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PUNCH,

OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 93.

DECEMBER 10, 1887


THE LETTER-BAG OF TOBY, M.P.

FROM THE ROCHDALE RASPER (LATE THE BIRMINGHAM PET).

_One Ash, Rochdale, Saturday._

DEAR TOBY,

The address from which I write to you is familiar in the public ear in
connection with a long series which, such is the ignorance of mankind, I
have heard described as petulant, querulous, self-adulatory notes. I
have often wondered that it has not occurred to any one to notice the
singular appropriateness of the name of my humble home. It is not for
me, at my time of life, to claim anything like prescience of affairs. I
may have been right in my views of the succeeding events of the past
half-century, or I may have been wrong. I will just mention that my
friend, T-NN-S-N, who has a pretty faculty for poetry, once summed me up
in a couplet which I venture to think is not without its charm. "J-HN
BR-GHT," he wrote -

J-HN BR-GHT
Is always right.

He told me in confidence that he had at one time contemplated a
eulogistic poem of some seventy or eighty lines, price to the
_Nineteenth Century_ a guinea each. But, having thrown off this couplet,
it appeared in itself so sufficient, so comprehensive yet so precise,
that amplification would have rather reduced than increased its value.
Therefore it remains a brilliant fragment.

But I am wandering from the theme, which, in the present instance, is
not myself but my country address. What I thought might be interesting
to point out is the curious felicity of the nomenclature, and the
remarkable foresight of which it is proof. More than a generation ago it
received this singular appellation. At that time nothing seemed more
remote from ordinary apprehension than that in this year I should be
what we call "a Unionist," an ally and supporter of Lord S-L-B-RY,
pulling in the same boat as the H-M-LT-NS, and marching shoulder to
shoulder with ASHM-D B-RTL-TT. In those days I was wont to pour forth
torrents of angry contempt upon the Conservative party. D-SR-LI was my
wash-pot, over the Markiss I cast out my shoe; but even then my address
was One Ash, Rochdale. Do you begin to see what I mean? One Empire, One
Parliament, One Ash! Some of my old colleagues and disciples among the
Radicals scoff at me because of my new companions. But, as usual, I have
been right from the first. _I_ have always been what the _Marchioness_
called a "wonner." What has happened is that the Liberal Party and my
old companions have moved away from me, whilst the Conservatives have
moved towards me. I am the same to-day as yesterday, or as these fifty
years past. "J-HN BR-GHT, always right," and any change of relationship
or appearance is due to the ineradicable error and fatal foolishness of
others.

What I feel, dear TOBY, in reviewing a long and honourable life, is the
terrible feeling of monotony. I sometimes find myself envying ordinary
men like GL-DST-NE, who, looking back over their past life, can put
their hand down and say, "There I blundered, there I was misled by
circumstances." For a long time GL-DST-NE kept pretty straight - that is
to say I agreed with him. But he has gone wrong lamentably on this Irish
Question, and all the righteous acts of his life - that is to say, steps
in which he has chanced to walk in time with me - are obliterated. It is
true that, at one time, it was I who was the foremost Apostle of Irish
National feeling. At this date people with inconvenient memories are
constantly raking up passages in my speeches about Ireland, and the
English yoke which, except that they are too finely cut, and of too
noble a style of eloquence, would exactly suit GL-DST-NE to-day. I said
these things then, it is true, and then they were right. I do not say
them to-day, and therefore they are wrong. _Quod erat demonstrandum._
(You will observe that since, with a distinguished friend, I have joined
the political company of gentlemen, I have forsaken my old habit of
keeping to the Saxon tongue, and sometimes, as here, I drop into Latin.
Occasionally I fall into French. _Autres temps, autres moeurs._)

My nearest approach to human frailty, is, perhaps, to be found in a
certain measure of absence of suavity. It is perhaps possible that my
temper was, - I will not say soured, but - not sweetened by the vile
attacks made upon me personally by Irish Members in Parliament during
the last ten years. You remember what B-NT-NCK said about me? I don't
mean Big Ben, or Little Ben, but Lord GEORGE B-NT-NCK. "If BR-GHT," he
said, "had not been a Quaker, he would have been a prize-fighter." I
think there is about the remark some suspicion of lack of respect. But,
also, it is not without some foundation of truth. I admit an impulse to
strike back when I am hit; sometimes when I am not. Through two
Parliaments the ragged regiment that live upon the contributions of
their poor relations in domestic service in the United States have
girded at me in the House of Commons. This was my reward for the
rhetorical services I did for Ireland a quarter of a century ago. They
pummelled me, kicked me, dragged my honoured name in the dust, and spat
upon me in the market-place. That gross ingratitude I could never
forgive, and if in reprisal, the cause I once advocated suffers, can I
be held blameable?

But this seems to be running into the groove of apology, and I never
apologised to anyone for anything in my life. For fear I should begin
now, I will close this letter, remaining, Your friend, J-HN BR-GHT.

P.S. - I observe that in my haste I have not called you a fool, or
directly stigmatised as such anyone alluded to in this letter. I am
afraid this will be regarded as a sign of growing weakness. But I will
bring up the average in the next letter I write for publication.

* * * * *

[Illustration: DARWINIAN ANCESTOR

_Composing the Song, "For O it is such a Norrible Tail!!"_

"Our ancestor was an animal which breathed water, had a
swim-bladder, a great swimming tail, and an imperfect
skull." - _Darwin to Lyell._]

[Illustration: THE BABES IN THE CHRISTMAS WOOD. "The Cry is still they
come!"]

* * * * *

[Illustration: PUTTING _HIS_ FOOT IN IT.

_She._ "AND DO YOU STILL SQUEEZE UP THE LADIES' FEET IN YOUR COUNTRY?"

_He._ "ON THE CONTRARY, MADAM! THAT IS A _CHINESE_ CUSTOM. WE IN JAPAN
ALWAYS ALLOW THE LADIES' FEET TO GROW TO QUITE THEIR FULL SIZE. NOT THAT
ANY WOULD EVER RIVAL _YOURS_, MADAM!"

[_Is delighted with his neat little Compliment!_]

* * * * *

THE BABES IN THE CHRISTMAS WOOD.

The Publishers' Cantata.

_Various well-known Publishing Firms in the guise of Forest-trees
discovered shedding their leaves._

GENERAL CHORUS.

See Christmas is upon us and the world around us living,
Seeks us and asks the pretty gifts it soon would fain be giving.
The stories thrilling, tender, sweet, to suit all tastes and ages,
All gleaming with their covers gay and picture-covered pages;
The dainty illustrated leaf, the paper softly tinted,
In type, to suit young eyes and old, all exquisitely printed:
Of artist's pencil, author's pen, the choicest, fairest flower,
Behold as the glad season comes we thus upon you shower.

MESSRS. BLACKIE & SONS.

Christmas leaves? Would you pick up the handsomest ones,
First look at these scattered by BLACKIE & SONS.
Here tales of home life and adventure in plenty,
Have good names to vouch for them. Take G. A. HENTY,
In "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and "Orange and Green,"
He lays first in Scotland, then Ireland his scene,
And thrills you with reading the hairbreadth escapes,
Of the heroes he rescues from numberless scrapes.
But while in "For the Temple," he ventures to tell
How in ages long past great Jerusalem fell;
Yet if less ancient horrors are more to your mind,
In the reign of the "Terror" material you'll find;
And if you would learn how pluck never goes wrong,
You've but to go straightway to "Sturdy and Strong."
Next ELIZABETH LYSAGHT in "Aunt Hesba's Charge,"
On the virtues of old Maiden Aunts doth enlarge,
And relates in "Our General" by a small head,
How a family through all its trials may be led.
Then J. PERCY GROVES in "The War of the Axe,"
Tells a stirring Cape story of Caffre attacks,
And "The Seven Wise Scholars" supply ASCOTT R. HOPE,
For knocking off seven good tales, ample scope,
He in "Old Renown" stories, too, brilliantly writes
Of the deeds done of old by brave heroes and knights;
While E. BROOKES harking back with his "Chivalric Days,"
Of the boys and the girls of old times sings the praise.
"Girl Neighbours," allows SARAH TYTLER to say,
On the whole she prefers the girl of the day;
In "Miss Willowbrown's Offer," how traitors may fail,
SARAH DOWDNEY describes in a well-written tale.
With "The Babbling Teapot," to a little girl changed,
Mrs. CHAMPNEY has well into Wonderland ranged.
Out of "Willie," who here "Gutta Percha" is named,
GEORGE MACDONALD, an excellent story has framed,
And has shown how he finds life's troubles prove plastic,
Possessing a brain which his friends deem elastic.
In "The Princess" and "Goblin" he tries a new scheme,
And sweeps you along with his mystical theme;
But when she meets "Curdie" he now and then treads
On ground that is over his young readers' heads.
If a truant's adventures, fair reading you find,
The good ship "Atalanta," you'd bear in your mind,
And you'll follow "aboard" it, the hero whose fate
HENRY FRITH'S thrilling pages know how to relate.
Next in "Chirp and Chatter" from field and from tree,
Young children taught lessons by L. BANKS you'll see.
"Queen Maud," with her "orders" by LOUISA CROW,
Shows pride in a haughty young maiden brought low:
While in the "Squire's Grandson," J. CALLWELL proves how
A small boy can make up a family row.
The stories of WASA and MENZIKOFF tell
Two historical tales, and do it right well.
In his "Dick o' the Fens," one Fen, - MANVILLE FENN, -
Gives some capital studies of Lincolnshire men;
But in "Sir Walter's Ward," the age of Crusades,
Mr. WILLIAM EVERARD brightly invades.
The "Girlhood" of "Margery Merton" relates,
The struggle that oft a young artist awaits,
And how in the end her brave efforts prevail,
ALICE CORKRAN unfolds in her well-written tale.
And if "Clogs," well selected for children to wear,
You're in need, AMY WALTON will find you "a pair."
If the "Secret" of "Rovers" is more to your taste,
HARRY COLLINGWOOD follow, - your time you'll not waste.
In field, forest, or stream, would you "Insect Ways" learn,
For their "Summer Day's" life to J. HUMPHREYS turn.
But to close: - GORDON BROWNE, whose famed pencil so skilled,
Of the foregoing pages so many has filled,
Crowns the whole by contributing last, but not least,
His new "Hop o' my Thumb" and "The Beauty and Beast."

GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS.

Are you seeking for young children picture-books to please the eye?
Then your need GEORGE ROUTLEDGE and his Sons will readily supply.
Here's "Little Wide-Awake," designed to suit the earliest age,
Bound brightly, with a picture too on nearly every page;
And then there's "Sunny Childhood," with its colouring so gay,
Where Mrs. SALE BARKER has such pleasant things to say;
And in "Our Friends" and in "Our Home" she takes them by the hand,
And talks to little readers in the words they understand.
"Our Darlings," too, by MARS, show how our little darlings fare
Who by their MARS (and Pa's as well) are taken everywhere.
If "Fairy Tales" you're seeking, LABOULAYE'S collected lore,
With new ones, and unheard before, will furnish up your store.
And if young heroes of all climes should come within your scope,
You'll turn to "Youngsters' Yarns," and will have faith in ASCOTT HOPE.
Then "Herbert Massey's" doings in "Eastern Africa" you'll find,
Told by Commander CAMERON, quite of a thrilling kind.
"The Children of the New Forest," that MARRYAT wrote of yore,
PAUL HARDY and JOHN GILBERT join to illustrate once more.
"Round Nature's Dial," by H. M. BURNSIDE, tells full and clear
The shifting story of the times and seasons of the year.
The "Annual" for "Every Boy" affords all boys a treat,
Which, thanks to EDMUND ROUTLEDGE, may be held as quite complete.
Here "Caldecott's last 'Graphic' Pictures" come in handy guise,
While by her "Book" consulting, the "Young Lady" may grow wise.
How good we'd be if all, before they do, to think would tarry
On what Miss EDGEWORTH taught to "Lucy," "Rosamond," and "Harry."
"Natural History," Illustrated "for Young People," must do good,
As a text-book for young children, ably done by F. G. WOOD.
The "Funny Foxes and their Feats" and doings "at the Fair,"
With some of ERNST GRISET'S happiest efforts may compare.
"The 'Shall Nots' of the Bible" and "Loving Links" combine,
In page illuminated, human verse and text divine.
"Play and Earnest" tells of children who their playing much enjoy,
In a story quaint and charming of a plucky little boy.
Then "Sunbeam Stories," "Storm" and "Sunshine," told in prose and
rhyme,
And "Stories" for a "Holiday," as also "Pets' Pastime."
These, with "Sindbad's" famed Adventures, new to many we suppose,
With KATE GREENAWAY'S bright Almanack our list must fitly close.

MESSRS. MACMILLAN & CO.

Surely "Little Miss Peggy" will work you the spell
Mrs. MOLESWORTH'S charmed pen weaves so deftly and well,
For this quaint little lady, with ways sweet and bright,
Her small nursery readers can't fail to delight.
In "An Unknown Country" pen and pencil beguile
Him who tempts it to visit his own Sister Isle.
The text he'll find art a true handmaid to wait on
In the exquisite work of F. NOEL PATON.

* * * * *

Christmas Cards.

Of Christmas Cards a splendid show
This year! Wherever you may go
You see them. When you're told, you know
They're Christmas Cards.
In such a game of Cards the thing
Before the eyes of all to bring
Is Christmas, but they're Summer, Spring,
Most Christmas Cards.

* * * * *

Taking high rank among the Christmas Cards,
The artistic reproductions, MARCUS WARD'S,
Of two of RAPHAEL'S best-known Madonnas
Must, at this season, carry off the honours.
Both from one Pitti Palace - need we name them? -
'Twould be a thousand pities not to frame them.

(AIR - "_King of the Cannibal Islands._")

Here's an "Opal Souvenir,"
Lovely _mem_ of present year,
And it comes from, as we hear,
HILDESHEIMER AND FAULKNER.
Among the Cards the best designs
Are those by WEEDON, WILSON, HINES,
BOTHAMS, DEALY also shines,
KILBURNE, DRUMMOND, on like lines,
WILLIAMSON, MAGUIRE too,
SIGIMUND, artistic crew,
All at work their best to do
For HILDESHEIMER AND FAULKNER.

(AIR - "_Rare Ben._")

RAPHAEL TUCK!
Here's luck!
Rejoice! no dumps!
Why, all your Cards are trumps!
And all applied
To merry Christmas-tide!
In these un-Christmas days,
_Punch_ says 'tis greatly to thy praise.
So, RAPHAEL TUCK,
My buck,
Here's luck!

_To Mr. Punch._

"Such books, cards, and crackers," cries Poet, perplexed,
"As remain on the list, I will give 'in our next.'"

* * * * *

OUR DEBATING CLUB.

_An apology - Eloquent Peroration by our Vice-President_ - NAYLOR _offers
some critical remarks, and_ KIRKSTONE _relates a humorous anecdote_.

I am in a position this week to redeem my promise, and raise the
hitherto impenetrable veil that has long shrouded the proceedings of the
Gargoyle Club from the Public Eye. In the exercise of the discretion
with which I have been entrusted, I have somewhat departed from the form
of report originally contemplated, and selected only the more striking
and characteristic deliverances of my fellow Gargoyles, interspersed
with such short notes and descriptions as may best serve to bring out
their several mannerisms and idiosyncrasies. Should I offend by this I
shall deeply regret it, but I find that there are traditions and customs
in the management of a facetious periodical which, however exacting and
absurd in themselves, must be respected by those who would furnish it
with literary matter.

Having thus apologised in advance to any honourable Gargoyle who may
consider himself misrepresented or insufficiently reported, let me
present, as the first instalment of these papers, some extracts from
notes taken at a most instructive debate last session upon the motion
(brought forward by PLUMLEY DUFF; opposed by GASPARD HARTUPP), that:

"In the opinion of this House, Science has been productive of more real
benefit to the Human Race than Art."

Somehow, although I know that DUFF'S speech was compounded of plain
common sense interspersed with abundant facts (all DUFF'S speeches are
like that), I did not begin to take notes that evening until HARTUPP had
reached his peroration, which was in this form: -

"Sir," said HARTUPP (_with an inflection of unspeakable pathos in his
voice, which ought to make_ PINCENEY _shed tears - but does not_),
"before I sit down - before, Sir, I resume my seat," - (_this solemnly, as
if he has a deep presentiment that he may never resume another
seat_) - "let me ask the Honourable Member who is responsible for the
Motion on the paper this evening - let me put to him this single inquiry,
this solitary question - and I shall await his answer with considerable
curiosity." ... (_Here_ HARTUPP _gazes with an air of challenge at_
DUFF, _who, however, is drawing_ EUCLID'S _first proposition upon his
blotting-pad, an occupation which seems to absorb the whole of his
faculties for the moment_.) "Is he here to-night to deny the existence
of any good that is not visible, that is not tangible, that cannot be
measured with a tape, or weighed in scales? _Sir_, that is the
philosophy of the volatile sparrow, of the soulless hog, that skims the
vault of the azure empyrean, and wallows content in the mire of his
native sky - I _should_ say" (_with an air of careless concession to
prosaic accuracy_), "stye! That bird, Sir, that pig, like the Honourable
Proposer himself" - (_a titter here from the more frivolous_; DUFF _rubs
his nose, and evidently wonders whether_ HARTUPP _has been saying
anything worth noticing_) - "would find the universe none the poorer had
PRAXITELES carved nothing more immortal than an occasional cold fowl;
had HOMER swept his lyre, not in commemoration of the fall of an ancient
Troy, but to celebrate the rise of a new soap (HARTUPP _rather prides
himself on his talent for antithesis_); "and had TITIAN lavished all his
wealth of glowing colour and gorgeous hues upon the unretentive surface
of some suburban pavement! But, _Sir_, I hope that we, by our vote
to-night, will afford no encouragement to the gross and contemptible
materialism which is the curse of the present day, and of which, I am
compelled to add," (_here he glances reproachfully at the unconscious_
DUFF, _who is sharpening a pencil_), "we have been afforded so
melancholy an example this evening. Let us proclaim to the world without
that we, as Gentlemen and as Gargoyles, repudiate, that we loathe, that
we abhor, that we abominate," (HARTUPP _seems to be screwing all these
verbs out of himself, and throwing them defiantly at_ DUFF,) "the
grovelling tendency of our animal nature to ignore the joys of the soul
and the pleasures of the intellect, and place its highest enjoyment in
the ignoble pursuit of creature comforts!"

[_Here_ HARTUPP _sits down amidst applause, and applies himself
diligently to his whiskey-and-water_.

At a later period in the evening, just as the debate was beginning to
languish, NAYLOR started to his feet with a long strip of paper which,
being shortsighted, he held close to his nose. NAYLOR invariably takes
elaborate notes, with the intention of pointing out and refuting the
errors of all previous speakers. Unfortunately, as he cannot always read
the notes, and seldom remembers the objections he meant to urge, his
criticisms are not as effective as could be desired. On this occasion,
NAYLOR said: - "I'm not going to make a speech, Sir, I only want to point
out one or two things which struck me as requiring to be met. I'll take
them in their order." (_Here he fumbles with his strip of paper, which
will get upside down when he wished to refer to it_). "Oh, here it is!
There was a Gargoyle who said - I believe it was the Proposer of this
motion - _didn't_ you?" (_To_ DUFF, _who shakes his head in solemn
disclaimer_). "Well, it was somebody, anyway, but he told us that - - ."
(_Here_ NAYLOR _again refers to his notes_). "I'm afraid I can't exactly
make out what he did say - but I don't agree with him. Then there was
another speaker who said, (I took it down at the time) that he'd rather
have a good traction-engine than the finest poem ever written! Well, my
reply to _that_ is - - " (_here_ NAYLOR _has another wrestle with his
notes and comes up triumphant_) "that's _his_ opinion. I wouldn't. Next,
someone asked, 'What practical use was SHAKSPEARE to any man?'" (_A
pause._) "I've got an answer to that on my notes, somewhere, only I
can't find it. But, anyhow," (_cheerfully_) "I know it was rather
sticking up for SHAKSPEARE, to a certain extent. Then, didn't someone
else say, 'Music elevated the mind?'" (_A Member acknowledges the
responsibility of this bold sentiment._) "Well, I don't say it
doesn't - only, _how_? you know, that's the point!" (_A long pause,
during which_ NAYLOR _and his notes appears to be getting inextricably
involved_). "There was a lot of other things I meant to say, but I'm
afraid I don't quite remember them at this moment."

With this, NAYLOR sat down suddenly, apparently very little depressed by
the total absence of applause - he knew that a fearless critic is never
popular.

After that we had a little speech from dear old KIRKSTONE, who rose to
tell us an anecdote, which the subject had suggested to him. Appropriate
anecdotes are always occurring to KIRKSTONE, and he applies them in the
neatest and happiest manner, being gifted with the keenest sense of
humour of any one in our Society. In fact, the very keenness of
KIRKSTONE'S appreciation operates almost as a disadvantage, as will be
seen from the following extract, taken on the spot.

_Kirkstone (rising, and playing with his watch-chain)._ "Sir, whilst
listening to the speeches of Honourable Members this evening, I could
not help being reminded of a story I heard the other day." (_Here a
slight spasm passes over his ample cheeks, and we all settle down in
delighted anticipation_). "There was an old farmer - one of the regular
old-fashioned sort." (_Faint preliminary chuckle down in_ KIRKSTONE'S
_throat_.) "Well, he had a daughter, who - _tchick!_ - played on
the - _tehee!_ - the piano, and one day he was induced to go in for
a" - (_convulsion, followed by sounds like the extraction of a very
refractory cork_) - "for a Steam-plough! Soon afterwards he happened to
meet a friend - another farmer, or the parson, I forget which, and it
don't signify. Well, and the friend asked 'how he got on with his
Steam-plough.' And the old farmer says - _hork-hork!_ - he says, 'Don't
talk to me 'bout no Steam-plough - _ki-hee-hee!_ - when there's my darter
at home, and she - _crick, crick, criggle!_' (KIRKSTONE _proceeds
gallantly, but is unintelligible until the close_) - 'with her darned
pianner - _haw-haw-haw!_' Well, the House can apply the moral of that
themselves - I thought it was rather to the point myself. That's all I
got up to say."

I am afraid KIRKSTONE thinks we are all of us rather dull.

* * * * *

A DRAMATIC ORATORIO.

[Illustration]

Mr. FREDERIC H. COWEN'S dramatic Oratorio, _Ruth_, was produced last
Thursday at St. James's Hall, and the verdict on the entire work from
"bar one" to bar last was emphatically favourable. The Composer has
nothing to regret on this score. The workmanship throughout is
thoroughly good, and in some instances admirable, though the First Part
is not distinguished by any very striking originality.

In the Second Part, which begins appropriately with Harvest or "Half-est
time," Mr. BOAZ LLOYD gave a very trying _scena_ magnificently. But why
does he pronounce "excellent" as "ex_cee_lent?" Perhaps he has
ascertained on undeniable authority that this is the way _Boaz_ would


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Online LibraryVariousPunch or the London Charivari, Vol. 93, December 10, 1887 → online text (page 1 of 3)