Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 98, January 25th, 1890 online

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JANUARY 25, 1890.

* * * * *


"Très volontiers," repartit le démon. "Vous aimez les tableaux
changeans: je veux vous contenter."

_Le Diable Boiteux._



"'The Humours of the Town!' Archaic phrase,
Breathing of BRUMMEL and the dandy days
Of curly hats and gaiters!
'Humours' seem rarer now, at least by night,
In this strange world of gilt and garish light,
And bibulous wits and waiters."

So I. The Shadow smiled. "There's food for mirth
In every nook of the sun-circling earth
That human foot hath trodden.
Man, the great mime, must move the Momus vein,
Whether he follow fashion or the wain,
In ermine or in hodden.

"A City of Strange Meetings! Motives strong
Why men in well-dressed multitudes should throng,
Abundant are and various.
Strongest, perhaps, the vague desire _to_ meet;
No animal as Man so quick to greet,
So aimlessly gregarious.

"In Council, Caucus, Causerie, there's an aim
Which many know and some might even name;
But see yon motley muster,
Like shades in Eblis wandering up and down!
Types there of every 'Show Class' in the Town
Elbow and glide and cluster."

I see long rooms, _en suite_, with lofty walls,
And _portières_ sombre as Egyptian palls;
I hear the ceaseless scuffle
Of many trim-shod feet; the thin sweet sound
Of stricken strings which faintly echoes round
Those draperied vistas muffle.

_Susurrus_ of a hundred voices blent
In the bland buzz of cultured chat; intent
Set faces mutely watching
From cushioned corner or from curtained nook;
Hands that about old ears attentive crook,
The latest scandal catching.

Cold rock-hewn countenances, shaven clean,
Hard lips, and eyes alert with strength and spleen;
Visages vain and vapid,
All wreathed with the conventional bland smile
That covers weary scorn or watchful guile,
Shift here in sequence rapid.

"Why is this well-dressed mob thus mustered here?"
I asked my guide. "On every face a sneer
Curls - when it is not smirking.
Scorn of each other seems the one sole thing
In which they sympathise, the asp whose sting
Midst flowery talk is lurking."

"Friend, mutual mockery, masked as mutual praise,
Is a great social bond in these strange days.
ROCHEFOUCAULD here might gather
Material for new maxims keen and cold.
They meet, these _convives_, if the truth be told,
For boredom and bland blather.

"Royston's Reception, - ah! yes; beastly bore!
But must drop in for half an hour, no more.
The usual cram, - one knows it.
Big pudding with a few peculiar "plums".
Everyone kicks, but everybody comes.
Don't quite know how he does it!'

"So SNAGGS, the slangy cynic. See him there
With pouching shirt-front and disordered hair,
Talking to CRAMP the sturdy,
Irreverent R. A. And he, - that's JOYCE,
The shaggy swart Silenus, with a voice
Much like a hurdy-gurdy.

"You see him everywhere, though none knows why;
Every hand meets his grip, though every eye
Furtively hints abhorrence.
Society's a gridiron; fools to please,
Wise men must sometimes lie as ill at ease
As might a new St. Lawrence."

A buzz, a bustle! How the crowd makes way,
And parts in lines as on some pageant day!
'Tis the Great Man, none other,
"Bland, beaming, bowing quick to left and right;
One hour he'll deign to give from his brief night
To flattery, fuss and pother.

"Though the whole mob does homage, more than half
Behind their hands indulge in sorrel chaff,
And venomous invective.
And he, the hard-faced Cleon with his ring
Of minor satellites? Could glances sting
_His_ were not ineffective!

"Crouched in yon corner, huddled chin to knees,
Like some old lion sore and ill at ease
Left foodless in the jungle,
Sits GRUMPER, growling oaths beneath his breath
At CLEON, who - to him - sums party-death
And diplomatic bungle.

"'Beshrew him for a - - !'" "GRUMPER'S speech is strong;
Flanders and screeds of old satiric song
Blend in his vigorous diction.
Around, in lounging groups or knots apart,
Are lesser lights of thought, small stars of art,
And petty chiefs of fiction.

"Hosts of the nameless, fameless, 'Small Unknown';
Men who can form a 'corner', float a loan,
Wire-pull a local Caucus,
But cannot paint poor pictures, write bad plays,
Or on a platform wildly flame or praise
In rolling tones or raucous.

"These lounge and hover, sip champagne and whiff
Mild cigarettes; these too, in secret sniff
At 'the whole queer caboodle.'
_Why_ do they meet? How shall I say, good friend?
Modern symposiasts seem a curious blend
Of porcupine and poodle.

"'In these Saturnian days Amphitryon spreads
His meshes wide, and counts not brains but heads.
The Tadpoles and the Tapers
Are scorned by the few Titans; true; but aims
Differ; to some 'tis much to see their names
Strung in the morning papers.

"So Private Views are popular, and men
Meet just to prompt the social scribe's smart pen.
Taste too austerely winnows
Town's superflux of chaff from its scant wheat:
Our host prefers to mix, in his Great Meet,
The Tritons and the minnows!"

"With mutual scorn!" I cried. "Has Fashion power
Thus to unhumanise the 'Social Hour,'
Theme of old poets' vaunting?
Gregarious spites and egotisms harsh! -
Foregathering of frog-swarms in a marsh
Yields music as enchanting."

(_To be continued._)

* * * * *


_Mr. Punch._ Well, Master JACK HORNER, where have you been _this_ time?

_Master J. H._ POLLY and I visited Madame Tussaud's, - they have got Mr.
SALA there, looking so amiable! We _were_ pleased to see him! And POLLY
afterwards _would_ take me into the Chamber of Horrors! But I paid her
out by getting her to try a boat on "Ye Ocean Wave," as they call it, at

_Mr. P._ Done anything else?

_Master J. H._ To be sure. Looked in at "Niagara," where they have got a
Forest of Christmas trees. Capital! Popped into "Waterloo," opposite.
Smashed skull in a trophy of arms amongst the relics - lovely! The
picture, too, not half bad. Then improved our minds at the Tudor

_Mr. P._ And where else have you been?

_Master J. H._ To the Crystal Palace, where they have got _Cinderella_
this year. It's first-rate!

* * * * *

"VANITY UN-FAIR." - A week ago a caricature of one of the most popular
and pleasant-looking of officials - a scholar and a gentleman - Mr. EDWARD
PIGOTT - the Examiner of Plays, was published in _Vanity Fair_.
Unrecognisable as a portrait, the picture was painfully hideous. Why it
should have been allowed to appear is a mystery, as Mr. PIGOTT is a man
that either is, or should be, without an enemy. There is only one thing
to be done - our contemporary (following a recent precedent preserved in
its own columns) should publish an apology.

* * * * *

"SPEED THE PARTING." - The last four weeks of BARNUM at Olympia are
announced. If this is a fact, won't there arise a chorus of general
jubilation from Theatrical Managers? Rather!

* * * * *

"ANA." - _Obiter dicta_ anent the Parnell Commission will be published in
one supplementary volume, entitled, _Osheana_.

* * * * *


* * * * *


[A writer on Fashion says, "The latest fad is the wearing of large
daggers in the hair, which renders a lady quite dangerous to her

ETHELINDA hath a dagger; IRVING gave it; calmly there,
As the fashion is, she sticks it in her coronal of hair.

It looks very like the dagger 'bout which _Macbeth_ told such fibs,
That cold steel which tickled _Duncan_ underneath his royal ribs.

Whomsoever she approaches, that three-cornered dagger prods,
And a hecatomb of corpses follows when her head she nods.

KATE and MARGARET were wounded as if they'd been to the wars,
HILDA too and OLGA owe her very aggravating scars.

BEN and TED have both been prodded, and unhappy LIONELLO,
Looks as if he'd been engaging in a terrible _duello_.

If the fashion thus continues of stilettos worn like this,
Men must case their heads in helmets, or ne'er go near girls, I wis.

Nathless, were I ETHELINDA'S mother, I would say, "Beware!
If you must keep such a dagger, leave it upstairs - with your hair."

ETHELINDA fiercely would repel the base insinuation,
But the hint might save her neighbours any further laceration.

* * * * *



During the Winter Vacation, now at an end, I have been visiting some of
the theatres with a view to educating my eldest son. Hearing that in _A
Man's Shadow_ at the Haymarket there was a representation of "the Assize
Chamber, Palais de Justice, Paris," I took NORTHBUTT (the name I have
given to my boy, in recognition of the kindness that is habitually shown
to the Junior Bar by two of the most courteous Judges of modern times)
to that temple of the Drama, and was delighted at the dignity and legal
acuteness displayed by Mr. KEMBLE as the President of the Court. On
referring to the programme, I found that the part of the Usher was
played by Mr. ROBB HARWOOD, and I trust that learned Gentleman (I cannot
help feeling that from his Christian name, Mr. HARWOOD must be connected
with the law) will forgive me if I make a few suggestions. It has been
my good fortune to be present in a French Court, and I can assure Mr.
ROBB, that the Usher is an infinitely more important personage than he
represents him to be. I am not a dramatist, but I can readily understand
that it might interfere with the interest of the play, and perhaps,
unduly damage the importance properly attributable to the utterances of
the Lessee of the theatre, were Mr. ROBB to give increased prominence to
his _rôle_ while Mr. BEERBOHM TREE is present in the character of
_Lucien Laroque_. But this is unnecessary, as Mr. KEMBLE about the
middle of the sitting very properly adjourns the Court presumably for
luncheon. It is then, that the Usher should emerge from his comparative
obscurity, and, so to speak, make his mark. I jot down a rough idea of
my notion in dramatic form for the consideration of the adapter of the

SCENE - _The Assize Chamber (Palais of Justice, Paris)._ Mr. KEMBLE
_has just retired with his colleagues to luncheon_. Mr. BEERBOHM
TREE, _as Laroque, has been removed in the custody of an old
officer, in a uniform produced by_ Messrs. NATHAN, _from a sketch
by_ "KARL." (_Vide Programme._) Mr. FERNANDEZ _is seen seated
beneath the dock_. Advocates _fraternise with a_ Young Abbé, _who
has evidently a taste for sensational murder cases_.

_Usher_ (_to Crowd_). Now then, Gentlemen, although the Court has
retired, you must keep order. (_A murmur._) What, my authority defied!
Gendarmes, do your duty! (_The Gendarmes suppress Crowd._) M. l'Abbé, a
word with you. (_The_ Abbé _approaches_ Usher _respectfully_.) I am told
by the Nurse of Mademoiselle SUZANNE that Madame LAROQUE is dying. Can
you kindly let me see the Doctor who has the case in hand?

_M. L'Abbé_ (_glad of something to say_). Certainly, Monsieur. The
Doctor is one of my intimate friends, and will be proud of an

[_Retires, in search of the Medical Man._

_Usher._ Thank you! (_is given a letter by_ Mr. BEERBOHM TREE, _who has
reappeared as his own Shadow_). Well, Sirrah, what do _you_ want?

_Mr. Tree's Shadow (clearing his throat)._ Urrerrer! Take that to Mr.
FERNANDEZ over yonder, and wake him up with it! Urrerrerrer! [_Exit._

_Usher._ With pleasure; but (_smiling_) what a quaint noise!
(_Approaching_ Mr. FERNANDEZ.) Monsieur, allow me to offer you my
snuff-box - it is heartily at your service. (Mr. FERNANDEZ _accepts the
courtesy with effusion_.) And now, my old friend, take this packet,
which I fancy is from your wife. I hope Madame is well? (Mr. FERNANDEZ
_smilingly bows and eats a sandwich_.) I am delighted to hear it.
(_Sternly to_ Mr. TREE, _who has entered in another disguise_.) Well,
Monsieur, and what do _you_ want with me?

_Mr. Tree in another disguise (seizing the opportunity of showing his
well-known versatility)._ I am the Doctor who is attending Madame
LAROQUE! She is very ill! Believe me, Usher - - (_Makes a pathetic
speech in a new voice with appropriate gesticulation, finishing with
these words_), and if _he_ dies, _she_ will die also!

_Usher (who has been weeping)._ Sad! sad! sad! Ah! Monsieur, you have a
hand of silver - -

_Mr. Tree (in the other disguise)._ And a heart of gold! [_Exit._

_Usher (wiping his eyes)._ Dear me his story has affected me strangely!
But, I must dissemble! Let not the hollow heartless crowd see my
emotion! I must laugh and joke, although my heart may be breaking!
(_Suddenly._) I will tell a good story to Mr. FERNANDEZ who, I notice,
is deeply concerned at the news contained in the letter he has just
received from his wife - that news may be the revelation of her own
miserable past! (_Approaching the Counsel for the Defence._) Ah, my old
and valued friend, let me cheer you up with an amusing anecdote. You
must know that once upon a time a man was seated before the kitchen-fire
watching a leg of mutton! His dog was seated near him!

_Mr. Fernandez (in an undertone - as himself)._ Go away!

_Usher (ignoring the interruption)._ The dog seized the mutton, and the
man cast the stool after him - thus it was said that two legs, finding
four legs had stolen one leg, threw after him three legs! Ha! ha! ha!
You will see two legs - the man - four legs, the dog - one leg, the
mutton - and three legs, the stool! A quaint conceit! A quaint - ha! ha!
ha! - a quaint conceit indeed!

_Mr. Fernandez (as before, but more so)._ Go away! [Mr. KEMBLE _here
returns, and the_ Usher _resumes his ordinary manner. Scene concluded
according to_ Mr. BUCHANAN'S _version_.

Wishing you the compliments of the season (in which NORTHBUTT joins),

I remain, dear _Mr. Punch_,

Yours truly,


_Pump-handle Court, Temple, 20th Jan., 1890._

* * * * *




* * * * *


"It is reported from Gibraltar, that the 110-ton guns of the
_Benbow_, have developed defects similar to those recently developed
in the _Victoria_." - _Naval Intelligence._

There was a hoodwinked Man
Who, in buying his big guns,
Very often by the nose was deftly led, led, led.
For when he fired them first
They did everything but burst,
Though guaranteed by Whitehall's Naval head, head, head!

So when by foes defied
At length in action tried
'Tis found that they won't fire a single shot, shot, shot.
Let us hope, at any rate,
Though the Nemesis come late,
That some party who's to blame will get it hot, hot, hot!

* * * * *


* * * * *




_The usual Jocose 'Arry (who has come here, with_ 'ARRIET, _for no very
obvious reason, as they neither of them know or care about any history
but their own)_.

Well, I s'pose as we _are_ 'ere, we'd better go in a buster for a book
o'the words, eh? (_To Commissionnaire._) What are yer doin' them c'rect
guides at, ole man? A shillin'? Not _me_! 'Ere, 'ARRIET, we'll make it
out for ourselves.

_A Young Man (who has dropped in for five minutes - "just to say he's
been, don't you know")._ 'Jove - _my Aunt_! Nip out before she spots
me ... Stop, though, suppose she _has_ spotted me? Never can tell with
gig-lamps ... better not risk it.

[_Is "spotted" while hesitating._

_His Aunt._ I didn't recognise you till just this moment, JOHN, my boy.
I was just wishing I had someone to read out all the extracts in the
Catalogue for me; now we can go round together.

[JOHN _affects a dutiful delight at this suggestion, and wonders
mentally if he can get away in time to go to afternoon tea with those
pretty Chesterton Girls_.

_An Uncle (who has taken_ MASTER TOMMY _out for the afternoon)._ This is
the way to make your English History _real_ to you, my boy!

[TOMMY, _who had cherished hopes of Covent Garden Circus, privately
thinks that English History is a sufficiently unpleasant reality as it
is, and conceives a bitter prejudice against the entire Tudor Period on
the spot_.

_The Intelligent Person._ Ha! armour of the period, you see! (_Feels
bound to make an intelligent remark._) 'Stonishing how the whole art of
war has been transformed since then, eh? Now - to me - (_as if he was
conscious of being singular in this respect_) - to _me_, all this is most
interesting. Coming as I do, fresh from FROUDE - -

_His Companion (a Flippant Person)._ Don't speak so loud. If they know
you've come in here fresh, you'll get turned out!

_Patronising Persons (inspecting magnificent suit of russet and gilt
armour)._ 'Pon my word, no idea they turned out such good work in those
times - very creditable to them, really.


_The Uncle._ Now, TOMMY, you remember what became of KATHERINE of
Aragon, I'm sure? No, no - tut - tut - _she_ wasn't executed! I'm afraid
you're getting rather rusty with these long holidays. Remind me to speak
to your mother about setting you a chapter or so of history to read
every day when we get home, will you?

_Tommy (to himself)._ It _is_ hard lines on a chap having a Sneak for an
Uncle! Catch me swotting to please _him_!

_'Arry._ There's old 'ENERY THE EIGHTH, you see - that's 'im right
enough; him as 'ad all those wives, and cut every one of their 'eds off!

_'Arriet (admiringly)._ Ah, I knew we shouldn't want a Catalogue.

_The Int. P._ Wonderfully HOLBEIN'S caught the character of the
man - the - er - curious compound of obstinacy, violence, and good-humour,
sensuality, and - and so on. No mistaking a HOLBEIN - you can tell him at
once by the extraordinary finish of all the accessories. Now look at
that girdle - isn't that HOLBEIN all over?

_Flippant P._ Not quite all over, old fellow. Catalogue says it's
painted by PARIS BORDONE.

_The Int. P._ Possibly - but it's HOLBEIN'S _manner_, and, looking at
these portraits, you see at once how right FROUDE'S estimate was of the

_F. P._ Does FROUDE say how he got that nasty one on the side of his

_A Visitor._ Looks overfed, don't he?

_Second V. (sympathetically)._ Oh, he did himself very well; you can see

_The Aunt._ Wait a bit, JOHN - don't read so fast. I haven't made out the
middle background yet. And where's the figure of St. Michael rising
above the gilt tent, lined with _fleurs-de-lis_ on a blue ground? Would
this be GUISNES, or ARDRES, now? Oh, ARDRES on the right - so _that's_
ARDRES - yes, yes; and now tell me what it says about the two gold
fountains, and that dragon up in the sky.

[JOHN _calculates that, at this rate, he has a very poor chance of
getting away before the Gallery closes_.

_The Patronising Persons._ 'Um! HOLBEIN again, you see - very curious
their ideas of painting in those days. Ah, well, Art has made great
progress since then - like everything else!

_Miss Fisher._ So _that's_ the beautiful QUEEN MARY! I wonder if it is
really _true_ that people have got better-looking since those days?

[_Glances appealingly at Phlegmatic Fiancé._

_Her Phlegmatic Fiancé._ I wonder.

_Miss F._ You hardly ever see such small hands now, do you? With those
lovely long fingers, too!

_The Phl. F._ No, never.

_Miss F._ Perhaps people in some other century will wonder how anybody
ever saw anything to admire in _us_?

_The Phl. F._ Shouldn't be surprised.

[Miss F. _does wish secretly that_ CHARLES _had more conversation_

_The Aunt._ JOHN, just find out who No. 222 is.

_John. (sulkily)._ Sir GEORGE PENRUDDOCKE, Knight.

_His Aunt (with enthusiasm)._ Of course - _how_ interesting this is,
isn't it? - seeing all these celebrated persons exactly as they were in
life! Now read who he _was_, JOHN, please.

_The Int. Person._ FROUDE tells a curious incident about - -

_Flippant P._ I tell you what it is, old chap, if you read so much
history, you'll end by _believing_ it!

_The Int. P. (pausing before the Shakspeare portraits.)_ "He was not for
an age, but for all time."

_The Fl. P._ I suppose that's why they've painted none of them alike.

_A Person with a talent for Comparison._ MARY, come here a moment. Do
look at this - "ELIZABETH, Lady HOBY" - did you _ever_ see such a

_Mary._ Well, dear, I don't quite - -

_The Person with &c._ It's her living image! Do you mean to say you
really don't recognise it? - Why, _Cook_, of course!

_Mary._ Ah! (_apologetically_) - but I've never seen her dressed to _go
out_, you know.

_The Uncle._ "No. 13, Sir ROWLAND HILL, Lord Mayor, died 1561" - -

_Tommy (anxious to escape the threatened chapters if possible)._ I know
about _him_, Uncle, he invented postage stamps!


_First Patronising P._ "A Tooth of Queen KATHERINE PARR." Dear me! very

_Second P. P. (tolerantly)._ And not at all a bad tooth, either.

_'Arriet (comes to a case containing a hat labelled as formerly
belonging to_ HENRY THE EIGHTH). 'ARRY, look 'ere; fancy a king going
about in a thing like that - pink with a green feather! Why, I wouldn't
be seen in it myself!

_'Arry._ Ah, but that was ole 'ENERY all over, that was; _he_ wasn't one
for show. He liked a quiet, unassumin' style of 'at, he did. "None of
yer loud pot 'ats for Me!" he'd tell the Royal 'atters; "find me a tile
as won't attract people's notice, or you won't want a tile yerselves in
another minute!" An' you may take yer oath they served him pretty
_sharp_, too!

_'Arriet (giggling)._ It's a pity they didn't ask you to write their
Catalogue for 'em.

_The Aunt._ JOHN, you're not really _looking_ at that needlework - it's
QUEEN ELIZABETH'S own work, JOHN. Only look how wonderfully fine the
stitches are. Ah, she was a truly _great_ woman! I could spend hours
over this case alone. What, closing are they, _already_? We must have
another day at this together, JOHN - just you and I.

_John._ Yes, Aunt. And now - (_thinks there is just time to call on the_
CHESTERTONS, _if he goes soon_) - can I get you a cab, or put you into a
'bus, or anything?

_His Aunt._ Not just yet; you must take me somewhere where I can get a
bun and a cup of tea first, and then we can go over the Catalogue
together, and mark all the things we _missed_, you know.

[JOHN _resigns himself to the inevitable rather than offend his
wealthy relative; the_ Intelligent Person _comes out, saying he has
had "an intellectual treat," and intends to "run through_ FROUDE
_again" that evening_. 'ARRY _and_ 'ARRIET _depart to the "Ocean
Wave" at_ HENGLER'S. _Gallery gradually clears as Scene closes in._

* * * * *


[Illustration; The Empire of Melpomene and Terpsichore.]

SINCE the SHAH spent a pleasant evening in the Theatre of Varieties
North of Leicester Square (and if it comes to that, long before) the
Empire has been a notable place of entertainment. At the present moment
there is an exceptionally strong programme. Two _ballets_, both
extremely good. The first, "_The Paris Exhibition_," pleasingly recalls
the glories and expenses of last year so inseparably connected with the
Cairo street dancing and the Tour Eiffel. The second, "_A Dream of

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Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 98, January 25th, 1890 → online text (page 1 of 3)