The Project Gutenberg EBook of Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 105, September 2nd, 1893, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 105, September 2nd, 1893 Author: Various Editor: Sir Francis Burnand Release Date: September 28, 2011 [EBook #37553] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PUNCH, OR THE LONDON *** Produced by Malcolm Farmer, Lesley Halamek, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Ecce iterum! Well, why not? So long as I do not exanimate you with my letters, I remain content. Besides, I have not yet fully-developed all my theories. Let us, therefore, continue to chat together for a little.
I cannot proceed for ever by the negative method. No doubt I might in the end, exhaust the list of those who are not your subjects, but the process would be long, and, I fear, tedious. No; I must come to the point and produce my cases. What shall we say of them, then? Hood declares that—
"There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave, under the deep, deep sea."
and so forth; doubtless you remember the sonnet. Not there, however, is the true silence—
"But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox, or wild hyena calls,
And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,—
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone."
As with silence, so with failure, say I. The man who has never felt the spur of ambition nor the intoxication of a success, who has travelled always upon the level tracts of an unaspiring satisfaction, on him, surely, failure sets no mark, and disappointment has for him no stings. But the poor souls who soar only to sink, who melt their waxen wings in the fierce heat of the sun, and fall crashing to earth, theirs is the lot for pity. And yet it is not well to be too sure. For in the eyes of the world a man may be cheated of his purpose, and yet gain for himself the peace, the sober, contented joy, which is more to him than the flaunting trophies of open success. And some clasp the goddess in their arms, only to wither and decay in the embrace they sought with so eager a passion. But I tarry, while time creeps on.
From the mist of memory rises a scene. A knot of laughing Freshmen is gathered in the ancient Court outside the lecture-room staircase. It wants a minute or two to the hour. They are jesting and chaffing with all the delightful unconcern of emancipated youth, and their cheerful faces shine brighter in the October sunshine. Some thirty yards away from them a strange figure, in dingy cap and gown, paces wearily along. It is that of a prematurely aged man, his back bent, his head sunk upon his chest. The Freshmen begin to knock one another about; there is what we used to call a "rag," and one of them, seizing a small lump of turf, throws it at a companion. It misses him, and strikes the old, weary figure on the back of the neck. He totters forward with outstretched hands, just saves himself from falling, and turns round. There is a terrible, hunted, despairing look on the face, made more pitiful by the grey, straggling beard. The Freshman has darted forward with an apology. The old man mutters, half to himself, "What was it? Did some one call for me? I am quite alone, and I scarcely remember——" and then shuffles away quickly, without listening to the words of apology. The adventure chills the laughter of the young men, the clock strikes, and they vanish to the lecture-room.
This poor, rambling, distraught wreck of a man, was all that was left in those days of a great and brilliant scholar, whose fame a quarter of a century before had been alive in the mouths of Cambridge men. From the moment that he entered at St. Mark's, Henry Arkwright began a glorious career of prize-winning. Scholarships were to him a part of his daily bread. He swallowed them as other men swallow rolls for breakfast. A magic influence seemed to smooth for him the rough and rocky paths of learning. While his comrades stumbled along with bruised limbs, he marched with firm and triumphant step to the summit. And he had other advantages. He was handsome, his manner was frank and winning, he was an athlete of distinction, he spoke with fiery and epigrammatic eloquence at the Union. It is needless to add that his popularity was unbounded amongst his companions. He took the best degree of his year, and was made a Fellow of his College.
There was no lack of glowing prophecies about his future. The only doubt was whether the Lord Chancellorship or the post of Prime Minister would more attract his genius. Nobody supposed that he would stay on at Cambridge. But he did. A few years after taking his degree he published a monumental edition of a Greek classic, which is still one of the fountain-heads of authority, even amongst the severe scholars of the Fatherland. And after that there was an end of him. Nobody quite knew what had happened to him, and as the years rolled on fewer and fewer cared to inquire. He went to hall, he sat silent in the Combination-room, he withdrew himself gradually from all intercourse with friends. His whole appearance changed, he became dishevelled, his face grew old and wrinkled, and his hair turned grey before his time. And thus dwindling and shrinking he had come to be the pitiable shadow who, as I have related, faded dismally across the College Court before a knot of cheerful Undergraduates on an October morning many years ago. What was the reason? I have often wondered. Did his labours over his book displace by a hair's-breadth some minute particle of matter in his brain? Or was there in his nature a lack of the genuine manly fibre, unsuspected even by himself until he felt himself fatally recoiling from the larger life of which the triumphs seemed to be within his grasp, if only he would stretch out his hand and seize them? I know not. Somebody once hinted that there was a woman at the bottom of it. There may have been, but it is a canon of criticism to reject the easier solution. When he died a few years ago, it appeared to be a shock to all but a few to remember that he had not died ages before.
And as I write this, I am reminded, I scarce know why, of poor Mrs. Highflyer. Poor Mrs. Highflyer! I hear somebody exclaim in astonishment. Why is she poor? Why must we pity her? Is she not rich? Do not the great and the titled throng to her parties during the London Season? Has she not entertained Princes in the country? What lot can be more enviable? Granted, I reply, as to the riches and the parties. But can it be seriously supposed that a life spent in a feverish struggle for recognition, its days and nights devoted to schemes for social advancement, to little plots by which Lady Mottling, the wife of the millionaire Member of Parliament, shall be out-witted; or Mrs. Furber, the wife of the returned Australian, shall be made to pale her ineffectual fires; to conspiracies which shall end in a higher rung of the giddy ladder of party-giving ambition—can such a life, I ask, with all its petty miseries, its desperations, its snubs, and its successes no less perilous than desperation, be considered an enviable one? Ask Mrs. Highflyer herself. Visit that poor lady, as she is laying her parallels for her tenth attempt to capture some stout and red-faced royalty for her dance or her country-house, and see for yourself how she feels. She may bear aloft a smiling face, but there is unhappiness in her heart, and all her glories are as nothing to her, because she has read in the Weekly Treadmill that Lady Mottling's latest party was attended by a Royal Duke, two Ambassadors, and a Kamtchatkan Chieftain. There is failure in the meanest shape. Was I right to pity her?
Are there not, moreover, critics and literary celebrities who——but I dare too much, my pen refuses its office, so tremendous is the subject on which I have rashly entered. And with that, farewell.
Mr. James Payn says that "some boys are really missed at home." Well, Mr. Punch has observed that some fond and foolish parents tog and tittivate their boys till they look behind like girls. But to "miss" them, as though they were maidens or barmaids is too bad. To adapt Ko-Ko's celebrated song, he would say:—
A boy may wear his hair in curls, or bear a pudding face,
Some mothers, as you wist, that folly can't resist!
Of true boy in dress and manners they may leave him scarce a trace,
But he never should be "missed"—he never should be "missed."
Maternal idiots molly-coddle little lads they own,
Till they're girlish in demeanour, and effeminate in tone,
But the mater who her "Tommy" spoils, and dresses like a guy,
Till he doesn't think he crickets, and has no desire to try;
Is a silly, weak anomaly who ought to be well hissed;
Boys never should be "missy," and they never should be "missed."
Mrs. R. is delighted. "My youngest niece," she says, "has lately become engaged to a very illegible young man."[pg 98]
(Fragments of a Modern Parliamentary Version. A very long way after Schiller.)
"Oh! where is the youth or man so bold
To dive mid yon billowy din?
There's a cup of the purest (Hibernian) gold,
Lo! how the whirlpool has sucked it in!
'Tis a crown of glory, that golden cup,
To the venturous hand that shall bear it up!"
They listened, that goodly Company,
And were mute both squire and knight;
For they liked not the look of that wild (Irish) sea.
And they funked a fight with that maelstrom's might,
And a Voice, for the second time, loudly spake,
"Will no man dive for Ould Oireland's sake?"
But silently still they gaze and stand,
Till a grey-pate grand and old
Steps lightly forth from the shuddering band.
Oh, the glances that greet him are stern and cold!
And a whispered warning around doth pass:
"Now, Grand Old Diver, don't be an ass!"[pg 99]
And lo! as he stands on the uttermost verge,
He sees, in the dark seas rushing,
Obstructive monsters that swell and surge
From the depths of the muttering whirlpool rushing,
And their sound is the sound of hoot and hiss,
And they leap in foam from the black abyss.
Then quick, ere his fellows were half awake,
That old man grand and grey
Plunged headlong! Ah! it made them quake
As he whirled in the whirling stream away;
And they cried, "'Tis pity the land should suffer
This suicide of the Grand Old Duffer!"
Down! down he shot like a lightning flash!
When lo! from the depth of the rocky ground,
Did a thundering torrent to meet him dash.
Like a child's frail top he span around,
Powerless and pale; for how should he fight
With the double stream in its banded might?
The obstructive darkness of the deep
Lay all beneath him, above, about;
And goggle-eyed monsters that made him creep,
Glared at him there in a menacing rout;
For the dismal depths of those waters dark
Seemed alive with the kraken, the sword-fish, the shark.
There, there they clustered in grisly swarm,
Curled up into many a labyrinth knot,
The octopus with its horrible arms,
And the sea-snake fierce, with a mouth like a slot;
And the glassy-eyed dog-fish with threatening teeth,
Hyena fierce of the sea beneath.
And the Grand Old Diver he felt half-choked,
And he mused to himself, "Must I give it up?"
In ledge and rock-cranny he peered and poked,
Till he caught the glint of that golden cup
Hung on a rock, as though it had grown
In the depth which the sea-snake calls her own.
But see! What shines from the dark flood there
As a swan's soft plumage white?
A thin, wan face, scant, wave-washed hair,
And arms that move with a summer's might.
It is he, and lo! in his left hand high
He waveth the goblet exultingly!
He is breathing deep, he is gasping long,
As he clings to a rock—for his strength half fails.
"By Jove, he has got it!" yelled forth the throng,
"He lives! he is safe!" But he pants, he pales!
The Grand Old Diver the goblet grips!
Will he live to lift it wine-brimmed to his lips?
Old Adonis (gazing at his bust, which was done in the early Fifties). "Ah! it never did me justice! and it gets less and less like me every day!"
Saw advertisement to-day, "Wanted, a few hopeless Drunkards," from a person who has a new Patent Remedy for Dipsomania. Fancy that I answer the description. Why should I not apply? Funds rather low just at present, and I might get the price of a few bottles of gin out of this Anti-Alcoholic Enthusiast. He asks us to "apply by letter." Better to see if it's all a hoax or not. Shall go in person.
Have just made my application. Four other inebriates had also gone in person. They were in the waiting-room when I arrived, in advanced stage of delirium tremens. Scandalous! All of them had fiery serpents coming out of their boots, too, which they set at me directly I appeared. What the police are about in allowing such people at large I cannot understand. Obliged to defend myself against the serpents. I believe a shindy ensued, and I was accused—most unjustly—of being intoxicated, whereas I had purposely abstained from taking more than half a bottle of neat Cognac that morning, in order to have my head quite clear for the interview. However, had a chat with the Enthusiast, who said he thought I would "do very well." Wants me to get a couple of "good testimonials" from my friends, saying that I have "really made a hopeless beast of myself for at least two years past." Rather awkward this, as most of my old chums refuse to see me now. Such is friendship!
Testimonials secured at last. Had to create a slight disturbance outside the houses of my friends before I could get them to do what I wanted. When they did really understand what was expected, they gave me the highest character for inebriety. One says that he "has good reason for knowing that I have not been really sober for more than a day at a time for the last five years." The other "willingly certifies" that "a more absolutely besotted specimen of gin-soddened humanity" it would be impossible to find. Sent the replies off to the Enthusiast, who returns me some of the Patent Remedy in a bottle, "to be taken as directed," but no money! What a swindle! Pawnbroker round the corner declines to advance a farthing on the Remedy. Nothing left but to try it!
Have tried it! Awfully good stuff! Must have gin in it, I think. Leave off my nightly potation of spirits, and drink half the bottle instead. Refreshing sleep. Haven't had such a night for ages. Enthusiast calls to see how I am getting on. Immensely pleased. Leaves me another bottle of the Remedy, and—on my threatening to strike unless he gives me some money—half a sovereign. Get in more gin.
Extraordinary thing has happened. Gin seems positively nasty to me now! Forced myself to drink a little. Deadly sick! There must be something very unwholesome about the Remedy. Pitch rest of it out of window.
Glad to say that my taste for gin has come back. Was able to finish half a bottle at a sitting. Go round to Enthusiast's office, to tell him about dangerous effect of his alleged Remedy. He says "the sickness and the distaste for gin was just what he wanted to produce." The inhuman monster! Give him a little of my mind, and he retreats into an inner room, and his Clerk comes out to try and remove me from the premises. Curiously enough, the Clerk's front teeth all suddenly drop out and turn into green and red dragons, which writhe about the floor. Some sort of disturbance happens—believe Clerk tries to kill me—forget all the rest.
Later.—Appear to be in a Police cell! Why don't they shut up the keyhole to prevent those gamboge-coloured elephants getting through? Why has the Warder fifteen heads? Shall complain to the Home Secretary. Also shall make it hot for that Enthusiast when I get out.[pg 100]
I think I have mentioned that the vast intellect of my friend Holes took as great a delight in unravelling the petty complexities of some slight secret as in tracing back to its source the turbid torrent of a crime that had set all Europe ablaze. Nothing, in fact, was too small for this great man; he lived only to unravel; his days and nights were spent in deciphering criminal cryptograms. Many and many a time have I said to him, "Holes, you ought to marry, and train up an offspring of detective marvels. It is a sin to allow such a genius as yours to remain unreproduced." But he only smiled at me in his calm, impassive, unmuscular, and unemotional manner, and put me off with some such phrase as, "I am wedded to my art," or, "Detection is my wife; she loves, honours, and obeys me—qualities I could never find in a mate of flesh and blood." I merely mention these trifles in order to give my readers some further insight into the character of a remarkable man with whom it was my privilege to be associated on more than one occasion during those investigations of which the mere account has astonished innumerable Continents.
During the early Summer of the year before last a matter of scientific research took me to Cambridge. It will be remembered that at that time an obscure disease had appeared in London, and had claimed many victims. Careful study had convinced me that this illness, the symptoms of which were sudden fear, followed by an inclination to run away, and ending in complete prostration, were due to the presence in the blood of what is now known as the Proctor Bacillus, so called on account of two white patches on its chest, which had all the appearance of the bands worn by the Proctor during the discharge of his unpleasant constabulary functions in the streets and purlieus of University towns. In order to carry on my investigations at the very fountainhead, as it were, I had accepted a long-standing invitation from my old friend Colonel the Reverend Henry Bagnet, who not only commanded the Cambridge University Volunteers, but was, in addition, one of the most distinguished scholarly ornaments of the great College of St. Baldred's.
On the evening to which my story relates we had dined together in the gorgeous mess-room which custom and the liberality of the University authorities have consecrated to the use of the gallant corps whose motto of "Quis jaculatur scarabæum?" has been borne triumphantly in the van of many a review on the Downs of Brighton and elsewhere. The countless delicacies appropriate to the season, the brilliant array of grey uniforms, the heavy gold plate which loaded the oak side-board, the choice vintages of France and Germany, all these had combined with the clank of swords, the jingle of spurs, the emphatic military words of command uttered by light-hearted undergraduates, and the delightful semi-military, semi-clerical anecdotes of that old war-dog, Colonel Bagnet, to make up a memorable evening in the experience of a careworn medical practitioner who had left the best part of his health and his regulation overalls on the bloody battle-field of Tantia-Tee, in the Afghan jungle.
Colonel Bagnet had just ordered the head mess-waiter to produce six more bottles of the famous "die-hard" port, laid down by his predecessor in the command during the great town and gown riots of 1870. In these terrible civic disturbances the University Volunteers, as most men of middle age will remember, specially distinguished themselves by the capture and immediate execution of the truculent Mayor of Cambridge, who was the prime mover in the commotion. The wine was circulating freely, and conversation was flowing with all the verve and abandon that mark the intercourse of undergraduates with dons. Just as I was congratulating the Colonel on the excellence of his port the door opened, and a man of forbidding aspect, clothed in the heavy garments of a mathematical moderator, entered the mess-room.
"I beg your pardon, Colonel," said the new arrival, bringing his hand to his college cap with an awkward imitation of the military salute. "I am sorry to disturb the harmony of the evening, but I have the Vice-Chancellor's orders to inform you that the largest and fiercest of our pack of bull-dogs has escaped from his kennel. I am to request you to send a detachment after him immediately. He was last heard barking on the Newmarket Road."
In a moment all was confusion. Colonel Bagnet brandished an empty champagne bottle, and in a voice broken with emotion ordered the regiment to form in half-sections, an intricate manœuvre, which was fortunately carried out without bloodshed. What might have happened next I know not. Everybody was dangerously excited, and it needed but a spark to kindle an explosion. Suddenly I heard a well-known voice behind me.
"One moment, Colonel," said Picklock Holes, for it was none other, though how he had obtained an entrance I have never discovered; "you desire to find your lost canine assistant? I can help you, but first tell me why a soldier of your age and experience should insist on wearing a lamb's-wool undervest."
The guests were speechless. Colonel Bagnet was blue with suppressed rage.
"How now, Sirrah?" he replied; "how dare you insinuate that——"
"Tush, Colonel Bagnet," said my wonderful friend, pointing to the furious warrior's mess-waistcoat; "it is impossible to deceive me. That stain of mint-sauce extending across your chest can be explained only on the hypothesis that you wear underclothing manufactured from lamb. That," he continued, smiling coldly at me, "must be obvious to the meanest capacity." For once in his life the Colonel had no retort handy.
"I am at your orders," he said, shortly. "The man who can prove that I wear lamb's-wool when I am actually wearing silk is the man for my money." In another moment Holes had organised the pursuit.
"It would be as well," he remarked, "to have an accurate description of the animal we are in search of. He was——"
Here the impatient Colonel interrupted. "A brindled bull, very deep in the chest, with two kinks in his tail; has lost one of his front teeth, and snores violently."
"Quite right," said Holes; "the description tallies."
"But, Holes," I ventured to say, "this is most extraordinary. You, who have never been in Cambridge before, know all the details of the dog. It is wonderful."
Holes waved me off with as near an approach to impatience as I have ever seen him exhibit. Having done this, he once more addressed the Colonel.
"Your best plan," he said, "will be to scour the King's Parade. You will not find him there. Next you must visit the Esquire Bedell, and thoroughly search his palace from basement to attic. The dog will not be there, but the search will give you several valuable clues. You will then proceed to the University Library, and in the fifth gallery, devoted to Chinese manuscripts, you will find——"
As Holes uttered these words the mathematical moderator again entered. "Sir," he said to the Colonel, "it was all a mistake. The dog is quite safe. He has never been out of his kennel."
"That," said Holes, "is exactly what I was coming to. In the fifth gallery, devoted to Chinese manuscripts, you will find no readers. Hurrying on thence, and guiding your steps by the all-pervasive odour of meat-fibrine biscuits, you will eventually arrive at the kennel, and find the dog."
"Zounds! Mr. Holes," said the admiring Colonel, in the midst of the laugh that followed on Holes's last words, "you are an astounding fellow." And that is why, at the last Cambridge Commencement, the degree of LL.D. honoris causâ was conferred on Picklock Holes, together with a Fellowship at St. Baldred's, worth £800 a year. But my friend is modesty itself. "It is not," he said, "the honorary degree that I value half so much as the consciousness that I did my duty, and helped a Colonel in the hour of his need." And with these simple words Dr. Picklock Holes dismissed one of his finest achievements.[pg 101]
As I sit in my chambers, old and bare,
That look on the busy street,
And hear the roar of the town below,
And the tramp of hurrying feet,
I think, as I smoke my well-worn pipe,
Ensconced in my old arm-chair,
Of the days that have passed, like the sigh of the blast,
When the world was fresh and fair.
Of the joyous time when I joined the inn,
Nearly forty years ago,
When the fire of youth was in my veins,
Where the blood now runs so slow.
'Twas well in that far off happy time,
That I could not see before,
When we flirted and gambled, and sometimes worked,
In the student days of yore.
When all was common to him in need,
And nothing we called our own.
Gone are those days, and can never return—
We reap the crop we have sown.
Each of us thought that we should succeed,
Though others of course might fail;
And we went with the tide in our youthful pride,
Like a ship without a sail.
Where are they now all these friends of our youth?
Scattered abroad o'er the earth.
Some few are famous and some are dead,
And the world knew not their worth.
Some, like myself, are still found in "Hall,"
Pitied by those we meet,
And who pray that their end it may never be
To sit in the ancients' seat.
Reichemberg and Got declare
La Maison de Molière
They'll resign and leave for ever.
Ah! Suzanne, the sparkling, clever,
Long the Comédie's pride and pet,
Don't desert your votaries—yet.
Try a quarter-century longer,
Years but make you brighter, stronger;
And Got's "go" we can't spare. No,
Chaos comes if Got should go!
Pedestrian Poetry.—"The pleasures that lie about our feet"—Comfortable slippers after a long walk.
The quarter where I linger,
My square, is Fashion's acme;
I'm conscious that the finger
Of scorn may well attack me;
At number six a Viscount
Resides, in proper season;
No wonder, then, that I count
As vulgar now, with reason.
To stay in London, here too!—
This neighbourhood majestic!
Oh! what must it appear to
A nobleman's domestic?
I feel, I can't help stating,
Each morn I feel (it tries me),
His Lordship's lords-in-waiting
Both pity and despise me.
His blinds are drawn sedately;
Mine blazon low disaster;
How desolate, how stately,
That mansion mourns its master!
His Lordship is at Como—
At least so folks are saying;
His Lordship's Major-Domo
Reproaches me for staying.
But, prowling, like a Polar
Bear, up and down the pavement
Last eve, and grinding molar
Teeth over forced enslavement,
A miracle I noted,
A "spook," deserving quires
Of commentaries quoted
By "psychic" Mr. Myers.
Upon his Lordship's hinges
Revolved his Lordship's portal,
Till thence, with stealthy twinges,
Emerged what seemed a mortal;
A lamp was nigh to show him,—
I'd not been quaffing toddy,—
I'm privileged to know him,—
It was—His Lordship's Body.
Now if his Major-Domo
Told truth—and who can doubt him?
His Lordship was at Como,
And number six without him.
His Lordship, I reflected,
Can earthly trammels o'erstep,
And, "astrally projected"
From Como, reach his doorstep.
'Twas very odd—I know that;
But then the "spook"-deriding
Must undertake to show that
His Lordship was in hiding;
That London still detained him—
Him one of Britain's leaders!
And frank avowal pained him.—
Well, you must judge, my readers.
Oh, Amaryllis, in the shade
Of Rotten Row, with ribbons, feather,
And wide-spread brim your hat is made!
Down by the sea, in windy weather,
A sailor hat,
So small and flat,
Is far more natty altogether.
Down by, or on, the waves where swim
The tribes which poets christen "finny,"
This hat might not, with narrow brim,
Become a spinster sear and skinny—
Some say "old cat"—
Nor one too fat,
Nor little brat, small piccaninny.
But, with it fixed upon your hair,
When breezes blow your flapping dresses,
You look, if possible, more fair;
There's one beholder who confesses
He dotes on that
Sweet sailor hat,
When gazing at those sweeter tresses.
After hours of dullard, rasper, ranter,
Sweet an interlude of Balfour's banter!
Joseph's venom, Harcourt's heavy clowning,
Tired us, in a sea of dulness drowning;
When, hillo! here is Prince Arthur chaffing
Mr. G. and all the House is laughing!
Never were such light artistic raillery,
Nothing spiteful, naught played to the gallery;
Finished fun, ad unguem, poignant, polished.
Fled fatigue, and dulness was demolished.
Even the great victim chortled merrily,
That short speech should be "selected," verily,
For the next edition of the Speaker.
No coarse slogger, and no crude nose-tweaker
Is Prince Arthur. Gladstone first is reckoned
At gay chaff, but Balfour's a good second.
Miss Bessy. "Won't you sing something, Captain Belsize?"
Captain Belsize. "Oh! I no longer sing now. Do I, Miss Caroline?"
Miss Caroline. "I'm afraid you do, Captain Belsize!"
["The one certain result of the elections will be to give increased stability to the Republic."—Daily Chronicle.]
Ouf! What a pull! Who said my muscularity
Was dwindling? It is truly Amazonian!
Ma foi! Phraseurs are not all blessed with clarity,
Even when their eloquence is Ciceronian.
How now, Millevoye? How now, mad Déroulède?
And what of the grim prophecies you made?
Both out of it—as prophets and as Strong-Men!
Discredited, disqualified, defeated!
The Ralliés too! Results prove them the wrong men.
How the Gazette de France has blared and bleated!
What lots of foes have I left in the lurch!—
Thanks largely to "the attitude of the Church"!
"Cléricalisme, voilà l'ennemi?" Non!
That phrase, oft-quoted, comes not now so readily.
Perennially beautiful as Ninon,
I've proved my claim to power of pulling steadily;
Just like my rowing lads upon the Seine,
Who've shown big Bull that strength can go with brain.
From Revolution round to firm Stability!!
Upon my word, I think that pull is splendid.
Les dames, long pooh-poohed, now display ability
To do—most things as well as ever men did.
Because I'm gai and witty, fools—of course—
Fancied me destitute of sinewy force.
Ah, Delahaye, Drumont, and Andrieux, verily
You've found the game was hardly worth the—scandal!
My firebrand foes played up that game right merrily;
Against me anything would serve as handle;
Yet, after Wilson, Panama, (and Siam),
They find that if there is an athlete, I am.
Babblers of "British Gold," canard-concocters,
Reactionaries, Ralliés, Rowdies, Royalists—
All who would act as my exclusive doctors—
You find the Voters are the real loyalists,
And, spite of partial failures in the past,
I've pulled this State Machine right round—at last!
On a "False Foe" my venom I may spend,
But what of my "Right Honourable Friend"?
Ask "the ironic fiend." He'll give an answer,
Neatly combining Scorpio with Cancer,
As "Right" I'll prove him ever in the wrong;
As "Honourable," trickiest of the throng;
While as "my friend," well there, I would not swagger,
But Cæsar sharpest found the "friendly" dagger!
M.P.'s gagged? Why, tongues have wagged
Seventy days, or eighty.
Little said on any head
Has been wise or weighty.
Gag's all hum! How shall we sum
Seven long weeks' oration?—
Bartley, Bowles—loquacious souls!—
Hanbury and Russell,
Have kept going, seldom "slowing"
In the talky tussle.
Saunderson went sparring on,
Joe pursued jobation.—
Righteous causes, wicked clauses,
All meant bleats and blethers.
Beaming Bolton had to moult on,
Gone his old Rad feathers.
"Yaller Jaunders" seized on Saunders.
All drew "explanation!"—
Grim MacGregor—dogged beggar!—
Had "ideas"—and told them;
So had bores in tens and scores,
Why should they withhold them?
What result from all this cult
With composure I the Closure
Welcome—our sole saviour
From the gabble of the rabble,
And their bad behaviour.
The Front Benches? Well, one blenches
E'en from their "oration"—
A meeting was recently held in the early dawn to consider "Biographies in General, and the lives of British Celebrities in Particular." The site chosen for the gathering was so indefinite, that it is impossible to give it accurate geographical expression. There was a large number of shades present, and Dr. Samuel Johnson was unanimously voted to the chair.
The President, in thanking those who had done him the favour of thus honouring him, observed that, although he appreciated the compliment that had been bestowed upon him, he could not express any particular esteem for the intelligence of those who had been the cause of his occupying his present position. (Laughter.) He did not understand the reason which had prompted merriment as a fitting recognition of his remarks. If they were satisfied, he was content. He had been called to take the chair, he supposed, because he had nothing to do with his own biography. That had been written by a Scottish gentleman, with whom he had no sympathy.
Mr. Boswell: I hope, Sir, you do not mean what you say.
The President (with great severity): Yes, Sir, I do. I think that the man who would write the life of another without his sanction is unworthy—— (Cries of "Agreed.") The learned Doctor continued. He did not wish to force his sentiments upon any one. No doubt his opinions were considered behind the time. Everything had changed nowadays, and even his Dictionary was, more or less, superseded by an American Lexicon. He called upon the Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte to move the first resolution.
The Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte expressed his satisfaction that he should have been allowed to take the lead in this matter. It reminded him of old times, when he took the lead in everything. ("Hear, hear.") He represented, he supposed, "Biographies in General,"—as he had not much sympathy with British worthies. He wished bygones to be bygones ("Hear, hear"), but he must say that the conduct of Sir Hudson Lowe was—— (Interruption.) Well, he did not wish to press the matter further. ("Hear, hear.") There was no doubt that unless a man wrote his autobiography he was always misrepresented. (Cheers.) It was high time that some control should be put upon the publication of the lives of those who had joined the majority. He had much pleasure in proposing the following resolution: "It is the opinion of this meeting of Shades assembled in council in Elysium that steps should be taken to prevent the dissemination of false information about their prior existences."
Sir Walter Scott said that it gave him great pleasure to second a resolution moved with such admirable discretion by his imperial and heroic friend the last speaker. He had the greater satisfaction in doing this as it might lead to a new and amended edition of his own "Life of Napoleon."
A Shade, who refused to give either his name or address, begged to oppose the motion. In his opinion modern biographies were a great deal better than work of the same kind of an earlier date. ("No, no.") But he said "Yes, yes." It was now quite the fashion to whitewash everyone. He would testify that he recently read a biography of himself without recognising the subject. Since then his self esteem had increased a hundred fold. (Laughter.) He thought it would be a great mistake to interfere. They had much better leave things as they were.
Mr. William Shakspeare (who was received with applause) asked permission to offer a practical suggestion. Although he was a poet, he was also a man of business. (Laughter.) He spoke smarting under a personal grievance. It was common knowledge that only a short while ago the bulk of his works was declared to have been written by Bacon. (Cries of "Shame.") However, it was no use to pass resolutions unless they could carry them into effect. He would therefore move an amendment to the resolution already before them, to the following effect: "That to carry out any arrangement that may be considered necessary, those present pledge themselves to subscribe a crown a piece." He proposed this under the impression that, granted the requisite funds, it would be possible to communicate with the mundane authorities.
Sir Isaac Newton had much pleasure in seconding the amendment. He might add, that it was quite within the resources of science to do all that was required. He would explain in detail how it could be done.
The learned gentleman then began a lecture, with the effect that the meeting rapidly dissolved. After he had been speaking for an hour and a quarter, he discovered that he had no auditors.[pg 106]
Ernest. "I see you are getting on, Foreman."
Foreman. "Yes, Sir; we shall have the Walls plastered to-morrow."
Agatha. "Oh, Ernest, don't let's have Plaster! You never see it now; everybody has Wall-papers, and you can get lovely ones quite Cheap!"
Though you're pent up in town
While you pant for the breeze
Upon moorland and down,
For the whispers of trees,
And the hum of the bees
Winging home to the hive,
Drain your cup to the lees—
Aren't you glad you're alive?
Though you miss the renown
Yonder dolt wins with ease,
And you're mocked by the clown
You've a fancy to squeeze.
Though your blood boil and freeze
When folk say he will wive
With the maid you would please—
Aren't you glad you're alive?
Though with pout, or with frown,
Or in shrillest of keys,
Madam seek a new gown,
And no less will appease,
While your creditors tease,
Or by dozens arrive,
And behave like Pawnees—
Aren't you glad you're alive?
Though your argosies drown
In the deepest of seas,
And you lose your last crown,
Not to say bread and cheese;
Though you cough and you wheeze
Till you barely survive,
At existence don't sneeze—
Aren't you glad you're alive?
O my friends, paying fees,
The physicians still thrive,
For your motto is "spes"—
Aren't you glad you're alive?
["A somewhat mawkish sentimentalism, of which Germany is still the fountain-head in Art, and perhaps also in Letters."—Illustrated London News, in obituary notice of Professor Carl Müller of the Düsseldorf School.]
A fountain-head—of weak and tepid tea,
Æsthetic catlap, "bleat"—infused Bohea!
A strange Pierian Spring for the stark Teuton!
God Phœbus cannot play the German flute on.
Mars-Bismarck, Titan-Wagner, stalwarts these,
Who would not twaddle at "Æsthetic Teas;"
Heracles-Virchow is a valorous slayer,
And Jovian Goethe proves a splendid stayer;
But the mild, mawkish, modern German muse
Olympian nectar will for "slops" refuse.
Submerged in sentimentalism utter,
Asked for Art-bread she proffers—Bread-and-butter!
"Heavy Marching Order" (in August).—"Shirt-sleeves and Sherbet."
House of Commons, Monday, August 21.—Some excellent speaking to-night. Squire Of Malwood in fine form. Opportunity made to his hand. With Joseph, friend and ally of Conservative Ministry that had invented and applied Guillotine Closure, indignantly protesting against the "gag," there was room for obvious remark. Then there was J. C.'s article in monthly magazine of so recent date as 1890, in which, in his forcible manner, he had, with circumstance, demanded application of gag not only to successive stages in important measures, but to Supply.
"Oh that mine enemy would write an article in the Nineteenth Century!" exclaimed George Curzon. "Anyone could make a speech with such opportunity as the Squire has."
"Exactly," said the Member for Sark; "but perhaps they mightn't do it so well."
Another good speech from unexpected quarter was Whitbread's. Whitbread is the Serious Person of the Liberal Party. Whenever Mr. G. gets into difficulties on constitutional questions or points of Parliamentary practice, Whitbread solemnly marches to front, and says nothing particular with imposing air that carries conviction. To-day came out quite in new style; almost epigrammatic, certainly pointed. Quite a model of Parliamentary speech of the old stately, yet flexible style now little known.[pg 107]
Best of all, Prince Arthur. Never heard him to greater advantage. As a former Leader once said, the House of Commons, above all things, likes to be shown sport. Prince Arthur showed the way to-night, crowded House merrily following. It was ticklish ground, for he was chaffing Mr. G. Not a good subject upon which to expend wit or satire. The Prince did it so daintily, with such light, graceful touch, such shining absence of acerbity, such brimming over with contagious good humour, that the cloud vanished from the brow of Jove. Beginning to listen with a frown, Mr. G. presently beamed into a laugh. As for his colleagues on either hand, their merriment was as unrestrained as it was on remoter benches. Only Mundella managed to keep a Ministerial countenance. The play was good, but the theme too sacred to be lightly handled. To him, seated on the left, Mr. G. gratefully turned in earlier stages of the speech and whispered his scathing comment. Mundella behaved nobly. The Solicitor-General, who had his share in the genial roasting, might roar with Homeric laughter. Mundella gravely shook his head in response to Mr. G.'s whispered remarks. Fancy, however, he was grateful when Mr. G. began to laugh and the President of the Board of Trade was free to smile. Speech as useful as it was delightful. Showed to whom it may concern that venerable age may be criticised without discourtesy, and high position attacked without insolence.
Business done.—Settled that Report Stage of Home-Rule Bill shall close on Friday.
Wednesday.—"Mr. Speaker, Sir. One or two ideas occur to me." It was the voice of MacGregor uplifted from back bench, where a retiring disposition (he retired from medical practice some years ago) leads him to take his seat. Moment critical; debate long proceeding on Amendment moved by Napoleon Boltonparty, which had called down on Imperial head a fearsome whack from hand of Mr. G.; House growing impatient for Division; Speaker risen to put question, when The MacGregor interposed. Evidently in for long clinical lecture. Hand partly extended, palm downwards; eyes half closed; head thrown back, and the voice impressively intoned.
"Mr. Speaker, Sir, a few ideas have occurred to me."
The MacGregor got no further; a shout of hilarious laughter broke in upon his reverie. Opened his eyes, and looked hastily round. He, Donald MacGregor, First Prizeman in Chemistry and Surgery; Second Prizeman in Physiology and Midwifery; Licentiate of both the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Surgeons, Edinburgh; practised at Penrith, Cumberland, and in London; formerly Medical Officer and Public Vaccinator for Penrith and district; Resident Physician at the Peebles Hydropathic Institute; Medical Superintendent of the Barnhill Hospital and Asylum, Glasgow—yes, all this, and House of Commons was laughing at him!
"What—what," he gasped, making motion as if he would feel the Speaker's pulse. "I don't understand. I very rarely speak; have said nothing before on this Bill. Now, when something occurs to me hon. members laugh."
House touched by this appeal; generously cheered. Doctor, resuming his oratorical attitude, proceeded.
"I think," he remarked, with hand again outstretched, eyes half closed, and head thrown back as before, "it was Sydney Smith who said, When doctors differ who shall decide."
The Doctor was awakened out of his oratorical trance by another shout of laughter. What on earth was the matter now? Perhaps if he kept his eyes open he would see better where the joke came in. Took the precaution, but had not proceeded more than two minutes before Speaker down on him; after which he thought it best to resume his seat.
"I give it up, Toby," he said; "as Asquith yesterday gave up that conundrum I put to him as to why, if repeated breaches of the vaccination law justify the remission of penalties, the same practice should not apply in case of breaches of the land laws. The House of Commons for pleasure, I suppose; but for "ordinary" sanity give me Peebles and its Hydropathic Institute."
Business done.—Report Stage of Home-Rule Bill.
Thursday.—"Been up to see Fulham," said Member for Sark, hurrying in just in time to miss Division. "The place fascinates me. No lions there, and no necessity for getting up a lamp-post; so would not interest Grandolph. But Hayes Fisher is Member for Fulham, and he, you know, is the man who discovered, after (as he said) he had taken Logan by the scruff of the neck and 'so begun the scrimmage,' that Mr. G. was more criminally responsible for what followed 'even than Logan.' That is delightful. Fulham not to be outdone by its Member. Last night indignation meeting held in Town Hall to protest against conduct of Hayes Fisher and 'proceedings in House of Commons on Thursday, July 27.' Hall crowded; indignation seething; gentlemen of Fulham could hardly contain themselves in contemplation of iniquity of a man who, differing from another on matter of opinion, took him by the coat-collar and shook him. Meeting summoned at instance of Fulham Liberal and Radical Association. Seemed at first that all in room were good Radicals. As evening advanced, presence of one or two gentlemen of another way of thinking manifested. One called out. 'Three cheers for Fisher!' and what, my Toby, did these men of Fulham do—these gentlemen met in solemn conclave with avowed object of denouncing physical outrage and clearing fair name of Fulham from slur brought upon it by athletic proceedings of Hayes Fisher? Why, they up and at the Fisherites, with the result, as I read in the papers, 'that a struggle ensued, one man being seized and violently hustled from the Hall.' After this the meeting settled down, and unanimously passed a resolution expressing its condemnation of 'the disorderly and disgraceful scene in the House of Commons on Thursday, July 27.' Don't know how it strikes you. But to me that is most delightful incident in the day's news. Felt constrained to make pilgrimage to Fulham, to see a place where Member and Constituency are so rarely matched. Don't suppose I've missed much here?"
No, nothing; just filling up time; waiting for to-morrow night, and Closure to come.
Friday midnight.—Report Stage Home-Rule Bill just agreed to; a dull evening till the last quarter of an hour, when Tim Healy took the floor and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Everyone concerned, more especially those concerned in prolonging debate, glad it's over. Donald Crawford so excited at prospect of approaching holidays that on first Division he got into wrong Lobby; voted against one of John Morley's new Clauses, reducing Ministerial majority to 36. On two subsequent Divisions was carefully watched into right Lobby, and majority maintained at 38.
Business done.—Report Stage Home-Rule Bill passed.
Great Fall in Government Securities.—The dropping of the Guillotine.