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 her pocket-handkerchief!

"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 telling you.

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.