Lord Dundreary at Brighton
AND THE RIDDLE HE MADE THERE.
ONE of the many popular delusions wespecting the
Bwitish swell is the supposition that he leads an
independent life,—goes to bed when he likes, gets
up when he likes, d-dwesses how he likes, and dines
when he pleases.
The public are gwossly deceived on this point. A
weal swell is as m-much under authowity as a p-poor
devil of a pwivate in the marines, a clerk in a government
office, or a f-forth-form boy at Eton. Now I
come under the demon—demonima—(no,—thop,—what
is the word?)—dom—denom—d-denomination,
that 'th it—I come under the d-denomination of a
swell—(in—in fact—a howwid swell—some of my
friends call me, but that'th only their flattewy), and
I assure you a f-fellah in that capacity is so much
westained by rules of f-fashion, that he can scarcely
call his eyeglath his own. A swell, I take it, is a
fellah who t-takes care that he swells as well as
swells who swell as well as he, (there's thuch lot of
thwelling in that thentence,—ha, ha!—it's what you
might c-call a busting definition). What I mean is,
that a f-fellah is obliged to do certain things at certain
times of the year, whether he likes 'em or no.
For instance, in the season I've got to go to a lot of
balls and dwums and tea-fights in town, that I don't
care a bit about, and show myself in the Park wegularly
evewy afternoon; and latht month I had to
victimize mythelf down in the countwy,—shooting (a
bwutal sort of amusement, by the way). Well, about
the end of October evewy one goes to Bwighton, n-no
one knowth why,—that'th the betht of it,—and so I
had to go too,—that's the wortht of it,—ha, ha!
Not that it's such a b-bad place after all,—I d-dare
say if I hadn't had to go I should have gone all the
same, for what is a f-fellah to do who ith n't much of
a sportsman just about this time? There 'th
n-nothing particular going on in London. Evewything
is b-beathly dull; so I thought I would just
run down on the Southeastern Wailway to be—ha,
ha!—Bwightoned up a bit. (Come, th-that's not bad
for an impromptu!)
B-Bwighton was invented in the year 1784, by his
Woyal Highness George P-Pwince of Wales,—the
author of the shoebuckle, the stand-up collar (a
b-beathly inconvenient and cut-throat thort of a
machine), and a lot of other exthploded things. He
built the Pavilion down there, which looks like a lot
of petrified onions from Bwobdinag clapped down
upon a guard-house. There'th a jolly sort of garden
attached to the building, in which the b-band plays
twice a week, and evewy one turns in there about
four o'clock, so I went too (n-not too o'clock, you
know, but f-four o'clock). I—I'm vewy fond of
m-martial music, mythelf. I like the dwums and the
t-twombones, and the ophicleides, and all those sort
of inshtwuments,—yeth, ethpethelly the bwass ones,—they're
so vewy exthpiring, they are. Thtop
though, ith it expiring or p-perthpiring?—n-neither
of 'em sound quite right. Oh! I have it now, it—it's
inthspiring,—that'th what it is, because the
f-fellahs bweathe into them!
That weminds me of a widdle I made down there
(I—I've taken to widdles lately, and weally it'th a
vewy harmleth thort of a way of getting thwough the
morning, and it amuthes two f-fellahs at onth,
because if—if you athk a fellah a widdle, and he
can't guess it, you can have a jolly good laugh at
him, and—if he—if he doth guess it, he—I mean you—no—that
is the widdle—stop, I—I'm getting confuthed,—where
wath I? Oh! I know. If—if he
doth guess it.... however it ithn't vewy likely he
would—so what's the good of thupposing impwobabilities?)
Well, thith was the widdle I made,—I
thed to Sloper (Sloper's a fwiend of mine,—a vewy
gook thort of fellah Sloper is,—I d-don't know exactly
what his pwofession would be called, but hith uncle
got him into a b-berth where he gets f-five hundred a
year,—f-for doing nothing—s-somewhere—I forget
where—but I—I know he does it),—I said to Sloper,
"Why is that f-fellah with the b-bassooon l-like his
own instrument?" and Sloper said, "How—how the
dooth should I know?" (Ha, ha!—I thought he'd
give it up!) So I said to Sloper, "Why, b-because
they both get blown—in time!" You thee the joke,
of course, but I don't think Sloper did, thomhow; all
he thed was, "V-vewy mild, Dundreary,"—and t-tho—it
was mild—thertainly, f-for October, but I d-don't
thee why a f-fellah should go making wemarks about
the weather instead of laughing at m-my widdle.
In this pwomenade that I was speaking of, you see
such a lot of thtunning girls evewy afternoon,—dwessed
twemendous swells, and looking like—yes,
by Jove! l-like angels in cwinoline,—there 'th no
other word for it. There are two or thwee always
will l-laugh, somehow, when I meet them,—they do
now weally. I—I almost fancy they wegard me with
intewest. I mutht athk Sloper if he can get me an
introduction. Who knowth? pwaps I might make
an impwession,—I'll twy,—I—I've got a little converthathional
power,—and theveral new wethcoats.
Bwighton is filling fast now. You see dwoves of
ladies evewy day on horseback, widing about in all
diwections. By the way, I—I muthn't forget to
mention that I met those two girls that always laugh
when they thee me, at a tea-fight. One of 'em—the
young one—told me, when I was intwoduced to her,—in—in
confidence, mind,—that she had often heard
of me and of my widdles. Tho you thee I'm getting
quite a weputathun that way. The other morning, at
Mutton's, she wath ch-chaffing me again, and
begging me to tell her the latetht thing in widdles.
Now, I hadn't heard any mythelf for thome time, tho
I couldn't give her any vewy great novelty, but a
fwiend of mine made one latht theason which I
thought wather neat, tho I athked her, When ith a
jar not a jar? Thingularly enough, the moment she
heard thith widdle she burtht out laughing behind
"Good gwacious! what'th the matter?" said I.
"Have you ever heard it before?"
"Never," she said emphatically, "in that form;
do, please tell me the answer."
So I told her,—When it ith a door! Upon which
she—she went off again in hystewics. I—I—I never
did see such a girl for laughing. I know it's a good
widdle, but I didn't think it would have such an
effect as that.
By the way, Sloper told me afterwards that he
thought he had heard the widdle before, somewhere,
but it was put in a different way. He said it was:
When ith a door not a door?—and the answer,
When it ith ajar!
I—I've been thinking over the matter lately, and
though I dare thay it—d-don't much matter which
way the question is put, still—pwaps the last f-form
is the betht. It—it seems to me to wead better.
What do you think?
Now I weckomember, I made thuch a jolly widdle
the other day on the Ethplanade. I thaw a fellah
with a big New—Newfoundland dog, and he inthpired
me—the dog, you know, not the fellah,—he wath a
lunatic. I'm keeping the widdle, but I don't mind
Why does a dog waggle hith tail? Give it up?
I think motht fellahs will give that up!
You thee, the dog waggles hith tail becauth the
dog's stwonger than the tail. If he wath n't, the tail
would waggle the dog!
Ye-th,—that 'th what I call a widdle. If I can only
wecollect him, I thall athtonish those two girls thome
of these days.