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By the Same Author.
THE WORKS OF MAX BEERBOHM.
THE HAPPY HYPOCRITE.



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BY

MAX BEERBOHM



LONDON AND NEW YORK

JOHN LANE: THE BODLEY HEAD

1899



Copyright, 1899
BY JOHN LANE
All rightl nsirvtd



SECOND EDITION



TO

MLLE. DE LA RAMfiE
WITH THE AUTHOR'S COMPLIMENTS

AND TO

OUIDA

WITH HIS LOVE



srn. IT



From inilluminable catacombs to wit, files of the Saturday
Review, the Daily Mail, the Outlook, Tomorrow, and the
Musician, to whose editors I am indebted for much courtesy
/ have rescued these few creatures of my fancy, deeming them per-
haps worthy of a brighter haven. There was a host of others,
which Sentiment urged me to rescue also. But I have forborne.
Nor have I admitted to this haven any of these little creatures
without scrutiny and titivation.

M. B.



CONTENTS

Page

SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY . . . i

"PUNCH" ..... 15

ACTORS ...... 27

MADAME TUSSAUD'S ... 37

GROUPS OF MYRMIDONS . . -45

PRETENDING . . . . 55

AN INFAMOUS BRIGADE . -63

THE SEA-SIDE IN WINTER . . 73

IF I WERE ^EDILE . . . .81

SIGN-BOARDS .... 93

OUIDA ...... 101

THE BLIGHT ON THE Music HALLS . 117

PRANGLEY VALLEY . . . .127

ARISE, SIR ! . . . 135

FASHION AND HER BICYCLE . . . 143

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL ... 151

"A. B." 159

A CLOUD OF PINAFORES . . . 169

AT COVENT GARDEN .... 183
THE CASE OF PROMETHEUS . . 191



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY



In the memoirs of Count *, privately printed
last year, you will find, if you can gain access to them,
many secrets told in a sprightly, yet most authoritative,
manner ; little that is incredible, little that is not amaz-
ing, nothing refutable. The Count has cast upon la
haute politique, that stage without footlights, many lurid
"limes," illuminating for us the faces of all the players
and even enabling us to understand something of the plot.
For years the trusted Minister of the late Emperor of "j",
the Count has much court-lore to communicate, and is
terribly frank about the master whom he served so faith-
fully until, in i88J, he was ousted from favour by the
machinations of a jealous and not too scrupulous cabal.
I, who had always been taught to regard this monarch
as a wise, gifted, and courageous gentleman, if not actually
as a hero, am pleasantly shocked to find him designated
3



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

with such unkind terms as "faineant," the memoirs
are written in the Volapuk of diplomacy and " roi de
paille" and "petit bonbomme a tete man tee." Indeed,
it is undoubtedly when he is describing the life and the
character of the Emperor that my author is at his most
intimate, his best. Seldom has so realistic a portrait of
a modern monarch been painted for our pleasure. Much
as we talk and read about royal personages, we know
really less about them than about any other kind of
human beings. We see the princes of our country cara-
coling past us in pageants, illustrious monsters whose
breasts are all agleam and aglimmer with the symbols of
fifty victories at which they were not present, and bunt
with enough ribandry to trick forth fifty dairymaids for a
fair. We tell ourselves that beneath all their frippery
they are human beings. We have heard that one is
industrious, another is genial, another plays the fiddle or
collects stamps. And then, maybe, we see them at
Newmarket, and we know that, for all the elaborate
simplicity of their tweeds and billycocks, they are not as
we are, but, rather, creatures of another order, " speci-
mens of an unrelated species." We note the curious
uniformity of their faces, almost wondering whether they
are masked. Those heavy, handsome, amiable, uninter-
4



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

esting and uninterested faces, are they indeed (not masks
but) true mirrors of souls which a remote and esoteric life
has gradually impoverished ? We know that there is a
crimson drugget which underlies their every footstep from
the cradle to the mausoleum ; we know that their prog-
ress is beneath an awning, along that level drugget,
through an unbroken avenue of bare and bowed heads.
They cannot mingle with their fellows. They are kept
from all contact with realities. For them there is no
reciprocity, no endeavour, no salt of life. " It is a mis-
erable State of Minde," wrote a philosopher who was
also a courtier, " to have few Things to desire and many
Things to feare. And yet that commonly is the case of
Princes." Fear kept human the Princes of other days.
We have taken away their fear now, and we still leave,
them no loophole for desire. What, we might well
wonder, will be the descendants of this race apart, of
these men who neither marry nor give in marriage save
among their own order ? Would any one choose to be
born, in their purple, to their life of morbid and gaudy
humdrum ? Better, surely, to be thrown, like the ordi-
nary child, into a life of endeavour, with unforeseen
chances of success or failure. It is this scroll of chances
that makes life tolerable, makes it wonderful. The life
5



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

of every royal person in England begins and must needs
end on the same high, smooth plane. But who shall
cast the horoscope of an ordinary child ? Who knows
the vicissitudes of his journey ? Be he suckled in a pit,
or in a castle on a mountain, who shall prophesy the level
of his last bed? Cast him up naked to the pit's edge,
send him in purple down the wide steps of his father's
castle, you know not how long he shall fare in the gloom
or light of his origin, nor whither, and by what hostel-
ries, he shall pass. He may come to a dark woodland,
where, all night long, the ferns snap under the feet of
elusive Dryads, and the moon is privy to the whole grief
of Philomel. He may never leave that gentle labyrinth
of leaves, or he may tarry there but for one night.
Mocked and footsore, he may shuffle along the highways,
till he come to that city whose people stone him or make
him ruler over them. Exile or empery may be his,
flowers or ashes, an aureole or a noose. There are seas
for his drowning, and whirlwinds for his overwhelming,
and sheer rocks for his ascent. He shall clutch and falter
and be afraid. No bloodhounds but shall follow swiftly
on his track, nor any nets but shall enmesh him. He
shall laugh and conquer. He shall prosper in a great
dominion. In strength and scorn there shall not be his
6



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

equal. But the slaves whom he tortured shall prick him
in his exultation. His wine-cup shall be a cup of gall,
and a harpy shall lurk in the canopy of his bridal bed.
In the blood of his children they shall bathe him. From
a clear sky the lightning shall slant down on him. And
the ground shall yawn for him in the garden of his
design.

That, despite certain faults of exaggeration, is a piece
of quite admirable prose ; but let it not decoy the reader
from consideration of the main theme. Count *, whose
memoirs are my cue, does not seem to have weighed the
conditions of royal life. Had he done so, he would have
cooled his caustic pen in the lymph of charity, and one
would have lost many of his most delightful mots and
anecdotes. He simply records, out of the fulness and
intimacy of his knowledge, many suggestive facts about a
monarch in whom a royal environment had not paralysed
the ordinary, bright instincts of human nature. In re-
cording with gusto the little strategies used by his master
in the pursuit of fun or the flight from duty, the Count
moves his reader to tears rather than to laughter.

One of his anecdotes I must really make known, not
merely because it is a good sample and deals with a
famous incident, but also because it has a suggestive sym-
7



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

holism of its own. Many of my readers can remember
the sensation caused in the spring of a late seventy by the
attempted assassination of Emperor . As his Imperial
Majesty was being driven out of the palace gates for his
daily progress through the capital, a man in the crowd
fired at him with a revolver. The miscreant was
immediately seized, and, but for the soldiery, would
have been torn limb from limb. "Luckily," wrote
Reuter's correspondent, " the Emperor, who was
accompanied as usual by Count" * "and an aide-de-
camp, was untouched. As so often happens in such
cases, the assassin, doubtless through excitement, entirely
missed his aim. The remarkable thing was the coolness
and courage displayed by the Emperor. So far from
evincing any alarm, he continued to salute the crowd on
either side, smilingly as ever, as though nothing at all
had happened ; nor was his drive in any way curtailed.
As the news spread, a vast crowd of people collected
round the palace, and the Emperor, in answer to their
continued cheers, at length appeared upon the balcony
and bowed repeatedly."

In the light of the Count's version the Emperor's
"coolness and courage" are somewhat discounted. It
seems that, about three years before, the Emperor had
8



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

declared that he was going to give up the custom of the
daily drive : he hated driving, he hated saluting, he hated
being stared at. The Count represented to him how
unwise it would be to disappoint the people. Finding
the Emperor obstinate in his distaste, he conceived the
idea of a waxen figure, made in the likeness of his master,
with practicable joints worked by interior mechanism.
The Emperor promised to endure his drives for the
present, and, after secret negotiations with a famous firm
in England (conducted by the Count himself, who came
over incognito), the figure was completed and duly
delivered at the Imperial Palace. It was so constructed
that, when wound up, it turned its head slowly from side
to side, with a slight bend of the body, raising its hand
in salute. It was considered an admirable likeness,
though the Count declares that "la fgure etait tin peu
trap distinguee." At any rate, arrayed as a Colonel of
the || Dragoons and driven quickly through the capital, it
was good enough to deceive the Emperor's loyal subjects.
As I need hardly say, it was at this automaton that the
revolver was fired. According to the memoirs, the
Emperor himself, in a false beard, was standing near
the assassin, and was actually arrested on suspicion, but
managed to escape his captor in the melee and reached the
9



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

palace in ample time to bow from the balcony. The
Count argues that the only sufferer in the affair is the poor
wretch who was hanged merely for shooting at a dummy,
and who has never even got the credit he deserved for a
very good shot ; the bullet pierced right through the
dummy's chest, and, says the Count, had it but lodged
one-eighth of an inch lower down, it must have inevitably
stopped the mechanism.

Even if the whole of this tale be but the naughty fig-
ment of a favourite in disfavour, it is, at any rate, sugges-
tive. A mob doffing its headgear, day after day, to a
dummy ! How easily, after all, could one get a dummy
so constructed as to hold a levee or sit through an opera,
to open a bridge or lay a stone " well and truly." There
are some persons who would fain abolish altogether the
institution of royalty. I do not go far as they. Our
royal family is a rather absurd institution, no doubt.
But then, humanity itself is rather absurd. A State can
never be more than a kindergarten, at best, and he who
would fain rule men according to principles of right
reason will fare no better than did poor dear Plato at
Syracuse. Put the dream of the doctrinaire into practice,
and it will soon turn to some such nightmare as modern
France or modern America. Indeed, fallacies and anoma-
10



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

lies are the basis of all good government. A Crown, like
a Garter, implies no " damned merit : " else were it void
of its impressive magic for most creatures. Strictly, there
is no reason why we should worship the House of Han-
over more than we worship any other family. Strictly,
there was no reason why the Children of Israel should
bow down before brazen images. But man is not rational,
and the spirit of idolatry is strong in him. And, if you
take away his idol, that energy which would otherwise
be spent in kotowing will probably be spent in some less
harmless manner. In every free public there is a fund of
patriotic emotion which must, somehow, be worked off.
I may be insular, but I cannot help thinking it better that
this fund should be worked off, as in England, by cheer-
ing the members of the royal family, rather than by
upsetting the current ministry, as in France.

The main good of royalty, then, and the justification
of those fabulous sums of money that we sacrifice annually
for its support, lie in its appeal to that idolatrous instinct
which is quite unmoved by the cheap and nasty inmates of
the Elysee or of the White House. In this century we
have greatly restricted the sphere of royal power, inso-
much that royalty cannot, as it once could, guide directly
the tend of politics: politically, it does but "act by its
ii



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY

presence." But one should not forget that a Court is for
ornament, as well as for use. A capital without a Court,
be the streets never so beautiful, is even as a garden
where the sun shines not. As a flock of sheep without
a shepherd, so is the Society that has no royal leader to
set its fashions, chasten its follies, or dignify its whims
with his approval. Gaiety, wit, beauty, some measure
even of splendour, may be compassed in the salons of a
republic ; but distinction comes not in save with one who
must be received at the foot of the staircase. In fact,
royalty is indispensable : we cannot spare it. But, you
may well ask, are we justified in preserving an institution
which ruins the lives and saps the human nature of a
whole family ? What of those royal victims whom we
sacrifice to our expediency ? I have suggested that royal
functions could be quite satisfactorily performed by au-
tomata made of wax. There, I think, lies the solution of
our difficulty. Perhaps, even now, did we but know, it
is the triumphs of Tussaud at whose frequent sight our
pulses beat with so quick an enthusiasm. If it is so, I do
not blame our royal family for its innocent subterfuge. I
should welcome any device to lighten the yoke that is on
their necks. I should be glad if more people would seri-
ously examine the conditions of royalty, with a view to
12



SOME WORDS ON ROYALTY



ameliorating the royal lot. Would that every one could
gain access to the memoirs of Count * ! They might serve
as an excellent manual, containing, as they do, so much
that is well-observed. But they are so frankly written
that they cannot, I fear, be made public before many,
many years have elapsed. Perhaps the brief trumpet-note
which I have sounded will be enough to rouse humani-
tarianism, in the meantime.



"PUNCH"



It is from the bound volumes of Punch
that small boys derive their knowledge of life. That, I
suppose, is why small boys are always so old-fashioned
in their ideas. They do not how should they ?
know that lineal art can represent life and life's types
only through certain symbols, certain conventions : they
imagine these symbols and conventions to be realistic
portraiture. Even in later years, when they have de-
tected how wide and fluid a thing life is, they do yet
conceive many real things through the false conventions of
John Tenniel, George Du Maurier, Charles Keene, and
the rest. I myself, steeped in Du Maurier' s innumer-
able drawings, am always surprised when I see a nouveau
riche whose shirtfront no diamond stud irradiates with
conventional lines. Also, when I go to a party of any
kind, I expect always to find there, grouped impressively,
a 17



"PUNCH"

an elderly Statesman with a star and riband, a tall Artist
with a beard, a Bishop with gaiters, a long-haired Musi-
cian with a fiddle under his arm, an old General with a
grey moustache, and a young barrister with side-whiskers.
My study of Keene, likewise, has brought me to this
belief in which I shall most likely die that a tipsy
man always has a white cravat straggling over his left
shoulder, and that cabmen are, as a class, witty. But if
these two artists deceive me, dealing, so far as they
could, directly with life, how much more did Tenniel,
the maker of symbolic cartoons, deceive me ! Beatus
insipiens, I never dreamt that the Duke of Argyll did
not always wear a kilt. Even now, when I go to
France, I expect to see every man with moustache and
imperial, after the pattern of Louis Napoleon, and every
woman with short skirts, sabots, and cap-of'-liberty. I
am not rid, even now, of the notion that every English
burglar goes about his work in knee-breeches, with a fur
cap on his head, a mask over his face, and a "jemmy"
protruding from a side-pocket. And so, whenever, in
the dead of night, I hear scrapings and shufflings down
below, I seek refuge in renewed sleep. Could I per-
suade myself that the burglar was but an ordinary individ-
ual in trousers, I would take candle and poker and send
18



"PUNCH"

him about his business. As it is, I am quite unable to
cope with burglars, and so they come rather often.
Thus may a man suffer for his ideals.

It is a painful thing, youth's awakening to the fallacies
of its first mentor, Punch. I remember well a great
shock I received in my first term at Oxford. I had
arranged to go with some other undergraduates to Kemp-
ton Park. I had never been on a race-course in my
life : my knowledge of race-courses was bounded by
Tenniel's annual cartoon for Derby Day, doubly im-
pressive by reason of its double page. How horrified I
was, on the eve of the races, to hear that we were not
going to drive to Kempton on a coach ! " How else
could one go?" I asked. "By train," my friends
answered. "But can one go to a race by train?" I
objected ; " has it ever been done ? ' ' My friends,
older and of more experience than I, assured me that
it was the only possible way. They assured me, the
next morning, when I joined their breakfast at the
"Mitre," that I could not possibly go "dressed like
that." (I was wearing a light frock-suit and a white
top-hat with a green veil round it. In my hand was an
open betting-book, and between my lips a small straw. )
I, in my turn, commented sarcastically upon their own
'9



"PUNCH

appearance. I told them that they might choose to
make themselves ridiculous, but that I did not ; that I
should go alone to the races. Gradually they proved to
me that I was in the wrong. I had just time to go
back to my rooms, change my clothes, and catch the
train. But I felt that the whole spirit of the thing had
evaporated. When we reached the course, there was
not one gipsy to tell me my fortune, nor any troupe of
niggers to sing to me, nor any welsher for me to chase
out of the ring and duck in a horse-pond. There was
but a crowd of noisy and unremarkable persons, such as
one might see any day in the Strand. No one snatched
at my watch-chain. No dog ran down the cleared
course, but only some outspread horses, which looked,
in the distance, absurdly like the horses in that " race-
game" of my childhood. My friends and I disbursed
small sums of money to various book-makers, receiving
small paper tickets in return. My friends and I gained
nothing by our indiscriminate charity. The sun was
ferociously hot. We left before the last race, dusty and
reserved.

Well ! As historian, Punch still holds his sway over
little boys. But as jester for adults he is at present
labouring under a cloud, and his weekly appearance is not
20



"PUNCH"

the event it yet was even within my recollection. No
one is excited nowadays at the prospect of Punch ; yet I
assure all my juniors that, when I was a small boy,
Wednesday morning marked an epoch in each week. So
early as Monday, the members of each family would
begin to revel in anticipation. Tuesday evening was
a time of ill-suppressed excitement, and, at bed-time,
sleep wooed even the eldest as coyly as it woos children
on their birthday-eves. When the sun rose, the most
incorrigible lie-a-bed could scarce await the delivery of
hot water. Even the cockscomb would telescope his
toilet. Family-prayers would be read quickly, some-
times even abbreviated for the day, and the last Amen
was ever signal for an ugly rush to the plate where the
new Punch was reposing. A bundle of heads, young
and old, hung over the crisp pages. What sort of
Britannia had Tenniel done ? How had Du Maurier
satirised Sir Gorgius Midas or Mrs. Ponsonby de
Tomkyns ? Had Sambourne made Gladstone into a
shark or a canary or a bufralo or what ? Not until night-
fall had the full sweets of the comic paper been exhausted.
Thursday was felt to be something of a blank, an anti-
climax.

But Time is a sad iconoclast, and this family idol,



" PUNCH

though it has not been utterly shattered, has been
knocked from its high pedestal. Punch still plays his
part in English family home life, but his part is compara-
tively humble, and he no longer takes precedence of the
morning paper. In the smoking-rooms of clubs, he con-
tends with a score of comic rivals. Everybody affects to
despise him, and his jokes merely raise the eyebrows of
the community. " Don't you think that Punch gets more
stupid every week ?" has superseded "Have you been
to many theatres lately ? " Mr. Burnand has this conso-
lation, at least, that his paper is not ignored. There are
few people who do not look through it every week, and
few who do not talk about it. Quite lately, indeed, it
was the object of many attacks from other newspapers.
One journal published, week by week, an unkind analysis
of the current number. This " Scheme for the Refor-
mation of Punch" was a thing of great unconscious
humour imagine a man sitting down, industriously
marking the jokes which do not come up to his standard
of wit, industriously copying them out, writing an article
to explain their defects, and warning their makers that
they must do better next week. Without wishing to
perpetuate the use of an old and generally foolish sneer, I
must say that such a proceeding was peculiarly English.



" PUNCH

The Star's portentous employe did not stop short at criti-
cism, but even dabbled in creation, apparently that we
might see what humour can and should be. After eulo-
gising Mr. Phil May, and expressing his regret that this
artist had no worthy colleague on the staff, " let us" he
said brightly, " have not only a Phil May, but also a Phil
June, a Phil July, a Phil August, a Phil September, a
Phil October, a Phil November, and a Phil December. ' '
It would be interesting to see the man who wrote that.
But I do not agree with the writer' s contempt for all Mr.
May's colleagues. So far as I can see, the drawings in
Punch, and the jokes they illustrate, are not less good
than they have been in former times. Certainly they are
better than the efforts of other comic papers. Punch
is no longer the close concern it was when Du Maurier
had three drawings, and Keen two, in every number.
The admission of many artists' work makes the paper far
more interesting to me, at least ; and, though there
are many drawings without technical merit and without
humour, there are many others which make atonement.
The influence of Mr. Raven Hill and Mr. Phil May
seems salutary. They deal with jokes which depend on
illustration physical jokes, or jokes of character and
they neglect, rightly, third-rate quips of conversation,
23



"PUNCH -

which form the staple of most artists on the other comic
papers. " She : * Who discovered the circulation of the
blood ? ' He : 'A Johnny called Harvey ! ' She :
'Then who discovered Harvey's sauce?'" I have
invented this as a fair sample of the jests in the more
modern comic papers, or in the sad enclosure which
serious papers set aside for purposes of mirth. Whether
such jests require, or are in any way strengthened by a
picture of a decollet'ee girl sitting in the shadow of a
standard-lamp, with a bald man bending over the back 01
her chair, is a question on which I have already made up
my mind.

The ordinary complaint against Punch seems to be
that he has lost the two last letters of his name, and is
merely the mouthpiece through which Mr. Burnand forces
an old-fashioned and discredited form of humour. For
my own part I have never sympathised with Dr. John-
son's view of the pun and its maker, and I have often
admired the feats of H. J. Byron. Mr. Burnand has
made many good puns in his day, and is still making good
puns, nor has he any reason to be ashamed of them. A
good pun, properly used, is one of the best bells in the


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