Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, September 18, 1841 online

. (page 5 of 5)
Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, September 18, 1841 → online text (page 5 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

To sit 'mid the roses and hear the birds' song.
That bower, and its music, I never forget:
But oft, when alone, at the close of the year,
I think is the nightingale singing there yet,
Are the roses still fresh by the calm Bendermere?"

No, there is none of this sentimental twaddle about the Bower to which we
are alluding. There are no roses, and no nightingale; but there are lots
of smoking, and plenty of vocalists. We will paraphrase Moore, since we
can hardly do less, and we may say, with truth,

"There's a Bower in Stangate's respectable street,
There's a company acting there all the night long;
In the days of my childhood, egad - what a treat!
To listen attentive to some thundering song.
That Bower and its concert I never forget;
But oft when of halfpence my pockets are clear,
I think, are the audience sitting there yet,
Still smoking their pipes, and imbibing their beer?"

Upon entering the door, you are called on to pay your money, which is
threepence for the saloon and sixpence for the boxes. The saloon is a
large space fitted up something like a chapel, or rather a court of
justice; there being in front of each seat a species of desk or ledge,
which, in the places last named would hold prayer-books or papers, but at
the Bower are designed for tumblers and pewter-pots. The audience, like
the spirits they imbibe, are very much mixed; the greater portion
consisting of respectable mechanics, while here and there may be seen an
individual, who, from his seedy coat, well-brushed four-and-nine hat,
highly polished but palpably patched highlows, outrageously shaved face
and absence of shirt collar, is decidedly an amateur, who now and then
plays a part, and as he is never mistaken for an actor on the stage, tries
when off to look as much like one as possible.

The boxes are nothing but a gallery, and are generally visited by a
certain class of ladies who resemble angels, at least, in one particular,
for they are "few and far between."

But what are the entertainments? A miscellaneous concert, in which the
first tenor, habited in a _surtout_, with the tails pinned back, to look
like a dress-coat, apostrophises his "pretty Jane," and begs particularly
to know her reason for looking so _sheyi_ - _vulgo_, shy. Then there is
the bass, who disdains any attempt at a body-coat, but honestly comes
forward in a decided bearskin, and, while going down to G, protests
emphatically that "He's on the C (sea)." Then there is the _prima donna_,
in a pink gauze petticoat, over a yellow calico slip, with lots of jewels
(sham), an immense colour in the very middle of the cheek, but terribly
chalked just about the mouth, and shouting the "Soldier tired," with a
most insinuating simper at the corporal of the Foot-guards in front, who
returns the compliment by a most outrageous leer between each whiff of his

Then comes an _Overture by the band_, which is a little commonwealth, in
which none aspires to lead, none condescends to follow. At it they go
indiscriminately, and those who get first to the end of the composition,
strike in at the point where the others happen to have arrived; so that,
if they proceed at sixes and sevens, they generally contrive to end in

Occasionally we are treated with Musard's _Echo quadrilles_, when the
solos are all done by the octave flute, so are all the echoes, and so is
everything but the _cada_.

But the grand performance of the night is the dramatic piece, which is
generally a three-act opera, embracing the whole debility of the company.
There is the villain, who always looks so wretched as to impress on the
mind that, if honesty is not the best policy, rascality is certainly the
worst. Then there is the lover, whose woe-begone countenance and unhappy
gait, render it really surprising that the heroine, in dirty white
sarsnet, should have displayed so much constancy. The low comedy is
generally done by a gentleman who, while fully impressed with the
importance of the "low," seems wholly to overlook the "comedy;" and there
is now and then a banished nobleman, who appears to have entirely
forgotten everything in the shape of nobility during his banishment. There
is not unfrequently a display of one of the proprietor's children in a
part requiring "infant innocence;" and as our ideas of that angelic state
are associated principally with pudding heads and dirty faces, the
performance is generally got through with a nastiness approaching to
nicety. But it is time to make our escape from the _Bower_, and we
therefore leave them to get through the "Chough and Crow" - which is often
the wind-up, because it admits of a good deal of growling - in our
absence. We cannot be tempted to remain even to witness the pleasing
performances of the "Sons of Syria," nor the "Aunts of Abyssinia." We will
not wait to see Mr. Macdonald sing "Hot codlings" on his head, though the
bills inform us he has been honoured by a command to go through that
interesting process from "_nearly all the crowned heads in Europe_."

* * * * *

1 2 3 5

Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, September 18, 1841 → online text (page 5 of 5)