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Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 98, June 28 1890   By:

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VOLUME 98, JUNE 28TH 1890

edited by Sir Francis Burnand


( By Mr. Punch's own Type Writer. )



AT intervals of a few years the torpor of London Society is stirred by the carefully disseminated intelligence that a new planet has begun to twinkle in the firmament of fashion, and the telescopes of all those who are in search of novelty are immediately directed to the spot. Partially dropping metaphor, it may be stated that a hitherto unknown lady emerges, like the planet, from a cloud under which, as the envious afterwards declare, the greater part of her previous existence has been spent. But Society, under the influence of boredom, is tolerant of new sensations and of those who seek to provide them. Those who guard its portals are, in these latter days, bidden not to be over curious in the inquiries they make of applicants for admission, and eventually it may come to pass that the approaches and avenues are opened as readily to one who comes trailing clouds of obscurity, as to her who shines with the steady lustre of acknowledged position.

The Lady from Cloudland soars into the ken of fashion in various places. Very often she is found for the first time in the little mock temple which pious worshippers at the shrine of rank build for themselves on the Riviera. They have their ceremonial closely copied from the London model. They dance, they receive, they organise bazaars. They launch out into tea parties, and grow warm over the discussion of scandals. They elect unto themselves leaders, and bow their foreheads to the dust before the golden splendour of an occasional scion of Royalty; in short, they cling as closely as foreign skies and foreign associations permit to the observances which have made English Society pre eminent in its own respect, and in the good natured ridicule of less favoured nations. But since the majority of them have come in search of health, they cannot despise or reject one who qualifies for consideration and interest by suffering, and who, to the piquancy of an unknown origin, adds the high recommendation of good looks which are not too good of a cheerful temper, and an easy tact, which can only come of much knowledge of many worlds. Such a one is the Lady from Cloudland. Many are the questions asked about her, and even more various are the answers given. "My dear," one lady will say to another, at the house of a common friend, where the Lady from Cloudland has become the centre of a throng of admirers, "I hear, on the very best authority, that her mother used to sell flowers in the City, and that she herself was for some years a Circus Rider in America. Whenever I meet her I feel a dreadful inclination to say Houp là! , instead of, How do you do?" To which her friend will reply that she, on her side, has been informed that the lady in question was formerly attached to the conjugal tribe of an Indian Rajah, and was rescued by a Russian, whom she shortly afterwards poisoned. They will then both invite her to their next entertainments, asking her by no means to forget those delightful Burmese love ditties which only she can sing as they ought to be sung.

The Lady from Cloudland, however, does not limit her ambition to the hybrid Society of the South of France. She intends to make for herself a position in London, the Mecca of the aspirant, and she proposes to use those who thus console themselves with spitefulness as stepping stones for the attainment of her object. At the beginning of the following London Season Society will learn, by means of the usual paragraphs, that "Mrs. So and So, whose afternoon party last year in honour of Prince was one of the most brilliant successes of a brilliant Riviera Season, has taken the house in May Fair, formerly occupied by Lord CLANRACKET." The reiteration of this news in many journals will set tongues wagging in London. Again the same questions will be asked, and different answers will be returned... Continue reading book >>

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