IN PROSE AND VERSE.
SELECTED AND EDITED
"MODERN READINGS AND RECITATIONS,"
"NEW READINGS FROM AMERICAN AUTHORS," ETC.
London and New York:
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.
BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO., PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.
In introducing to the public a Third Series of "Popular Readings," I
consider it merely necessary to state that the courtesy of authors and
publishers has enabled me to bring together a choice selection of
humorous pieces which have acquired a large share of popularity, in
addition to a number of others that may justly be regarded as novelties.
Concerning the former, I have so often had occasion to answer inquiries
respecting particular pieces for recitation, that it occurred to me the
handy collection of those most generally sought after, but hitherto
scattered through various publications, would be welcomed by many; and I
took steps accordingly. How far I have succeeded in my purpose a glance
at the Contents-list will show. For the fresh matter admitted to these
pages, I sincerely trust that from among so many new candidates for
popularity, at least one or two of them may be elected to represent the
Penny Reading Constituents of each respective Borough for some time to
Once more I beg to express my indebtedness and thanks to those authors
and publishers who have so generously placed their copyright pieces at
| || |
|Accompanied on the Flute||F. Anstey|
|The Troubles of a Triplet||W. Beatty-Kingston|
|Slightly Deaf||Bracebridge Hemming|
|The Lady Freemason||H. T. Craven|
|What Happened Last Night!||F. B. Harrison|
|The Fatal Legs||Walter Browne|
|The Caliph's Jester||From the Arabic|
|A Journey in Search of Nothing||Wilkie Collins|
|Gemini and Virgo||C. S. Calverley|
|King Bibbs||James Albery|
|The Harmonious Lobsters||Robert Reece|
|The Provincial Landlady||H. Chance Newton|
|My Matrimonial Predicament||Leopold Wagner|
|Etiquette||W. S. Gilbert|
|A Lost Shepherd||Frank Barrett|
|A Mathematic Madness||F. P. Dempster|
|Waiting at Tottlepot||J. Ashby-Sterry|
|Married to a Giantess||Walter Parke|
|The Vision of the Alderman||Henry S. Leigh|
|The Demon Snuffers||Geo. Manville Fenn|
|The Walrus and the Carpenter||Lewis Carroll|
|My Brother Henry||J. M. Barrie|
|A Night with a Stork||W. E. Wilcox|
|The Faithful Lovers||F. C. Burnand|
|The Wail of a Banner-Bearer||Arthur Matthison|
|The Dream of the Bilious Beadle||Arthur Shirley|
|My Friend Treacle||Watkin-Elliott|
|The Voice of the Sluggard||Anonymous|
|Artemus Ward's Visit to the Tower of London||Chas. Farrar Browne|
|Mr. Caudle has lent an Acquaintance the Family Umbrella||Douglas Jerrold|
|Domestic Asides||Tom Hood|
|The Charity Dinner||Litchfield Moseley|
|Acting with a Vengeance||W. Sapte, Jun.|
|My Fortnight at Wretchedville||George Augustus Sala|
|The Sorrows of Werther||W. M. Thackeray|
|Billy Dumps, the Tailor||Charles Clark|
|On Punning||Theodore Hook|
|Seaside Lodgings||Percy Reeve|
ACCOMPANIED ON THE FLUTE.
The Consul Duilius was entertaining Rome in triumph after his celebrated
defeat of the Carthaginian fleet at Mylæ. He had won a great naval
victory for his country with the first fleet that it had ever
possessed—which was naturally a gratifying reflection, and he would
have been perfectly happy now if he had only been a little more
But he was standing in an extremely rickety chariot, which was crammed
with his nearer relations, and a few old friends, to whom he had been
obliged to send tickets. At his back stood a slave, who held a heavy
Etruscan crown on the Consul's head, and whenever he thought his master
was growing conceited, threw in the reminder that he was only a man
after all—a liberty which at any other time he might have had good
reason to regret.
Then the large Delphic wreath, which Duilius wore as well as the crown,
had slipped down over one eye, and was tickling his nose, while (as both
his hands were occupied, one with a sceptre the other with a laurel
bough, and he had to hold on tightly to the rail of the chariot whenever
it jolted) there was nothing to do but suffer in silence.
They had insisted, too, upon painting him a beautiful bright red all
over, and though it made him look quite new, and very shining and
splendid, he had his doubts at times whether it was altogether becoming,
and particularly whether he would ever be able to get it off again.
But these were but trifles after all, and nothing compared with the
honour and glory of it! Was not everybody straining to get a glimpse of
him? Did not even the spotted and skittish horses which drew the
chariot repeatedly turn round to gaze upon his vermilioned features? As
Duilius remarked this he felt that he was, indeed, the central personage
in all this magnificence, and that, on the whole, he liked it.
He could see the beaks of the ships he had captured bobbing
up and down in the middle distance; he could see the white
bulls destined for sacrifice entering completely into the spirit of
the thing, and redeeming the procession from any monotony by
occasionally bolting down a back street, or tossing on their
gilded horns some of the flamens who were walking solemnly in
front of them.
He could hear, too, above five distinct brass bands, the
remarks of his friends as they predicted rain, or expressed a
pained surprise at the smallness of the crowd and the absence of
any genuine enthusiasm; and he caught the general purport of
the very offensive ribaldry circulated at his own expense among
the brave legions that brought up the rear.
This was merely the usual course of things on such occasions,
and a great compliment when properly understood, and Duilius
felt it to be so. In spite of his friends, the red paint, and the
familiar slave, in spite of the extreme heat of the weather and
his itching nose, he told himself that this, and this alone, was
worth living for.
And it was a painful reflection to him that, after all, it would
only last a day; he could not go on triumphing like this for the
remainder of his natural life—he would not be able to afford it
on his moderate income; and yet—and yet—existence would
fall woefully flat after so much excitement.
It may be supposed that Duilius was naturally fond of ostentation
and notoriety, but this was far from being the case; on
the contrary, at ordinary times his disposition was retiring and
almost shy, but his sudden success had worked a temporary change
in him, and in the very flush of triumph he found himself sighing
to think, that in all human probability, he would never go
about with trumpeters and trophies, with flute-players and
white oxen, any more in his whole life.
And then he reached the Porta Triumphalis, where the chief
magistrates and the Senate awaited them, all seated upon spirited
Roman-nosed chargers, which showed a lively emotion at the
approach of the procession, and caused most of their riders to
dismount with as much affectation of method and design as their
dignity enjoined and the nature of the occasion permitted.
There Duilius was presented with the freedom of the city and
an address, which last he put in his pocket, as he explained, to
read at home.
And then an Ædile informed him in a speech, during which he twice lost
his notes, and had to be prompted by a lictor, that the grateful
Republic, taking into consideration the Consul's distinguished services,
had resolved to disregard expense, and on that auspicious day to give
him whatever reward he might choose to demand—"in reason," the Ædile
added cautiously, as he quitted his saddle with an unexpectedness which
scarcely seemed intentional.
Duilius was naturally a little overwhelmed by such liberality, and, like
every one else favoured suddenly with such an opportunity, was quite
incapable of taking complete advantage of it.
For a time he really could not remember in his confusion anything he
would care for at all, and he thought it might look mean to ask for
At last he recalled his yearning for a Perpetual Triumph, but his
natural modesty made him moderate, and he could not find courage to ask
for more than a fraction of the glory that now attended him.
So, not without some hesitation, he replied that they were
exceedingly kind, and since they left it entirely to his discretion,
he would like—if they had no objection—he would like a flute-player
to attend him whenever he went out.
Duilius very nearly asked for a white bull as well; but, on
second thoughts, he felt it might lead to inconvenience, and
there were many difficulties connected with the proper management
of such an animal. The Consul, from what he had seen
that day, felt that it would be imprudent to trust himself in
front of the bull, while, if he walked behind, he might be mistaken
for a cattle-driver, which would be odious. And so he gave
up that idea, and contented himself with a simple flute-player.
The Senate, visibly relieved by so unassuming a request,
granted it with positive effusion; Duilius was invited to select
his musician, and chose the biggest, after which the procession
moved on through the arch and up the Capitoline Hill, while
the Consul had time to remember things he would have liked
even better than a flute-player, and to suspect dimly that he
might have made rather an ass of himself.
That night Duilius was entertained at a supper given at the public
expense; he went out with the proud resolve to show his sense of the
compliment paid him by scaling the giddiest heights of intoxication. The
Romans of that day only drank wine and water at their festivals, but it
is astonishing how inebriated a person of powerful will can become, even
on wine and water, if he only gives his mind to it. And Duilius, being a
man of remarkable determination, returned from that hospitable board
particularly drunk; the flute-player saw him home, however, helped him
to bed, though he could not induce him to take off his sandals, and
lulled him to a heavy slumber by a selection from the popular airs of
So that the Consul, although he awoke late next day with a bad headache
and a perception of the vanity of most things, still found reason to
congratulate himself upon his forethought in securing so invaluable an
attendant, and planned, rather hopefully, sundry little ways of making
him useful about the house.
As the subsequent history of this great naval commander is examined with
the impartiality that becomes the historian, it is impossible to be
blind to the melancholy fact that in the first flush of his elation
Duilius behaved with an utter want of tact and taste that must have gone
far to undermine his popularity, and proved a source of much
gratification to his friends.
He would use that flute-player everywhere—he overdid the thing
altogether: for example, he used to go out to pay formal calls, and
leave the flute-player in the hall tootling to such an extent that at
last his acquaintances were forced in self-defence to deny themselves to
When he attended worship at the temples, too, he would bring the
flute-player with him, on the flimsy pretext that he could assist the
choir during service; and it was the same at the theatres, where
Duilius—such was his arrogance—actually would not take a box unless
the manager admitted the flute-player to the orchestra and guaranteed
him at least one solo between the acts.
And it was the Consul's constant habit to strut about the Forum with his
musician executing marches behind him, until the spectacle became so
utterly ridiculous that even the Romans of that age, who were as free
from the slightest taint of humour as a self-respecting nation can
possibly be, began to notice something peculiar.
But the day of retribution dawned at last. Duilius worked the flute so
incessantly that the musician's stock of airs was very soon exhausted,
and then he was naturally obliged to blow them through once more.
The excellent Consul had not a fine ear, but even he began to hail the
fiftieth repetition of "Pugnare nolumus," for instance—the great
national peace anthem of the period—with the feeling that he had heard
the same tune at least twice before, and preferred something slightly
fresher, while others had taken a much shorter time in arriving at the
The elder Duilius, the Consul's father, was perhaps the most annoyed by
it; he was a nice old man in his way—the glass and china way—but he
was a typical old Roman, with a manly contempt for pomp, vanity, music,
and the fine arts generally, so that his son's flute-player, performing
all day in the courtyard, drove the old gentleman nearly mad, until he
would rush to the windows and hurl the lighter articles of furniture at
the head of the persistent musician, who, however, after dodging them
with dexterity, affected to treat them as a recognition of his efforts
and carried them away gratefully to sell.
Duilius senior would have smashed the flute, only it was never laid
aside for a single instant, even at meals; he would have made the
player drunk and incapable, but he was a member of the Manus Spei, and
he would with cheerfulness have given him a heavy bribe to go away, if
the honest fellow had not proved absolutely incorruptible.
So he would only sit down and swear, and then relieve his feelings by
giving his son a severe thrashing, with threats to sell him for whatever
he might fetch; for, in the curious conditions of ancient Roman society,
a father possessed both these rights, however his offspring might have
distinguished himself in public life.
Naturally, Duilius did not like the idea of being put up to auction, and
he began to feel that it was slightly undignified for a Roman general
who had won a naval victory and been awarded a first-class Triumph to be
undergoing corporeal punishment daily at the hands of an unflinching
parent, and accordingly he determined to go and expostulate with his
He was beginning to find him a nuisance himself, for all his old shy
reserve and unwillingness to attract attention had returned to him; he
was fond of solitude, and yet he could never be alone; he was weary of
doing everything to slow music, like the bold, bad man in a melodrama.
He could not even go across the street to purchase a postage-stamp
without the flute-player coming stalking out after him, playing away
like a public fountain; while, owing to the well-known susceptibility of
a rabble to the charm of music, the disgusted Consul had to take his
walks abroad at the head of Rome's choicest scum.
Duilius, with a lively recollection of these inconveniences,
would have spoken very seriously indeed to his musician, but
he shrank from hurting his feelings by plain truth. He simply
explained that he had not intended the other to accompany him
always, but only on special occasions; and, while professing the
sincerest admiration for his musical proficiency, he felt, as he
said, unwilling to monopolise it, and unable to enjoy it at the
expense of a fellow-creature's rest and comfort.
Perhaps he put the thing a little too delicately to secure the
object he had in view, for the musician, although he was deeply
touched by such unwonted consideration, waved it aside with a
graceful fervour which was quite irresistible.
He assured the Consul that he was only too happy to have
been selected to render his humble tribute to the naval genius
of so great a commander; he would not admit that his own rest
and comfort were in the least affected by his exertions, for,
being naturally fond of the flute, he could, he protested, perform
upon it continuously for whole days without fatigue. And he
concluded by pointing out very respectfully that for the Consul
to dispense, even to a small extent, with an honour decreed (at
his own particular request) by the Republic, would have the
appearance of ingratitude, and expose him to the gravest suspicions.
After which he rendered the ancient love-chant,
"Ludus idem, ludus vetus," with singular sweetness and
Duilius felt the force of his arguments. Republics are proverbially
forgetful, and he was aware that it might not be safe
even for him, to risk offending the Senate.
So he had nothing to do but just go on, and be followed about
by the flute-player, and castigated by his parent in the old
familiar way, until he had very little self-respect left.
At last he found a distraction in his care-laden existence—he
fell deeply in love. But even here a musical Nemesis attended
him, to his infinite embarrassment, in the person of his devoted
follower. Sometimes Duilius would manage to elude him, and
slip out unseen to some sylvan retreat, where he had reason to
hope for a meeting with the object of his adoration. He
generally found that in this expectation he had not deceived
himself; but, always, just as he had found courage to speak of
the passion that consumed him, a faint tune would strike his
ear from afar, and, turning his head in a fury, he would see his
faithful flute-player striding over the fields in pursuit of him
with unquenchable ardour.
He gave in at last, and submitted to the necessity of speaking
all his tender speeches "through music." Claudia did not seem
to mind it, perhaps finding an additional romance in being
wooed thus; and Duilius himself, who was not eloquent, found
that the flute came in very well at awkward pauses in the
Then they were married, and, as Claudia played very nicely
herself upon the tibiæ, she got up musical evenings, when she
played duets with the flute-player, which Duilius, if he had
only had a little more taste for music, might have enjoyed
As it was, beginning to observe for the first time that the musician was
far from uncomely, he forbade the duets. Claudia wept and sulked, and
Claudia's mother said that Duilius was behaving like a brute, and she
was not to mind him; but the harmony of their domestic life was broken,
until the poor Consul was driven to take long country walks in sheer
despair, not because he was fond of walking, for he hated it, but simply
to keep the flute-player out of mischief.
He was now debarred from all other society, for his old friends had long
since cut him dead whenever he chanced to meet them. "How could he
expect people to stop and talk," they asked indignantly, "when there was
that confounded fellow blowing tunes down the backs of their necks all
Duilius had had enough of it himself, and felt this so strongly that one
day he took his flute-player a long walk through a lonely wood, and,
choosing a moment when his companion had played "Id omnes faciunt" till
he was somewhat out of breath, he turned on him suddenly. When he left
the lonely wood he was alone, and near it something which looked as if
it might once have been a musician.
The Consul went home, and sat there waiting for the deed to become
generally known. He waited with a certain uneasiness, because it was
impossible to tell how the Senate might take the thing, or the means by
which their vengeance would declare itself.
And yet his uneasiness was counterbalanced by a delicious relief: the
State might disgrace, banish, put him to death even, but he had got rid
of slow music for ever; and as he thought of this, the stately Duilius
would snap his fingers and dance with secret delight.
All disposition to dance, however, was forgotten upon the arrival of
lictors bearing an official missive. He looked at it for a long time
before he dared to break the big seal, and cut the cord which bound the
tablets which might contain his doom.
He did it at last; and smiled with relief as he began to read: for the
decree was courteously, if not affectionately, worded. The Senate,
considering (or affecting to consider) the disappearance of the
flute-player a mere accident, expressed their formal regret at the
failure of the provision made in his honour.
Then, as he read on, Duilius dashed the tablets into small fragments,
and rolled on the ground, and tore his hair, and howled; for the
senatorial decree concluded by a declaration that, in consideration of
his brilliant exploits, the State hereby placed at his disposal two more
flute-players, who, it was confidently hoped, would survive the wear and
tear of their ministrations longer than the first.
Duilius retired to his room and made his will, taking care to have it
properly signed and attested. Then he fastened himself in; and when they
broke down the door next day they found a lifeless corpse, with a
strange sickly smile upon its pale lips.
No one in Rome quite made out the reason of this smile, but it was
generally thought to denote the gratification of the deceased at the
idea of leaving his beloved ones in comfort, if not in luxury; for,
though the bulk of his fortune was left to Carthaginian charities, he
had had the forethought to bequeath a flute-player apiece to his wife
(From "The Black Poodle," by permission
of Messrs. Longmans, Green, & Co.)
THE TROUBLES OF A TRIPLET.
I am, I really think, the most unlucky man on earth;
A triple sorrow haunts me, and has done so from my birth.
My lot in life's a gloomy one, I think you will agree;
'Tis bad enough to be a twin—but I am one of three!
No sooner were we born than Pa and Ma the bounty claimed;
I scarce can bear to think they did—it makes me feel ashamed,
They got it, too, within a week, and spent it, I'll be bound,
Upon themselves—at least, I know I never had my pound.
Our childhood's days in ignorance were lamentably spent,
Although I think we more than paid the taxes, and the rent;
For we were shown as marvels, and—unless I'm much deceived—
The smallest contributions were most thankfully received.
We grew up hale and hearty—would we never had been born!—
As like to one another as three peas, or ears of corn.
Between my brothers Ichabod, Abimelech and me
No difference existed which the human eye could see.
This likeness was the cause of dreadful suffering and pain
To me in early life—it nearly broke my heart in twain;
For while my conduct as a youth was fervently admired,
That of my fellow-triplets left a deal to be desired.
I was amiable, and pious, too—good deeds were my delight,
I practised all the virtues—some by day and some by night;
Whilst Ichabod imbrued himself in crime, and, sad to say,
Abimelech, when quite a lad, would rather swear than pray.
Think of my horror and dismay when, in the Park at noon,
An obvious burglar greeted me with, "Hullo, Ike, old coon!"
He vanished. Suddenly my wrists were gripped by Policeman X——,
"Young man, you are my prisoner on a charge of forgin' cheques."
He ran me in, and locked me up, to moulder in a cell,
The reason why he used me thus, alas! I know too well.
He took me for Abimelech, my erring brother dear,
Who was "wanted" by the Bank of which he'd been the chief cashier.
Next morn the magistrate remarked, "This is a sad mistake,
Though natural enough, I much regret it for your sake;
But if you will permit me to advise you, I should say
Leave England for some other country, very far away.
"For if you go on living in this happy sea-girt isle,
Although your conduct (like my own) be pure and free from guile,
Your likeness to those sinful men, your brothers twain, will lead,
I fear, to very serious inconveniences indeed."
I took the hint, and sailed next day for distant Owhyhee,—
As might have been expected, I was cast away at sea.
A Pirate Lugger picked me up, and—dreadful to relate—
Abimelech her captain was, and Ichabod her mate.
I loved them and they tempted me. To join them I agreed,
Forsook the path of virtue, and did many a ghastly deed.
For seven years I wallowed in my fellow-creatures' gore,
And then gave up the business, to settle down on shore.
My brothers on retiring from the buccaneering trade,
In which, I'm bound to say, colossal fortunes they had made,
Renounced their wicked courses, married young and lovely wives,
Went to church three times on Sundays, and led sanctimonious lives.
As for me,—I somehow drifted into vileness past belief,
Earned unsavoury distinction as a drunkard and a thief;
E'en in crime, ill-luck pursued me: I became extremely poor,
And was finally compelled to beg my bread from door to door.
I'm deep down in the social scale, no lower can I sink;
Upon the whole, experience induces me to think
That virtue is not lucrative, and honesty's all fudge,—
For Ichabod's a Bishop—and Abimelech's a Judge!
by permission of the Proprietors.)
Mr. Loyd was a retired shopkeeper residing at The Lodge,
Norwood. He had amassed a fortune of thirty thousand
pounds in the grocery business, principally by sanding his sugar
and flouring his mustard, and other little tricks of the trade.
Yet he went to church every Sunday with a clear conscience.
At the time I introduce him to you he was a widower with one
son, Joseph, aged eighteen.
Joseph was a shy, putty-faced youth, who had the misfortune
to be deaf. "Slightly deaf," his father called him, but he grew
worse instead of better, and threatened to become as deaf as a
post or a beetle in time. Of course his infirmity stood in the
way of his getting employment, for he was always making
mistakes of a ludicrous and sometimes aggravating nature.
Add to this that Joseph was very lean and his father very fat,
and you will understand why people called them "Feast and
Famine," or "Substance and Shadow."
One morning after breakfast, Mr. Loyd, who had been
looking over some paid bills, exclaimed, "Joe."
Joseph was reading the paper, and made no answer.
"Joe," thundered his father.
This time the glasses on the sideboard rang, and Joseph got
up, walked to the window and looked out.
"What are you doing?" shouted Mr. Loyd.
"I thought I heard the wind blow," replied Joseph.
"Well! I like that; it was I calling."
Joseph invariably grew very angry if he did not hear anybody,
for he was ashamed of his deafness; but he often fell into
a brown study and was as deaf as an adder.
Besides this he was more deaf on one side than on the other,
as is often the case, and he happened to have his very bad ear
turned to his father.
"Why don't you speak out?" said he.
"I did," replied Mr. Loyd.
"You always mumble."
"I halloaed loud enough to wake the dead."
"You know I'm slightly deaf."
"Slightly! You'll have to buy an ear-trumpet."
"Trumpet be blowed," answered Joseph.
"Here, put these bills on the file," exclaimed Mr. Loyd,
pointing to the bundle.
Joseph advanced to the table, took up the bills, and deliberately
threw them into the fire, where they were soon blazing merrily.
Mr. Loyd uttered a cry of dismay, sprang up and ran to the
grate, but he was too late to save them.
"You double-barrelled idiot!" he cried.
"What's the fuss now?" asked Joseph calmly.
He always was as cool as a cucumber, no matter what he did.
"You'll never be worth your salt."
"What's my fault?"
"I said salt."
"Keep quiet and I'll get you some."
"No!" roared Mr. Loyd.
"What did you say so for then? It seems to me you don't
know your own mind two minutes together."
Mr. Loyd stamped his foot with impatience on the carpet.
"Oh dear! what a trial you are," he exclaimed. "They
are receipted bills, and I told you to put them on the file.
F. I. L. E. Do you hear that?"
"I hear it now," responded Joe. "It's a pity you won't speak up."
"So I do."
"They'll never call you leather-lungs."
"Oh Joe, Joe! you'll be the death of me. You're a duffer,
and it is no use saying you're not. I was going to tell you I'd
got a berth for you, but I'm afraid you could not keep it."
"What is it?"
"Clerk in the office of my old friend, Mr. Maybrick, the
"Eh!" said Joseph. "What's a mockstoker?"
"A stockbroker," shouted Mr. Loyd.
"Why didn't you say so at first. Do you think I don't
know what that is? I'm not quite such a fool as that comes to."
"You'd aggravate a saint, Joe."
"Paint your toe! Have you gone mad?"
"Great heavens! I shall hit you; get out," shrieked his father.
"Got the gout. Oh! that's another thing. I thought you'd
have it. You drink too much port after dinner."
"I say, Joe," cried Mr. Loyd, "are you doing this on
purpose? You don't understand a word I say; in fact, you
"If that is so I can't help it."
"You're getting worse."
"Don't do that," replied Joe gravely.
"Don't curse me. If I am deaf, that is to say slightly deaf,
it is my misfortune, not my fault; you ought to make allowance
for me, and speak louder."
"Do you want me to be a foghorn, or a river steam tug?"
"Or a cavalry man's trumpet, or a bellowing bull?"
"Or," continued Mr. Loyd with rising temper, "a spouting
whale, an Old Bailey barrister, a town-crier, a grampus, a
locomotive blowing off steam, an Australian bell-bird, or a
"I'm sure I never laugh, so you needn't fling that at me."
"I wish you were dumb as well as deaf," groaned Mr. Loyd.
"Because I might then get you into the asylum."
"File 'em," muttered Joseph. "He's still thinking of the bills."
"Confound him," muttered his father. "He's worse than a
county court judgment. I don't know what to do with him."
To soothe his nerves he lighted a cigar, and looking in the fire
puffed away at the weed, while Joe again took up the paper and
went on reading.
Then Mr. Loyd said, "You know you're getting worse, but
you're so obstinate you won't admit it, and it's six to four
you'll not yield."
Joseph looked up with irritating calmness.
"No, thanks," he exclaimed.
"What do you mean?"
"I never bet."
"Who talked about betting?" yelled his father.
"You offered six to four on the field, and——"
"I didn't. Yah!"
"Never mind; I sha'n't take you," replied Joseph.
Mr. Loyd got up and did a war dance.
"Who asked you to?"
"You did. It only wants six weeks to the Derby, and——"
Mr. Loyd lost all control over himself for the moment. He
took up the coal-scuttle and threw it at his son, which was a very
reprehensible thing to do; but it did not hurt Joseph, for that
intelligent youth saw it coming, and ducking his head, it went
with a crash through the window into the street.
"That's a clever thing to do," said Joseph, without so much
as winking. "You need not get mad because I won't bet."
His father shook his fist at him.
"You'll be my death," he replied, sinking into a chair with a
"I can't help it if I am deaf," rejoined the imperturbable
"You're sharper than a serpent's tooth."
"It wasn't very sharp of you to break the window."
"Go to Putney!"
"Where am I to get putty?" said Joseph. "Send for a
"Bless us and save us!" groaned Mr. Loyd.
"There isn't much saving in having a broken window to
catch cold by."
Mr. Loyd rushed into the hall, and taking down his hat and
coat from the rack, put them on.
"Come up to town at once," he exclaimed; "we'll go and see
"What's the good of a hayrick?" asked Joseph simply.
"You can't stop a hole in a window with a hayrick."
"I said Maybrick, the broker," roared Mr. Loyd, putting his
hands to his mouth.
"I do wish you'd speak out."
"Get a trumpet. Yah!"
"Trump it! we're not playing whist."
"Oh dear!" sighed Mr. Loyd. "He must be apprenticed
to Maybrick. I'll pay a premium if it's a hundred pounds. I'm
not a hog, and don't want to enjoy this all by myself. I'll
share it with another. It's too much for one to struggle with.
I can't undertake the worry single-handed, it's too much."
He had to go close up to Joseph and bawl in his ear to make
him understand what he wanted, for he had never found his
son's deafness so bad as it was that day.
Joseph was quite willing to go, and quitting the house, they
took the train and went to town together.
It was yet early in the day, and they reached the broker's
office about twelve, finding him in and at leisure. During the
journey, Mr. Loyd had impressed upon Joseph the necessity of
keeping his ears open as well as he could, for if he made any
mistakes he would soon get "chucked," as they say in the City,
and Joe promised to be as wideawake as his infirmity would
How wideawake this was, we shall see.
Mr. Maybrick had done business with Mr. Loyd for many
years, and received him in his private office with all the cordiality
of an old friend.
"Brought my boy to introduce to you," exclaimed the retired
"Very glad to know the young gentleman," replied Mr.
Maybrick; "take a chair. Have a cigar. Quite a chip of the
old block, I see; what's his name?"
"Joseph. Joe for short."
"Very good; now what can I do for you, are you going to
"Markets are very firm."
"I didn't come for that purpose, Maybrick; I want to get the
youngster into your office."
"Oh! yes," answered the broker, "I forgot; you spoke
about it a little while ago."
"Last time I was up, when I bought those 'Russians'!"
"Against my advice, and burnt your fingers over them."
"Well, I'll take him. One hundred pounds premium, no salary first year,
then seventy pounds and an annual rise according to ability."
"That will do."
"I hope he's smart."
"Smart as a steel trap, though sometimes he's a little absent-minded;
and you've got to speak loudly, maybe more than once, but that's only
now and again. I'll write you a cheque and leave him here, so that he
will know the ropes."
"Very well, I daresay we shall get on. I've ten clerks, and I've only
changed once in ten years."
"That speaks well for you."
"I read character, and I'm kind," said Mr. Maybrick. "Sit at my table,
you'll find pen and ink."
While Mr. Loyd was getting out his cheque-book and writing the draft,
Mr. Maybrick turned his attention to his new clerk.
"Have you ever been out before?" he queried.
"Go out of the door?" replied Joe. "Yes sir, if you want to say anything
of a private nature, I'll go with pleasure."
"No! no! do you understand work?"
"I beg your pardon, I sha'n't shirk anything."
"Bless me!" cried the broker, "I mean do you know business?"
"No business," answered Joseph, with a solemn shake of the head; "I am
sorry for that; times are dull though, all round."
"I've got plenty, you mistake me, don't run away with that idea, you
won't find this an easy place."
"Got a greasy face, have I?" responded Joseph. "It's not very polite of
you to tell me that."
"What the——" began Mr. Maybrick, when Joe's father handed him the
"There's the needful," exclaimed Mr. Loyd.
"Thanks," replied the broker, adding, "I say, old friend isn't Master
Joseph a little hard of hearing?"
"Oh! ah! not that exactly."
"He's got a cold in his head."
"Is that all?"
"Yes, he got his feet wet," said Mr. Loyd confidentially,
"and I had to bawl at him this morning."
"I thought he was, ahem! a little deaf."
"Bless you no, raise your voice, that's all you've got to do."
"Ah! I see. It's bad to be like that," answered Mr. Maybrick,
whose doubts were removed. "The weather's been so
bad, everyone has had cold more or less."
Telling the intelligent Joseph that he should expect him home
to dinner at seven, Mr. Loyd took leave of the broker, who gave
his new clerk some accounts to enter in a book, saying that
he might sit in his office for the remainder of that day and
he would find him desk-room on the morrow, after which he
hurried away to see what was going on in the general room.
Joseph hung up his hat and coat, and set to work. He certainly
meant to do his best. They say a certain place, which
the Hebrews call Sheol, is paved with good intentions; anyhow
the fates were against him. Never before had his deafness been
so bad. It seemed to have swooped down upon and swamped
him all at once.
Scarcely had he begun his work than he was startled by the
ringing of a bell.
It was just over his head and proceeded from the telephone.
Now Joseph knew just as much about a telephone as he did
about the phonograph or the dot-and-dash system of telegraphy.
He sprang from his chair, turned ghastly pale, and fancied
it was an alarm of fire.
What should he do?
For fully a minute he stood gazing vacantly at the box and
Then it rang again.
Joseph jumped half-a-foot in the air.
Then he rushed into the general room, where he found Mr.
Maybrick talking to a client.
"Please sir, can I disturb you for a moment?" he said.
"I'm very particularly engaged, Loyd," replied the broker.
"Excuse me, but——"
"What is it?"
"There's a bell ringing."
"Oh! the telephone. I forgot to tell you to attend to it."
"It's rung twice."
"Then somebody is in a hurry. Answer and come and tell
me what it is."
"How do you do it, sir?"
"Speak through the instrument, ask who it is, and what he
wants, and put the tube to your ear."
The fright had somewhat stimulated Joseph's powers of hearing,
for he caught these instructions and hastened back to the
inner office. After a little experimenting he put himself in
communication, and the following colloquy ensued.
"Who is it?" asked Joe.
"Oliphant," was the reply.
"Elephant," mused Joe. "That's funny."
But he went at it again.
"What do you want?"
"By one o'clock, sell 10,000 Mex. Rails."
Joe heard this order imperfectly.
"Buy 10,000 ox-tails," he said to himself. "This is a queer business."
Yet he was not discouraged.
Joe had not come into the City for nothing. He meant to do
his duty or perish in the attempt.
"Right," he answered. "Is that all?"
"Yes. I'll call after lunch for the contract note."
"Very well, sir."
Having received his instructions, Joe, very proud of his success
in manipulating such a peculiar instrument as the telephone,
sought his employer.
"Well, Loyd," exclaimed that gentleman.
"It's all right, sir," replied Joe.
"The elephant wants you to buy him 10,000 ox-tails."
Mr. Maybrick elevated his eyebrows.
"Who did you say?" he demanded in a loud voice.
"Mr. Oliphant, I suppose you mean."
"Ah! it might have been Oliphant, or Boliphant, it was
something like that."
"Ox-tails. Why not Mex. Rails.? Mexican Railways, you
"Humph," said Joe, "very likely."
"Are you sure he said 'buy?'"
"Oh! yes, sir, that was distinct enough, and he said he'd
come after lunch for the distracting note."
"It may be that. The gentleman did not speak very
"Oliphant has a low voice," said Mr. Maybrick, thoughtfully,
"but he's one of my best customers. Perhaps he's heard something;
he must have got some information. I'll have a bit in
this myself. Oliphant is a very shrewd and careful speculator.
That will do, Loyd."
Joseph departed, highly delighted.
"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Mr. Maybrick when Joe had gone,
"my new clerk is an odd one; 'Buy 10,000 ox-tails for the
elephant,' that's good. I must tell that story in the House."
He beckoned to his manager, who was a man named Mappin,
and told him to buy the required quantity of Mexican railway
"Market's very weak, sir. It's fallen to-day one half already
in anticipation of a bad dividend," replied Mappin.
"Can't help that."
Mappin went away to execute the order.
An hour elapsed, and a special edition of an evening paper
was brought into the office.
It contained a telegram from Mexico, stating that there had
not been one revolution, and two earthquakes in that country
before breakfast, as usual, that morning. The railway dividend
was remarkably good, and Mexican Preference Stock went up
five per cent., at which price the broker took upon himself to
close the account, thinking his client would be well satisfied with
"Clever fellow, Oliphant," muttered Mr. Maybrick; "up to
every move on the board. Deuced clever!"
At that moment Mr. Oliphant, who was a stout, red-faced
man, inclined to apoplexy, rushed into the office.
He was agitated, and looked as if he was going to have a fit.
"Close the account," he gasped.
"I have done so," was the reply.
"A rise of five per cent."
"It will ruin me," groaned Oliphant.
"How? you telephoned me to buy."
"I said 'sell.'"
"Then my clerk made a mistake," exclaimed Maybrick; "but
it's a lucky mistake for both you and I, for I followed your
"Never was more serious in my life. I'll give you a cheque
Mr. Oliphant's face brightened.
"And I'll give your wooden-headed clerk a ten pound note,"
"That may console him for his dismissal," said Maybrick,
"Are you going to get rid of him?"
"Most decidedly. I cannot afford to keep a clerk who makes
errors of that kind. This time it has come out all right; next
time it may be all wrong."
"Just so," replied Mr. Oliphant.
He handed Maybrick the ten pounds, which the broker gave
to Mappin, telling him to present it to Joseph, and inform him
that his services would not be any longer required, and the
premium his father had paid should be returned by post. Then
the broker gave Mr. Oliphant his unexpected profits, and they
went out to have a bottle of champagne together.
Mappin sought Joseph.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Doing sums," replied Joe, which was his idea of book-keeping.
"Well, you need not do any more."
"No, I don't think it a bore," said Joe. "It's all in the
day's work, don't you know?"
"You're not wanted here."
"Can't I hear? what do you know about it?"
"The fool's deaf," cried Mappin, raising his voice. "Take
this tenner and go."
Joe heard this plain enough.
"Sacked!" he said, laconically.
"Yes," replied Mappin, nodding his head vigorously.
"Playing the fool with the telephone. We've no use for you."
"Oh! very well. I thought I shouldn't answer."
"You see, we don't run our business on the silent system."
Joe put on his hat and coat, with that perfect unconcern which
always distinguished him.
"Good morning," he said, pocketing the note. "I say, I
don't think much of telephones, do you?"
"Yes, it's a very clever invention."
"Ah! there's no accounting for taste."
With these words Joseph quitted the office, and took a walk
in the City.
(From "Awful Stories," by permission of
Messrs. Diprose & Bateman.)
THE LADY FREEMASON.
H. T. Craven.
Vainly we seek it, Sanscrit or Greek writ
In hist'ry, the myst'ry of Solomon's secret:—
The dark queen of Sheba p'raps tried to get hold of it,
But didn't; at least if she did, we're not told of it.
If McAbel of Lodge number one lets it slip,
His brother O'Cain of Lodge two, gives the grip
À la garotte they say. Be that as it may,
The Cowan is somehow put out of the way.
So now if you've fear for my prudence, dispel it;
First place, I don't know—next, I don't mean to tell it
But praise a shrewd guess, if you think I deserve it,
The cream of the secret is—how to preserve it!
A sworn brother mason who'd ever disseminate
His knowledge, or blab, would be worse than effeminate!
On feminine weakness, though, let me be reticent,
Rememb'ring the tale of the famous Miss Betty St.
Ledger, whose name sheds a permanent grace on
One fifty—the Lodge of the Lady Freemason.
My Lord Doneraile, Ne'er known to fail
In duties masonic, held land in entail
With a mansion near Dublin, of such wide dimension,
That a Freemason's Lodge of no little pretension
Was warranted, charter'd, and duly appointed,
And worshipful ruler my lord was anointed.
No master, 'twas said, ever laid down the law so;
No masons kept secrets so sacred—or swore so!
None drill'd and so skill'd were, in sep'rate degree,
By the P. M. presiding (of course my Lord D.)
It beggars description—you'd fail to appreciate
The hubbub within when they met to 'initiate.'
Such tyling and tapping, Such knocking and rapping,
Such shrieks and such squeaks—such clapping and slapping
Such mauling and hauling and tearing and swearing,
Such whisp'ring of secrets and 'tell-if-you-dare'-ing—
Such groans and such yells, And such roast-goosey smells,
When the poker was used—like the scene in 'The Bells'
You doubtless have thought so appalling—enerving—
You'd think 'twas some madman, who thought himself Irving;
The cauterization, On good information,
Amounted, I say, to a partial cremation;
And sore on the subject were all Erin's gay sons
Next day, when the boys gave 'em sauce for 'fried masons.'
Be it known that Miss Betty was Doneraile's daughter,
And one Richard Aldworth aspired to court her,
Yet made his advances with progress so scanty,
He really remain'd much in statu quo ante;
His motto was 'Spero,' But hope was at zero;
In the lady's eye Dick didn't pose as a hero
When her father, Lord Doneraile, ask'd of him, whether
He'd join the F.M.'s; he had shown the white feather!
Whereat the proud beauty declared that no other
Should e'er be her slave than 'a man and a brother':
So Dick, having dined, and not quite compos mentis,
Agreed to go in for an 'entered apprentice.'
The eve had arrived, and the hall so baronial,
Was deck'd in due form for the night's ceremonial;
Miss Betty, in passing downstairs, chanced to see
Tho' the Chubb had been lock'd, they had left in the key
Of a small ante-room of some minor utility,
But prized by the Lodge for its accessibility:
Miss said to herself, 'Tho' I fear the attempt, I
'Should like just to see what a Lodge is like—empty!'
Oh! daughters of Eve, There are some who believe
Your tongues are your weakness—your failing, verbosity;
While others contend, You'll never amend
Of that fault Mrs. Bluebeard possess'd—curiosity!
Now I—though I'd fain dub such slanders as petty—
Own they do say as much of dear, charming Miss Betty:
Tho' found to be equal, To hold tongue or speak well
With other good masons—but wait for the sequel!
In through this outer door—closing it warily;
Out through an inner door—softly and fairyly—
She's there! In the Lodge, where wax tapers are blazing,
All deftly arranged with precision amazing:—
In the east for the Worshipful Boss is a throne.
In the west, Senior Warden—the places all shown
(No doubt to prevent any squabbles or wrangles)
Initiall'd on chair-backs, in gilded triangles;
On a table deep myst'ries we must not unravel—
The Mallet, the Plumb, and the Gauge, and the Gavel!
Other engines whose uses we fear to unriddle—
The Thumb-screw—the Pincers—a Poker—a Griddle!
With tapers and papers and paraphernalia,
Blue ribbons and jewels and things call'd 'Regalia!'
The silence and solitude there were delicious;
And any one caring to feel superstitious,
Might fancy the ghosts of freemasons, translated
To Lodges above—or below—reinstated,
Array'd in their mouldy old aprons; each brother
Past Master, who'd passed from this world to another.
But horror of horrors! whilst here she was musing,
Came footsteps without, and—oh! sound most confusing!
She heard the key turned. (That same key that beguiled
In the first-mention'd door.) Now 'twas lock'd and fast tyled!
She rush'd to the ante-room, wild to get back,
But this cooled her courage, 'twas now cul de sac;
And hark! In the Lodge—to augment her disaster—
The Masons assembling, escorting the Master!
To hide while she thought how to 'scape from mishap,
She closed t'other door of this snug little trap;
That door has a crevice, and thereby new woes arise,
To secrets forbidden in vain 'tis to close her eyes;
How can she but note the masonic particulars,
With no cotton-wool to cram in her auriculars?
She heard her dad ask, most distinctly—and trembled
At Dogberry's words—"Are we here all dissembled?"
Then commenced ceremonials misty and mystical,
Questions and answers in form catechistical.
My lord, in a tone both emphatic and sonorous,
Impressing on each that his duties were onerous;
(One duty, to Betty, seem'd highly improper—
'Twas 'kill, without questioning, any eavesdropper!')
When the master, with sudden and well-feigned dismay,
For he very well knew that he'd got it to say,
Cried 'Hark, there is danger, I feel that a stranger
'Who's seeking for knowledge is coming this way!'
Each took up a napkin—the end dipt in water,
And cried 'Porkitotius! Give him no quarter!'
While outside the door sundry knocks loud and clamorous
(As Vulcan might deal when in humour sledge-hammerous)
Were echoed within by three knocks—just the same,
With the pertinent query—'How now! What's your game?'
And a chap (déshabillé) in great perturbation
Is 'run in,' very much like a prig to a station.
Disguised as he was, through the à-propos hole
The lady identified Aldworth's red poll,
And thought, 'Well, I wish you, poor fellow, good luck,
'Or—more to the purpose—I wish you, good pluck!'
For her father was urging in solemn oration,
'You need, my young friend, for your fearful probation
'Endurance—true Courage—and strong Veneration!
'We commence with (don't grin, sir!) a pleasant frivolity:—
'Just give of Endurance a taste of your quality;
''Tis nothing—a towelling. Brothers, prepare!'
Then each had a flick at Dick's legs—which were bare:
He danced and he pranced at each cut of the towel
And prod from the rear with a sharp-pointed trowel,
And look'd—as he caper'd in lily-white kilt—
The ghost of a Highlander dancing a lilt.
To Scotch eyes, however, The steps might seem clever,
Dick show'd less a hero in Betty's than ever,
And shock'd, when he cried—cutting up rather rough—
'D longstroke your optics—hold hard! That's enough!'
'Enough?' said the worshipful, 'Yes, of this fun!
'Stern proof of your courage has not yet begun;
'D'ye hear, sir, those knocks? Brothers, let in the stoker,
'And form a procession to bring in the poker!
'See the surgeon is ready to make all secure
'With lancet and tourniquet, bandage and ligature!'
But why freeze your marrow—Your feelings why harrow?
Your hearts are too soft and our space is too narrow
To tell all the horrors! 'Twould fill you with awe
To listen to half that Elizabeth saw:—
Let us come to Dick's howl—such a howl!—which as soon
As she heard it, Miss Betty fell down in a swoon
All in a lump, With a bump and a thump
That made all the brothers to gape and to jump.
And turn pale and cry, 'Bedad there's a spy
Shut up in that closet, and there he shall die!
To rush to the chamber—to find what was in it
And seize the eavesdropper—was the work of a minute;
To lift up and shake her, To rouse up and wake her
To consciousness—then in the Lodge-room to take her,
Was work for six brothers, who cried as they brought her,
'We've sought her and caught her!' My lord cried, 'My daughter!'
And sunk down as needing, himself, a supporter:—
In rush'd the tylers, Crusty old file-ers!
With anger 'a busting their blessed old bilers;'
Looking so grim at her, One raised his cimeter,
And to very short shift was advancing to limit her,
As 'Hold!' cried my lord, 'Hear your master—or rather,
'I'd speak to you all, as her judge—not her father!
'Perchance she knows nothing, and, if she will swear it,
'Her life shall be spared—I, your Master, will spare it!
'Oh, tell me, my child, what you've seen—what you've heard?'
The truthful girl sobb'd, 'Ev'ry act! ev'ry word!'
'Alas,' faltered he, 'you have seal'd your own doom!'
And 'Down with the spy!' cried each one in the room;
One raised a dagger, Some shouted 'Scrag her!'
Some raised a trap-door, and rush'd forward to drag her,
When a voice like a thunder-clap topp'd all the rest,
And Dick semi-dress'd Presented his breast
Before her, 'Strike here!' was his manly request:
'Strike me if you dare, By jingo, I swear
'Of her you shall touch not so much as a hair!
'I mean, my good sirs, Whatever occurs
'To your lives or mine, you shall not take hers!
'Her white arm how dare you place finger or fist on?'
And Dick, shooting out his own arm like a piston,
Knock'd over a senior warden who held her;
Sent spinning a middle-aged junior—his elder,
Hit out at a tyler, A blatant reviler,
Mash'd the mug of a masher call'd 'Tim' the Beguiler;'
'Look out!' cried another, 'The Saxon's a bruiser!'
And straightway got one on his 'conk'—a confuser!
A dozen unitedly Shouted excitedly
'Fell him, or else this young fellow will wallop us!'
Down went two deacons, Not very weak ones,
And a blow on the nose of the third burst a polypus,
When the hero (Dick now at the title arrives,
Denied him before he had handled his fives,
So many bawling, Reeling and sprawling,
For each brother knocked down another in falling),
Had 'flutter'd the Voices' from east to the west,
He paused like a warrior taking his rest,
Or Spartan who'd caused lots of Persians to topple, he
Took breath—as he did at a place call'd Thermopylæ.
Now outspoke my lord in a masterful way,
'A truce and a parley! I've something to say!
''Tis writ in our laws "If an eavesdropper pries
'And filches our secrets, he (mark the HE!) dies!"
'Now this is a she—therefore not an eavesdropper;
'To kill her, I say, would be highly improper
'Unless she objects. To do as directs
'The master (c'est moi!). Now mark what I say next!
'Let's make her a mason, And put a good face on
'The matter, believing she'll prove not a base one;
'I'll take on myself—ending doubt and confusion—
'To write to Great Queen Street and get absolution!'
Then upspake the stoker—A regular croaker,
'I'd like to know how you'll get over the poker!'
'Long ago,' said my lord—-the precise annus mundi
'I can't call to mind—regno Coli Jucundi,
('A monarch whose province was Pipo-cum-Fiddlum—
'A part of the region of Great Tarrididdlom)
'Sundry by-laws were pass'd for emergencies various
'Whereby the submission to brand is vicarious:
'Will some volunteer (Her substitute here)
'Submit to the crucial test? 'Tis severe!'
Dick on now spake, 'E'en to the stake
'I'll go, like a martyr, as proxy to take
'All over again for the dear lady's sake;—
'That is (here he tenderly glanced), she approving?'
'I do!' said the maiden, in accent quite loving.
'Agreed!' shouted all who'd been punch'd, 'Be it so!'
Glad, no doubt, of the chance to give Dick quid pro quo.
The lady withdrew, in well-guarded condition;
The deck's quickly clear'd for the second edition
Of flicks and of kicks, Pinching and licks,
Twingeing and singeing—but murmur of Dick's
None heard e'en a word; he was truly heroic,
And went through it all with a smile, like a stoic;
And when he—so rumpled from processes recent—
Retired to make himself decently decent,
Miss St. Ledger return'd—resolution her face on—
Took the oaths, and was enter'd a 'Prenticed Freemason!
When you meet with a mason, just mention this lass;
I warrant she'll prove an excuse for a glass!
If he's a true brother, the toast is a favourite,
He's good for a bottle, but mind you don't pay for it!
You've but to edge her Name in, and pledge her,
The Lady Freemason—Miss Betty St. Ledger!
(By permission of the Author.)
WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT!
From the French of M. Charles Monselet, by
F. B. Harrison.
I cannot deceive myself—I was horribly tipsy last night.
Let him who has never been in the like case throw the first
empty bottle at me!
How did it happen? In this way. I, a civilian, reading law,
was invited to dine at the garrison mess. I had never been at
a similar entertainment, and I cannot but think, now that I look
back on it, that the officers played some trick on me. I only
knew that they were prodigiously polite, which always looks
suspicious. From a certain point, from the third course, I
remember very little; a sort of cloudy curtain intercepts the
view like the curtains that come down in a pantomime, and I
don't know whether I was Clown, or Pantaloon, or Columbine.
Yet something must have happened to me, a great many
things. I've been sleeping in my white tie; and then my face!
What a shockingly yellow, dissipated face! Upon my word, it
is a pretty affair! At my time, one-and-twenty, to be overcome
by wine like a schoolboy out for a holiday!
I cannot express what I think of it.
How am I to know what happened last night? Ask my
landlady? No; I cannot let her see how ashamed I am.
Besides, she would only know the condition in which I came
home; and that I can guess.
They say that from a single bone Professor Owen can reconstruct
an entire antediluvian animal; I must try and do something
similar to reconstruct my existence during the last twelve
or fourteen hours. I must get hold of two or three clues.
Where can I find them?
In my pockets, perhaps.
Since I was a small boy I have always had the habit of
stuffing them with all manner of things. Now, this is the time
for me to search them.
I tremble. What shall I find?
I have gently insinuated two fingers into my waistcoat-pocket,
and have brought out my purse. Empty! Hang it!
On picking up my overcoat I have found my pocket-book,
half open, and the papers fallen from it on the carpet.
The first of these papers which catches my eye is the carte of
last night's dinner. Well, who was there? How many of us?
Several of the fellows I knew, of course; but which of them?
Happy thought! The menu will remind me of their various
tastes and reveal their names to me.
'Oysters.' Well, I know that the Colonel is a tremendous
hand at oysters, so I am sure he was there.
'Mulligatawny.' That is Captain Simpkin's soup, or rather
liquid fire, so Simpkins was there. Two of them.
'Roast Beef.' Makes me think of little Dumerque, the
Jersey man, who wants to be a thorough Englishman. He was
'Saddle of Mutton.' Tom Horsley, the inveterate steeple-chaser.
'Charlotte Russe.' That is Ned Walker, who published his
travels from "Peterborough to Petersburg." Now I know
pretty well who some of my fellow-guests were. As for the
Hallo! were there women at the mess? No, certainly not.
Then we must have talked of women, and the men must have
given me photographs of their female relatives. Strange thing
to do! especially as I don't know the ladies. Here's an ancient
and fish-like personage in a blue jersey. Dumerque's grandmother,
I'll be bound. Here a stout, middle-aged dame, widow
probably. I know Simpkins wants to marry a widow, but why
give me her portrait?
And this—this is charming! Quite in the modern style—low
forehead, small nose, tiny mouth, all eyes, and what
splendid eyes! and such lashes! She is fair, as well as one
can judge from a photograph. And the little curls on her forehead
are like rings of gold. And so young, a mere child. A
lovely figure; our forefathers would have compared her to a
rose-tree, but then our forefathers were not strong in similes.
She has neither ear-rings nor necklace; perhaps that gives her
that look of disdain. Disdain! she knows nothing yet of life,
but tries to seem tired of it. They are all like that.
Who is she? She must be the Colonel's daughter; I've
heard that his daughter is a pretty girl. I must have expressed
my warm admiration of the photograph, and he must have
responded by giving it to me. Did I ask him for her hand?
Did he refuse it? or did he put off his reply? Perhaps that
was why I drank too much.
Now let me proceed. What further happened? Let me
continue my researches.
By Jingo! Two visiting cards! The first says:
"Captain Wellington Spearman,
First Royal Lancer Dragoons."
"Major Garnet Babelock Cannon,
Now, what does it all mean? I do not know those military
gentlemen. They must have been guests like myself. How
do I come to have their cards? There must have been some
dispute, some quarrel, some row. These two cards must have
been given in exchange for two of mine.
It all comes back to me!
A duel—perhaps two duels!
But duels about what? Whom did I affront? I know I'm
an awful fire-eater when I've drank too much. But was I the
challenger or the challenged? I think my left cheek is rather
swollen as if from a blow; but that is mere fancy. What
dreadful follies have I got myself into?
I can make out some pencil marks on the first card, that of
the Captain in the Lancer Dragoons. Yes. "Ten o'clock,
behind St. Martin's Church."
Ah, a hostile meeting, that is clear. I must run, perhaps I
shall be in time.
No, too late; it is half-past eleven.
I am dishonoured, branded as a coward! No one will believe
me when I say that I had a headache, and overslept myself on
the morning of a duel.
I have no energy to look further in my pocket. Still, one
A handkerchief—a very fine one—thin cambric. But it is
not one of mine. There is a coronet in the corner. How did I
come by this handkerchief? Could I have stolen it? I seem
to be on the road to the county gaol.
Oh, how my head aches!
A flower is in my button-hole. How did it come there?
Forget-me-nots; their blue eyes closed, all withered and drooping.
I could not have bought so humble a bouquet at the
flower-shop; it must have been given me. It was given me, it
came to me from the fair one with golden curls. Her father
gave it to me from her, knowing that I was about to risk my life—to
risk my life for her sake, no doubt.
Yes, that is it. My fears increase. I dread to know more.
I am afraid to prosecute my researches in my pockets. I may
find my hands full of forget-me-nots—or of blood!
Oh! ah! by jove!
This overcoat is not mine. No, mine is dark grey, this is
light grey. I have not travelled through my pockets, but
through the pockets of somebody else.
But then—if the coat is not mine, neither is the duel.
Not mine the carte.
Not mine the photographs.
Not mine the forget-me-nots.
Not mine the cards.
I have not stolen the handkerchief.
I am all right; thank goodness I am all right!
And my romance about the Colonel's lovely daughter—I am
sorry about it, upon my word. At least, I am sorry for her,
for I fear now she will never make my acquaintance.
(By permission of Messrs. R. Bentley & Son.)
THE FATAL LEGS.
I am an actor, or rather, I call myself one. I am, however,
"disengaged;" the more so since Widow Walker has——. But let me not
anticipate; which, by-the-bye, I never could have done—no matter. I
took apartments, comfortably furnished, with a widow lady named Walker.
I was "first floor back"; and "first floor front" was Mr. Simon Simpkin,
of the —— Theatre. The widow always called us "first floors," either
"back" or "front," and never by our names, although we never called her
out of hers. If we had, she would not have come. She was an obstinate
woman, but at times she got confused. She always called me in the
morning, and once she called me "front," and then went to Simpkin with
my shaving water. When I called her back, she called me something else,
and threw the pitcher at me. I was in hot water for a while.
The Widow Walker was fair, fat, and forty—that is, rather fair,
extremely fat, and very forty. She might be more; at any rate her voice
was forte too. The actor, Simpkin, was fragile and long. He played heavy
parts, which possibly was the cause of his constant complaint that he
had not got his share of "fat." Although lengthy, he was even less in
his various diameters than I was, still I longed for his length. And
why? The Widow Walker wallowed in wealth untold, and I could see she
smiled upon the suit of Simon Simpkin. Well she might. It was
second-hand. He, too, was a widower, or rather, he would have been if
his wife had lived. I mean, if she had lived to be his wife. But she
didn't. She died before the fatal knot was tied; in fact, it was not
tied at all. No matter, he had loved before, while my suit was brand
new. I determined to try it on. I longed to win the widow for my wife—I
should say for myself. One day I saw the actor kiss her through the
keyhole. We were rivals from that moment—at least I was. He didn't see
me, or he would have been one too; I mean one also. That is to say there
would have been two of us, whereas there was only one of me—no matter.
The widow went a good deal to the theatre. She ordered him, and he gave
her orders—that is, "passes for two." He knew her size. She always took
"twos" in seats. He did the villains at the theatre, while I did the
hero at home. He bellowed in blank verse, while I blew the kitchen fire
with the bellows. He mashed her, while I mashed the potatoes for supper.
But I determined to beard the clean-shaved lion in his lair. In short,
or rather, at length, I obtained an engagement, and became an actor. My
rival and myself now stood on the same footing. I mean we should have
done, only, in a word, we didn't. Simon Simpkin, as before observed,
indeed observed anyhow, was slender as a willow wand, and appropriately
pliable, especially about the legs. Still, on the stage, his nether
limbs looked round and well proportioned. His calves might pass for
cows, and his knees were second elbows, or rather, "Elba's"—they held a
bony part in exile.
On the other hand—I should say legs—my tights were always loose, and
while the widow smiled on his understanding, she smiled at mine. I
thirsted for my hated rival's blood, or rather for his flesh, more
correctly speaking, for the shape of his legs—technically, for his
"leg-shapes." Having failed in an attempt to have his blood by means of
a darning-needle, I determined to go for his shapes. I went for them one
night before the performance. I went to his dressing-room and got them.
That night the Widow Walker was in front. I was desperate. I was
determined that she should see her Simpkin in all his naked—I should
say his unpadded—deformity, and that mine—that is, my limbs—should be
resplendent in his borrowed plumes. But alas, all my plans—and
myself—were violently overthrown—by Simpkin.
I had merely insinuated one leg in the woolly pads, when he insinuated
another somewhere else. We argued the matter all over my dressing-room.
Meanwhile, time jogged merrily along. The curtain was raised, and so
were we eventually; but unfortunately I had only retained one half of
those precious pads. The right was left on my leg, but Simpkin had
carried off the left leg all right! What was I to do? My left leg would
not look right, or if it did, my right would be wrong. There was no
time, however, for consideration, as my face required sponging before
applying the sticking-plaster, and eventually I had to hobble on to the
stage with two odd understandings—that is, one odd one and one even
one. Even that was odd, which appears odd—no matter.
Fortunately I went on from the O.P. side, which enabled me to put my
best leg foremost. In the centre of the stage I met Simpkin, who had
entered from the prompt side. The widow gazed with rapture on us both,
until, oh, horror! after a short scene it was necessary that each of us
should retire to the place from whence we came. We advanced towards it,
backwards, and mutually stumbling, our other legs became exposed to
view. A yell from the audience, the sack from the management, and a
week's notice from the widow, subsequently greeted us. Besides which,
Simpkin and myself are not on the best of terms. We get into argument
when we meet in the streets. I stay at home a good deal now.
(By permission of the Author.)
THE CALIPH'S JESTER.
(FROM THE ARABIC.)
On a musnud of state was reclining the Caliph, the Mighty Haroun;
His brow like the sun it was shining, his face it was like the full moon,
And his courtiers around him were standing, like stars in an indigo sky,
And the saki the wine-cup was handing—for the monarch, though pious, was dry.
And the poets their works were reciting in Arabic numbers divine,
The hearts of all hearers delighting with verses like Afdhal's or mine.
Then the Caliph glared round the assembly, as a lion glares round on the herd,
And the knees of the courtiers grew trembly, and their hearts fluttered e'en as a bird;
And cold drops were distilled from each forehead, and each tongue to its palate did cling,
For their fear of their Caliph was horrid—he was such a passionate king!
At length in a voice that with passion was shaking, it pleased him to speak:—
"Does he know whom he treats in this fashion? Did you e'er behold aught like his cheek?
"This poet, this jester, this chaffer, this pig's son, this bullock, this ass,
This black-hearted, black-visaged Kaffir, this Infidel, Abu Nuwas!"
"I bade him come hither to meet us, in this serious Council of State;
And this is the way he dares treat us. Ye dogs, he is five minutes late!"
Then the heart of his Highness relented; Rashid was of changeable mood;
"Maybe he's been somehow prevented; to get in a rage does no good.
"His jests, too, are always so pleasant, one somehow his impudence stands;
Besides, poor Mesrour just at present has plenty of work on his hands.
"But although I can't perfectly tame him till he goes to the Nita to school,
At least I can thoroughly shame him, and make him appear like a fool.
"Slaves, fetch me some eggs—not new laid—you can find some stale ones that will do.
Now execute quick what I bade you, or else I will execute you."
They brought him the eggs in a charger, all studded with many a pearl,
The same pattern—though just a bit larger—as that of Herodias' girl;
And the Caliph took one egg, and hid it away in his cushion, which done,
He bade them all do so. They did it; and sat down awaiting the fun.
With an air that was saucy and braggish, with a step that was jaunty and spruce,
With a smile that was merry and waggish, with a mien that was reckless and loose,
With a "How is your high disposition to-morrow, if God should so will?"
With a "Here in our ancient position, your Majesty seeth us still!"
With a face all be-chalked and be-painted, with a bound through the portal doth pass
One with whom we're already acquainted, the world-renowned Abu Nuwas!
"Right welcome! Right welcome! my brother!" his Majesty smilingly spake,
"We were just now in want of another, a nice game at forfeits to make.
"Whatever I do you must watch it, and each do precisely the same—
If I catch you chaps laughing you'll catch it! sit still and attend to the game.
"If you do just as I do, precisely, a dînâr apiece shall ye gain,
If you don't, won't I give it you nicely—Mesrour you stand by with the cane!"
He spake: and the smile on his features was mischievous, cunning and grim,
And the courtiers, poor awe-stricken creatures, smiled feebly and gazed upon him.
"Cluck, cluck, cluck aroo!" representing the note of a jubilant hen,
The Caliph arises, presenting an egg, to the sight of all men.
"Cluck, cluck, cluck aroo!" and the rabble are all at once up on their legs,
And with ornithological gabble display their mysterious eggs.
Then without in the least hesitating steps Abu Nuwas before all.
"Cock-a-doodle doo doo!" imitating a rooster's hilarious call.
"Now I know why it is that you cackle," said he, "when you're trying to talk!
And you find me a hard one to tackle, because I am Cock of the Walk!"
(From "Temple Bar," by permission of the Editor.)
A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF NOTHING.
"Yes," said the doctor, pressing the tips of his fingers with
a tremulous firmness on my pulse, and looking straight forward
into the pupils of my eyes, "yes, I see: the symptoms all point
unmistakeably towards one conclusion—Brain. My dear sir,
you have been working too hard; you have been following the
dangerous example of the rest of the world in this age of business
and bustle. Your brain is over-taxed—that is your complaint.
You must let it rest—there is your remedy."
"You mean," I said, "that I must keep quiet, and do
"Precisely so," replied the doctor. "You must not read or
write; you must abstain from allowing yourself to be excited
by society; you must have no annoyances; you must feel no
anxieties; you must not think; you must be neither elated nor
depressed; you must keep early hours and take an occasional
tonic, with moderate exercise, and a nourishing but not too full
a diet—above all, a perfect repose is essential to your restoration,
you must go away into the country, taking any direction
you please, and living just as you like, as long as you are quiet
and as long as you do Nothing."
"I presume he is not to go away into the country without
ME," said my wife, who was present at the interview.
"Certainly not," rejoined the doctor, with an acquiescent
bow. "I look to your influence, my dear madam, to encourage
our patient in following my directions. It is unnecessary to
repeat them, they are so extremely simple and easy to carry
out. I will answer for your husband's recovery if he will but
remember that he has now only two objects in life—to keep
quiet, and to do Nothing."
My wife is a woman of business habits. As soon as the
doctor had taken his leave, she produced her pocket-book, and
made a brief abstract of his directions for our future guidance.
I looked over her shoulder and observed that the entry ran
"Rules for dear William's Restoration To Health.—No
reading; no writing; no excitement; no annoyance; no
anxiety; no thinking. Tonic. No elation of spirits. Nice
dinners. No depression of spirits. Dear William to take
little walks (with me). To go to bed early. To get up early.
N.B.—Keep him quiet. Mem. Mind he does Nothing."
Mind I do nothing? No need to mind that. I have not had
a holiday since I was a boy. Oh, blessed Idleness, after the
years of merciless industry that have separated us, are you and
I to be brought together again at last? Oh, my weary right
hand, are you really to ache no longer with driving the ceaseless
pen? May I, indeed, put you in my pocket and let you
rest there, indolently, for hours together? Yes! for I am now,
at last, to begin—doing Nothing. Delightful task that performs
itself! Welcome responsibility that carries its weight away
smoothly on its own shoulders!
These thoughts shine in pleasantly on my mind after the
doctor has taken his departure, and diffuse an easy gaiety over
my spirits when my wife and I set forth, the next day, for the
journey. We are not going the round of the noisy watering-places,
nor is it our intention to accept any invitations to join
the circles assembled by festive country friends. My wife,
guided solely by the abstract of the doctor's directions in her
pocket-book, has decided that the only way to keep me absolutely
quiet, and to make sure of my doing nothing, is to take
me to some pretty, retired village, and to put me up at a little
primitive, unsophisticated country inn. I offer no objection to
this project—not because I have no will of my own, and am not
master of all my movements—but only because I happen to
agree with my wife. Considering what a very independent
man I am naturally, it has sometimes struck me, as a rather
remarkable circumstance, that I always do agree with her.
We find the pretty, retired village. A charming place, full of thatched
cottages, with creepers at the doors, like the first easy lessons in
drawing-masters' copy-books. We find the unsophisticated inn—just the
sort of house that the novelists are so fond of writing about, with the
snowy curtains, and the sheets perfumed by lavender, and the matronly
landlady, and the amusing signpost.
This Elysium is called the Nag's Head.
Can the Nag's Head accommodate us? Yes, with a delightful bedroom, and a
sweet parlour. My wife takes off her bonnet, and makes herself at home
directly. She nods her head at me with a look of triumph. "Yes, dear, on
this occasion also I quite agree with you. Here we have found perfect
quiet; here we may make sure of obeying the doctor's orders; here we
have at last discovered—Nothing."
Nothing! Did I say Nothing? We arrive at the Nag's Head late in the
evening, have our tea, go to bed tired with our journey, sleep
delightfully till about three o'clock in the morning, and, at that hour,
begin to discover that there are actually noises, even in this remote
country seclusion. They keep fowls at the Nag's Head; and at three
o'clock, the cock begins to crow, and the hen to cluck, under our
window. Pastoral, my dear, and suggestive of eggs for breakfast whose
reputation is above suspicion; but I wish these cheerful fowls did not
wake quite so early. Are there, likewise, dogs, love, at the Nag's
Head, and are they trying to bark down the crowing and clucking of the
cheerful fowls? I should wish to guard myself against the possibility of
making a mistake, but I think I hear three dogs. A shrill dog, who barks
rapidly; a melancholy dog, who howls monotonously; and a hoarse dog, who
emits barks at intervals, like minute guns. Is this going on long?
Apparently it is. My dear, if you will refer to your pocket-book, I
think you will find that the doctor recommended early hours. We will not
be fretful and complain of having our morning sleep disturbed; we will
be contented, and will only say that it is time to get up.
Breakfast. Delicious meal, let us linger over it as long as we can,—let
us linger, if possible, till the drowsy mid-day tranquillity begins to
sink over this secluded village.
Strange! but now I think of it again, do I, or do I not, hear an
incessant hammering over the way? No manufacture is being carried on in
this peaceful place, no new houses are being built; and yet, there is
such a hammering, that, if I shut my eyes, I can almost fancy myself in
the neighbourhood of a dock-yard. Waggons, too. Why does a waggon which
makes so little noise in London, make so much noise here? Is the dust on
the road detonating powder, that goes off with a report at every turn of
the heavy wheels? Does the waggoner crack his whip or fire a pistol to
encourage his horses? Children, next. Only five of them, and they have
not been able to settle for the last half-hour what game they shall play
at. On two points alone do they appear to be unanimous—they are all
agreed on making a noise, and on stopping to make it under our window. I
think I am in some danger of forgetting one of the doctor's directions;
I rather fancy I am actually allowing myself to be annoyed.
Let us take a turn in the garden, at the back of the house. Dogs again.
The yard is on one side of the garden. Every time our walk takes us near
it, the shrill dog barks, and the hoarse dog growls. The doctor tells me
to have no anxieties. I am suffering devouring anxieties. These dogs may
break loose and fly at us, for anything I know to the contrary, at a
moment's notice. What shall I do? Give myself a drop of tonic? or escape
for a few hours from the perpetual noises of this retired spot, by
taking a drive? My wife says, take a drive. I think I have already
mentioned that I invariably agree with my wife.
The drive is successful in procuring us a little quiet. My directions to
the coachman are to take us where he pleases, so long as he keeps away
from secluded villages. We suffer much jolting in by-lanes, and
encounter a great variety of bad smells. But a bad smell is a noiseless
nuisance, and I am ready to put up with it patiently. Towards dinner
time we return to our inn. Meat, vegetables, pudding, all excellent,
clean and perfectly cooked. As good a dinner as ever I wish to
eat;—shall I get a little nap after it? The fowls, the dogs, the
hammer, the children, the waggons, are quiet at last. Is there anything
else left to make a noise? Yes: there is the working population of the
It is getting on towards evening, and the sons of labour are assembling
on the benches placed outside the inn, to drink. What a delightful scene
they would make of this homely everyday event on the stage! How the
simple creatures would clink their tin mugs, and drink each other's
healths, and laugh joyously in chorus! How the peasant maidens would
come tripping on the scene and lure the men tenderly to the dance! Where
are the pipe and tabour that I have seen in so many pictures; where the
simple songs that I have read about in so many poems? What do I hear as
I listen, prone on the sofa, to the evening gathering of the rustic
throng? Oaths,—nothing, on my word of honour, but oaths! I look out,
and see gangs of cadaverous savages drinking gloomily from brown mugs,
and swearing at each other every time they open their lips. Never in any
large town, at home or abroad, have I been exposed to such an incessant
fire of unprintable words, as now assail my ears in this primitive
village. No man can drink to another without swearing at him first. No
man can ask a question without adding a mark of interrogation at the end
in the shape of an oath. Whether they quarrel (which they do for the
most part), or whether they agree; whether they talk of their troubles
in this place, or their good luck in that; whether they are telling a
story, or proposing a toast, or giving an order, or finding fault with
the beer, these men seem to be positively incapable of speaking without
an allowance of at least five foul words for every one fair word that
issues from their lips. English is reduced in their mouths to a brief
vocabulary of all the vilest expressions in the language. This is an age
of civilisation; this is a Christian country; opposite me I see a
building with a spire, which is called, I believe, a church; past my
window, not an hour since, there rattled a neat pony chaise with a
gentleman inside clad in glossy black broad cloth, and popularly known
by the style and title of clergyman. And yet, under all these good
influences, here sit twenty or thirty men whose ordinary table-talk is
so outrageously beastly and blasphemous, that not a single sentence of
it, though it lasted the whole evening, could be printed as a specimen
for public inspection, in these pages. When the intelligent foreigner
comes to England, and when I tell him (as I am sure to do) that we are
the most moral people in the universe, I will take good care that he
does not set his foot in a secluded British village when the rural
population is reposing over its mug of small beer after the labours of
I am not a squeamish person, neither is my wife, but the social
intercourse of the villagers drives us out of our room, and sends us to
take refuge at the back of the house. Do we gain anything by the change?
The back parlour to which we have now retreated, looks out on a
bowling-green; and there are more benches, more mugs of beer, more
foul-mouthed villagers on the bowling-green. Immediately under our
window is a bench and table for two, and on it are seated a drunken old
man and a drunken old woman. The aged sot in trousers is offering
marriage to the aged sot in petticoats with frightful oaths of
endearment. Never before did I imagine that swearing could be twisted to
the purposes of courtship. Never before did I suppose that a man could
make an offer of his hand by bellowing imprecations on his eyes, or that
all the powers of the infernal regions could be appropriately summoned
to bear witness to the beating of a lover's heart under the influence of
the tender passion. I know it now, and I derive little satisfaction
from gaining the knowledge of it. The ostler is lounging about the
bowling-green, scratching his bare brawny arms and yawning grimly in the
mellow evening sunlight. I beckon to him, and ask him at what time the
tap closes? He tells me at eleven o'clock. It is hardly necessary to say
that we put off going to bed until that time, when we retire for the
night, drenched from head to foot, if I may so speak, in floods of bad
I cautiously put my head out of window, and see that the lights of the
tap-room are really extinguished at the appointed time. I hear the
drinkers oozing out grossly into the pure freshness of the summer night.
They all growl together; they all go together. All?
Sinner and sufferer that I am, I have been premature in arriving at that
happy conclusion! Six choice spirits, with a social horror in their
souls of going home to bed, prop themselves against the wall of the inn,
and continue the evening's conversazione in the darkness. I hear them
cursing at each other by name. We have Tom, Dick, and Sam, Jem, Bill,
and Bob, to enliven us under our window after we are in bed. They begin
improving each other's minds, as a matter of course, by quarrelling.
Music follows, and soothes the strife, in the shape of a local duet,
sung by voices of vast compass, which soar in one note from howling bass
to cracked treble. Yawning follows the duet; long, loud, weary yawning
of all the company in chorus. This amusement over, Tom asks Dick for
"backer," and Dick denies that he has got any, and Tom tells him he
lies, and Sam strikes in and says, "No, he doan't," and Jem tells Sam he
lies, and Bill tells him that if he was Sam he would punch Jem's head,
and Bob, apparently snuffing the battle afar off, and not liking the
scent of it, shouts suddenly a pacific "good night" in the distance. The
farewell salutation seems to quiet the gathering storm. They all roar
responsive to the good night of Bob. Next, a song in chorus from Bob's
five friends. Outraged by this time beyond all endurance, I spring out
of bed and seize the water-jug. I pause before I empty the water on the
heads of the assembly beneath; I pause, and hear—O! most melodious,
most welcome of sounds!—the sudden fall of rain. The merciful sky has
anticipated me; the "clerk of the weather" has been struck by my idea of
dispersing the Nag's Head Night Club by water. By the time I have put
down the jug and got back to bed, silence—primeval silence, the first,
the foremost of all earthly influences—falls sweetly over our tavern at
That night, before sinking wearily to rest, I have once more the
satisfaction of agreeing with my wife. Dear and admirable woman! she
proposes to leave this secluded village the first thing to-morrow
morning. Never did I share her opinion more cordially than I share it
now. Instead of keeping myself composed, I have been living in a region
of perpetual disturbance; and, as for doing nothing, my mind has been so
agitated and perturbed that I have not even had time to think about it.
We will go, love—as you so sensibly suggest—we will go the first thing
in the morning to any place you like, so long as it is large enough to
swallow up small sounds. Where, over all the surface of this noisy
earth, the blessing of tranquility may be found, I know not; but this I
do know: a secluded English village is the very last place towards which
any man should think of turning his steps, if the main object of his
walk through life is to discover quiet.
(By permission of the Author.)
GEMINI AND VIRGO.
C. S. Calverley.
Some vast amount of years ago,
Ere all my youth had vanish'd from me,
A boy it was my lot to know,
Whom his familiar friends called Tommy.
I love to gaze upon a child;
A young bud bursting into blossom;
Artless, as Eve yet unbeguiled,
And agile as a young opossum:
And such was he. A calm-brow'd lad,
Yet mad, at moments, as a hatter:
Why hatters as a race are mad
I never knew, nor does it matter.
He was what nurses call a "limb;"
One of those small misguided creatures
Who, tho' their intellects are dim,
Are one too many for their teachers:
And, if you asked of him to say
What twice 10 was, or 3 times 7,
He'd glance (in quite a placid way)
From heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And smile, and look politely round,
To catch a casual suggestion;
But make no effort to propound
Any solution of the question.
And not so much esteemed was he
Of the authorities: and therefore
He fraternized by chance with me,
Needing a somebody to care for:
And three fair summers did we twain
Live (as they say) and love together;
And bore by turns the wholesome cane
Till our young skins became as leather:
And carved our names on every desk,
And tore our clothes, and inked our collars;
And looked unique and picturesque,
But not, it may be, model scholars.
We did much as we chose to do;
We'd never heard of Mrs. Grundy;
All the theology we knew
Was that we mighn't play on Sunday;
And all the general truths, that cakes
Were to be bought at half a penny,
And that excruciating aches
Resulted if we ate too many:
And seeing ignorance is bliss,
And wisdom consequently folly,
The obvious result is this—
That our two lives were very jolly.
At last the separation came,
Real love, at that time, was the fashion;
And by a horrid chance, the same
Young thing was, to us both, a passion.
Old Poser snorted like a horse:
His feet were large, his hands were pimply,
His manner, when excited, coarse:—
But Miss P. was an angel simply.
She was a blushing, gushing thing;
All—more than all—my fancy painted;
Once—when she helped me to a wing
Of goose—I thought I should have fainted.
The people said that she was blue:
But I was green, and loved her dearly.
She was approaching thirty-two;
And I was then eleven, nearly.
I did not love as others do;
(None ever did that I've heard tell of);
My passion was a byword through
The town she was, of course, the belle of:
Oh sweet—as to the toilworn man
The far-off sound of rippling river;
As to cadets in Hindostan
The fleeting remnant of their liver—
To me was Anna; dear as gold
That fills the miser's sunless coffers;
As to the spinster, growing old,
The thought—the dream—that she had offers.
I'd sent her little gifts of fruit;
I'd written lines to her as Venus;
I'd sworn unflinchingly to shoot
The man who dared to come between us:
And it was you, my Thomas you,
The friend in whom my soul confided,
Who dared to gaze on—to do,
I may say, much the same as I did.
One night I saw him squeeze her hand;
There was no doubt about the matter;
I said he must resign, or stand
My vengeance—and he chose the latter.
We met, we "planted" blows on blows:
We fought as long as we were able:
My rival had a bottle-nose,
And both my speaking eyes were sable.
When the school-bell cut short our strife,
Miss P. gave both of us a plaister;
And in a week became the wife
Of Horace Nibbs, the writing-master.
I loved her then—I'd love her still,
Only one must not love Another's:
But thou and I, my Tommy, will,
When we again meet, meet as brothers.
It may be that in age one seeks
Peace only: that the blood is brisker
In boys' veins, than in theirs whose cheeks
Are partially obscured by whisker;
Or that the growing ages steal
The memories of past wrongs from us.
But this is certain—that I feel
Most friendly unto thee, oh Thomas!
And whereso'er we meet again,
On this or that side the equator,
If I've not turned teetotaller then,
And have wherewith to pay the waiter,
To thee I'll drain the modest cup,
Ignite with thee the mild Havannah;
And we will waft, while liquoring up,
Forgiveness to the heartless Anna.
(By permission of Mrs. Calverley.)
"It's all through that Liberal Government."
These were the words uttered by King Bibbs as he stood in
the rain without an umbrella; and it was not the first time he
had uttered them.
Think of it! There stood King Bibbs in the rain without an
Once upon a time King Bibbs had a beautiful palace; but
there came a Liberal Government, and they promised the nation
Their policy was to save and censure, to cut down everything
they did pay for, and to cut up everything they did not.
They contracted that every soldier in the army should have
one nail less in his boots, and they blamed the last Government
for not having soldiers who required no boots at all. They
arranged that the royal charwomen should clean the floors of
the Government offices with soap without sand or with sand
without soap; and they censured the late Government for
having floors that wanted any cleaning. They cut down the
amount and the quality of the cheese required for the royal
mousetraps, and they pointed out to a plundered people that the
last Government were entirely to blame for there being any
mice. They voted that the royal weather-cock on the national
stable should be re-gilt only once in six years, instead of once
in five, and they made it clear, at least to their own party, that
it was entirely owing to the tactics of the late Government that
weather-cocks were required at all; and it must be admitted
that upon this point the late Government were a little bit with
It was a fine time, and the nation that King Bibbs reigned
over might well feel proud.
But you know that if you keep the stove going by what you
can spare from your household furniture, the time will come
when you will be a little at a loss for firewood.
What would you do? You cannot part with the comfortable
chair you sit in, and your friends must have their little places;
so very likely, if you had no respect for time-honoured things,
you would break up some grand old cabinet that your forefathers
loved, but that to you appeared useless, and so you'd
keep the stove going. And as long as the fire lasted, you and
your friends would be warm and snug in your places.
That's just what our Government did—not ours, of course—but
the one I am talking of.
They turned their eyes on the king's palace, and they said
the nation cannot be saddled with this expense.
They had already saved the nation about a farthing per head
per annum, and this new sacrifice would save about an eighth as
much more. But you must understand that every man looked
at the amount saved in the lump; he never thought of the
farthing that was put in his pocket in return for the time he
wasted in attending public meetings, but had a vague idea that
the golden thousands talked of were in some remote way his
What a splendid show of justice, wasn't it now, when bills
were plastered all over King Bibbs's palace, to say those
desirable premises would be sold by public auction on such a
It touched the people to the core; they gave up half a day to
flock round the palace, and read the bills; they lost another
half-day's work to see the palace sold; they spent a day's wages
to get drunk to celebrate this crowning stroke of economy, and
in their wild delight at the justice done them, they quite forgot
to bank the one-eighth of a farthing which the generous Government
had put into their pockets.
How common it is to say, we go from bad to worse, and on
that principle I suppose it was that this Liberal Government
went from good to better.
If it was good that the poor king should give up his palace
and live like a private gentleman, would it not be better that
he should go a grade lower, and live like a retired tradesman?
The odd fact was, that the more they stripped poor King
Bibbs of the sacred paraphernalia that once adorned his life, the
more useless he appeared in the eyes of his subjects; and he
was cut down from a palace to a mansion, and from a mansion
to a villa; from having one hundred horses to ten; and from
ten to none. And so it was that King Bibbs came to be walking
in the rain without an umbrella; and so it was, as he reflected
on the past he exclaimed,—
"It's all through that Liberal Government."
His most gracious Majesty had been to the reading-rooms to
look at the morning papers, and see what his Government were
doing. It may seem wrong that he should thus waste a penny;
but remember, it was his duty to see how his people were getting
on. As he left the rooms there was a quiet, sad smile on the
"Ah," he muttered, "my prime minister is very clever, but
he is all ambition and vanity; he tries to sail the ship with
nothing but flags. I do wish he would take in the bunting and
put out some canvas, so that we might have a little real progress
instead of so much show."
At this time he was just turning the corner of Daisy Road on
his way home, when suddenly it began to rain.
"Bless me," said his Majesty, "it's going to pour, and I've
forgotten my umbrella, I shall have my crown quite spoilt.
Dear! dear! dear!"
The rain fell faster, and the poor king had yet two miles to
go. His ermine was getting quite damp.
"What am I to do?" he exclaimed. "I shall be wet through.
Dear! dear! I shall be obliged to take a cab."
The king looked along the road, and saw one coming. "Hi!
hi!" shouted his most gracious Majesty, and he waved his
sceptre till it almost flew out of his hand.
"Going home to change," said the cabman, with a careless air.
"Don't you know I'm the king?" said poor Bibbs.
"Oh, yes, you're know'd well enough," sneered the cabman; "give my love
to the old woman."
"There, there!" said the poor monarch, appealing plaintively to the
empty street; "there, that comes of having a Liberal Government; as soon
as I get a change I'll be a despot."
You see the true royal spirit in him was not quite crushed.
The rain fell faster, and King Bibbs took off his crown and was looking
at the great wet spots on the red cotton velvet when a loud voice
exclaimed:—"Does your most gracious Majesty want a cab?"
The king was about to enter the cab without a word, when a ragged boy
officiously stood by the wheel.
"What do you want?" said the boy's sovereign.
"To keep your most gracious Majesty's royal robe from touching the
wheel," said the boy.
"I can do it myself," said the king, in quite an angry tone.
Now in the ordinary way a monarch would look upon such an attention as
simply his due, but he knew this ragged young subject was looking for
patronage; he wanted a copper, and the king felt he could not afford it.
All who have studied the workings of the human heart know how we conceal
our motives even from ourselves. To look at King Bibbs you would have
thought he simply resented the boy's officiousness. He tried to persuade
himself so, but the underlying feeling was his annoyance at not having a
copper to spare. How he would have blushed if any of the Great Powers of
Europe could have seen him at that moment!
"Go to the devil," said the king to his subject. "Go away! go away!"
"Blow'd if I pay my income tax next week!" said the young traitor as he
made a very wicked face at the back of the cab.
"That's a bad boy," muttered Bibbs, as the cab drove off.
Now Bibbs, like many another proud spirit, had enjoyed the noble
pleasure of refusing, which is only felt when you have full power to
comply. When you are forced to refuse through weakness, it is very
galling to a monarch, or even to one of us.
"A d—d bad boy!" he exclaimed, and as if the truth would out in spite
of him he muttered: "It's all thro' that Liberal Government."
The house to which King Bibbs had directed the cabman to drive him, was
what is now called a villa. It was one of a row, and was certainly not
at all suggestive of a palace. Still it had a nice breakfast-parlour
underground, and a handsome little drawing-room, with folding doors,
upstairs. The rent was low, and the neighbourhood was considered, by
those who lived there, fashionable.
At first poor Bibbs was treated with some respect, but after a time he
fell into contempt, for kings, like other people, must keep their
On arriving at his house the king stepped from the cab and took out his
purse. It would have done any Liberal Government good to see a
constitutional monarch like Bibbs rubbing the edges of certain light
coins to see if they were threepennies or fourpennies. But it would not
have done any one good to see the look on the cabman's face as he
received his fare. The king turned to go indoors.
"Here, hi!" shouted the cabman.
"What's the matter?" asked the king.
"What's the matter? As if your most gracious Majesty did not know! I
want another sixpence."
"You've got your fare," said the king.
"Got my fare!" retorted the cabman; "you're a pretty gracious Majesty,
you are. You go about rolling in luxury and wealth out of the hard
earnings of sich as me, and that's the way you use the money. Bah! The
sooner you're done away with altogether the better. What good are you?
Why you ain't worth the crown on your head."
The cabman drove away to swear, and the king paused to reflect. It took
the king some time to calculate, but he found he cost that cabman, at
his present rate of expenditure—he cost that cabman about an eighth of
a farthing every ten years.
The king's lips moved, though he breathed no word; but any one who had
watched the kind mouth would have seen that he was muttering something
about that Liberal Government.
He took out his latch-key and let himself in; he paused in the passage,
gently wiped his crown on the sleeve of his robe, and hung it on a
hat-peg, and, placing his sceptre in the stand beside his forgotten
umbrella—forgetfulness that had cost him a shilling—walked slowly into
He sat down to meditate. You have only to read your Shakespeare to know
this is the way of kings. He soliloquised somewhat in this fashion:
"It's quite clear the cheaper I get the more useless I appear. While I
was surrounded with pomp, the people ran after and applauded me; now I
get abused by a low cabman. I was like a grand ruin: while the columns
stand, and the broken entablatures lie about in picturesque profusion,
it is visited, made pictures of, and admired. But take away the old
adornments, clear away the ground, and leave only a little pile of
useless earth to mark the spot, and Admiration and Wonder, as they turn
their backs on it, will soon find Respect at their heels—I see my
The king grew reckless, and ordered an egg for his tea.
You have only to read your poets, and you will see that these sudden
desperate acts foreshadow impending doom.
At the moment that Bibbs was wiping a small spot of egg from his beard,
his ministers were holding a cabinet council to determine what should be
their next move to keep up their popularity.
There was nothing to cut down but the places of themselves and their
friends and relations. That was out of the question. The labourer is
worthy of his hire, and they had laboured hard to get into their present
How would it be if they determined that the king should no longer
receive any help from the State, but earn his own living? A little hard
work would be good for the king's constitution.
The idea was a popular one. It was carried out. But poor King Bibbs was
too old to work, so it occurred to one of the ministers, who knew a City
gentleman who had an ugly daughter that he wanted to marry to a person
of rank, that by his influence the poor king might be got into an
After some difficulty it was done, and his most gracious Majesty found
himself in possession of two small rooms and ten shillings a week.
Any reasonable old monarch, you would think, might have been very
comfortable under these circumstances, but wherever he turned he met
unfriendly glances. People said almshouses were meant for industrious
but unfortunate tradesmen and their wives, and not for bloated old
emperors and kings. Here was a monarch not only grinding them down with
taxation, but actually taking from them the just reward of virtuous old
At last it happened that a shopkeeper died insolvent, and his aged widow
was destitute. There was nothing for it but to put her on the parish,
which would be an expense, or get her into an almshouse.
The matter touched the pockets of the parishioners, and you may be
pretty sure that soon a fine clamour was raised. What had the king done
to deserve charity? Nothing. Meetings were held, bundles of letters were
sent to the newspapers, and at last the influential City gentleman, who
meant to stand for the borough at the next election, was forced to turn
out King Bibbs or lose his popularity.
The influential gentleman assured his most gracious Majesty that he
turned him out with great reluctance.
What was to be done now? It was pretty clear that the king must go on
the parish. But what parish?
It mattered not where he had lived, he had never paid his rates, and not
a parish would have him. Vestries met and discussed the matter. It was
referred to committees, minutes were brought up and referred back again;
meantime poor Bibbs, who would not go in as a casual, was left, like old
Lear, to perish.
It is true that on the first night an old Chartist, who was once
imprisoned for treason, took pity on him, and gave him a bed, but when
the king found out who his benefactor was, his old pride arose within
him, and he turned away.
His most gracious Majesty might have been seen feeling with his
thumb-nail the edge of his last coin. It was smooth; King Bibbs had but
threepence in the world.
At this moment he saw some men with advertising boards on their backs.
He looked at them; they were old and feeble. Ah! thought the king, I
think I am strong enough to carry boards. He went up to one of the men,
and asked him most respectfully where he got his employment.
The man turned round and sneered out,—
"Oh, you want to rob us now, do you? You want to take the crust out of
our mouths. You ain't content with grinding us poor working men down
with taxes—you ain't content with having every luxury down to
almhouses, but you must interfere with us. If I catch your most
gracious Majesty with half a board on your back, I'll just smash you.
It will be observed that the people had lost nothing of the outward show
of respect, and always addressed the king in the proper way.
Poor Bibbs bought a penny biscuit, and with the remaining twopence a
piece of card and a bit of string. He wrote on the card,
"PRAY PITY A POOR CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCH."
And with his crown in his hand to get whatever charity would
give, he went into the bitter world to beg his way down to
Things went on merrily with the ministry for years. They
filled all the old places and invented new. They put the king's
head on the coin, and put the coin in their pockets.
But one fine day a certain Eastern despot with whom they
had been intriguing, thought it a politic thing to pay King
Bibbs a visit in state. Here was a pretty kettle of fish! What
were they to do for a king?
It would never do to tell the Eastern despot they didn't know
where their king was, and they did not care; he would have
broken with them at once.
They sent in all directions to inquire for the king, but he was
not to be found.
They then tried an advertisement:—
IF THIS SHOULD MEET THE EYE OF KING BIBBS,
he is requested to return to his disconsolate ministers, and
all shall be forgiven.
But poor Bibbs had not seen a newspaper for years, and his
ministers were left disconsolate.
Then appeared another advertisement:—
LOST, A KING ANSWERING TO THE NAME OF BIBBS.
If any one will take him to the Treasury he will be
Now it so happened that a quiet man of business, as he was passing along
a country highway, saw a poor old half crazy man eating a few dry
crusts. By his side was a bent sceptre, and on his head an old and
battered crown, while his robe of royal purple was torn and soiled, and
the ermine on it worn nearly bare and black.
As the stranger approached him, the old man took off his crown, and in a
feeble voice said, "Pray pity a poor constitutional monarch."
The stranger looked in his face and exclaimed, "Good heaven, poor soul,
what has brought you to this?"
The old man brushed a tear away from his sunken eye, and muttered—
"It was all through that Liberal Government!"
A week after a great city was all aglare with flags, and ablare with
trumpets. The streets were lined with people, and a procession passed,
at the head of which was a grand carriage drawn by eight horses. In the
carriage sat a feeble old man in a splendid robe, and with a new crown
that he kept taking off as he bowed to the multitude. At his side was
the splendid Eastern despot, who bowed too, for the people not only said
"Long live King Bibbs!" but they wished the splendid Eastern despot long
life as well. Near the palace gates as they returned, the king left off
bowing, and some were shocked at his pride and some at his pallor.
A few days after there was a grand and solemn procession.
And again, a few days after that, a grand and glorious procession.
The Government were true to their policy, and the wording of their
advertisement. The stranger who had found King Bibbs, after wasting
years in applications, received a note to say his affair was under
(By permission of the Author.)
Molly Muldoon was an Irish girl,
And as fine a one
As you'd look upon
In the cot of a peasant or hall of an earl.
Her teeth were white, though not of pearl,—
And dark was her hair, but it did not curl;
Yet few who gazed on her teeth and her hair,
But owned that a power of beauty was there.
Now many a hearty and rattling gorsoon
Whose fancy had charmed his heart into tune,
Would dare to approach fair Molly Muldoon,
But for that in her eye
Which made most of them shy
And look quite ashamed, though they couldn't tell why—
Her eyes were large, dark blue, and clear,
And heart and mind seemed in them blended.
If intellect sent you one look severe
Love instantly leapt in the next to mend it—
Hers was the eye to check the rude,
And hers the eye to stir emotion,
To keep the sense and soul subdued
And calm desire into devotion.
There was Jemmy O'Hare,
As fine a boy as you'd see in a fair,
And wherever Molly was he was there.
His face was round and his build was square,
And he sported as rare
And tight a pair
Of legs, to be sure, as are found anywhere.
And Jemmy would wear
His caubeen and hair
With such a peculiar and rollicking air,
That I'd venture to swear
Not a girl in Kildare
Nor Victoria's self, if she chanced to be there,
Could resist his wild way—called "Devil-may-care."
Not a boy in the parish could match him for fun,
Nor wrestle, nor leap, nor hurl, nor run
With Jemmy—No gorsoon could equal him—None,
At wake, or at wedding, at feast or at fight,
At throwing the sledge with such dext'rous sleight,—
He was the envy of men, and the women's delight.
Now Molly Muldoon liked Jemmy O'Hare,
And in troth Jemmy loved in his heart Miss Muldoon.
I believe in my conscience a purtier pair
Never danced in a tent at a pattern in June,—
To a bagpipe or fiddle
On the rough cabin door
That is placed in the middle—
Ye may talk as ye will
There's a grace in the limbs of the peasantry there
With which people of quality couldn't compare;
And Molly and Jemmy were counted the two
That would keep up the longest and go the best through
All the jigs and the reels
That have occupied heels
Since the days of the Murtaghs and Brian Boru.
It was on a long bright sunny day
They sat on a green knoll side by side,
But neither just then had much to say;
Their hearts were so full that they only tried
To do anything foolish, just to hide
What both of them felt, but what Molly denied.
They plucked the speckled daisies that grew
Close by their arms,—then tore them too;
And the bright little leaves that they broke from the stalk
They threw at each other for want of talk;
While the heart-lit look and the sunny smile
Reflected pure souls without art or guile,
And every time Molly sighed or smiled,
Jem felt himself grow as soft as a child;
And he fancied the sky never looked so bright,
The grass so green, the daisies so white;
Everything looked so gay in his sight
That gladly he'd linger to watch them till night,—
And Molly herself thought each little bird
Whose warbling notes her calm soul stirred,—
Sang only his lay but by her to be heard.
An Irish courtship's short and sweet,
It's sometimes foolish and indiscreet;
But who is wise when his young heart's heat
Whips the pulse to a galloping beat—
Ties up his judgment neck and feet
And makes him the slave of a blind conceit?
Sneer not, therefore, at the loves of the poor,
Though their manners be rude their affections are pure;
They look not by art, and they love not by rule,
For their souls are not tempered in fashion's cold school.
Oh! give me the love that endures no control
But the delicate instinct that springs from the soul,
As the mountain stream gushes its freshness and force,
Yet obedient, wherever it flows to its source.
Yes, give me that but Nature has taught,
By rank unallured and by riches unbought;
Whose very simplicity keeps it secure—
The love that illumines the heart of the poor.
All blushful was Molly, or shy at least
As one week before Lent
Jem procured her consent
To go the next Sunday and spake to the priest,
Shrove-Tuesday was named for the wedding to be,
And it dawned as bright as they'd wish to see.
And Jemmy was up at the day's first peep
For the live-long night, no wink could he sleep;
A bran-new coat, with a bright big button,
He took from a chest, and carefully put on—
And brogues as well lampblacked as ever went foot on
Were greased with the fat of a quare sort of mutton!
Then a tidier gorsoon couldn't be seen
Treading the Emerald sod so green—
Light was his step and bright was his eye
As he walked through the slobbery streets of Athy.
And each girl he passed, bid "God bless him," and sighed,
While she wished in her heart that herself was the bride.
Hush! here's the Priest—let not the least
Whisper be heard till the father has ceased.
"Come, bridegroom and bride,
That the knot may be tied
Which no power upon earth can hereafter divide."
Up rose the bride, and the bridegroom too,
And a passage was made for them both to walk through!
And his Rev'rence stood with a sanctified face,
Which spread its infection around the place.
The bridesmaid bustled and whispered the bride,
Who felt so confused that she almost cried,
But at last bore up and walked forward, where
The Father was standing with solemn air;
The bridegroom was following after with pride,
When his piercing eye something awful espied!
He stooped and sighed,
Looked round and tried
To tell what he saw, but his tongue denied:
With a spring and a roar,
He jumped to the door,
And the bride laid her eyes on the bridegroom no more!
Some years sped on
Yet heard no one
Of Jemmy O'Hare, or where he had gone.
But since the night of that widowed feast,
The strength of poor Molly had ever decreased;
Till, at length, from earth's sorrow her soul released,
Fled up to be ranked with the saints at least.
And the morning poor Molly to live had ceased,
Just five years after the widowed feast,
An American letter was brought to the priest,
Telling of Jemmy O'Hare deceased!
Who ere his death,
With his latest breath,
To a spiritual father unburdened his breast
And the cause of his sudden departure confest,—
"Oh! Father," says he, "I've not long to live,
So I'll freely confess, and hope you'll forgive—
That same Molly Muldoon, sure I loved her indeed;
Ay, as well, as the Creed
That was never forsaken by one of my breed;
But I couldn't have married her after I saw"—
"Saw what?" cried the Father desirous to hear—
And the chair that he sat in unconsciously rocking—
"Not in her 'karàcter,' yer Rev'rince, a flaw"—
The sick man here dropped a significant tear
And died as he whispered in the clergyman's ear—
"But I saw, God forgive her, a hole in her stocking!"
THE HARMONIOUS LOBSTERS.
It has always appeared to me as a remarkable fact that the practice of
Music does not promote amongst its devotees the harmony which is its own
very gist and soul. The "concord of sweet sounds" is not reflected in
the good fellowship and friendly cohesion of musicians; and the
spiritualising power of the divine art seems too often to evaporate with
the notes produced, and leave with its professors the hard residuum of
an exact science and a mechanical art.
The rivalry and jealousy so noticeable amongst musical people is
peculiar to them; and, though you may with impunity neglect to demand
from the actors, poets, painters, sculptors, preachers, physicians,
surgeons, or lawyers an exhibition of their skill in their respective
arts, you will make a foe for life if you omit to ask the musician to
We all know the "musical people" at parties; how cordially we welcome
the production of that fatal waterproof roll, with its diabolical
contents of "pieces" and "ballads;" how enthusiastically we press Jones
to "give us another song," and how cheerfully and promptly (I might
almost say "hastily") Jones obliges us. It is of no use suggesting to
Miss Robinson that you "are afraid you are taxing her too far." Miss
Robinson has another ballad, or another "piece"—"Tricklings at Eve," or
"Wobblings at Noon," ready for you.
I have belonged to several musical clubs in my time, and know something
of my subject, especially the amateur section of it. I once officiated
at a professional gathering to the great hurt of a very kind man. I was
invited by a genial music publisher to join a "professional dinner"
which he gave yearly to the principal musicians, his very good friends.
The profession mustered very strongly, and did ample justice to
excellent fare; on our repairing to the drawing-room, I expected, of
course, to be entertained with some really good music, but I found that
no one would "start the ball."
In the full glare of professional eyes I opened the piano and the
proceedings myself. Before I had played forty bars every "professional"
was making for the instrument. I concluded. I had "started the ball," or
rather a musical "boomerang," which was to return viciously upon me and
Every man present held the pianoforte in turn, and at half-past two in
the morning (I had commenced at ten in the evening), there were still
some unwearied musicians insisting on playing their own compositions to
unappreciative audiences of rival professors. Perhaps they are still
playing. I never did any business with that music publisher again.
Years ago I belonged to an amateur musical society which had its being
in a fashionable suburb, and was known by the felicitous title, "The
Harmonious Lobsters." To account for this name I may state that the
society owed its origin to certain jovial meetings held at a friend's
chambers, where these succulent crustacea were discussed (to soft
music) at supper, twice a month. As the club grew, the suppers deceased;
and, as the society became important and pretentious, so the original
"The Harmonious Lobsters" were as pleasant amongst themselves as the
genuine uncooked articles are in a fishmonger's basket. Every member
struggled to be "top-sawyer;" every artist, down to the little doctor
who played the triangle regarded himself as the mainstay, sole prop, and
presiding genius of the society.
We mustered a small orchestra, consisting of two flutes, two cornets,
two violins, one viola, one violoncello, a drum, a clarionet, and the
triangle above mentioned.
The performances of this "limited band" were more remarkable for their
force than their precision; and a want of "tone" and completeness was
the result of an endeavour on the part of each performer to make the
instrument he played specially conspicuous. It didn't matter so much
with the flutes, violins, and clarionet; but the two cornets were a
Gasper and Puffin (both "first" cornets, of course!) were deadly rivals,
implacable foes. Each aspired to be the ruler of the club, each regarded
himself as the performer par excellence. The flutes were not
friendly, and the violoncello was crabbed and unpleasant, but those
cornets were insufferable.
We all felt that a crisis was at hand, and we all devoutly wished it;
for while Puffin and Gasper asserted themselves, we others were, to a
defined extent, hiding our light under a bushel.
The catastrophe was foreshadowed by a stormy meeting convened to arrange
the programme of our fourth and last annual concert.
"Of course," premised the First Violin, who was also Secretary and
Librarian, "we have all a solo!"
There was no doubt of that, except as regarded the "doubles," viz.,
the two flutes and the two cornets. The first couple had so far
coalesced as to submit to the prowess being displayed in a duet, which
was destined to be less flute than elaborate flatulence.
"Let's begin at the beginning," said Gasper. "No. 1: that's an overture
for tutti; say, 'The Caliph of Bagdad.'"
"I don't mind," responded the Secretary. "It's easy enough, and
there's lots of show for the violins."
"The question now arises," jerked in Puffin, "who is to be the first
soloist? I won't."
"Nor likely to be," sneered Gasper.
"I understand your narrow-mindedness, Gasper," retorted Puffin; "but I
shall choose my own place and my own solo."
"So shall I," announced Gasper; "go on."
The Secretary proceeded.
"Shall we say: Solo (Clarionet)—Mr. R. Lipsey."
"Anything for a quiet life," said Lipsey. "I'm not afraid."
So it went on for four more items, when it became obvious that the "best
place," in the first part of the programme was open to competition.
"My solo," said Gasper, "comes in here."
"Thank you," replied Puffin; "I claim it myself."
"Do you?" grinned Gasper; "I stick to this point."
"So do I," said the undaunted Puffin.
"No, but really, you know," argued the Secretary, "it must be settled:
let me cut the knot. I'll play my solo here."
A howl of opposition now arose. Every performer, exclusive of the Drum
and the Triangle, had decided to "go in" for the "show place" in the
"I leave the Society if I do not play my solo here," said Gasper. "I
have no more to say!" and he sat down.
"So do I," echoed Puffin, "and get on with 'The Caliph' if you can
without a second cornet."
This was clinching matters with a vengeance.
"Look here," interposed the Doctor. "I don't play a solo, so I speak
impartially, I hope. Let Gasper play his solo in this part, and Puffin
his solo in the best place of the second part of the programme.
That'll settle it."
There was a tumult immediately; everybody seemed to be multiplied by
"Don't be a fool," whispered the Doctor to Gasper. "Stick to your right
place in the first part; all the swells look for that. They'll be gone
before Puffin gets his turn."
Gasper was quiet in a moment.
The Doctor, winking at me, got hold of the stony but still excited
"Let him have his blessed solo early, my boy," said the Triangle. "The
big people won't have taken their seats by then. You'll have it all your
To this day I believe the Doctor had a professional impulse in this
During a lull Puffin spoke.
"Let Mr. Gasper have his solo in the first part. I flatter myself I
can face the inferior position without any fear."
"You are so modest," retorted the delighted Gasper. "Put it down,
Basscleff. Solo (Cornet) 'The Wind from the Sea,' Vulvini—George
"That's my solo," shouted Puffin; "and I'll play it!"
Spare me the recital of the ensuing scene.
"Listen to me," said the Triangle, maliciously. "We must come to
hard facts, I plainly see. The truth is, the difference between Mr.
Gasper and Mr. Puffin (both admirable performers) has assumed the aspect
of direct rivalry; I may go so far as to say, antagonism. Laudable, so
far as art is concerned; lamentable for the ill-feeling promoted. I
suggest that, for the setting at rest of the unfortunate dispute, and
the better spirit of the Society, it be arranged that the two gentlemen
do play the same solo at the same concert."
Loud shouts, of varied sentiment, followed this daring speech.
"A moment, please," cried the Doctor; "as Treasurer of this Musical
Society I may state that our financial condition is not so satisfactory
as it might be: if this competition gets wind—I mean, of course, if
people get to know of it, we shall have an enormous house."
After some disputing, it was agreed that there was cogency in the
Other members were appeased with situations in the programme more or
less prominent, but when the twenty-four items had been satisfactorily
arranged, and the club separated, the general feeling was that the
interest of the concert, and the stake at issue, were the competitive
performances of Messrs. Puffin and Gasper.
The evening of the concert arrived: so did Doctor Martel at my rooms:
the little man was suffused with delight.
"My dear fellow!" he chuckled, "it'll be the funniest thing you ever
saw. I've been running to and fro all the week. Now to Gasper, now to
Puffin. 'You should hear Puffin phrase that passage about the 'wind
moaning,' said I to Gasper, 'it's tiptop,' and Gasper grinds his teeth.
Then I go to Puffin and say, 'Gasper's devoting himself to making a hit,
old man; the way he imitates the surge of the wave in the passage 'The
wild wave answers the winds,' will 'fetch' them, and no mistake!' and
Puffin turns pale."
"What does it all portend?" asked I.
"Wait and see, my lad," said the sly Doctor. "Wait and see."
Eight o'clock! and I meet Puffin as I enter the "Artists' Room." I play
the violino secondo. I am nobody.
"Well," say I, "how do you feel?"
"Never mind," says the astute Puffin; "I bide my time! Only (mark my
words), Gasper won't score as heavily as he expects." With these dark
words he vanishes.
The next moment I am face to face with Gasper.
"How do you feel?" I ask of him.
"Don't worry about me," replies Gasper. "I'm not afraid that Puffin
will cover himself with glory, after all." And Gasper retires.
We had a wonderful "house" that night. The "competition" had been
noised abroad, and the wily doctor's surmises were fulfilled. There was
a Puffin and a Gasper faction ready to do battle for its respective
champion when the clarion of defiance rang out from the platform.
I pass the overture, a solo on the clarionet, which reduced the pug-nose
of Lipsey to a severe aquiline during its performance; a flute and
violin duo, and etc. The time had come for "The Wind from the Sea"
(George Gasper Esq.). The favourite performer was hailed with shouts
of delight. The Puffin faction smiled silently.
The opening bars of the symphony were played by the pianist.
Gasper advanced with a half-restrained smile of self-satisfaction, and
after some singular contortions of his lips began to play the scena
for the cornet.
But no sound followed his laboured effort! Again, and again, red in the
face, and furious, he essayed to produce a note from his silver
instrument. It was dumb!
Not so the Puffin section of the audience; the titter soon became a
laugh, the laugh a shout, and finally with a stamp, and a diabolical
expression, Mr Gasper gave up the game, and retreated amidst a howl of
Meanwhile where was Puffin? Never mind.
Slowly went on the programme, till the item for which Mr. Puffin was
"set down" arrived in its place.
More sensation in the audience. Puffin section cock-a-hoop. Similar
symphony on the part of the pianist, and the placid Puffin, a foregone
victory shaping his lips into a half-concealed smile, put his cornet to
his mouth, and——
Well! while the audience was fighting its way out, half hysterical with
laughter (for the performance of Mr. Puffin had only reproduced Mr.
Gasper's failure), I was the unwilling witness of a "set-to" between the
rival cornet-players, who, having discovered that each had,
respectively, placed a cork up the principal tube of his opponent's
instrument, so far agreed, as to differ as to the justice of the
process. From the appearance of their upper lips, I am sure no solos
were to be apprehended for weeks to come. But, before our next club
meeting, Messrs. Gasper and Puffin had retired.
I don't belong to any musical clubs now.
(By permission of the Author.)
THE PROVINCIAL LANDLADY.
H. Chance Newton.
Oh, dear Mister Editor, sir, if you please, they say you're a kind and humanious gent, sir,
Which listens attentive to troubles and woes sech as worry an 'ard-working woman like me;
I'm worrited dreadful from morning to night with working and toilin' and sech,—which the rent, sir,
Is not always quite so forthcoming as I, with my fam'ly, would wish it to be!
Which I keeps a big house in the square, sir, not five minits' walk from the R'yal Theaytre,
Jest oppersit Muggins's Music-hall, sir, which its "public" is known as the "Linnet and Lamb"—
But I am a lamb, sir, to stand it as I do, a-working away up till midnight, or later,
For a lot of purfessional folks, which the best of the bunch, sir, is nothing but sham!
From them music-hall people as lodges with me is a set which I'm sure, sir, is simply outragious,
A-rushin' all over the house when I've scrubbed it and cleaned it jest like a new pin;—
And as for them second-floor folks (which is niggers) believe me their conduct is something rampagious,
A-larkin' all over the landing, a-spoilin' the paper,—it's really a sin!
And the party wot sings comic songs, sir, goes in and out shouting whenever he pleases,
And the next floor (the serio-comic)—well, there, she's a stuck-up, impertinent miss,
Which the last ones as had them apartments wos folks as performed on the "flyin' trapeeses,"
And went away two pun' thirteen in my debt, and I've never beheld 'em from that day to this.
Than there's that ventrillikist party, as imitates different voices, and that, sir,—
He frightens me out of my wits, which I'm sure as I haven't too many to spare;
And as for that Muggins's chairman, I frequently finds him asleep on the mat, sir,
Which I characterises behaviour like that as werry disgraceful and shocking—so there!
Then the Sisters Mac-Jones (them duettists) comes bouncin' all over the place, quite disdainful,
A fault-findin' day after day, sir, dressed up in their fal-de-rals, looking like guys;
And the party that sings sentimental goes on in a way as to me, sir, is painful,
He smokes a long pipe in the garding, which dreadful proceedings I can't but despise.
Then a troop which I think is called ackribacks, knocks my best parlour to rack and to ruin,
A-chucking of summersets over my splendid meeogany tables and chairs;
Why to-day they all stood on their heads in the passage: "Good gracious," I shouted, "why what are you doin'?"
When they twisted their legs round their necks, sir, made faces, and told me to toddle downstairs!
Which I don't wish to make a remark, sir, that might be unpleasant, but while I was at it
I thought as I'd mention the matters that cause me continual worry and din,
For if you excuse the expression, I ses, as for lettin' of lodgins',—oh, drat it!
"If it wasn't for makin' it out of their board," sir,—by jingers, I'd never let lodgins' agin!
(From "The Penny Showman," by permission of the Author and Mr. Samuel French.)
MY MATRIMONIAL PREDICAMENT.
I dare say a great many men in my situation would think themselves
highly honoured; but, however this may strike others, I fell bound to
confess that I am far from happy. The truth is, I have become so
entangled in the meshes of a really romantic love affair, that I can see
no possible hope of freeing myself. Let me hasten to explain.
About twelve months ago I engaged myself to a pretty young girl, who,
out of sheer fickleness—it could have been nothing else—jilted me. I
was much cut up at the time, since I had learnt to grow very fond of
her. A little while after, I began to take an interest in another pretty
girl whom I came in contact with almost daily; but, as I had no means of
getting properly introduced to her, I never spoke. By-and-by she
disappeared, and I soon forgot her. Things went on with me in the usual
way until, suddenly growing tired of my lonely existence, I advertised
for "a nice young girl, thoroughly domesticated, able and willing to
make a good-looking young bachelor happy;" adding, "Previous experience
not necessary." In this way I actually found one who answered my
expectations to the letter. We met, took the usual walks; and in the
course of a week or two, I could see she loved me with her whole heart.
The arrangments for our wedding were soon made. I procured the ring and
keeper; then put up the banns. Now the house I live in is peculiarly
situated. When I lie in bed, my head is in Blankshire, while my feet
extend over the boundary-line into Chumpshire. This may appear a slight
matter enough; and yet, I fancy, that if hard times should ever overtake
me, I would have two different parishes to fall back upon. However, I
found it necessary to publish the banns in both parishes; added to which
my fiancée, who is, or rather was, a lady's maid, a mile or two away
in another direction, must needs put them up in her own parish also. So
that I ought to reckon myself very much married, when it's all over. But
here comes my predicament.
I forgot to mention that the girl who jilted me is godmother to my
landlady's new baby. This slight relationship enables my landlady to
take the liberty of corresponding with her; and the other day, as it
transpires, she let slip the news of my approaching marriage. About the
same time, I not only met, but had the pleasure of being introduced to,
the second pretty girl at a concert. She, too, had heard of my marriage;
and presently confessed that she loved me herself; that, in fact, she
would never have left the neighbourhood if I had only once spoken to
her. This put me about considerably; and I heartily wished my wedding
was not so far advanced. Arrived home, I found a letter from the first
girl imploring me to pause before it was too late, and begging my
forgiveness for her past conduct. I took no notice of it; but the next
day brought her over, to stay, invited by my landlady. It was impossible
for me to offer any objection, as I was only a lodger myself. Still, the
girl's manner was convincing. She threw herself into my arms, and begged
I would postpone the ceremony, until she could really prove her devotion
to me. This was rather awkward; for, almost on the instant, all my old
love came back to me again, and I could not let her go.
The following day I took her about a bit, when I fell in love with her
more than ever. In the afternoon I even went so far as to write to her
mother, asking her to drop over to tea on Sunday afternoon. That night
I also introduced her to the second pretty girl—whom I must now speak
of as Miss No. 3. To my great surprise, the two became fast friends. On
the Sunday morning, when the little godmother heard my banns called out
in church, she fainted right away, and had to be carried outside. For
myself, I felt like listening to my own death-warrant. At tea-time the
mother came over; so she and my landlady soon settled it between
themselves, that the little godmother had the greatest right to me. In
the middle of all this, my fiancée turned up, when a lively scene
ensued. Eventually I left the house with her, to explain matters. But
nothing would satisfy her short of my marrying her, as she had the right
to demand. She swore that if I did not go through with the ceremony, she
would make away with herself. No; she had no intention of bringing up a
breach of promise case, for she loved me too much. Poor girl; I pitied
her from the bottom of my heart, and went straight back to my place to
give the little godmother her congé. But when we reached the house, I
found the latter stretched upon the floor in a dead faint; and my
courage completely gave way. I could not make up my mind which of the
two girls I liked the best, so begged for a little time to decide. My
fiancée went into the back parlour to cry, while I, in a frenzy of
distraction, rushed first to one girl, then to the other; and at last
into the open air, full butt against the third girl, who, brokenhearted,
was coming to see me. I thought the best thing I could do would be to go
for a walk and try to console her. I did; but this little walk turned
out so delightful, that I forgot all about the other two girls, and fell
madly in love with her! On our way back to my place, we met my
fiancée just leaving. I introduced and saw them both home. When I
reached home myself, Miss. No. 1 had been put to bed; her mother had
gone, while I was left to reflect upon my singular position. In the
morning at breakfast, the girl came to me crying; hanging round my neck,
and telling me how much she loved me. "Don't marry her, marry me!" she
pleaded, as I left the house on business. During the day I redeemed a
promise exacted from me by No. 3 to visit her, when she told me the same
tale. I also received a letter from my fiancée, demanding whether or
not I intended to go through the ceremony; failing which she would end
her life by poison. This was very dreadful; I went to see her, and
begged time for consideration.
The fact is, I could not—nor can I yet—make up my mind which I like
best. I love them all, and am convinced they each love me. Position has
nothing whatever to do with it, for I am only a poor man. Had I money, I
might perhaps square the difficulty with the mothers; but the girls
themselves are above mercenary ideas. I am sure, nay, positive that
they love me for myself alone. They are not even unfriendly disposed
towards each other, which is the most awkward part of the business. If
they would only consent to be locked up in a room together and fight it
out amongst themselves, I might be able to marry whichever one was left
alive. But no such thing. Each swears she will not stand in the others'
way, yet vows suicide if I do not individually marry her. The other
morning, because I would not give her a decided "Yes," No. 1 ran out of
the house to drown herself, and I arrived on the scene just in the nick
of time to pull her back at the water's edge, by the bustle. A day or so
afterwards, No. 3 put the same question to me, and noticing my
hesitation, had well-nigh leapt upon the railway metals before I could
prevent her. I didn't see my fiancée that night: but at six o'clock
the next morning, my landlady knocked me up to say that according to a
message left with her late at night Miss No. 2 had poisoned herself. For
an hour or so I was completely stunned; but after that time I dressed
and ran to the house, to find that the whole affair was a hoax. I intend
to be even with the fellow who played it on me, yet.
This kind of thing has been going on for more than a week, and I feel
worried to death. The latest is that, in addition to No. 1, both the
other girls have taken up their residence with my landlady. I would fly
if I could, but my business compels me to remain on the spot. The three
girls follow me about everywhere. I never have a minute's peace. Though
the greatest of friends, they are at the same time jealous of trusting
each other alone with me, lest I should commit myself to any rash
promise. I suppose I am one of those susceptible fellows who falls in
love with any girl who may encourage him. It must be so. Yet these girls
are every bit as nice as they are loving and different. No. 1 is very
young and pretty; my fiancée has a splendid figure, and is thoroughly
domesticated; No. 3 is my counterpart in everything. I love them all,
and can't for the life of me tell which I like the best. Whatever I do,
it will be a case of suicide for two of them, or a couple of breach of
promise actions for me. I ought to have stated before that the mothers
have taken lodgings in the house as well, so that I am in for a nice
thing! I would marry all three if the law allowed me; but though the
girls themselves might not object, yet the prospect of three
mothers-in-law is too much for one man to contemplate. The most sensible
arrangement would be, I think, not to marry anybody, but to go on loving
all three in a perfectly platonic manner until something happened to
make two of them throw the game up. I dare say the girls would be
willing enough—one of them even suggested it herself yesterday; but the
mothers won't hear of such a thing, their purpose being to bring me to
the point at once. I am a great favourite with the mothers too; and
their solicitations that I should marry their respective daughters are
almost as pressing as are those of the girls themselves. Really I am in
a most uncomfortable position. Out of doors, as I walk along followed by
these three young creatures, I am regarded as a noted character, and
the people everywhere whisper, "There goes the young man with his three
wives!" I shouldn't mind this in the least if only the mothers would
pack up their traps and go about their business. But they won't; here
they stick at my very elbow, calmly waiting for me to say whose daughter
I really mean to marry. So long as I refuse to give an answer to all
three, I am safe; but the business is getting just a little bit
tiresome, and I should heartily like to see my way out of it.
Was there ever anybody in such a predicament before! What shall I do?
What can I do? Is there any charitably-disposed person here who can
advise me? No? Then I am a doomed man, and must meet my fate resignedly.
However, I vow and declare that if by any chance I should get over
this, I'll not repeat the experiment as long as I live.
(Copyright of the Author.)
W. S. Gilbert.
The Ballyshannon foundered off the coast of Cariboo,
And down in fathoms many went the captain and the crew;
Down went the owners—greedy men whom hope of gain allured:
Oh, dry the starting tear, for they were heavily insured.
Besides the captain and the mate, the owners and the crew,
The passengers were also drowned excepting only two:
Young Peter Gray, who tasted teas for Barber, Croop, and Co.,
And Somers, who from Eastern shores imported indigo.
These passengers, by reason of their clinging to a mast,
Upon a desert island were eventually cast.
They hunted for their meals, as Alexander Selkirk used,
But they couldn't chat together—they had not been introduced.
For Peter Gray, and Somers too, though certainly in trade,
Were properly particular about the friends they made;
And somehow thus they settled it without a word of mouth—
That Gray should take the northern half, while Somers took the south.
On Peter's portion oysters grew—a delicacy rare,
But oysters were a delicacy Peter couldn't bear.
On Somers' side was turtle, on the shingle lying thick,
Which Somers couldn't eat, because it always made him sick.
Gray gnashed his teeth with envy as he saw a mighty store
Of turtle unmolested on his fellow-creature's shore.
The oysters at his feet aside impatiently he shoved,
For turtle and his mother were the only things he loved.
And Somers sighed in sorrow as he settled in the south,
For the thought of Peter's oysters brought the water to his mouth.
He longed to lay him down upon the shelly bed, and stuff;
He had often eaten oysters, but had never had enough.
How they wished an introduction to each other they had had
When on board the Ballyshannon! And it drove them nearly mad,
To think how very friendly with each other they might get,
If it wasn't for the arbitrary rule of etiquette!
One day when out hunting for the mus ridiculus,
Gray overheard his fellow-man soliloquising thus:
"I wonder how the playmates of my youth are getting on,
McConnell, S. B. Walters, Paddy Byles, and Robinson?"
These simple words made Peter as delighted as could be,
Old chummies at the Charterhouse were Robinson and he!
He walked straight up to Somers, then he turned extremely red,
Hesitated, hummed and hawed a bit, then cleared his throat, and said:
"I beg your pardon—pray forgive me if I seem too bold,
But you have breathed a name I knew familiarly of old.
You spoke aloud of Robinson—I happened to be by.
You know him?" "Yes, extremely well." "Allow me, so do I."
It was enough: they felt they could more pleasantly get on,
For (ah, the magic of the fact!) they each knew Robinson!
And Mr. Somers' turtle was at Peter's service quite,
And Mr. Somers punished Peter's oyster-beds all night.
They soon became like brothers from community of wrongs:
They wrote each other little odes and sang each other songs;
They told each other anecdotes disparaging their wives;
On several occasions, too, they saved each other's lives.
They felt quite melancholy when they parted for the night,
And got up in the morning soon as ever it was light;
Each other's pleasant company they reckoned so upon,
And all because it happened that they both knew Robinson!
They lived for many years on that inhospitable shore,
And day by day they learned to love each other more and more.
At last, to their astonishment, on getting up one day,
They saw a frigate anchored in the offing of the bay.
To Peter an idea occurred, "Suppose we cross the main?
So good an opportunity may not be found again."
And Somers thought a minute, then ejaculated, "Done!
I wonder how my business in the City's getting on?"
"But stay," said Mr. Peter: "when in England, as you know,
I earned a living tasting teas for Barber, Croop, and Co.,
I may be superseded—my employers think me dead!"
"Then come with me," said Somers, "and taste indigo instead."
But all their plans were scattered in a moment when they found,
The vessel was a convict ship from Portland outward bound;
When a boat came off to fetch them, though they felt it very kind,
To go on board they firmly but respectfully declined.
As both the happy settlers roared with laughter at the joke,
They recognised a gentlemanly fellow pulling stroke:
'Twas Robinson—a convict, in an unbecoming frock!
Condemned to seven years for misappropriating stock!!!
They laughed no more, for Somers thought he had been rather rash
In knowing one whose friend had misappropriated cash;
And Peter thought a foolish tack he must have gone upon
In making the acquaintance of a friend of Robinson.
At first they didn't quarrel very openly, I've heard;
They nodded when they met, and now and then exchanged a word:
The word grew rare, and rarer still the nodding of the head,
And when they meet each other now, they cut each other dead.
To allocate the island they agreed by word of mouth,
And Peter takes the north again, and Somers takes the south;
And Peter has the oysters, which he hates in layers thick,
And Somers has the turtle—turtle always makes him sick.
(By permission of the Author.)
A LOST SHEPHERD.
Winklehaven was once a very bad place. Roads, trade,
drainage—everything was as bad as it could be. The fishermen
were bad, and beat their wives, and their wives were bad and
deserved all the beating they got, and more. The fish caught
there was bad before it went to market. The very parson was
bad, and preached the excisemen to sleep whilst Red Robert and
Black Bill ran their cargo of smuggled bad brandy.
Families who should have been respectable were not. Parents
whipped their children into rebellion and then cut them off with
shillings—bad ones, of course. Wards defied their guardians,
and invariably fell in love contrary to the arrangements of their
seniors. All the young men ran away with all the eligible
The natural result was that after a dozen years from the
time when Winklehaven stood at its worst, the population of
the town consisted of infirm old people suffering from remorse,
gout, and other afflictions proceeding from the excesses of youth,
and such spinsters as were rejected by the young rakes of the
preceding era. The moral aspect of the place changed in those
years; it was no longer unholy, but, indeed, the most virtuous
of human settlements.
The fishermen were too old and weak to beat their wives, and
their failing memories could supply them with no oaths suitable
to express their feelings. The wicked parson and the smugglers
were no more; there wasn't a young man in the place, and the
ladies who called themselves young were irreproachable.
It might strike the unthinking as an extraordinary peculiarity
that a place so very, very good should require a curate in
addition to a deaf rector. Nevertheless such was the case—a
curate was wanted, and wanted very much by the congregation
of St. Tickleimpit's—the unblemished spinsters, who called
themselves young. They would have a curate, and Mr.
Lillywhite Lambe, B.A., they had.
Now as the snow falls like a veil of purity over the face of
the earth, only to melt and besmirch it before the lasting season
of blossoming sweetness, so Mr. Lillywhite Lambe, B.A., came
to Winklehaven and passed away before it attained to its
present buttercup-and-daisy condition of virtue; and the
manner of his going this pen shall tell.
Mr. Lillywhite Lambe, B.A., was a curate of the deepest dye.
He had not so much principle as a bankrupt, and he came to
Winklehaven with the settled purpose of marrying the richest
and least objectionable of his congregation. The difficulties in
his way were few. In personal appearance and demeanour he
was so simple and sweet that even the rector was mistaken and
thought him a fool, and what more could a girl of five-and-forty
It was not a question which he could marry from amongst the
eighteen or twenty tempting creatures around him, but rather
which he should reject. They surrounded him like a glory
wherever he went, waiting for him at his coming out and never
leaving him until his going in. Seldom less than half-a-dozen
spinsters accompanied him; they liked him too much and each
other too little to trust him with one alone. And they wrote
letters to him marked "private," containing the burning
thoughts they dared not express in the presence of their sisters.
Each was tantamount to an offer of marriage; but he was yet
undecided in his selection, and replied to all with touching yet
ambiguous texts. At this time he suffered somewhat from
bile, for his most active exercise was wool-winding, and the
ladies buttered his toast on both sides and the edges.
But anon there came a man with a black beard and a devil-may-care aspect
to Winklehaven, and took for six months the cottage on the deserted West
Cliff, which had belonged to Black Bill in the bad old times.
The stranger snubbed the inquisitive tradesman of whom he bought his
groceries; he ordered his bacon by the side, his beer by the barrel, and
his whisky by the largest of stone bottles. He laughed aloud when he
passed in the High Street Mr. Lambe with the three Misses Cockle on one
side of him, and the three Misses Crabbe on the other. The ladies had
not any doubt that he was a bold bad man, and declared one and all that
nothing would tempt them to venture upon that dreadful West Cliff.
But, sinners being so few, they could not but feel interested in this
man with the black beard and dark eyes, and when he came not to church
on Sunday they implored the rector to visit him.
The rector said he would not go (and privately swore it, in episcopal
terms, for he hated walking and sinners equally), but he offered the
services of his curate; and the congregation, though it fain would have
spared its pet curate so dangerous a mission, could not refuse to
Mr. Lillywhite Lambe, B.A., found it difficult to conceal his delight at
the prospect before him, for an excess of ladies and butter was killing
him. He had not enjoyed half an hour's freedom in the open air since his
arrival at Winklehaven; it seemed to him years since he smoked a morning
pipe. His bowels yearned towards beer from the barrel and whiskey from
That last evening he was ever to spend in his lodgings at Winklehaven he
occupied in preparations for the morrow. He looked up the pipe he had
brought with him but never smoked, and tobacco—dry and dusty, yet
fragrant as hay new mown, and pipe-lights, and a French novel; these he
stuffed into the pockets of his alpaca coat, ingeniously overlaying them
with his pamphlet confuting the doctrines of the Primitive Bedlamites.
In the morning he rose gaily; and when he had parted with his anxious
flock at the foot of the west hill, he ascended the steep path, like a
cherub climbing a cloud, without sense of exertion, and as one who is
resolved to make a day of it.
A walk of two miles was before him, but he did not hurry himself after
he had lost sight of the spinsters and the church weathercock. He
stopped, took off his collar and band, bared his shirt front to the
breeze, and took a deep inspiration. Then he threw himself on the thymy
grass and tasted liberty. He smoked three pipes; he read two chapters
and a half of the novel, skipping the moral parts; he dropped the book,
turned over on his chest, and with his clerical hat tilted sideways over
his eyes, he watched the distant ships for half an hour; after that he
lay on his back, drew a handkerchief over his eyes and went to sleep. He
slumbered for two blessed hours, and then waking athirst, thought kindly
of the sinner who kept his beer in barrels and whisky in cool stoneware.
So he pulled himself into Evangelical shape again and stepped out
briskly for the smuggler's cottage, smacking his lips. But, alas, the
cottage door was barred, and there was no trace of the black-bearded
sinner, save a flitch of bacon and the beer barrel which stood in the
most inaccessible of pantries.
He must wait. Once more he sat upon the short grass, and to beguile the
time, drew out the budget of letters sent by his admiring congregation.
He read them through, one after another, with the view of forming a
comparative estimate of the writer's value, but the difficulty of
selecting one seemed greater than ever.
The temporal and spiritual worth of each was represented by
x. With the chance of facilitating his choice he had recourse
to his pencil, with which he was tolerably skilful, and on the
back of each letter he drew a portrait of its sender. These
spinsters were beyond flattery, so he caricatured them to find
which must certainly be rejected as the worst looking.
In this amusing occupation the time would have passed unheeded but for
Mr. Lambe's increasing dryness. There was no water to be had, no, nor
wine, and the interior of the young curate's mouth felt like brown paper
to his tongue. It suddenly came to his mind that a dip in the cool sea
would refresh his body, now suffering from external in addition to
internal dryness. For the hour was two, the month July, and the sun
unclouded, and he determined at once to bathe, wondering why he had not
availed himself of this blessing of freedom. Except in a footbath he had
not bathed during the term of his curacy at Winklehaven. How could he,
where there was neither seclusion nor bathing machine?
The tide was at ebb, and a long stretch of sand lay between the cliff
and the sea; but near the water's edge stood a rock, and thither Mr.
Lambe betook himself. On the cliff side was a little shelf dried by the
sun, and on this he laid his clothes neatly; then with a smile
irradiating his countenance, he slapped his thin legs and ran down into
the bursting waves. Quickly he lost all thought of thirst—of
everything, save the enjoyment of the moment. He swam in every
conceivable position, bent in girlish fashion to meet the coming waves,
and floundered about like a porpoise.
It was whilst turning over head and heels that he caught sight of that
which, in a moment, sobered him—a petticoat upon the cliff—another,
another! yet others, each with a wearer! They were not a thousand yards
from the cottage on the cliff—those ladies whose outlines he
recognised, even at their remote distance from him. Full well he knew
they had come to look for him. What was he to do? How could he face
them, how avoid? He had thought to dry himself like a raisin in the sun;
that now was impossible. Equally impracticable was it to clothe himself
wet; before he had a sock on he would be observed, for there was no
ledge upon the sea-ward side of the rock, and the flowing waves already
touched its base.
The only place of concealment was behind the rock, and there he must
stay until the ladies retired.
He lay in the water, and through a chink in the rock watched his
pursuers; their voices, in high-pitched consultation, reached his ear.
They examined the cottage on the cliff, and then descended to the rocks
at its base. It was only natural that the ladies should think their
beloved curate murdered. They had not seen him for six hours; and his
destruction at the hands of the black-bearded man was the worst
explanation of his protracted absence that entered their imagination.
This fear had led them to follow in his footsteps; and now, as they
poked their sun-shades in the fissures of the rocks, it was with the
expectation of finding his corpse.
Mr. Lambe was fervently thankful that the rising tide kept them from his
place of concealment, and watched their movements fixedly, until the
cramp seized his leg; and then, in the limited space of his seclusion,
he exercised his ingenuity to keep the vital heat within him.
Occasionally he glanced at the shore. When the ladies were fatigued,
they systematically divided their number—one going to search, whilst
the other rested. Hour after hour passed, and every minute brought fresh
cramps and racking pains to the limbs of the sodden curate. He had to
put his lips between his teeth, lest their violent chattering should
proclaim his whereabouts; and he cried like a child when he found his
body assuming the blue tints of an unboiled lobster.
But still those doting spinsters poked amongst the sea-weed with
The sun was wearing the horizon, when he heard a scream, and beheld the
second Miss Cockle pointing in the direction of his rock.
Mr. Lambe was perplexed: it was impossible that his eye, peeping through
the small chink, had been discovered; but a moment later his perplexity
gave place to horror, as he perceived his hat bobbing gaily on the waves
between him and the shore. It was followed by his stockings, and behind
them in procession his waistcoat, coat—everything! all washed away from
the nice little ledge by the rising tide. He had never given his clothes
a thought from the moment he neatly packed them. But had that
consideration entered his mind, it could only have added to his anxiety:
for it would have been impossible to get them from the place where they
lay on the coast-side of the rock without displaying himself. Heedless
of their boots, the ladies hooked at the oncoming vestments with their
sunshades; and, now, one has his collar, another his dear hat, and a
third his blessed braces, whilst their cries of woe echo along the
When his coat was fished out, what could be expected, but that the
ladies all should dash at his pockets with a view to gratifying their
curiosity, and rescuing the letters which betrayed their most private
With groans, Mr. Lambe beheld his pipe and tobacco brought forth, amidst
cries of astonishment, then the French novel; and, finally, the bundle
of letters. He could not bear to see the result, when each, seizing the
letter in her own handwriting, should find her caricature thereon; and
dropping his head, he beat it with his fist—partly in frenzy, partly to
promote the circulation of his stagnating blood.
The black-bearded man returned to the cottage as the ladies, carrying
the only remains they could find of their curate, were leaving his
vicinity. He was not displeased that he was later than usual in
returning; for although he loved the beautiful, he did not like the
ladies of Winklehaven.
He lived by painting pictures, this pariah of the West Cliff;
nevertheless, he had some good qualities, and when half an hour later a
nude study, shivering and wet, presented itself in his doorway craving
to be taken in out of the night wind, he asked no question until he had
wrapped him in warm blankets, and filled him with strong liquors.
Mr. Lillywhite Lambe never returned to his curacy, never married a rich
spinster. His disappearance was not inquired into deeply. Some people
preferred to think of him as dead and sainted. He was supposed to be
drowned, and his ghost was said to be visible at times upon the West
Cliff—generally with a pipe in his mouth. And as his costume was that
of the black man, who was habitually at his side, it was further
supposed that he had, in that first visit to the cottage on the cliff,
sold himself to the D——.
(By permission of the Author.)
A MATHEMATIC MADNESS.
F. P. Dempster.
For months I had been "grinding" Mathematics day and night
When Miss McGirton cast on my affections such a blight;
My mind unhinged now only creaks, and when I tell my woes
I'm forced to lisp in numbers what I'd rather say in prose.
Sweet maiden perpendicular! She gave a slanting sigh
As o'er my kneeling form she cast a calculating eye.
"Ah! well" said I, "you cipher me, for if you'll not be mine
From out this pocket next my heart I'll straight produce a line;
So ere you are, dear Polly, gone, pray heed your lover's vow,
Or he dangles at right angles to some horizontal bough."
The maid flew in no frustrum—like your giddy gushing girls—
But standing calm and frigid, shook her strictly spiral curls,
And said, "You see we're equal as to station: very well!
Our paths in life could never meet, because they're parallel."
Her voice was so serrated that I fled this maid antique;
Then, approaching her obliquely, at a tangent took her cheek!
The kiss was too elliptical! She vanished into space!
And a circulating obelisk now marks the fatal place.
Weeks fled. My doctor shook his head and said, "You must embark
For an utter change." I did: and went aboard a leaky Arc
Bound for the hot Quadratics, where I landed for a week,
And joined the aborigines in every savage freak.
I felled primeval forests with the axes of a cube,
At the feathery Parabolas I aimed the loaded tube;
(For while aboard the Arc, you see, I found on deck a gun,
And, cunning as a Crusoe, put it by for future fun.)
While safe within some brackets I have watched those bulky brutes,
The snorting Parallelograms that feed upon square roots;
Their noise would rouse the forest till each denizen therein
Woke up and did its "level best" to swell the horrid din.
Oh! the shrieking of the Cylinder! the Pyramid's base moan,
The clucking of the Sector and the cooing of the Cone!
Then a lull perhaps, while distant ululations would reveal
The natives chanting grace before their missionary meal.
In truth it was an evil place, for a Vinculum might rise
At any moment in your path and wobble its wild eyes;
And oft, when looking for a log I'd shake in ev'ry joint
For fear some deadly Decimal might sting me with its point.
At last I plucked up courage, though, and even gained renown
In getting gallant trophies for my home in Camden Town:
I killed the cruel Quatrefoil to take her snarling cub,
Or doubled up a cannibal to get his graven club;
I trapped the roaring Rhombuses, those beasts of fearful strength,
And the Parallelopipedon, a snake of awful length;
Oft I bestrode the Algebra and charged in wild career
The proud opaque Hypotenuse and jabbed him with my spear.
'Tis past! I'm now in London: yet my reason's all awry.
I'm yearning for a vanished maid who gave a slanting sigh.
Nor may we meet in Dreamland: e'en there I'm robbed of rest,
For a wizened old Trapezium sits sulking on my chest;
Or two triangles she jangles with a semilunar leer,
Till I wake—with hair erect—in one diagonal of fear!
And mark to the clang of symbols, phantom figures march all day
In co-efficient cohorts—Major Axis leads the way.
In short, from early morn until I shuffle off to bed,
But one equation's clear to me,—o=ayz.
(By permission of the Author.)
WAITING AT TOTTLEPOT.
An hour to wait! Well that's a nuisance, but I suppose there is no help
I cannot possibly go on without my portmanteau. And they may send the
wrong one after all. I believe my friend the dismal porter—the faded
misanthrope in corduroys, only telegraphed for a brown portmanteau.
There are probably twenty brown portmanteaux at this present moment
waiting at Jigby Junction, and if I know anything of railway officials,
they will be sure to send the wrong one. So here I must wait.
I suppose I must have made a mistake in the train. No trap, dog-cart, or
conveyance of any kind to meet me from Clewmere. Wonder whether they had
my telegram. The Faded Misanthrope says he is quite certain nothing has
been over from Clewmere since the day before yesterday. And then he says
Sir Charles and some of the young ladies came in the waggonette. They
waited to see two trains in, he told me, and then drove away saying
there must be some mistake. Hope I did not say Tuesday instead of
Thursday, or what is far more likely, write Thursday to look like
Tuesday. I ask my friend the porter if there is any other way of getting
to Clewmere. "No," he says, "it is a longish walk, a matter of twelve or
thirteen miles, and a pretty rough road too."
"Now," he says "if it had only been Saturday instead of Thursday, there
is Smaggleton's 'bus, as 'ud put you down within five minutes' walk of
the lodge. Smaggleton don't run every day, he don't; he only runs o'
Saturdays, bein' market day at Stamborough, and a pooty full load he
gets there and back, which pays Smaggleton very well. And Smaggleton
wants it," he continues, "what with the branch line to Stamborough,
Smaggleton's business ain't what it was; he can't afford to turn up his
nose at a few farmers and their missusses now-a-days. Smaggleton must
take things as they come—the good and the bad, the rough and the
smooth—as well as the rest of us. Lor, bless you, Sir, I recollect when
Smaggleton used to drive about in his dog-cart, in a light top coat, a
white hat and a rose in his button-hole, he always was quite the——"
As I do not feel particularly interested in the rise, progress or
downfall of Smaggleton, I am obliged to interrupt my garrulous friend,
and ask if they did not let out flys at the Crackleton Arms, hard by. He
informs me, they certainly do "in a usual way." But he adds, they have
only two flys. One is having something done to the wheels, and the other
went away early this morning to take some friends of Squire Bullamore's
to a pic-nic. He furthermore tells me that Cudgerry, the carrier, would
perhaps be able to give me a lift, but he would not be here till seven
o'clock this evening. As they dine at Clewmere at eight, of course
Cudgerry is quite out of the question. My friend shakes his head, he
retires into a dark, greasy room, which seems to be devoted to lamps,
and I continue my walk up and down the platform.
Cannot imagine why they ever built a station at Tottlepot. Nobody ever
wants to stop at Tottlepot, there is no trade at Tottlepot—indeed,
nobody ought to be allowed to stop at Tottlepot; and Tottlepot as a
Station ought to be forthwith disestablished and erased from the railway
map of Great Britain. If I had left the train at Jigby Junction, I
should not have lost my portmanteau, I could have hired a fly, and
should by this time have been quietly lunching at Clewmere Court instead
of pacing up and down the Tottlepot platform like a wild beast in his
I have often waited at stations before. Every kind of station, little
and big, all over the Continent and England, and have generally found
that waiting productive of considerable amusement. But Tottlepot is
quite a different thing. I think it was Albert Smith who once spoke of
the depth of dulness being achieved by "spending a wet Sunday, all by
yourself, in a hack cab in the middle of Salisbury Plain." Had he been
compelled to wait on a fine Thursday at Tottlepot he would have
discovered a depth yet lower. The only thing in my favour is, it is
fine. If it were wet I cannot imagine what I should do. There is a small
room I see labelled "Waiting-Room." It is about the size of a
bathing-machine and half filled with parcels and bandboxes. If you had
to wait there you would be compelled to sit with your legs right across
the down platform; the only use of that waiting-room would be to keep
your hat dry.
There is not a refreshment room, there is not even a book-stall. I cannot
even cheer myself with an ancient bath bun, a glass of cloudy beer, or
two penny-worth of acidulated drops. (If there happened to be a
refreshment room at Tottlepot that is exactly the kind of refreshment
they would give you). Neither can I pass away the time by purchasing a
penny paper, and taking a free read of all the novels and publications
awaiting purchasers. There are no advertisements, no lovely oil
paintings of sea-side resorts, which are all the more charming from
being not the least like the place they are supposed to represent; there
are no bills of entertainments; no auctioneers' and house-agents'
notices; no posters concerning hotels, nor glass-cases containing
photographic specimens. It is just the place for Mark Tapley to come to
as station-master. And he, with all his power of being jolly under the
most disadvantageous circumstances, would probably be found under the
wheels of a passing express within a fortnight.
And talking about the station-master reminds me I have not yet seen
him. Possibly my friend, the Faded Misanthrope in corduroys, is
station-master. If so, he has to clean the lamps, send telegrams, take
and issue tickets, look after the baggage, attend to the signals,
cultivate his garden, pay visits to the Crackleton Arms, and superintend
the traffic of the station generally. I do not wonder at his appearing
to be somewhat depressed. The only thing of a lively nature I see about
the place is a fine black cat, with enormous green eyes, which might be
utilised as "caution" signals when the porter, in consequence of his
multifarious duties, was unable to reach the signal-box. This cat was
evidently very much pleased to see me indeed. It followed me up and down
the platform like a dog, and it purred like a saw-pit in full work.
A very tiny pale governess, with two big bouncing rosy girls, in the
highest of spirits, the shortest of petticoats and the longest of hair,
cross the line. I fancy those young ladies are daughters of the Vicar,
and I may meet their excellent mamma at dinner to-night. The governess
passes demurely through the side wicket. One of her charges tries to do
a sort of Blondin feat by walking along the glistening iron rail and
falls down; the eldest boldly clambers over the five-barred gate and
shows a shapely pair of legs, clad in sable hose and snow-white frilled
pantalettes. "What did I tell you, Lil?" says the governess in the
mildest voice to the first. "Very well, Gil, wait till we get home!" she
remarks in yet sweeter tones to the second. The two children rejoin her
at once and take her hand, and disappear down the lane. I am left to
wonder how she acquires this influence over them, for they are as tall
as she is and infinitely stronger—they could eat her, were they so
minded. I wonder too what will happen to Gil when they get home? Will
mamma be told? No, I fancy this mild little governess is quite equal to
controlling, unaided, these big bouncing girls.
My friend the porter has by this time got through a quantity of business
of a varied nature, and is enjoying a little light relaxation by digging
violently in his garden. He has taken off his jacket, and a good deal of
his depression seems to have been removed at the same time—it must be
depressing to be compelled to reside in a somewhat tight corduroy jacket
all your life—and as he digs he hums to himself a sort of merry dirge.
I endeavour to enter into the spirit of the thing, and sympathise with
him in his relaxation. I say cheerfully, as if I knew all about it, "Ah!
nice fine weather for the——!" I cannot for the life of me think what
it is nice fine weather for. My friend says, "Eh?" I observe he is not
so respectful in his private as in his porterial capacity. I reply,
"Quite so!" whereupon he rejoins, "Ha! but we could do wi' a bit o' rain
for the——." Cannot catch remainder of his sentence; but I never yet
met a gardener who couldn't "do wi' a bit o' rain" for something or
We begin to be quite voluble on the subject of plants and crops. I find
he knows so much more on the subject than I do, but I merely nod my head
and smile weakly and presently move quietly away. When I reach the other
end of the platform I hear the sharp jingle of the telegraph bell and
the jerk of the signal levers. Presently a very prim and neat
station-master appears, who looks as if he had just been turned out of
one of the band-boxes in the waiting room. There is also a very active
boy porter, who is apparently trying to run over the station-master with
a truck. My old friend is walking slowly along the platform. He has left
the gay horticulturist in the garden, and has assumed the Faded
Misanthrope with his corduroy jacket. He tells me that the train is now
coming—the one that will bring my portmanteau. The train presently
stops; a few dazed agriculturists, and a very stout fussy old lady,
half-a-dozen milk cans, and my portmanteau are put out.
I am gazing at the latter to be quite sure it is my own, when I hear
myself addressed by name. I turn round and see a smart groom whose face
I know well. "Anything else beside the portmanteau, sir?" he says,
touching his hat. "Sir Charles is outside with the waggonette; the new
pair is a little bit fresh, and he don't like to leave 'em."
That is all right. I think to myself I shall dine at Clewmere after all.
(By permission of the Author.)
MARRIED TO A GIANTESS.
I loved her with all my heart, and, indeed, it took all my heart to
accomplish the feat; for, in sooth, there was a great deal—a very great
deal—of her to love. Although only "sweet seventeen," she had reached
the commanding stature of nine feet nine inches, and, to use the words
of a familiar advertisement, she was "still growing."
From my childhood I had doated on the gigantic, loved the lofty, admired
the massive, and had a weakness for strength. The tales I best loved
were those of giants.
Can you wonder, then, that when I heard that the celebrated Samothracian
Giantess, Goliathina Immensikoff, from the wilds of Wallachia, the
largest woman in the world, was approaching London, my soul was stirred
by the news as by a trumpet-call? I read with the deepest interest the
accounts of her antecedents. I learnt how she was discovered in the
Wilds of Wallachia by Whiteley, the World's Provider, who had "taken her
from the bosom of her family"—and here I could not help exclaiming,
"What a stupendous 'bosom' that 'family' must have had!"
As I reclined on my sofa, smoking the largest possible meerschaum, and
reading with absorbing interest these accounts of one who was certainly
"born to greatness," I suddenly came to a terrific and almost appalling
resolve. Involuntarily I exclaimed, aloud, "She shall be mine!"
Yet how could I hope for success? To win so great a being one must be
not only a lady-killer, but a giant-killer also; and though I bear a
"big" name myself—Hector Gogmagog—Nature has denied me either
extraordinary personal attractions or lofty stature. How hopeless, then,
for me to aspire to the affection of the Monumental Maiden of
Samothracia! Five feet five pitted against nine feet nine is to be
But love laughs at obstacles. That evening I went to the Royal Escurial
Theatre, where Mademoiselle Goliathina was performing, and sat
enthralled to witness her impersonation of the Queen of Brobdingnag. The
pictures had not exaggerated. She was "every inch a queen"—a phrase of
some significance when the number of inches mounts up to one hundred and
The next step was to get an introduction. This I accomplished to my
satisfaction, and though at first naturally overawed by her Leviathan
aspect, thenceforward my wooing proceeded rapidly. I had several
interviews with the colossal charmer, at which I had the satisfaction of
discovering that I was more in her eyes than some other men who were
nearer to herself in point of stature. Words of encouragement coming
from those lips, so near and yet so far away, words spoken in soft
Wallachian, yet in tones that Stentor might have envied—elevated me to
the seventh heaven of pride and delight. I already felt taller by
inches—but what was that to her nine feet nine?
I sent her the very biggest bouquets, such as occupied a whole hansom
cab each; love letters, their weight barely covered by eight stamps; and
valentines that would only go by parcels delivery.
All this had its effect. She would have been less than woman, instead of
a very great deal more—had she been insensible to my devotion. Can I
ever forget what the poet ecstatically calls "the first kiss of
love"—how, at considerable inconvenience to herself, she bent that
statuesque form to accommodate herself to my limited stature? That
was, indeed, "stooping to conquer."
Yet with all this encouragement, it was in fear and trembling that I
approached the momentous question. Fancy a refusal from those lips. It
would be crushing indeed!
"Dearest Goliathina," I said, standing upon the head of the sofa, in
order to place myself upon something like her own exalted level, "say,
oh, say you will be mine. You may be sure of my lifelong devotion. You
will be all in all to me, and, in fact, much more than all; for you are
far too large to be merely my better half. I shall always make much of
you, and look up to you as one infinitely above me. Fortunately, I have
a large heart; but as you occupy it entirely, it would be perfectly
impossible for me to find room for any other object. Were you to reject
me, there would be an immeasurable void in my life, and who else is
capable of filling it?"
She was evidently affected; for what the poet calls a "big round
tear"—and goodness knows how big round tear it was in this
case—could be perceived starting from each of her moonlike eyes. I
clasped her hand—which in point of length was a foot—and she did not
"Fondest Hector," she responded, "I am thine!"
And she leant her head upon my shoulder. I staggered; but by the
exertion of all my strength I was able for some moments to sustain that
Our wedding took place before the Registrar, who, being of a nervous
temperament, was so overwhelmed at the towering dimensions of the bride,
that he could scarcely get through the ceremony. It was all as private
as so abnormal an affair could possibly be kept, and for a time the
famous female colossus figured no longer at the Royal Escurial as Queen
Brobdingnag, a substitute only six feet two inches having been provided.
Marrying a giantess has its inconveniences. I had to have a house built
with exceptionally lofty rooms and doors ten feet high, with furniture
on a corresponding scale. An ordinary carriage was of no use to my wife,
whose size also frightened the horses; so we had a sort of triumphal car
built, drawn by a circus elephant. It was expensive, but an excellent
advertisement in a theatrical sense. She could never walk out without
being mobbed, and terrifying babies. She dared not visit a friend's
house for fear of frightening the children and destroying the furniture.
And fancy her at a dance! Moreover, our housekeeping expenses were
Anon, darker shadows hovered around our domestic sphere. Her temper
proved to be at times uncertain. At the least attempt to thwart any of
her strange caprices, she grew infuriated; and when annoyed, she had a
way of putting me on the top of a high bookcase, or locking me up in a
cupboard, box, or trunk—for I have said all our belongings were on a
gigantic scale—which was peculiarly humiliating.
About this time we became acquainted with Morlock Mastodon, Drum-Major
to his highness the Grand Duke of Samothracia. The Major, though of
small stature compared with my wife, was considered a giant by ordinary
men, being seven feet ten in height. My fondness for giants rendered
him an eligible acquaintance to me. Mrs. Gogmagog naturally took to one
of her own gigantic species; and the Major was pleased to say that ours
was the only comfortable and commodious house in England—he meant the
only one in which the doors were ten feet high, and the chair-seats four
feet from the ground. Anyhow, he soon made himself at home with us—too
much at home, as I couldn't help thinking. I didn't mind him and my
wife being good friends; but when, in their gigantic loftiness, they
seemed to overlook me altogether, I began to entertain natural feelings
of jealousy. Besides, the Major owed me money—large sums in proportion
to his size, which he had borrowed under the obviously false pretence
that he was "very short just now;" and he seemed in no hurry to pay it
back. What could I do? It was rather a risky thing to expostulate with a
man of seven feet ten; and to turn him out of the house would have been
a task altogether beyond my physical strength. At all events I could
resolve that he should never enter it again; and I gave strict
injunctions that always in future when Major Mastodon called there was
to be "nobody at home."
Moreover, I actually summoned up courage to tell my wife of my
resolution, and even to remonstrate with her upon her own demeanour
towards the gallant and gigantic Major. Then she got into a rage. And
such a rage! Heavens! what had I done? What would become of me? I was
as one who had called down upon his devoted head the wrath of the gods
or of the Titans.
She drew herself up to her full height of nearly ten feet, her eyes
glared like those of a demoniac, and grasping my arm in her Herculean
clutch, she lifted me bodily from the ground.
"Hands off!" I exclaimed, struggling. "Hit one your own size!"
"My own size!" she thundered, in a contralto profundo voice that
shook the very roof. "Where am I to find 'em? The only person
approximating to my own size you have forbidden the house. You—you
dare try and control my actions—you, whom I could crush like a
blue-bottle—attempt to dictate to me! I will stand this no longer.
You have offended me once too often. You die!"
"Beware, fearful female!" I gasped. "Colossal as you are, the arm of the
law is still longer and even stronger than yours. Kill me, and you will
assuredly die for it!"
She gave a laugh of scorn.
"Me?" she cried. "Do you believe they would hang me? No; I am above
all laws, and I have sworn that you shall die!"
And in spite of my struggles she flung me, as easily as if I had been a
doll, right out of the third storey window. Down I fell, down, down,
—— found myself on the floor. I had tumbled off the sofa, and so
awakened from my terrific dream. Heavens! what a relief to find that
after all I was not married to a giantess, that it was all a vision
due to my falling asleep over the advertisement, and that Mdlle.
Goliathina was but a gigantic nightmare.
(By permission of the Author.)
THE VISION OF THE ALDERMAN.
Henry S. Leigh.
An Alderman sat at a festive board,
Quaffing the blood-red wine,
And many a Bacchanal stave outpour'd
In praise of the fruitful vine.
Turtle and salmon and Strasbourg pie
Pippins and cheese were there;
And the bibulous Alderman wink'd his eye,
For the sherris was old and rare.
But a cloud came o'er his gaze eftsoons,
And his wicked old orbs grew dim;
Then drink turn'd each of the silver spoons
To a couple of spoons for him.
He bow'd his head at the festive board,
By the gaslight's dazzling gleam:
He bow'd his head and he slept and snor'd,
And he dream'd a fearful dream.
Far, carried away on the wings of Sleep,
His spirit was onward borne,
Till he saw vast holiday crowds in Chepe
On a ninth November morn.
Guns were booming and bells ding-dong'd,
Ethiop minstrels play'd;
And still, wherever the burghers throng'd,
Brisk jongleurs drove their trade.
Scarlet Sheriffs, the City's pride,
With a portly presence fill'd
The whole of the courtyard just outside
The hall of their ancient Guild.
And in front of the central gateway there,
A marvellous chariot roll'd,
(Like gingerbread at a country fair
'Twas cover'd with blazing gold).
And a being, array'd in pomp and pride
Was brought to the big stone gate;
And they begg'd that being to mount and ride
In that elegant coach of state.
But, oh! he was fat, so ghastly fat,
Was that being of pomp and pride,
That, in spite of many attempts thereat,
He couldn't be pushed inside.
That being was press'd, but press'd in vain,
Till the drops bedew'd his cheek;
The gilded vehicle rock'd again,
And the springs began to creak.
The slumbering alderman groan'd a groan,
For a vision he seem'd to trace,
Some horrible semblance to his own
In that being's purple face.
And, "Oh!" he cried, as he started up;
"Sooner than come to that,
Farewell for ever the baneful cup
And the noxious turtle fat!"—
They carried him up the winding-stair;
They laid him upon the bed;
And they left him, sleeping the sleep of care,
With an ache in his nightcapp'd head.
(By permission of Messrs. Chatto & Windus.)
THE DEMON SNUFFERS.
Geo. Manville Fenn.
I'm not at all given to parading my troubles—nothing of the
kind. I may be getting old, in fact, I am; and I may have
had disappointments such as have left me slightly irritable and
peevish; but I ask, as a man, who wouldn't be troubled in his
nerves if he had suffered from snuffers?
Snuffers? Yes—snuffers—a pair of cheap, black, iron snuffers,
that screech when they are opened, and creak when they are
shut; a pair that will not stay open, nor yet keep shut; a pair
that gape at you incessantly, and point at you a horrid sharp
iron beak, as a couple of leering eyes turn the finger and thumb
holes into a pair of spectacles, and squint and wink at you
maliciously. A word in your ear—this in a whisper—those
snuffers are haunted! their insignificant iron frame is the
habitation of a demon—an imp of darkness; and I've been
troubled till I've got snuffers on the brain, and I shall have
them till I'm snuffed out.
It has been going on now for a couple of years, ever since
my landlady sent the snuffers up to me first in my shiney
crockery-ware candlestick, where those snuffers glide about
like a snake in a tin pail. I remember the first night as well
as can be. It was in November—a weird, wet, foggy night,
when the river-side streets were wrapped in a yellow blanket
of fog—and I was going to bed, when, at my first touch of the
candlestick, those snuffers glided off with an angry snap, and
lay, open-mouthed, glaring at me from the floor.
I was somewhat startled, certainly, but far from alarmed;
and I seized the fugitives and replaced them in the candlestick,
opened the door, and ascended the stairs.
Mind, I am only recording facts untinged by the pen of
romance! Before I had ascended four steps, those hideous
snuffers darted off, and plunged, point downwards, on to my
left slippered foot, causing me an agonising pang, and the next
moment a bead of starting blood stained my stocking.
I will not declare this, but I believe it to be a fact: as I
said something oathish, I am nearly certain that I heard a
low, fiendish chuckle; and when I stooped to lift the snuffers,
there was a bright spark in the open mouth, and a pungent
blue smoke breathed out to annoy my nostrils!
I was too bold in those days to take much notice of the
incident, and I hurried upstairs—not, however, without seeing
that there was a foul, black patch left upon my holland stair-cloth;
and then I hurried into bed, and tried to sleep. But I
could not, try as I would. In the darkness I could just make
out the candlestick against the blind: and from that point
incessantly the demon snuffers gradually approached me, till
they sat spectacle-wise astride my nose, and a pair of burning
eyes gazed through them right into mine.
Need I say that I arose next morning feverish and unrefreshed
to go about my daily duties?
"I'll have no more of it to-night," I said to myself, as I rose
early to go to bed and make up for the past bad night; and I
smiled sardonically as I took up the highly-glazed candlestick
and tried to shake the black, straddling reptile out upon the
sideboard. I say tried; for, to my horror, the great eyeholes
leered at me as they hugged round the upright portion of the
stick and refused to be dislodged. I shook them again, and
one part went round the extinguisher support, which the reptile
dislodged, so that the extinguisher rattled upon the sideboard
top. But the snuffers were there still. I tried again, and
they, or it, dodged round and thrust a head through the handle,
where they stuck fast, grinning at me till I set the candlestick
down and stared.
"Pooh!—stuff!—ridiculous!" I exclaimed, quite angry at
my weak, imaginative folly; and, determined to act like a man,
I seized the candlestick with one hand, the snuffers with the
other, and, after a hard fight, succeeded in wriggling them out
of their stronghold, banged them down upon the table cloth,
seized them again, snuffed my candle viciously before replacing
them on the table, and then marched out of the room, proud of
my moral triumph, and rejoicing in having freed myself of the
demon. But, as I stood upon the stairs, I could see that my
hand was blackened; and the icy, galvanic feeling that assailed
my nerves when I first touched the snuffers still tingled right
to my elbow.
But I was free of my enemy; and marching with freely
playing lungs into my bedroom, I closed and locked the door,
set down my empty candlestick, changed my coat and vest for
a dressing-gown and began to brush my hair.
It is my custom to brush my hair with a pair of brushes for
ten minutes every night before retiring to rest. I find it
strengthening to the brain. Upon this occasion I had brushed
hard for five minutes, when there was a loud knock at my
"Can I speak to you a moment, sir?" said the voice of my
I rose and opened the door, and then started back in disgust,
as I was greeted with—
"Please, sir, you forgot your snuffers!"
My snuffers! It was too horrible; but there was more to
"And please, sir, I do hope you'll be more careful. It's a
mussy we warn't all burnt to death in our beds, for the snuffers
have made a great hole as big as your hand in the tablecloth,
and scorched the mahogany table; and it was a mussy I went
into your room before I went up to bed."
I couldn't speak, for I was drawn irresistibly on to obey, as
my landlady held the snuffers-handle towards me, and pointed
to the fungus snuff upon the common candle. I thrust in a
finger and thumb, closed the door in desperation—for I could
not refuse the snuffers—once more locked myself in, and stalked
to the dressing-table; and, as I heard my landlady's retreating
steps, I snuffed the candle, which started up instantly with a
brighter flame, as the snuffers' mouth closed upon the incandescent
"I'm slightly nervous," I said to myself, as I essayed to put
down my enemies. "I want tone—iron—iodine—tonic bitters—and—curse
the thing!" I ejaculated, shaking my hand and
trying to dislodge the snuffers. My efforts were but vain, for
the rings clung tightly to my finger and thumb, cut into my
flesh, and it was not until I had given them a frantic wrench,
which broke the rivet and separated the halves, that I was able
to tear out my bruised digits, and stand, panting, at the broken
There was relief, though, here. I felt as if I had crushed
out the reptile's life; and the two pieces—their living identity
gone—lay nerveless, and devoid of terrors, in the candle tray.
I slept excellently that night, and smiled as I dressed beside
the broken fragments. I had achieved a victory over self, as well
as over an enemy. I enjoyed my breakfast, after raising the
white cloth to look at the damage, which I knew would appear
as twenty shillings in the weekly bill; but I did not care,
though I shuddered slightly as I thought of the snuffers'
horrible designs. I dined that day with friends, played a few
games afterwards at pool, and then we had oysters.
I was in the best of spirits as I opened the door with my
latchkey, and I laughed heartily at what I called my folly of
the previous nights; but, as I entered my room, there was the
great black hole in the green cloth table cover, and the charred
wood beneath, while, upon the sideboard——
I groaned as I stood, half transfixed. I could have imagined
that I had on divers leaden-soled boots; for there, maliciously
grinning at me with half-opened mouth, were the demon
snuffers, joined together by a new, glistening rivet, which only
added to their weird appearance, as the beak cocked itself at
me, and the great eyes glared, as the black mouth seemed to
"You'll never get rid of me!"
Something seemed to draw me, and I went and took the
candlestick, my eyes being fixed the while upon the snuffers;
and I came in contact with several pieces of furniture as I
went into the passage, where I held the candlestick very much
on one side as I lit the candle at the little lamp. I hoped
that the snuffers would fall out; but they grinned maliciously,
and did not stir.
The next moment I was obliged to use them, for the candle
began to gutter; when, as nothing followed, I grew bolder,
and began to ascend the stairs. In a minute, though before I
was half way up the second flight, and though the candlestick
was carried perfectly straight—crash! the demon snuffers
darted out, and dashed themselves upon the floor.
I did not stay to look, but hurried to my bed-room, closing
and locking the door.
"Safe this time!" I thought; for it was late, and I knew
that my landlady must have been long in bed. Then I began
to think of how they had hopped out of the candlestick, and I
remembered what they had done on the previous night—how
they had tried to set fire to the house. Suppose they should do
so now? The cold perspiration trickled down my nose at the
very thought. I dared not leave the demon, or twin demons—the
horrid Siamese pair.
I would, though—I was safe here. But, fire! Suppose they
set the house on fire?
Down I went in the dark—very softly, too, lest I should alarm
the landlady and the other lodgers; but, though the odour was
strong, I went right to the bottom, and stood upon the door-mat
without finding my enemies.
I stood and thought for a few minutes, and then began slowly
to ascend, feeling carefully all over every step as I went up to
my bed-room, where I arrived, without ever my hand coming
in contact with that which I sought.
"I'll go to bed and leave them!" I ejaculated, and I turned
upon my heel; but, at that moment, the pungent burning odour
came up stronger than ever, and I was compelled to descend, to
find that the demon twins had been lying in ambush half-way
down, so that I trod upon them, tripped, in my terror my foot
glided, over them, and I fell with a crash into the umbrella stand,
which I upset with a hideous noise upon the oilcloth—not so loud,
though, but that I could hear the little black imps take three
or four grasshopper leaps along the passage, ending by sticking
the pointed beak into the street door.
Before I could gather myself up, I heard doors opening
upstairs, and screaming from the girls below who slept in the
kitchen; and the next minute old Major O'Brien's voice came
"An' if ye shtir a shtep I'll blow out yer brains!"
Of course I had to explain; and I had the horrible knowledge
that they gave me the credit of being intoxicated—the Major
saying he would not stop in a house where people went prowling
about at all hours, ending by himself, at the landlady's request,
examining the door to see if it was latched securely, and then
seeing me safely to my room.
"An' if I did me duty, sor, I should lock you in," he said by
way of good night. "And now get into bed, sor, and at once;
and—here are your snuffers!"
I could fill volumes with the tortures inflicted upon me by
those haunted snuffers, for they clung to me, and in spite of
every effort never left me free. It was in vain that I came
home early and shifted them into the Major's candlestick: they
only came back. I threw them out of the bedroom window once,
and they were found by the maid in the area. I threw them out
again, and they were picked up by the policeman, and they
made him bring them back. Then I tried it at midday; but
an old woman brought them in, and made a row because they
went through her parasol, so that I had to pay ten shillings,
besides being looked upon by my landlady as a lunatic.
I thrust them into the fire one night, and held them there
with the tongs, lest they should leap out; but they would not
burn, and my landlady, finding them in the ashes, had them
japanned, and they were in their old place next day. I had no
better luck when I thrust them—buried them—deep in a scuttle
of ashes; they only turned up out of the dusthole when Mary
sifted the cinders.
They always came off black on to my hands when they did
not anoint my fingers with soft tallow. If they fell out of the
candlestick, it was always on to oilcloth or paint, where they
could make a noise jumping about like a grasshopper, till they
ended by standing upon the sharp beak, with the spectacle-like
holes in the air. If I went up to dress, they would shoot into
my collar-box, or amongst my clean shirts, smutting them all
over. If I tried to kill a wasp with them upon an autumn
evening, when the insect crept out of a plum at dessert, the
wretches only snipped him in two, as if rejoicing at the inflicted
torture. In short, they have worn me out—those snuffers;
and, if it was not from fear, I should take and drop them from
the parapet of a bridge.
But, there! it would be in vain; they would be certain to
turn up; and they are not mortal, so what can you expect?
Let this communication be a secret, for it is written wholly by
day, when the snuffers lie in the lower regions.
A bright thought has occurred to me—the Major leaves this
morning for Berlin.
I have done it—his carpet bag stood in the hall, waiting
for the cab. The Major was in the drawing-room paying his
bill. The maids were upstairs making the beds. I stole down,
like a thief, into the kitchen. The snuffers were in my dirty
candlestick upon the dresser. I seized the grinning, tallow-anointed
demons, flew up the stairs, and, as I heard the drawing-room
door open, tore the bag a little apart, and thrust them in.
The next minute they were on the roof of a cab, and on their
way to Berlin, where they will haunt the Major.
A month of uninterrupted joy has passed. On the day of
the Major's departure I seemed to wed pleasure; and this has
been the honeymoon. This morning, when I paid my bill, the
landlady announced the coming back of the Major to his old
apartments. I have been in dread ever since. But this is
folly. I will be hopeful: my worst fears may not be confirmed.
It's all over—he has brought them back!
They grin at me as I write.
(By permission of the Author.)
THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER.
The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might;
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright—
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done.
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun."
The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying over-head—
There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "It would be grand!"
"If seven maids, with seven mops,
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
"O, Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."
The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head—
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat—
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more—
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings."
"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry," said the Carpenter:
They thanked him much for that.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed—
Now, if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."
"But not on us," the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?
"It was so kind of you to come,
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf—
I've had to ask you twice!"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"
"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
"O, Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none—
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.
(By permission of the Author.)
MY BROTHER HENRY.
J. M. Barrie.
At first sight it may not, perhaps, seem quite the thing that I should
be hilarious because I have at last had the courage to kill my brother
Henry. For some time, however, Henry had been annoying me. Strictly
speaking, I never had a brother Henry. It is just fifteen months since I
began to acknowledge that there was such a person. It came about in this
way:—I have a friend of the name of Fenton, who, like myself, lives in
London. His house is so conveniently situated that I can go there and
back in one day. About a year and a half ago I was at Fenton's, and he
remarked that he had met a man the day before who knew my brother Henry.
Not having a brother Henry, I felt that there must be a mistake
somewhere; so I suggested that Fenton's friend had gone wrong in the
name. My only brother, I pointed out with the suavity of manner that
makes me a general favourite, was called Alexander. "Yes," said Fenton,
"but he spoke of Alexander also." Even this did not convince me that I
had a brother Henry, and I asked Fenton the name of his friend.
Scudamour was the name, and the gentleman had met my brothers Alexander
and Henry some six years previously in Paris. When I heard this I
probably frowned; for then I knew who my brother Henry was. Strange
though it may seem, I was my own brother Henry. I distinctly remembered
meeting this man Scudamour at Paris during the time that Alexander and I
were there for a week's pleasure, and quarrelled every day. I explained
this to Fenton; and there, for the time being, the matter rested. I had,
however, by no means heard the last of Henry. Several times afterwards I
heard from various persons that Scudamour wanted to meet me because he
knew my brother Henry. At last we did meet, at a Bohemian supper-party
in Furnival's Inn; and, almost as soon as he saw me, Scudamour asked
where Henry was now. This was precisely what I feared. I am a man who
always looks like a boy. There are few persons of my age in London who
retain their boyish appearance as long as I have done; indeed, this is
the curse of my life. Though I am approaching the age of thirty, I pass
for twenty; and I have observed old gentlemen frown at my precocity when
I said a good thing or helped myself to a second glass of wine. There
was, therefore, nothing surprising in Scudamour's remark that, when he
had the pleasure of meeting Henry, Henry must have been about the age
that I had now reached. All would have been well had I explained the
real state of affairs to this annoying man; but, unfortunately for
myself, I loathe entering upon explanations to anybody about anything.
When I ring for my boots and my servant thinks I want a glass of water,
I drink the water and remain indoors. Much, then, did I dread a
discussion with Scudamour, his surprise when he heard that I was Henry
(my Christian name is Thomas), and his comments on my youthful
appearance. Besides, I was at that moment carving a tough fowl; and, as
I learned to carve from a handbook, I can make no progress unless I keep
muttering to myself, "Cut from A to B, taking care to pass along the
line C D, and sever the wing K from the body at the point F." There was
no likelihood of my meeting Scudamour again, so the easiest way to get
rid of him seemed to be to humour him. I therefore told him that Henry
was in India, married, and doing well. "Remember me to Henry when you
write to him," was Scudamour's last remark to me that evening. A few
weeks later someone tapped me on the shoulder in Oxford Street. It was
Scudamour. "Heard from Henry?" he asked. I said I had heard by the last
mail. "Anything particular in the letter?" I felt it would not do to say
there was nothing particular in a letter which had come all the way from
India, so I hinted that Henry had had trouble with his wife. By this I
meant that her health was bad; but he took it up in another way, and I
did not set him right. "Ah, ah!" he said, shaking his head sagaciously,
"I'm sorry to hear that. Poor Henry!" "Poor old boy!" was all I could
think of replying. "How about the children?" Scudamour asked. "Oh, the
children," I said, with what I thought presence of mind, "are coming to
England." "To stay with Alexander?" he asked; for Alexander is a married
man. My answer was that Alexander was expecting them by the middle of
next month; and eventually Scudamour went away muttering "Poor Henry!"
In a month or so we met again. "No word of Henry's getting leave of
absence?" asked Scudamour. I replied shortly that Henry had gone to live
in Bombay, and would not be home for years. He saw that I was brusque,
so what does he do but draw me aside for a quiet explanation. "I
suppose," he said, "you are annoyed because I told Fenton that Henry's
wife had run away from him. The fact is I did it for your good. You see
I happened to make a remark to Fenton about your brother Henry, and he
said that there was no such person. Of course I laughed at that, and
pointed out not only that I had the pleasure of Henry's acquaintance,
but that you and I had a talk about the old fellow every time we met.
'Well,' Fenton said, 'this is a most remarkable thing; for Tom,' meaning
you, 'said to me in this very room, sitting in that very chair, that
Alexander was his only brother.' I saw that Fenton resented your
concealing the existence of your brother Henry from him, so I thought
the most friendly thing I could do was to tell him that your reticence
was doubtless due to the fact that Henry's private affairs were
troubling you. Naturally, in the circumstances, you did not want to
talk about Henry." I shook Scudamour by the hand, telling him that he
had acted judiciously; but if I could have stabbed him quietly at that
moment I dare say I should have done it. I did not see Scudamour again
for a long time, for I took care to keep out of his way; but I heard
first from him and then of him. One day he wrote to me saying that his
nephew was going to Bombay, and would I be so good as to give the youth
an introduction to my brother Henry? He also asked me to dine with him
and his nephew. I declined the dinner, but I sent the nephew the
required note of introduction to Henry. The next I heard of Scudamour
was from Fenton. "By the way," said Fenton, "Scudamour is in Edinburgh
at present." I trembled, for Edinburgh is where Alexander lives. "What
has taken him there?" I asked, with assumed carelessness. Fenton
believed it was business; "but," he added, "Scudamour asked me to tell
you that he meant to call on Alexander, as he was anxious to see Henry's
children." A few days afterwards I had a telegram from Alexander, who
generally uses this means of communication when he corresponds with me.
"Do you know a man Scudamour? reply," was what Alexander said. I thought
of answering that we had met a man of that name when we were in Paris;
but, on the whole, replied boldly: "Know no one of the name of
Scudamour." About two months ago I passed Scudamour in Regent Street,
and he did not recognise me. This I could have borne if there had been
no more of Henry; but I knew that Scudamour was now telling everybody
about Henry's wife. By-and-by I got a letter from an old friend of
Alexander's, asking me if there was any truth in a report that Alexander
was going to Bombay. Soon afterwards Alexander wrote to me to say that
he had been told by several persons that I was going to Bombay. In
short, I saw that the time had come for killing Henry. So I told Fenton
that Henry had died of fever, deeply regretted; and asked him to be sure
to tell Scudamour, who had always been interested in the deceased's
welfare. The other day Fenton told me that he had communicated the sad
intelligence to Scudamour. "How did he take it?" I asked. "Well," Fenton
said, reluctantly, "he told me that when he was up in Edinburgh he did
not get on well with Alexander; but he expressed great curiosity as to
Henry's children." "Ah," I said, "the children were both drowned in the
Forth; a sad affair—we can't bear to talk of it." I am not likely to
see much of Scudamour again, nor is Alexander. Scudamour now goes about
saying that Henry was the only one of us he really liked.
(By permission of the Author.)
A NIGHT WITH A STORK.
W. E. Wilcox.
Four individuals—namely, my wife, my infant son, my maid-of-all work,
and myself—occupy one of a row of very small houses in the suburbs of
London. I am a thoroughly domestic man, and notwithstanding that my
occupation necessitates absence from my mansion between the hours of 9
a.m. and 5 p.m., my heart is generally at home, with my diminutive
household. My wife, and I, love regularity and quiet above all things;
and although, since the arrival of my son, and heir, we had not enjoyed
that peace which we did during the first year of our married life, yet
his juvenile, though somewhat powerful, little lungs, had as yet failed
in making ours a noisy house. Our regularity had, moreover, remained
undisturbed, and we got up, went to bed, dined, breakfasted, and took
tea at the same time, day after day.
We had been going on in this clockwork fashion for a year and a half,
when one morning the postman brought to our door a letter of ominous
appearance, and on looking at the direction, I found that it came from
an old, rich, and very eccentric uncle of mine, with whom, for certain
reasons, we wished to remain on the best of terms. "What can uncle
Martin have to write about?" was our simultaneous exclamation, and I
opened it with considerable curiosity.
"Martin House, Herts, Oct. 17, 18—.
"You may perhaps have heard that I am forming an aviary here. A friend
in Rotterdam has written to me to say that he has sent by the boat,
which will arrive in London to-morrow afternoon, a very intelligent
parrot and a fine stork. As the vessel arrives too late for them to be
sent on the same night, I shall be obliged by your taking the birds
home, and forwarding them to me the next morning.—With my respects to
your good lady,
"I remain your affectionate uncle,
I said nothing, but got a book on natural history, and turned to
"Stork." With trembling fingers I passed over the fact of "his hind toe
being short, the middle too long, and joined to the outer one by a large
membrane, and by a smaller one to the inner toe," because that would not
matter much for one night; but I groaned out to my wife the pleasant
intelligence that "his height is four feet, his appetite extremely
voracious," and "his food—frogs, mice, worms, snails, and eels." Where
were we to provide a supper and breakfast of this description for him?
I went to my office, and passed anything but a pleasant day, my thoughts
constantly reverting to our expected visitors. At four o'clock I took a
cab to the docks, and on arriving there, inquired for the ship, which
was pointed out to me as "the one with the crowd upon the quay." On
driving up, I discovered why there was a crowd, and the discovery did
not bring comfort with it. On the deck, on one leg, stood the stork.
Whether it was the sea-voyage, or the leaving his home, or, being a
stork of high moral principle, he was grieving at the continual, and
rather joyous and exulting swearing of the parrot, I do not know, but I
never saw a more melancholy looking object in my life.
I went down on the deck, and did not like the expression of relief that
came over the captain's face when he found what I had come for. The
transmission of the parrot from the ship to the cab was an easy matter,
as he was in a cage, but the stork was merely tethered by one leg; and
although he did his best, when brought to the foot of the ladder, in
trying to get up, he failed utterly, and had to be half-shoved,
half-hauled, all the way—which, as he got astride, after the manner of
equestrians, on every other bar, was a work of some difficulty. I
hurried him into the cab, and ordering the man to drive as quickly as
possible, got in with my guests. At first, I had to keep dodging my head
about, to keep my face away from his bill as he turned round; but all of
a sudden he broke the little window at the back of the cab, thrust his
head through, and would keep it there, notwithstanding I kept pulling
him back. Consequently, when we drew up at my door, there was a mob of
about a thousand strong around us. I got him in as well as I could, and
shut the door.
How can I describe the spending of that evening? how can I get
sufficient power out of the English language to let you know what a
nuisance that bird was to us? How can I tell you the cool manner in
which he inspected our domestic arrangements?—walking slowly into
rooms, and standing on one leg until his curiosity was satisfied; the
expression of wretchedness that he threw over his entire person when he
was tethered to the banisters, and had found out that, owing to our
limited accommodation, he was to remain in the hall all night; the way
in which he ate the snails specially provided for him, verifying to the
letter the naturalist's description of his appetite. How can you, who
have not had a stork staying with you, have any idea of the change which
came over his temper after his supper—how he pecked at everybody who
came near him; how he stood sentinel at the foot of the stairs; how my
wife and I made fruitless attempts to get past, followed by ignominious
retreats how; at last we outman[oe]uvred him by throwing a table-cloth
over his head, and then rushing by him, gaining the top of the stairs
before he could disentangle himself.
Added to all this, we had to endure language from that parrot which
would have disgraced a pothouse; indeed, so scurrilous did he become,
that we had to take him and lock him up in the coal-hole, where, from
fatigue, or the darkness of his bedroom, he soon swore himself to sleep.
We were quite ready for rest, and the forgetfulness which, we hoped,
sleep, that "balm of hurt minds," would bring with it; but our peace was
not to last long. About 2 a.m., I was awakened by my wife, and told to
listen; I did so, and heard a sort of scrambling noise outside the door.
"What can that be?" thought I. "He has broken his string, and is coming
up stairs," said my wife; and then, remembering that the nursery door
was generally left open, she urged my immediately stopping his further
progress. "But, my dear," said I, "what am I to do in my present
defenceless state of clothing, if he should take to pecking?" My wife's
expression of the idea of my considering myself before the baby,
determined me at once, come what might, to go and do him battle. Out I
went, and sure enough there he was on the landing, resting himself,
after his unusual exertion, by tucking one leg up. He looked so subdued,
that I was about to take him by the string and lead him downstairs, when
he drew back his head, and in less time than it takes to relate, I was
back in my room, bleeding profusely from a very severe wound in my leg.
I shouted out to the nurse to shut the door, and determined to let the
infamous bird go where he liked. I bound up my leg and went to bed
again; but the thought that there was a stork wandering about the house,
prevented me from getting any more sleep. From certain sounds that we
heard, we had little doubt but that he was passing some of his time in
the cupboard where we kept our spare crockery, and an inspection the
next day confirmed this.
In the morning I ventured cautiously out, and finding he was in our
spare bedroom, I shut the door upon him. I then went for a large sack,
and with the help of the table-cloth, and the boy who cleans our shoes,
we got him into it without any personal damage. I took him off in this
way to the station, and sent him and the parrot off to my uncle by the
We have determined that, taking our chance about a place in my uncle's
will or not, we will never again have anything to do with any foreign
animals, however much he may ask and desire it.
(By permission of Messrs. W. & R.
THE FAITHFUL LOVERS.
F. C. Burnand.
I'd been away from her three years—about that—
And I returned to find my Mary true,
And though I'd question her, I did not doubt that
It was unnecessary so to do.
'Twas by the chimney corner we were sitting,
"Mary," said I, "have you been always true?"
"Frankly," says she, just pausing in her knitting,
"I don't think I've unfaithful been to you;
But for the three years past I'll tell you what
I've done; then say if I've been true or not.
"When first you left, my grief was uncontrollable,
Alone I mourned my miserable lot,
And all who saw me thought me inconsolable,
Till Captain Clifford came from Aldershot;
To flirt with him amused me while 'twas new,
I don't count that unfaithfulness. Do you?
"The next—oh! let me see—was Frankie Phipps,
I met him at my uncle's Christmas-tide;
And 'neath the mistletoe, where lips met lips,
He gave me his first kiss"—and here she sighed;
"We stayed six weeks at uncle's—how time flew!
I don't count that unfaithfulness. Do you?
"Lord Cecil Fossmote, only twenty-one,
Lent me his horse. Oh, how we rode and raced!
We scoured the downs—we rode to hounds—such fun!
And often was his arm around my waist—
That was to lift me up or down. But who
Would count that as unfaithfulness? Do you?
"Do you know Reggy Vere? Ah, how he sings!
We met—'twas at a picnic. Ah, such weather!
He gave me, look, the first of these two rings,
When we were lost in Cliefden Woods together.
Ah, what a happy time we spent, we two!
I don't count that unfaithfulness to you.
"I've yet another ring from him. D'you see
The plain gold circlet that is shining here?"
I took her hand: "Oh, Mary! Can it be
That you"—Quoth she, "that I am Mrs. Vere.
I don't count that unfaithfulness. Do you?"
"No," I replied, "for I am married, too."
(By permission of the Author.)
THE WAIL OF A BANNER-BEARER.
Well, what if I am only a banner-bearer? There's bigger blokes than me
what begun as "supes," an' see where they've got to? Why don't I get
there? Cause I ain't never had the chance. You just let me get a
"speaking part" as suits me, that's all! Oh—it "would be all," eh?
Why—but there! you're a baby in the purfession! you are! When you've
been Capting of the Guard, and Third Noble, and a Bandit Keerousin, and
First Hancient Bard, and Fourth in the Council of Ten what listens to
Otheller, and the Mob in the Capitol, and a Harcher of Merry England,
and a Peer of France, what doesn't speak, but has to look as if he could
say a lot; when you've been all this you may talk! I needn't be
offended? All right, old pal; I ain't. Though I was 'urt when that
utilerty cove said as I was only a banner-bearer. "Only!" Why I should
like to know where they'd be without us—all them old spoutin' tragedy
merchants! They'd have no armies, consequently they couldn't rave at
'em, and lead 'em on to victory and things. They wouldn't 'ave no
sennits, so they'd 'ave to cut out their potent, grave, and reverent
seniors—an' that 'ud worry em. They wouldn't 'ave no hexited citizens,
and so they couldn't bury old Ceser nor praise him neither. They
couldn't strew no fields with no dead soldiers. They'd 'ave nobody to
chivy 'em when they come to the throne, or returned from the wars. They
couldn't 'ave no percessions; as for balls, and parties, and
torneymongs, why, they couldn't give 'em. And where 'ud they often be
without the "distant ollerings" behind the scenes, allus a-comin' nerer
and louder. Why, I remember a 'eavy lead one night, as had insulted his
army fearful, at rehearsal; he stops sudden, and thumps his breastplate,
and says, "'Ark, that toomult!" when there warn't no more toomult than
two flies 'ud make in a milk-jug. We jest cut off his toomult, and
quered his pitch, in a minnit, for the laugh come in 'ot. We're just as
much wanted as they are, make no error.
Only a banner-bearer! "Only," be blow'd! Oh, don't you bother, I ain't
getting waxy. I'm only a standin' up for my purfession. What do you say?
They could do without me in the modden drarmer? The modden drarmer, my
boy, ain't actin'! It's nothing but "cuff-shootin'." You just has to
stand against a mankel-shelf, with your hands in Poole's pockets, and
say nothing elegantly. You don't want no chest-notes; you don't want no
action; you don't want no exsitement; you don't want no lungs, no heart,
and no brain; only lungs an' soda, heart an' potash, brain an' selzer.
Everything's dilooted, my boy, for the modden drarmer; and the old
school, an' the old kostumes 'ud bust the sides and roof too of the
swell band-boxes, where they does the new school and the new kostumes.
P'r'aps I'm right? Of course I'm right; and I'm in earnest, too! Why,
my boy, if they was to offer me an engagement as a "guest" in one of
them cuff-shootin' plays, and ask me to go on in evening-dress, I'm
blest if I wouldn't throw up the part. Trousers and white ties cramps
me. I wants a suit o' mail an' a 'alberd; a toonic, and my legs free; a
dagger in my teeth—not a tooth-pick; a battle-axe in my 'and—not a
crutch. I likes to be led to victory, I does. I likes to storm castles,
and trampel on the foe! I does. I likes to hang our banners on the
outward walls, I does. I'm a born banner-bearer, I am, and I glories in
it. No, my boy! none of your milk-and-water "guests," and such, for the
likes of me! An' if I was the Lord Chamberlain, I'd perhibit the modden
drarmer altogether. Them's my sentiments. If he don't perhibit it,
actin' 'ull soon be modden'd out of existence; an' we shall 'ave Macbeth
in a two guinea tourist suit, and Looy the Eleventh in nickerbockers, on
a bisykel. It's the old banner-bearing school as got us all our big
actors, an' it stands to reason, my boy; for a cove can't spred hisself
in a frock coat and droring-room langwidge. They're both on 'em too tame
for what I calls real actin'. What! you have heard say as us
banner-bearers don't act—was only machines? Well, some on us don't,
p'r'aps, but some on us does, and no mistake.
You can't, as a rule, expect much feeling, much dignerty, much
patriertism, or much simperthy for a shillin' a night. If they was all
the real articles, they'd fetch a lot more than that; but there is
gentlemen in my line as goes in for all four—reg'lar comes nateral to
'em. Why, I've been that work'd on when I've seen Joan o'Hark goin' in a
perisher at the stake, an' makin' that last dyin' speech and confession
of hers, that I've felt a real 'art beat against my property
breast-plate, and felt real tears a tricklin' down to my false beard.
I've been so struck with admirashun for some Othellos, that when they've
been a addressin' of me as the sennit, I've felt as dignerfied as if I'd
been the Doag of Venice hisself, and I bet he looked it.
As for patriertism, there isn't a man living as has died for his
country—willing, mind you—as often as I have; and I've strewed many a
bloody field of batel with a ernest corpse, I have. An' as far as
regards simperthy, it's stood in my way, for I've been that upset by
Queen Katherines and Prince Arthurs, and even old Shylock (for Grashyano
does giv' 'im a doin'), and Ophelias, and other sufferin' parties, as
I've often forgot my hexits and been fined a tanner; and if that ain't
actin', I should like to know what is.
It's all very well for them noospaper crickets to harry us, and say as
we're a set o' this and a set o' the other, and that we ain't got no
hideas. They wouldn't 'ave many hideas if they wasn't paid more than a
shilling a night (with often twopence off to the hagent) for the use of
'em; the article's as good as the price, an' no mistake. Some on us gets
a bit more, and accordin' some on us gives a bit more; for there's first
heavy lead, and setterer, among the supes, just as there is among the
principles, don't make no error! Have to do as the "stars" tell us?
Well, of course, we does, only if the stars don't treat us like gents,
we knows how to queer their pitches: rather! Why, it ain't so very long
since as I was a-playing a Roman Licktor in "Virginius," and when we was
a rehearsin' of it, 'im as played Happyus Clordyus called me a "pig."
"All right," says I, "aside" like, "I'll pig yer." Accordin', when night
comes, and he makes an exit in the third act, and says—didn't he enjoy
hisself with it—"And I shall surely see that they reseve it!" he chucks
his toger over his right shoulder, and turns round as magestick as a
beedle to walk off—well, some'ow, just then I drops my bundle of sticks
("fusses," they call 'em), all accidentle like, and Happyus Clordyus,
with his heyes in the hair, comes to grief, slap over 'em. He was the
un-happyest Clordyus all through that play as ever you see. What did he
call me a "pig" for, the idiot?
"Seem to be important, after all?" Important! I should think we was!
There couldn't be no big drarmers without us, no gallant warryers, no
'owling mobs, no "Down with the tirants!" no briggands reposin', no
'appy pezzants, and no stage picturs of any account, if it warn't for
the supes and banner-bearers, as ought to be made more on and seen to a
bit better than they is; for what says the old Shyley, in the play, 'im
what old Phellups us'd to warm 'em up in? "What?" says he, "what! Hath
not a supe eyes, 'ands, horgans, somethin' else, and passions? fed with
the same food?—(no! Shakey, old man, he ain't!) Well, if you prick us,
don't us bleed? if we larf, don't you tickle us? and if you wrong us,
ain't we goin' to take it out of you, like I took it out o' Happyus
Clordyus?" How I do wag? Well, ain't it enough to make me? Don't let
that 'ere utilerty cuff-shooter allood to me as "only a banner-bearer,"
then! Let 'im, and all the others, treat us more respectful, and he and
them too 'ull find a feeling 'art and good manners too, at even a
shilling a night, though we could throw 'em in a lot; more of both for
an extra bob.—Good night, old man.
(By permission of Messrs. Routledge & Sons.)
THE DREAM OF THE BILIOUS BEADLE.
'Twas in the grimy winter time, an evening cold and damp,
And four and twenty work'us boys, all of one ill-fed stamp,
Were blowing on blue finger tips, bent double with the cramp;
And when the skilly poured out fell into each urchin's pan
They swallowed it at such a pace as only boyhood can.
But the Beadle sat remote from all, a bilious-looking man—
His hat was off, red vest apart, to catch the evening breeze:
He thought that that might cool his brow; it only made him sneeze,
So pressed his side with his hand, and tried to seem as if at ease.
Heave after heave his waistcoat gave, to him was peace denied,
It tortured him to see them eat, he couldn't though he tried!
Good fare had made him much too fat, and rather goggle-eyed;
At length he started to his feet, some hurried steps he took,
Now up the ward, now down the ward, with wild dyspeptic look,
And lo! he saw a work'us boy, who read a penny book—
"You beastly brat! What is't you're at? I warrant 'tis no good!
What's this? 'The life of Turpin Bold!' or 'Death of Robin Hood'?"
"It's 'Hessays on the Crumpet,' sir, as a harticle of food!"
He started from that boy as tho' in's ear he'd blown a trumpet,
His hand he pressed upon his chest, then with his fist did thump it,
And down he sat beside the brat and talked about The Crumpet.
How now and then that muffin men of whom tradition tells,
By pastry trade, fortunes had made, and come out awful swells,
While their old patrons suffered worse than Irving in "The Bells!"
"And well, I know," said he, "forsooth, for plenty have I bought,
The sufferings of foolish folk who eat more than they ought.
"With pepsine pills and liver pads is their consumption fraught,
Oh! oh! my boy, my pauper boy! Take my advice, 'tis best shun
All such tempting tasty things, tho' nice beyond all question,
Unless you wish like me to feel the pangs of indigestion!
One, who had ever made me long—a muffin man and old—
I watched into a public-house, he called for whisky cold,
And for one moment left his stock within green baize enrolled.
I crept up to them, thinking what an appetite I'd got,
I gloated o'er them lying there elastic and all hot;
I thought of butter laid on thick, and then I prigged the lot!
"I took them home, I toasted them, p'raps upwards of a score,
And never had so fine a feast on luscious fare before,
'And now,' I said, 'I'll go to bed, and dream of eating more.'
All night I lay uneasily, and rolled from side to side,
At first without one wink of sleep, no matter how I tried;
And then I dreamt I was a 'bus, and gurgled 'Full inside!'
I was a 'bus by nightmares drawn on to some giddy crest,
Now launched like lightning through the air, now stop'd and now compressed;
I felt a million muffin men were seated on my chest!
"I heard their bells—their horrid bells—in sound as loud as trumpets,
Oh, curses on ye, spongy tribe! Ye cruffins and ye mumpets!
I must be mad! I mean to say ye muffins and ye crumpets!
Then came a chill like Wenham ice; then hot as hottest steam;
I could not move a single limb! I could not even scream!
You pauper brat, remember that all this was but a dream!"
The boy gazed on his troubled brow, from which big drops were oozing,
And for the moment all respect for his dread function losing,
Made this remark, "Well, blow me tight, our Beadle's been a-boozing!"
That very week, before the beak, they brought that beadle burly;
He pleaded guilty in a tone dyspeptically surly,
And he lives still at Pentonville with hair not long or curly!
(By permission of the Author.)
MY FRIEND TREACLE.
"So Charley is going to marry 'the most charming girl in the
world'!" I ejaculated, after a hearty laugh over the following
epistle from my old friend:—
"I am going to do for myself in earnest; no humbug this time. 'For
better or for worse,' and if it turns out the latter it will be a scrape
no one can get me out of. Of course, you understand I am about to marry,
and I need not add she is the most charming girl in the world: fair,
sky-blue eyes, silk-worm—I mean spun silk hair, lovely in fact! Come
and be my best man: do, old fellow! You have backed me up lots of times
before, and although we have lost sight of one another since 'we were
boys together,' that goes for nothing between us—does it? Write by
return, and say you will support me: I have a dread that I shall marry
the wrong girl, or allow some one else to marry Lucy—that's her
name!—or do something unlucky, unless you look after me.
"Yours, as ever,
"P.S.—It comes off in a fortnight."
"'It,'—well that is vague enough, but I suppose he means
the happy event. Ye gods and little fishes!—to call a marriage
'it'! but that is like Boston. And 'sure to do something unlucky,'
are you? Well, I guess you are not the 'Treacle' of
old unless you get into some quandary over it," I muttered; and
then I threw myself back in my chair and laughed again as some
of our adventures, when we were at Dr. Omega's school—I mean
college—presented themselves to my mind.
Glorious times those! looking back upon them now, although
we did not value them, in our careless youth, at their full
Treacle's—i.e., Boston's—daring always led him to some adventure,
and I always backed him up—in a feeble way, perhaps,—and
we always got found out somehow, and got our deserts in
a manner more satisfactory to lovers of justice than to ourselves.
The very fact of our being punished for the same crime, and
at the same time, was a bond of union between Treacle and
"One touch of sympathy," or one touch of the rod, made us
kin in a manner very peculiar;—a fellow feeling made us
wondrous kind and sympathetic.
You talk of little dinners and little suppers in these days,
and think them epicurean feasts!—but, be really hungry—hungry
as a school-boy, and enjoy a little supper off kippered
herring on the sly—that is a feast, if you like. Such feasts as
these we enjoyed at Mother Kemp's, down the village, when the
Doctor, tutors, and monitors imagined us safely tucked in our
Looking upon Mother Kemp, in those days, I thought her a
good fairy disguised as a witch. Looking back upon her, with
manhood's enlightened judgment, I think she was an unprincipled
old woman, who traded on our weaknesses. I confess
myself to have been a hungry boy,—Boston, with a penitence
which did him credit, used to confess the same: we both had a
propensity to come through our trouser-legs and sleeve-jackets,
and, what was worse, could not help ourselves doing so.
Boston was of an ingenious turn of mind, and it was he who
suggested that those boys, who could afford to be hungry with
any satisfaction to themselves, should club together for a supper
at Mother Kemp's once a-week; and it was through one of
these suppers, or the search for one, that he got his sweet
sobriquet of "Treacle."
He having made the suggestion, we elected him chief of our
expeditions, and thus to a certain extent he held the fate of our
appetites in his hands.
One night we had escaped, as usual, by means of a rope-ladder
made by Boston, from the window of the room of which
I was senior boy, to Mother Kemp's in the village.
Mother Kemp kept a general shop—that is to say, she retailed
tallow, treacle, rope, bacon, herrings, soap, cottons, tops,
balls, butter, sweets, and so forth; and she not only, as a rule,
sold us a supper out of her heterogeneous store, but cooked it, if
needs were, and served it for us in her back parlour—that is, if
we could pay ready cash down.
This night of which I speak we could not. We had appealed
to Madame Kemp's motherly heart for "trust," in vain, and we
were returning home in a state of double the hunger to that in
which we had started, on account of our hopes being unfulfilled,
when Charlie Boston made a remark in a melancholy tone: it
"I wonder if the pantry window is open."
We eyed him askance and in silence.
"And if," with a frown of determination on his brow, "there
is anything inside!"
Then we knew we were "in" for something, be it to eat or
feel, and followed him half in hope, half in fear.
The window was open. Looking upon that casement from my
point of view now, I decide it was an architectural folly, being
no more than seven feet from the ground, and innocent of bars
or protection of any kind, and moreover large enough for any
one of moderate size to creep through.
From our point of view, then, we thought it a very jolly contrivance.
"Hurrah!" shouted Boston, sotto voce—in fact, very much
sotto voce—"we will indeed sup at the doctor's expense to-night,
bless him!—eh, boys?"
Either to the supper or blessing we assented, joyfully; but
when our chief asked who was for reconnoitring, the question
was received in silence.
"Suppose it is missed in the morning—I mean, what we eat,"
suggested some one, timidly.
"Cats!" settled Boston with laconic contempt.
"But cats don't eat cheese, and—"
"Bah! cats eat anything, from mice to stewed-eels' feet. Who
will follow if I lead?"
"Couldn't you get in and hand something out?" asked
"Wish you may get it. Travers, you will follow, will you
"Yes," I replied, with a little inward shudder. "'Lead on,
Macduff, and'—and, what you may call it, be him that first
cries 'Hold, enough!'"
"Old enough for what?" queried the wit of the party.
"Look here, Jenkins, don't you be a fool; this is not the
time for vile puns, or Shakspeare either," with a frown at me.
"It will take a jolly long time for us all to get in one after
the other," I ruminated upon this snub.
"And a jollier long time to get out, if we want to, in a
hurry," suggested the timid one.
"That is true," agreed the chief. "We will toss up, and
'odd man' goes in and hands out—eh?"
But the idea was not carried out, because, upon reflection, we
remembered Mother Kemp had our last coin.
"Never mind," cried Boston, in his happy dare-all way.
"I'll do it! Lend me a back, somebody, and keep a sharp
look out, mind!"
We lent him a back with alacrity, it being a cheap and easy
loan, and he drew himself up.
"I see a pie!" he cried, and the words revived us. "Supposing
it is steak!"
We supposed, and felt more hungry than ever.
Then we watched him with increased interest, as he squeezed
his body through the casement, paused a moment to recover
breath, descended gradually and carefully, and—Heavens,
what was that? There was a scuffle and a gasp. Was it the
I think at this juncture my knees began to tremble; so I
cannot describe what the other sounds in the pantry were—at
least, not with any accuracy.
"I say," began some one of our party—he was always doing
that, saying "I say," and stopping short; a nasty habit, you
know, for when one's nerves are unstrung it makes you anxious,
not to say alarmed.
"Old Omega!" whispered another in an awed tone.
"Can't be; there's no talking."
"No, because he's such an artful old fox; he thinks he'll
catch us all!—Eh?"
The "eh" was to one who thought he had "better go and see
if the ladder was there all right."
It ended in their all going for the same commendable purpose,
and leaving me behind to look after Boston. I was very
much inclined to follow them, I confess, but I liked my friend
too much to leave him, so, having a regard for my own personal
safety, I got behind a laurel and waited.
"Silence there, and nothing more."
Could it be the doctor! Could the doctor keep his anger so
long bottled up—even to catch the rest of us—without bursting?
I thought not: he would have had a fit by this time.
In those days I remember revolving in my mind the advantage
I would gain if Dr. Omega did have a fit and died. It was
very horrible of me, of course, but then I was a boy, and as I
looked at the doctor's purple visage—was it coloured by the
liquid et cetera?—I decided that if he were removed, no matter
how, I might have a jolly holiday until another authority was
placed over me, or I placed under another authority.
O, it was wicked of me, I know, terribly wicked!—but true.
Mais revenons à Boston. If it is not the doctor in there with
him, it may be the cook, I revolved behind the bushes. The
cook ought to be in bed, by this time—so ought I: I was not,
that was a certainty, perhaps the cook was not; if not—why it
was very wrong of her not to be, I concluded virtuously.
The moments passed, and still no sound from the pantry of
voices. Had Charley fallen down in a fit instead of the doctor?
I crept from my hiding place and essayed a faint whistle, recognised
by us all as a call.
"Boston!" I ejaculated, feeling sure now that the doctor
could not possibly be there.
Then, as I watched the casement, as anxiously as any lover
could that of his mistress, I saw something appear at it: by the
light of the moon it looked black and shiny. If the shock had
not deprived me of motion I should have fled. I could not flee,
so I stood bravely to my post and shook like a jelly.
What was it? I felt like Hamlet when he saw the ghost of
his father; but I did not apostrophize it—I knew better,—at
least I had not sufficient choice Shakespearian language at my
tongue's end to do so becomingly.
"Angels and ministers"—my name in Boston's voice. In a
moment the roaring in my ears ceased, and my muscles gained
"Is that you, Charley?" I asked, sensibly enough.
"Why—why, hang it, Boston, what's up—eh?"
"'Up!'—all over me—choking me—Treacle!" gasped my
friend, creeping through the window, with difficulty, as he spoke,
and losing his balance, as he reached the ground, he fell against
me, stuck to me, disengaged himself, and finally stood upright.
"Treacle!" I ejaculated with a roar, which even though the
doctor might have heard I could not suppress, as Charley began
clearing out his eyes and mouth with his already sticky fists.
"Yes, treacle," crossly. "You needn't laugh like that, Bob,
and make such a confounded fool of yourself," he growled. "I
stumbled, somehow, and fell face forward into a pan of it. Don't
make such a row, Travers!" as I continued my cachination and
held my aching sides, "I might have been smothered for all
you would have cared. By Jove! smothered in treacle! Why
a butt of Malmsey would be a natural death in comparison."
"The treacle we have for our puddings and with our brimstone?"
I gasped at last.
"Yes." Here the ludicrous aspect of affairs struck the
martyr, and he joined me in my merriment.
"I didn't know where I was going until I was in it," he continued.
"Ugh! I shall hate treacle like poison for the rest of
my life! Where are the other fellows?"
"Sneaked away; thought Omega had caught you."
At this moment a low whistle, a danger signal, from the boys
just denounced, caused us to hurry from the spot, and reaching
the rope ladder, we were up it like cats, gaining our room just
in time to find that, by the light shining under the door, some
one was on the alert.
"Get under my bed!" I whispered to Charley, as his escape
to his own room was cut off.
In his hurry and confusion, he got into it. I had no time to
demur, and jumped in after him, just as the doctor, suspicious
and austere, entered, candlestick in hand.
"Noise in number three: senior boy, report."
I, senior boy, reported, and replied by a nasal demonstration
which I flattered myself was a very good imitation of a sound
"Robert Travers!" in a voice which might, almost, have
awakened the dead.
"Sir," replied I—Robert—as sleepily as I could.
"Somebody walking about this room, and talking."
If brevity is the soul of wit, then old Omega was the wittiest
fellow I ever came across,—although he never looked it.
He always spoke sharply and to the point, and gave us our
due in the same manner.
Now, as he jerked his sentence out, he approached nearer.
Charley, like a certain big bird, seemed to fancy that, because
his own face was hidden and he could see no one, it followed
that no one could see him; whereas, half his head was
exposed to view.
I sat up in bed, hurriedly giving my companion a vicious kick
of caution, as I explained to the doctor that "little Simpson
walked and talked in his sleep;" at which "little Simpson," in
a corner of the room, groaned audibly.
"Simpson, junior, what do you mean by walking in your
Simpson groaned again, and the doctor, thinking he was
"He eats too much; must diet him. A dose of brimstone
and treacle (I felt Boston jump) in the morning will do him
good—cooling. Remind me, Travers. By the way, sir, how
comes it you are awake?"
"Please, sir, you woke me—awakened me, sir," I stammered.
"Hem," doubtfully. "Whom have you in bed with you—eh?"
as Boston, rendered uncomfortable by his sticky face, had
"With me, sir?" I murmured, vaguely.
"Yes, sir, with you. Come out, whoever it is!" roared
Omega, without further parley.
But Boston remained still as a mouse.
Struck dumb with anger and astonishment, that a boy should
have the impudence to stop in when he ordered him to come
out, the doctor strode round to Charley's side, and laid hands on
the miscreant to have him out by force; but, no sooner had he
felt the viscous state of our hero, than he withdrew them precipitately,
with the pious ejaculation,—
"Good heavens! What is the matter with him!"
"Necessitas non habet legem."
I, being senior boy, had to report. I did so, tremblingly, and
imitated the doctor in my brevity.
"Matter, sir—treacle, sir."
"Treacle!" in a voice of concentrated thunder, if you know
what that is like.
"His mother sent him a pot of treacle, sir, and he—and he
thought it was pomatum, sir, and—and——" my imaginative
powers fell before the lightning of the doctor's glance.
"Boston, come out!"
And Boston, after some little delay caused in having to detach
himself from surroundings, came forth like a lamb—I
mean, like a black sheep.
"What the dev——!"
But I draw a curtain over the rest; the doctor was profane,
and he hurt my feelings very much.
Poor old Treacle! The name stuck to him ever after.
Well, I went to his wedding, and with the exception that at
the critical part of the ceremony he dropped the ring, which,
after we had all scrambled on our knees for, was found in the
bride's veil, he went through the "happiest day of his life"
without a mistake.
As for myself, in searching for that ring, I knocked my head
against Treacle's sister's, and it upset me. A thrill went through
me, which was most painfully pleasant. At the breakfast-table
I became sentimental; in making my speech for the ladies, I
caught her—Treacle's sister's—eye, she smiled, and I lost the
thread of my discourse. It was a very slender thread, and I
never found it again until, one day, I was wandering round
somebody's garden with my arm round Treacle's sister's waist,
and,—but that doesn't matter! She is a jolly little thing, though—Treacle's
(By permission of the Author.)
THE VOICE OF THE SLUGGARD.
Have you brought my boots, Jemima? Leave them at my chamber door.
Does the water boil, Jemima? Place it also on the floor.
Eight o'clock already, is it? How's the weather—pretty fine?
Eight is tolerably early; I can get away by nine.
Still I feel a little sleepy, though I came to bed at one.
Put the bacon on, Jemima; see the eggs are nicely done!
I'll be down in twenty minutes—or, if possible, in less;
I shall not be long, Jemima, when I once begin to dress.
She is gone, the brisk Jemima; she is gone, and little thinks
How the sluggard yearns to capture yet another forty winks,
Since the bard is human only—not an early village cock—
Why should he salute the morning at the hour of eight o'clock?
Stifled be the voice of Duty; Prudence, prythee, cease to chide,
While I turn me softly, gently, round upon my other side.
Sleep, resume thy downy empire; reassert thy sable reign!
Morpheus, why desert a fellow? Bring those poppies here again!
What's the matter, now, Jemima? Nine o'clock? It cannot be!
Hast prepared the eggs, the bacon, and the matutinal tea?
Take away the jug, Jemima, go, replenish it anon;
Since the charm of its caloric must be very nearly gone.
She has left me. Let me linger till she reappears again,
Let my lazy thoughts meander in a free and easy vein.
After Sleep's profoundest solace, nought refreshes like the doze.
Should I tumble off, no matter; she will wake me, I suppose.
Bless me, is it you, Jemima? Mercy on us, what a knock?
Can it be—I can't believe it—actually ten o'clock?
I will out of bed and shave me. Fetch me warmer water up!
Let the tea be strong, Jemima, I shall only want a cup!
Stop a minute! I remember some appointment by the way,
'Twould have brought me mints of money; 'twas for ten o'clock to-day.
Let me drown my disappointment, Slumber, in thy seventh heaven!
You may go away, Jemima. Come and call me at eleven!
(From the "Leeds Mercury.")
ARTEMUS WARD'S VISIT TO THE TOWER OF LONDON.
Ch. Farrar Browne.
I skurcely need inform you that the Tower is very pop'lar
with pe'ple from the agricultooral districks, and it was chiefly
them class which I found waitin' at the gates the other mornin'.
I saw at once that the Tower was established on a firm basis.
In the entire history of firm basises, I don't find a basis more
firmer than this one.
"You have no Tower in America?" said a man in the crowd,
who had somehow detected my denomination.
"Alars! no," I ansered; "we boste of our enterprise and
improovements, and yit we are devoid of a Tower. America,
oh my onhappy country! thou hast not got no Tower! It's a
The gates were opened after a while, and we all purchist
tickets, and went into a waitin' room.
"My frens," said a pale-faced little man, in black close,
"that is a sad day."
"Inasmuch as to how?" I said.
"I mean it is sad to think that so many peple have been
killed within these gloomy walls. My frens, let us drop a
"No!" I said, "you must excuse me. Others may drop
one if they feel like it; but as for me, I decline. The early
managers of this institootion were a bad lot, and their crimes
were trooly orful; but I can't sob for those who died four or
five hundred years ago. If they was my own relations I
couldn't. It's absurd to shed sobs over things which occurd
during the rain of Henry the Three. Let us be cheerful," I
continnered. "Look at the festiv Warders, in their red flannel
jackets. They are cheerful, and why should it not be thusly
A Warder now took us in charge, and showed us the Trater's
Gate, the armers, and things. The Trater's Gate is wide enuff
to admit about twenty traters abrest, I should jedge; but
beyond this, I couldn't see that it was superior to gates in
Traters, I will here remark, are an onforchunit class of pe'ple.
If they wasn't, they wouldn't be traters. They conspire to
bust up a country—they fail, and they're traters. They bust
her, and they become statesmen and heroes.
Take the case of Gloster, afterwards Old Dick the Three, who
may be seen at the Tower on horseback, in a heavy tin overcoat—take
Mr. Gloster's case. Mr. G. was a conspirator of the
basist dye, and if he'd failed, he would have been hung on a
sour apple tree. But Mr. G. succeeded and became great. He
was slewed by Col. Richmond, but he lives in history, and his
equestrian figger may be seen daily for a sixpence, in conjunction
with other em'nent persons, and no extra charge for
the Warder's able and bootiful lectur.
There's one King in this room who is mounted onto a foaming
steed, his right hand graspin a barber's pole. I didn't learn
The room where the daggers and pistils and other weppins is
kept is interestin. Among this collection of choice cutlery I
notist the bow and arrer which those hot-heded old chaps used
to conduct battles with. It is quite like the bow and arrer used
at this date by certain tribes of American Injuns, and they
shoot 'em off with such an excellent precision that I almost
sigh'd to be an Injun when I was in the Rocky Mountain regin.
They are a pleasant lot, them Injuns. Mr. Cooper and
Dr. Catlin have told us of the red man's wonderful eloquence,
and I found it so. Our party was stopt on the plains of Utah
by a band of Shoshones, whose chief said:—
"Brothers! the pale-face is welcome. Brothers! the sun is
sinking in the west, and Wa-na-bucky-she will soon cease
speakin. Brothers! the poor red man belongs to a race which
is fast becomin extink."
He then whooped in a shrill manner, stole our blankets, and
whisky, and fled to the primeval forest to conceal his emotions.
I will remark here, while on the subjeck of Injuns, that they
are in the main a very shaky set, with even less sense than the
Fenians; and when I hear philanthropists bewailin the fack that
every year "carries the noble red man nearer the settin sun,"
I simply have to say I'm glad of it, tho' it is rough on the settin
sun. They call you by the sweet name of Brother one minit,
and the next they scalp you with their Thomas-hawks. But I
wander. Let us return to the Tower.
At one end of the room where the weppins is kept, is a wax
figger of Queen Elizabeth, mounted on a fiery stuffed hoss,
whose glass eye flashes with pride, and whose red morocker
nostril dilates hawtily, as if, conscious of the royal burden he
bears. I have associated Elizabeth with the Spanish Armady.
She's mixed up with it at the Surrey Theatre, where Troo to the
Core is bein acted, and in which a full bally core is introjooced
on board the Spanish Admiral's ship, givin' the audiens the
idea that he intends openin a moosic-hall in Plymouth the
moment he conkers that town. But a very interestin drammer
is Troo to the Core, notwithstandin the eccentric conduct of the
Spanish Admiral; and very nice it is in Queen Elizabeth to
make Martin Truegold a baronet.
The Warder shows us some instrooments of tortur, such as thumbscrews,
throat collars, etc., statin' that these was conkered from the Spanish
Armady, and addin what a crooil peple the Spaniards was in them
days—which elissited from a bright-eyed little girl of about twelve
summers the remark that she tho't it was rich to talk about the crooilty
of the Spaniards usin thumbscrews, when he was in a tower where so many
poor peple's heads had been cut off. This made the Warder stammer and
I was so pleased with the little girl's brightness that I could have
kissed the dear child, and I would if she'd been six years older.
I think my companions intended makin a day of it, for they all had
sandwiches, sassiges, etc. The sad-lookin man, who had wanted us to drop
a tear afore we started to go round, fling'd such quantities of sassige
into his mouth that I expected to see him choke hisself to death; he
said to me, in the Beauchamp Tower, where the poor prisoners writ their
onhappy names on the cold walls, "This is a sad sight."
"It is indeed," I ansered. "You're black in the face. You shouldn't eat
sassige in public without some rehearsals beforehand. You manage it
"No," he said, "I mean this sad room."
Indeed, he was quite right. Tho' so long ago all these drefful things
happened, I was very glad to git away from this gloomy room, and go
where the rich and sparklin Crown Jewils is kept. I was so pleased with
the Queen's Crown, that it occurd to me what a agree'ble surprise it
would be to send a sim'lar one home to my wife; and I asked the Warder
what was the vally of a good well-constructed Crown like that. He told
me, but on cypherin up with a pencil the amount of funs I have in the
Jint Stock Bank, I conclooded I'd send her a genteel silver watch
And so I left the Tower. It is a solid and commandin edifis, but I deny
that it is cheerful. I bid it adoo without a pang.
(From "Punch," by permission of the Proprietors.)
MR. CAUDLE HAS LENT AN ACQUAINTANCE THE FAMILY UMBRELLA.
"That's the third umbrella gone since Christmas. What
were you to do? Why let him go home in the rain, to be sure.
I'm very certain there was nothing about him that could spoil.
Take cold, indeed! He doesn't look like one of the sort to take
cold. Besides, he'd have better taken cold than take our only
umbrella. Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, do you
hear the rain? And as I'm alive, if it isn't St. Swithin's day!
Do you hear it, against the windows? Nonsense; you don't
impose upon me. You can't be asleep with such a shower as
that! Do you hear it, I say? Oh, you do hear it! Well,
that's a pretty flood, I think, to last for six weeks; and no
stirring all the time out of the house. Pooh! don't think me a
fool, Mr. Caudle. Don't insult me. He return the umbrella!
Anybody would think you were born yesterday. As if anybody
ever did return an umbrella! There—do you hear it?
Worse and worse? Cats and dogs, and for six weeks—always
six weeks. And no umbrella!
"I should like to know how the children are to go to school
to-morrow? They shan't go through such weather, I'm
determined. No: they shall stop at home and never learn
anything—the blessed creatures!—sooner than go and get wet.
And when they grow up, I wonder who they'll have to thank
for knowing nothing—who, indeed, but their father? People
who can't feel for their own children ought never to be fathers.
"But I know why you lent the umbrella. Oh, yes; I know
very well. I was going out to tea at dear mother's to-morrow—you
knew that; and you did it on purpose. Don't tell me;
you hate me to go there, and take every mean advantage to
hinder me. But don't you think it, Mr. Caudle. No, sir; if it
comes down in buckets-full, I'll go all the more. No: and I
won't have a cab, where do you think the money's to come
from? You've got nice high notions at that club of yours. A
cab, indeed! Cost me sixteen-pence at least—sixteen pence!
two and sixpence, for there's back again. Cabs, indeed! I
should like to know who's to pay for 'em; I can't pay for 'em;
and I'm sure you can't, if you go on as you do; throwing away
your property, and beggaring your children—buying umbrellas!
"Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, do you hear it?
But I don't care—I'll go to mother's to-morrow, I will; and
what's more, I'll walk every step of the way—and you know
that will give me my death. Don't call me a foolish woman,
it's you that's the foolish man. You know I can't wear clogs;
and with no umbrella, the wet's sure to give me a cold—it
always does. But what do you care for that? Nothing at all.
I may be laid up for what you care, as I dare say I shall—and
a pretty doctor's bill there'll be. I hope there will! It will
teach you to lend your umbrellas again. I shouldn't wonder if
I caught my death; yes; and that's what you lent the umbrella
for. Of course!
"Nice clothes I shall get too, trapesing through weather like
this. My gown and bonnet will be spoilt quite. Needn't I
wear 'em, then? Indeed, Mr. Caudle, I shall wear 'em. No,
sir, I'm not going out a dowdy to please you or anybody else.
Gracious knows! it isn't often that I step over the threshold;
indeed, I might as well be a slave at once,—better, I should say.
But when I do go out, Mr. Caudle, I choose to go like a
lady. Oh! that rain—if it isn't enough to break in the
"Ugh! I do look forward with dread for to-morrow! How
I am to go to mother's I'm sure I can't tell. But if I die, I'll
do it. No, sir; I won't borrow an umbrella. No; and you
shan't buy one. Now, Mr. Caudle, only listen to this; if you
bring home another umbrella, I'll throw it in the street. I'll
have my own umbrella, or none at all.
"Ha! and it was only last week I had a new nozzle put to
that umbrella. I'm sure, if I'd have known as much as I do
now, it might have gone without one for me. Paying for new
nozzles, for other people to laugh at you. Oh, it's all very well
for you—you can go to sleep. You've no thought of your poor
patient wife, and your own dear children. You think of nothing
but lending umbrellas.
"Men, indeed!—call themselves lords of the creation!—pretty
lords, when they can't even take care of an umbrella.
"I know that walk to-morrow will be the death of me. But
that's what you want—then you may go to your club, and do
as you like—and then, nicely my poor dear children will be
used—but then, sir, then you'll be happy. Oh, don't tell me!
I know you will. Else you'd never have lent the umbrella!
"You have to go on Thursday about that summons; and, of
course, you can't go. No, indeed, you don't go without the
umbrella. You may lose the debt for what I care—it won't be
so much as spoiling your clothes—better lose it: people deserve
to lose debts who lend umbrellas!
"And I should like to know how I'm to go to mother's without
the umbrella? Oh, don't tell me that I said I would go—that's
nothing to do with it; nothing at all. She'll think I'm
neglecting her, and the little money we were to have, we shan't
have at all—because we've no umbrella.
"The children, too! Dear things! They'll be sopping wet:
for they shan't stop at home—they shan't lose their learning;
it's all their father will leave 'em, I'm sure. But they shall go
to school. Don't tell me I said they shouldn't: you are so
aggravating, Caudle; you'd spoil the temper of an angel. They
shall go to school; mark that. And if they get their deaths of
cold, it's not my fault—I didn't lend the umbrella!"
"At length," writes Caudle, "I fell asleep; and dreamt that
the sky was turned into green calico, with whalebone ribs;
that, in fact, the whole world turned round under a tremendous
(By permission of Messrs. Bradbury, Agnew, & Co.)
"I really take it very kind,
This visit, Mrs. Skinner,
I have not seen you such an age—
(The wretch has come to dinner!)
"Your daughters, too, what loves of girls—
What heads for painters' easels!
Come here, and kiss the infant, dears—
(And give it, p'raps, the measles!)
"Your charming boys I see are home
From Reverend Mr. Russell's;
'Twas very kind to bring them both—
(What boots for my new Brussels!)
"What! little Clara left at home?
Well now, I call that shabby:
I should have loved to kiss her so—
(A flabby, dabby, babby!)
"And Mr. S., I hope he's well,
Ah! though he lives so handy,
He never drops in now to sup—
(The better for our brandy!)
"Come, take a seat—I long to hear
About Matilda's marriage;
You've come, of course, to spend the day!
(Thank heaven, I hear the carriage!)
"What! must you go? Next time I hope
You'll give me longer measure;
Nay—I shall see you down the stairs—
(With most uncommon pleasure!)
"Good-bye! good-bye! remember all,
Next time you'll take your dinners!
(Now, David, mind I'm not at home
In future to the Skinners!")
(By permission of Messrs. Ward, Lock, & Co.)
THE CHARITY DINNER.
Time: half-past six o'clock. Place: The London Tavern.
Occasion: Fifteenth Annual Festival of the Society for the
Distribution of Blankets and Top-Boots among the Natives of
the Cannibal Islands.
On entering the room, we find more than two hundred noblemen,
and gentlemen already assembled; and the number is
increasing every minute. There are many well-known city
diners here this evening. That very ordinary looking personage,
with the rubicund complexion and pimply features, is old
Moneypenny, senior partner of the great firm of Moneypenny,
Blodgers, and Wobbles, corn factors of Mark Lane. He began
the world as a fellowship porter, and always makes a rule of
attending the principal dinners at the London Tavern, "because,"
as he says confidentially, to Wobbles, "don't you see, my boy,
it's a very cheap way of getting into society." He is talking
now to Sir Sandy McHaggis, a Scotch baronet, with a slender
purse and a large appetite, with whom he has scraped an
acquaintance, and presented with a spare ticket for the festival;
knowing that the Scotchman is "varra fond o' a gude dinner,
specially when it costs a mon nothing at all." The preparations
are now complete, and we are in readiness to receive the chairman.
After a short pause, a little door at the end of the room
opens, and the great man appears, attended by an admiring
circle of stewards and toadies, carrying white wands, like a
parcel of charity-school boys bent on beating the bounds. He
advances smilingly to his post at the principal table, amid
deafening and long-continued cheers.
He is a very popular man, this chairman; for is he not the
Earl of Mount-Stuart, late one of Her Majesty's Cabinet
Ministers? and his wealth and party influence are known to be
The dinner now makes its appearance, and we yield up ourselves
to the enjoyments of eating and drinking. These important
duties finished, and grace having been beautifully sung
by the vocalists, the real business of the evening commences.
The usual loyal toasts having been given, the noble chairman
rises, and, after passing his fingers through his hair, he places
his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat, gives a short preparatory
cough, accompanied by a vacant stare round the room,
and commences as follows:—
"My Lords and Gentlemen
—It is with mingled pleasure
and regret that I appear before you this evening: of pleasure,
to find that this excellent and world-wide-known society is in
so promising a condition; and, of regret, that you have not
chosen a worthier chairman; in fact, one who is more capable
than myself of dealing with a subject of such vital importance
as this. (Loud cheers). But, although I may be unworthy of
the honour, I am proud to state that I have been a subscriber
to this society from its commencement; feeling sure that nothing
can tend more to the advancement of civilization, social reform,
fireside comfort, and domestic economy among the cannibals,
than the diffusion of blankets and top-boots. (Tremendous
cheering, which lasts for several minutes.) Here, in this
England of ours, which is an island surrounded by water, as I
suppose you all know—or, as our great poet so truthfully and
beautifully expresses the same fact, 'England bound in by the
triumphant sea'—what, down the long vista of years, have
conduced more to our successes in arms, and arts and song,
than blankets? Indeed, I never gaze upon a blanket without
my thoughts reverting fondly to the days of my early childhood.
Where should we all have been now but for those warm and
fleecy coverings? My Lords and Gentlemen! Our first and
tender memories are all associated with blankets: blankets
when in our nurses' arms, blankets in our cradles, blankets in
our cribs, blankets to our French bedsteads in our schooldays,
and blankets to our marital four-posters now. Therefore, I
say, it becomes our bounden duty as men,—and, with feelings
of pride, I add, as Englishmen—to initiate the untutored savage,
the wild and somewhat uncultivated denizen of the prairie, into
the comfort and warmth of blankets; and to supply him, as
far as practicable, with those reasonable, seasonable, luxurious,
and useful appendages. At such a moment as this, the lines
of another poet strike familiarly upon the ears. Let me see,
they are something like this—
"Blankets have charms to soothe the savage breast,
And to—to, do—a——"
I forget the rest. (Loud cheers.) Do we grudge our money
for such a purpose? I answer, fearlessly, No! Could we spend
it better at home? I reply most emphatically, No! True, it
may be said that there are thousands of our own people who
at this moment are wandering about the streets of this great
metropolis without food to eat or rags to cover them. But
what have we to do with them? Our thoughts, our feelings,
and our sympathies, are all wafted on the wings of charity to
the dear and interesting cannibals in the far-off islands of the
green Pacific Ocean. (Hear, hear.) Besides, have not our
own poor the workhouses to go to; the luxurious straw of the
casual wards to repose upon, if they please; the mutton broth
to bathe in; and the ever toothsome, although somewhat
scanty, allowance of 'toke' provided for them? And let it
ever be remembered that our own people are not savages, and
man-eaters; and, therefore, our philanthropy would be wasted
upon them. (Overwhelming applause.) To return to our
subject. Perhaps some person or persons here may wonder
why we should not send out side-springs and bluchers, as well
as top-boots. To those I will say, that top-boots alone answer
the object desired—namely, not only to keep the feet dry, but
the legs warm, and thus to combine the double use of shoes
and stockings. Is it not an instance of the remarkable foresight
of this society, that it purposely abstains from sending
out any other than top-boots? To show the gratitude of the
cannibals for the benefits conferred upon them, I will just
mention that, within the last few weeks, his Illustrious Majesty,
Hokee Pokey Wankey Fum the First, surnamed by his loving
subjects, 'The Magnificent,' from the fact of his wearing, on
Sundays, a shirt-collar and an eye-glass as full court costume—has
forwarded the president of this society a very handsome
present, consisting of two live alligators, a boa constrictor, and
three pots of preserved Indian, to be eaten with toast; and I
am told, by competent judges, that it is quite equal to Russian
"My Lords and Gentlemen—I will not trespass on your
patience by making any further remarks; knowing how incompetent
I am—no, no! I don't mean that—how incompetent you
all are—no! I don't mean either—but you all know what I
mean. Like the ancient Roman lawgiver, I am in a peculiar
position; for the fact is, I cannot sit down—I mean to say,
that I cannot sit down without saying that, if there ever was
an institution, it is this institution; and therefore, I beg to
propose, 'Prosperity to the Society for the Distribution of
Blankets and Top-boots among the Natives of the Cannibal
The toast having been cordially responded to, his lordship
calls upon Mr. Duffer, the secretary, to read the report.
Whereupon that gentlemen, who is of a bland and oily temperament,
and whose eyes are concealed by a pair of green spectacles,
produces the necessary document, and reads, in the
"Thirtieth Half-yearly Report of the Society for the Distribution
of Blankets and Top-boots to the Natives of the
"The society having now reached its fifteenth anniversary,
the committee of management beg to congratulate their friends
and subscribers on the success that has been attained.
"When the society first commenced its labours, the generous
and noble-minded natives of the islands, together with their
king—a chief whose name is well known in connexion with
one of the most stirring and heroic ballads of this country—attired
themselves in the light but somewhat insufficient costume
of their tribe—viz., little before, nothing behind, and no
sleeves, with the occasional addition of a pair of spectacles;
but now, thanks to this useful association, the upper classes of
the cannibals seldom appear in public without their bodies
being enveloped in blankets and their feet encased in top-boots.
"When the latter useful articles were first introduced into
the islands, the society's agents had a vast amount of trouble to
prevail upon the natives to apply them to their proper purposes;
and, in their work of civilization, no less than twenty of its
representatives were massacred, roasted, and eaten. But we
persevered; we overcame the natural antipathy of the cannibals
to wear any covering to their feet; until after a time, the
natives discovered the warmth and utility of boots; and now
they can scarcely be induced to remove them until they fall off
through old age.
"During the past half year, the society has distributed no
less than 71 blankets and 128 pairs of top-boots; and your
committee, therefore, feel convinced that they will not be
accused of inaction. But a great work is still before them;
and they earnestly invite co-operation, in order that they may
be enabled to supply the whole of the cannibals with these
comfortable, nutritious, and savoury articles.
"As the balance-sheet is rather a lengthy document, I will
merely quote a few of the figures for your satisfaction. We
have received, during the half-year, in subscriptions, donations,
and legacies, the sum of £5,403 6s. 8¾d. Rent, rates, and taxes,
£305 10s. 0¼d. Seventy-one pairs of blankets, at 20s. per pair,
have taken £71 exactly; and 128 pairs of tops-boots, at 21s.
per pair, cost us £134 some odd shillings. The salaries and
expenses of management amount to £1,307 4s. 2½d.; and
sundries, which include committee meetings and travelling
expenses, have absorbed the remainder of the sum, and amount
to £3,268 9s. 1¾d. So that we have expended on the dear and
interesting cannibals the sum of £205, and the remainder of
the sum—amounting to £5,198—has been devoted to the working
expenses of the society."
The reading concluded, the secretary resumes his seat amid
heavy applause, which continues until Mr. Alderman Gobbleton
rises, and, in a somewhat lengthy and discursive speech—in
which the phrases, "the Corporation of the City of London,"
"suit and service," "ancient guild," "liberties and privileges,"
and "Court of Common Council," figure frequently, states that
he agrees with everything the noble chairman has said; and
has, moreover, never listened to a more comprehensive and
exhaustive document than the one just read; which is calculated
to satisfy even the most obtuse and hard-headed of
Gobbleton is a great man in the City. He has either been
Lord Mayor, or sheriff, or something of the sort; and, as a few
words of his go a long way with his friends and admirers, his
remarks are very favourably received.
"Clever man, Gobbleton!" says a common councilman,
sitting near us, to his neighbour, a languid swell of the period.
"Ya-as, vewy! Wemarkable style of owatowy—and gweat
fluency," replies the other.
But attention, if you please!—for M. Hector de Longuebeau,
the great French writer, is on his legs. He is staying in
England for a short time, to become acquainted with our
manners and customs.
"Milors and Gentlemans!" commences the Frenchman,
elevating his eyebrows, and shrugging his shoulders. "Milors
and Gentlemans—You excellent chairman, M. le Baron de
Mount-Stuart, he have say to me, 'Make de toast.' Den I say
to him dat I have no toast to us; but he nudge my elbow ver
soft, and say dat dere is von toast dat nobody but von Frenchman
can make proper; and, derefore, wid you kind permission,
I will make de toast. 'De breveté is de sole of de feet,' as
you great philosopher, Dr. Johnson, do say, in dat amusing
little work of his, de Pronouncing Dictionnaire; and derefore,
I vill not say ver moch to de point. Ven I vas a boy, about
so moch tall, and used for to promenade de streets of Marseilles
et of Rouen, vid no feet to put onto my shoe, I nevare to have
exposé dat dis day vould to have arrivé. I vas to begin de
vorld as von garçon—or, vat you call in dis countrie, von
vaitaire in a café—vere I vork ver hard, vid no habillemens at
all to put onto myself, and ver little food to eat, excep' von old
bleu blouse vat vas give to me by de proprietaire, just for to keep
myself fit to be showed at, but, tank goodness, tings dey have
changé ver moch for me since dat time, and I have rose myself,
seulement par mon industrie et perseverance. (Loud
cheers.) Ah! mes amis! ven I hear to myself de flowing
speech, de oration magnifique of you Lor' Maire, Monsieur
Gobbledown, I feel dat it is von great privilige for von étranger
to sit at de same table, and to eat de same food, as that grand,
dat majestique man, who are de terreur of de voleurs and de
brigands of de metropolis; and who is also, I for to supposé, a
halterman and de chef of you common scoundrel. Milors and
gentlemans, I feel dat I can perspire to no greatare honneur
dan to be von common scoundrelman myself; but hélas! dat
plaisir are not for me, as I are not freeman of your great cité,
not von liveryman servant of von of you compagnies joint-stock.
But I must not forget de toast. Milors and Gentlemans! De
immortal Shakespeare he have write, 'De ting of beauty are
de joy for nevermore.' It is de ladies who are de toast. Vat
is more entrancing dan de charmante smile, de soft voice, de
vinking eye of de beautiful lady? It is de ladies who do
sweeten de cares of life. It is de ladies who are de guiding
stars of our existence. It is de ladies who do cheer but not
inebriate; and, derefore, vid all homage to dere sex, de toast
dat I have to propose is, 'De Ladies! God bless dem all!'"
And the little Frenchman sits down amid a perfect tempest
A few more toasts are given, the list of subscriptions is read,
a vote of thanks is passed to the noble chairman; and the
Fifteenth Annual Festival of the Society for the Distribution
of Blankets and Top-boots among the Natives of the Cannibal
Islands is at an end.
(Copyright of Messrs. F. Warne & Co.)
ACTING WITH A VENGEANCE.
W. Sapte, Jun.
Methinks 'tis a very remarkable "sign
Of the times"—I must own this expression's not mine—
How in these latter days
The theatrical craze
Has obtained such a hold on all grades of society;
And this love of the stage
Is a mark of the age
Which is not in accord with my views of propriety.
'Twas only last week a young lady I know
Invited the world in a body to go
(On a wretched wet day)
To a dull matinée,
When she made her débût in the "Hunchback," as Julia;
A part which to act is
A thing of long practice,
Surely ne'er was conceit more absurd or unrulier.
How can amateur actors commence at the top
Of the Thespian Tree, and avoid coming flop?
It would seem very queer
If a young volunteer
Should begin by commanding the Royal Horse Artillery,
Or if babies should bilk
Their allowance of milk
And insist upon sucking from bottles of Sillery.
So it mostly occurs
That an amateur errs,
And gets chaffed for possessing less skill than audacity,
When he tackles a part
Without learning the art,
And exposes his natural want of capacity—
And what is more painful, his lack of sagacity.
I'm bound to admit
I was rather once bit
By the mania myself in a mild sort of way;
Paid a half-guinea fee
To the Zeus A.D.C.,
And found myself cast for a part in a play.
I think 'twas the Bandit Brothers of Brighton—
Or Eastbourne, or Yarmouth—
Or Hastings, or Barmouth—
I forget for the moment which place was the right 'un—
But I know there's a chief,
Who at last comes to grief,
After numerous blood-curdling adventures and rescues,
Such as frequently writers in modern burlesque use.
Now the part of the chief
Who comes to grief
Was secured by a hot-tempered youth, named O'Keefe;
In spite of the jealousy
Of two other fellows, he
Cast himself as the leader, without hesitation,
And resented remarks with extreme indignation.
So the others were fain
Their rage to contain,
And one e'en accepted the part which was reckoned
To be, on the whole, the one that ranked second.
The local Town Hall was engaged, which would hold
Some three hundred people—the tickets were sold—
The purchasers wishing to help the good charity
We played for; some adding
Donations, and gladding
The treasurer's heart to a state of hilarity.
Were to take place before
The débût on the boards of the Zeus A.D.C.—
For the members were earnest as earnest could be.
Well, the opening one
Was rather good fun,
For we found that the practice of vigorous fighting
'Twixt Bandits and Coastguards was rather exciting;
But later, you know
It got rather slow
For those who were "supers" to constantly go
And lay the same victims perpetually low,
With time after time the identical blow.
But Mr. O'Keefe,
Who played the chief,
Had a time less monotonous, greatly, than ours,
And always kept up the rehearsals for hours.
Still he wasn't quite happy,
And often got snappy,
For Richard McEwen, who'd wanted to play
The part of the chief, and used often to say
He'd have done it himself in a much better way,
Was by no means contented, thus feeling superior
To play "seconds" to Keefe, his decided inferior.
So he did what he could
To annoy the great K.,
In a scandalous way,
All the stage-manager's proper directions,
And refused to accept either hints or corrections.
Now in the third act, the time being night,
The scene on the beach, there's a hand-to-hand fight
'Twixt the Bandit chief
(That's Mr. O'Keefe)
And the coastguard captain, Mr. McEwen,
In which 'tis agreed
That the first shall succeed,
While the latter comes in for no end of a hewing.
But Richard McEwen was strong and quick,
And a very good hand with the single-stick,
And he didn't see why
He should quietly die
By the sword of a man, much less clever at fencing.
So he would give a twist
Of his muscular wrist,
Which disarmed the brave Bandit soon after commencing.
The rage of O'Keefe
For McEwen would do it at ev'ry rehearsal;
The manager vowed
It could not be allowed,
And the company's protests became universal.
That he thought the piece gained
By his showing his skill—how could anyone doubt it?
"There's more credit," said he,
"To the chief than there'd be
If he killed a weak chap who knew nothing about it."
And he went on to say that O'Keefe wasn't fit
For the part of the chief, and could not fence a bit.
O'Keefe in reply,
Gave McEwen the lie,
And vowed he would kick him
Or otherwise "lick" him,
While his eyes flashed like those of a tiger or leopard. He
Induced us to think
That his rival must shrink
From placing himself in such obvious jeopardy.
He did so—and afterwards things all went smoothly,
While O'Keefe played his part in a manner quite Booth-ly,
Or, as somebody said, without meaning to gush,
He'd have put Henry Irving himself to the blush.
As soon as the public performance drew nigh
The local excitement ran awfully high,
For reports had been spread
(By the club, be it said)
That something uncommonly good was expected,
And so on the day
We turned people away
From the doors, where quite early a crowd had collected.
Well, the overture over, the drama began,
But, thanks to our casual property man,
The rise of the curtain
Was somewhat uncertain.
In fact, for five minutes or so the thing stuck—
Which was terrible luck!
And affected the play,
At least, so I should say,
For the opening act went decidedly tamely,
Though O'Keefe and his bandits stuck to it most gamely.
There was not much applause,
Which perhaps was because
Our audience was certainly very genteel,
And thought it was rude folks should show what they feel;
Still, we should have preferred
Some "bravos!" to have heard.
And two or three gentlemen seemingly napping,
We thought might have better employed themselves clapping.
If first act went badly
The second quite dragged;
The actors worked sadly,
All interest flagged.
And though very often we caught people laughing,
The occasions they chose made us think they were chaffing.
Next came act the third, in which the O'Keefe
Was to be very great as the terrible chief,
For in it he killed
His rival, and spilled
The gore of the coastguards all over the coast,
And eloped with a bride,
Who beheld him with pride
Though she could herself of a coronet boast.
As a matter of fact
We hoped that this act
Would redeem in a measure the ones that preceded,
And it opened so well,
And O'Keefe looked so swell,
That at last we obtained the encouragement needed.
And then came the fight.
No one thought, on that night,
That McEwen would dare try his vile tour de force;
And the battle began
On the well-rehearsed plan,
While the supers made ready to bear off his corse.
Whatever induced him to do it? Who knows?
He says 'twas an accident. Well, I suppose,
When a man tells you that,
A denial too flat
Might perhaps lead to arguments, even to blows.
But, be that as it may,
The O'Keefe couldn't slay
His opponent, whose wrist
All at once gave a twist,
And the brave bandit's weapon went flying away!
The supers stood spellbound, as over the stage
Strode the maddened O'Keefe; in a frenzy of rage
He picked up his sword, and then went for his foe
In terrible earnest.
Oh, that was the sternest,
Most truculent fight
Ever fought in the sight
Of innocent people, who shouted "Bravo!"
Little knowing how soon the real blood was to flow.
Thank Heaven, the swords
Were as blunt as two boards!
Otherwise the result would have been simply frightful.
As it was, every whack
Make the deuce of a crack,
While the audience considered it clearly delightful.
With th' applause at its height,
This most bloodthirsty fight,
By a blow from the skilful McEwen was ended.
O'Keefe fell as if dead,
With a gash on his head;
The supers rushed forward, the curtain descended.
Talk about clapping!
And walking-stick rapping!
While even the gentlemen formerly napping,
"Bravoed" themselves hoarse
With the whole of their force,
And made their fat palms quite tender with slapping.
"O'Keefe! and McEwen!" was shouted by all,
Why the deuce don't they come and acknowledge the call?
Then some people said
"That blow on the head—
Was it part of the play?—or"—ah, see, in the hall
A youth—he's a member, as that ribbon shows—
See! to Doctor Pomander he stealthily goes—
To the doctor, who sat
With his coat and his hat
Just under his seat, that he need not delay
If a patient should send to fetch him away;
But who never expected to find in the hall
A patient—and much less a bandit—at all!
Takes the place of the row,
And people talk low
And ask "Shall they go?"
When before the dropped curtain there comes with a bow
The stage-manager suave,
With a countenance grave,
To announce that although there's nought serious the matter,
(Here applause and some chatter)
Still, in the late fight
The wrong man beat the right,
And that therefore the show was at end for the night.
Thus the bandit chief
Came duly to grief,
Though not in the way that the author intended,
And as for his head
Ere he went home to bed,
The doctor had seen that 'twas properly mended.
This, friends, was the end of the drama for me,
And for most, I believe, of the Zeus A.D.C.,
Whose need of success
May indeed have been less
Than that usually obtained by such clubs and societies;
But be that as it may,
I have e'er from that day
Placed amateur acting among th' improprieties.
(By permission of the Author.)
MY FORTNIGHT AT WRETCHEDVILLE.
George Augustus Sala.
How I came to be acquainted with Wretchedville was in this wise. I was
in quest last autumn of a nice quiet place within a convenient distance
of town, where I could finish an epic poem—or stay, was it a five-act
drama?—on which I had been long engaged, and where I could be secure
from the annoyance of organ-grinders, and of reverend gentlemen leaving
little subscription books one day and calling for them the next. I pined
for a place where one could be very snug, and where one's friends didn't
drop in "just to look you up, old fellow," and where the post didn't
come in too often. So I picked up a bag of needments, and availing
myself of a mid-day train on the Great Domdaniel Railway, alighted
haphazard at a station.
It turned out to be Sobbington. I saw at a glance that Sobbington was
too fashionable, not to say stuck-up for me. The waltz from "Faust" was
pianofortetically audible from at least half-a-dozen semi-detached
windows; and this, combined with some painful variations on "Take,
then, the sabre," and a cursory glance into a stationer's shop and fancy
warehouse, where two stern mammas of low-church aspect were purchasing
the back numbers of "The New Pugwell Square Pulpit," and three young
ladies were telegraphically inquiring, behind their parents' backs, of
the young person at the counter whether any letters had been left for
them, sufficed to accelerate my departure from Sobbington. The next
station on the road, I was told, was Doleful Hill, and then came
Deadwood Junction. I thought I would take a little walk, and see what
the open and what the covert yielded.
I left my bag with a moody porter at the Sobbington Station, and trudged
along the road which had been indicated to me as leading to Doleful
Hill. It is true that I had not the remotest idea of where I was going
to live. I walked onwards and onwards, admiring the field cows in the
far-off pastures—cows the white specks on whose hides recurred so
artistically that one might have thought the scenic arrangement of the
landscape had been entrusted to Mr. Birket Foster. Anon I saw coming
towards me, a butcher-boy in his cart, drawn by a fast trotting pony. I
asked him when he neared me, how far it might be to Doleful Hill.
"Good two mile," quoth the butcher-boy, pulling up. "But you'll have to
pass Wretchedville first. Lays in a 'ole a little to the left, 'arf a
"Wretchedville," thought I; what an odd name! "What sort of a place is
it?" I inquired.
"Well," replied the butcher-boy; "it's a lively place, a werry lively
place. I should say it was lively enough to make a cricket burst himself
for spite: it's so uncommon lively." And with this enigmatical
deliverance the butcher-boy relapsed into a whistle of the utmost
shrillness, and rattled away towards Sobbington.
I wish that it had not been quite so golden an afternoon. A little
dulness, a few clouds in the sky, might have acted as a caveat against
Wretchedville. But I plodded on and on, finding all things looking
beautiful in that autumn glow, until at last I found myself descending
the declivitous road into Wretchedville and to destruction.
"Were there any apartments to let?" Of course there were. The very first
house I came to was, as regards the parlour-window, nearly blocked up by
a placard treating of "Apartments Furnished." Am I right in describing
it as the parlour-window? I scarcely know; for the front door, with
which it was on a level, was approached by such a very steep flight of
steps, that when you stood on the topmost grade, it seemed as though,
with a very slight effort, you could have peeped in at the bed-room
window, or touched one of the chimney-pots; while as concerns the
basement, the front kitchen—I beg pardon, the breakfast
parlour—appeared to be a good way above the level of the street.
The space in the first-floor window not occupied by the placard, was
filled by a monstrous group of wax fruit, the lemons as big as pumpkins,
and the leaves of an unnaturally vivid green. The window below—it was a
single-windowed front—served merely as a frame for the half-length
portrait of a lady in a cap, ringlets, and a colossal cameo brooch. The
eyes of this portrait were fixed upon me; and before almost I had lifted
a very small light knocker, decorated, so far as I could make out, with
the cast-iron effigy of a desponding ape, and had struck this against a
door, which to judge from the amount of percussion produced, was
composed of Bristol board highly varnished, the portal itself flew open
and the portrait of the basement appeared in the flesh; indeed, it was
the same portrait. Downstairs it had been Mrs. Primpris looking out into
the Wretchedville Road for lodgers. Upstairs it was Mrs. Primpris
letting her lodgings and glorying in the act.
She didn't ask for any references. She didn't hasten to inform me that
there were no children or any other lodgers. She didn't look doubtful
when I told her that the whole of my luggage consisted of a black bag
which I had left at the Sobbington Station. She seemed rather pleased
with the idea of the bag, and said that her Alfred should step round for
it. She didn't object to smoking; and she at once invested me with the
Order of the Latchkey—a latchkey at Wretchedville, ha! ha! She further
held me with her glittering eye, and I listened like a two-years' child
while she let me the lodgings for a fortnight certain.
She had converted me into a single gentleman lodger of quiet and retired
habits—or was I a widower of independent means seeking a home in a
cheerful family?—so suddenly that I beheld all things as in a dream.
Thinking, perchance, that the first stone of that monumental edifice,
the bill, could not be laid too quickly, she immediately provided me
with tea. There was a little cottage-loaf, so hard, round, shiny, and
compact, that I experienced a well-nigh uncontrollable desire to fling
it up to the ceiling to ascertain whether it would chip off any portion
of a preposterous rosette in stucco in the centre, representing a
sunflower surrounded by cabbage-leaves. This terrible ornament was, by
the way, one of the chief sources of my misery at Wretchedville: I was
continually apprehensive that it would tumble down bodily on the table.
In addition to the cottage-loaf there was a pretentious tea-pot, which,
had it been of sterling silver, would have been worth fifty guineas, but
which in its ghastly gleaming, said plainly, "Sheffield" and
"imposture." There was a piece of butter in a "shape" like a diminutive
haystack, and with a cow sprawling on the top in unctuous plasticity. It
was a pallid kind of butter, from which with difficulty you shaved off
adipocerous scales, which would not be persuaded to adhere to the bread,
but flew off at tangents and went rolling about an intolerably large
tea-tray on whose papier-mâché surface was depicted the death of Captain
Hedley Vicars. The Crimean sky was inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and the
gallant captain's face was highly enriched with blue and crimson
As for the tea, I don't think I ever tasted such a peculiar mixture. Did
you ever sip warm catsup sweetened with borax? That might have been
something like it. And what was that sediment, strongly resembling the
sand at Great Yarmouth, at the bottom of the cup? I sat down to my meal,
however, and made as much play with the cottage-loaf as I could. Had the
loaf been varnished? It smelt and looked as though it had undergone that
process. Everything in the house smelt of varnish. I was uncomfortably
conscious, too, during my repast—one side of the room being all
window—that I was performing the part of a "Portrait of the Gentleman
on the first floor," and that, as such, I was "sitting" to Mrs. Lucknow
at Number Twelve opposite—I knew her name was Lucknow, for a brass
plate on the door said so—whose own half-length effigy was visible in
her own breakfast-parlour window glowering at me reproachfully because I
had not taken her first floor, in the window of which was, not a group
of wax fruit, but a sham alabaster vase full of artificial flowers.
Every window in Wretchedville exhibited one or other of these ornaments,
and it was from their contemplation that I began to understand how it
was that the "fancy goods" trade in the Minories and Houndsditch throve
so well. They made things there to be purchased by the housekeepers of
The shades of evening fell, and Mrs. Primpris brought me in a monstrous
paraffin-lamp, the flame of which wouldn't do anything but lick the
chimney-glass till it smoked it to the proper hue to observe eclipses
by, and then splutter into extinction and charnel-like odour. After that
we tried a couple of composites (six to the pound) in green glass
candlesticks. I asked Mrs. Primpris if she could send me up a book to
read, and she favoured me, per Alfred and Selina, with her whole
library, consisting of the Asylum Press Almanack for 1860; two odd
volumes of the Calcutta Directory; the Brewer and Distiller's Assistant;
Julia de Crespigny, or a Winter in London; Dunoyer's French Idioms; and
the Reverend Mr. Huntingdon's Bank of Faith.
I took out my cigar-case after this and began to smoke; and then I heard
Mrs. Primpris coughing and a number of doors being thrown wide open.
Upon this I concluded that I would go to bed. My sleeping apartment—the
first-floor back—was a perfect cube. One side was a window overlooking
a strip of clay-soil hemmed in between brick walls. There were no
tombstones yet, but if it wasn't a cemetery, why, when I opened the
window to get rid of the odour of the varnish, did it smell like one?
The opposite side of the cube was composed of a chest of drawers. I am
not impertinently curious by nature, but as I was the first-floor
lodger, bethought myself entitled to open the top long drawer with a
view to the bestowal of the contents of my black bag. The drawer was not
empty; but that which it held made me feel very nervous. I suppose the
weird figure I saw stretched out there with pink arms and legs sprouting
from a shroud of silver paper, a quantity of ghastly auburn curls, and
two blue glass eyes unnaturally gleaming in the midst of a mask of
salmon-coloured wax, was Selina's best doll; the present perhaps of her
uncle, who was, haply, a Calcutta director, or an Asylum Press Almanack
maker, or a brewer and distiller, or a cashier in the Bank of Faith. I
shut the drawer again hurriedly, and that doll in its silver paper
cerecloth haunted me all night.
The third side of my bedroom consisted of chimney—the coldest, hardest,
brightest-looking fire-place I ever saw out of Hampton Court Palace
guardroom. The fourth side was door. I forget into which corner was
hitched a wash-hand stand. The ceiling was mainly stucco rosette, of the
pattern of the one in my sitting-room. Among the crazes which came over
me at this time, was one to the effect that this bedroom was a cabin on
board ship, and that if the ship should happen to lurch or roll in the
trough of the sea, I must infallibly tumble out of the door or the
window, or into the drawer where the doll was—unless the drawer and the
doll came out to me—or up the chimney. I think that I murmured
"Steady!" as I clomb into bed.
My couch—an "Arabian" one, Mrs. Primpris said proudly—seemingly
consisted of the Logan, or celebrated rocking-stone of Cornwall, loosely
covered with bleached canvas, under which was certain loose foreign
matter, but whether composed of flocculi of wool or of the halves of
kidney potatoes I am not in a position to state. At all events I awoke
in the morning veined all over like a scagliola column. I never knew,
too, before, that any blankets were manufactured in Yorkshire, or
elsewhere, so remarkably small and thin as the two seeming flannel
pocket-handkerchiefs with blue-and-crimson edging, which formed part of
Mrs. Primpris's Arabian bed-furniture. Nor had I hitherto been aware, as
I was when I lay with that window at my feet, that the moon was so very
large. The orb of night seemed to tumble on me flat, until I felt as
though I were lying in a cold frying-pan. It was a "watery moon," I have
reason to think; for when I awoke the next morning, much battered with
visionary conflicts with the doll, I found that it was raining cats and
"The rain," the poet tells us, "it raineth every day." It rained most
prosaically all that day at Wretchedville, and the next, and from Monday
morning till Saturday night, and then until the middle of the next week!
Dear me! dear me! how wretched I was! I hasten to declare that I have no
kind of complaint to make against Mrs. Primpris. Not a flea was felt in
her house. The cleanliness of the villa was so scrupulous as to be
distressing. It smelt of soap and scrubbing-brush like a Refuge. Mrs.
Primpris was strictly honest, even to the extent of inquiring what I
would like to have done with the fat of cold mutton-chops, and sending
me up antediluvian crusts, the remnants of last week's cottage-loaves,
with which I would play moodily at knock-'em-downs, using the
pepper-caster as a pin. I have nothing to say against Alfred's fondness
for art. India-rubber to be sure, is apter to smear than to obliterate
drawings in chalk; but a three-penny piece is not much; and you cannot
too early encourage the imitative faculties. And again, if Selina did
require correction, I am not prepared to deny that a shoe may be the
best implement and the blade bones the most fitting portion of the human
anatomy for such an exercitation.
I merely say that I was wretched at Wretchedville, and that Mrs.
Primpris's apartments very much aggravated my misery. The usual
objections taken to a lodging-house are to the effect that the furniture
is dingy, the cooking execrable, the servant a slattern, and the
landlady either a crocodile or a tigress. Now my indictment against my
Wretchedville apartments simply amounts to this: that everything was too
new. Never were there such staring paper-hangings, such gaudily printed
druggets for carpets, such blazing hearthrugs—one representing the dog
of Montargis seizing the murderer of the Forest of Bondy—such gleaming
fire-irons, and such remarkably shiny looking-glasses with gilt halters
for frames. The crockery was new, and the glue on the chairs and tables
was scarcely dry. The new veneer peeled off the new chiffonier. The
roller-blinds to the windows were so new that they wouldn't work. The
new stair-carpeting used to dazzle my eyes so, that I was always
tripping myself up; the new oil-cloth in the hall smelt like the Trinity
House repository for new buoys; and Mrs. Primpris was always full
dressed by nine o'clock in the morning. She confessed once or twice
during my stay that her house was not quite "seasoned." It was not even
seasoned to sound. Every time the kitchen-fire was poked you heard the
sound in the sitting-room. As to perfumes, whenever the lid of the
copper in the wash-house was raised, the first-floor lodger was aware of
the fact. I knew by the simple evidence of my olfactory organs what Mrs.
Primpris had for dinner every day. Pork, accompanied by some green
esculent, boiled, predominated.
When my fortnight's tenancy had expired—I never went outside the house
until I left it for good—and my epic poem, or whatever it was, had more
or less been completed, I returned to London, and had a rare bilious
attack. The doctor said it was painter's colic; I said at the time it
was disappointed ambition, for the booksellers had looked very coldly on
my poetical proposals, and the managers to a man had refused to read my
play; but at this present writing I believe the sole cause of my malady
to have been Wretchedville. I hope they will pull down the villas and
build the jail there soon, and that the rascal convicts will be as
wretched as I was.
(From "Under the Sun," by permission of
Messrs. Vizetelly & Co.)
THE SORROWS OF WERTHER.
W. M. Thackeray.
Werther had a love for Charlotte
Such as words could never utter;
Would you know how first he met her
She was cutting bread and butter.
Charlotte was a married lady,
And a moral man was Werther,
And for all the wealth of Indies
Would do nothing for to hurt her.
So he sighed, and pined, and ogled,
And his passion boiled, and bubbled,
Till he blew his silly brains out,
And no more was by it troubled.
Charlotte having seen his body
Borne before her on a shutter,
Like a well-conducted person,
Went on cutting bread and butter.
(By An Experimenter.)
I am in a humble sphere of life—a hairdresser's assistant, in fact; but
I have a thirst for improving my mind, and regularly attend the evening
classes at our institute. It was there I read in a magazine about morals
and music. The writer discussed the question whether music by itself,
unpolluted by words, had any "mental significance or moral power." I
left off reading, rather puzzled, but I am of a practical turn of mind.
I joined our bricklaying class at the institute last term, and, although
I nip my fingers a good deal, still it has made me inclined to put all
new truths to the test of experiment. So I determined to experiment on
myself, and see what mental significance and moral power music
possessed, if any. I regulated my life very carefully during the trial,
so that no outside influence should spoil the result. I weighed and
measured out my food and drink, abstained from pickles and sensation
literature, denied myself the exciting pleasure of Jemima's company on
Thursday and Sunday, and, to counterbalance the language of some of our
ruder customers, and to give morals an even chance, I slept with a tract
under my pillow. I started with a quite unprejudiced mind, for the
attention I had paid to music before was mostly measured by the loudness
of it. I took a seat at St. James's Hall in good time, and opened my
mind and morals for impressions. First of all, a man came on the
platform and began, as far as I could see, to tune the piano. I thought
he ought to have done this before the advertised time of opening, but
when he got off the stool, the people all began to applaud him, and on
inquiring, I found that the man I had taken for the tuner was really the
giver of the concert, and that he had been playing one of his own
compositions. So I lost this experiment altogether. However, soon after
the player returned with a violinist, and they started a duet. I set my
teeth. If there was any significance or moral in a violin and piano
mixed, I determined to have it. I had first fleeting visions before my
mind of all the creatures I had ever seen in pain. There was the squeak
of a rat caught in a trap; there was the same sort of shriek Jemima gave
when I took her to have a tooth out; and there was the loud wail which
accompanies the conversion of pig into pork. But this was only the first
chapter. The players stopped, and began again; and the next chapter
plunged me among the industrial arts. Under the influence of the magic
instruments I saw the foundation of England's greatness. There was an
athletic carpenter industriously sawing wood. There was a grindstone
putting an edge on an axe. There were a number of whirrs, which brought
back vividly a loom I had seen at work at an exhibition, and there was a
rather asthmatic smith striking his anvil and coughing between every
But this was not all. They began a third chapter, and I was immediately
among lolly-pops. All the nicest things I had ever tasted stood before
me in a row. There was a pot full of apricot jam; there was some roast
beef gravy, than which, taken on the knife, I know nothing more
toothsome; there was a sixpenny strawberry ice, and a nice cut of lamb
and mint sauce to finish up with. I was sorry when they left off, but
glad to find I was on the trace of a moral. The piece was evidently a
musical embodiment of a clean shave: the first part was the misery of
laying your head back and having your nose tweaked; the second was the
being scraped; and the last was the happy moment when you stretch your
limbs, pass your satisfied hand over your smooth chin, and nod to
yourself complacently in the glass. The moral was obvious; that it is a
duty to get shaved, and not to shave yourself, but to go to the
professional man. My next experiment was to hear a young lady sing. She
came on the platform, looking lovely, and she had on a sash and a dress
improver that I never saw equalled for elegance. My hopes rose at the
sight of her. I felt sure that so much beauty could not be otherwise
than moral. "Oh, do be moral! do be moral!" I kept saying to myself, as
the accompanist opened fire on her song. A dreadful thought then arose:
the words of her song would taint the experiment, which was to be on
music alone. But, to my delight, I could not catch a word of what she
sang. It was all pure music. Her sweet song suggested to me as follows:
I first saw her running up stairs and down again as fast as ever she
could, and then she sat down on the mat to rest, while the piano panted.
Then she drew out from somewhere one long, straight note, thick in the
middle and tapering off at each end, so seductive that I fancied myself
a storm-tossed mariner listening to a mermaid. I could almost feel the
waves of the Margate boat gurgle around me. Then she drew a jug of hot
water out of the boiler—at least, that was its intellectual
significance to me, because the note went steadily rising upwards, with
little splashes in between, just like the sound of the water when I draw
a jug to shave a customer. Then she ran upstairs again like lightning,
and disappeared through the tiles, while the pianist banged the front
door to. I am sure there was a splendid moral to all this, for she
looked so beautiful and smiled so sweetly; but I am undecided whether
the moral was that I was to sign the pledge, or that I was not to go to
concerts without Jemima as a safeguard.
I next gave myself up bodily to what they called a "concerto." When I
saw several gentlemen come on to the platform, with a variety of
instruments, I thought it would be a more serious experiment than the
others, and so it proved. I kept my eyes on them when they first began,
but they looked so comical—one with his cheeks blown out, another with
his hair as if it had just been machined, another trying to get his arm
round his fiddle's waist, and another jerking his eyes out of his
head—that I felt it was not giving the music a fair chance, so I shut
my own eyes tight. As soon as I had done so there was no end of
intellectual significance. I was in a pleasure van just starting for
Hampton Court, with Jemima. There was the jog trot of the horses, and
every now and then the skid put on; there was laughter and the puffing
of pipes, and occasionally a loud roar, as we crossed a big
thoroughfare. We soon got into the country and heard the birds chirping,
and there was a sweet gurgling sound, which intimated to me that the men
on the box had broached the four-gallon cask. I was just getting ready
for a glass, when all at once the whole scene vanished. The music had
stopped, and when it began again things were much altered for the worse.
With the first note I felt a shudder go down my vitals. Something was
coming, I did not know what. I felt just like being woke up in
bed by a strange noise, and no matches handy, and my razors open to
everybody on the table. Then I heard the bass fiddle say distinctly,
"Prepare to meet your doom" several times over, while the violins tried
to sneer at me, and the piano rattled chains in the corner. This was
very trying, but worse was to follow. There were faint cries and sobs
from the next room, as though murder was going on; there were long
silences which were worse to bear than any sound; then someone began to
work softly at the door with a centre bit, and there were rumblings as
though someone else was letting himself down the chimney. I fancied I
could almost see his leg. Then there was another hush, and thank heaven,
I could tell by the hand-clapping that that part was over. It was about
time, for the mental significance had got quite over-powering. There was
then a total change. The music took me back in a second to the last ball
I had been to—the eighteen-penny one, refreshments extra. I was dancing
all the dances at once, and all the girls were making up to me, and it
only made Jemima smile. That was a really delightful mental
significance, and I could have done with more of it. But I doubt whether
the concerto on the whole was moral. I am sure that ice down the back
cannot be good for anyone, nor can I see, in cool moments, that raising
the animal spirits so many degrees above proof is proper. I have not yet
concluded my experiments. I have still to try the effects of a cornet
solo; and the flute, as well as the concertina, the bones, and the
banjo. But I have no doubt that if more people would try my plan, and
honestly state the results, we should in time get at the truth of this
matter of moral music.
(From the "Evening Standard.")
BILLY DUMPS, THE TAILOR.
Billy Dumps was very fond of spending his evenings with his two cronies,
Natty Dyer, a shoemaker, and Neddy Tueson, an umbrella mender, at the
"Cunning Cat," just round the corner. This worthy trio seldom left their
favourite haunt before closing time, much to the disgust of their
respective helpmates, Mrs. Dumps in particular.
Billy Dumps was a tailor, working as he termed it on his own hook. As
his prices were moderate, and his work durable, he earned a pretty good
living, making and mending for his neighbours, chiefly of the dock
labouring class; but his nightly orgies at the "Cunning Cat" made sad
inroads into his hard earnings, which tended much to sour Betsy's
otherwise naturally good temper.
The climax was reached one eventful evening, on the occasion of a
Free-and-Easy being held at the old quarters, after which, Billy, for
prudential reasons, was escorted home at midnight by his two associates,
all fully bent on informing the sleeping neighbourhood at the top of
their voices that they were "jolly good fellows," supplemented by a
further assertion of, "and so say all of us!" Finishing up by depositing
the confiding tailor at full length in his own front passage, through
the door being inadvertently left ajar, where he laid and snored in
blissful ignorance of the trials and troubles of this life until rather
rudely awakened, and then somewhat briskly assisted upstairs, by Betsy
and a broom handle.
"Now, Mister Billy Dumps, I am tired of sitting up for you night after
night, and mean to do so no longer. So if you are not in when our clock
strikes ten, I locks the door and you finds other lodgings," exclaimed
Betsy his wife, on the morning after the Free-and-Easy.
Tailor Dumps felt small after the previous night's dissipation, and
determined to get home earlier and sober that evening. But under the
influence of the soothing pipe, the nut-brown ale, and the merry laugh
and jest of his boon companions, he was induced to forget his late
resolution, and to prolong his stay at the "Cunning Cat" until aroused
to the fact that it was ten o'clock and closing-time. On reaching home,
all was still and dark. Strange! he went round to the back door and
thumped loudly. The bed-room casement flew open with a bang, from which
instantly protruded the night-capped head of the wife of his bosom.
Billy at once tried the high hand, shouting, "Now then, sleepy, what's
yer game? Be spry and open sharp!"
No. She wasn't going to be spry, neither was she sleepy; and as to her
little game—she had locked him out according to promise, so didn't
intend unlocking again that night. Not if she knew it. Oh no!
"Now, Betsy, don't be a fool, you'll repent it," he urged.
She wasn't a fool, she answered. In her opinion, he was the biggest
fool to be hammering and shivering outside at that time of night, when
he might have been comfortably lying in a warm bed hours ago. As for
repentance—she thought that would be more on his side of the door, for
she felt comfortable—very.
Billy fumed and stormed, and fully felt the ridiculousness of his
position, especially as he heard sounds of the neighbouring casements
stealthily unclose, and suppressed indications of merriment issuing
therefrom. But Billy stormed to no purpose. Betsy coolly recommended him
to go back where he had spent such a pleasant evening. She was sure Mrs.
Mudge, the landlady, would be only too pleased to accommodate him with a
lodging. If she wasn't, she ought to be, considering the time and money
he spent in her house.
But Billy had his own ideas of that arrangement, so still lingered,
determined to try another tack. He promised amendment, but Betsy was
sceptical. He appealed to her feelings. "Let me in, Betsy, for I am
cold!" That she could not help; as he had made his bed so he must lie.
He then became affectionate. "Oh Betsy, you are unkind: remember old
times, remember our wedding-day!" he pleaded, thinking to touch her that
way. But Betsy was not going to be had by soft sawder, for she promptly
rejoined, "Remember our wedding-day, you drunken sot? I do to my
sorrow, no fear of my forgetting that great mistake. But, as I told you
before, into this house this blessed night you do not step. No, not if
you were to go on your knees and beg for it!"
"Ah, Betsy. You'll be sorry for this when too late. I'm determined to
end my misery. I'll jump down the well and drown myself. And you'll be
the cause of it!" whined Billy.
The night was dark. Betsy felt a little relenting as she heard her
husband groping about in the wood shed. Then she could dimly discern him
making for the well; plainly hear the creaking of the hinges and the lid
thrown back with a thud. Then came the cry of "Good bye, Betsy, I'm
gone!" The dull sound of a heavy body plunging into the water—a gasping
moan, and all was still.
Betsy's old affection for her erring husband at once returned with
tenfold force, for she raced downstairs, rushing into the darkness,
shrieking for help.
The neighbours were aroused. Men and women tumbled out of their back
doors in such scanty dishabille that would have charmed a sculptor.
Betsy, still screeching like a bagpipe, had to be forcibly restrained
from jumping to the rescue by the bystanders.
Dick Ward, the blacksmith, thrust the bucket-pole into the well, singing
out, "Lay hold, Billy, if ye ain't too fur gone!"
"I can feel un," shouted Dick, as the pole struck some hard substance
with a sounding smack.
"My eye, Dick! he'll feel you too, if that's Billy's head you tapped,"
said Nat; "it 'ud be one for his nob and no mistake."
They caught a glimpse, by the uncertain light of a flaming candle, of a
something floating low on the surface of the water.
"His head feels as hard as a koker nut," said Dick, as the pole rattled
on the dark object.
"Why it seems off his shoulders, for it goes bobbing up and down like a
dumplin in a soup-kettle!"
Just then, to the astonishment of all, the well known voice of Billy
Dumps was heard from the identical bed-room window that his wife had so
lately vacated, shouting, "Hullo, you people. What the deuce are ye
making such a rumpas for?"
"A ghost! A ghost!" was the cry.
"No fear," laughed the tailor. "But, Dick, as you have the pole in hand,
I should feel obliged if you'd fish up my chopping-block which I dropped
in there awhile ago!"
Betsy Dumps at the sound of her husband's voice, made for the door, but
found it fastened. "Let me in! Let me in! I am so glad you are safe!"
she joyously exclaimed.
"Not if I know it, Betsy. It's my turn now. Into this house this
blessed night you do not step. No, not if you were to go on your knees
and beg for it!"
A loud laugh broke from the crowd, as the joke dawned on them. Betsy was
being paid back in her own coin. The neighbourhood had been sold. The
crafty tailor had secured the chopping-block from the wood shed, and
popped it down the well as his substitute, then, in the darkness and
confusion slipped back into the house unseen. Betsy, having been
accommodated for the night by a friendly neighbour, the crowd dispersed,
highly amused at the adventure. Early the next morning, Mrs. Dumps on
returning home was surprised to find her husband up, a cheerful fire
burning, and the breakfast ready. Taking her hand he gave her a hearty
kiss, with this greeting, "Dear old woman, let bygones be bygones!" And
they were, too; for from that time the "Cunning Cat" knew him no more.
It struck him strongly that his wife's true affection shown in the hour
of his supposed great danger was too precious to trifle with; as a proof
that he kept his word, let it be added that anyone visiting that large
thriving tailoring establishment in the High Street, would hardly
recognise in the respectable dapper proprietor, Mr. William Dumps, the
once drunken tailor so long a nightly nuisance to the neighbourhood.
(By permission of the Author.)
My little dears who learn to read, pray early learn to shun
That very silly thing indeed, which people call a pun.
Read Entick's rules, and 'twill be found, how simple an offence
It is to make the self-same sound afford a double sense.
For instance, ale may make you ail, your aunt an ant may kill,
You in a vale may buy a veil and Bill may pay the bill.
Or, if to France your bark may steer, at Dover it may be,
A peer appears upon the pier, who, blind, still goes to sea.
Thus, one might say, when to a treat good friends accept our greeting,
'Tis meet that men who meet to eat should eat their meat when meeting.
Brawn on the board's no bore indeed although from boar prepared;
Nor can the fowl, on which we feed, foul feeding he declared.
Thus, one ripe fruit may be a pear, and yet be pared again,
And still no one, which seemeth rare until we do explain.
It therefore should be all your aim to spell with ample care;
For who, however fond of game, would choose to swallow hair?
A fat man's gait may make us smile, who has no gate to close;
The farmer, sitting on his stile no stylish person knows.
Perfumers, men of scents must be, some Scilly men are bright;
A brown man oft deep read we see, a black a wicked wight.
Most wealthy men good manors have, however vulgar they;
And actors still the harder slave the oftener they play.
So poets can't the baize obtain, unless their tailors choose;
While grooms and coachmen not in vain each evening seek the Mews.
The dyer, who by dying lives, a dire life maintains;
The glazier, it is known, receives his profits for his panes.
By gardeners thyme is tied, 'tis true, when spring is in its prime;
But time and tide won't wait for you if you are tied for time.
Thus now you see, my little dears, the way to make a pun;
A trick which you, through coming years, should sedulously shun.
The fault admits of no defence, for wheresoe'er 'tis found,
You sacrifice the sound for sense; the sense is never sound.
So let your words and actions, too, one single meaning prove,
And just in all you say or do, you'll gain esteem and love.
In mirth and play no harm you'll know when duty's task is done;
But parents ne'er should let ye go unpunished for a Pun.
"Oh!" said Georgina Honeybee one afternoon, just before Good Friday,
"wouldn't it be nice to go away for Easter?"
Now it so happened, that the notion was by no means displeasing to Mr.
Honeybee. He longed for a change; the thought of sea-breezes enchanted
him. He felt worried with work, and yearned to hie him away somewhere
without leaving his address behind him. So it fell out that, almost for
the first time in his married existence, he agreed to his wife's
proposition without demur—and long before a week was over, he never
regretted anything so much in all his life.
With husband and wife of one mind (for a wonder), the preliminaries were
speedily arranged. Swineleigh-on-Sea was selected as their destination.
In less time than it takes to tell, Georgina was bustling about the
house, giving parting instructions to the servants as to what they were
to do during her absence (one would have thought she was going away for
a year at least). Fanny (Mrs. Honeybee's maid, if you please) was
packing-up her mistress's luggage, while John was being abused by his
master for having no more idea than a child of how to fill a
portmanteau. Everybody was hot and flurried, and the hall-door bell rang
four times before it received the attention to which it was accustomed.
Honeybee stood in his shirt-sleeves, and in his dressing-room, while his
perspiring and nervous man endeavoured to put boots on the top of clean
shirts. Georgina flitted about her bedroom, saying—"Yes; thank you; if
you'll put in my tea-gown. Yes; thank you—now the linen. Yes; thank
you—no, I shouldn't lay the sponge-bag on the top of my handkerchief
case. Yes; thank you—now the braided dress;" and sundry pretty babble
of that kind.
At length everything was ready. A four-wheeled cab was called, and Mr.
Honeybee, Georgina, and Fanny the maid, were soon driving across London
to the railway-station. Their tickets got, the trio proceeded without
adventure to Swineleigh, where, when she emerged from the slightly
inferior class in which she had travelled, Fanny remarked to her
"This don't seem half a bad sort of place, mum."
Honeybee was beaming. His face seemed to say: "Ah! I tell you, when I
do take it into my head to go out for a holiday with my wife and her
maid, I go to the right place, and I have things done properly." Poor
man—he little knew.
Swineleigh is, fortunately, not a large place, or its death rate would
have more influence on the mortality statistics; but it is quite large
enough to be unpleasant, and to make those who have once visited it
swear they will never do so again. Honeybee had heard it was cheap from
a gentleman friend, and Georgina had gathered from a lady acquaintance
that it was quiet and respectable—hence the praiseworthy unanimity
which had characterised their selection of this spot for the enjoyment
of an Easter holiday. They had meant to put up at the Marine Hotel, but
when they reached that modest edifice they found that all the rooms were
engaged, excepting a couple of dog-holes somewhere near the roof, which,
from their description, our party did not care to inspect. Honeybee was,
however, directed to some lodgings which sounded as if they might suit,
and with a crack of the whip, and a curse from the flyman, who had
conveyed them thus far, the party started off on a fresh tack. When they
reached Cronstadt Villa—for it was hither they were referred—Mr.
Honeybee opened fire as follows upon the landlady who opened the door:
"We come from the Marine Hotel. Can we have a large bed-room, a small
bed-room, a dressing-room and a sitting-room?"
"Yes," replied the landlady, somewhat reflectively, as if she felt
inclined to add, "But what you mean by such impertinence I am at a loss
"Good!" rejoined Honeybee. "Will you have our luggage sent up as soon as
may be? And we should like dinner pretty soon, as we have not had much
"Come inside, please," said the landlady, grandly, to the trio in
general. Then elbowing Fanny out of the way, she said to Mrs. Honeybee
particularly: "Would you like to see your room?"
"Thank you very much," returned Georgina, "I should."
Then the newly-made friends walked upstairs together, leaving Honeybee
and Fanny to get the luggage up, and to fight the flyman. Mercifully, a
loafer turned up and volunteered to carry the boxes. Mr. Honeybee only
paid the flyman three times his fare, but escaped without loss of blood.
It is true the driver thought proper to curse him to the nethermost
depths of hell, but what are you to do in a place like Swineleigh, where
you might as well look for the Pope as for a policeman?
At last the baggage was stowed in the different rooms indicated by the
landlady. Fanny could not help smiling when the loafer set down
Honeybee's portmanteau with a plump on her bed; and Georgina could not
help saying "Oh!" when Fanny's box was hauled into her room; but these
little mistakes were soon rectified, and the loafer being evidently one
of nature's noblemen, withdrew without further parley when he had
received all the loose silver there was in the house. The landlady had
not any change.
"Now then," said Honeybee, when the door was fairly shut, "when can we
have dinner, and of what will it consist?"
"Dinner!" repeated the landlady, as if recalling by an effort the
meaning of a word once familiar. "Have you not dined?"
"Not to-day," replied Honeybee, jocosely; "but we do not want
much—anything will do. How about a fried sole and a roast chicken?"
It was now seven o'clock, and the landlady verified the fact by
reference to a silver watch, which she plucked with a jerk from her
"Shops are all closed now," she said, as it seemed, with some relief. "I
might get you a steak, or a couple of chops."
"If you will add bread and butter, the use of the cruets, and perchance
some cheese or jam," suggested Honeybee in his most caressing tones,
while his wife endeavoured vainly to prevent him treading upon what she
knew was volcanic ground, "I'm sure we could manage for to-night."
"Well, you'll have to," replied the landlady, in a surly voice, and then
she rang the bell in the room, which was to be the Honeybee's dining,
drawing, and smoking room for a week. To this summons a most horrible
"maid" responded, and to her were consigned Georgina and her spouse. The
landlady never was seen again until she came eventually to present the
bill; but her voice was frequently heard. Honeybee's good-nature by this
time was giving out; but he controlled himself.
"Will you," said he, "get us some food ready as soon as you can? We
would like a beef-steak. Will half-past seven be too early?"
"No, sir," replied the maid, in a far-off voice; and she left the room.
"Now," said Honeybee, "Georgina, my dearest, you must be tired. Come
upstairs and change your dress; Fanny will get you hot water and see to
you. I will just wash my hands and then take a short stroll. Come
When they reached the bedroom they found Fanny in a great undertaking.
Having unpacked Georgina's trunk, and littered the floor with dresses
and parcels, she was about to arrange the different articles in the
chest of drawers, when she found them all locked up.
"This is absurd," said Honeybee; and he rang the bell. After a very
long time the horrible maid appeared, and when asked why all the drawers
were looked, replied, with a wild-eyed expression of face, that she
supposed "missus's things was there." Desired to ask missus to remove
them, or to provide other accommodation for her tenants, the wild-eyed
one remarked that she "dursen't do it."
Georgina, always trying to soothe troubled waters, observed, "Never
mind; we shall get straight to-morrow somehow. I'm so tired; it does not
matter for to-night. Only unpack what I absolutely want, Fanny; and you,
dear," to her husband, "go and have a nice stroll, but be back by
half-past seven, as I'm famishing."
So enjoined, Honeybee kissed his wife, and withdrew.
A cursory inspection of the contents of his portmanteau soon convinced
him that John had omitted to put in a good many useful articles; and as
Mr. Honeybee made a hasty toilette, he was pained to observe that he had
brought with him an odd coat and waistcoat. Even this might have been
borne, if the bottle containing his boot-varnish had not broken over his
shirts; and with a heavy heart he sallied forth into the town to buy a
Having made his purchase, and also ordered some wine, he returned to the
lodgings, where he found his wife waiting in the sitting-room warming
her feet, while the maid laid the table. About five minutes to eight
"dinner" was served. It consisted of a beef-steak that was raw, except
in those parts which had been burnt to a cinder; some potatoes which
were very black under the eyes, and extremely hard, were also served;
and some of last week's bread, together with some pale butterine,
completed the repast. The Honeybees endeavoured to eat a few mouthfuls,
washed down with cold and not particularly pure water. Although the wine
merchant had assured Honeybee that the rare vintage he had ordered would
be "there before he was," the young man did not arrive with the bottles
until the next morning.
"Perhaps the night is too inclement for him to venture out," said
Honeybee; "or perhaps he reflects that we shall drink coffee with our
dinner, and only require wine at breakfast time."
After dinner the Honeybees had a game of cribbage, but they
did not enjoy it, and soon Georgina went up to bed. Honeybee
left her with Fanny, and then came downstairs again to smoke.
He rang the bell and asked the maid if he could have a bottle
"The public 'ouses is all closed now," said she, as if repeating a
"Then some plain water please," returned Honeybee dolefully.
"You'll find some in your bedroom," was the reply.
With a heavy heart Honeybee went upstairs and took a long and strong
drink of brandy from his flask, diluted from the bottle on his
wash-stand. A fearful night it was—the miserable couple passed it in
fear and trembling. Outside the wind howled and made the ill-fitting
windows rattle continuously. Within the blinds refused to draw down, and
the feather bed was so meagrely filled with feathers that when sleep
began to steal upon Honeybee, he awoke to find himself with his hip-bone
grating against the iron frame of the bedstead. The draught came in
under the door with some force. This was not surprising when one came to
examine the distance between it and the floor. The interval seemed
contrived so as to admit of the carpet being drawn out of the room
without opening the door.
Bruised and weary, the Honeybees rose next morning. It was raining very
hard, as it had been all night. For breakfast they had some fried eggs
and bacon. The eggs would have been all right if they had been warmed
through; but Honeybee said raw egg was good for the voice. The bacon
would have brought its own punishment to the Jew wicked enough to
indulge in it. They read novels most of the morning. Georgina and Fanny
were occasionally in consultation as to some proposed alterations to a
dress. Honeybee looked out of the window like a caged lion.
Ah, Heavens! but why should I follow further the agonies of these
wretched people. Indeed, I shrink from recording the sickening details
of their week's stay. The disgusting round of impertinence,
uncleanliness, stupidity, and brutality to which they were subjected is
too odious to recount. Suffice it to say that never had Waterloo Villa
looked so fair as when the Honeybees returned to it after their
"holiday," and Georgina literally danced round the bright clean
dining-room table laid ready for dinner, while Honeybee threw himself
groaning on to his bed, where he lay till aroused by the rattle of
plates and dishes. My goodness, how he did eat! And how Georgina beamed!
(By permission of the Author.)
BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO., PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.