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The Double Thread'! Damp fireworks are positively nothing to them. The dissenting idea of le higlif may be interesting for a little while as a sidelight on dissent-as interesting, say, as Mrs Todger's idea of a wooden leg-but not for long, O! not for long. He dips into something more promising. Here is the celebrated Mr Dooley-Mr Dooley the boomed, the belauded. After five minutes' gallant struggle our traveller succumbs. His jaw drops, the volume falls from his nerveless hands, and outraged nature revenges herself by a restless and unrefreshing nap. For if ever a work professing to be humorous, sensu Americano, was duller or couched in a more abhorrent dialect, it has not yet come within our traveller's ken. No; books are "horff" in the meantime. He must content himself with the society of "Miss Milligan," who is perhaps as agreeable a travelling companion as a man could desire. She young and fashionable member of the good old Patience family; she is quite in the "smart push" (the social antipodes of the "swell mob"), and she can keep you entertained without an effort until the train arrives at the London terminus.
One of the most striking changes in London during the last twenty years is the enormous increase in the number of enormous hotels. The building of such abodes has no end. At the present moment a gigantic "hostelry" (as the reporters dearly love to call it) is approaching completion in Rus
sell Square, another in Pall Mall East, and a third at the station of the Great Central Railway Company. These hotels apparently have created their own custom, and they never outrun the demand for accommodation. It was a sagacious aphorism of the late Dr Boyd's that he was a wise man, though he might not be a good one, who posted his own letters. The same may be said of the man who writes to engage rooms at a London hotel after the cowslips have come into bloom. To drive about from one hotel to another in quest of a humble apartment au cinquième is not amusing, and is a trifle costly. At such anxious moments visions of a bench in St James's Park, a sack in a twopenny doss-house, or a two-pair back in Bloomsbury, are apt to flit across the mind. Even if the worst is avoided, how on earth are you to be in time to dress, dine out, and do a music-hall? It is now a quarter-past seven precisely, and your host's hour is a quarter to eight sharp. All such carking cares and gnawing anxieties may be avoided by the exercise of a little forethought, and at the expenditure of a penny upon a postage-stamp. If you are as regular in your visits to London as the two Miss Hoggs and Mrs Grigsby, you have probably some "howff" in a street off Piccadilly or Eaton Square, where your wants (like those of Charles Honeyman and F. B.) will be ministered to by an exbutler of my Lord Todmorden. But those wants will be few and simple. A good breakfast and a decent bed will satisfy
them. You will lunch at Prince's, dine at the Cecil, and sup at the Savoy, principally for the sake of seeing the other people who are taking their meals there. The leisure moments of the day may be filled in at your club, and if you have friends you will occasionally partake of their hospitality. Failing an established position in the lodgings of Mr Samuel Ridley or Mrs Brixham, some huge "caravanserai" (another pet word of the pressman) will swallow up the stranger. Nor is his lot altogether miserable. In such establishments he may find excellent quarters, good cooking, and reasonable charges. There are many worse places in the world to stay at than a monster hotel, properly organised. But let the innocent from the country beware. At certain houses of the sort in fashionable or quasi-fashionable neighbourhoods he will have to pay through the nose for his entertainment. It is not only that he will have to "ground-bait" the place heavily, if he wishes decent attendance. If the Lord Chief-Justice of England would abolish tips as he proposes to abolish other "secret commissions," he would earn the gratitude of at least half a nation. But besides an inordinate outlay upon porters, waiters, and chambermaids, the traveller will find that the syndicate in whose premises he has taken up his temporary abode can pile up bills to some purpose for one person. Not many weeks ago a dinner, consisting of fried fish, mutton cutlets, and a quail, was entered in the reckoning at the modest sum of one guinea,
no wine being included in that amount. Even Fenton's, which, in the brave days of old, was supposed to represent the acme of luxury and extravagance, could hardly have beaten that.
There is one duty which must be faced without flinching in London, and that is a visit to the exhibition of the Royal Academy. It will not do to put it off. One may see the Australians play cricket, or Sloan ride a winner, later on. To go to Lord's or the Oval, to Epsom or to Kempton Park, is no effort. But, in the case of the Academy, to procrastinate is to be lost, and he who wilfully passes the gates of Burlington House may never summon up courage to cross its threshold afterwards. Therefore, the moment the morning papers have been read, the moment the hatter and the tailor have been visited, let us hasten to the pictures. It is always insufferably hot there, but the crowd is smaller before than it is after luncheon. No one has a good word to say for this year's show, and no wonder. Such a quantity of vapid rubbish has rarely been collected. It is not surprising that the sales get smaller year by year. Rather is it marvellous that good-natured millionaires should continue to encourage art (as they suppose) by purchasing so many square yards of painted canvas as they do. Apart from the number of Episcopal portraits on the walls, the Academy of 1899 presents two outstanding features. One of these is the large amount of illustrated journalism in oils. To this category, of course,
belong the pictures of the Jubilee service at St Paul's, which are legitimate enough in their way. To this category also belong the numerous pictures of which "Naval Manœuvres (No. 101) and "A Real Good Story" (No. 630) are typical. "Naval Manœuvres" (you take the delicate play of words in the title?) represents a young officer in the navy flirting with a girl. "A Real [not Really, please observe] Good Story represents a group of foxhunters in pink and on horseback, roaring with laughter. No sportingprintseller's shop will be complete for years to come without a reproduction of this gem. It seems to have walked straight out of the Christmas number of the "Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News." The other obvious characteristic of the display is the impression it conveys that nine-tenths of the artists who are not mere journalists have taken great pains to see their subjects through somebody else's eyes. There is no striving after originality. The compliment of flattery is obsequiously paid to any one who has made "an 'it," like Mrs Oliphant's young man from 'Omerton. The sea is depicted as of a truly piercing blue, or the grass draped in an excruciating shade of green, because Palette, R.A., employs similar hues. Many painters of rustic landscape devote their energies to seeing a bold peasantry, their country's pride, through spectacles of French manufacture. Another class of artists, like Mr Byam Shaw, reproduce with extraordinary
and scrupulous fidelity the poor drawing and crude colouring of some medieval nincompoop, who, after all, knew no better. Mr Shaw's "Love, the Conqueror" (No. 906), is in truth a monument of futility. It must cost a great deal of trouble to paint so ill. In an exhibition where all is so bad, it seems invidious to single out any work for praise. Yet one must note Mr Ford's noble bust of the Queen (No. 2053), full of dignity and pathos, and one or two capital portraits by Mr J. H. Lorimer. Above all, it is impossible to pass over silence the contributions of Mr Sargent. Here, indeed, is one who has eyes to see, and a hand to use the brush. Here are pictures of which posterity will have news to tell. "Mrs Charles Hunter (No. 18), "Miss Jane Evans" (No. 237), and "Lady Faudel - Phillips (No. 444), are masterpieces. Only, if one chanced by ill-luck to be as plain as one is beautiful, one would be apt to think twice before giving Mr Sargent a commission to take one's likeness. Old Noll himself would have trembled at his unmerciful frankness. The most malicious achievements of " Ape" and "Spy" are complimentary compared with some of Mr Sargent's work. And then, it is so easy not to sit for your portrait, and not to draw a cheque of four figures.
The fresh air of Piccadilly is peculiarly grateful after the hothouse atmosphere of the Academy, and there is just time before luncheon for a stroll in the direction of Westminster by way of the Green
Park. That brilliant light of the Parliamentary bar, Buster Bluffe, Q.C., had rooms on your staircase at Trinity, and perhaps you may catch a glimpse of him plying his extremely lucrative and beneficent trade. Moreover, the proceedings before a Parliamentary committee on a private bill are a perfect lesson in manners and deportment. None of the brutality of the bludgeon here; only the polish of the rapier. The stately courtesy, the elaborate politeness, the fine manner characteristic of a less busy age, which have all but disappeared in other quarters, still find at Westminster a congenial home. You have only to hear Bluffe cross-examining a hostile witness, or exchanging repartee with the opposing counsel, Wragge, to be quite sure of that. The lobbies and committee rooms
"thrang," as they say in Scotland, when you arrive; and the adjective is the more appropriate that a good deal of the bustle is caused by more or less fiery Caledonians. A scheme is on foot to appropriate half a dozen watersheds in the Highlands, and to devote their streams to industrial uses. The proprietors not unnaturally object, and have come south to say so. Then, the 'provost, magistrates, and townclerk of Dreepdailly have promoted a great measure for absorbing all the agricultural land within a radius of four miles or so in their filthy and ill-kept municipality. They will presently return home with their tails between their legs-sadder, and, it is to be
hoped, less ambitious Here, too, are many members of another corporation in quest of powers to acquire a site for a town-hall which will be perfectly useless. They feel a glow of pride at the thought of saddling their constituents with a considerable addition to the rates. If you have ever visited their city, you will be unable to resist the thought that a little more attention paid to paving and a little less to Parliamentary committees would prove highly beneficial to the community over which they preside. Bluffe is in all these bills, besides twenty others. To judge by what he tells you in a hurried conversation, there is not a municipal dignitary beyond the Tweed who is not just now in London. To be vacuis ædilis Ulubris, even, means the certainty of a jaunt to town-plenty of high living and a good deal of plain thinking (the plain speaking will come some day)-at the expense of the ratepayers for at least a fortnight every year. Cruel Lord Balfour! "Tis a churl's task to dock a deserving class of its harmless pleasures by a Private Bill Legislation (Scotland) Bill!
One revolution there has been in the social life of London during the last couple of years, which hits the country cousin in a weak spot. He cannot get a rubber of whist at his club or anywhere else. "Bridge, bridge, bridge," is all the cry, and whist is almost totally forgotten. The causes of this change of dynasty are obscure. It is curious that a game which
had braved all opposition for generations should have yielded to the first attack of an upstart cousin, which has been aptly described as no better than dummy with frills. Perhaps bridge affords a little more scope for gambling than its venerable relative, and that is of some moment in an age when many women as well as most men try their luck on the Stock Exchange, or on the turf, or at the card-table. No doubt the world will grow weary of bridge, and there will come a glorious restoration. Meanwhile consternation prevails in the camp of the remnant of loyal whist-players. There is said to be serious talk of revising the rules, which were last fixed in 1864 or thereabouts. There is a precedent for alteration in the case of the rules of golf, which have been tinkered more than once without substantial benefit or injury to the game. May
the recension of the whist code prove equally innocuous, and may the draftsmanship of the reformers prove superior to that of the St Andrews' committee ! One surmises that among the innovations will be found a reduction of at least fifty per cent in the value of honours, and nobody but a born and inveterate gambler will grumble at such a proposal. The present preponderance of honours is a legacy from long whist which there is little reason, from any point of view, to be proud of.
It being, then, practically impossible to get a rubber, the Rustic will probably wend his way to the Park in order to
gaze upon his fellow-creatures. It is a brave spectacle, this well-dressed mob, and there is something highly exhilarating in the sight of it. Lord Salisbury, the other day, took occasion to denounce the ordinary garb of the modern male. painter or the sculptor may very likely not find his account in it, but the eye soon acquiesces in a predominant fashion, and finds it very good. The particular shape of each season's tall hat, for example, is always the best-not, it may be, the best in the abstract, but the best relatively, here and now. So is it also with ties and waistcoats, which are worn (particularly the latter) of blue and buff, and all manner of conspicuous and singular tints. As for the other sex, their attire becomes steadily more gaudy from year to year. The bright colours are cheerful, and the wonderfully trimmed hats lend gaiety to the scene. The faces beneath them are not seldom pretty, and as fresh as paint, which is very natural (or very artificial, if you will have it so), for, alas! it is that very commodity, and none other, which, upon a closer scrutiny, turns out to be responsible for the majority of the complexions. Everybody in the Park, of course, is not well-dressed and pretty. There is a contingent of frumps and dowds, and the cut of skirt in vogue, however well it may be adapted to an absolutely perfect figure, is rather trying to the abnormally stout or the abnormally lean. I know that in to-morrow's 'Daily Peepshow' I shall read how the Hon. Mrs Jim So