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Punch or the London Charivari, Vol. 93, September 3, 1887   By:

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edited by Sir Francis Burnand


3 P.M. Arrive at Starmouth the retired Watering place at which I propose to write the Nautical Drama that is to render me famous and wealthy. Leave luggage at Station, and go in search of lodgings. Hotel out of the question table d'hôte quite fatal to inspiration. On the Esplanade, noting likely places with critical eye. Perhaps I am a little fastidious. What I should really like is a little cottage; two bow windows, clematis on porch, flagstaff, and cannon (if it wouldn't go off) in front. I could achieve immortality in a place like that. Sea view, of course, indispensable . Must be within sight of the ever changing ocean, within hearing of "the innumerable laughter of the waves" I know what the phrase means , though I shouldn't like to have to explain it, and the waves just now are absolutely roaring.

[Illustration: Down by the Sea.]

3·15. Still noting; plenty of time, and Starmouth "all before me where to choose." More than a mile of Esplanade, and several brass plates and cards advertising "Apartments." Must be cautious not throw the handkerchief in a hurry. Haven't seen the ideal place yet .

3·30. Better make a beginning. Try "Blenheim House" (all the houses here either bear ducal, naval, or frankly plebeian names, I observe). Ring: startling effect grey mouldy old person, with skeleton hands folded on woollen tippet, glides in a ghastly manner down passage. They really ought to put up a warning to people with nerves, as M. VAN BEERS does at his Salon Parisien . Feel as if I had raised a ghost. Wonder if she waits on lodgers if so, my dinners will be rather like the banquet GULLIVER had at Laputa. "Has she rooms to let at once?" "No?" " Oh! " Well out of that!

3·45. Warming to my work. Ring at door in "Amelia Terrace." Maid appears nice looking girl, rather. "Have you" I begin when I see a boy at the ground floor window. Don't object to boys, as a class, but this particular boy is pallid, with something round his throat, and an indescribable air about him of conscious deadliness, and pride in the unusual terror he inspires, which can only be accounted for by recent Measles. Never under the same roof with that boy! He eyes me balefully, and I stare back, fascinated. "Have you," I begin again (I am full of resource, thank goodness!) "a Mrs. WALKER (first appropriate name that occurs to me) staying here?" By a horrible coincidence, they have ! She has taken the ground floor where that boy is! Awkward very.... I manage to gasp out, "Then will you please mention that I called?" and retire before she can ask my name. Presence of mind, again!

4 P.M. Still seeking. Not so fastidious as I was . Have given up the cottage, and clematis, and flagstaff. Only place answering that description belongs or so I inferred, from his language to a retired sea captain, whom I disturbed in his nap to inquire whether he let lodgings. As it happened, he didn't . Then (as I very nearly went back and told him) what right had he to sport a brass plate? However, I got some good racy dialogue for the Nautical Drama out of him.

4·15. More failures. Starmouth busy digesting, which it does publicly in bow windows. I must not be so particular. I will do without balconies even bow windows but I cannot, I will not, sit on horsehair furniture.

4·20. After all, so long as I get a sea view, what matters? I can be nautical and dramatic on any kind of chair. And "Collingwood House," too what a name for me! I will go in. Rejected again nothing till Thursday fortnight! I am beginning to feel like an unpopular man at a dance. I regard the people wallowing at the windows with a growing hate; they are the elect but that is no reason why they should parade it in that ostentatious way bad taste!... Can't get any rooms along these terraces I subdue my pride, and try a back street... Continue reading book >>

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