Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 99, September 27, 1890 online

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VOL. 99.

September 27, 1890.




The Servant of Society is one who, having in early life abdicated
every claim to independent thought or action, is content to attach
himself to the skirts and coat-tails of the great, and to exist for
a long time as a mere appendage in mansions selected by the unerring
instinct of a professional tuft-hunter. It is as common a mistake to
suppose that all tuft-hunters are necessarily of lowly birth and of
inferior social position, as it is to believe them all to be offensive
in manner and shallow in artifice. The coarse but honest Snob still
perhaps exists, and here and there he thrusts and pushes in the old
familiar way; but more often than not the upstart who has won his
way to wealth and consideration finds himself to his own surprise
courted and fawned upon by those whose boots his abilities would
have fitted him to black, and his disposition prompted him to lick.
Noble sportsmen are proud to be seen in his company, aristocratic
guinea-pigs are constantly in his pocket in the congenial society
of the great man's purse, art willingly reproduces his features,
journalism enthusiastically commemorates his adventures, and even
Royalty does not thrust away a votary whose ministrations are as
acceptable as they are readily performed. Without much effort on his
own part he is raised to pinnacles which he imagined impossible of
access, and soon learns to look down with a contempt that might spring
of ancient lineage and assured merit, upon the hungry crowd whose cry
is that of the daughter of the horse-leech.

But the genuine Servant of Society is of a different stamp. Ordinarily
he is of a good family, and of a competence which both differs from
and resembles his general character in being possessed at once of the
attributes of modesty and assurance. From an early age he will have
been noted for the qualities which in after-life render him humbly
celebrated in subordinate positions. At school he will have had
the good fortune to be attached as fag to a big boy who occupied an
important place as an athlete, and whose condescending smiles were
naturally an object of greater ambition to the small fry than the
approval of the school authorities. For him he performed with much
assiduity the various duties of a fag, happy to shine amongst his
companions as the recipient of the great boy's favours. To play the
jackal without incurring universal dislike is (at school) no very
easy task, but he accomplishes it with discretion and with a natural
aptitude that many maturer jackals might envy.


At the age of seventeen he is withdrawn from school. His own
marked disinclination saves him from a military career, and he is
subsequently sent to pass a year or two upon the Continent of Europe,
in order that he may first of all pass the examination for the
Diplomatic Service, and subsequently foil foreign statesmen with their
own weapons, and in their own language. Returning, he secures his
nomination, and faces the Examiners. Providence, however, reserves him
for lower things. The Examiners triumph, and the career of the Servant
of Society begins in earnest. The position of his parents secures for
him an entrance into good houses. He is a young man of great tact and
of small accomplishments. He can warble a song, aid a great lady to
organise a social festivity, lead a cotillon, order a dinner, and help
to eat it, act in amateur theatricals, and recommend French novels to
inquiring matrons. His manners are always easy, and his conversation
has that spice of freedom which renders it specially acceptable in
the boudoirs of the smart. The experience of a few years makes plain
to him that, in social matters, the serious person goes down before
the trifler. He therefore cultivates flippancy as a fine art, and
becomes noted for a certain cheap cynicism, which he sprinkles like a
quasi-intellectual pepper over the strong meat of risky conversation.
Moreover, he is constantly self-satisfied, and self-possessed. Yet
he manages to avoid giving offence by occasionally assuming a gentle
humility of manner, to which he almost succeeds in imparting a natural
air, and he studiously refrains from saying or doing anything which,
since it may cause other men to provoke him, may possibly result in
his being forced to pretend that he himself has been ruffled. Yet it
must be added that he is always thoroughly harmless. He flutters about
innumerable dovecots, without ever fluttering those who dwell in them,
and, in course of time, he comes to be known and accepted everywhere
as a useful man. As might be supposed, he is never obtrusively manly.
The rough pursuits of the merely athletic repel him, yet he has the
knack of assuming an interest where he feels it not, and is able to
prattle quite pleasantly about sports in which he takes little or no
active part. At the same time it must be admitted that he holds a gun
fairly straight, and does not disgrace himself when the necessity
of slaughtering a friend's pheasants interrupts for a few hours the
rehearsals of private theatricals, in company with the friend's wife.
Certainly he is not a fool. He gauges with great accuracy his own
capacities, and carefully limits his ambition to those smaller desires
which, since they exact no vaulting power, are never likely to bring
about a fall on the other side. The objects of his admiration are
mean; and since he meanly admires them, he comes quite naturally under
the Thackerayan definition of a Snob.

Whilst he is still a year or two on the fair side of thirty, it may
happen that a turn of the political wheel will bring into high office
a statesman who is quite willing to be served by those who are able
to make themselves useful to him, without exacting from them solidity
either of character or of attainments. With him the Servant of
Society, with an instinct that does credit to his discernment, will
have established friendly relations. The politician was first amused
and then impressed by his versatility; now, having the opportunity,
he offers to him the position of Assistant Private Secretary (unpaid),
and it is scarcely necessary to say that the young man accepts it
with a gratitude which proves that he believes his patron capable
of conferring further favours. From this time forward he begins to
abandon the merely frivolous air that has hitherto distinguished him.
He lays in a mixed stock of solemnity, mystery, and importance, and
occasionally awes the friends of his flippant days by assuming the
reticent look and the shake of the head of one who is marked off from
common mortals by the possession of secrets the revelation of which
might, perhaps, imperil the peace of the world. In country-houses,
in London drawing-rooms, and at Clubs, where he had hitherto been
mentioned with a laugh as "Little So-and-So," he comes to be talked
of as "So-and-So - of course you know him - Lord BLANK'S Private
Secretary." Thus he becomes quite a personage. But he is far from
abandoning the _rôle_ of Servant of Society. Indeed, he only enlarges
and glorifies the scope of his ministrations, without in any way
ceasing to cultivate those smaller trifles which stood him in such
good stead at the outset of his career. He now has the satisfaction
of seeing many of those who desire anything that a Cabinet Minister
can give, cringing to one whom they despise, and who rejoices in the
knowledge that he can afford to patronise them, and perhaps crush them
by obtaining for them that which they want.

When, in the course of a few years, Lord BLANK'S party ceases to
direct the government of the country, his Assistant Private Secretary
follows him into the cold shade of adversity and opposition, and
stands by him with exemplary usefulness and fidelity. But, though he
is often pressed, he never contests a constituency, feeling, perhaps,
that it is impossible to serve both Society and the Caucus. In time
his name becomes the common property of all Society journals - his
biography is published in one, his discreet service is extolled in
another, while a third goes so far as to hint that, if the truth were
known, it would be found that the various departments of the State
could not possibly carry on their affairs without his enlightened
counsel. He adopts an antique fashion of dress, in order to emphasise
his personality. He wears a stock, and a very wide-brimmed hat, and
carries a bunch of seals dangling from a fob.

At forty-five he marries the daughter of a powerful Peer, and, shortly
afterwards, insures so much of the favour of Royalty as to be spoken
of as a _persona grata_ at Court. Henceforward his services are often
employed in delicate negotiations, which may necessitate the climbing
of many back-stairs. On such occasions, and after it has been
announced in the papers that "Mr. So-and-so was the bearer of an
important communication" from one great person to another, it is his
custom to show himself in his Clubs and in crowded haunts, so that he
may enjoy the pleasure of being pointed out, _digita prætereuntium_,
and of catching the whispers of those who nudge one another as they
mention his name.

Finally, it will be rumoured that he has been collecting materials for
the Memoirs which he proposes shortly to publish. But though he never
disclaims the intention, and is even understood, on more than one
occasion, to allude in conversation to the precise period of his life
to which his writing has then brought him, it is quite certain that
he will never carry out the intention, or bring out the book. At
the age of sixty he will still be a young man, with a gay style of
banter peculiarly his own. Towards the end of his life he will often
talk darkly of great events in which he has played a part, and of
extraordinary services which only he could have performed; and when he
dies, the country will be called upon to mourn for one who has saved
it from social degradation, and from political disaster.

* * * * *



[According to the _Standard_, by the new Meat Inspection Law,
just come into force in the United States, American cattle
and pigs for export to England, France, or Germany, are to be
inspected before leaving America, with a view to removing the
grounds of objection on the part of those Governments to the
unrestricted reception of these important American exports.
Should any foreign Government, fearful of pleuro-pneumonia
or trichinosis, refuse to trust to the infallibility of the
American inspectors, the President of the United States is
authorised to retaliate by directing that such products of
such foreign State as he may deem proper shall be excluded
from importation to the United States.]

O SENATOR EDMONDS, of verdant Vermont,
Of wisdom you may be a marvellous font;
But you'll hardly get JOHN, - 'tis too much of a joke! -
To buy in your fashion a Pig in a Poke;
Which nobody can expect!

To slaughter your Cattle when reaching our shore,
You probably think is no end of a bore;
But even your valiant Vermonters to please,
We cannot afford to spread Cattle-disease,
Which nobody can desire.

A Yankee Inspector is all very fine,
But if pleuro-pneumonia crosses the line,
And with BULL'S bulls and heifers should play up the deuce,
A Yankee Inspector won't be of much use,
Which nobody can dispute.

A Yankee Inspector you seem to suppose is
A buckler and barrier against trichinosis;
Bat trichinae pass without passports. Bacilli
And microbes that Yankee _might_ miss willy-nilly,
Which nobody can deny.

Port-slaughter restrictions may limit your trade.
Well, your Tariffs Protective to help _us_ aren't made,
And we cannot run dangers to plump up your wealth,
Until you can show us a clean bill of health,
Which nobody can assert.

And as to that cudgel tucked under your arm,
You fancy, perhaps, it will act as a charm.
No, JONATHAN! JOHN to your argument's dull,
And you will not convince him by cracking his skull,
Which nobody can suppose.

The Gaul and the Teuton seem much of my mind,
And, despite your new Law, you will probably find
That Yankee Inspectors, plus menaces big,
Rehabilitate not the American Pig,
Which nobody can affirm.

No, JONATHAN, JOHNNY feels no animosity,
He'd like, with yourself, to have true Reciprocity;
But neither your Law, nor a smart cudgel-stroke,
Will make him - or them - buy your Pig in a Poke -
Which nobody can particularly
wonder at, after all; now can

* * * * *

"NOMINE MUTATO." - For some weeks there was a considerable amount of
correspondence in the _Times_, anent "Ecclesiastical Titles," which
suddenly disappeared. Was the topic resumed one day last week under
the new heading, "_The Symbolical Representation of Ciphers_?"

* * * * *

LATEST FROM THE LYCEUM. - With a view to supplying the entire world
with the current number, _Mr. Punch_ goes to press at a date too early
to permit of a criticism of _Ravenswood_. So he contents himself (for
the present) by merely recording that at the initial performance on
Saturday last all went as happily ("merrily," with so sombre a plot,
is _not_ the word) as a marriage-bell. There was a striking situation
towards the end of the drama which was both novel and interesting. Mr.
IRVING received and deserved a grand reception, and it was generally
admitted that amongst the many admirable impersonations for which MISS
ELLEN TERRY is celebrated, her _Bride of Lammermoor_ appropriately
"takes the cake!"

* * * * *



[It is said that the price of wheat and the marriage-rate go
together, most people getting married when wheat is highest.]

My pretty JANE, my dearest JANE,
Ah, never look so shy,
But meet me, meet me in the market,
When the price of wheat rules high.
The glut is waning fast, my love,
And corn is getting dear;
Good (Hymen) times are coming, love,
Ceres our hearts shall cheer.
Then pretty JANE, though poorish JANE,
Ah, never pipe your eye,
But meet me, meet me at the Altar,
For the price of wheat rules high!

Yes, name the day, the happy day,
I can afford the ring;
For corn rules high, the marriage rate
Mounts up like anything;
The "quarter" stands at fifty, love,
Which, for Mark Lane is dear.
Our wedding day is coming, love,
Our married course is clear.
Then, pretty JANE, if poorish JANE,
Ah, never look so shy;
But meet me, meet me at the Altar,
When the price of wheat rules high!

* * * * *

[Illustration: TAKEN ON TRUST.

_Viscount Conamorey_ (_whose recollections of the antique are somewhat

_Mrs. B._ (_who has never even seen the Venus of Milo_). "_OH_! YOU

* * * * *




Come back to Town! Why wander where
The snow-clad peaks arise?
Our English sunsets are as fair,
With red September skies.
Soft is the matutinal mist
Through which the trees loom brown;
Come back, if only to be kist, -
Come back to Town!

For evermore, in days like these,
When musing on your face,
My sad imagination sees
Another in my place.
Say, do you listen to his prayer,
Or slay him with a frown?
At any rate I can't be there.
Come back to Town!

Why linger by some far-off lake
Or Continental strand?
St. Martin's Summer comes to make
A glory in the land.
The river runs a golden stream
Where WREN'S great dome looks down;
Thine eyes, methinks, have brighter gleam;
Come back to Town!

I hear your voice upon the wind,
In dreamland you appear;
But do you wonder that I find
The day so long and drear?
_Lentis adhærens brachiis_ come
Once more my life to crown;
Without thee 'tis too burdensome.
Come back to Town!

* * * * *



"_So glad to see you at last. Now don't let me interrupt your talk
with Mrs. VEREKER_;" i.e., "If I do, I shall be let in for being

"_Do let me get you some tea - you must be dying for a cup_;" i.e.,
"Know _I_ am."

"_So sorry_ - _I fear everything is cold. Do let me have some fresh tea
made for you_;" i.e., "He can't accept _that_ offer."


"_You don't mind my cigar, do you?_" i.e., "I know he does, but I'm
not going to waste it."

(_Reply to the above query._)

"_Oh, not at all!_" i.e., "Beastly thing! If he wasn't so confoundedly
selfish and stingy, he'd throw it away."

* * * * *




I'm afloat, I'm afloat on the coaly black Tyne!
The draft licence sent me I begged to decline;
Though other chaps had 'em, they were not for me;
I prefer a free flag, on the strictest Q.T.
A sly "floating factory" thus I set up
(I'm a mixture of RUPERT the Rover and KRUPP).
At Jarrow Slake moored, my trim wherry or boat
I rejoiced in, and sung "I'm afloat! I'm afloat!"
For quick-firing guns ammunition I made,
Engaging (says FORD) in the contraband trade.
An inquest _was_ held, but its verdict cleared _me_.
I'm afloat, I'm afloat, and the Rover is free!

I fear not the Government, heed not its law.
Much rumpus is made, we shall hear lots of jaw:
An explosion took place on October the third,
My sly "floating factory" blew up like a bird.
It killed one poor fellow, and damaged a lot,
But I am a Great Gun, and got off like a shot;
Indeed all were well, but for cold Colonel FORD,
Who blames _me_, the Rover! Too bad, on my word!
The Pirate of Elswick shall not be the sport
of a fussy Commission's ill-tempered Report.
To bring me to book is all fiddlededee -
I'm afloat, I'm afloat, and the Rover is free!

I contraband, careless? Why, everyone owns
_That_ is natural, 'neath the black flag and cross-bones.
No mere paltry maker of fireworks am I,
But a Rover who's free, whose sole roof is the sky.
The law of the land may the petty appal.
But frighten the Rover? Oh no, not at all!
And ne'er to Commissions or Colonels I'll yield,
Whilst there's Black Tyne to back me or Whitehall to shield.
Unfurl the Black Flag! shake its folds to the wind!
And I'll warrant we'll soon leave sea-lawyers behind.
Up, up with the flag! Pirate's licence for me!
I'm afloat, I'm afloat, and the Rover is free!

* * * * *


DARWINITES. - "The Evolutionary Squadron."

* * * * *


Speaking of _Reynart the Fox_, I was made, by a slip of the printer's
hand - I am accustomed to seeing slips _from_ his hand, which is quite
another thing - to say that this mediæval romance "presents a truer
picture of life than novels in which vice is punished and virtue
patiently rewarded." After considering for some time what on earth
I could have meant by "patiently rewarded," I remembered that I had
written "patently rewarded." The printer put my "i" out; and without
an "i" it was very difficult to perceive the sense of the phrase.


_Nutshell Novels_, by that crack writer - no, not "crack'd" - and poet,
whose verses send a frill right through us, Mr. J. ASHBY-STERRY, are
coming out. Capital title. As SHAKSPEARE says, "Sermons in stones,
novels in nutshells, and good in everything." SHELLEY'S poems might
be brought out in pocketable form under a similar title, _Nut-Shelley
Poems._ I have not yet seen the volume in question, only heard tell
of it, and should not be surprised to hear that the central novel and
the best was a short military novel, entitled _The Kernel_. Messrs.
HUTCHINSON & Co. are the publishers. I hope Mr. STERRY has illustrated
them himself. He can draw and paint, but he won't, and there's an end
on't. He must follow up the _Nutshells_ with a volume of _Crackers_,
about Christmas time.

Just been looking through _London Street Arabs_, by Mrs. H.M. STANLEY,
published by CASSELL & Co., which firm - whose telegraphic address is
"Caspeg, London," and a good name too - writes to the Baron thus: - "_In
forwarding you an early copy_" - small and early - "_of Mrs. Stanley's
book, we will ask you to be good enough_" - ("I am 'good enough'" quoth
the Baron) - "to _confine your extracts from the Introduction to an
extent not exceeding one-third of the whole_." "Willingly, my dear
'Caspeg,'" replies the Baron, who does not like being dictated to,
and, to gratify your wish to the utmost, he will make no extracts
at all from the book, a proceeding which ought mightily to delight
"Caspeg, London." What next? Will publishers send to the Baron, and
request him not even to breathe the names of their books? By all
means. He has no objection, as, whether sent to him for review, or
purchased by him _pour se distraire_, the Baron only mentions those he
likes, or, if he mentions those he dislikes, 'tis _pro bono publico_,
and there's an end on't. Mrs. STANLEY appreciates humour, as the
following anecdote will show - But, dear me, the Baron is forgetful - he
begs "Caspeg's" pardon; he mustn't quote. Mrs. STANLEY can be truly
sympathetic with sorrow, as the following story proves - no, "Caspeg,"
the story must _not_ follow. Never mind - the Baron's dear readers
will read it for themselves if they feel "so dispoged." The Baron
supposes that all this was written and drawn while Mrs. STANLEY was
Miss DOROTHY TENNANT, because her recorded opinion, probably, as a
spinster, is (and here the Baron "quotes" not, but "alludes"), that
you can find better artistic material in this line at home, than you
can obtain by seeking it abroad; yet when she married, off she went
to Milan, Venice, and so forth. For pleasure, of course, not work;
but work to her is evidently pleasure. May happiness have accompanied
her everywhere! The drawings are pretty, rather of the goody-good
"Sunday-at-home-readings" kind of illustrations. And what on earth has
a sort of pictorial advertisement for "Somebody's Soap" got to do with
Street Arabs? "_Washed Ashore; or, Happy At Last_," might be the title
of this mer-baby picture, in which two naked children, not Street
Arabs, or Arabs of any sort, are depicted as examining the inanimate
body of a nondescript creature, half flesh and half fish, which has
been thrown up by the waves "to be left till called for" by the next
high-tide, when, perhaps, its sorrowing parents, Mr. and Mrs. MERMAN,
or its widowed mother, Mrs. MERWOMAN, arrayed in sea-"weeds," may
come to claim it and give it un-christian burial. But that the Baron,
out of deference to the wishes of "Caspeg, London," does not like to
quote one single line, he could give Mrs. STANLEY'S own account of how
this picture of the Mer-baby came to be included in the Street Arab
Collection. For such explanation the Baron refers the reader to the
book itself. "Caspeg," farewell!

I have, the Baron says, commenced the first pages of _The Last Days
of Palmyra_. Good, so far; but several new books have come in, and
_Palmyra_ cannot receive my undivided attention, says


P.S. - My faithful "Co." has been reading _Ferrers Court_, by JOHN
STRANGE WINTER, author of _Bootle's Baby_ and a number of other
novelettes of like kind. He says that he is getting just the least bit
tired of _Mignon_, and the plain-spoken girls, and the rest of them.
By the way, he observes that it seems to be the fashion, judging from
the pages of _Ferrers Court_, in what he may call "Service Suckles,"
to talk continually of a largely advertising lady's tailor. If this

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Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 99, September 27, 1890 → online text (page 1 of 3)