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Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 104, April 1, 1893   By:

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APRIL 1, 1893.

edited by Sir Francis Burnand



How many deserving persons besides dramatic authors are looking about for good situations, and are unable to find them! Mr. 'ENRY HAUTHOR JONES was sufficiently fortunate to obtain a good dramatic situation of tried strength, which, placed in the centre of novel and most improbable (not to say impossible) surroundings, has, in the hands of Mr. CHARLES WYNDHAM and his highly trained company of illusionists, achieved a remarkable success.

Within the last few years there have been notorious cases associated with the names of Members of Parliament, but as the House is a Legislative Assembly and not an inquisitorial tribunal instituted for the public investigation of private morality, no charge could be brought in the House itself against any one of its Members until after a Court of Law had pronounced its verdict, and, even then, a Member of Parliament, convicted of a criminal offence, would not cease ipso facto to belong to the House until after a motion for his expulsion had been carried. As Fritz in La Grande Duchesse expressed his wish to become a schoolmaster, in order that he might obtain some smattering of education, so an immoral M.P. (if any such there be) would be the very one to stand sponsor for a Bill for the Better Preservation of Public Morals, with a view to gaining that elementary knowledge of morality in which his education had been defective. But no one could have brought up some awkward case against him in the course of a debate in the House. In the parliamentary proceedings of Little Peddlington this might be done, but not in the House of Commons, which, by a very polite but necessary fiction, is supposed to be a House of Uncommons, far above the weaknesses of the ordinary human nature of mere Constituents.

Mr. Stoach (capitally played by Mr. J. VALENTINE but everybody plays capitally in this piece) finds Lord Clivebrooke (Mr. CHARLES WYNDHAM admirable also) between midnight and one in the morning alone with charming Jessie Keber (Miss MARY MOORE, delightful!) in old Matthew Keber's toy shop, Keber himself (another very clever impersonation by Mr. W. H. DAY) having gone out on the sly to get drunk on money supplied him by the aforesaid unscrupulous Stoach, M.P. So what would have to be said in the House should amount to this:

Stoach. What! the Leader of the House bring in this Purity Bill!! Why I saw him myself with my own eyes in a toy shop, all among the toys, alone at one in the morning with an attractive young person of the female persuasion.

"Look at that now," says an Irish M.P., following the example of Shaun the Post in The Colleen Bawn , when the scoundrelly lawyer brings a charge against the hero of the drama, "An' what might you be doin' about there at that same time?"

Supposing, for an instant, the impossible, Stoach would be called to order, and be severely reprimanded by the SPEAKER.

Had the much heckled and long suffering Clivebrooke been gifted by the Author with lively ready wit, he would have replied to his father and supporters, who invade his room, in the pleasantest and Charliest Wyndhamest manner, "Yes ( lightly and airily ). What could I be doing in a toy shop with a young lady? Why ( still more lightly and airily ) of course I was ' toying with her! '" Whereupon his old father would have been immensely tickled, and the deputation, in fits of laughter, would have rushed back to the lobby to report "the last good thing said by that clever chap Clivebrooke! So like him!"

This Act would have ended with the triumph of ready wit over disappointed malignity. Jessie Keber would have run in and embraced her hero, the Bill would have been carried ( Cheers heard without ), and all would have ended happily and pleasantly without any necessity having arisen for another Act, either of Parliament or of the piece... Continue reading book >>

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