Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][graphic]

'HE'S TOO GOOD FOR ME! TOO GOOD FOR ME BY FAR!-See page 314.

[blocks in formation]

degrading, and the worst style of public amusement which the British public en masse-I am not now taking into question our Judge and Juries, or any other hole-and-corner blackguard entertainment-has ever patronized, is founded on, and modelled after the Parisian café chantant. It must be allowed that it is a most clumsy and cumbrous imitation. The fascinating Mrs. Somebody, who puts her finger-such a finger!-on her lip-such a lip! and leers round at the audience, and sings a refrain with a 'Do, dear, do, dear, do!' is not in the least degree fascinating-not to be named in the same breath with that charming Thérèse. But then, this nation of shopkeepers, notwithstanding the vast progress it has made in late years, has not yet been educated up to the Thérèse standard, and 'Rien n'est sacré pour un sapeur,' and one or two others of those exquisite ditties would probably find the benches whirring round the singer's ears. From them the British youth of the present day-thanks to the teachings of Mdlle. Finette, Mdlle. Schneider, the Clodoche troupe, and other apostles of the cause who have visited our benighted land—have learned the existence of that refined danse télégraphique known as the Cancan, which they are good enough to spell Can-Can, and to look upon as of recent invention. Hélas! nous autres, who first visited Paris long before the Imperial régime, when the pearheaded king was in power; when the Château Rouge and the Chaumière were places of resort; and when Brididi, the Comte Chicard, Celeste Mogador, Frisette, and the Reine Pomaré were the stars of the al fresco balls, can tell a widely different tale. But Propriety need have no fear. The Cancan will never take root here. I have had the curiosity to watch its attempted introduction into some of our public ball-rooms, and I have seen, not without great amusement, the total failure of the attempt. I do not know what it isthe national habit of drinking beer, perhaps, or the climate, or the Metropolitan Railway, or something eminently British-but Marshall and Snelgrove's young men and id genus

omne, in their hours of relaxation, are 'uncertain, coy,' and utterly devoid of abandon. Their partners, little girls out of the milliners' and bonnetshops, are infinitely better, and, indeed, approach wonderfully to the grisette as depicted by Paul de Kock a quarter of a century ago; but the men are stiff, wooden, impassible. They cannot shake off the shop. 'What's the next article?' is for ever trembling on their tongues, and when in repose they turn their feet out, as though that eternal counter was still in front of them.

Why this thusness? Why this discursive and irrelevant tirade? Simply because I have just been to an entertainment which was also of French origin, as its name imports; which at one time was very fashionable amongst us; which went out of fashion; and which bids fair to be very fashionable again, thus assimilating itself to paint, patches, powder, high-heeled shoes, clocked stockings, and other feminine vagaries. Tableaux vivants-you see, dear M. de Froissart, we are obliged to use your language to describe our sad amusements. Living pictures' would be very low! Tableaux vivants, then, were in vogue many years ago. I perfectly recollect, as a child, being taken to some place in or near Cheltenham, some public rooms, called, if I mistake not, Pittville,' which had been hired for the display of some private tableaux vivants by the late Lord Fitzhardinge and a party from Berkeley Castle. Further do I recollect, at the same tender period of existence, having myself assisted as 'Child' in one of a series of tableaux given at Holly Lodge, Highgate Hill, then the residence of the Duchess of St. Albans, née Miss Mellon. Were any such entertainments now given in that establishment-which Lord Shaftesbury forfend!-they would, I presume, be taken from the pictures of Messrs. Dobson and Le Jeune, and no one under the rank of an archdeacon would be allowed to take part in the performance.

I do not know when or why tableaux vivants began to slip out of the category of fashionable amusements. I was at school at the time,

and perhaps did not pay so much attention to such things as I have done in after-life; but I imagine their downfall must have been somewhat hastened, if, indeed, it did not owe its origin to the establishment of an entertainment of a somewhat similar kind, but vastly different in detail, which introduced itself to the notice of the town under the name of Poses Plastiques, and which was one of the most degrading exhibitions ever tolerated by a besotted British public. Affecting relations with classic subjects and artistic treatment, the Poses Plastiques was simply an institution pandering to pruriency, and one which in the present day-say what they will as to the deterioration of morality—would have been at once hounded down by the press. This, and the fact that circus-equestrians who could no longer ride, and pugilists who could no longer fight, had established another kind of entertainment closely bordering on the tableaux vivants, which they called the Ancient Statues,' and wherein they, the excircus-riders and pugilists, took leading parts, contributed to the extinction of the amusement, and it went out, like the beaver hats and the spotted carriage-dogs and Miss Linwood's needlework exhibition.

It was, then, with great astonishment that I heard that a company of ladies and gentlemen of distinction were about to revive this form of entertainment, and to give a performance in public for the benefit of a charity in which they were all more or less interested. It has occurred to me to see the name of charity too often taken in vain, invoked and used as a shield to cover so much personal vanity in the shape of bitter bad amateur-acting, concert-giving, public reading, and other vagaries, extending, be it observed, to much senseless and degrading buffoonery on the part of ladies and gentlemen, that I felt pleased to think that the old mild and inoffensive style of amusement was about to be revived. The proceeds of the performance were, I found on inquiry, to be given to a fund for the relief of the distressed Irish of all denominations resident

in London, the performances being organized by the members of certain great Irish families and their friends. It was my good fortune to be present at one of these performances, and it is my intention to record my impressions thereof for the information of the readers of this magazine, premising that, as the exhibition was a public one, to which any one of sufficient position to obtain a voucher, and of sufficient wealth to pay a guinea, could obtain admission, it will be necessary to treat of it in that way, and to use names, which one would certainly not do were they not set down in what may be called the play bill before me.

The performance took place at the house of Lady Edward Howard, in Rutland Gate, in a large oblong room, which was crammed to suffocation. We have authority for believing that Charity suffereth long'it certainly did on this occasion. Of course Mr. Mitchell is too good a man of business to have issued more tickets for seats than the room would hold, but, however, the evening is over, and the distressed Irish have had more power to their elbows, though we had less to ours. When we had settled down, the first excitement was caused by the arrival of the Hon. Seymour Egerton, and a selection from the famous band of Wandering Minstrels of which he is the conductor. The second excitement was the arrival of the Duchess of Cambridge and the Princess of Teck, who were received by the Ladies Patronesses and conducted to their places in due form. I wish some one would tell other royal personages that the secret of the Princess of Teck's-Princess Mary we like to call her-immense popularity-and she is more popular than any other member of the royal family-is principally due to her pleasant face and never-failing goodhumour and urbanity. Princess Mary is it is impossible to bear this any longer! The noble lady next me has penetrated the joints of my armour with her elbow; my ribs are cracking. It is Mr. Cowper, is it not? who speaks of the man in the pit as bored with elbow-points through both his sides.' I am not

in the pit, but-hush! the overture is finished; up goes the curtain!

The Spirit of the Waters,' Lady Diana Beauclerk. Very nice indeed! Very much fair hair; liquid eyes; charming figure, and admirable pose. Wrote a very clever, observant, chatty book about Norway did Lady Diana Beauclerk, if I don't mistake. Wonder why the Spirit of the Waters thought it necessary to go to Storr and Mortimer's, or to Hancock, who is selling off, to the intense disgust of the other man, who isn't Hancock, and isn't selling off, or, more probably still, to the family jewel-chest, and array herself in diamonds? Surely a mistake. It is the spirits of the eaux minerales, to be found at Baden and Homburg, who deck themselves in gems' which Jews might kiss, and infidels adore,' not such a pure, bright, unsophisticated nymph as that before us. Three different positions, each delightful; the last, with lime-light effect, lovely.

'Fair Rosamond,' Mrs. Charles Stephenson and Mrs. Hambro. Ye-es, two very handsome ladies, blonde and brunette, quite en règle, but perhaps a little wanting in expression. Rosamond, historically, was a mild person, and the representative of the Rosa Mundi seemed to have been washed, just washed in a shower,' which was not unnatural; but the dragon-eyes of angered Eleanore' were scarcely sufficiently malevolent.

"The Sleeping Beauty,' Marchioness Townshend and Count Maffei. Perfectly charming! Nothing could be more picturesque than Lady Townshend's appearance under the silk star-broidered coverlid,' thoroughly realizing the lines

'She sleeps, and dreams, but ever dwells
A perfect form in perfect rest ;'

so perfect that we entirely forgive Mr. Wingfield's managerial license in selecting her ladyship, who is a blonde, for the princess whose 'jetblack hair' and 'full-black ringlets' are sung by the poet. Count Maffei was 'the fairy prince, with joy ful eyes, and lighter-footed than the fox ;' and, black-bearded, brilliant-eyed, and splendidly dressed, he looked the character à merveille.

'A Watteau Scene.' Lady Sebright in a swing, Mr. M'Gregor ready to catch her, Lady Alexina Duff and Mrs. Gurney looking on. Very pretty; nothing to describe, but thoroughly artistic, and excellently grouped.

Queen Margaret and the Robber.' Mrs. Skeffington Smyth as the Queen, and Mr. Val. Prinsep remarkably picturesque as the Robber. If you please, Mr. Arthur Sullivan-I think I had the pleasure of seeing you at the harmonium-why did you play 'God Save the King' when the Robber knelt and did obeisance? Slightly anachronous, wasn't it, seeing that Dr. John Bull, who composed our National Anthem, lived in -I haven't my 'Haydn's Dictionary' handy, but say, George the Second's reign?

The Babes in the Wood.' The best of all. Little Miss Barnes and the Hon. Michael Sandys. No villain could have been found bad enough to kill such a pair of children. That sweet little girl's face, looking up, half in terror half in trust, haunts me still. What a tiny mite of intelligence and grace and childish beauty! And to think that she will grow up to be a girl of some 'period' when we shall have come to a full stop!

'Guinevere.' Scarcely close to your author, Mr. Wingfield. I do not imagine that the garrulous little novice at Amesbury was anything like so pretty or so stately as Miss Harvey. Lady Pollington looked a regal Guinevere, and was specially well posed as she cowered at the king's feet; and Captain Stewart was a handsome representative of King Arthur. Mr. Simmons, of Tavistock Street, who supplied most excellent scenery and costumes, probably did not know much about the Dragon of the Great Pendragonship' and so wisely left it out of the helmet.

[ocr errors]

'Rescue!' Mr. Millais' all-out-ofdrawing Fire Brigade picture. Bad in itself, and unfitted for this kind of treatment. The ladies were evidently afraid of the fire, and there was a dummy baby. The only mistake in the entire programme.

Which was excellent. Very great

credit is due to all concerned, notably to the Hon. Lewis Wingfield, who, as I understood, had the whole weight of management on his shoulders, and was indefatigable. Once begun, let this style of entertainment continue.

It is far better for amateurs than the theatrical burlesques in which they have lately been engaged, when, without becoming artists, they have ceased to be ladies and gentlemen. Q.

THE IRON-CURE AMONG THE GLACIERS.

DURING the autumn of 1868,

one of the head-quarters of London Society was at the Baths of St. Moritz, in the Upper Engadine. Some eminent physicians, desiring to vary their treatment of the anæmic debility so commonly resulting from the fatigues of the season, had recommended their patients to try the tonic chaly beate waters of that place; and the novel idea of combining a course of medical treatment with an alpine excursion proved so fascinating that St. Moritz became at once all the rage. Half the inhabitants of Mayfair and Belgravia suddenly found themselves deficient in red globules, and the result was such a rush to the Engadine as created no small astonishment in that beautiful valley. But, much as St. Moritz was talked of, there was a remarkable dearth of information about the place. The baths were of recent establishment; few of the doctors had any personal experience of them; and, from the remoteness of the district, and its lying so far out of ordinary Swiss routes, few except the more zealous explorers of the higher Alps had been induced to visit the neighbourhood. Even the great travellers' oracle, Murray, spoke little to the purpose, his chief item of information being that the church was used as a house for the fire-engine! To supply this want, for the benefit of future visitors, I venture, as I have had occasion to pay some attention to the iron-cure in this and other places, to put on record the results of my experience and observation.

There is great difference of opinion as to the medical efficacy of the continental mineral waters gene

rally, and I think they are hardly so well understood or appreciated by English physicians as they ought to be; but there can be no question as to the utility of those which contain iron, the great remedy for the legion of ailments arising from an impoverished condition of the blood. There is good reason to suppose that, numerous and excellent as are the artificial preparations of this invaluable material, none are so efficacious or so acceptable to the human system as that peculiar natural solution of iron in water which is found in the carbonated chalybeate springs. The most celebrated of these hitherto have been Schwalbach,* in Nassau, and Pyrmont, in Westphalia; but to these is now added a third source, which it is my object at present to describe.

St. Moritz is situated in the heart of the Rhætian Alps, at the foot of the great snowy group of the Bernina (the Mont Blanc of Eastern Switzerland), and only about eight miles from the summit-ridge separating Cisalpine from Transalpine Europe. A col in this ridge, a little to the west of the Bernina summit, forms the pass of the Maloya, and immediately to the north of this pass rises the well-known river Inn, which, after running in a northeasterly direction through a fine long Alpine valley, emerges into the plains of Bavaria about half-way between Munich and Salzburg, and falls into the Danube at Passau.

The higher part of the Inn valley, passing through Swiss territory and about fifty miles long, is

For a description of this place see a Paper by the author of the present article in Macmillan's Magazine' for 1864.

« ForrigeFortsæt »