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Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 93., October 22, 1887   By:

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VOL. 93.

October 22nd, 1887.



As has been observed earlier in this series, the Amateur Reciter is influenced by a natural ambition to harrow his audience to the best of his ability.

And, be it said, the average audience is not at all averse to being harrowed provided this is done with any science and refinement. When persons are met together for social enjoyment, nothing apparently affords them keener pleasure than a performance which produces certain peculiar sensations, such as the feeling of partial want of control over the facial nerves, smarting behind the eyes, increasing obstruction in the throat, and a general conviction that, unless something occurs to make them laugh at once, they will be irresistibly compelled to sob like so many seals. It is, perhaps, a little odd but the taste exists, and must be taken into account. The sole drawbacks are that, too often, the means adopted to secure the desired result depend more than should be upon sentiment which might almost be described as false; that the incidents occasionally have too little relation to real life; and that, what might have proved eminently touching, is marred by some involuntary association with the ludicrous and grotesque. In his anxiety to preserve his pupils from such pitfalls as these, Mr. Punch offers an example in which the blemishes he has hinted at have been sedulously avoided. It is at once homely, wholesome, and tear compelling like the common onion. You will find you produce a favourable impression at once by announcing it as,


( You must come on with a general suggestion in your manner that you are supposed to be the proprietor of an itinerant Cat and Canary Troupe. Begin with a slow and somewhat depressed shake of the head, as if in answer to imaginary inquirer. )

No, we ain't performin' to day, Sir, and the boys are all on the gape At seem' the mice in mournin', and the cats in chokers o' crape; But I'm giving the Show a rest, d'ye see? for I didn't feel up to the job, ( Pause then subdued ) For my leadin' comejian's left me, Sir ( Explanatory, perceiving you are not understood ) the brindle kinairy ( more impatiently ) Bob! What, ye don't remember? ( Surprise. ) Not him as wore the toonic o' Turkey red? What rode in a gilded kerridge with a 'at an' plumes on his 'ed? And, as soon as we'd taken a tanner, 'ud fire a saloot from the gun? [ Excitedly. There was Talent inside o' that bird, there was, or I never see it in one! ( Philosophic bitterness. ) Well, he's soon forgot but I've often thought as a fish keeps longer than Fame! ( Sudden comprehension and restored cordiality. ) Oh, ye didn't know him as Bob ?... I see no, that were his private name. I used to announce him in public on a more long winded er scale I christened him "Gineral Moultky," ( apologetically ) which he 'ad rather gone at the tail; And a bird more popilar never performed on a peripathetic stage, He was allers sure of a round of applause as soon as he quitted the cage! For he thoroughly hentered into the part he was down for to play, And he never got "fluffy" nor "queered the pitch," leastwise, till the hother day. I thought he'd bin hoverexertin' hisself, and 'ud better be out of the bill, But it wasn't till yesterday hevenin I'd any ideer he was ill ! Then I see he was rough on the top of his 'ed, and his tongue looked dry at the tip, And it dawned on me like a thunderbolt "Great Evings!" I groaned, "THE PIP!" ( Pause here, to emphasise the tremendous gravity of this discovery. ) Well, I 'ad bin trainin' a siskin to hunderstudy the part, ( more ordinary tone for this ) And I sent him on ( tolerantly ) which he done his best, but he 'adn't no notion o' Hart ! So I left the pitch as soon as I could, and (meanin' to make more 'aste) I cut across one o' them buildin' sites as was left a runnin' to waste... Continue reading book >>

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