"Yes," he rejoined, "It does not suit
"Strange how the damp affects great men;
My nephew, not the Wit, the Artist,
You know paints always smartest when
It rains the smartest."
"In _water_-colours?" feebly next
I faltered, falling quite to pieces:
"No, no," he murmured mildly vexed,
"_You_ mean my nieces.
"Those delicate young paintresses
Of Idyls in Cobalt and Bistre,
Though for Impressionist success,
Give me my sister.
"My nephew, he's inspired of course,
Divine, quite _autre chose: en bref_ you--
Forgive an uncle's pride--perforce
Adore my nephew."
Reeling with Relatives, I quite
My compass lost: to shift our bearing,
"Who is the Lady on your right?"
Quoth I, despairing.
"That Beauty, like the portraits I've
For sale beheld of Miss BELLE BILTON."--
"She? She's the representative,
The last, of MILTON!"
This was too much: what _could_ I try
To burst from such a tangled tether?
The shops for neutral ground, thought I,
Eclipse the weather.
The shops! The very thing. I dared
The shops. "How wonderful was WHITELEY!"
Dazed at the Wizard's name he stared,
And shuddered slightly.
A silence froze his ready twang:
No more he smiled--from that fell minute,
HENRY THE FIRST--to speak in slang--
Was scarcely in it.
That smilelessness! What meant the curse?
Who could the skein unravel? I did.
This was the Diner "Univers-
Renowned, if nameless--hired to be
Salvation of a banquet's ruin,
"Monsieur Le Quatorzieme" took me,
And may take you in.
* * * * *
THE MERRY GREEN WOOD.
_AN "EPPING FOREST" CHORUS._
"For ever and again the Corporation of London send down their
_proteges_, the young City sportsmen who may, or may not, know
how to load a gun, but who are very keen on 'Sport.' Then the
herds are driven by beaters towards the gallant huntsmen, the
forest re-echoes with the report of guns, and next day you
can trace the whereabouts of the wounded bucks and deer by
tracks of blood among the bushes, and by impressions on the
grass where the maimed creature has fallen in its flight for
life."--_Pall Mall Gazette_.
_Chorus of Huntsmen._
Oh, we like,--we love the Merry Green Wood,
As should Huntsmen bold of the proper sort!
And we would hit the stag _if we possibly could_,--
As is meet with such palpable sons of Sport.
Away to the forest we cheerily run,
And wait for the beaters' welcome cry;
And though we are new to the use of a gun,
What matters? At anything we'll let fly!
So Sing hey, sing ho, for the startled deer;
We warrant we'll hit him, if _he_ comes near
And we'll send him lame and limping away,
With a shot he'll remember for many a day!
For marry come up! But it would be absurd
To expect a bold Sportsman to bag the whole herd!
So he blazes away; and he hits one or two;
And they hobble away in some thicket to lie,
And, after a day or two's suffering, die;
We don't see precisely what more we could do,
Than shout that "we love the Merry Green Wood!"
And would settle the stag,--_if we possibly could!_
* * * * *
The following advertisement appears in the _Standard_:--
A Lady wishes to have twice from the country a SUPPLY of LIVE
SPARROWS, for a favourite cat.--Address, &c.
There is an uncomfortably blood-thirsty look about this "Lady's"
desire to supply her favourite cat with some downright real Sport. For
it is to be presumed that she intends her well-cared for pet literally
to do the unhappy sparrows to death in the most approved fashion. How
will she manage it? Clip their wings, and set them on the drawing-room
floor; or tie strings to their legs, and let the favourite cat "go for
them?" Cats must be fed. But it is not necessary to provide them with
a "Supply of Live Sparrows" twice, or even once. We submit the subject
to the notice of the S.P.C.A.
* * * * *
ONE POUND NOTES.--Probable rate that a fashionable _prima donna_ will
charge for a song in the near future.
* * * * *
[Illustration: APRIL FOOLS.]
* * * * *
OUR OPENING (SUN) DAY!
_Emancipated Blue-Ribboned British Workman loquitur_:--
Yesh, HARRY LAWSHUN mosh entirely righ'!
WILFRIDSH mush blesh his nameshake! Had a frigh'
Only lash Shundaysh. Fanshied I saw snakesh.
Frigh'ful to watch 'em wrigglung, when one wakesh
Over the quilterpane--I mean counterquilt.
Liqnorsh are lovely, when you're that waysh built;
But snakesh ish pizen! So ish liquorsh, too--
Leastwaysh, so WILFRIDSH LAWSHON and hish crew
Alwaysh declaresh! No matter! Nash'ral Museum,
Mush better than the Jim-Jamsh! Eugh! I shee 'em!
All eyesh and limbsh, all twists, and twirls, and twiddles;
Tails like long corkscrewsh, gogglesh in their middles;
Big headsh, and bony bodysh--frigh'fully frisky!
Fancy sush things living in Irish Whishky,
Like animalcu--what's it? in--_hic_--water!
No matter! I've sworn offsh! POLLY, my daughter,
Made me Good Templarsh! No more horrorsh now!
To Heaven's broad blue vault I lift my brow,
A shober Br--Bri'sh Workman! So old DUMPER,
The lecturer, putsh it. He'sh a rare tub-thumper!
Itsh Easter Shunday, and I am not tigh'!
Bri'sh Workman--Nash'ral Museum! Thatsh or'righ'.
Feelsh bit unsteady! That dashed ginger-beer
Gassysh--go i' my head an' makesh me queer!
One nipsh!--no, no! won't do! Wherream I? Lor!
Strai' on, the plishman says, through tha' there door.
Doorsh blesshed wide, and these 'ere big shop-cases
With bitsh o' stone and beedlesh!--Yah! Thosh faces!
Thosh eyesh, thosh limbsh, thosh bodysh, big and bony!
Thosh wrigglewigglements! I'll bet a pony
_Thish_ ish no Nash'ral Museum--Nash--_hic_--ral Hishtory!
Look at 'em! _Look_ at 'em!! Oh, hersh a mystery!
POLLYSH,--where are yer? Where'sh that blesshed bottle?
I'vesh got a peck o' March dust down my throttle.
Give ush that gin--ger beersh, o' course, I mean.
Look, POLLY!--shee that creature long and lean,
Crawling towardsh us! Jim-Jamsh are not in it
With thish 'ere Bri's'h Museum! Wai' a minute!
Where am I? Whersh tha' girl? Can't read this lingo!
"Mega--" It moves! _Got 'em again, by Jingo!!!_
* * * * *
[Illustration: AN EASTER OBJECT LESSON.
(_At the Natural History Museum._)
_Visitor_. "HULLO! I SAY, I'VE GOT 'EM AGIN! GI' ME THE BLUE RIBBON!"]
* * * * *
LEAVES FROM A CANDIDATE'S DIARY.
_March 10_.--It has come at last, and I'm free to confess I don't care
for it half as much as I thought I should. I got the letter five days
ago. Here it is:--
45, _Main Street, Billsbury, March 4, 18--._
Sir,--I have been in communication with headquarters, and I am
informed that you are looking out for a Constituency at the next
General Election. We have been for some time past endeavouring to
find a Candidate for this Borough, and should be glad to hear if we
may submit your name to the consideration of our local Council. The
political history of Billsbury must be known to you. Up to the date of
the last election we have always been represented by a Conservative.
In fact, Billsbury was always looked upon as an impregnable fortress
of sound Constitutional opinion.
Our late Member, however, was unable to devote to the Constituency
the time and attention it required. Moreover, I may mention in strict
confidence, that his conduct over the Billsbury Main Drainage Scheme
alienated a considerable number of his supporters, and the consequence
was that at the last election Sir THOMAS CHUBSON, the Liberal
Candidate and present Member for Billsbury, was elected by a majority
of 279. Since then, however, the Party has rallied, the divisions in
our ranks have been healed, the registrations have been very much in
our favour, and there is no reason to doubt that, as soon as Billsbury
has the chance, she will return to her ancient allegiance. I shall
be in London the day after to-morrow (Thursday, March 6), and shall
do myself the honour of calling upon you. Kindly let me know where
and when I can see you. I shall be glad to afford you any further
Yours faithfully, JAMES TOLLAND,
_To RICHARD B. PATTLE, Esq., President Billsbury Conservative
Association. Dr. Johnson Buildings, Temple, E.C._
I dashed off at once to the Central Association. They urged me
to accept, and told me that even if I failed, which they said was
extremely unlikely, my fight would give me "an irresistible claim
on the Party." Afterwards saw VULLIAMY, the Member for one of the
Pinkshire Divisions. He said "Take it? Of course you must. Ridiculous
to hesitate. A youngster like you, who only left College four years
ago, ought to be proud of the chance. If you're beaten you'll have a
claim on the Party, and mind you don't let 'em forget it. Curse them,
they never think of a man's valuable services if he doesn't keep on
reminding them himself;" and then he drivelled on for a quarter of an
hour about all he'd done for the Party, and how "the shabby beggars"
had refused his nephew the Morterton Recordership. It seems the other
side manage their business much better. Next I called on Uncle HENRY
in the City. He said he'd stick to his promise of paying half my
expenses, but wouldn't help me to nurse the place. However, I daresay
that won't cost much. Eventually wrote to Old TOLLAND, and asked
him to call at my Chambers on Thursday at 3 o'clock. Then went home
and told my mother. She said, "My darling boy, I knew you would be
distinguished. I knew it all along. If your dear father had only
lived, he would have been a proud man to-day. Now, mind you have that
horrid grating removed from the Ladies' Gallery." And with that she
kissed me and rang for cook to tell her the news. I sloped.
On Thursday Old TOLLAND called. It seems he's an Alderman, and I
only addressed him as plain Esquire. He wanted to know, What were my
views on the Labour Question? Was I an Eight Hours' man? How about
Vaccination and Woman's Suffrage? and all kinds of other rubbish.
I had to beat about a good deal, and answer generally, but at last
I consented to address the Council, and to-morrow was fixed as the
day. If accepted, I shall have to come before a Mass Meeting, and go
through it all again. It all seems rather roundabout, but I suppose
it's the usual way.
(_To be continued._)
* * * * *
THE RIGHTS OF COUNSEL.
(_BY A CLIENT_.)
Oh, what are the "rights" of the Q.C.?
The point of the question but few see.
Those rights are to do
What suits _him_, if not _you_!
Faith! that's the whole business _in nuce_!
* * * * *
JOKIN'S LATEST.--"The Surplus will be anything but a _dry_ subject
this year, as it is owing to a steady or (probably) unsteady
consumption of Drink!"
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
_House of Commons, Monday, March 23_.--Easter Holidays begin
to-morrow; to-night last rally round RAIKES; Postmaster harried from
both sides of House; the Contumacious COBB begins it; comments on
Coroner's conduct beginning to pall on accustomed appetite; references
to delicate investigation in judicial circles falling flat; so turns
upon POSTMASTER-GENERAL. Wants to know about the Boy Messengers?
Pack in full cry; RAIKES pelted with newspapers, assailed with
over-weighted letters; late at night CAMERON comes up quite
fresh, desiring to "call attention to the position taken up by the
POSTMASTER-GENERAL with regard to the Electric Call and Boy Messenger
System," just as if he had at the moment made the discovery.
In course of lecture CAMERON produces sort of pocket-pistol; explains
it's the thing you work the electric call with. You press a button
here, and up comes a tumbler of milk and soda; another button, and you
have a sausage and a hot potato; a third, and your boots are suddenly
pulled off by an unseen agency; a fourth, and you find yourself seated
in a hansom cab, with eighteenpence pressed into your hand to pay
your fare withal; a fifth, and you're awakened at four o'clock in the
morning with an apology. Something, you learn, went wrong with the
machine, and it was the gentleman on the next floor who ought to have
been called at this hour.
GANE, Q.C., with hands folded on knees, sat entranced, listening to
this interesting narrative, and watching the illustrations rapidly
produced by CAMERON, as he touched the various buttons.
"Wonderful!" cried GANE, Q.C. "Never knew anything like it since I
read _Arabian Nights_."
"What's RAIKES' loss is our GANE," says WILFRID LAWSON.
Must think this over during the Recess.
For awhile RAIKES had peace; quite forgotten whilst House, falling
into GANE's attitude, listened to CAMERON's fairy tale.
[Illustration: The Pillary Post.]
"It's only postponed, TOBY," he said, wearily, CAMERON (having
accidentally touched the wrong button) being promptly carried off to
bed in the middle of a sentence; "they'll be at me again to-morrow,
and will begin once more, like giants refreshed, when they come back
from the holidays. It's an old story; the House of Commons must always
have its whipping-boy. Don't know whether you've sat long enough for
Barks to remember AYRTON? A dead set was made against him, and he
was not only driven out of office, but forth from public life. It's
generally the HOME SECRETARY who is fastened on. There was WALPOLE,
chronically reduced to tears. BRUCE was chivied by the cabmen, and
had his hat blocked by the publicans. The blameless HARCOURT didn't
go scot free whilst he was at the Home Office. MATTHEWS has had a long
run, with the hounds after him. Now they've turned aside from him,
and are yelping after me. It's very well for MATTHEWS, but a little
worrying for me. Of course I don't claim to be perfect. As HARCOURT
once admitted of himself, I'm almost human, I try to do my duty, and
protect the interests of Department committed to my charge. They come
in touch with all classes, and naturally there is friction. Just now
the howling is persistent, and, I fancy, organised. Perhaps it'll fall
away by-and-by. In the meanwhile, it's rather wearing, so pitilessly
monotonous. As you said the other day, a new constitutional maxim
has been established. Once OLD MORALITY used to write in his
copybook, 'The QUEEN can Do no Wrong.' Now he may add this
other, 'The POSTMASTER-GENERAL Does Nothing Right.'" _Business
_Tuesday Afternoon_.--Winding up business before holiday; rather a
scramble at the end. OLD MORALITY, as usual, piled up heap of work
to be got through. "Quite easy, you know," he said. "Tithes Bill,
Electoral Disabilities Removal Bill, Savings Bank Bill, take them
in your stride. What does the poet say? Line upon Line; Little by
Little; Here to-day and gone To-morrow. Those are the sound economical
principles that should guide a man through life."
At one time seemed that whilst we were certainly here to-day, we
wouldn't be gone till to-morrow. Tithe Bill in last stage took a lot
of fighting over. House wouldn't have Electoral Disabilities Removal
Bill or the Savings Bank Bill at any price.
"Then I'll move the adjournment," paid OLD MORALITY, in despair.
[Illustration: "Stole Away!"]
"Not till you've heard my speech," said Dr. CLARK; pulled out
manuscript from breast coat-pocket, began descanting on the under-pay
of Civil Servants in Scotland, whilst TYSSEN AMHERST folded his tent
like the Arab, and as silently stole away. Example followed generally
by Members in all parts of the House. CLARK thoroughly enjoying
himself, composedly went on to end of speech, and then adjournment.
SPEAKER "kept in" till Thursday to take part in ceremony of Royal
Commission. Rest off, and won't be back till Monday, 6th of April.
_Business done_.--Wound up for Easter Holidays.
* * * * *
CRITICISING THE CALENDAR.
SIR,--The suggestion of your Correspondent "EASTER EGG," who
wishes Easter to be a fixed festival, always coming on April 20, is
excellent. At present, Easter-tide, like the other tide, depends on
the moon. What a humiliating confession! Why should we any longer
consent to be the slaves of the (so-called) Science of Astronomy?
Yours, REFORMING SPIRIT.
SIR,--What's all this fuss about Easter being too early this year?
It isn't half early enough. It ought to have come last Christmas,
and Whitsuntide the same, and then we should have polished off three
public holiday seasons--public nuisances, _I_ call them,--at once.
Yours, gloomily, TRUE PHILANTHROPIST.
SIR,--I have just been horrified to hear that one of my boys now at
home from school remains with us for a three weeks' vacation! The
early date of Easter is the paltry excuse offered by his Headmaster
for this infliction. Anybody can see through such a flimsy pretext.
His brother is to have _his_ holiday four weeks later. The result is
that the boys will see nothing of each other during their holidays,
while their parents will see a great deal too much. How can brotherly
affection--I say nothing of fatherly affection,--that priceless
blessing, which I flatter myself I always conspicuously display--be
expected to continue under these depressing conditions?
Yours, exasperatedly, FOND PARENT.
SIR,--As peeple are riting lettres to you about the Easter holy-days,
I should like you to put in what old BOREHAM--he's our Principul--has
been doing. We all think it a thundring shame. He kept us grinding
away right through Good Friday, Easter Monday, and means us to go
on several weeks afterwards! The result was we had about half a Hot
Cross-Bun each! Old BOREHAM akshally fixed Easter Monday for going
over all the Latin irreglur verbs. Pleese would you say something in
your valyble collums about old BOREHAM, and oblige
Yours, obedjiently, SMITH (_Tertius_), _Rodchester_.
* * * * *
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