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OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
February 14, 1891.
(_BY MR. PUNCH’S OWN TYPE WRITER._)
NO. XXIII.–THE TOLERATED HUSBAND.
It is customary for the self-righteous moralists who puff themselves into a state of Jingo complacency over the failings of foreign nations, to declare with considerable unction that the domestic hearth, which every Frenchman habitually tramples upon, is maintained in unviolated purity in every British household. The rude shocks which Mr. Justice BUTT occasionally administers to the national conscience are readily forgotten, and the chorus of patriotic adulation is stimulated by the visits which the British censor finds it necessary to pay (in mufti) to the courts of wickedness in continental capitals. It may be that among our unimaginative race the lack of virtue is not presented in the gaudy trappings that delight our neighbours. Our wickedness is coarser and less attractive. It gutters like a cheap candle when contrasted with the steady brilliancy of the Parisian article. Public opinion, too, holds amongst us a more formidable lash, and wields it with a sterner and more frequent severity. But it is impossible to deny that our society, however strict its professed code may be, can and does produce examples of those lapses from propriety which the superficial public deems to be typically and exclusively continental. Not only are they produced, but their production and their continuance are tolerated by a certain class, possibly limited, but certainly influential.
Amongst these examples, both of lapse and of toleration, the Tolerated Husband holds a foremost place. Certain conditions are necessary for his proper production. He must be not only easy-going, but unprincipled,–unprincipled, that is, rather in the sense of having no particular principles of any kind than in that of possessing and practising notoriously bad ones. He must have a fine contempt for steady respectability, and an irresistible inclination to that glittering style of untrammelled life which is believed by those who live it to be the true Bohemianism. He should be weak in character, he may be pleasant in manner and appearance, and he must be both poor and extravagant. If to these qualities be added, first a wife, young, good-looking, and in most respects similar to her husband, though of a stronger will, and secondly a friend, rich, determined, strictly unprincipled, and thoroughly unscrupulous, the conditions which produce the Tolerated Husband may be said to be complete.
The Tolerated Husband may have been at one time an officer in a good regiment. Having married, he finds that his pay, combined with a moderate private income, and a generous allowance of indebtedness, due to the gratification of expensive tastes, is insufficient to maintain him in that position of comfort to which he conceives himself to be entitled. He therefore abandons the career of arms, and becomes one of those who attempt spasmodically to redeem commercial professions from the taint of mere commercialism by becoming commercial themselves. It is certain that the gilded society which turns up a moderately aristocratic nose at trade and tradesmen, looks with complete indulgence upon an ex-officer who dabbles in wine, or associates himself with a new scheme for the easy manufacture of working-men’s boots. An agency to a Fire and Life Assurance Society is, of course, above reproach, and the Stock Exchange, an institution which, in the imagination of reckless fools, provides as large a cover as charity, is positively enviable–a reputation which it owes to the fancied ease with which half-a-crown is converted into one hundred thousand pounds by the mere stroke of an office pen.
The Tolerated Husband tries all these methods, one after another, with a painful monotony of failure in each. Yet, somehow or other, he still keeps up appearances, and manages to live in a certain style not far removed from luxury. He entertains his friends at elaborate dinners, both at home and at expensive restaurants; he is a frequent visitor at theatres, where he often pays for the stalls of many others as well as for his own. He takes a small house in the country, and fills it with guests, to whom he offers admirable wines, and excellent cigars. His wife is always beautifully dressed, and glitters with an array of jewels which make her the envy of many a steady leader of fashion. The world begins to ask, vaguely at first, but with a constantly increasing persistence, how the thing is done. Respectability and malice combine to whisper a truthful answer. Starting from the axiom that the precarious income which is produced by a want of success in many branches of business cannot support luxury or purchase diamonds, they arrive, _per saltum_, at the conclusion that there must be some third party to provide the wife and the husband with means for their existence. His name is soon fixed upon, and his motives readily inferred. It can be none other than the husband’s rich bachelor friend, the same who accompanies the pair on all their expeditions, who is a constant guest at their house, and is known to be both lavish and determined in the prosecution of any object on which he has set his heart. His heart, in this instance, is set upon his friend’s wife, and the obstacles in his way do not seem to be very formidable. The case, indeed, is soon too manifest for any one but a born idiot to feign ignorance of it. The husband is not a born idiot–he either sees it plainly, or (it may be, after a struggle) he looks another way, and resigns himself to the inevitable. For inevitable it is, if he is to continue in that life of indolence and extravagant comfort which habit has made a necessity for him. So he submits to the constant companionship of a third party, and, in order to be truly tolerated in his own household, becomes tolerant in a manner that is almost sublime. He allows his friend to help him with large subventions of money; he lets him cover his wife with costly jewels. He is content to be supplanted without fuss, provided the supplanter never decreases the stream of his benevolence; and the supplanter, having more wealth than he knows what to do with, is quite content to secure his object on such extremely easy terms. And thus the Tolerated Husband is created.
It is curious to notice how cheerfully, to all outward appearance, he accepts what other men would consider a disaster. Before the world he carries his head high with an assumption of genial frankness and easy good temper. “Come and dine with us to-morrow, my boy,” he will say to an old acquaintance, “there’ll only be yourself and a couple of others besides ourselves. We’ll go to the play afterwards.” And the acquaintance will most certainly discover, if he accepts the invitation, that the “ourselves” included not only husband and wife, but friend as well. He will also notice that the last is even more at home in the house, and speaks in a tone of greater authority than the apparent host. Everything is referred to him for decision, and the master of the house treats him with a deferential humility which goes far to contradict the cynical observation that there is no gratitude on earth. The Tolerated Husband, indeed, never tires of dispensing hospitality at the cost of his friend, and though the whole world knows the case, there will never be a lack of guests to accept what is offered.
At last, however, in spite of his toleration, he becomes an encumbrance in his own house, and, like most encumbrances, he has to be paid off, the friend providing the requisite annual income. One after another he puts off the last remaining rags of his pretended self-respect. He haunts his Clubs less and less frequently, and seems to wither under the open dislike of those who are repelled by the mean and sordid details of his despicable story. And thus he drags on his life, a degraded and comparatively impoverished outcast, untidy, haggard and shunned, having forfeited by the restriction of his spending powers even the good-natured contempt of those who were not too proud to be at one time mistaken for his friends.
* * * * *
LABOURS FOR LENT.
_Emperor of Germany_.–To conciliate the great men who have had to prefix “Ex” to their official titles since he ascended the Throne.
_Emperor of Russia_.–To find a resting-place safe from the Nihilists.
_King of Italy_.–To do without CRISPI, and the Triple Alliance.
_The Emperor of Austria_.–To master the subject of Home Rule as applied to Austria, Hungary, and the Bulgarian Nationalities.
_King of Portugal_.–To settle the Map of Africa with Lord SALISBURY.
_The President of the French Republic_.–To adapt _Thermidor_ for the German stage.
_The President of the American Republic_.–To bless the McKinley Tariff.
_The Marquis of Salisbury_.–To consider with his son and heir the Roman Catholic Disabilities Removal Bill.
_Mr. W.H. Smith_.–To renew his stock of Copy-book proverbs.
_Mr. Gladstone_.–To compile and annotate a new volume of _Gleanings_, containing the _Quarterly_ Article on “Vaticanism,” and the speech in support of the Ripon-plus-Russell Relief Bill.
_Mr. Goschen_.–To divide the coming Surplus to everyone’s satisfaction.
_Mr. Balfour_.–To learn to love both wings of the Irish Party.
_Mr. Justin McCarthy_.–To discover his exact position.
_Mr. S.B. Bancroft_.–To regard with satisfaction his gift to General Dealer BOOTH.
* * * * *
[Illustration: JUNIUS JUDEX.
_A Pindaric Fragment_. (_A long way after Gray_.)]
Awake, O Themis-twangled lyre, awake, And give to paeans all thy sounding strings! Here is a triumph joyfuller than Spring’s. JEUNE smacks of Summer rather, and must take The cake!
As frescoed heroes cloud-borne progress make, So–happy apotheosis!–advances
Stately Sir FRANCIS!
See how late-knighted Justice moves along, High, majestic, smooth and strong,
Through Cupid’s maze and Neptune’s mighty main (O Wimpole Street, uplift the strain!) Toward that proudly portal’d door.
Silk gowns and snowy wigs raise the applausive roar! O Sovereign of the Social Soul,
Lady of bland and comfort–breathing airs, Enchanting hostess! Business cares
And Party passion own thy soft control, In thy saloons the Lord of War
Muffles the wheels of his wild car, And drops his thirsty lance at thy command. Smoothed by a snowy hand,
Aquila’s self, the fierce and feathered king, With sleek-pruned plumes, and close-furled wing Will calmly cackle, and put by
The terrors of his beak, the lightnings of his eye. Thine the voice, the dance obey;
Tempered to thy pleasant sway,
Blue and Buff, Orange and Green, In polychromatic harmony are seen,
As on a bright Jeune day.
And now JEUNE triumphs in no minor measure. Judicial Pomp and Social Pleasure
Now indeed make marvellous meeting. See with suasion firmly sweet
That brisk trio, gaily greeting To that portal guide his feet.
Neptune’s hoarse hails his friend’s approach declare, Probate, the winged sprite, about must play; With wanton wings that winnow the soft air In gliding state Lord Cupid leads the way To where grave Law must mark, assay, reprove Wanderings of young Desire, and lures of fickle Love!
* * * * *
TOMMY ATKINS’S HARD LOT.
“TOMMY ATKINS,” writing modestly enough to the _Daily Chronicle_ of the 6th February, complains that the coal supplied by the Authorities for barrack-rooms, is so limited in quantity that “during the winter this, as a rule, only lasts about two days” in the week, and TOMMY and his comrades have to “club-up” to supply the deficiency out of their own microscopical pay. “In fact” (says T.A.) “I have been in barrack-rooms where the men have had no fires after the first two days of the week.” _If_ this be so, _Mr. Punch_ agrees with TOMMY in saying, “Surely this ought not to be!” TOMMY ATKINS may reasonably be expected to “stand fire” at any season, but not the absence of it in such wintry weather as we have had recently!
If this is poor TOMMY ATKINS’s lot,
As TOMMY might say, It is all Tommy-rot!
* * * * *
COLUMBIA ON HER SPARROW.
(_WITH APOLOGIES TO WILLIAM CARTWRIGHT._)
[“The Americans have had enough of the Sparrow (_Passer domesticus_), and the mildest epithet reserved for him seems to be that of ‘pest.'”–_Daily Chronicle_.]
Tell me not of joy,–a hum!
Now the British Sparrow’s come.
Sent first was he
Across the sea,
Advisers kind did flatter me,
When he winged way o’er Yankee soil, My caterpillar swarms he’d spoil;
And oh, how pleasant that would be!
He would catch a grub, and then
_It_ would never feed again.
My fields he’d skip,
And peck, and nip,
And on the caterpillars feed;
And nought should crawl, or hop, or run When he his hearty meal had done.
Alas! it was a sell, indeed!
O’er my fields he makes his flight,
In numbers almost infinite;
A plague, alas!
That doth surpass
The swarming caterpillar crew.
What I did I much regret;
_Passer_ is multiplying yet;
Check him I can’t. What shall I do?
The British Sparrow won’t depart,
His feathered legions break my heart. Would _he_ away
I would not, nay!
About mere caterpillars fuss.
Patience with grubs and moths were mine, Would _he_ but pass across the brine. _I_ call _Passer Domestic Cuss_!
* * * * *
“HERE WE HARE AGAIN!”–There are two Johnnies on the stage. JOHNNY Senior being J.L. TOOLE (now on his way home from New Zealand), and JOHNNY Junior, JOHN HARE, both immensely popular as comedians, and both in high favour with our most illustrious and judicious Patron of the Drama, H.R.H. the Prince of WALES. It is gratifying to learn that, after the performance of _A Pair of Spectacles_ at Sandringham, the Prince presented the Junior of these two Johnnies with a silver cigar-box. In the right-hand corner of the lid is engraved a hare looking through a pair of spectacles, and inside is a dedication to JOHN HARE from ALBERT EDWARD. “Pretty compliment this,” as Sir WILL SOMERS, the Court Jester, might have said,–“to JOHNNY HARE from the Hare Apparent.”
* * * * *
A new set of Faddists has been gradually growing up, not in our midst, but in the parts about Literature and the Drama. The object of their cult is, one HENRIK IBSEN, a Norwegian Dramatist, (perhaps it would be more correct to say, _the_ Norwegian Dramatist,) of whose plays a pretty sprinkling of scribes, amateur and professional, but all of the very highest culture, profess themselves the uncompromisingly enthusiastic admirers. You may not know the Ibsenites or any of their works, but in their company at least,–that is, supposing yourself so highly privileged as to be admitted within the innermost circle of the Inner Ibsen Brotherhood,–_not_ to know IBSEN would be proof positive of your being in the outer darkness of ignorance, and in need, however unworthy, of the grace of Ibsenitish enlightenment. Recruits are wanted in the Ibsenite ranks, so as to strengthen numerically the one party against the other; for the Ibsenitish sect has so for progressed as to be at loggerheads amongst themselves; not indeed on any really essential question, such as would be, for example, any doubt as to the position of IBSEN as a Dramatist, or as to the order of merit and precedence to be assigned to his works. No, on such matters they are apparently at one; but in other matters they are at one another. Thus the unity appears to be only superficial, a decent plaster hiding the rift occasioned by one of their number having literally translated into English IBSEN’s latest Norwegian drama, of which translation the verbal correctness is impugned by another learned Ibsenite.
Not being “a hardy Norseman,” and having neither a reading nor speaking acquaintance with the Norse language, I am unable to decide abstruse points on which such learned doctors disagree; but not being altogether without some practical experience of English and French drama, I venture to call in question not only the dramatic ability of the dramatist himself, but also, after perhaps allowing him some merit as a type-writer or character-sketcher, to assert that the style and matter of most of his work is always tiresome, frequently childish, and the subject often morbid and unhealthy; and, further, that his method is tedious to the last degree of boredom; for, as a writer, if I may judge him fairly by his translators, he is didactic and prosy, and never more tedious than when his dialogue is intended to be at its very crispest. As a playwright his construction is faulty. Here and there he gives expression to pretty ideas, reminding me (still judging by the translation) of TOM ROBERTSON, not when the latter was in his happiest vein, but when laboriously striving to make his puppets talk in a sweetly ingenuous manner.
I have never seen any play of IBSEN’s on the stage, but I have read several of them–indeed, as I believe, all that have hitherto been translated and published in this country. I was prepared to be charmed, expecting much. I was soon disillusioned, and great was my disappointment. Then I re-read them, to judge of them not merely as dramas for the closet, but as dramas for the stage, written to be acted, not to be read; or, at all events, as far as the general public were concerned, to be acted first, and to be read afterwards. As acting dramas, it is difficult to conceive anything less practically dramatic. I do not know what the pecuniary result of his theatrical productions may be in his own country–where, I believe, he doesn’t reside–but, out of his own country (say, here in London), I should say that a one-night’s performance, with a house half full, would exhaust IBSEN’s English public, and quite exhaust the patience of those who know not IBSEN.
Years ago we had the Chatterton-Boucicault dictum that “SHAKSPEARE spelt failure.” Now, for SHAKSPEARE read “IBSEN,” and insert the words “swift and utter” before “failure,” and you have my opinion as to how the formula would stand with regard to IBSEN. I should be sorry to see any professional Manager making himself pecuniarily responsible for the success of such an undertaking, a word which, in its funereal sense, is of ill omen to the attempt. Let the Ibsenites club together, lease a theatre, and see how the public likes their show. There’s nothing doing at the Royalty just now; let them pay rent in advance, and become Miss KATE SANTLEY’s tenants; then, if the IBSEN-worshippers, with their Arch-priest, or ARCHER-priest, at their head, come to a temporary understanding with the Gosse-Ibsenites, they could craftily contrive to be invited as guests to a dinner at the Playwreckers’ Club. The _dilettanti_ members of this association the United Ibsenites could flatter by deferring to the opinions of their hosts, while inculcating their own, thus securing the goodwill and patronage of the Playwreckers, a plan nowadays adopted with considerable success by some of our wiliest dramatists, eager to secure a free course and be glorified; and so, by making each one of these mighty amateurs feel that the success of IBSEN in this country depended on him personally, that is, on his verdict or “_Ibsen dixit_,” a run of, say, perhaps three nights might possibly be secured, when they could play to fairly-filled houses. One “nicht wi’ IBSEN,” one night only, would, I venture to say, be quite enough for most of us. “Oh, that mine enemy would write a book!” “Oh, that my enemy would bring out an Ibsenite play,” and try to run it! Perhaps he will. In which case I will either alter my opinion or give him a dose of ANTI-FAD.
* * * * *
[Illustration: MR. GLADSTONE’S NEW HOUSE.
“The house which Mr. GLADSTONE has just taken in Park Lane is, it is reported, the selection of Mrs. GLADSTONE, who recommends it with a view to her husband’s opportunities for exercise.”–_Daily Paper_.]
* * * * *
_BRAVISSIMO_, Sir ARTHUR SULLIVAN of Ivanhoe, or to compress it telegraphically by wire, “_Bravissimo Sullivanhoe!_” Loud cries of “ARTHUR! ARTHUR!” and as ARTHUR and Composer he bows a solo gracefully in front of the Curtain. Then Mr. JULIAN STURGIS is handed out to him, when “SULLIVAN” and “JULIAN”–latter name phonetically suggestive of ancient musical associations, though who nowadays remembers “Mons. JULLIEN”?–the composer and librettist, bow a duet together. “Music” and “Words” disappear behind gorgeous new draperies. “All’s swell that ends swell,” and nothing could be sweller than the audience on the first night. But to our tale. As to the dramatic construction of this Opera, had I not been informed by the kindly playbill that I was seeing _Ivanhoe_, I should never have found it out from the first scene, nor should I have been quite clear about it until the situation where that slyboots _Rebecca_ artfully threatens to chuck herself off from the topmost turret rather than throw herself away on the bad Templar _Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert-sans-Sullivan_. The Opera might be fairly described as “Scenes from _Ivanhoe_,” musically illustrated. There is, however, a continuity in the music which is lacking in the plot.
[Illustration: All Dicky with Ivanhoe; or, The Long and Short of it.]
The scenic effects are throughout admirable, and the method, adopted at the end of each _tableau_, of leaving the audience still more in the dark than they were before as to what is going on on the stage, is an excellent notion, well calculated to intensify the mystery in which the entire plot is enveloped.
The change of scene–of course highly recommended by the leech in attendance on the suffering _Ivanhoe_–from the little second-floor-back in the top storey of the castle tower, where the stout _Knight of Ivanhoe_ is in durance, is managed with the least possible inconvenience to the invalid, who, whether suffering from gout or pains in his side,–and, judging by his action, he seemed to feel it, whatever it was, all over him,–found himself _and_ his second-hand lodging-house sofa (quite good enough for a prisoner) suddenly deposited at the comparatively safe distance of some three hundred yards or so from the burning Castle of Torquilstone, in which identical building he himself, not a minute before, had been immured. So marvellous a flight of fancy is only to be found in an Arabian, not a Christian, Night’s Entertainment.
The Tournament Scene is a very effective “set,” but practically an elaborate “sell,” as all the fighting on horseback is done “without.” Presently, after a fierce clashing of property-swords, sounding suspiciously like fire-irons, _Ivanhoe_ and _Sir Brian_ come in, afoot, to fight out “round the sixth, and last.” There is refreshing novelty in Mr. COPLAND’s impersonation of _Isaac of York_, who might be taken for _Shylock’s_ younger brother who has been experimenting on his beard with some curious kind of hair-dye. This comic little _Isaac_ will no doubt grow older during the run of the piece, but on the first night he neither looked nor behaved like _Rebecca’s_ aged and venerable sire, nor did Miss MACINTYRE–who, by the way, is charming as _Rebecca_, and who is so nimble in skipping about the stage when avoiding the melodramatic _Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert-sans-Sullivan_, and so generally active and artful as to be quite a _Becky Sharp_,–nor, I say, did Miss MACINTYRE seem to treat her precocious parent (_Isaac_ must have married very young, seeing that _Becky_ is full twenty-one, and _Isaac_ apparently very little more than twenty-eight, or, say, thirty) with any great tenderness and affection; but these feelings no doubt will be intensified, as she becomes more and more accustomed to her jewvenile father during the run of the Opera, and he may say to her, as the Bottle Imp did to his victim, “Ha! Ha! You must _learn_ to love me!”
[Illustration: The game of “Becky my Neighbour.” The Stout Knight lays low.]
I have not time to enumerate all the charming effects of the Opera, but I must not forget the magic property-harp, with, apparently, limp whip-cord strings, “the harp that once,” or several times, was played by those accomplished musicians, _King Richard_, and _Friar Tuck_, the latter of whom has by far the most taking song in the Opera, and which would have received a treble [or a baritone] encore, had _Barkis_–meaning Sir ARTHUR–“been willin’.” The contest between _Richard_ and the _Friar_ is decidedly “Dicky.” Nor must I forget the magnificent property supper in the first scene, at so much a head, where not a ham or a chicken is touched; nor must “the waits” between some of the sets be forgotten,–“waits” being so suggestive of music at the merriest time of the year. Nor, above all, must I omit to mention the principal character, _Ivanhoe_ himself, played by Mr. BEN DAVIES, who would be quite an ideal _Ivanhoe_ if he were not such a very real _Ivanhoe_–only, of course, we must not forget that he “doubles” the part. There is no thinness about “_Ben Mio_,” whether considered as a man, or as a good all-round tenor. I did not envy _Ivanhoe’s_ marvellous power of sleep while Miss MACINTYRE was singing her best, her sweetest, and her loudest. For my part I prefer to believe that the crafty Saxon was “only purtendin’,” and was no more asleep than _Josh Sedley_ on the eve of Waterloo, or the Fat Boy when he surprised _Mr. Tupman_ and _Aunt Rachel_ in the arbour, or when he pinched _Mr. Pickwick’s_ leg in order to attract his attention. But, after all, _Ivanhoe_ and _Rowena_, as THACKERAY remarked, are a poor namby-pamby pair, and the real heroine is _Rebecca_. The Opera ends with a “Rebecca Riot.” Every one wishes success to the new venture.
[Illustration: “A1” Saxon Friar.]
As to the Music,–well, I am not a musician, and in any new Opera when there is no one tuneful phrase as in _Aida_ or _Tannhaeuser_, which, at the very first hearing, anyone with half an ear can straightway catch, and reproduce next day till everyone about him cries, “Oh don’t!” and when, as in this instance, the conducting-composer, Wagnerianly, will not permit _encores_–where am I? Nowhere. I return home in common time, but tuneless. On the other hand, besides being certain that _Friar Tuck’s_ jovial song will “catch on,” I must record the complete satisfaction with which I heard the substantial whack on the drum so descriptive of _Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert-sans-Sullivan’s_ heavy fall “at the ropes.” This last effect, being as novel as it is effective, attracted the attention of the wily and observant DRURIOLANUS, who mentally booked the effect as something startlingly new and original for his next Pantomime. The combat between the Saxon Slogger, very much out of training, and the Norman Nobbler, rather over-trained as the result proved, is decidedly exciting, and the Nobbler would be backed at long odds. Altogether, the whole show was thoroughly appreciated by WAMBA JUNIOR.
* * * * *
SPECIMENS FROM MR. PUNCH’S SCAMP-ALBUM.
NO. I.–THE CLASSICAL SCHOLAR IN REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES.
You are, let us say, a young professional man in chambers or offices, incompetently guarded by an idiot boy whom you dare not trust with the responsibility of denying you to strangers. You hear a knock at your outer door, followed by conversation in the clerk’s room, after which your salaried idiot announces, “A Gentleman to see you.” Enter a dingy and dismal little man in threadbare black, who advances with an air of mysterious importance. “I think,” he begins, “I ‘ave the pleasure of speaking to Mr.—-” (_whatever your name is_.) “I take the liberty of calling, Mr.—-, to consult you on a matter of the utmost importance, and I shall feel personally obliged if you will take precautions for our conversation not being over’eard.”
He looks grubby for a client–but appearances are deceptive, and you offer him a seat, assuring him that he may speak with perfect security–whereupon he proceeds in a lowered voice.
“The story I am about to reveal,” he says, smoothing a slimy tall hat, “is of a nature so revolting, so ‘orrible in its details, that I can ‘ardly bring myself to speak it to any ‘uming ear!” (_Here you will probably prepare to take notes._) “You see before you one who is of ‘igh birth but low circumstances!” (_At this, you give him up as a possible client, but a mixture of diffidence and curiosity compels you to listen._) “Yes, Sir, I was ‘_fruges consumeary nati_.’ I ‘ave received a neducation more befitting a dook than my present condition. Nursed in the lap of haffluence, I was trained to fill the lofty position which was to have been my lot. But ‘_necessitas_,’ Sir, as you are aware, ‘_necessitas non abat lejim_,’ and such I found it. While still receiving a classical education at Cambridge College–(praps you are yourself an alumbus of _Halma Mater_? No? I apologise, Sir, I’m sure)–but while preparing to take my honorary degree, my Father suddenly enounced, the horful news that he was a bankrup’. Strip of all we possessed, we were turned out of our sumchuous ‘ome upon the cold world, my Father’s grey ‘airs were brought down sorrowing to sangwidge boards, though he is still sangwin of paying off his creditors in time out of what he can put by from his scanty hearnings. My poor dear Mother–a lady born and bred–sank by slow degrees to a cawfy-stall, which is now morgidged to the ‘ilt, and my eldest Sister, a lovely and accomplished gairl, was artlessly thrown over by a nobleman, to ‘oom she was engaged to be married, before our reverses overtook us. His name the delikit hinstinks of a gentleman will forbid you to inquire, as likewise me to mention–enough to ‘int that he occupies a prominent position amongst the hupper circles of Society, and is frequently to be met with in the papers. His faithlessness preyed on my Sister’s mind to that degree, that she is now in the Asylum, a nopeless maniac! My honely Brother was withdrawn from ‘Arrow, and now ‘as the yumiliation of selling penny toys on the kerbstone to his former playfellers. ‘_Tantee nannymice salestibus hirae_,’ indeed, Sir!
“But you ask what befell myself.” (_You have not–for the simple reason that, even if you desired information, he has given you no chance, as yet, of putting in a word._) “Ah, Sir, there you ‘ave me on a tender point. ‘_Hakew tetigisti_,’ if I may venture once more upon a scholarly illusion. But I ‘ave resolved to conceal nothing–and you shall ‘ear. For a time I obtained employment as Seckertary and Imanuensis to a young baranit, ‘oo had been the bosom friend of my College days. He would, I know, have used his influence with Government to obtain me a lucritive post; but, alas, ‘ere he could do so, unaired sheets, coupled with deliket ‘elth, took him off premature, and I was once more thrown on my own resources.
“In conclusion, Sir, you ‘ave doubtless done me the hinjustice to expect, from all I ‘ave said, that my hobjick in obtaining this interview was to ask you for pecuniary assistance?” (_Here you reflect with remorse that a suspicion to this effect has certainly crossed your mind_). “Nothing of the sort or kind, I do assure you. A little ‘uming sympathy, the relief of pouring out my sorrers upon a feeling art, a few kind encouraging words, is all I arsk, and that, Sir, the first sight of your kind friendly face told me I should not lack. Pore as I am, I still ‘ave my pride, the pride of a English gentleman, and if you was to orfer me a sovereign as you sit there, I should fling it in the fire–ah, I _should_–‘urt and indignant at the hinsult!” (_Here you will probably assure him that you have no intention of outraging his feelings in any such manner._) “No, and _why_, Sir? Because you ‘ave a gentlemanly ‘art, and if you were to make sech a orfer, you would do it in a kindly Christian spirit which would rob it of all offence. There’s not many as I would bring myself to accept a paltry sovereign from, but I dunno–I might from one like yourself–I _might Ord hignara mali, miseris succurreary disco_, as the old philosopher says. You ‘ave that kind of _way_ with you.” (_You mildly intimate that he is mistaken here, and take the opportunity of touching the bell_). “No, Sir, don’t be untrue to your better himpulses. _’Ave_ a feelin ‘art, Sir! Don’t send me away, after allowing me to waste my time ‘ere–which is of value _to me_, let me tell yer, whatever _yours_ is!–like this!… Well, well, there’s ‘ard people in this world? I’m _going_, Sir … I ‘ave sufficient dignity to take a ‘int … You ‘aven’t got even a trifle to spare an old University Scholar in redooced circumstances then?… Ah, it’s easy to see you ain’t been at a University yourself–you ain’t got the _hair_ of it! Farewell, Sir, and may your lot in life be ‘appier than–All right, don’t _hexcite_ yourself. I’ve bin mistook in yer, that’s all. I thought you was as soft-edded a young mug as you look. Open that door, will yer; I want to get out of this ‘ole!”
Here he leaves you with every indication of disgust and disappointment, and you will probably hear him indulging in unclassical vituperation on the landing.
* * * * *
The Baron is delighted with MONTAGU WILLIAMS’s third volume of _Reminiscences_, published by MACMILLAN & Co. His cheery after-dinner conversational style of telling capital stories is excellent. He is not writing a book, he is talking to us; he is telling us a series of good things, and, quoth the Baron, let me advise you to light your cigar and sit down in your armchair before the fire, as not only do you not wish to interrupt him, even with a query, but you feel inclined to say, as the children do when, seated round you in the wintry twilight, they have been listening to a story which has deeply interested them–“Go on, please, tell us another!” The following interpolated “aside,” most characteristic of MONTAGU WILLIAMS’s life-like conversational manner of telling a story, occurs at page 8, where giving an account of a robbery, of which he himself was the victim, and telling how a thief asked to be shown up to his, the narrator’s room, he says, “The porter, like a fool, gave his consent.” The interpolated “_like a fool_,” carries the jury, tells the whole story, and wins admiration for the sufferer, who is the real hero of the tale. But beyond the book’s merit as an interesting and amusing companion, it contains some valuable practical suggestions for relieving the ordinary distress in the poorest districts which ought to receive attention in the highest quarters.
To some readers interested in theatrical life, _Polly Mountemple_ must prove an interesting work of fiction, if a story can be so styled which, as its author assures his readers with his latest breath, I should say in his last paragraph (p. 291), “Is a true tale.” It is the story of a “ballet lady” who rises in “the profession” to the dignity of a speaking part, and is on the point of being raised still higher in the social scale, and becoming the wife of a real live young nobleman, when she sensibly accepts a considerable sum of money, consents to forego her action for breach of promise, and finally marries a highly respectable acrobat, and becomes the landlady of the “Man of Kent.” The earlier portion is entertaining, especially to those who are not altogether ignorant of some of the personages, sketches of whom are drawn by the author, Mr. CHARLES HOLLIS, with, it is not improbable, considerable fidelity. They are rough sketches, not by any means highly finished, but then such was the character of the original models. Before, however, it can be accepted by the general public as giving an unexaggerated picture of a certain sort of stage-life, it ought to have the _imprimatur_ or the _nihil obstat_ of some generally acknowledged head of the profession; for “the profession” is Hydra-like in this respect–a republican creation, with many heads. THE BARON DE BOOK-WORMS.
* * * * *
_Professional Golfer_ (_in answer to anxious question_). “WEEL, NO, SIR, AT YOUR TIME O’ LIFE, YE CAN NEVER HOPE TO BECOME A _PLAYER_; BUT IF YE PRACTISE HARD FOR THREE YEARS, YE MAY BE ABLE TO TELL GOOD PLAY FROM BAD WHEN YE SEE IT!”]
* * * * *
_The Hare (with many financial friends) loquitur_:–
Here goes! ‘Tis a rather new line–
But that is no very great matter. If they’ve faith in a lead, ’tis in mine, So a tentative trail let me scatter,
The old track of country this time I’ll forsake; I trust they’ll not think I have made a mistake?
That old line of country they know,
Across it for years they’ve been rangers, All right, when the going is slow,
When ’tis fast, are they fly to its dangers? For Hares to raise scares ‘midst the Hounds were improper, But how if the pack come a general cropper?
Remarkably near it last time,
Though some of ’em didn’t suspect it; But _I_ spy the peril! ‘Twere crime
If I did not help them to detect it. If they don’t like my trail they must give me the sack; I’d rather be bullied than break up the pack.
They fancy I’ll keep the old course, There or thereabout. But I’ve a notion! They’ll grumble perhaps, with some force, But they’re not going to flurry G. GOSCHEN. Of this havresack there have been some smart carriers– I’ll make ’em sit up, though, the L.S.D. Harriers!
I love ’em, each supple-shanked lad, ‘Most as much as–Statistics. To trudge it For _them_ makes my bosom as glad
As–Big Surplus, and Popular Budget; And so I should like to secure them a run, Combining snug safety with plenty of fun.
I don’t wont to lessen their speed,
I don’t want to hamper their daring; But rashness won’t always succeed–
Just ask that smart runner, young B-R-NG! And that’s why I’m trying to strike a new line For our Paper-Chase–catting the “Paper” up fine.
I scatter it wide. Will it float?
Of course for awhile there’s no knowing; But I shall be able to note,
By the sequel, _which way the wind’s blowing_. There! Look like white-birds, or banknotes, in full flight. Now, lads, double up! There’s not one yet in sight!
Of course I’m ahead of my field,
As a Hare worth his salt ever should be. My Hounds, though, are mostly spring-heeled. Eh? Funk it? I don’t think that could be! The L.S.D. Harriers’ lick others hollow For pluck and for pace. There’s the trail,–_will they follow_?
* * * * *
“SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.”–You need not go to Holland to see the Hague. You may find it–him we mean–at DOWDESWELL’s Gallery. Here you can revel in a good fit of the Hague without shivering. Indeed, Mr. ANDERSON HAGUE, judging from his pictures of North Cambria, seems to be very fit, and therefore, he may be called an HAGUE-fit.
* * * * *
A CAN(NES)DID CONFESSION.
(_BY A SUFFERING ANGELINA._)
You write to me, sweetest, with envy Of “zephyrs” and “summerlike stars;”
You say women, horses, and men vie In chorus of croups and catarrhs;
You picture me safe from the snarling Of Winter’s tyrannical sway.
This isn’t, believe me, my darling, The Mediterranean way.
You rave of the “shimmering light on An ocean pellucidly fair.”
You get it, my darling, at Brighton, And coals that can warm you are _there_: Of “boughs with hot oranges breaking”– Cold comfort, while fortunes we pay
For faggots that mock us in making Their Mediterranean way!
You dream of me rapt by a casement
Mimosa caresses and rose;
_This_ window was surely the place meant For mistral to buffet my nose.
Of tennis and dances and drums in
“That Eden for Eves”–did you say? Apt phrase! Nothing masculine comes in
Our Mediterranean way.
And “Esterel’s amethyst ranges
Of gossamer shapes”–and the rest. Good gracious, how scenery changes!
They too have a cold on their chest. At “delicate lungs,” dear, and so on
No more for this climate I’ll play, But homeward in ecstasy go on
My Mediterranean way.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE “PAPER-CHASE.”
RIGHT HON. GEO. J. G-SCH-N (_the Hare_). “WONDER WHETHER THEY’LL FOLLOW?”]
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE OYSTERS AT WHITSTABLE FROZEN IN THEIR BEDS!
(_See Daily Papers_.)]
* * * * *
THE OLD WOMAN AND HER WATER SUPPLY.
(_AN OLD NURSERY RHYME WITH A NEW BURDEN._)
There was an old Woman, as I’ve heard say, The frost froze her water-pipes fast one day; The frost froze her water-pipes fast at first, Till a thaw came at last, and the water-pipes burst. By came the Company, greedy of gain,
And it cut her water all off at the main, It cut her water off sharp, if you please, Though it wasn’t _her_ fault that the pipes began to freeze. It wasn’t _her_ fault that the water-pipes burst. So she had no water for cleansing or thirst, She had no water, and she began to cry, “Oh, what a cruel buzzum has a Water Company But I’ll repair the pipes, since so it must be, And the plumber, I’m aware, will make pickings out of me. If there’s a frost I’ve no water for my pail, And if there’s a thaw then the rate-collectors rail.” On Law the old Woman is entirely in the dark; There seems no one to save her from the fresh-water shark; The shark does what he likes, and she can only cry, “Who’ll help a poor old Woman ‘gainst the Water Company?”
* * * * *
“_Moi-Meme_,” in the course of his pleasant _Worldly_ wanderings among things in general, observes, _a propos_ of the younger COQUELIN’s suggestion about lectures by professors of the Dramatic Art to youthful students, “One can scarcely fancy a more humorous sight than Mr. TOOLE giving a professional lecture to dramatic aspirants, telling them when to wink, when to wheeze, when to ”scuse his glove,'” &c. Now it so happens that when this same idea was first started–or perhaps revived–some eleven years ago, Professor TOOLE’s Lecture to Students of the Dramatic Art was given in _Mr. Punch’s_ pages. The lecture, one of a series supposed to be given by various actors, will be found in Vol. LXXVIII., page 93. It appeared on the 28th of February, 1880.
* * * * *
NOTE BY A NOMAD.
SMITH, of Coalville, imagines that Civilised Man Falls too much to the rear if he lives in a Van; But Caravan-dwellers, with force and urbanity, Declare that SMITH’s views of Van life are pure vanity!
* * * * *
THE HIGHEST EDUCATION;
_OR, WHAT IS LOOMING A-HEAD._
A Deputation on behalf of the Exasperated Ratepayers’ Association waited yesterday afternoon on the Chairman of the London School Board at their new and commodious palatial premises erected on the vast central site recently cleared, regardless of expense, for that purpose in Piccadilly, and presented a further protest against the ever-increasing expenditure indulged in by that body. The Chairman, smilingly intimating that he would hear what the Deputation had to say, though he added, amidst the ill-suppressed merriment of his _confreres_, he supposed it was the old sing-song protest, possibly on this occasion because they had recently directed that the boys attending the schools of the Board should come in “Eton” suits, the cost of which naturally fell upon the rates, or some captious objection of that kind, which it really was a waste of breath to discuss. However, whatever it was, he added, he was willing to hear it.
The Spokesman of the Deputation, a Duke in reduced circumstances, who ascribed his ruin to the heavy rates he had been called upon to pay through the extravagance of the Board, and who declined to give his name, said that though they had not thought the Eton suits a necessity, still it was not against them that they had to protest. It was the addition of Astronomy involving the erection (with fitting first-class instruments) of 341 observatories in the London district alone, Chinese, taught by 500 native Professors imported from Pekin for the purpose, horse-riding, yachting, and the church organ (these last two being compulsory), together with the use of the tricycle, type-writer, and phonograph, all of which instruments were provided for every single pupil at the expense of the ratepayers, to the curriculum of all those pupils who were fitted for the third standard. The speaker said he knew that it had long been settled that the finest and most comprehensive education that our advanced civilisation could supply should be provided for the submerged half of the population, and they could not grumble at these things, but what they did not consider necessary was, that a salary should be forthcoming for each pupil-teacher sufficient to enable him or her to drive down to the schools in their own carriage and pair. (_Much laughter._) He did not think it a laughing matter. He would strongly suggest a diminution of at least L1000 a-year in the salaries of these overpaid officials.
The Chairman here asked the speaker if he had considered that “descending” from a carriage was necessarily connected with the teaching of Deportment, on which the Board set great value? Was he not aware that some great man had said, wishing to give Deportment its proper weight as an educational factor, that the Battle of Waterloo (at least he thought he was quoting correctly) was won at Almacks? (_Renewed laughter._) Anyhow, he did not consider that L2,500 a-year, and a house in Mayfair, was at all an excessive remuneration for a School-Board teacher, as measured by the Board’s standard. He thought, if that was all the Deputation had to urge, that they might have saved themselves the trouble their protest had cost them.
The Spokesman having for a few moments consulted with his colleagues, hereupon turned to the Chairman, and delivering with fearful emphasis the customary curse on the School Board, its Chairman, and all its belongings, at the same time thanking the Chairman for his courteous reception of the Deputation, silently and sulkily withdrew.
* * * * *
DRURIOLANUS AND DANCING.–The Fancy Dress Ball–not a “Ball Marsky”–at Covent Garden, last Tuesday week, was a great success, on which DRURIOLANUS FORTUNATUS is hereby congratulated. There is to be a similar festivity, to celebrate _Mi-Careme_. Quite appropriate this date, when the season is half Lent, and the costumes almost all borrowed.
* * * * *
[Illustration: AN APPEAL CASE, HOUSE OF LORDS.]
* * * * *
TO MR. RUDYARD KIPLING.
[“Every minute of my time during 1891 is already mortgaged. In 1892 you may count upon me.”–_Mr. KIPLING to Magazine Editor, who wished to secure him as a Contributor_.]
Oh, happy man! for whom this world of ours Is but a ceaseless round of milk and honey, Who use your wondrous word-compelling powers For us in telling tales (and making money),
How you must laugh to rake the dollars in, The publishers–how badly you must bleed them; Your tales _are_ good, but yet, ere you begin On more, just think of us who’ve got to read them.
It frightens us to hear your Ninety-One Is mortgaged–for the prospect’s _not_ inviting, To think of all that may and will be done, If, through the present year you ne’er cease writing!
With bated breath we ask, and humble mien– We realise how far we come behind you– That you will leave _one_ remnant Magazine In which we may be sure we shall not find you.
Then will your RUDYARD name with joy be hailed, And yours will be a never-fading glory, If, when you’re asked to write a _Light that Failed_, You merely tell us, “That’s another story.”
* * * * *
AN UPPER NOTE.
Sir,–I mustn’t interfere with the diary of TOBY, M.P. But, as he is not reported as being in the Upper House on this particular occasion, I cannot help drawing general attention to the dispatch of business among the Lords on Thursday last. I quote from the Parliamentary Report in the _Daily Telegraph_, which informed us that
“The LORD CHANCELLOR took his seat on the Woolsack at a quarter-past four o’clock.”
Then in came “A New Spiritual Peer.” Awful! It sounds like an apparition in a blood-curdling ghost-story. Where was LIKA JOKO with his pencil? Well, “the new Spiritual Peer took his oath and his seat”–why wasn’t he called upon for his toast and sentiment?–and then–what happened? Did their Lordships stay to have a friendly chat with the new-comer? No, not a bit of it; for the report says,
“Their Lordships rose at twenty-five minutes to five o’clock.”
So that, in effect, as soon as the new boy came in, and seated himself, all the old boys went out. There’s manners for you! And this in the Upper House, too!! Yours truly, THE MARQUIZ.
* * * * *
“ONLY THINK HOW DELIGHTFUL, BOBBIE! THEY’VE DISCOVERED, IN MANUSCRIPT, AN ENTIRELY NEW WORK BY ARISTOTLE, AND THEY’RE GOING TO PUBLISH IT!”
“REALLY, MAMMIE? THEN ALL I CAN SAY IS, I’M PRECIOUS GLAD I’VE LEFT SCHOOL FOR GOOD!”]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.
[Illustration: The Rollit Albert that gathered Three Bills into the Statute Book.]
_House of Commons, Monday Night, Feb. 2_.–“I do not,” said OLD MORALITY, a cloud of disappointment settling on his massive brow, “know any case where, comparatively late in life, after a blameless career, depravity has so suddenly broken out in a man as it has with SYDNEY GEDGE. It is true, that upon occasion GEDGE has not given entire satisfaction to our friends opposite. They hold the opinion that his incursions in debate have been inopportune, and, in short, unnecessary; but that is their affair. We have had no ground for complaint. GEDGE has always voted straight, has appropriately filled up a dull half-hour when we had to keep a Debate going, and at all times he has invested our side of the House with a certain _je ne sais quoi_ of dignity, combined with profound wisdom. And now to go and break out in this unexpected manner! It is incomprehensible,–would be, if I had not seen him with my own organs of vision, incredible. We must make GEDGE a Peer, or a County Court Judge.”
OLD MORALITY’s discomposure not unwarranted. GEDGE certainly made our flesh creep to-night. Of all things in the world, it came about on the Tithes Bill. In Committee all night; Sir JOHN SWINBURNE spoken several times; HARCOURT, leading Opposition, made several efforts to inspire proceedings with a little life, but not to be done. Bill rapidly slipping through; Amendments to Clauses all disposed of; a few new ones on paper. Of course not slightest chance of being added to Bill. One by one moved; Minister objected; Clause negatived; and there an end of it. Twelve o’clock close at hand; on stroke of Midnight, Debate must be adjourned; still plenty of time to get the Bill through Committee. Everything out of the way except new Clause in name of SYDNEY GEDGE. But GEDGE loyal Ministerialist; not likely _he_ would interfere with arrangements, and endanger progress of Bill. HICKS-BEACH, in charge of measure, kept his eye on the clock; three minutes to Twelve; running it pretty close, but just time to get Bill through. GEDGE on his feet; quite unnecessary; needn’t stand up to say he would not move his Clause; if he had simply lifted his hat when Chairman called his name it would be understood that he had sacrificed his Clause. Dangerous this, dallying on stroke of Midnight.
To his horror, HICKS-BEACH heard GEDGE beginning to describe purport of his new Clause. Was going to move it then? Yes. After moment’s horrified pause, Ministerialists broke into angry cries of, “Divide!” Opposition convulsed with laughter; HICKS-BEACH pale and stern, and stony silent; SYDNEY GEDGE flushed, conversational, dogged. Even if Tithes Bill were lost he would explain the bearing of his new Clause. Scene increasing in hilarity; lasted three minutes: then Midnight sounded, and SYDNEY sat down, surprised to find he had talked out the Tithes Bill.
“You might have knocked me down with a feather,” said ALBERT ROLLIT, who, before opening his lips, had observed the precaution of propping himself up against the wall. “GEDGE, of all men, to spoil the Ministerial plan, and imperil their arrangements for the week! It’s all COURTNEY’s fault. Since GEDGE tasted COURTNEY’s blood, on the night he interrupted his speech by chatting in the Chair with HERBERT GARDNER, GEDGE has never been the same man. There’s no knowing to what lengths he may not go.”
_Business done_.–SYDNEY GEDGE broken out again worse than ever.
_Tuesday_.–MARJORIBANKS rather depressed as he rose to move his Resolution for appointment of Royal Commission on New Magazine Rifle. Had hoped to appear under very different circumstances. Meant quite to put in the shade LYON PLAYFAIR’s historic lecture on Margarine, when he had the tables covered with pots of that substance, with penny loaves and small knives for Members to sample withal. For weeks MARJORIBANKS been preparing for occasion. Had possessed himself of quite an armoury of rifles: intended to bring them into the House and illustrate his lecture with practical experiments. The climax was to be the shooting-off scene. BOBBY SPENCER and ANSTRUTHER on in this. BOBBY standing at the Bar with an apple held on palm of extended right hand; MARJORIBANKS, using Martini-Henry Rifle, was to clear the apple off, leaving BOBBY’s hair unsinged, and not a wrinkle added to his collar. ANSTRUTHER was next to stand in the same place, braving the fire of the Magazine Rifle. But he didn’t have an apple, as it was arranged that the new arm should jam.
[Illustration: Standing Fire.]
“Suppose it doesn’t?” ANSTRUTHER inquired, when MARJORIBANKS first unfolded his scheme.
“Oh, that’ll be all right,” said MARJORIBANKS, cheerily.
Long practice on the Terrace made the arrangements perfect, when they were suddenly upset by interference from unexpected quarter. The SPEAKER, wondering what all this rifle-popping was, came to hear of the project; at once said it wouldn’t do; no arms of any kind admitted in House of Commons, except the sword worn by SERGEANT-AT-ARMS, and once a year the lethal weapons carried by the Naval or Military gentlemen who move and second Address. BOBBY SPENCER rather glad, I fancy; ANSTRUTHER not inconsolable. But MARJORIBANKS distinctly depressed.
“Not often I occupy time of House,” he said. “We Whips make Houses, and you empty them. DUFF–and he’s not a Whip now–made all the running with his orations on the herring brand. Thought I would make a hit this time.”
“I was a little afraid of it too,” said ANSTRUTHER.
“Oh, you were all right,” said MARJORIBANKS; “the New Magazine Rifle will not fire unless, after first shot, you clean it out with an oily rag, and I was going to take precious good care to forget the rag. You’ve no public spirit, ANSTRUTHER, since you left us to help WOLMER to whip up Dissentients.”
No appeal from SPEAKER’s ruling. MARJORIBANKS had to make the best of botched business. Brought to the table a spring snap-extractor, a bolt-head screw, and some other odds and ends; poor substitute for what he had intended. Still made out admirable case, Government mustering majority of only 34 against Motion.
[Illustration: Grandolph’s Latest Achievement.]
Just before Midnight, Tithes Bill reached; GEDGE’s Amendment still blocked the way; Chairman called aloud, “Mr. GEDGE!” no answer; place empty. Whilst Members whispering inquiry, Bill passed through Committee, and Ministers triumphed. That’s all very well, but where’s GEDGE? CORB, who is developing quite unsuspected gifts in the Amateur-detective line, intends to take this matter up when he has settled the affair of the Coroner at the BEDFORD inquest.
_Business done_.–Tithe Bill through Committee. Mysterious disappearance of SYDNEY GEDGE.
_Thursday Night_.–GRAHDOLPH back again, bringing his sheaves–I mean his beard–with him. Hardly knew him at first. No such beard been seen in House since MACFARLANE left us. Not quite the same colour; but GRANDOLPH could give a handful to MACFARLANE, and win.
“Yes,” he said, when I complimented him on so magnificent a result achieved in comparatively short time, “when I do a thing, I like to do it well. Little awkward at first, you know, specially on a windy day; tendency to get between your knees, or wrap itself round your neck. But we’re growing used to each other, and shall get on nicely by-and-by.”
More of Tithes Bill. Drearier than ever, now GEDGE’s place is empty. _Business done_.–Report Stage of Tithes Bill.
_Friday_.–Conversation as to course of public business. OLD MORALITY regrets Tithes Bill not through Reporting stage yet. Down on the paper for to-night, but didn’t think there would be much chance of reaching it. So put it down for Monday. If not got through then, must be taken on Thursday, and JOHN MORLEY’s Resolution on Crimes Act shunted along indefinitely. Much regretted this; duty to Queen and Country, &c.; but no one had yet discovered the secret of inclosing a quart of fluid matter in a glass receptacle not exceeding the capacity of one pint.
Members thus informed that Tithes Bill was taken off _agenda_ for to-night, went off; House emptied; and when, at quarter-past Seven, CONYBEARE rose to discuss Mining Royalties, was Counted Out.
“Why, bless me!” cried OLD MORALITY, aghast at the news, “here’s a sitting practically wasted, and we might have used it for the Tithes Bill.” _Business done_.–Motion to abolish Livery Franchise negatived by 148 votes against 120.
* * * * *
ST. VALENTINE’S EVE.
SCENE–_The outside of a small fancy-stationer’s in a back-street. The windows are plastered with highly-coloured caricatures, designed to convey the anonymous amenities prescribed by poetic tradition at this Season of the Year. A small crowd is inspecting these works of Art and Literature with hearty approval._
_First Artisan_. See this ‘ere, BILL? (_He spells out with a slow relish._)
“With yer crawlin,’ lick-spittle carneyin’ ways, Yo think very likely bein’ a nippercrit’ll pay! Still some day it’s certain you’ll be found out at lorst As a cringin’, sloimy, snoike in the grorss!”
Why, it might ha’ been wrote a-purpose for that there little cantin’ beggar up at our shop–blowed if it mightn’t!
_Second Artisan_. Young MEALY, yer mean? But that’s cawmplimentry–for _him_–that is!
_First A._ But yer see the ideer of it. They’ve drawed im a snoike, all ‘cept ‘is ‘ed, d’ye see? That’s why they’ve wrote “Snoike in the Grorss,” underneath. Hor-hor! they must be smart chaps to think o’ sech things as that ‘ere, eh? [_They move on._
_First Servant Girl_ (_reading_)–
“Two squintin’ boss-heyes, and ‘air all foiry-red. You surely can’t ever expect to be wed? Yer nose shows plain you’ve took to gin. _You_’re a nice party for a wedding-ring!”
I’ve ‘arf a mind to go in and git one o’ them to send Missis.
_Second S.G._ (_in service elsewhere_). Oh, I _would_! Go in, SALLY, quick. I can lend yer a ap’ny towards it.
_Sally_ (_meditatively_). _I_’d do it–on’y she’d guess ‘ood sent it her!
_Second S.G._ _Let_ ‘er. You can stick ‘er out it wasn’t _you_.
_Sally_. I could, O’ course–but it wouldn’t be no use, she’d tell the ‘andwriting on the hongvelope! (_Gloomily._)
_Second S.G._ Oh, if that’s all, _I’ll_ direct it for yer. Come on, SALLY; it will be sech a lark, and then you can tell me all about what she said arterwards! [_They enter the shop._
_First Young Person in hat and feathers_ (_reading_)–
“The female ‘art you think you’ll mash, By sporting stick-up collars and a la-di-da moustache. But I tell you straight it’ll be a long time Before I take you to be _my_ Valentine!”
I do wonder what CHORLEY ‘AWKINS would say if I sent him one of them.
_Second Y.P._ But I thought you told me CHORLEY ‘AWKINS never took no notice of you?
_First Y.P._ No more he does–but p’raps this ‘ud _make_ him!
_A Young Woman_ (_who has fallen out with her fiance_). They ain’t _arf_ Valentines this year, I wish I could come across one with ‘orns and a tail!
_Elder Sister_ (_to small Brother–in a moral tone_). _Now_, JIMMY, you see what comes o’ Book-learnin’. If you ‘adn’t gone to the Board School so regular, you wouldn’t ha’ been able to read all the potry on the Valentines like you can now, _would_ yer now?
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